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BC Votes '09: Your Issues

Furious Rebuke to Suzuki, Berman

Salmon advocate Alexandra Morton enraged at support for BC Libs.

Bill Tieleman 21 Apr

A shorter version of this column was printed in 24 hours newspaper on Tuesday April 21, 2009.

Bill Tieleman is a 24 hours columnist and regular Tyee contributor. Hear him Mondays at 10 a.m. on CKNW AM 980's Bill Good Show. E-mail: [email protected] Website:

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Morton: 'Your love-in is a betrayal.'

"As the living systems of this part of the world are under the final assault by the B.C. Liberal government, you make headlines. You seem to have no idea of what Gordon Campbell is bringing down on us." -- Marine researcher/fish farm opponent Alexandra Morton to David Suzuki, Tzeporah Berman and others.

What kind of environmentalists would support B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell for imposing a 2.4 cent a litre gas tax when not one penny goes to public transit or expenditures that reduce pollution?

What kind of environmentalists support a B.C. Liberal government that radically expanded fish farms that are devastating wild salmon, promotes offshore oil and gas drilling, privatized rivers and streams for power projects, slashed wildlife protection, ended a ban on trophy hunting for grizzly bears and offers hundreds of millions in tax incentives for fossil fuel exploration?

Meet David Suzuki, Tzeporah Berman and friends.

In a well-timed attack as the election began last week, Suzuki and Berman blasted the New Democratic Party for rejecting the B.C. Liberals' unfair and ineffective carbon tax while ignoring the government's disastrous environmental record.

Neither Suzuki nor Berman have yet endorsed Campbell outright but they knew their assault would hurt the NDP and help the B.C. Liberals.

Statements don't add up

Berman even claimed she was a "long-time" NDP supporter who "quit" over the gas tax and had no connection to the B.C. Liberals -- two quickly disproved statements.

Berman's one-year NDP membership expired more than two years ago, said NDP campaign manager Gerry Scott, before the carbon tax was imposed.

As to B.C. Liberals, Berman told the Tyee: "I never talk to them. I have no ties to the Liberal Party, anyone can see that."

But in an April 15 e-mail obtained by the Tyee, Berman told a group called the "BC Energy and Climate Leaders": "I just spoke with the Minister who said that given our concerns that we have been raising etc they have committed... to creating a new green energy advisory task force..."

Berman continued: "I think this is a great step and a result of our work. He is open to recommendations on who should sit on it but names will not be announced until after the election."

Donors to the Suzuki Foundation, PowerUp, the Pembina Institute and ForestEthics might want to send those groups a clear message about what they think of charitable organizations working hard to re-elect a government with the worst environmental record in the province's history.

Morton's blast

And voters should heed Alexandra Morton's message on May 12.

That e-mail message in full was sent to Suzuki, Berman and Karen Campbell of the Pembina Institute, as well to several environmental list serves -- it reads as follows:

Subject: PUNISH CAROLE JAMES!!!!!!!!

To Karen Campbell, David Suzuki, Tzeporah Berman

You want to punish Carole James??? Do you think this is grade school we are in? IS this really the most brilliant thing you could do?

As the living systems of the part of the world are under the final assault by the BC Liberal Government, you make headlines.

Do you realize that without so much as a heads up to those of us in the trenches trying to keep this coast alive you just snuffed out decades of work?

I am disgusted with the environmentalism in BC. There is no respect for anyone, least of all your peers.

You seem to have no idea of what Gordon Campbell is bringing down on us, irreversible wild salmon extinctions.....what do the trees that pull carbon out of the atmosphere need to survive???? SALMON!!!!!!

Your love in with Campbell is a betrayal to all that are alive in BC. Campbell is selling BC's most vital resources....fresh running water...And that is OK with you? Because you sure did not get that into the headlines.

Yeah, you got big what. If Campbell gets re-elected you can take the credit for all that follows.

I hope your funders are pleased with you because them and the Campbell government are the only ones.

Alexandra Morton

Question of priorities

Actually, only Tzeporah Berman has specifically called out Carole James and her NDP for punishment. At a press conference that Berman did not attend, representatives of the Suzuki Foundation and Pembina Institute declared their support of the carbon tax without attacking Carole James for her opposition to it.

But Morton's comments do raise the issue of why the environmental groups are taking such a strong and confrontational position over the carbon tax and private power producers, defending the B.C. Liberals. Rumours continue to fly that environmental funders in the United States are pushing hard to ensure that B.C. becomes the first North America jurisdiction to implement a carbon tax.

Berman denied in a Georgia Straight interview that her organization PowerUp -- which advocates support for so-called "green power" independent power producers and their run-of-river projects -- is funded by the industry.

But it's not just Morton who is upset. A host of environmental leaders have taken umbrage with the Suzuki and friends attack.

Former Society Promoting Environment Conservation transportation campaigner David Fields is one of them, telling Public Eye Online that: "I would caution groups like The Pembina Institute and ForestEthics and campaigners like Tzeporah Berman to avoid making this mistake in the future," Fields said regarding their failure to consult other environmental organizations about that briefing. "It stands to alienate them from other environmental groups -- which it has already."

Meanwhile, if you do oppose the unfair B.C. gas tax, you can join more than 9,000 others on my "Axe The BC Gas Tax" Facebook protest group.

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