PEJ News - C. L. Cook - The deadline has come and gone for Premier Campbell's signing on to the deal struck with environmental groups and the timber industry to protect the Great Bear Rainforest. Over the past week, I've conducted an e:mail interview with intrepid local environmental activist, Ingmar Lee from his new digs in India. In case Gordon Campbell's Liberals, or their pals in Big Timber thought Ingmar's departure a welcome thorn out of their side; think again boys!
Great Bear Rainforest Deal
An E-mail Interview with Ingmar Lee
by C. L. Cook
October 1, 2005
"Can we finally stand together now, and start working together against this monstrous, lying, voracious forest-destroying industry/government consortium??!! Can we finally unite behind an uncompromising NO MORE OLD GROWTH LOGGING stance? Can we now go around the world and without fetter, denounce and damage the BC logging industry? - Ingmar Lee
[chris cook] Greetings again, Ingmar; I've just reread your CounterPunch.org piece, "Compromise with a Chainsaw" and the blood boils anew! A while back, I did an e-mail interview with Mickey Z. (I was the interviewee for a change!) It basically goes like this: I pose a question and you respond. If you're into it, we'll go until a logical stopping point presents itself. I'll then clean it up for posting at PEJ and on Gorilla Radio Blog.
So, in reference to your article, I'd like to know the mechanics of the Rain Forest Solutions Project (RSP)?
[Ingmar Lee] Great idea and I'm up for it!
[Lee] It's been impossible to understand the mechanics of the Rainforest Solutions Project (RSP) because it's been an entirely secretive closed circle clique which has not communicated any aspect of its strategies or end-goal vision. It's only been in the last few years that it's begun to come to light amongst the larger enviro-community that a complicated machination between government, industry and the RSP enviros, namely Greenpeace, BC Sierra Club, Forest Ethics and the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has been going on.
[chris cook] These are icons of the environmental movement you're talking about. They've spent years, millions of person-hours by hundreds of thousands. Now, they're too suspect?
[Lee] It is apparent that right off the bat, the enviro's accepted major compromises just to be able to sit at the table with industry, the Weyerhaeuser, Interfor, Western, CANFOR and Norske Skog consortium with whom they've been bargaining. Although the RSP negotiators lost enormously in the "Great Bear Rainforest" (GBR) negotiations and have not got a deal which will protect the areas outstanding natural biodiversity, they sacrificed Vancouver Island and the rest of BC's forests in exchange for discussions on the 22 million acre GBR.
[chris cook] We both have lived on Vancouver Island for many years, so perhaps our readers can take this as a biased issue, but living on an island, in a geo-graphically finite environment, the effects of industrial sized forestry is all the more stark.
[Lee] Over the past few years, we've seen all forest initiatives being undertaken by the RSP ENGO's on Vancouver Island shut down. The Sierra Club of BC, a long-time fighter for Vancouver Island's forests shut down all of its Vancouver Island campaigns in spite of its head office being located in Victoria. Have you ever seen Greenpeace on Vancouver Island? RAN has got a huge international campaign going against Weyerhaeuser, with the single exception of BC, because of the GBR negotiations. The logging of Vancouver Island has run amok without a peep of complaint from the big groups. The WCWC [http://www.wildernesscommittee.org/] might send out a print-run of flyers once and a while or a petition here and there, or amass 40-50 people down at the Ledge, [B.C. Legislature Buildings, seat of provincial government, located in Victoria: http://members.shaw.ca/Glenndell2/GlennImages/LegBuilding.jpg] but there's been no concerted, organized campaign whatsoever.
It's outrageous that in 2003, a road was pushed into East Creek, the 85th of 91 primary watersheds on Vancouver Island to face the axe, without the slightest complaint from organized enviro. The Vancouver Island marmot is virtually extinct in the wild due to voracious unconscionable logging, and not a single group is there to defend it. In spite of years of flyers and petitions by the WCWC, clear-cut logging in the Walbran's ancient forests has continued apace and East Creek is being destroyed. The only thing which has put a check on the destruction has been volunteer, anarchist citizens groups and First Nations staging direct-action civil-disobedience blockades.
[chris cook] Tactics has always been a big debate within the community of local and off-islanders concerned with forest practices and the environmental situation both here and throughout B.C. The logic of one argument strives for "mainstream" support, so fears alienating possible allies through either direct action, or being seen to support those actions.
