A direct question to MLA candidates

The mayor of Port McNeill asks candidates to back industry.

(The following letter was written to various mayors, chairs, councillors and regional directors in British Columbia)

Dear editor,

The economy of our province is dependent on healthy resource industries such as

forestry, mining, agriculture, fishing, aquaculture, and energy production. But public

relations assaults on these resource sectors and the people they support continue with

multi-millions in financial help from U.S. Foundations such as the Rockefeller Brothers

Fund.

About 20 years ago campaigns started to undermine all our resource industries. These

campaigns were clever, wide-spread and exceptionally well-funded. They have been

directed against every one of our resource industries and virtually every one of our

resource communities. It is obvious that behind these campaigns there is big money.

When questioned about government’s seeming inability to stand up to these campaigns, a

long-serving cabinet minister gave me a frightening answer, He said, “They have more

money than we do.”

In looking back over the variety of campaigns and the people behind them, there is much

more to them than meets the eye. There is no shortage of funding. There is the ability to

quickly move people to different hot spots around the province. There is no shortage of

money to influence a surprisingly pliable and gullible media, always looking for

headlines and clever one-liners on the evening news.

The big money pays for full-page advertisements in local, national and international

newspapers. Full-page advertisements appear in large American newspapers such as the

New York Times. Articles appear in magazines denigrating our industries, their workers

and our local, provincial and national governments.

No industry or community is safe from the harmful lies and exaggerations of these

campaigns. A gullible public, especially in large cities, laps it up.

Forestry in British Columbia took the initial brunt of the attacks starting in the late 1980s.

A powerful company like McMillan Bloedel and its chairman were among the first and

most vulnerable victims. It hired Burson-Marsteller, a large international public relations

firm that had handled the noxious gas disaster in Bhopal, India, to no avail. That once proud

powerful forest company no longer exists.

Mining in our province has been under constant pressure, to the extent that only one

company has been given permission to open a mine in the past 10 years. British

Columbia is still the centre of world mining, but most of its mines are located elsewhere

in the world, where they are made to feel more welcome.

Aquaculture too, has become another victim and the campaigns against it have pulled out

all the stops. PhD students have been inveigled into the campaign and papers “proving”

that salmon farms are responsible for the demise of West Coast salmon have earned

degrees and “sainthood” for some of the anti-salmon-farming antagonists. In spite of

their dire predictions on the demise of our salmon populations, we have recently seen the

largest returns of salmon in many years.

Oil & Gas exploration, production and transportation is the most recent cause célèbre.

We live in a world of depleting petroleum resources that relies on the industry to keep the

world mobile. Some of our Northern Ports are being thwarted in their efforts to service

the industry and strengthen their local economies.

We all know that there is a Provincial Election underway in our Province. It is incumbent

on us all to ensure that the members we elect are sincerely supportive of the jobs in our

vulnerable resource industries such as Forestry, Mining and Aquaculture.

Regardless of political affiliation, each candidate should be asked a simple question:

“Do you support the industries that are the backbone of our resource-dependent

economy?”

Gerry Furney

Mayor

Port McNeill

Town Office 250 956-3111