Elected officials of a stripe are up in arms about the potential for negative impacts of the Caribou Recovery Program, which to be fair, have not yet been revealed. Before we light our hair on fire, let’s stop and think a minute.
A boogie man, we’re told, is about to threaten our very livelihoods, make our lives here in the ‘North’ unbearable and rip us out of any meaningful relationship we once had to the land. It sounds bad. Industry – mining and forestry – as well as backcountry access is at risk.
In a world that made sense we would be saying each and everyone of us, ‘Oh dag nabit, they’re comin’ for the mill! That’s gunna cost us a bunch of jobs.”
But that’s not our world.
McBride mayor Eugene Runtz told an uncomfortable truth when he stood up before the Southern Mountain Caribou town hall in Prince George and listed the impact of existing caribou closures. (The key word here is existing.)
You see McBride fell prey to the caribou long ago.
McBride has been trummeled by the tenderfooted relative of Rudolph with many closures around their community.
To be the prey of a feeble alpine ungulate is a pretty sad state of affairs, but that is, according to Runtz’s telling, what happened.
When did the caribou stomp out McBride’s future? Well, if caribou closures are the reason behind the mill closures, it would have happened during the reign of McBride Mayor Mike Fraser and Liberal MLA Shirley Bond. And whatever was done in advance of that 16 year term (in Bond’s case anyway) had more than enough majority wins to get something done about it.
I don’t know if Bob Zimmer is being honest or if this is a feint. He is new after all. But he wants to whip people up in the Robson Valley about the potential loss of jobs, and colour it as a scheme cooked up by the leftist provincial and federal governments.
That boat has already sailed. It sunk.
Someone already exported all the jobs out of here. Someone with deep ties to mills in Prince George.
Zimmer is allowed to plead innocence, but the Liberals can’t. Bond can’t.
The fabled ill-tempered ex-mayor of McBride, old Frazier himself, can’t pass the caribou emblazoned quarter on to anyone else. It happened during his time.
Delaying the provincial policy is torture. Like the anticipation of someone tickling you, it’s as bad or perhaps even worse than being tickled itself.
The reality is that we have been through the worst of it already. We don’t have to wait for the Yellowstone to Yukon Initiative to steal our natural resource jobs. They are already gone. It wasn’t the caribou that took them.
Sack cloth and ash
The likelihood of our provincial government banning logging and reducing the amount of money they get from the Crown resource is about as likely as our villages suddenly reducing taxes.
Should the shareholders (and the super rich families) of the privately-held lumber and mining companies be on the hook for trying to carve out some space for the caribou and in general, connected functioning wildlife habitat? I think, yes. It’s not unreasonable, even though they got out off scott-free from carving out a space for rural mill workers.