People in the communities I represent want to make decisions for themselves. People in this area do not want to have decisions imposed upon them and they are willing to stand and fight for that right.
While that willingness to take action is a big part of being a resident of the Kootenays, it is also critical to our democracy.
An example is the cancellation of the Environmental Assessment Certificate for Jumbo Glacier Resort. Environment Minister Mary Polak concluded that, after ten years, efforts made by the resort proponent were not significant enough to warrant the continuation of the certificate.
In many ways, this seemed like the only possible decision the minister could make. But after more than a decade of decisions by the BC Liberals on this file that defied common sense or any possibility of good governance, the correct decision by the Minister of Environment came as a pleasant surprise.
I believe this government, which has promoted this resort without any regard for the wishes of the local residents nor any particular attachment to the realities of the situation, would not have reached this decision to cancel the certificate without the steady and ongoing work of citizens who fought to have the government respect First Nations’ interests and the will of the local people.
It is an excellent reminder that, even when it takes a decade or more, our willingness to fight for what is right can make a huge difference.
The people of the Kootenays fought effectively against the privatization of our rivers when dozens of our local rivers were slated for private river diversion projects. The BC Liberal plan to give away our rivers resulted in a massive outcry in communities across the region.
The people of British Columbia fought effectively against the imposition of the Harmonized Sales Tax and we won the right to have a referendum on the tax. We went on to win that referendum against a well-funded pro-HST group. The power of the people beat a government that misrepresented their intentions about the tax prior to an election and then did everything they could to keep the people quiet. Kootenay residents are not complacent. They are passionate about their beliefs and are willing to work hard for what they know is right.
And Kootenay residents demand that their political representatives stand with them on these issues. Over the last 10 years, you have set the agenda for the work I do, and it is truly satisfying to see the results we can achieve when we stand together to make the right thing happen.
Norm Macdonald is the NDP MLA for Columbia River Revelstoke. He can be reached by phone at 1-866-870-4188 and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.