NICHOLS: talking about an apology from another columnist

Well! An apology? To me? But why? Who am I to receive a public apology?

I appreciate the thought, Judy Kucharuk, but why to me? If anything, the apology should have been directed to the people of this country. It is the people of the western South Peace who will bear the brunt of this monstrosity. I was merely trying to stir up the creative minds of the people and make them aware of the plans simmering in the secret chambers of Government. Even last fall, I didn’t fully realize the potential impact on our lives. I had hopes for a reasonable outcome if the people could be mobilized to speak their truth to power. Now we have the Agreement in color-coded-for-clarity marks on paper that are pretty hard to misinterpret.

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As you know by now, the Premier and the Minister most responsible for our pain have both visited the Peace and courageously or brazenly (we’ll never know) have attended a special, closed meeting of the Peace River Regional District Board. (We can only speculate as to the exchange in that august chamber.) We do note that they did not touch down on ground zero. Clearly, our voices have carried to Victoria with enough volume to shake them out of their comfort zones. But were we heard? A delegation of the Regional Board was assured by Ministerial staff in September that we had been heard. My own ears detected the comforting sounds. No, I didn’t believe them at the time and more time only has proved the promise illusory. 

So, where to now? What options do the peaceful people of the Peace have to preserve their livelihoods, their homes, their investments, and their cherished way of life?

We have been very clear, and some have even been surprisingly restrained and eloquent in speaking truth to the minions of Power since Power, in the person of at least the Minister, chose not to be present at the community “conversations” of a few weeks ago. I don’t know what other or more words we have in our lexicon that could carry more persuasively our meaning to Power. Perhaps the words need to be arranged differently and be delivered by, for example, a Superior Court Judge issuing an injunction to put all works on hold for the next five years while more sensible plans are developed by more reasonable minds. 

In fairness to our Government, it is doing a reasonably good job in other areas such as LNG. Caribou Recovery, however is a monster feeding the egos of countless environmental organizations and people with apparently very deep pockets who are pressuring the Federal Government to take action under the Species at Risk Act (SARA). SARA, itself, is poorly thought out, though the intent may be laudable. So our Government is faced with limited options, one of which would be to follow the example of Alberta and resist the encroachment of the Feds.

The powers of SARA have been invoked twice only: once a single building project was stopped or moved to accommodate an endangered amphibian and once a tract of grazing land was regulated to protect endangered sage grouse in Alberta. In neither case was the disruption more than minerly inconveniencing. In the case of the South Peace caribou, whole communities will be in disarray and dismay. SARA overreaches its intent in this case. 

It seems possible that Ottawa might be taking its cues from New York and, in attempting to cozy up to the United Nations, is trampling on the lives of its own citizens.

Mr. Trudeau, can you hear?

One outcome of the visit of Power to the Peace is the appointment of Blair Lekstrom, former South Peace MLA, former Minister of Highways, former Mayor of Dawson Creek, and presently Councillor in Dawson Creek to collect our caribou words and carry them to the Premier. By this means Mr. Lekstrom will be communicating our frustration, our fear, even our positive ideas to the Premier in language that the Premier can understand; and directly to the Premier, not to those who will shield him from the raw truth.

I don’t think that Mr. Horgan is out to get us. No Premier in a right mind would willingly see whole communities go down when it is within the power of the office to prevent the tragedy. But he’s in a difficult position with his power base almost exclusively in the lower mainland and Vancouver Island (only four MLAs outside of that special zone). Don’t expect to garner much sympathy there with our wailing.

All this means that the people of the Peace have to keep up the pressure on all levels of government, keep up the courage, and keep working.

Over the past year I’ve said about all I have to say on this sorry topic. You’ll be tired of hearing me on the same thing again and again. But you do have to wake up, get up, and shake up our Governments. Your way of life and living depend on it.

Oh, by the way, from the ancients we learn that “by pride comes nothing but strife, but with the well-advised is wisdom” and that those who have ears should listen.

Mr. Trudeau? Mr. Horgan? 


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