Recently, when I called for action on behalf of our children’s children, I received a response that said, “I don’t know them, I will never meet them, I will be long gone. Why should I sacrifice a single dollar in my pocket for a hoard of total strangers who don’t even exist yet?” This person, and those like him, can stop reading right now. For those who will stay with me, I thank you in advance.
In 1996, I was head-campaigner in a Western Canada Wilderness Committee campaign nick-named the “Bear Referendum”, which was a formal citizen-launched initiative, registered with Elections BC, towards banning bear hunting in British Columbia. This necessitated me to execute a 60-day road tour from June to August throughout BC covering 50 cities, in most of which I was confronted by townhalls full of hostile hunters and guide-outfitters, many times over 50, once up to 130. WCWC founder and project Proponent Paul George wrote, “Anthony’s blunt and unflappable style infuriated the opposition”. All in all, I returned to Vancouver after the tour unscathed.
My mission for this 60-day tour was to build a volunteer force throughout the province for collecting the prescribed amount of certified signatures for the Initiative Petition during the ensuing 90-day period (August-December) from at least 10% of the registered voters of each and every one of the 75 electoral districts in British Columbia. By the time the tour was concluded, the volunteer force had grown to 1800 strong, even though more were still needed.
The campaign was a huge media draw. By year end, it had generated over 250 newspaper articles and dozens of hours of radio and television debates and interviews, and was hailed by the Canadian national newspaper the Global and Mail as the “highest profile Canadian animal advocacy campaign in 1996”. Though a few electoral districts fell short of the 10%, the project was nonetheless widely recognized as the most massive public outreach campaign on the issue of Recreational Hunting and Trophy-Hunting, ever, which raised public sentiments against them to a red heat.
Please see this blog for details of this campaign, and excerpts of some of the media generated: http://homosapienssaveyourearth.blogspot.ca/2010/12/gratitude-4-to-1800-volunteers-of-bear_26.html
Now, it is 2012, and the world is a much different and far more dangerous place, one in fact in a state of global environmental emergency. Now, it is pipelines, tankers, the tar sands and the threat of runaway global heating. My friend and co-author (of book [HOMO SAPIENS SAVE YOUR EARTH]) Dr. Peter Carter asked me to speak at the public hearing next week at Smithers in northern BC along the “Highway of Tears” and the proposed pipeline route. I was in process of mulling it over when, lo and behold, the commission issued a statement barring input on the environmental effects of the tars sands themselves:
“2.3.1 Assessment of Environmental Effects Associated with Development of Oil Sands
The Panel heard requests from numerous participants that it include environmental
effects associated with the development of Alberta’s oil sands in its assessment of the environmental effects associated with the Project. For the reasons that follow, we have not added consideration of the environmental effects of oil sands development to the revised List of Issues.”
This is like trying the Michael Jackson murder case while barring all evidence of the source and effect of the drug.
But I’m not surprised. Through my 7 long CARE-tours, the last – CARE-7 – covering 40 states in 7 months, I have participated in and spoken at dozens of public hearings in numerous provinces and states. Perhaps with a few rare exceptions, they are all by-and-large foregone conclusions cemented in closed door meetings of the power-that-be – prior to the public hearing, which then become little more than public displays of pseudo-democracy.
This has driven me to again consider DIRECT Democracy – another citizen-launched Initiative a la the 1996 “Bear Referendum” campaign, this time, by means of a formal Initiative Vote on whether or not the citizens of British Columbia want a pipeline conveying the dirtiest oil in the world from Alberta to the BC coast, and from there via hazardous tanker traffic to China.
Of course, this may not succeed, but, let’s face it the “public” hearings will end in the pipeline being built, so, WHAT DO WE HAVE TO LOSE? At least, we will have the 250 newspaper articles and dozens of hours of radio and television debates and interviews, and the project will at least succeed as a huge public outreach campaign.
For the rules of the engagement as set up by Elections BC, please see:
The time frame I have in mind is as follows:
May and June – preliminary networking period to build an alliance of environmental and animal advocacy groups in support of the Initiative Proponent which, according Elections BC rules, must be an individual, to counteract the Opponents, which can be any number of groups and organizations, which will include raising funds for the project, given that both the Proponent and the Opponent(s) are both allowed the same expenditure ceiling, and, believe me, the Opponent(s)’ funding tank will be filled with oil money.
July and August – the prescribed 60-day organizational period, when I will conduct a 60-day road tour to build the volunteer force and generate media coverage, and of course confront and be confronted by the Opponents, which will generate even more media coverage. This will inform, educate, energize and mobilize the people of BC to action.
September through December – the 90-day Initiative Petition period where the volunteers in all 85 electoral districts will collect the required 10% signatures in all 85 electoral districts.
Whether or not this project will go ahead will depend on how much participation and support will come from the environmental and animal advocacy communities of BC, but by the end of April a firm decision will have been made. If you or your group wish to join this project and make some history, please contact me.
I call, further, for international and global participation in and support for this project, since not just British Columbia, but the entire planet, for now and in our children’s future, are at stake.
3-hour-flight over the tar sands in 50 minutes – by Anthony Marr.
Anthony Marr, Founder and President
Heal Our Planet Earth (HOPE)
Global Anti-Hunting Coalition (GAHC)