I’ve given it some consideration, and this time I’m voting NDP.
I’ve come to understand my vote is the strongest challenge I can make to protect the Salish Sea, the myriad creatures living above and below it with no voice or vote, and to honour the Douglas Treaty rights of the WSANEC peoples who have lived on its shores for millennia.
I stand with Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs to declare the Kinder Morgan pipeline will never be built. My vote is one action I am taking toward this outcome, an act to free our waters from corporate folly, from the plan to send hundreds of supertankers filled with toxic diluted bitumen through these islands each year and the certainty of a catastrophic spill.
My vote is also the best way I have to stop the Site C dam project, protecting irreplaceable farmland in the Peace River Valley, honouring the rights of First Nations to hunt and fish under the terms of Treaty 8 and to protect their sacred sites. It’s a vote for freedom for all British Columbians from the colossal folly of Site C, which would play out over decades, a vote to resist one more deceit by the Liberal government to burden ratepayers with ballooning hydro costs in order to subsidize its fantasy of LNG.
On the local front, Gary Holman is the man. For over 20 years now he’s been fighting for islanders — as an environmental economist, community activist and elected official.
Back in 2000, Gary helped seal the Texada Lands deal, protecting over a thousand acres of forest lands at Burgoyne Bay, now a BC Park and site for indigenous cultural education, becoming known by its traditional Cowichan name, Xwaaqw’um.
As a two-term CRD director for Salt Spring, Gary set up the Salt Spring Island Transportation Commission, which established island bus service in 2008, an award-winning partnership between the commission, BC Transit, the CRD and operator Ineke de Jong. During his directorship, Gary also found funding for community housing and numerous other island initiatives.
I’ve watched Gary over the years as our MLA — meeting with leaders of the WSANEC First Nations, listening deeply and building respectful relations. In 2014, Gary stood with us on Grace Islet, confronting Minister Steve Thomson and the RCMP for not enforcing laws against the desecration of the sacred site. A lawsuit brought by the property owner (subsequently dropped) naming two WSANEC chiefs, a CRD director, Joe Akerman, Gary and myself only strengthened Gary’s commitment to social justice, indigenous rights and environmental protection.
Now, after four years as MLA, the self-described policy wonk is speaking from the heart. After four years of watching and listening to the parade of constituents coming through his office — casualties of Liberal government policies — he says he’s more determined than ever to fight for their — and our — interests.
I believe him.
The writer is a Salt Spring resident.