The missing voice of the working class: CBC and the oceans

ON THURSDAY, April 21, the CBC Radio program Mainstreet carried an interview with four candidates for the Halifax riding on issues affecting the ocean.[1] Tony Seed of the Marxist-Leninist Party (MLPC) was excluded. His exclusion illustrates the degeneration of the state-funded public broadcaster and its subservience to private interest, and the necessity for political empowerment to protect the environment and break the stranglehold of the media.

The plight of the environment and the concerns of Canadians are completely ignored by the so-called major political parties and the monopoly media. The CBC pays lip service to the concerns of such collectives as fishermen and environmentalists only to the extent they are deemed significant as a vote bank. To illustrate, the four parties in Parliament invited on CBC to discuss ocean’s issues voted unanimously for the aggression and war against Libya. When the terrible consequences of bombing, including the use of depleted uranium, on the environment are already known, how credible are the claims of these parties that they care about protecting the environment?

To present the exclusion of small and independent parties outside the political cartel as a normal and business-as-usual activity is disgraceful. To present the aim of such a public affairs program as being to inform electors is duplicity. Are CBC listeners to be treated like children who are told whom to listen to and whom not? The unequal treatment of political parties is one of several methods used by the ruling elite to obstruct and discourage the participation of Canadians in political affairs beyond that of casting a vote. 

Not only are electors denied the right to an informed vote but the candidate in question is recognized as one of the most well-informed on the environment and ocean issues in Atlantic Canada, one who has important proposals, and one who has actively participated with thousands of other Nova Scotians in action to defend the environment, the fisheries, and the ocean seabeds and their ecological integrity.

Tony’s professional background includes being co-founder, publisher and editor of Shunpiking, Nova Scotia’s Discovery Magazine (1996-2009). He and his colleagues in Shunpiking were the 1997 recipient of the Nova Scotia Environmental Award “for outstanding contribution to the enhancement and preservation of Nova Scotia’s environment.”

“As a magazine it does not present a plan or a program of action, but a journalism… that could be called ‘civic journalism’ or ‘publishing with a difference.’ That difference encourages an analysis of and participation in our whole environment.”

The magazine, with a print run of 25,000 copies and distributed province-wide, “set the mandate … Shunpiking feature articles include ‘A profiling of positive citizen action and involvement in cleaning up and eradicating environmental problems.’”

Tony Seed (right) and Mark Daye (left) receive 1997 Nova Scotia Environment Award for outstanding contribution to the enhancement and preservation of Nova Scotia’s environment from Environment Minister Wayne Adams (centre).

That same year, the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax received an award for the School Ground Naturalization Model Schools Project in Nova Scotia, sponsored in part by Tony Seed and Shunpiking Magazine.

The 1996 TIANS Adventure Tourism & Recreation Award of Media Excellence – given to the magazine after just one year’s publishing – quoting one reader, stated “Shunpiking has an appealing quietness about it, and mirrors our respect for the environment. It is delightful in its simplicity.”

Along with standing with those Nova Scotians who are taking stands on environmental issues, the MLPC seeks to make a contribution which it thinks is decisive: to create the conditions so that Canadians are empowered politically and their just demands are effective.

In a 2006 interview, when asked “What is the most serious environmental issue,” Tony clearly pointed out: “The most serious issue, like everything else, is Who Decides? … The lack of safe water, air quality, pollution of the harbour, the tar pond, invasive species, marine oil spills, clearcutting, spraying, dragging and the degradation of the seabed can be solved if the profit motive is not the deciding factor. The right of all Canadians to a healthy social and natural environment must be provided with guarantees. [2]

However, unless the political issue is taken up by an organized people, our concerns are marginalized. We are condemned in perpetuity to beseech the gods of plague for salvation.

The MLPC thinks that governments at all levels have a duty to protect the natural environment and make sure measures are taken so that it can flourish in the future as well. We have ample means at our disposal to make sure this is done but today governments do not recognize this duty, even in words. The manner in which Canada played around with the Kyoto agreement, as a lackey to U.S. interests, makes a mockery of the very notion of social responsibility towards the environment.

On the occasion of the release of the MLPC Policy on the Environment on Earth Day, April 22nd, party leader Anna Di Carlo pointed out: “Which environmentalist does not know that the problem lies in the rule of the banks, developers, resource and other monopolies, which control everything? People know the kinds of measures which are required so that the environment can thrive and be sustainable, with its ecological integrity protected.” [3]

Endnotes

1. The program was conducted by Boris Worms, a marine biologist at Dalhousie University.

2. For Tony’s views on the environment, logging and the hereditary rights of First Nations, oceans and the fisheries, please see “Questions from the Electors – A Discussion with Tony Seed, MLPC,” January 2006. An excerpt:

What is the most serious environmental issue?

The most serious issue, like everything else, is Who Decides? The degradation of the environment of our harbours and our coast will increase as a result of the drive for annexation with the US: contamination by chemicals and sewage, oil spills from tankers and bulk carriers, introduction of invasive species by visiting ships, etc. Along with oil spills, bilge water dumping – water that is saturated with oil, fuel, and other contaminants – is common. The state is gutting and privatizing essential marine services, from harbour infrastructure to offshore support services, from lighthouses to the coast guard, according to its neo-liberal agenda. Since 1994 Transport Canada has decreased prosecution of oil tankers by one third. Since 9/11 the budget of the coast guard has been frozen.

Environmental regulation is viewed as a negative cost of production; standards are steadily lowered. The lack of safe water, air quality, pollution of the harbour, the tar pond, invasive species, marine oil spills, clearcutting, spraying, dragging and the degradation of the seabed can be solved if the profit motive is not the deciding factor. The right of all Canadians to a healthy social and natural environment must be provided with guarantees. That is our position.

Questions from the electors

3. Please see MLPC’s Policy on the Environment at

http://www.mlpc.ca/Articles/2011/F11-0181.HTM

This article was edited on April 27, 2011

Tony Seed (right) and Mark Daye (left) receive 1997 Nova Scotia Environment Award for outstanding contribution to the enhancement and preservation of Nova Scotia’s environment from Environment Minister Wayne Adams (centre). “As a magazine it does not present a plan or a program of action, but a journalism… that could be called ‘civic journalism’ or ‘publishing with a difference.’ That difference encourages an analysis of and participation in our whole environment.”

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