Speaking for the future – Updated

This week I got confirmation that new corporate funding has been assembled to counteract bloggers and writers in alternative media who reveal mismanagement of provincial assets and emphasize the public’s declining share of natural resources. This will involve typical media greenwashing (like that by Kinder Morgan and Northern Gateway) but also an internet campaign with front groups and artificial grass roots organization and coalitions. Some efforts involve people close to the BC Liberal Party.

That multinational resource companies believe they must spend heavily to blunt our messages is evidence we’ve been effective. However, our progress is fragile and the financial power of those we oppose is immense.

If you are comfortable with B.C. functioning as a plutocracy, rest assured, all is well.

If you believe that young people should grow and have opportunities to prosper with respectful attachments to the province’s lands, cultures and history, then you must act to protect valued qualities of British Columbia.

That might involve a personal effort or expense but, if we maintain the current trends, more punitive costs will emerge in the long term. If not for ourselves, we act for our children and grandchildren. The public share of natural resource values has declined by billions and that has reduced spending for environmental protection, education and vital social services. If we continue to downplay or ignore the building blocks of a just society, a price will be paid.

Government politicians, traditional media, lobbyists and social media trolls are paid to look after the interests of powerful people. The Legislature functions for only a handful of days each year and the union movement is eroded. There are rather few major outlets for discussions not shaped by self-interest and each deserves your attention and support.

Read widely, participate in comments, forward articles and links to friends and contact your MLAs and MPs. Write letters to the editor and hold the papers accountable if they refuse to publish or change your message by editing.

Make your voice heard. It is essential.


From an article by Professor Sharon Beder, Public Relations’ Role in Manufacturing Artificial Grass Roots Coalitions:

When a corporation wants to oppose environmental regulations, or support an environmentally damaging development, it may do so openly and in its own name. But it is far more effective to have a group of citizens or experts — and preferably a coalition of such groups — which can publicly promote the outcomes desired by the corporation while claiming to represent the public interest. When such groups do not already exist, the modern corporation can pay a public relations firm to create them.

The use of such ‘front groups’ enables corporations to take part in public debates and government hearings behind a cover of community concern. These front groups lobby governments to legislate in the corporate interest, to oppose environmental regulations, and to introduce policies that enhance corporate profitability. Front groups also campaign to change public opinion, so that the markets for corporate goods are not threatened and the efforts of environmental groups are defused. Merrill Rose, executive, vice president of the public relations firm Porter/Novelli, advises companies:

Put your words in someone else’s mouth… There will be times when the position you advocate, no matter how well framed and supported, will not be accepted by the public simply because you are who you are. Any institution with a vested commercial interest in the outcome of an issue has a natural credibility barrier to overcome with the public, and often with the media…

I am interested in other articles by the same writer. One is Power Play – The fight for control of the world’s electricity:

Noted author Sharon Beder argues persuasively that the track record of electricity privatisation and deregulation around the world indicates that it is a confidence trick. Her book shows how simplistic ideology and economic theory have been used to mask the pursuit of self-interest; how control of electricity has been wrested from public hands to create profit opportunities for investors and multinational corporations; and how an essential public service has been turned into a speculative commodity in the name of ‘reform’.

Power Play explores the battles between private and public ownership in the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia since the early twentieth century, and the agenda-setting and public relations strategies involved. It investigates the way that developing countries such as Brazil and India have been forced to allow foreign investors to exercise a stranglehold over their electricity systems. And it uncovers the campaigns waged by think tanks, corporate interests, and multinational companies such as Enron to swindle the public in dozens of countries out of rightful control over an essential public service.

Enron? That’s a familiar name to British Columbians because billionaire Richard Kinder, now head of Kinder Morgan, was President and COO of Enron before it disappeared in a fog of criminality.

Why industry is trying to tell you how to think, The Center for Public Integrity, January 2015:

And so [American Petroleum Institute] along with their PR counsel Edelman created online groups called Energy Citizens and had an advertising campaign called “Vote For Energy”, and it was really a chance for oil and gas to polish its reputation…

Port Metro Vancouver Hires Disgraced Edelman PR Firm, American Lobby Group to Push Coal Exports, DeSmog Canada, December 2013:

When it comes to shipping coal, it looks like the Vancouver Port Authority is taking a page out of the U.S. coal lobby’s books. In an effort to combat negative public opinion about coal and the proposed expansion of coal exports through Fraser Surrey Docks, the port authority has hired public relations firm Edelman Vancouver to revamp its image.

Edelman is the largest public relations firm in B.C. and the company has a history of both pushing coal exports and disregarding public opinion…

14 replies »

  1. Did Christie country deflate the ball to score a dam touchdown.?
    How unpatriotic.?
    Vested interests afoot.?
    Got to love that revenue stream.?


  2. The worst income growth in the whole country….http://www.vancouversun.com/business/income+growth+worst+Canada+analysis/10749375/story.html
    As well, did anyone catch Vaughn palmer and the Vancouver Sun in todays edition?.. again dredging up a picture that is 17 years old that was taken when the NDP were in power in 1997!.. pathetic on the part of Vancouver Sun
    why didn't we get a picture of our current ministers and their decisions in regards to the latest crisis that has hit BC, ( the Prince Rupert terminal)


  3. Sounds like yesterdays story in the sun about Documents showing twenty years ago the NDP used taxpayer money for party business and at the end of the story, almost like a afterthought, oyea, by the way Two high ranking Liberal party members are going to court in the next little while for the same thing, I wrote a note to the Sun saying maybe that should have been the headline instead of some twenty year old BS and rweally have to wonder what their agenda is by misleading the public!


