Tzeporah Berman was at Capilano University Wednesday evening performing at the North Shore Credit Union Centre for the Performing Arts. Her act was promised to be an exploration of the past and future of the environmental movement.
In view of her controversial lobbying on behalf of independent power producers and her pre-election support of Gordon Campbell, I look forward to reports on her reception. I wonder if she has gained any sense of the financial disaster she helped IPP’s impose on BC Hydro customers.
In 2009, Bill Tieleman wrote a piece that explained Berman’s lack of candour in claiming she had been a “long-time” NDP supporter who “quit” over the gas tax and had no connection to the B.C. Liberals. He also quoted angry words Alexandra Morton, BC’s wild salmon protector, directed at David Suzuki, Berman and others:
As the living systems of this part of the world are under the final assault by the B.C. Liberal government, you make headlines. You seem to have no idea of what Gordon Campbell is bringing down on us.
Berman in recent years has been the target of much criticism by former allies. She is perceived by some as having sacrificed idealism for the taste of an international jet-set lifestyle, flitting between Europe, North America and Scandinavia, making appearances at pro-business events aimed at financial heavyweights.
She is compared to Patrick Moore who exclusively serves commercial interests while trumpeting his history of long-past involvement in Greenpeace, when it was an organization of youthful environmentalists.
No doubt pleased with Berman sharing their support for Liberals and IPP’s, Vancouver Sun last week published a hagiographic profile. As a contrast, I thought it worth re-posting this open letter from the Valhalla Wilderness Society, a copy of which I first published in March of 2010.
An Open Letter
Tzeporah Berman and her organization ForestEthics [in Canada, a division of Tides Canada Initiative] introduced into British Columbia a new kind of environmentalism called the collaborative movement. This approach means environmental groups collaborating with some our most destructive corporations and most anti-environment governments. It is based on the fact that corporations are always willing to give a little to conservation in order to get a lot.
And corporations have gotten a lot from it. ForestEthics and its allies endorsed a plan to log two-thirds of the Great Bear Rainforest under “Ecosystem-based Management” with logging standards that make a mockery of the name, followed by an endorsement of a plan to recover the endangered mountain caribou without appreciably reducing the rate of logging of its habitat.
Last year Bermann shocked many BC environmentalists by becoming the leading advocate of private power projects on BC’s rivers and streams at a time when most of the environmental movement and a large swathe of the general public were fighting them tooth and nail. Many of these were projects with huge carbon footprints that would do devastating damage to rivers and coastal ecosystems.
During the election, Berman, ForestEthics and allies shocked many in the province with their outspoken support of the current government’s plan to privatize our rivers, while totally ignoring the government’s plan to pipe dirty tarsands oil across BC and load it into oil tankers in BC’s vital coastal waters – all under the claim of concern about climate change.
Berman then shocked many around the world by giving Premier Gordon Campbell an award at the Copenhagen climate change summit, despite the fact that BC’s climate action remains minuscule and the government remains committed to piping the tar sands oil to the coast. This was viewed by many as a publicity stunt at a time when there was world focus on Canada’s obstructionism of climate change reforms, and the protests by many international activists against the tarsands.
Whatever one thinks about the merits of private power projects as “green energy”, there is no question to anyone that tarsands oil is not green energy. Berman’s ability to ignore the Campbell government’s role in planning to pipe tarsands oil to a huge oil terminal on the coast has made it astonishing and hugely objectionable to many in the BC environmental movement (including myself and my colleagues) that Greenpeace has chosen Berman to head its energy campaign.
Valhalla Wilderness Society
Anne Sherrod has been a director of the Valhalla Wilderness Society for 25 years.
Valhalla Wilderness Society
P.O. Box 329, New Denver, British Columbia, V0G 1S0
Phone: 250-358-2333; Fax: 358-7950; firstname.lastname@example.org; www.vws.org
February 25, 2010