Two plump mice and Swiss cheese

Canada has become a country of thin mice who believe consultation is part of democratic decision making.

Jack Emberly.

Two plump mice, and Ralph, a thinner mouse, found some Swiss cheese.

“Let’s divide it equally,” said Ralph.

The chubby mice said holes weren’t part of the cheese.

“I’ll ask wise, old Mr. Nibbletooth,” said Ralph.

But, when he returned with Nippletooth’s input, the cheese had been eaten.

“You were right, buddy,” explained the plump mice. “The holes were part of the cheese, and we decided they were your third.”

Canada has become a country of thin mice who believe consultation is part of democratic decision making, and some plump self-serving rodents in positions of authority and power, who think they should decide for all of us.

If we fast-tracked discussion we could expedite Gateway pipeline approval, foreign ownership of tar sands, shipment of oil to China on supertankers, public worker contracts.

Think Devine Right of Kings, before the Magna Carta in 1215.

Outside the mouse hole we witnessed the ultimate return to King John decision-making  with the backroom imposition of the HST. When folks who expected consultation insisted on a fair tax for modern day peasants, a petulant Gordon Campbell, sounding like Queen Marie Antoinette (let them eat cake), snapped we’d get our chance to be finance minister for a day.

Common folk don’t trust government to make decisions that alter their way of life, or ministerial agencies which advance the ruling party’s objectives.

These “captive agencies,” says SFU’s Dr. Larry Gill, “no longer work for the people of B.C. or Canada.”

One of the worst, says Gill, an independent scientist, is the DFO for denying the lethal effects of sea lice, epidemic in fish farms. Gill wants a judicial inquiry into DFO “misconduct.”

The 15,000 members of the Coalition Against Smart Meters are up against another captive agency in B.C. Hydro. They still think a man’s home is his castle, and they’re outraged that meters can be planted on houses without a family’s permission.

Back in 2007, the World Health Organization advised more study because low frequency radiation may lead to cancer. Nothing is known about the affects of electromagnetic exposure on children or pets.

The Lower Nicola Valley Indian Band has also balked. It refused wireless installation after administrator Hyrum Peterson’s family, the first to get a meter, experienced “cold flu-like symptoms that just don’t seem to abate.”

In an interview with CBC radio, Peterson declared, “Until we have absolute proof, we are standing our ground.”

Sounds like an argument for a moratorium.

Peterson’s interviewer suggested folks hoping to at least opt out should have to “prove they’re [meters] harmful.”

That’s a scary attitude for the press.

Proof is Hydro’s responsibility. It should have assured safety before starting the replacement program.

In a democracy, the media must safeguard the rights and freedoms of citizens. When news crews enlisted in Bush’s Shock and Awe charge across the desert to invade Iraq, they failed to be objective.

It’s the stories of our freedom to do things, and the freedom from having things done to us that matters in a true democracy, accounts like that of Chris Clevett of Maple Ridge.

“I am concerned about my health around smart meters and the networks,” says Clevett, a leader in the local opt out movement.

Maple Ridge Coun. Corisa Bell supports Clevett’s right to debate Hydro’s in-house experts, and opt out if not satisfied with answers.

“I’m definitely concerned about government not discussing things that affect people’s daily lives,” Bell told me. “There’s a lack of solid research and conflicting information.”

Council, in general, agrees. It resolved to ask Premier Clark to support refusal of smart meters because “… there is an expectation of public engagement, transparency and accountability related to decisions made by the provincial government and its crown corporations, and that decisions such as the installation of smart meters by B.C. Hydro involve public engagement prior to the decision being made.”

Clevett is thankful council sent the letter, but “a solution should have been worked out before the roll out.”

Exactly. Municipal councils across B.C. have spoken up for folks in their jurisdictions. If this became a habit, power might return to the people. Regular town hall meetings could help. Had consultation like that occurred before the HST, taxpayers might not be facing a $1.5 billion debt to Ottawa; we wouldn’t have the ISA virus in our salmon.

A draconian bill like C-22, that effectively erases the right to free bargaining, would be seen as tyranny (excessive government power – Thomas Jefferson).

Here’s the WHO on smart meters and early consultation: “Member states are encouraged to establish effective and open communication programs with all stakeholders to enable informed decision making. These may include … local government …”

Corisa Bell endorses this.

“People don’t understand,” she says. “My job is to represent the concerns of the public to government.”


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

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