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COMMENTARY · 10th September 2012
Merv Ritchie
Edited September 12, 2012
[Follow Links at Bold Text for details on described events]

Humans are pack animals. Many psychologists like to refer to us as wolves; we work hunt and play together and depend on each other for survival. When one wolf crosses the leadership of the pack he/she is ousted. Survival then becomes a much greater challenge. Therefore people tend to sacrifice their own independent thoughts and beliefs, adopting that of the majority to be included in the pack. Attacking or challenging the pack leaves one standing alone as all the others, even those who agree with a dissenter do not want to risk their comforts and the ease of survival which comes from belonging.

I have a few personal examples of this and two directly relate to Terrace. One is regarding the closure and bankruptcy of Skeena Cellulose with the Court ruling that Veniez got to keep all the money while all the regular contactors were left out of luck; and the other is regarding the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce and how this organization exerted their influence as pack animals.

I am determined, if I must, to stand alone against the packs.

I do not care if anyone likes me or includes me in their club. I like the Groucho Marx statement, “I don’t want to belong to any club that will accept me as a member.”

The second quote of Marx relates to the purpose of these packs of wolves, “I've got a good mind to go out and join a club and beat you over the head with it.”

Most of us learned how to behave in these pack mentality groups in school. Most of us succumbed to the pressure and still live within it today. It is as simple as watching how we dress, what we drive and how we talk. Conformity is the name of the game if you want to be accepted and rise to the highest levels of comfort and wealth. Very very few achieve anything without conforming to the mentality of the wolf pack.


I filed a lawsuit under the class proceedings legislation in British Columbia on April 17, 1996. It was possibly the first lawsuit filed in British Columbia using the Class Action legislation enacted in 1996. I sued a developer, Aspen Planers, on behalf of approximately 170 property owners on the Shuswap Lake at Celista. Aspen Planers was not primarily a development company; they were a lumber and sawmill company, just like Skeena Cellulose. The foundation of the lawsuit was how all property purchasers were promised, verbally and in published material, “proprietary membership rights to the tennis court, 2400 ft of beautiful lakeshore, including boat launching ramp and dock.”

Through my own research I discovered they, Aspen Planers, participated in many schemes; one of which was financing another company to construct a shopping Center in Castlegar. All the principles of the construction company, Tallington Developments, were exactly the same people as the principles of Aspen Planers. So when the construction company refused to pay the contractors, the little guy’s, like the logging truck companies and subcontractors to New Skeena Forest (NSF) in Terrace, Aspen Planers became the first and primary creditor. This meant no one got paid from the sale of assets or distribution of revenue except Aspen Planers. They were the first mortgage holder and through corporate trickery suckered everyone.

In the case of Skeena Cellulose, Danny Veniez and George Petty, after putting Repap into bankruptcy in the mid to late 1990's, was granted the right to resume operations by the Liberals after the NDP kept the operation alive as Skeena Cellulose. Using a new company structure to purchase it, NWBC Pulp and Paper, Vaniez then set up yet another company to run it and pay contractors. Almost no one had a contract with NWBC Pulp and Paper, they all worked for NSF, which, when NSF went bankrupt, by law, were required to pay their primary mortgage holder first, NWBC. Veniez company financed Veniez company so Veniez got paid first.

Neat eh? These shenanigans are estimated to have provided a cool $45 million to Veniez’s team while the residents and hard working man and woman of the Northwest suffered extreme losses and bankruptcy. Read some of the details here.

Well I sued Aspen Planers who owned Tallington Developments, the development company that subdivided the 170 or so lots in the Shuswap at Celista of which I was one of the purchasers. No point in suing the development company.

As the lawsuit began I informed all the residents. I found all their addresses (some lived in Alberta and some even here in the Northwest). I organized a new society, selected founding directors, held regular meetings and kept minutes. As the case moved forward I got the RCMP commercial crime unit involved as I felt two law firms in Kamloops, Fulton and Company and Morelli Chertkow, conspired against the property owners. They conspired with the principles of Aspen Planers to steal the 2400 ft of lakeshore property the purchasers of residential/recreational lots had been promised with their purchase. A plan was in place to build condos on the entire beachfront. The lawyers allowed the developers to take advantage of the ‘Escheat Act’ an obscure piece of property ownership legislation to sneak off with our lakeshore property.

