Faithless Servant: When Government Goes Bad

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When a Partner is Unfaithful
by Betty Krawczyk l Betty's Early Edition
What to do, when your partner is cheating behind your back? Or, when your best friend spreads malicious gossip about you? Or, when your trusted boss hires a younger, better looking employee whom you begin to suspect is there to replace you?
What happens to your sense of self when your own government, with whom you occasionally disagree, but nevertheless feel has your best interests at heart, sneakily double crosses you?
And once awareness of such betrayal sinks in, how are We the People to manage our crushing disappointment in the institutions of government?
I suggest that complete loss of faith in our federal and provincial governments may be as devastating as loss of trust in other valued or beloved relationships.
The same emotional elements are there which include a deep, abiding sense of betrayal. And, in environmental circles I believe this is beginning to affect people like David Suzuki. David has announced that he is separating himself from his foundation so he can speak out more freely against the forces that are hell bent on destroying our earth without jeopardizing the charitable status of his foundation. It’s about time. I’m pleased, even if it did take the threat of losing the foundation’s charitable status for David to make the move. I’ve always suspected that a no holds barred activist (as opposed to, or in conjunction with David’s role as teacher, film maker, lecturer) lay beneath that learned heart. And there was another announcement this past week from another notable environmentalist, Valerie Langer from ForestEthics.

I worked with Valerie from the beginning of the Clayoquot Sound Blockades of 1993 (she worked; I was promptly thrown into jail and stayed there for the duration). Valerie’s knowledge of the rainforest and her committed desire to save Clayoquot Sound from clear cut logging seemed marvelous to me. I was equally impressed by scenes from old films of logging blockades in Clayoquot Sound prior to 1993. These scenes depicted Valerie and a handful of other blockaders on isolated logging roads trying to slow the clear cutting of ancient public forests. There was nobody there to protect Valerie and her colleagues then, no police, no media, no protection of any kind, just a few young, environmentally clued-in young people, brave and heroic, as they stood up against the machines of the powerful. But later I did feel, and I still feel, that several of the environmental groups, including ForestEthics, put their faith, not in themselves, but in an unfaithful partner…the BC government.

Governments, both provincial and federal, will try to explain away their past records and may proceed much the same as a lover bent on seduction when they go after environmental activists. Having chosen to lay the honey trap, so to speak, there will be many smiles, flatterings and promises of undying love. The seduced, the morning after, will awaken with more than a headache. They will awaken with trashed dreams. When ForestEthics, GreenPeace and Sierra Club BC signed onto a deal with the government in hopes of saving the Great Bear Rain Forest from logging they signaled that in exchange for the agreement there would be no more “war in the woods”. In my opinion they had no right to do this as these three groups didn’t own the war and they didn’t own the woods. However, this strategy did serve to badly split the environmental movement in BC and it didn’t necessarily do much for the rest of BC First Nations outside the Great Bear. And in my opinion if the ongoing destruction of BC lands and waters is slowed or finally stopped it will be primarily by the concentrated opposition of First Nations.

I’ve always thought that depending on the government to give you the funds to oppose its policies is a sure way to water down your opposition. Now these three groups are complaining of increased logging in the Great Bear, increased depletion of Grizzly Bear populations, the refusal of the BC Liberal government to implement the full agreement they signed in good faith, and the lack of protections from the proposed Enbridge line, along with many other worries. In my opinion, there is only one group that fully acknowledges the perfidy of the BC government other than some First Nations, and refuses to make deals, and that isn’t an environmental group. It’s the BC Teacher’s Union.

The BC Teacher’s Union recognizes that the strike is the only real weapon they have and have refused so far to give it up. Would that all environmentalists might equally recognize that peaceful civil disobedience is really the only weapon we have, like the strike, and not only refuse to give up peaceful civil disobedience, but also refuse back room deals that assume only certain groups count. And, while I hesitate to say this I believe it to be true... if Harper cut off all monies to environmental groups then the groups would either get radical or go under. At least we would know who was who and what their intentions were. I also believe that, at this point, we could regroup and start over. I do. I really do.  

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