Well it’s summer and in the fine tradition of your government, you’ve managed to slide some hefty pay increases to the senior political staff and top bureaucrats, arguing that “we have to make sure that we have compensation that's fair and reasonable.” Well Gord, your version of “fair and reasonable” would certainly be welcomed by one of your subjects, er citizens-voters, who are struggling to make ends meet on their $853 per month disability payments or the delightfully intriguing lower minimum wage that your government instituted of $7.00 per hour. (You remember, the first 300 hours at a lower wage idea.) (I figure at 40 hours per week, that’s an annual salary of $14, 560 before tax and any associated MSP payments which I’ll wager the political appointee who makes $243,936 does not have to pay because there’s likely one of those benefit packages attached to help them ward off the cost of paying for their healthcare. Bit of an anomaly I’d say.)
But having accomplished all this, you also set out to tackle some additional tasks while the focus of many British Columbians was on summer. I was particularly intrigued by the rather slippery way that your government – legitimized by the inclusion of some First Nations groups - announced on Friday July 28, newly approved plans that will allow logging in the remaining pristine valleys of Clayoquot Sound - the largest and last cluster of intact valleys left on Vancouver Island. Now Gord, I’m sure you recall that a mere seven years ago, there was an agreement signed by environmental groups, First Nations and the logging company McMillan Bloedel to voluntarily put the pristine valleys off limits to logging. This followed the largest civil disobedience protest in Canadian history with over 10,000 people protesting on logging blockades, with more than 800 people arrested. You may also recall that UNESCO declared Clayoquot Sound a Biosphere Reserve in 2000. Just in case you’ve forgotten, UNESCO is the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. UNESCO declared this area a Biosphere Reserve because “given that development is increasingly resulting in fragmentation of forest and alpine ecosystems and the loss of biodiversity in coastal rainforests, this biosphere reserve provides a refuge and center for natural dispersion and re-establishment of species.” Basically Gord, this means that it’s not a good thing to allow the remaining 11% of the valley bottom ancient forests on all of Vancouver Island to be cut down because, well, because trees make oxygen and do other good things for us. I’m betting you can follow the train of thought here!
Now on top of these two projects, there are rumblings about your government urging the federal government to lift the moratorium on offshore oil exploration and drilling off BC’s coast. This is just silly. You may recollect that this area has a fair number of earthquakes and other geological challenges, and creating the possibility for a major environmental disaster just to find increased ways of accessing more oil, well, that’s just not a good idea. Just take a look at what happened in the Squamish Estuary a few days ago with a relatively small oil spill. Catherine Stewart, a Director of the Living Oceans Society stated: “this just illustrates that accidents will happen and they [authorities] don't have the response capacity right now to deal with them.” She added that “the response proves it would be reckless to lift a moratorium on oil tankers and offshore drilling along B.C.'s coast.” So Gord, I’m thinking you might want to encourage your government guys to consider some of the more obvious energy producing alternatives – like wind and solar and tidal and other renewable and non-polluting sources of energy.
Gord, I’ve also heard some stories about your government considering the use of coal to increase BC’s output of hydro. Well, no matter what anyone tells you, coal is relatively dirty and it pollutes. So, I’m hoping this is just a rumour, because if it’s true…naw! Can’t be!
So here’s hoping you’re having a good summer. I look forward to continuing these admittedly one-sided conversations in the fall when the Legislative Assembly gathers once again to help us all deal with the great political questions in British Columbia.
Til next time.
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