I had a few phone calls and meetings with RCMP Constable Kevin DeBruyckere (of BC Rail - Christy Clark fame) and he advised me each property owner should file an individual complaint with their local RCMP to get action on this issue. Kevin was somehow removed from the file as dozens of property owners began filing complaints. I called the commercial crime unit again (pestered them actually) and was invited to attend a meeting in their offices in Kamloops; a red brick building on Highway 1 at the Aberdeen Mall exit. Kevin wasn’t there. I was taken into a room alone with Constable Lawless and Sergeant Slade. If I wasn’t there myself I would believe this was a work of fiction, so one is excused for not believing it.

These two men told me they talked to the two law firms and were told by the law firms they did nothing wrong. I was instructed to return to Celista and tell everyone to stop filing complaints.

Before I left the room, I hesitated and then asked politely, “Well, I can’t just tell everyone what you said, could you please write me something, fax it, so I can use it to back up what you are asking me to do?” They agreed.

Lawless then faxed me a letter at 10:41, November 25, 1996 stating “Knowingly making a false complaint to the police is defined as Public Mischief and is a separate offence”.

Well I couldn’t care less if it was the RCMP threatening me or the Hells Angels. I had already survived, seven years earlier, an encounter with the Canadian/Italian Mafioso. The way I saw it, I am alive for only a short time and cowering is doing nothing but disrespecting my integrity.


Others in my community began to get scared. One man, Bob Kendall, began taking aggressive actions against me. He was originally instrumental in assisting Tallington Developments in removing a significant portion of the beachfront property from the community for the development of numerous beachfront homes. A logger and skidder operator, he cleared the land. Obviously he did not want to be exposed for his part in the crime and of course he got paid for this work which contributed to his comfort. He enjoyed being part of the club even though he was a peon. Others began to suggest we couldn’t win the lawsuit against such an international operation (Mill and Timber were an integral part of Aspen Planers). Some directors resigned and it appeared as if the unity of the Celista Community was being challenged.

Even my own in-laws refused to assist; I stood virtually alone with only a few strong people offering continued support.

I was undaunted. I gathered my two binders of research material and handed it over to the developers and told them “Read it and weep, we’re going to court.”

It got so bad, one of my close friends, an excavator owner and operator, a guy I had long philosophical discussions with, had drank beer and had dinner at his home on numerous occasions, refused to bring his excavator to my property and help rebuild my driveway, a driveway Kendall had purchased to deliberately cut off access to my home. He stated no one would hire him in the forest industry if he was seen working for me.

And this is similar to the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce. When I began reporting here I discovered a major corruption problem in Terrace and at the center of it all was the Terrace and District Chamber of Commerce. These guy’s and girl’s seemed to be a group of untouchables and all they did was beyond question. The problem was the main media personalities in Terrace also belonged to the same clubs; the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary and TEDA (Terrace Economic Development Authority) therefore; no dirt on this group of ne’er-do-wells was ever exposed.

I was unaware of this and when I wrote an expose’ on them the entire business community came unglued. A virtual fatwa was issued against the Terrace Daily and anyone who dared to advertise got a visit by a sales person from the Standard or Astral Media demanding to know why they would dare advertise with us and then offering a huge discounted rate if they promised never to advertise with us again. Further they were told, if they didn’t quit supporting the Terrace Daily they would never get a deal in advertising ever again. Don’t ever think only the Taliban have brutal impact on the livelihood of the regular folk. We have our own Taliban right here in Terrace.

It’s been hell to stand alone. But look at the Chamber still today, supporting everything their club members of the Provincial Chamber tell them. No spine to stand alone and thoughtful these characters. They supported the HST against the will of almost everyone and in the ultimate sign of disrespect wrote a letter against their own City regarding Enbridge.

Back in Celista, my ploy with the development company worked. They offered to settle out of Court. They would transfer the remaining Beachfront property; 1600 ft, build a new Tennis Court, pave the boat launches and transfer ownership of a building to the new Property Owners Association. In the end, even today, the property owners enjoy the 5 million dollars worth of Shuswap lake Beachfront property and I retain a lifetime membership for my efforts.

