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Posted: February 14, 2021

COVID-19 is a sign we’ve collided with the proverbial iceberg

By Brian L Horejsi

Op-Ed Commentary

Not A ton of bricks!

Bombastic Premier John Horgan said he’d “drop a ton of bricks” on anyone violating COVID-19 social “guidelines.” One year spent dipsy-doodling, weaving and ducking, moving the goal posts, obfuscating the science, but mostly staying out of sight, and now, almost 1,300 dead people later, the premier finally decides he’d better start paying attention to regulating human behaviour, and as importantly, enforcing those regulations.

One year of “wish-wash” has prolonged the frightening reign of COVID-19, put thousands of low and middle wage earners out on the street and sent thousands of small businesses to the morgue, and its finally dawned on him; to pull people through these conflicting and difficult times, rules are needed, and someone has to make the rules stick.

The failure by the Premier and the NDP government to perform is far more than a sad story! Is there any wonder frustration has erupted, cases of depression have skyrocketed, and the prolonged personal and social misery of anxiety and fatigue are widespread and acute?

There’s not much out of the ordinary here – it’s standard operating procedure for elected government and civil service management in B.C. to kowtow to business, corporations and the chamber of commerce “consume and spend” advocates. Even then the rules have been inconsistent, with small business feeling most of the pain.

Nothing has yet taught government and industry that perpetual growth in human numbers and consumption of resources is like full-speed-ahead in the Titanic. COVID-19 is but one sign that we have collided with the proverbial iceberg.

A major theme in the COVID-19 run away is the belief system in North America (and Europe) that enough is never enough, that there can be no limits on individual extremism; after all, haven’t we defined freedom as the right to do as we wish in order to get and have more?

I want to draw the obvious parallel between this Covid fiasco and the environmental crises facing B.C. (and Canadian) citizens; that crises manifests itself in the form of obscene province-wide forest over-cutting, a long list of endangered and threatened species, the extinction of hundreds of wildlife populations (most recently caribou), degradation of community watersheds producing destructive floods, ferocious wildfire seasons, run away land management costs, and on and on the list goes. All are built on the shoulders of government leadership that has a perverse subservience to the private sector and its self-serving economic demands.

The same avoidance of any lockdown that fuelled the runaway of Covid for over a year has stoked environmental degradation in B.C. for decades. Aided and abetted by a compliant civil service, politicians of every stripe have kept moving the goal posts, ducking and weaving around science and evidence, obfuscating efforts to pass effective public accountability legislation like environmental impact assessment, full public hearings for forest logging and road building, grazing and industrial recreation schemes, and sound regulatory protection standards for most private sector and government projects.

The intention, terribly successful, had been to virtually never giving British Columbia’s citizens any effective opportunity to defend and protect the vast landscapes and critical ecological values that constitute the ‘Public Trust.’

The world’s leading scientists have warned governments and citizens repeatedly; humans and corporations are “plundering every corner of the world, apparently neither knowing or caring what the consequences might be.” This burden is far more acute today than it was half a century ago when this was written: “An ecologist must either harden his shell and make believe that the consequences of science are none of his business, or he must be the doctor who sees the marks of death in a community that believes itself well and does not want to be told otherwise.”

Premier Horgan and Prime Minister Trudeau, among all the others, have shown they are incapable of grasping the destructive, and sometimes fatal, outcome of the growing incremental extremism driving environmental destruction, just as they failed to see the explosive impact of a virus that thrives on today’s “normal” human behaviour.

British Columbia and Canada need a sharp change in political and regulatory direction; Horgan and Trudeau are not the people we need out front.

– Brian L. Horejsi (BSc Forestry, PhD ecology) is from Penticton.

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