Taking back our BC: Rafe Mair and crew bring their Common Sense Canadian tour through Rossland

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
November 3rd, 2010

Just what is fascism, how has it creeped back into our society, and what can we do about it to bring the power back to the people in British Columbia were three major questioned posed last week as Rafe Mair and company brought their travelling road show to Rossland.

Calling their tour “The Common Sense Canadian Town Hall Tour: Taking back our BC”, Mair, a former environment minister with the Social Credit party and vaunted radio host for several decades, has teamed up again with Damien Gillis, a Vancouver-based documentary filmmaker with a focus on environmental and social justice issues, to spread their message around the province.
Teaming up with retired Kootenay MLA and former Nelson mayor Corky Evans for the Kootenay leg of the tour, the overriding message of the night was centered around the ills of globalization, the loss of BC’s social democracy and the need for citizens to become engaged in the political process to reclaim their environment, their public resources and control of the province in general.
Kicking off the event, Evans gave a passionate and moving speech about his experience with fascism, how it’s worked its way into BC and the great losses our province has suffered at the hands of governments he believes did not fit with the values of the people of British Columbia. Taking a different tact than the Gordon Campbell -ashing arguments of Mair, Evans, his beliefs and his presentation style, drew the audience in as he had them hanging on his every word.
Lamenting the privatization, degradation and whittling down of once strong province-owned assets such as BC Rail, BC Ferries and BC Hydro, Evans eloquently described what he sees as a growing fascist state in BC.
“How would you describe fascism?” he asked at the start of his speech. “To me it’s when labour, government and big business all become the same people… In my father’s generation, we fought world wars to prevent us from living in the type of world that has steadily crept back in over the generations. We fought wars to keep our society from becoming what it is now. These days, we don’t fight it; we don’t even make them pay for taking away our society. We just gave it away. We just gave it to them.”
What Evans sees as one of the greatest ills in our society, an ill that has contributed to the diverging values of our government and our people, is traditional corporate media. “Labour doesn’t hold the same place it once did. Today I would replace Labour in the Fascism quote from earlier with corporate media,”
In an ideal world Evans, Mair and Gillis all noted that independent media not attached to government or big business is one major way forward. Simply put, they feel that the real message gets distorted and people are making decisions based on the information they receive from corporate-biased media.
“How do you solve this crisis?” Evans asked the crowd. “The first thing Iwould do is throw away your TV. If you want the real truth, television and corporate media is not going to get you there.”
Following Evans Gillis, an undoubtedly talented filmmaker with a James-Earl-Jones-like voice, presented his latest film, Oil in Eden. Documenting the issues of the proposed Enbridge pipeline which would run from the Alberta tar sands up and over the Rockies, across Northern BC, terminating at the port of Kitimat, Gillis’s video makes a strong and emotion-filled case for not allowing the pipeline to go through.
Highlighting the effort of local native bands along the proposed pipeline route, particularly in the Kitimat area, Gillis hopes that by getting the facts of the project out along with tremendous sweeping shots of the untouched and natural vistas of the Great Bear Rainforest, that people will be moved to action.
“This area is the largest intact temperate rainforest left on the planet. It’s an area of unimaginable beauty in its natural state. This is the last place we should be bringing oil tankers and pipelines. It’s not a matter of ‘if there will be leaks’ but when, how often, and how large the spills will be.”
Closing out the night, an energetic, riled up Mair touched on similar points, adding historical perspective to back up his arguments from his time spent in the legislature as well as his long and storied career covering politics in BC. Adding an exclamation point to the previous presentations, Mair put the responsibility for change and “taking back our BC” in the hands of the small yet attentive audience of 11 people who showed up for the event.
“The only way to make any real change is to take it into your own hands. Find out the truth for yourself. Don’t accept what corporate media tells you is the truth. Seek it out yourself. Attach yourself to an issue, find people with similar beliefs and keeping pounding home the message until you get the change you want. At that time pick up the next issue and do the same thing. There’s one thing I’ve always said: you never know you’re winning until you’ve won and you’ve never lost until you give up trying.”
When asked why this group is doing what they are doing, why they are going out on tour in a series of free events to promote their message, the answer was simple.
“We believe that independent media and real grassroots efforts is one way we can begin to initiate change. We can just sit back and accept what the government tells us, what TV tells us and what corporate news tells us.”
To that end, Mair and his team are endeavoring to seek out independent news voices around the province and promote their own entry into that world through their website, The Common Sense Canadian.
Going forward, the hope is that people will pick up the message along their tour and start their own grassroots movements, discuss the issues, make their voice heard, and support independent media voices. While the rhetoric at times came off as election-style rallying against the Campbell Liberals, Mair noted he’s not necessarily pro-NDP or pro-any party in particular. Rather, he supports whatever candidate has the strength to pick up on issues affecting BC residents and drive them until they get results.
“I voted for the NDP in the last election, but I’m certainly no supported of the NDP in general. I’ll vote for whoever comes up the middle in the next election and isn’t afraid to attack the issues head on and keep fighting them until they get resolution. I don’t want to stand up here and tell you who to vote for. My only request is that you think seriously about it and support the politicians that aren’t afraid to take a stance on the issues.”
To learn more about Mair’s efforts you can visit their website at thecanadian.org.

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