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COMMENTARY · 10th February 2011
Walter McFarlane
Sometimes, when you find yourself backing up to get the big picture, you find yourself walking over a cliff.

Recently, there has been a new task force formed in Kitimat, the Kitimat Halibut Allocation Task Force. Basically, 88% of the Halibut stock has been allocated to commercial fisheries while the sports fishermen receive 12%.

The problem with these numbers is, as the 12% gets used up, the number of Halibut which can be caught by Sports Fisherman begins to dwindle and the 11 month season could close as early as the summer months.

In addition, the 88% has been allocated to the commercial fisheries with nothing being asked of them in return. Sports fishermen are now getting organized because, in order to catch the Halibut outside the 12%, you need to purchase a special license from someone representing the 88%.

Is this allocation fair? It might seem to be to the people who implemented it without considering the effects on the Canadian populace. However, this is right up there with quite a few recent decisions, which have been made Provincially and Federally; more notably Provincially.

After all, giving away the Province’s birthright without asking anything in return appears as a common goal amongst the Liberal Government. No community knows this better then Kitimat. After all, we went from a have to a have not community on this exact principle.

Do not believe me?

In recent years, we had the closure of Eurocan by West Fraser as a prime example. First off, the Federal Government invested $30 million into the plant, with the black Liquor subsidy, to assist it with the ability to compete. When the money was all in the hands of the corporation, West Fraser, the mill shut down.

Then there is the appurtenance. Appurtenance is when two items are legally tied together. This could be as every day as your house and your yard. In West Frasier’s case, it refers to the logging rights and the tree farm license in this region being tied to the mill itself.

However, the knot was severed while Mike DeJong was the Forest Minister; a fact which local politician, Councillor Gerd Gottschling, boldly pointing out during DeJongs leadership bid visit.

Of course, raw logs are now being exported to China and we are told it is a good thing. Yes, while exporting products might be a good thing, the less work we put into them, the less return we get on our investment.

Of course, the same can be said for the export of Crude Oil rather then a finished product, the selling of BC’s Fast Ferries and the BC Rail Scandal.

Now someone out there is thinking: ‘This fool is comparing apples to donuts.’ No, I’m comparing the giving away of one resource to the giving away of others. It is the same problem and we should stand together on all of these issues rather then pick and choose the ones which are convenient.

In fact, there is one more good example I can use.

Around the 1950s, the Provincial Government of British Columbia gave water rights to a company known at the time as Alcan in the hopes the company would build smelter and a community. This was all part of a plan to start the industrialization of the North.

However, in the past decade, the appurtenance between the smelter and the power resource has been effectively severed. When the Mayor of the time, Rick Wozney, took the BC Government to Court requesting a ruling, the ruling was Alcan could sell power rather then use the power in the smelter.

This is all the same story; power sales, raw log exports, the allocation of commercial halibut and the appurtenance. It is all giving away our birthright and asking for little to nothing in return.
some truths
Comment by ken des jardin on 12th February 2011
As a long time resident of Kitimat/Kemano I would like to commend Walter on reminding the public about some past truths that younger folk may not be aware of, perhaps in hopes that such arrangements will not be allowed to repeat under current government. These are some of the reasons why young people can't find employment and our econemy is slipping badly. Take note and do not take anything for granted re: gov't actions.