Dasque Creek is ruined. Since nobody appears to be making salmon streams anymore, this is a damn shame. It’s also shameful that a large chunk of wilderness through which the creek flows is no longer accessible to you and me. This is what happens when you privatize crown land.
Before the creek and the irreplaceable habitat it nourishes were being turned inside out, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) could have stepped in and used the power of the Fisheries Act to stop the project. Failing that, DFO had the opportunity to demand mitigation in the form of spawning channels that could have been constructed at the company’s expense once the destruction was underway.
But with an ultra right wing majority government that sees the protection of wild things as an impediment to industrial growth – and is presently dismantling the Fisheries Act and gutting the already meagre ranks of DFO’s habitat division – in power in Ottawa, that wasn’t going to happen.
The ruin of Dasque and Middle Creeks is being done under the pretext of acquiring hydropower. It’s one of many Independent Power Projects or IPPs compromising wild salmon streams throughout our province. The Campbell government (of which our current premier was an important part of until the BC Rail Scandal burst into public view) pushed IPPs zealously despite the skepticism of the experts at BC Hydro who viewed the intermittent power generated from IPPs as sketchy at best.
Setting aside the economic and moral sins of destroying irreplaceable and invaluable wildlife values for a moment, the question of why a private company from Alberta should be allowed to profit by harnessing the power of our streams when our own crown corporation, BC Hydro – through most of its history the envy of other North American utilities – could have but didn’t, seems strange until you learn that IPPs aren’t profitable unless they can sell their power to BC Hydro at an inflated price. So why does Hydro buy power at a loss? Because your provincial government passed legislation that forces them to.
Don’t forget that privatization is holy tenet to ultra right wing zealots like the BC Liberals. Eventually, the once immensely profitable BC Hydro will run up a massive debt and the Liberals will then use this fact to argue falsely that the Crown Corporation needs to be privatized to become more efficient and profitable again. Remember: transferring public money into private hands is the modus operandi for Neo Conservatives.
This was not the only vile legislation passed by the Liberal Government in connection with IPPs. When the first project was slated for the Ashlu River, the Squamish Regional District objected. Then, regional districts in B.C. had the power to block projects of this nature that fell within their jurisdictions.
Seeing this as a threat to their grand plan to privatize our province’s rivers and, essentially, give away more of our natural resources, Gordon Campbell and his crew stepped in again with legislation that removed the power to stop IPPs by locally elected governments. This diminishing of local authority was one of so many scandals perpetrated by Campbell and his cronies that went under-reported by the provincial media. Had a similar piece of legislative skullduggery been enacted by a New Democrat government, you can bet your pay cheque it would have been prominently featured in the provincial media for months.
The IPP fiasco wasn’t the only power scandal committed by the Liberals. Alcan was top aluminum dog for years thanks to cheap power and lax environmental laws. At the same time they were making huge profits selling power to Hydro. A few years ago the BC Utilities Commission ruled that the original agreement signed by the aluminum giants and the province did not allow them to continue making out like bandits as they had in the past. That ruling was overturned by the Campbell government and also went scandalously underreported by B.C.s privately owned media (which is almost all of B.C.’s media).
The critical difference between today’s provincial right wingers and their predecessors is that the former are adherents of right wing trickle down economic theories of Friedman and Hyack as first implemented by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. These principles are so right wing they would have made Adam Smith blanch. The Savings and Loan and Enron scandals, and the recent collapse of Wall Street, have proved that such nonsense simply does not work.
The Socreds, right wingers to be sure, believed their ultimate duty was to do well by the people of the province. The Liberals, who should change their party name to “the Corporatist Party of BC,” believe government should kowtow to multinational corporations while privatizing everything in sight. IPPs, fish farms, raw log export, resource giveaways, and demise of profitable government utilities are a consequence of this bogus ideology.