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COMMENTARY · 20th July 2013
Merv Ritchie
Originally posted August 3 2008
It has always been a curiosity to me, the use of language. Our government leaders employ terms and the major media chains just seem to play along like dupes. In some of the conflicts around the world we hear words like “War Lords” and “Freedom Fighters”. There are the infidels and the pagans, but the curiosity for me today is the word Peasant. There are the peasant farmers and workers in the third world countries and we hear about their “Plight” weekly attempting to stand up to their governments and the corporations that strip their lands. It could be Peru or Mexico or a country in Africa, it always seems that the poor peasant just can’t seem to get the leaders of their countries to protect their water supply, land, social structure or maybe the government is simply committing murder and torture. Those poor peasants!

And then I got to thinking, (which causes lots of problems all on its own), aren’t we all peasants here in the Northwest. Well not all of us. There are those that have reaped great rewards in the logging and mining industries of bygone days. They still seem to live pretty well and have deep political connections due to their wealth. But to most of us who struggle just to meet our monthly bills, and are just a short paycheque away from homelessness, it seems that we are no different than the peasants anywhere else in the world.

Those in positions of political influence can get all the perks and variances to bylaws with a simple phone call. Those who play by the rules, which are set up by those in positions of political influence, seem to face a variety of obstacles, especially when they don’t play ball with the boys and girls in charge.

In Terrace a hot topic of discussion is the Co-op Property that the City bought from a local family. When this family bought it they had made a spectacularly bad business decision. The family is well respected and is very well off due to the patriarch having had great success in the forest industry. It seems that to save the boy’s the heartache of continuing to pay the City taxes on this white elephant, the City of Terrace chose to buy it off of them. City Councillors still attempt to justify the purchase stating that they want to control the development of downtown and maybe get a convention centre, but this is just drivel for us peasants. The City not only has to pay the debt on this worthless building but also lost the tax revenue it was gaining, a double whammy for the taxpayer (peasants) of Terrace. How influential is this family? Well lets just say that it was at this families property on Lakelse Lake that the Prime Minister visited on BC Day to hold a fundraising and barbeque event to endorse Sharon Smith.

A gentleman recently approached Terrace City Council to apply for a variance to build an in-law suite in a new home he was constructing on Loen Avenue. There are many people that just built one and didn’t ask for permission. However he played by the rules and lost. I wonder if the fact that our former liberal MLA Harris living across the street didn’t come in to play into this decision. Councillor Downie claimed that this location was too far for most to walk to town so a higher density zoning would be unlikely in the future anyways. I suppose five blocks to the Mall would be too far for anyone to walk. Don Ganson has endured over two decades of harassment from the City and has been selected as the lone individual property owner where the City gets the right to come on his property and clean it as they see fit and charge the bill against his property taxes. Hedges where no one can look in and see his stuff surround his property. Councillor Davies lied when she said she could see in at Council. Even City employee Marvin Kwiatkowski acknowledged at this same Council meeting that the only way you could see in was from a neighbours back deck. It was this neighbour that has complained to the City for years. It’s all about power and influence and Don is also apparently a peasant.

And so are most of us. If you want to be in control of your life, get things done, then you need to become buddy buddy with those in power. Just like grade school you need to suck up to the bully. Remember the bags of money Vander Zalm and Mulroney were passing around. Do you really believe they are the only two? If the influential businessman is doing coke, then start snorting with him, and don’t you dare spill the beans to anyone. If he needs a favour and it involves something illegal, who cares? The boys and girls at the top run the courts too. It is seldom that a legal action is settled in favour of the guy with no money. I come at this with some personal experience. My daddy was a rich lawyer in Saskatchewan. I have 4 brothers. Some of us did some very illegal things. Some got busted real good. No one ever got even a fine. Absolute discharges were the order of the day.

But now, even I am a peasant. No money, no political influence, no power. One thing is certain, the people at this level are honest forthright and fun. Those that play with the bullies in power have to dress up and talk the talk, put on a façade that even they can’t stand. I gave it up a long time ago.

So when I hear about the poor peasant farmers in Mexico complaining about the water being poisoned by the local international mining corporation and that their government refuses to care or come to their aid, I think about the Skeena River and the poor peasant fisherman of the Northwest. I am deeply concerned that those in power and positions of influence care not a wit about us here. Their primary concern is their own pockets and that of their associates. Will we be in the news in twenty years? “In today’s news, the peasants are revolting in a remote region of northern British Columbia, Canada, as their primary food source, the salmon, have disappeared due to . . .”

Five years and no law suit yet eh?
Comment by MWPR on 19th July 2013
It was Bill McRae who loaned them the funds to even start logging. At least he had class. But this isn't about that, it is about how you and I are peasants and no one really cares whether you ever catch a fish or eat again. Stay on point and keep your knickers untwisted.
personal attacks Merv?
Comment by steve on 5th August 2008
What's with the personal attacks Merv? Did the ---- family ever do anything to you? Seems to me you could check your facts before trashing a family that made its fortune by working their asses off and contributing to the betterment of the community for over 40 years. No one handed anything to the father or any of his boys. They earned money the old fashioned way-they earned it

Whether or not you agree with what goes on, or the "status quo", this kind of attack is puerile, unwarranted and uncalled for and sets back your attempts to be taken seriously as a source of news.

I hope your lawyers a good one, cause if that were me you were trashing offhand, we'd be chatting in front of a libel judge.

It's too bad because this forum could be so much better than this.