Wednesday, May 06, 2009

BC Election: Rafe Mair's call to action

Today I'm making online space for Rafe Mair. I couldn't find this most recent letter of his online so, to give it a little more exposure, here it is. There comes a time when politics is more than just that and I think, for BC, this is one of them:
Fellow British Columbians –

I’ve been fighting injustice my entire life. I have long looked with considerable skepticism at those in charge feeling strongly that they must have the closest possible scrutiny.

I’ve been in government and know how the spin is administered to issues so that evils in government policies are disguised. I’ve long been guided by what I call Mair’s Axiom I, namely, “one makes a serious mistake in assuming that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing”.

During my time practicing law I took many cases “pro bono” because I sensed an injustice.

As Consumer Minister I battled hard for consumers passing 33 pieces of legislation in two sittings, a record before or since. In the Ministry of Environment I stopped government killing wolves, stopped exploration for and mining of uranium and negotiated the saving of the Skagit River from being made into a lake by City of Seattle raising the Ross Dam.

In radio I fought against two disastrous constitutional exercises, Meech Lake and Charlottetown, the Kemano Completion Project, a gravel pit on the Pitt River, the fish farm issue and recently the private river swindle.

I’m now in my 78th year and though I’m pretty fit, the time comes when you have to consider that your place in the front line trenches should be taken by younger people. I’ve greatly enjoyed speaking all around the province and meeting so many of you on the “rivers” issue but being away from home on the road for many days at a time takes a toll. While I have no intention to stop speaking out and writing on environmental concerns perhaps it’s time I started supporting causes but not being its torch bearer.

In short, I have to face reality.

The “rivers” issue I’m now fighting is one of the most important I’ve ever been involved in and in this fight I include the government’s appalling record on the fish farm issue. What’s at stake here is the essence, or you might say the very soul, of British Columbia. The return of Gordon Campbell will mean the sale, for money we’ll never even see, the British Columbia we love so dearly. Indeed the money will be paid by us through BC Hydro to the very people who will destroy our province!

We do not need power – the National Energy Board is authority for that. When we do require more we have four viable ways to get it.

1. Conservation
2. Upgrading our present generators.
3. Putting generators on flood control dams and new ones on existing dams
4. Taking back the power we’re entitled to under the Columbia River Treaty.

It’s critical that we all understand that private power depends upon the spring runoff for the water it needs, meaning it mainly produces power for a few short months at best and at the same time BC Hydro’s reservoirs are full to brimming. Because this power is of limited duration and at a time Hydro can’t use it, it’s exported bringing us within the purview of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA)

A re-election of Mr. Campbell will mean the not so slow strangulation of BC Hydro, our power company that is the envy the world and it will happen this way. Hydro has lost 1/3 of its employees to Accenture, the bastard nephew of the infamous Enron, and its transmission lines to a new crown corporation, BCTC. Meanwhile, what’s left of our public power utility, BC Hydro, is banned from developing new sources of renewable energy and is forced instead to buy large quantities of expensive private river power that we don’t need and can’t use at more than twice the market price. Buy high and sell low! With just a few private projects now up and running already Hydro owes $30 BILLION on long term indexed prices and every private project adds to the total and tightens that strangling noose. Barred from producing new sources of power and still carrying its $7 BILLION Capital debt, Hydro is on its death bed only waiting for Mr. Campbell to administer the Last Rites.

As he did with BC Rail, Premier Campbell promises to keep BC Hydro publicly owned – that, if nothing else, must tell us what he intends to do.

Of huge concern is that BC Hydro, always able to pay of hundreds of millions a year dividends to the BC treasury, which go towards our schools, hospitals and social programs, now cannot do so. In essence then, the public is paying, through BC Hydro, for the capital costs of private companies like Ledcor and General Electric, while no longer receiving the bounty of BC Hydro’s much envied ability to create clean, cheap and constant energy.

It doesn’t end there, of course. Each plant desecrates the rivers it diverts or dams (the industry prefers we call them weirs) for all time. We must remember that while economic missteps by government can be fixed by a later government, once we’ve lost our rivers and BC Hydro we can never get them back.

This is indeed a “watershed” election (pun intended) where we’ll decide if we keep “supernatural BC” or turn it over to large international companies such as General Electric.

The Liberal government, in the words of Oscar Wilde knows “the price of everything and the value of nothing”

If we re-elect the Campbell government we will, quite rightly, be condemned by our children, our grandchildren and generations as yet unborn.


Rafe Mair


Ivan Doumenc said...

Run-of-river power projects breach environment regulations, CBC has found.

The Liberals were planning to break that news to the public only after the May 12 election.

We have to stop the sell-off of our rivers by all means necessary. Yeah, even if it means voting NDP.

Quixote said...

I am writing from Ontario and understand your plight with the destruction of natural landscapes in favour of more power production at any cost!
Here in Ontario our Liberals are basically destroying land, homes,health and are about to take away our Democratic Rights by removing any Planning process from our Municipalities when it comes to installing massive Wind Farms that basically do nothing more than raising the costs of Electricity and make our Rural homes unlivable.

In addition to your waterways being destroyed they are about to start planning large Wind Farms for the interior and on the Island, specifically Quadra Island on the East coast of Van Isle.
Does anyone know of an active group or Blog that would get in contact with us here in Ontario and we could network on this Government's outrageous behavior as I believe this is a concerted effort to turn Canada into one large "power generation plant" for export to the USA with no care or consideration for it's citizens homes and lands.
I can be contacted at:

Lanie said...

The present government should always be thinking of not only themselves welfare and income but the welfare of all especially the next generation. Thanks for sharing this.

Matt said...

Just came across this. What a moving statement from Rafe Mair.