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COMMENTARY · 10th February 2011
Walter McFarlane
Sometimes, when you find yourself backing up to get the big picture, you find yourself walking over a cliff.

Recently, there has been a new task force formed in Kitimat, the Kitimat Halibut Allocation Task Force. Basically, 88% of the Halibut stock has been allocated to commercial fisheries while the sports fishermen receive 12%.

The problem with these numbers is, as the 12% gets used up, the number of Halibut which can be caught by Sports Fisherman begins to dwindle and the 11 month season could close as early as the summer months.

In addition, the 88% has been allocated to the commercial fisheries with nothing being asked of them in return. Sports fishermen are now getting organized because, in order to catch the Halibut outside the 12%, you need to purchase a special license from someone representing the 88%.

Is this allocation fair? It might seem to be to the people who implemented it without considering the effects on the Canadian populace. However, this is right up there with quite a few recent decisions, which have been made Provincially and Federally; more notably Provincially.

After all, giving away the Province’s birthright without asking anything in return appears as a common goal amongst the Liberal Government. No community knows this better then Kitimat. After all, we went from a have to a have not community on this exact principle.

Do not believe me?

In recent years, we had the closure of Eurocan by West Fraser as a prime example. First off, the Federal Government invested $30 million into the plant, with the black Liquor subsidy, to assist it with the ability to compete. When the money was all in the hands of the corporation, West Fraser, the mill shut down.

Then there is the appurtenance. Appurtenance is when two items are legally tied together. This could be as every day as your house and your yard. In West Frasier’s case, it refers to the logging rights and the tree farm license in this region being tied to the mill itself.

However, the knot was severed while Mike DeJong was the Forest Minister; a fact which local politician, Councillor Gerd Gottschling, boldly pointing out during DeJongs leadership bid visit.

Of course, raw logs are now being exported to China and we are told it is a good thing. Yes, while exporting products might be a good thing, the less work we put into them, the less return we get on our investment.

Of course, the same can be said for the export of Crude Oil rather then a finished product, the selling of BC’s Fast Ferries and the BC Rail Scandal.

Now someone out there is thinking: ‘This fool is comparing apples to donuts.’ No, I’m comparing the giving away of one resource to the giving away of others. It is the same problem and we should stand together on all of these issues rather then pick and choose the ones which are convenient.

In fact, there is one more good example I can use.

Around the 1950s, the Provincial Government of British Columbia gave water rights to a company known at the time as Alcan in the hopes the company would build smelter and a community. This was all part of a plan to start the industrialization of the North.

However, in the past decade, the appurtenance between the smelter and the power resource has been effectively severed. When the Mayor of the time, Rick Wozney, took the BC Government to Court requesting a ruling, the ruling was Alcan could sell power rather then use the power in the smelter.

This is all the same story; power sales, raw log exports, the allocation of commercial halibut and the appurtenance. It is all giving away our birthright and asking for little to nothing in return.
Comment by Don MacLeod on 10th February 2011
the halibut fishery could be made wide open, giving all interested parties carte blanche and decimating the stock! When the fish are all gone, everyone is equal!
One thing you forgot to mention Walter.
Comment by Helmut Giesbrecht on 10th February 2011
"When the Mayor of the time, Rick Wozney, took the BC Government to Court requesting a ruling" ,the BC Government took the position that Alcan could sell all the power it wanted to. One can't say definitively that the court would have considered that position in its ruling. If you were the judge in the case, what would your ruling be?

The deck was stacked after that.
Immoral and Unethical but legal
Comment by Moe Naguib on 10th February 2011
I agree with the article, once again those of who live far from the 49th parallel have to accept that things are going to happen to us because some powerful lobby group got to those who make the decisions and we lose. If you think a Cairo style town square protest will change anything, forget it. The distance between Northwestern British Columbia and Ottawa is just too great. We can protest and support Nathan Cullen, our very own lovable Don Quixote, and get some good feeling out of it, but in the end we'll have to suck it up and take it on the chin once again.
I totally agree Walter
Comment by Karen Dedosenco on 10th February 2011
And we keep sticking it to ourselves by voting in the same corporate-loving governments. Falling for their propoganda and digging ourselves a deeper and deeper hole.

When will people wake up and realize these resources, and the land they are harvested from, have to last a hell of a lot longer than our measly short lifetimes? That resources are being managed very poorly and they benefit very few. We can't allow the free-for-all on Canada's riches that our governments freely hand out in return for votes?