LETTER: Government buy out not enough

By Contributor
October 23rd, 2011

To the Editor;

While paying Boss Power resolves a lot of problems,it is a very sad state of affairs and I can only hope that the both the government of B.C. and the federal government will learn from this so that all is not lost.
My comments in this regard are:

1. No government should ever convey the rights to their natural resources to any private enterprise without strict conditions with a hefty fee and an irrevocable take-back clause – “without compensation.” One can still attract investments in our resources by making the tenure terms to access them reasonable and for a relatively short term  – say 10-15 years. Most if not all companies won’t invest money if they can’t make a return on investment in three to five years maximum.

Giving the independent power project (IPP) companies water rights to our rivers for 40 years is a lifetime! and way too long. Granting perpetual resource tenures as most of the timber tenures are is also ludicrous. The only way such long-term tenures can be justified is if the annual fees (royalties, stumpage, rents etc.) are fair to both parties – but most fair to the people of B.C. who own these resources.

Otherwise we’re virtually granting fee simple rights to our resources and if the government is going to actually sell these fee-simple rights then the terms of sale need to be known to the people of B.C. and their okay is acquired. A few years ago the government owed compensation to Weyerhaeuser for taking back part of their tree farm for a provincial park. The government stated they would pay Weyerhaeuser “in-kind’ by granting (giving) them some other crown land in lieu of money. The people of B.C. protested loudly and clearly and the government backed off and paid with cash.

Any move to privatize and sell forever, or nearly so, any of our resources to private interests should only be done with the consent of the people. The resources belong to them.

2. In B.C. we recently paid out several millions of dollars to “buy back” 20 percent of our timber resources from private companies.

3. Approximately 30 years ago, the government of the day (either Socred or New Democratic Party) hired a retired lawyer named Richard Schwindt to investigate the topic – which turned out to the be title of his investigation – “Compensation for Resource Taking.” His ultimate findings were that government likely did owe compensation for such resource taking. I highly recommend this book for useful reference.

4. In view of this the principle in # 1 holds all too true.

5. Yet, in spite of this the recent and current Liberal Governments of B.C. are virtually giving away our water rights to several private companies (for IPPs, Fracking; golf courses, snow making, condominum development etc.) so they can make money from same. We will never be able to afford to buy these rights back as water is already, in many parts of the world, priceless! It is getting close to that here. Whoever controls the water of a country controls that country!

6. Ditto for BC Hydro: the Liberals are continually and rapidly emasculating B.C. Hydro and we, the people of B.C., are the big time and forever losers! Water is power—literally and figuratively speaking. BC Hydro must remain a strong, independent Crown corporation and not be subject to the government’s of the day ‘power’ fiats!

7. It was the Liberal Government that messed up by allowing the moratorium on uranium mining to expire. In many ways the Liberals, not the people of B.C., should, therefore, pay the penalty.

8. Also, while it will never happen, Boss Power should be thankful they were stopped as it saved them literally millions of dollars and many years of anquish. Nuclear reactors are not a salable item anywhere in the world today and uranium mining never was and never will be acceptable in the Boundary area.

There are about 10,000 people in the Boundary area – the vast majority of which were and always will be against uranium mining – especially in their back yard and river system.

Ditto the 10,000 plus people of Big White – imagine one of Big White’s selling points being – “one can ski at night because the snow we make from the Kettle Drainage glows in the dark!” I’m sure people would flock to experience this phenomenon!

Ditto the 100,000 plus people of Kelowna and millions of people of Washington state and Oregon etc. who would experience either the upwind and/or the downstream fallout caused by such mining.

I have never engaged in civil disobedience. Yet I would have if it had been necessary to stop Boss Power’s exploitation of the Kettle River uranium deposits. I am sure that even with all the new jails Harper has planned –  they would not begin to hold the many people who would have laid down their lives to stop such exploitation.

In my mind Boss power, or any entity so inclined, knew there would be extensive opposition to their proposal yet proceeded anyhow. What did they expect? I expect they got pretty near what they expected – several million dollars in their coffers!

Lets work to make sure this does not continue to happen with our water and other resources!

Thanks for listening.

Fred Marshall
Greenwood, B.C. 

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