May 22, 2009 Features & Images » Feature Story

The Green Rift 

Has the Environmental Movement Been Torn Apart?

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The WCWC feels that having private corporations run the projects amounts to "privatizing" B.C. rivers, leading to a "gold rush mentality" in which corporations are snapping up claims to the province's streams.

It's a message that came to Whistler's Spruce Grove Field House just a week before Berman's talk. Foy stood before a sparse audience with Mair, a former MLA and long time radio host who's found a second calling as an environmentalist. Foy stood with him as he charged that IPP's are "bribing" First Nations into supporting the projects.

He later stood with Carole James on the campaign trail as she defended her party's environmental policies, telling the Province that he was disappointed with her stance on the tax, but nevertheless cheered her on because the Liberals were "sucking up" to industrial polluters.

Foy, a participant in the Stein Valley protests in the 1980s, agrees there's a split in the environmental movement today but unlike Moore, Berman and Weaver he doesn't think it's solely the NDP's doing.

"Every decade that I've been involved, the number, variety and capability of environmental groups in B.C. has been growing," he says. "When that happens, I think this is just a natural outflow of that."

But what of the public divisions? What of Berman saying that groups like the WCWC are working in tandem with the fossil fuel industry? And what of other environmental groups coming forward and denouncing the NDP as weak stewards of the environment?

Foy seems to take it in stride.

"Frankly, I still think they're more banded together than not," he says. "The nature of the work we choose for ourselves is stressful... You choose to put yourself into environmental battles and it's therefore good practice to maintain good relations with your partners."

What about PowerUP Canada? Are they still partners?

"PowerUP Canada? No," he says. "PowerUP Canada is in a very different place... We perceive PowerUP Canada as very small, very fast. It has bumbled into a very wrong place right now."

With the election over, what's left for the WCWC? Run-of-river is still being developed across the province and members are still likely to flood the meetings for each project.

Foy says the WCWC supports a "revamped" energy plan that would ensure each project is planned, publicly-owned and "environmentally-appropriate" - in short, they want the repeal of Bill 30, which stated that regional governments cannot veto a public utility.

The WCWC would also like to see more conservation measures such as ground-source heat pumps - and doing it from the ground up, before new development happens.

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