Don’t underestimate the power of grassroots

Your columnist Tom Fletcher took a snide swipe at local politicians and municipal councils

Dear Editor:

Your columnist Tom Fletcher took a snide swipe at local politicians and municipal councils that, at one time, declared their jurisdictions to be nuclear weapons-free zones.  “Did they really think we’re that stupid?” asks Tom.

Well Tom, you should know better than to denigrate the power of grassroots democracy and nowhere is it more powerful than at the level of local government. This was unquestionably demonstrated in New Zealand where, in the early 1980s, a dictatorial conservative Prime Minister named Rob “Piggy” Muldoon ignored the overwhelming public opinion that New Zealand should not host nuclear-powered and/or nuclear-armed foreign warships. Ignoring the ever-louder public protest, Piggy Muldoon continued to invite U.S. warships to visit New Zealand harbours and used his majority National government to run rough-shod over the will of the people.

Kiwis turned to their local governments to give effect to their anti-nuclear principles. Municipality after municipality throughout New Zealand voted to become nuclear-free and they posted their nuclear-free signs on their municipal boundaries. Those signs were everywhere. The left wing Labour leader, David Lange, was no fool. He read the writing on the signs and promised that if his party became the government, he would ban all nuclear-powered and/or nuclear-armed warships from New Zealand waters.

In 1984, David Lange’s Labour Party swept into power in a landslide election and promptly followed through on Lange’s promise. New Zealand is a small peaceful country in the South-Pacific but Kiwis stood up against the super-power bully tactics of Ronald Reagan and the U.S. military and Stat Department. New Zealand took a beating economically but stood by its principle of opposing Cold War super-power nuclear alliances. To this day, Aotearoa (Editor’s note: Maori name for New Zealand) proudly remains nuclear-free and an example to the world. The strategy may have been less successful in B.C. but there is nothing stupid about the effort nor the intent of the passionate British Columbians who tried.

I was there in New Zealand when we threw out the U.S. nukes. I’m proud to say I was part of it. Together we changed the destiny of the nation and I learned a valuable lesson, which is that in a democracy, neither smug misinformed political pundits nor arrogant majority governments dictate the future of a nation or a province — the people do. If need be, there’s more than one way to make our voices heard and more than one way to bring down an arrogant majority government. So therefore, Tom, think twice before you denigrate the power of grassroots democracy and a unified cause whose time has come.

Kia Kaha,

Chris Conway

Invermere

Just Posted

The end of an Echo

Invermere Valley Echo shuts down operations in Columbia Valley

Creating a new narrative for Canal Flats

Economic development consultant hired, lists vision for next 90 days

UPDATE: Crews battle as wildfires rage in B.C. Interior

Crews brace for another day on B.C. firelines as no let up is likely

VIDEO: B.C. wildfires by the numbers

Wildfires continue to engulf regions of B.C.’s forests and communities.

VIDEO: More than 180 wildfires burning across B.C.

Firefighters from other provinces called in to assist

DTSS Grad March 2017

DTSS Grad March 2017

59 cats seized in Chase

59 neglected and injured cats were seized from a property in Chase

Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell dead at age 52

The singer/songwriter passed away early Thursday morning in Detroit

Paying tribute to a primeval passage

Uninterrupted celebrates the Adams River sockeye run in an extraordinary way.

UPDATE: Pemberton Music Festival cancelled, no automatic refunds

In the past, the music festival located in Pemberton drew large crowds last year of 180,000 fans

Medical wait times cost B.C. patients $2,300 each

New Fraser Institute report places B.C. at second worst in costs associated with long wait times

UPDATE: 22 killed at Ariana Grande concert

Witnesses reported hearing two loud bangs coming from near the arena’s bars at about 10:35 p.m.

One in three Canadian high school students have rode with drinking drivers, study reveals

Nearly one in five rode with a driver who’d been smoking pot

Top court to hear federal government’s appeal on residential school records

A lower court judge ruled to destroy the stories after 15 years unless consent is given to preserve

Most Read