[Lee] The RSP compromise-collaborationist approach, combined with funding commitment obligations and charitable status has been devastating to our forests and has completely neutered our once-strong and proud forest-protection community. Volunteer activists are now expected to show up to lick envelopes for fundraising mail-outs at Big ENGO [Environmental Non-Government Organization] offices and shut up while the professionals sit down and talk. Whenever citizens do take the initiative and get out there to directly confront the logging, not only do they not receive a stitch of help from Big-ENGO, but they are denigrated and even sneered at for being confrontational and 'extremist.' Betty Krawcyzk rotted in jail for 10 months for standing up to Weyerhaeuser in the Walbran and was ignored, and the peace-loving vegan forest activist Tre Arrow continues to languish in a BC jail, utterly ignored and even castigated by professional BC enviros. He's been branded as an "eco-terrorist" by the corporate media, and if he is deported back to the USA, could well be destined for the American-gulag torture chambers at Guantanamo Bay.
[chris cook] British Columbia has an image in the rest of Canada that roughly apes the stereotypes much of the U.S. has of California: A "hang-loose" attitude, essentially Liberal. In the salons of Ottawa and Toronto, we quaint "Left Coasters," in the local parlance, exist in "Lotus Land." But the B.C. political reality is a long way from Berkley.
[Lee] What's also greatly disturbing is how this deal has been manoeuvred in order to accommodate the political ambitions of Gordon Campbell. Let's face it, with the bulk of his election financing derived from Big Logging, the Campbell government is bought lock, stock an barrel. It's so abundantly clear that if Big Logging has bought into the GBR compromise, that Campbell will follow suit. It's not Campbell who calls the shots in the BC forests. Yet with all the current RSP 'down to the wire' "Stand Tall for the GBR ~write the Premier" hype which is blanketing the BC and international media, the compromisers would have the people believe that everybody's on board for the momentous deal except Campbell.
It was expected that he would endorse it in the lead up to the last BC election, to send voters the message that he had "turned over a new Green leaf." But that Campbell political calculus was not to be and he deferred the decision. That was a big mistake, as he really took a beating over his visionless, substance-devoid environmental stance and all his most rampant pro-logging industry MLA's like Rod Visser, Gillian Trumper and Bill Belsey all went down to defeat. Stan Hagen only eked in by the skin of his teeth. It's clear that British Columbian's punished Campbell for his myopic and destructive treatment of the BC forests.
[chris cook] Victoria, Vancouver Island, and the whole of B.C. is an international tourist destination - the old Social Credit Party ads remind: 'Super Natural British Columbia.' - and those visitors lucky enough to connect with the soaring natural world surviving here tend too to feel a responsibility toward it and have mounted huge boycotts against forestry practices here; is that sentiment still strong over there?
[Lee] When I was touring Germany, Denmark and Sweden in November 2003, lecturing on the "Vancouver Island Clear-cutting Massacre" I stopped in at the 'Verbrand Deutsche Papierfabriken' offices in Bonn which is the major conduit through which BC forest products flow into Germany. I went there to plead with the VDP executives to stop purchasing BC forest products derived from ancient forests and I showed them graphic current evidence of what Weyerhaeuser and ilk were doing to our forests. Their response? They pulled out a fax, fresh sent from the Gordon Campbell government, that "all was well in the BC woods because of the momentous RSP/industry/government negotiations which had settled all the GBR issues. The fax even mentioned that the parties had settled on the protection of just 21% of the GBR tract, and now the War in the Woods was over. Campbell was saying to his major global wood-product customers that it was now ethical to purchase such product from BC, and the RSP enviro-endorsement guaranteed it.
So all this nonsense about getting the people to write to Campbell begging him to sign is just a smokescreen to build as much momentum of support for this pathetic deal as possible. The idea is that if Campbell is seen to be balking at signing, then there must be some impressive environmental significance to it. So then when he does sign, the RSP enviro's will claim that they've achieved a monumental victory in bringing on board one of the most ruthless forest-destroying Premiers in BC history.
[chris cook] They will have converted the most blatantly pro-corporate agenda this province has yet known?
[Lee] What a horrific bunch of Greenwash bularky! Campbell signed on to the GBR deal long ago, and all this dragging it out is simply to cater most optimally to his political agenda. The foot-dragging has also allowed the companies to get a major head-start on destroying the area under Campbell's awful 'Forest and Range Practices' Act, and to dither over the as-yet undefined "Eco-system Based Management" which is just more Greenwash for the destruction of intact primeval forest. Just like the scam of 'variable retention' logging took that wind out of the citizen actions to stop clear-cutting 10 years ago, the scam of compromise-collaborationism between BIG ENGO and the government/industry consortium will buy the industry another 10 years to finish off the GBR. By the time the BC public recognizes how severely they were hoodwinked that magnificent Great Bear Rainforest will have been reduced to another BC steaming stump-field.
The crux of the problem is simple: The GBR deal Greenwashes the further destruction of intact primeval forests. These are the final repositories of the Earth's most magnificent biodiversity. Less that 20% of the planets ancient forests remain intact an they're going fast.
