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COMMENTARY · 18th January 2010
Walter McFarlane
Before 2009, three of our City Councillors, Councillor Joanne Monaghan, Councillor Linda Campbell and Councillor Gerd Gottscling, were attending a conference in Fort Saint John. During the conference, a Minister by the name of Neufeld stepped up to the podium and began to speak.

Somewhere in his speech, he said: “We will sacrifice an MP, an MLA and even a Community for the benefit of the Province.” Councillor Gerd Gottschling was so surprised by that statement that he wrote it down on a personal device.

2009 started with those words.

They are words to remember. They show an absence of leadership, an absence of concern and not even a shred of leadership potential. After all, if a leader were to say: “Hey you in the corner. No one likes you so you must die so we can profit,” - they would not be the words of a leader but of a tyrant.

It is not about the good of the province anymore. This is more like a virgin offered to Beelzebub in exchange for profit; something that has been frowned upon by many people for many years.

The question we would like to pose is when did leaders stop being leaders? Leaders are chosen to represent the people of a community, a region, a province, a country. They are put into power to serve equally. Not to represent only the people who voted for them. The mere suggestion that if people do not vote a certain way their livelihood will suffer for it, is blackmail. Aren’t politicians bound by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or do they think that they can circumvent it when they choose?

Leaders are there to serve. Leaders are supposed to look out for the interests of the people they serve. The interests of Kitimat, Prince Rupert, Terrace, Hazelton, Haida Gwaii and Stewart are just as important as the interests of those cities now known as Vancouver, Victoria and the rest of the lower mainland. Our interests are just as important as the interests of corporations. In fact… and not in fiction… Our interests are MORE important than the interests of foreign corporations. The Quebec government realized this when Rio Tinto bought Alcan.

If we have concerns grounded in facts, then we should not be told that they are fictional. It is interesting that people always say: “Do not bite the hand that feeds you.” What if that hand was to stop feeding you? What if the hand was to stop buying the kibble, and the kibble it had bought was running out? What if, as you starve, you cannot go out and find food because the fence someone built is too high or that leash around your neck is too restraining…

That is what the saying means. The expression says that we are no better than someone‘s pet. We are not free, we are owned. We are slaves in a country that prides itself on freedom. And who better to use that expression than the people who are holding the leashes. You know who you are.

Someone is going to say I’m over analyzing. Isn’t this the truth about the Eurocan announcement? Young families who just managed to afford a home in Kitimat with their Eurocan earnings are now tied to a community that has the potential to decline? How about all the others who invested in Kitimat? Aren’t they in that walled off yard? After all, the Kitimat housing market was, according to our government, doing wonderfully in July of 2009. That’s why our assessments are up. However, what if no one’s buying houses in a declining town… Money down the drain.

Why should our hopes and dreams include all of life’s basic necessities? Food, shelter, warmth and a future. What will that future hold?

2009 saw some very interesting times for Kitimat. From dysfunction in City Council, economic problems in Kitimat, further delays from Alcan, Eurocan’s announcement and the inevitable arrival of Enbridge among others, the dominos are all lined up perfectly for 2010.

Any domino could fall. Any domino could knock over others as it falls. Even knock them all down. 2008 was disappointment, 2009 was tragedy. 2010 is uncertainty… There was more to 2009 than met the eye.

Have we been sacrificed? It certainly feels that way. The Kitimat Health Advocacy Group Meetings often question whether we are or not. We were being led to the slaughterhouse by a government that removed appurtenance clauses back in 2003... that could cost us industries.

If you want a prediction for Kitimat, 2010, mine is: "Heads or Tails".

If I were to make an educated guess, I would advise reading our archives or looking for page 7. Page 7 of what is the question I will not answer at this time.

In conclusion, there are more important aspects to leadership than dictating, more important aspects to freedom than slavery and far more important things in life than the almighty dollar. God save us all and Happy New Year… a few days late is better than not at all.
Well stated Walter
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 19th January 2010
As long as we have a government bankrupt of ideas clinging to the concept that resources can be moved from a low employment area to a high employment area because it suits a corporations profit margin we will be screwed. The government sets the rules of the game and these days all rules are measured against the "Is it good for investors?" question. It is not measured against is it good for the community, the region or even the environment, it is only if it increases the wealth of somebody somewhere. And, in this day when globalization is the buzz word it doesn't even have to be somebody in BC.

Years ago the government touted the Heartland Strategy. It was a colossal flop and there has been nothing since but a few crumbs thrown here and there to allow them to pretend they are governing for the whole province.

A Royal Commission years ago told us we should have health care closer to home. That now means closer to some centralized place in the region. Prince George is now the center in case no one noticed. All this even after the Premier promised "Health care when you need it, WHERE YOU NEED IT!"

It is hard to be surprised anymore. We were told he wouldn't sell BC Rail, We were told BC Hydro was safe, we were told he would not harmonize PST and GST, we were told before the election the deficit would be under $500 million this year... and we have been told that if the province wants to sacrifice a community for the good of the "province" that's also part of the rules. Maybe it was that bit of ruthless politics clearly stated that qualified the gentleman to become a senator for the PM.

I have the luxury of observing politics from a detached perspective. Oh yes, I rail every time the government puts its hand in my pocket because they need more money from the average person to give in the form of another tax concession to the corporate interests but at least I don't have to go looking for a job at an age when one should be securing their retirement. I can only imagine how some of those families are copping with that and the thought is enough to make one's blood boil at the outrage.

At the very least it is time that community leader took the gloves off when dealing with provincial politicians. Take them off just like you did from time to time with the government in the 90's. Or was that all just because we were the NDP? If that is the case and you are trying to be nice to these guys who set the rules that determine you futures, let me ask you... How's that working?
The Soap Box Article....
Comment by Larry Walker on 19th January 2010
It has been a long time since I have read such a well thought out article. Whether I agree or disagree is not the point. The point is "it had to be said" and you have done it justice.