Need a cracker, or just want one?

Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.

Need a cracker, or just want one?

“No demonstrations at all in the streets.  No one is against us. Against me?  For what?  All my people with me. They love me all.”

– Muammar Gaddafi


It would also be a stretch for anyone elected to council to believe a 25 per cent voter turnout on Nov. 19 confirms “all my people with me,” or constitutes widespread love.

A more sober assessment is needed before “moving on” as Coun. Cheryl Ashlie suggests.

The election was not a success. It failed to reduce voter apathy, further alienated more folks who did cast ballots, and others who sacrificed time and money to run for office.

It failed because a campaign advocating shopping supplanted the issues that brought us together at town hall meetings: urban sprawl verses slow, responsible growth, honest communication with neighborhoods before decision-making, access to, and protection of water above and below ground, pedestrian safety.

But candidates who tried to bring these concerns to the fore are resilient; already discussing new ways to convince more of us that access to cheap TVs doesn’t bring the same sense of empowerment as the “inclusion” of stakeholders, rich and poor, young and old, in decision-making.

Convincing shoppers of this is a daunting task. I’m reminded of the psychiatrist who asked the parrot, “Are you sure you need a cracker, or just want one?”

Inclusion? It’s an ideal promoted in the education system with some success, but overdue in any form, in the rest of society.

Draw a line to the dot called the Occupation Movement. Here’s a motto to focus the concept: working together, we succeed together.

I posted this once after asking 30 Grade 6 kids who couldn’t get along what kind of classroom environment they wanted. Then came the plan – theirs mostly – to create that place. Before long, our microcosm of a healthy community was a space where we all felt a sense of belonging, purpose, and camaraderie.

I wish some pro-shopping folks were in my room back then; the shadowy ones who promoted their single objective anonymously, insisting their needs supersede all others.

Listen up, folks: Groups endorsing a slate of candidates have to let the public know who they are.

Accountability, social responsibility, respect, are goals of any school district, and should be yours, as well.

I’m talking about the business card slipped mysteriously into the pigeon holes of all the realtors of one local agency. Under the heading, “Support More Shopping Jobs, Progress. On Nov. 19, vote for Ashlie, Dueck, Hogarth, Masse, and Morden.” At the bottom of the card, the elusive – “Pro Shopping Citizens.”

I asked the person who showed me his card how it could have gotten into his box.

“You’d have to get past the front desk,” he said, adding that it was likely an inside job. Now, who would want to sway real estate agents? There could be 300 of them in Maple Ridge. My friend figures they all got a nudge.

They, and hundreds more, may also have received another rallying call in their email, a poster that recommended four incumbents and two others considered shopping friendly. This one was signed, “Maple Ridge Independent Operators.”

Business improvement association director Ineke Boekhorst hadn’t seen the PDF, and had no idea who the group represented. “I heard about it [the card] and stayed away because it’s not appropriate for a business organization to be associated with that.”

Boekhorst said at least one candidate who was “adamant” she made her position known couldn’t understand her refusal. “We have 1,000 members with different political feelings, so it is not appropriate to comment, we can only observe.”

Seems simple enough. As for moving forward, that will depend on how council responds to the central issue now – how to convince more increasingly doubtful voters that they are significant in a community that believes in core values that sustain us all. Imagine the day when council could say with certainty, “All my people with me. They love me all.”

Victory note: Rejection of the Stave Lake P3 proposal, which would have given private industry control of Abbotsford’s drinking water.

Municipal governments throughout Europe have sold water rights to private companies for votes, and rued the day. Corporations keen on profits in France, for example, failed to keep piping systems in repair, and astronomically raised the cost of water until citizens revolted and took back control.

Folks at the last Cinema Politica got a real education last month with a screening of How Private Corporations Make Money from Water.

On the Ridunkulist: The DFO for picking on killer whales, but being slapped on the wrist by the courts.

Ecojustice reports it won a lawsuit against the agency “for failing to legally protect all aspects of the whales’ critical habitat.”

Ecojustice, representing eight complainants, including Greenpeace, and the Wilderness Committee, says the courts “confirmed the government’s responsibility to protect everything that makes habitat healthy for whales, from pollution-free water to plentiful amounts of salmon.”

DFO has appealed, of course, arguing it should have discretion with regards to the Species at Risk Act, which it has weakened. It’s the same line it used to justify failing to protect unique Cultus Lake sockeye. Come on, guys, give it up. If you save orcas, you won’t need to shoot as many sea lions.


Jack Emberly is a retired teacher, local author and environmentalist.