Sunday, May 10, 2009

Environmentalist Dan Bouman takes Suzuki, Berman, Horter to task over support for BC Liberals and disastrous environment record

Longtime environmentalist Dan Bouman of the Sunshine Coast is circulating this message through emails around the province. I think Dan makes some excellent points and am reproducing it here for your interest and comments.

* * * * *

Dan Bouman

An Open Letter to BC’s Environmental Leaders:

Over the course of the Provincial election campaign, posturing from BC’s major environmental organizations has been embarrassing.

As the executive director of a regional conservation association with 20 years experience working with local governments and with the public on regional environmental issues, I wonder if my upper-level colleagues have gone completely daft.

Their campaigns to “punish” Carol James, or the “anybody but…” campaigns, or the one calling on the NDP to re-consider their position on IPP’s are just three examples of their misguided approach.

The Liberal government has used a common theme to address environmental policies; deregulation, public disempowerment, destruction of accountability, elimination of transparency, and disdain towards the democratic processes.

It started with the gutting of the BC Environmental Assessment Act and the conversion of the BC EA Office from one designed to safeguard the public interest, to one that only serves project proponents. This Act was once a key tool for assessing and mitigating climate change impacts -but is now little more than a source of orchestrated industrial advertising.

What happened to the Forest Practices Code Act under the Liberals tells a story: The old “prescriptive” code was replaced with a new “results based code” which is impossibly vague and unenforceable. As one example, a “result” specified by government is ‘the protection of drinking water’, unless this “unduly restricts the flow of timber”.

In the end, transparency and accountability in forestry -and participation of the public in forest planning- have been willfully destroyed. The Act now stands as one stark example of the supremacy of private interests at the expense of the public interest; the Liberal government’s legacy.

The Private Managed Forest Land Act (PMFLA) offers a similar illustration. A ‘Council’ of private landowners enforces the Act with no accountability to the public. A person can make a complaint but the Council doesn’t have to acknowledge the complaint or notify the complainant of an investigation (remember CNI’s instant municipality).

The complainant has no right to participate in, or even to be notified of, a hearing into the complaint. In the case of a finding against the landowner, the owner has the right of appeal.

The complainant has no such right. The whole process is remarkable for its starkly anti-democratic orientation. The PMFLA Council views its mandate to be the protection of forest landowners from the public, local government, and environmental regulation.

There are many other examples of legislation that has been passed to insulate private interests from public scrutiny; the Integrated Pest Management Act comes to mind, as does the new Health Act which has stripped away the powers of Local Boards of Health.

According to a West Coast Environmental Law survey in 2007, environmental law enforcement has been brought to a virtual standstill in BC.

This was achieved primarily through budget cutbacks to enforcement agencies like the BC Conservation Officer Service. Cutbacks have also been used to curtail the activities of most of the independent agencies of the legislature like the Forest Practices Board, the Ombudsman’s office and the office of the Auditor General.

The above are not esoteric legal issues. Community advocates see the loss of environmental assets as well as a constant parade of conflicts between private interests and the public. Meanwhile fish disappear, species-at-risk continue to drift toward extinction, drinking water sources are compromised, and carbon emissions continue to rise.

One approach that offered a comprehensive venue to address these and many other issues was Land and Resource Management Planning. Three regional districts, four municipalities and about thirty citizens’ groups in the Sunshine Coast Forest District campaigned strongly for this higher level of planning.

The Liberal government initially agreed to proceed, but reneged about a year ago when it became clear that land use planning could get in the way of private hydropower development. The Liberal government deliberately scuttled one of the most important tools to mitigate the effects of climate change due to opposition from private corporations.

The common theme of the Liberal Party is the well-orchestrated destruction of progressive democratic processes. In British Columbia we are seeing the rise of a plutocracy; government for the rich. My friends working in other social justice fields advise me that the same pattern of destruction of accountability, transparency and public empowerment has occurred in many other areas such as health, education, housing, poverty law, labour relations, social welfare, management of the judiciary etc.

There is no backlash against ‘green power’ or climate change mitigation. But there continues to be a concerted assault against the rights of the public and against democratic process. The so-called backlash is really just people trying to defend their families and their communities against an empowered corporate agenda.

Unfortunately some misguided environmental elites have responded to this situation by trying to punish Carol James, by supporting Plutonic Power and General Electric, and supporting the re-election of the Minister of the Environment!

These are absurd responses that show BC’s environmental leaders are politically naive at best and likely just plain indifferent to peoples’ experiences under Liberal government.

