Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt

Coastal First Nations executive director Art Sterritt

Is B.C. a Third World backwater?

Behind Sierra Club and Greenpeace there is Tides Canada. Behind them is a California billionaire determined to save us

VICTORIA – We might call ourselves Super, Natural or even The Best Place on Earth, but how is B.C. viewed around the world?

Ever since U.S. billionaires and their environmental clients decided more than a decade ago to supervise our society, the impression that British Columbia is a primitive colonial backwater in need of “saving” has only been reinforced.

In late April, the province and coastal aboriginal leaders announced completion of marine planning areas for Haida Gwaii and the North and Central Coast. U.S. activists knew about the announcement weeks before the legislature press gallery did, and a documentary crew was sent up to advance the narrative of the saving of the “Great Bear Rainforest.”

Within minutes of the announcement, the World Wildlife Fund website trumpeted the creation of the “Great Bear Sea,” continuing the penchant of outsiders for renaming large parts of B.C. to fit their marketing strategies.

Unlike the “Great Bear Rainforest” land use deal of 2007, the Sierra Club, ForestEthics and Greenpeace were not represented. Instead, Tides Canada CEO Ross McMillan sat beaming in the audience.

McMillan’s role in directing U.S. foundation money to B.C. has prompted him to declare himself “a principal architect of the Great Bear Rainforest project,” although in the early years he and his staff (currently 24 people) stayed behind the scenes while Sierra, Greenpeace et al took the credit.

At the event, two aboriginal leaders gave a nod to the real funder of the ongoing effort to “save” the B.C. coast, the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation. Gordon Moore is a co-founder of Intel Corp., maker of most of the world’s computer processor chips, now spending his vast fortune on the Amazon basin, B.C. and other “threatened” places.

Other Silicon Valley and Seattle billionaires helped finance the original effort, and a strategy document surfaced in 2008 describing their plan to de-market the Alberta oilsands by creating a blockade against energy exports on our Pacific coast. That campaign has featured a fake cancer study and grossly exaggerated greenhouse gas claims compared to U.S. coal and oil production.

The effort has since expanded to natural gas, with false horror stories about “fracking” finding a receptive global audience.

Last week I wrote about the plan by British manufacturing conglomerate Reckitt Benckiser to buy up farms in the B.C. Interior and replant them with trees. Contrary to my description, “RB Trees for Change” isn’t participating in the dodgy European carbon credit market.

They’re just doing it for global marketing purposes, covering pioneer-cleared farms of our colonial backwater with forest for 100 years so they can advertise their soaps and cold pills as carbon neutral. Another 10,000 hectares of B.C. “saved” from destruction by benevolent foreign interests!

Back to reality. B.C.’s Auditor General issued a report last week calling on the province to do more to prevent the “cumulative effects” of industrial development. A familiar example of this is the struggle to maintain caribou herds in northern B.C.

The B.C. government mustered a response from the multiple ministries that have worked on this since 2010.

Among other things, they noted that 90 per cent of B.C.’s vast area is now covered by regional land use plans created to manage cumulative impacts. A whopping 37 per cent of B.C. is designated as parks and protected areas for environmental and cultural values.

Maybe that’s still not good enough, but it’s better than anything I can find in Europe or the U.S. That’s particularly true of California, home of Hollywood, Silicon Valley, a pipeline spill, heavy oil refining and gridlocked freeways.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press newspapers.

Just Posted

FILE – Perry Bellegarde, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations, takes part in an event on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Tuesday, July 7, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous Peoples Day must be a ‘call to action’, says Assembly of First Nations chief

Discovery of children at Kamloops residential school site must lead to change, Perry Bellegarde says

lotto max logo
Are you the lucky winner?

A $1 million ticket was bought in Burns Lake for Friday’s Lotto… Continue reading

Jill Mackenzie carefully replaces books on the shelves at the Houston Public Library. (Angelique Houlihan photo)
District approves annual library grant

Craft kits featured for summer reading club

The tradition of Houston Christian School grads giving Bibles to incoming kindergarten students will take place this year, but outdoors and in a modified fashion. (File photo)
Houston Christian School grad day is June 24

Grads themselves have set tone for the day, says teacher

Scott Richmond will be starting as the new vice principal for HSS and TSE. (Submitted/Houston Today)
Houston gets a new vice principal

Scott Richmond takes over from Dwayne Anderson who moved to Smithers

The border crossing into the United States is seen during the COVID-19 pandemic in Lacolle, Que. on February 12, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
VIDEO: Border quarantine to soon lift for fully vaccinated Canadians

Eligible travellers must still take multiple COVID-19 tests

Chilliwack secondary school’s principal is apologizing after a quote equating graduation with the end of slavery in the U.S. was included in the 2020-2021 yearbook. (Screenshot from submitted SnapChat)
B.C. student’s yearbook quote equates grad to end of slavery; principal cites editing error

Black former student ‘disgusted’ as CSS principal apologizes for what is called an editing error

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross. (Photo by Peter Versteege)
BC Liberal leadership candidate condemns ‘senseless violence’ of Okanagan church fires

Skeena MLA Ellis Ross says reconciliation isn’t about revenge for past tragedies

A coroner’s inquest will be taking place at the Capitol Theatre in Port Alberni for the next week. (ELENA RARDON / ALBERNI VALLEY NEWS)
Teen B.C. mom who died following police custody recalled as ‘friend to many’

Police sent Jocelyn George to hospital after intoxication had gone ‘beyond the realm’ of normal detox

FILE - In this Nov. 29, 2020, file photo, Las Vegas Raiders defensive end Carl Nassib leaves the field after an NFL football game against the Atlanta Falcons in Atlanta. Nassib on Monday, June 21, 2021, became the first active NFL player to come out as gay. Nassib announced the news on Instagram, saying he was not doing it for the attention but because “I just think that representation and visibility are so important.” (AP Photo/John Bazemore, File)
Nassib becomes first active NFL player to come out as gay

More than a dozen NFL players have come out as gay after their careers were over

Penticton Indian Band Chief Greg Gabriel speaks to the Sacred Hearts Catholic Church burning down early Monday morning, June 21, 2021. (Monique Tamminga Western News)
Penticton band chief condemns suspicious burning of 2 Catholic churches

Both Catholic church fires are deemed suspicious, says RCMP

COVID-19 daily cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day moving average to June 17, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections drop to 90 on Sunday, 45 Monday

Pandemic spread dwindles as 77% of adults receive vaccine

By protesting uninvited in First Nations’ territories, conservationists are acting in a neocolonial or paternalistic manner, says Huu-ay-aht Chief Robert Dennis. Photo by Heather Thomson
A closer look: do Vancouver Island First Nations support the war in the woods?

First Nations/environmentalist old growth alliance uneasy, if it exists at all

A blood drive in support of 1-year-old Rielynn Gormley of Agassiz is scheduled for Monday, June 28 at Tzeachten First Nation Community Hall in Chilliwack. Rielynn lives with type 3 von Willebrand disease, which makes it difficult for her to stop bleeding. (Screenshot/Canadian Blood Services)
Upcoming blood drive in honour of Fraser Valley toddler with rare blood condition

The Gormley family has organized a blood drive in Chilliwack on June 28

Most Read