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Posted: August 1, 2020

Beware the widening of the self-interest divide

Letter to the Editor

The following is a letter sent to Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison, as well as to e-KNOW.

Dear Mr. Morrison, 

Thank you for your hard work representing the interests of the constituents of this beautiful riding of Kootenay Columbia.  I was pleased to read your flyer recently circulated by mail and noted your role in public safety, and interest in hearing from your constituents. So I am taking this opportunity to write you.

It’s been a very difficult period – we are all concerned for each other’s safety and well-being in the context of reducing COVID-19 transmission. We are aware that the most vulnerable are being impacted the most. And we are ever so aware of this milestone moment to direct stimulus to expedite economic transition and the critical need for responsible approach to conserve a livable climate.

At this same moment, we are also watching with horror, the collapse of civil democratic society in the US.  It’s leadership gone afoul by self-interest chosen over attending to the common good. It reflects a lack of understanding, lack of leadership and lack of ability to imagine a better future. (A future where rights of the many including the environment, are not subjugated for the benefit of the elite.)

We’re watching the national guard descend on Portand, Oregon in a show of intimidation that violates rights and is counter to the constitution.  It’s white nationalism and self-interest at its worst. And it will deepen the injustice. The president is reacting to protests against police brutality with armed soldier brutality. The situation will escalate and further divide. Not what we could imagine possible in the land of the strong and free, our closest neighbour, friends, ally and trading partner. My heart goes out to my friends and neighbours in the U.S.

Canada ranks second among the G20 nations in oil and gas subsidies and is channeling upwards of $13 billion annually to the oil and gas sector through Export Development Canada (just one subsidy amongst many). EDC has been intensely lobbying the government for a bailout package of up to $30 billion.

I see BC Proud and Alberta Proud and Heartland Institute and other oil and gas lobbyists working the system to hold their short term interest and corporate control, all based in a version of science artificially constructed to maintain the power of the elite  It’s a version that denies that the globe is warming due to human caused greenhouse gas emissions and it pays them well to believe this.

It’s the same playbook as the tobacco industry used to hold its share of the market in the 1970 and ‘80s. And it’s not unlike Trump and his “fake news” on climate change, COVID-19 and anything else that doesn’t serve his self-interest. We see it over time in history. At public peril. An immoral act.

In light of the massive and growing social, economic and environmental inequities we face in Canada, we must take an active role and address the inequities through stimulus for a just and green transition.

Or risk facing a disparity that holds the potential to drive us apart similarly to the US, for the fight of our lives.  Addressing injustice is necessary in and of itself, however I also feel the need to point out the parallels and perils given the moment we are in.

And our opportunity to learn from those who so tragically are going ahead of us.  Let us learn, and not pretend we are different. We have nationalist libertarian thinkers here in Canada as well.  And as times get tougher, as times will, the self-interest divide by these groups deepens.

With the collapse of our economy, we are at a critical milestone to shift investment for long term sustainability rather than simply handing our future to corporate interests and trading off the environment and the rights of others, for sake of the elite.  Those days are over.

We know inequity compromises public safety. We know mental health and addictions are not law enforcement roles. We know our country is the product of colonization and our assimilation legislation still stands.  We know the science of climate change and that it’s time for skeptics to stop their perilous game. Let us learn and grow and move forward together for a better future.

Please help us learn from our losses including during this pandemic, and today, together invest in a just future.

Thank you for the opportunity to share my thoughts.  Be well.

Sue Cairns,


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