Just to make my views perfectly clear, I believe the NDP is right to oppose IPP’s because environmental and social impacts have not been openly and properly considered.

However crass the NDP's messaging has been, they are also fully justified in opposing the Liberals' approach to climate change.

The Liberal government has been consistently imposing legislation without debate in the legislature and without public consultation that genuinely considers the impacts on all parties.

The NDP, which has always stood for democratic progressive principle in Canada, cannot possibly support fundamental change when it is brought forward in an authoritarian manner, and in a manner that protects the interests of the rich at the expense of the poor.

The NDP must oppose authoritarianism -no one would support them if they didn’t. This is a political reality that seems to have escaped the handful of myopically-focused environmentalists that speak for the likes of PowerUp and the BC Conservation Voters.

Unfortunately, Tzeporah Berman and Will Horter, et al., are incredibly out of touch with the concerns of the public and, as today’s polls show, have had limited or no measurable impact on voters.

We must not blame the NDP for our own failures to communicate. I fear to consider what may come if the Liberals prevail for another four years.

A progressive and democratic process offers us the best hope for creating effective and enduring responses to climate change. If we continue down the current authoritarian path, we will all be dead before any effective changes are made.

On Tuesday May 12, I’ll be voting with a perfectly clear conscience for the NDP; they are our best hope.

Thank you very much!

Daniel Bouman

Founding member

Sunshine Coast Conservation Association
Sunshine Coast Water First Society
Tetrahedron Alliance

Co-author - The People’s Water – The Fight for the Sunshine Coast’s Drinking Watersheds


DPL said...

Great letter and trumps any BS Suzuki is pushing.
Suzuki and friends feel slighted because those NDP socialists are stating the obvious and he and his pals don't like it.
Is Doc Suzuki still flooging weather stripping and telling little kids they should educate their parents. What a media hound.

I guess Cynthia Morton isn't on Suzuki's best pal list either. When James forms government middle of this week, what will be the story be from Suziki?
He likes to lecture us peasants. The province has a bunch of gas taxes now, greedy bunch

Jeff Barkley said...

That was a fine letter by Dan. I would, however, go further in my criticism of these so-called "environmental elites", better know to most of us as BC Liberal, paid off shills. They KNOW what they are doing! They are taking money and positions on "councils" to put a stake in the heart of REAL environmentalists. I simply do not believe that Berman and Suzuki et al are just naive. They are not that stupid, they have just been bought off. I'd love to drop by David Suzuki's home in the middle of winter to see if he has turned the temperature of his mcMansion down. What a joke. People who live in beautiful homes in the warmth of the lower mainland talking about how selfish people living in the north are, because they use more heating fuel when its -30c instead of +3. People living in an area with Skytrain and buses, slamming people who have to drive to work where no public transit or other alternative is available. Yeah, they're pretty believable are'nt they?

BustaGrill said...

Sorry, Bill, I must be blind. You say in your title that "Bouman takes ... Suzuki to task over support for BC Liberals and disastrous environmental record", but I could find no mention of Suzuki in Bouman's letter. Are you referring to David Suzuki? If so, everything I've seen from him has made it quite clear that despite supporting the carbon tax, he does not support the Liberals in general.

So, perhaps you could kindly do one of the following:

1. Point to where Bouman mentions Suzuki's name;

2. Point to where Suzuki has offered "support for BC Liberals and disastrous environment record"

3. Admit you're lying, and/or

4. Go far far way from this fair province and never return because dirty little scoundrels like you give social democrats a bad name and are the reason why so many good people are fed up with the BC NDP, and why we're going to lose this election.

BC Liberals Suck said...

This just shows there are still *real* environmentalists around. Not just opportunists who sell out their movement in spite of the overwhelming evidence of the destructive practices, policies consequences the BC Liberals have driven over the last 8 years. They exploit and destroy everything they touch and couldn't give a damn about climate change and what this province will be like for our kids and their kids because they all think they're made in the shade and will be taken care of.

Any so-called "Climate Change Leaders" who participated in the kind of dirty politics they did during this election are not fit to be in the company of people with decency, integrity and more concern about the public good than one's own career mobility and a grab at a tarnished brass "council."

Anonymous said...

This letter is bang on. Well done, Dan.

BustaGrill said...

Bill, you didn't post my last comment. So let me try again, and I'll keep my personal opinions about you to myself.

You state in your headline that "Bouman take task over support for BC Liberals and disastrous environment record".

Suzuki's name is not mentioned once in Bouman's letter. In fact in everything I have seen and heard from Suzuki he has never supported the BC Liberals, and aside from a couple of their climate initiatives such as the carbon tax, he has never supported their environmental record.