  4. John Perkins in his book “Confessions of an economic hit man” describes electricity privatization and power demand over-estimation in other countries. Sounded like BC.


  5. I think bc place has some astro turf in it.?
    Raw logs export they create jobs!every 100 mill jobs is good for 300 more .oh that's if the logs stay.?


  6. This is true for the Rail for the Valley blog, where we have several regular types forever calling poor old Zwei a liar. I have noticed that when my barbs start hitting close to home, the regular “Liar” gang come to life.

    What really is quite funny is that RftV blog is read by a great many people who live elsewhere in Canada, the USA and overseas. Also of interest we have many professionals read our blog and if Zwei fumbles the ball, they let me know in ever such a polite way.

    By the way, Vision Vancouver have a dedicated crew that counter any negative news from the many blogs and they have done so many favours for such obedience.

    There are many excellent local blogs that make the mainstream news outlets seem very dull and stale.



  7. Yes, many excellent blogs and Rail for the Valley is one of them. I find it enjoyable and informative.

    I'm not surprised that people associated with Vision Vancouver target RftV. There are a number of well connected developers who intend to make big profits on properties near the Broadway subway stations. They don't much care that the subway will cost 10x the cost of a modern light rail system. It's the same game that has worked for years. Ordinary citizens pay the costs; developers earn the profits.


  8. The canard that political parties are all the same—that they mis-spend pubic money on cronyism, or that they break their promises— has become one of the most common Conservative talking points disseminated by their network of shills; it's supposed to make the Cons look better by bringing them up to some implied ethical equilibrium, and to foster the notion that if they (parties) really are all the same, then there's really no point in voting: the hoped for vote suppression is thought to benefit the right-wing parties, which tend to reliably get out their core voters, effectively turning democratic minorities into parliamentary majorities—that's the theory anyway; it might have been somewhat obscured by the collapse of the Ignatieff Liberal vote that was largely responsible for Harper's default win last time, and was definitely overshadowed by more disgraceful vote suppression tactics like robocalls and electoral fraud.

    BC Liberals, being a neo-right party too, employ this subtle vote suppression tactic. Unlike the Cons, they have a couple years before their own fixed-election date, but the fact that they're employing it now shows they know how much more difficult it will be to fool voters into putting them on an equal ethical footing with their rivals, and to trick voters into thoughtlessly eschewing the ballot box just because BC Liberals would prefer they don't bother voting— all for the very same reasons as the federal Cons.

    Although the Cons are pulling the wool right across the country, they've cast an especially worried eye towards BC. Things have turned out much worse there than planned: pipelines upon which Harper rode so much have received unequivocal, convincing and consistent opposition; perhaps for that reason the earthshaking SCoC decisions that have finally favoured First Nations, have found substantially more favour among BC voters than Harper might have anticipated; worse, even BC Liberal supporters disapprove of cuts to the Coast Guard; and, of course, BC is home to disgruntled veterans too.

    In contrast, the BC Liberals have disappointed voters much more deeply, not having won by default like Harper, but on a gamble that because the they were more popular than the hapless NDP leader and his foolish “positive campaign”, they might actually fulfill Christy's eye-popping promises of jobs and prosperity. Not only have these long shots gone bust, it increasingly appears Christy can only continue—if not amplify—her predecessors fiscal charlatanism, instead of the redemption voters regrettably wagered on. The BC Liberals have to kick off the next election campaign so early because they've got so far to go to be forgiven for their nefarious bluff of good times ahead. If they're like the Harperites, they may have to resort to cheating to win the next election—perhaps online voting…

    The beauty of the “they're all the same” ploy is it's so easily disguised as a non-partisan observation, and sometimes it's even deployed by shills who disingenuously claim partisan enmity to the worst party in BC history. But BC's been burned too badly of late, and, finally, Harper has to wear some of the BC Liberal disrepute, instead of getting off scott free like he did with the HST. Both he and Christy must be wishing they could look more or less as bad as their rivals. Their shills and PABsters certainly are doing their best to suggest it's really true.


  9. At one time, journalism had ethics, accountability, and a balanced value to the public. Ethics has been reduced to a redundant term in the main stream media. Journalistic freedom has been bought and sold. Major players in the corptocracy, play ball with their friends in governance, and regard the public as a hindrance to their profit goals. Smoke and mirrors becomes the deviant method of choice, followed by enabling governance of their choice, to provide the political means to their ends.Money and influence are the kleptocacies requirement for the game to be played.
    Individualism, the public trust and responsible balanced economics, have been sacrificed by the powers at be in order for the “corptocracy” to achieve its singular overall goal, the privatization of profit and the publicization of debt. The value of the public trust is rendered subordinate, to shareholder value and corporate profits. Meanwhile our taxes rise and incomes shrink. Think you'll be able to pay your hydro bill or gas bill in the future…good luck.


  10. I can't help but think the worldwide proliferation (at grossly inflated costs to governments) of electric grid connected 'smart' meters are part and parcel of the ensuing private ownership of electricity.

    After a few more baubles like Site C and god knows how many more 'Run of the River' atrocities are foisted on the still public BC Hydro, their only solution to insolvency will be privatization.

    I suppose we can take some solace knowing that it is not just BC that is being reamed by their corporate loving governors, as it is happening in every province and most 'advancing' countries in the world.



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