The Failure of British Columbians

Once again, Gordon Campbell has been voted in as our Premier. Before I go into detail about the future of British Columbia, I would like to do a recap of everything we have undergone in the past eight years as a result of Campbell and his Liberal government. We have had 55 mills permanently closed, 25 000 forestry workers now unemployed, 177 public schools have been closed – which resulted in thousands of overcrowded classrooms – a frenzy of privatization, tuition fees have doubled, minimum wage in British Columbia has tied for the lowest in Canada, an increase in homelessness, and we now have the highest child poverty rates in the country. Now that Gordon Campbell has been voted into office for round three, the future of British Columbia is left in his hands. What exactly does this mean for us British Columbians?

To begin with, the Liberal government has plans to lift the oil moratorium off of our coast, which would result in the world’s largest oil tankers being allowed to navigate our narrow inlet, offshore oil rigs being built off of the coast, and a proposed pipeline. The pipeline would be built from the Alberta tar sands to our coastline, which would then allow the large tankers to invade our coast and extract the oil from the pipeline. Experts suggest that if this moratorium is lifted, we could expect an oil spill in the next five to ten years, based on the fact that there are two major oil spills occurring worldwide every month. Recalling the haunting images from the Exxon Valdez oil spill off of the coast of Alaska in the 1980’s, this would be detrimental to our way of life. The Exxon Valdez oil spill devastated communities for 1000 miles along the coast of Alaska, and 20 years later oil deposits can still be found on the beaches of these damaged villages. The spill killed hundreds, if not thousands, of birds, fish, and marine life. If such a thing were to happen off of the coast of British Columbia, our lives would undergo drastic changes that would forever damage the way we live as British Columbians.

Secondly, Gordon Campbell’s actions would result in our wild salmon being replaced with farmed salmon. Due to the fish farms being located in open waters, our native salmon are being threatened with fish louse and diseases that are skulking into the wild from the fish farms. If these fish farms are not contained, eventually the spread of the disease will take over and wipe out our native species. If that isn’t bad enough, all of the species that rely on the salmon for survival will be forced to live without a food source that has been prevalent and available to them for centuries.

Finally, Gordon Campbell and his Liberal government are selling out our natural resources to some of the world’s largest corporations. Campbell plans on privatizing our rivers, which are a necessity when it comes to drinking water, ecotourism, wildlife, and recreation. Through this privatization, our rivers would be sold for dirt cheap to hydroelectric corporations, which will then dam the rivers and use them as a source of hydroelectric power. Despite there being various ways to do so “greenly” – without threatening our wildlife and fish – these companies have no regard for being environmentally friendly. Due to NAFTA, the corporations’ rights to the water could override the environmental rights, which should be in place before devastating our natural resources. Furthermore, some of these rivers reside in some of our last protected wilderness areas in BC. To top it all off, Campbell plans on locking British Columbians into a contract with these companies that requires us to buy our hydro power from them, and therefore we would lose our right to cheap, low cost hydroelectric power and the corporations would be profiting billions off of our backs. He would be selling a natural resource that is abundant in British Columbia to American corporations, which would then gain all the profit off of something we have had in our province forever.

It saddens me greatly to see that Gordon Campbell has, once again, been elected as our Premier. At a disheartening 51% voting turnout (and an even lower 44% in Kelowna), whether this information I bring to the table is new to most, or known to many, the lack of British Columbian’s desire or care to vote, of interest in our future, and of democratic responsibility proves to me that the end result of this election is the failure of British Columbia and its residents.

Originally written in June 2009