If I remember correctly, Suzuki was fed up with both the NDP and Liberals. I assume you mean David Suzuki.

Either way, please clarify.

Bill Tieleman said...

Oh come on BustaGrill - you have to be kidding!

David Suzuki has been an adamant supporter of the BC Liberals' carbon tax and joined Tzeporah Berman in criticizing the NDP at the beginning of the election campaign - if that's not "supporting" the Gordon Campbell government, I don't know what is.

As for Dan Bouman - if he says he didn't mean the Suzuki Foundation I'll clarify immediately - but he says "posturing from BC’s major environmental organizations has been embarrassing."

If you don't think the Suzuki Foundation is one of those "major" organizations, feel free to say so - but I doubt you'll have anyone believe it.

boomy said...

Suzuki's organization has been compromised by James Hoggan, of James Hoggan and Associates who also formed with Kevin Grandia the Liberal, as one of its managers. In fact James Hoggan is the Suzuki Foundation Chairman, a communications advisor and a frequent contributor to the BC Liberal's. Plus he has been paid over $353,000 by the BC Gov't for various contracts. Hoggan admits its no secret he is a Liberal supporter.

DeSmogBlog is a carefully crafted "environmental" (joke) blog designed by Hoggan to decieve the enviros and general public into thinking that everything NDP is evil. Kevin Grandia has even been caught red handed commenting and telling straight out and out lies on a NYT blog site, by a local vancouverite Aldyn Donnelly.

Rumour on the street is that the David Suzuki Foundation is internally split down the middle and I'll bet it is directly connected to Mr. Hoggans antics.

BustaGrill said...

"David Suzuki has been an adamant supporter of the BC Liberals' carbon tax and joined Tzeporah Berman in criticizing the NDP at the beginning of the election campaign - if that's not "supporting" the Gordon Campbell government, I don't know what is."

Well, Bill, I voted for Carole James as my MLA in advanced polling 3 days ago, because she's been a good MLA for Victoria-Beacon Hill, and I see the NDP as a lesser of evils. But I had to hold my nose to vote for Carole because I strongly support the carbon tax. In fact, when the NDP lose on Tuesday, I'm going to be demanding her head on a stick, along with all the other dirty old hacks that have led this once wonderful party so far astray. So what does that make me? Am I a Liberal supporter? Believe it or not, some people are capable of making complex decisions and holding more than one thought in their head at the same time.

I'm afraid you've a ways to go before you convince me that Suzuki has ever endorsed "the BC Liberals and their disastrous environment record". David Suzuki is BC's most prominent environmentalist to be sure. If Dan Bouman intended to mention his name, I suspect he would have done so. Therefore, I sill see nothing but a big fat lie when I still look at the headline you wrote.

Anonymous said...

Dan Bouman is a hack. Have you seen the lies published on his website?

Your homework tonight: spot 5 falshoods on SCCA's website in under 5 minutes.

How would anyone give creedence to such "fake environmentalist" organizations (SCCA) as the Sechelt band says, is beyond my comprehension.

For example, there is a huge plan by ENMAX (owned by Calgary) to burn monstrous tonnes of plastics from Vancouver garbage dumps in Gibsons and emit the dioxins into the air of Vancouver.

How come SCCA is so quiet about this and avoids the issue? Maybe because ENMAX is "public power"?

Rod Smelser said...

I've said it before, I will say it again. Using the carbon tax to co-opt environmental NGO leaderships and many academics was a joint Federal-Provincial Liberal electoral strategy. It included Dion's Green Shift as much as Campbell's carbon tax.

The Green Shift has now been officially deep-sixed by Michael Ignatieff. This BC provincial election will be the last major electoral outing for Liberal carbon taxes, no matter what the outcome tonite.

One needs to remember that several of the nameplate ENGOs are feeling the pinch of recession in both donations and their commercial fee-for-service work. In that context, how much nicer a development could their be for the well-paid officials on the payrolls of the ENGOs than for their organizations' leaders to cultivate a happy, intimate and fertile relationship with the Government of British Columbia, its agencies, boards and commissions, universities and colleges, Crown Corporations and Health Authorities?

The endless contracting possibilities offer a sustainable, if not altogether natural source of income for these ENGOs in tough times. Rest assured, the only "green" thing on the minds of these ENGO leaders and people on their payrolls has absolutely nothing to do with the great outdoors.

As an opposition party, with no patronage to dispense, there was no way the BC or Federal NDP could possibly counter the offer made by the Liberals.