The solution is simple: NO MORE LOGGING IN ANCIENT FORESTS
[chris cook] Thanks, Ingmar; but allow me one further question, please: Recent developments here, and I know you're currently on the other side of the world, but the on-going Canada-U.S. softwood lumber trade dispute is turning. In the wake of the recent disaster in New Orleans and the great need there to rebuild, a growing chorus of industry voices in the United States are clamouring for the ditching of U.S. tariffs long levied against Canadian, and especially B.C. wood imports. What's your understanding of the cross-border dispute, and how does its fate effect the future of British Columbia's forests and the creatures calling those woods home?
[Lee] As far as Canada/USA goes, to anyone who looks, the USA is going down, and once the Chinese call the debt home, and fuel prices double, the crash will make the fall of the Berlin Wall look like a picnic. All around the world, Bush has utterly ruined the already widely unpopular USA 'reputation.' I have hardly seen any Americans at all since I've been on the road here in India, and from the local sentiment, I can see why. Wearing a USA flag anywhere is asking for trouble big time. Even in Victoria, one hardly sees a USA flag on the millions of American tourists who are now swarming to Canada, quite rightly afraid to go elsewhere in the world for their vacations. I take it as a personal duty in Victoria to remind anyone I see wearing the USA flag, that what it represents around the world today is: attack, invade, occupy, torture and massacre, and it says "See Me, ~I'm in total support of George W. Bush and his global domination agenda."
No ethical or sane American will wear a USA flag outside the United States.
[chris cook] Canada is so tightly tied to the United States: They’re our biggest single trading partner by far, and “we’ve” invested so much time and effort drawing up trade agreements it seems improbable that this country would ever take a stand against American trade, or their odious foreign policies.
[Lee] Canada absolutely must tear up the quisling Mulroney NAFTA scam, and shut off all the southbound oil, water and forest spigots. If we must sell our resources instead of keeping them around for our grandchildren, there are many ethical places around the world thatwill pay just as much or more.
And now we see that Campbell hasn't signed the [GBR] deal after all, although the ever-compliant RSP, grovelling once again, has extended his contract by another two weeks!
Therefore if Gordon Campbell has refused to endorse the "Great Bear Rainforest" 'consensus' reached between the RSP and the logging industry, that has to be because that's what industry told him to do!!
Today’s [Oct. 1, 2005] non-announcement is a huge coup for the logging industry, which will have gained 7 years of complete acquiescence from the RSP groups to gut and destroy Vancouver Island and other forests around BC without complaint, and to get a big head start on trashing the GBR. Campbell's non-endorsement of the deal will further set back the agreed-to 2009 'compliance date' by which time GBR loggers were to have switched from clear-cut destruction to some vaguely defined EBM logging system.
It's as rotten as that folks, - the GBR discussions tied down the most powerful voices in ENGO, sat them down behind closed doors for 7 years, sucked millions of dollars out of the movement, neutered direct forest activism, and seriously divided the environmental community.
Weyerhaeuser, Interfor, CANFOR, Norske Skog, Western and their Gordon Campbell lackey has ruthlessly backstabbed their RSP partners and the central coast First Nations.
Today was Campbell's deadline, but the only people celebrating at the Champagne Party are logging corporations and their government lackeys.
Can we finally stand together now, and start working together against this monstrous, lying, voracious forest-destroying industry/government consortium??!! Can we finally unite behind an uncompromising NO MORE OLD GROWTH LOGGING stance? Can we now go around the world and without fetter, denounce and damage the BC logging industry.
Or how much more lying, expense, scamming, grovelling and embarrassment are the RSP groups willing to endure, and expose our community to, over this dreadful, rotten deal?
Disgusted all around, Ingmar
To learn more about forestry and other ecological issues on Vancouver Island and British Columbia, check out Ingmar Lee’s writings on PEJ.org here.
Ingmar Lee is a Vancouver Island environmentalist, whose activism encompasses Nanaimo’s toxic watershed, the too few wild places left on the island, and the protection of its endangered wildlife. He’s been a loud and persistent voice for change across all media, an unflinching critic of corporate irresponsibility and government’s refusal to fulfill their duty to the people of British Columbia and future generations. He’s a graduate student of Asian and Environmental Studies at the University of Victoria, currently studying in India. Ingmar spent more than two decades working in the coastal woods of British Columbia as a tree-planter, and estimates he’s planted more than a million trees.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, a weekly public affairs program, broad/webcast from UVic. He also serves as a contributing editor to PEJ News. This e:mail exchange took place between late September and October 2005. Interview questions are ‘post-write’ insertions, included to create a conversational flow.
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