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'Yes' to a greener future

Monica Hofer, Comox Valley Echo, April 03, 2012

Letter to Premier Christy Clark

Re: proposed coal mining on Vancouver Island

Writing this letter is an act of faith - you see, I have been feeling somewhat disillusioned lately with regards to the effects of taking up the pen and writing to those who "wield the power".

After many years of activism, of writing to various Ministries, organizations and individuals, and of organizing and participating in rallies and educational events, I have come to the conclusion that disappointment unfortunately outweighs small victories when it comes to the success or failure of citizen groups to sway political opinion.

Still, I feel moved to write to you today - not in my usual academic style, filling pages with statistics and research. Instead, a more personal letter comes your way, as I have chosen to dispense with numbers and the persuasive style that years of academic study have taught me are successful tools.

Because I have decided to have faith. Faith that you already know the statistics associated with mining coal, statistics that clearly show how many millions of tonnes of toxic waste will be produced every year by the proposed Raven and Bear coal mines, and faith that it makes you just as angry as it makes me to think of that waste not only polluting pristine Baynes Sound waters, but entire watersheds and public drinking supplies as well.

I have faith that you are already aware of the toxic contaminants contained in the massive waste rock piles that result from this type of mining, aware that no one can prove that these contaminants will not leach into local aquifers (which have not even been mapped by the government or the proponent), and that this makes you as sick as it makes me to think of future generations with no guarantee of clean drinking water - a human right.

I have faith that you understand the economic consequences of non-domestic ownership of these mines, of the fact that BC mineral taxes are not payable by these owners and that taxpayers will not benefit from this undertaking, and I have faith that this makes you worry as I do about our children's economic future in a province which is increasingly coming under the ownership of outside interests.

I have faith that you have read and understood the statistics with regards to the emission of greenhouse gases, the production of airborne pollutants and the vulnerability of non-human species that grace us with their presence and are already at risk due to human negligence on the environmental front, and I have faith that it makes you want to stand up and demand, as I have done, that we focus on supporting and investing in alternative, green technologies rather than inviting big money to bring their dirty activities to our province and then leave the mess for future generations to deal with.

I for one cannot live with the shame of leaving this kind of legacy to my children. And I have faith that you would rather be remembered as the one leader of BC who had the courage to say "no" to big business and "yes" to a cleaner, brighter future for our kids.

Saying "no!" to coal mining on Vancouver Island (and any other massive undertaking, like Enbridge for example, that threatens the sanctity of our clean waters and green spaces) means saying "yes!" to being a national, perhaps even global, leader in environmental protection.

Saying "no!" to Raven/Bear mines means saying "yes!" to a greener future for our children who are begging us to take a courageous stand against multi-billion dollar industries now, before it is too late.

Saying "no!" to coal mines means saying "yes!" to our gut instinct which tells us that protecting Mother Earth is the one right thing to do.

I have faith that you will follow this instinct which we all share as humans - the instinct that tells us what makes sense to do for our own survival.

As Lao Tsu once wisely stated: The way is simple, but the crooked path may seem more popular.

I ask you to have faith that the majority of British Columbians will stand behind you when you choose "the way" - the simple path that leads away from coal (and destruction of our rainforests, oil tankers on our coast, etc etc) and towards a greener future.

Monica Hofer
Union Bay

© Comox Valley Echo 2012