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