As for Terrace, Astral Media with the Terrace Standard crowd (Black Press) continue to be Wolf pack members. Whether it be the Chamber, the Rotary, Riverboat Days or a Hockey Club and even now, the latest ones, the RCMP, they do not wish to upset other Pack members. It is just like Grade School and the classroom bullies. There are only so many people in Terrace and it is a few influential people who control everything. What they do not want you to know they won’t print or publish.

Yesterday the Terrace RCMP were exposed for punching a woman in the face. Astral and the Standard ignored it. The bully cop got off, maybe literally. A couple months back their top guy, Dana Hart, wrote a letter supporting their compliance to the pack and members of the pack to them, all the while claiming we are not credible, as if to discredit, exclude us from their club.

And of course while CTV, Sun Media,
Vancouver Sun and more report on the atrocious activities of the Terrace RCMP, the Terrace media (Astral and BlackPress) remain silent.


“I've got a good mind to go out and join a club and beat you over the head with it.” Groucho Marx

Today a few Indians are about to play the same game; sign a treaty in absolute shame and disrespect of their nation, just to continue to belong to this high class idiot pack. A pack which represents nothing but shame and disrespect. And the other pack members of the local media will not publish the dirty parts of this deed.

But this does bring us all back to the forest industry. After Veniez and Petty left the region decimated, Gordon Campbell gave the TFL (tree farm licence) of all the lands around the Kitsumkalum and Kitselas reserves, (the two Indian Bands prepared to sign away their sovereignty), to their Tsimshian neighbours, the Lax Kw'alaams. Maybe they believe they will now be able to control their forest lands apart from their Tsimshian neighbours.

And all this discomfort within the Tsimshian Nation was inspired by Gordon Campbell’s new Treaty process, (which split the Tsimshian over fishing issues), the selling of SCI back to Veniez so he could bankrupt everyone, and the transfer of TFL #1 to one of the Tsimshian reserve communities.

The Lax Kw'alaams sued the government over the Gordon Campbell inspired fishing issues and last fall were informed by the Appeal Court Judge they were out of luck because they didn’t have a treaty.

Now the Kitsumkalum/Kitselas club members are prepared to sign away the future of their children and permanently split the Tsimshian Nation. Maybe the Kalum Club thinks they’ll finally 'one-up' the Lax Kw’alaams.

Why so many people think the Provincial and Federal Governments are above the game of malicious, insideous provocation is a curiosity.

The Tsimshian have been abused by these agents of commerce for 150 years.

And they most certainly will not tell you both sides of the story, "That’s a Pig in a Poke" according to BC Treaty Commissioner Dave Haggard.

Many spirited people of the eight First Nations, the eight tribes of the Sacred Circle, fight alone against this atrocity. Many spirited Indian people all throughout BC have fought, sacrificing everything for the future of their people.

They generally stand virtually alone. But they stand for what is right. Sometimes they win! If everyone recognized the game they were playing and began working together again, as a family, they would have a fighting chance.

From my experience, it gets really difficult, you feel like you are standing alone and then by some miracle, the truth prevails. As a hitchhiker stated to me after I picked him up in my logging truck on my way through Sicamous in 1999, "Never give up on your fellow man”. Just before he got out at the Chevron Truck fuel stop in Kamloops I asked his name, he said “Gabriel”, then he hopped out of the truck on the passenger side and promptly disappeared. I had wanted to say one more thing and had walked around the front of the truck to find he was simply gone.

But then I have written about this all before.


Somethings never change - Here I am quoted in 1996 saying exactly the same things.
Somethings never change - Here I am quoted in 1996 saying exactly the same things.
Read this letter clearly by opening the attached file below, note the RCMP defend the developer and threaten us. Thanks for the memory Cst Lawless!
Read this letter clearly by opening the attached file below, note the RCMP defend the developer and threaten us. Thanks for the memory Cst Lawless!
Comment by les watmough on 13th September 2012
Merve. You are right about all the things done by NSF etc. Veniez took more than that from Terrace and the Chamber said nothing. I have a file( maybe you have too) of veniez dealings . Call me I will let you see it.