Politics in BC stranger than usual – maybe it’s time for a Ministry of Northern Affairs

By Hilary Crowley
April 9, 2019 - 8:33am
The District of Hudson’s Hope in northeast BC has just become the most solarized community per capita in the province. Here the Hudson’s Hope District Office and Firehall (foreground) are now 80% solar powered, and the curling rink (behind) is now 100% solar powered.
The District of Hudson’s Hope in northeast BC has just become the most solarized community per capita in the province. Here the Hudson’s Hope District Office and Firehall (foreground) are now 80% solar powered, and the curling rink (behind) is now 100% solar powered. Photo courtesy Don Pettit

Politics are always strange in BC but maybe stranger now than usual. John Horgan and the NDP have introduced a bill to reduce taxation for LNG companies in order to expedite this industry. LNG is almost worse for our environment than the mining of the tarsands. LNG Involves fracking in the Peace country, which consumes enormous amounts of water and leads to local earthquakes. The liquefaction process consumes huge amounts of energy then the product is shipped across the ocean to Asia, again consuming vast amounts of fossil fuels. The Liberals initiated this process but now the NDP is bringing it to new heights of ridiculousness by waiving the taxes for these corporations.

Many First Nations have jumped on board too. The only resistance is being provided by the Wet’suwet’en and their supporters and the BC Green Party. How can this generation consider immediate wealth as being more important than a liveable planet for our grandchildren? When this Bill is presented in the House, the NDP and the Liberals will join forces to push it through. The three BC Greens, and maybe a hand-full of other MLAs, will vote against it. Our future generations will suffer from this decision. Where is the resolve to address climate change? If the politicians can’t do it, we must stand up and demand change ourselves.

Health Care is another bone of contention. The budget came and went without mention of a surgical tower for the University Hospital of Northern BC or any increased training for allied health care professionals. In the meantime, if you have a stroke or a head injury, you can expect to be shipped south, away from your family, for your rehabilitation.

Another glaring example of capitalist unfairness is the letter sent recently from the BC Care Providers Association asking for the resignation of Isabel Mackenzie, the Seniors Advocate. Of all the public officials in our Province, she may be the most respected, with her unflinching reports aimed at improving care for seniors in BC. Her advocacy identifies the shortcomings in caring for seniors in our Province. Her reports show that the level of rehabilitation therapy provided seniors in residential care is lower in BC than in any other province in Canada and is even worse in northern and rural communities. Seniors tend to enter care prematurely in BC and are unlikely to leave residential care, once admitted. Rehabilitation, recreation and mobility are important for quality of life for all of us, particularly for seniors. If this is unavailable, patients are destined to stay in bed and to be mechanically lifted to a chair. This leads to deconditioning of muscles with ensuring a decrease in circulation.

I believe what we need is a Ministry of Northern Affairs. We need a Ministry to take our needs as a priority. We need a strong voice to advocate for the training of allied health professionals at UNBC, for the establishment of a rehab ward at the University Hospital of Northern BC. We need to get a fair return for our resource extraction. We need the Ministry to take seriously the need for expanding renewable energy. We are overdue for transitioning away from the fossil fuel industry to training schools for alternative energy production. The Peace Energy Co-op in Dawson Creek is so far ahead of the curve in establishing solar heating for the municipality of Hudson hope and many other projects, which they are pioneering. They are a shining example of community action leading the way to show government not only what is possible, but also what is needed.

 Democracy is Government for the People by the People so we are the People! It is up to us to guide the future towards a liveable planet for our children and grandchildren. Corporations should not be influencing the government agenda, as is presently the case. As Mahatma Gandhi said. “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”

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