British Columbia: Campaign to save the rainforest

The weather was appropriately miserable: exactly the kind of west coast sleet once absorbed by the rainforest that grew here before a city sprang up in its place. A forty foot banner was unfurled and spread at chest level in front of the entrance to Campbell’s office: Hands off the old growth. A damp petition calling for a moratorium on the logging of BC’s few remaining stands of ancient forest was urged on pedestrians. The goal, according to Wu, was to generate 100,000 signatures (the petition is available online), of which just over 30,000 had been gathered by the time of this writing. Maybe large groups of people can change the world, too.


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The brief ceremony got going at 12:30: for starters, a number of
cheeky gimmicks, such as the New Zealand kiwis that were proffered to
Campbell in absentia as a reminder that some countries have gone ahead
with the suggested moratorium; then a short series of speeches were
delivered by Wu and others.

Most notable among the speakers was Arnold
Bercov, the vice president of the pulp and paper worker’s union and
the kind of person you’d expect to be picketing the picketers.

But Bercov, a squat, hardboiled man who looks like an extra from the
Sopranos and has worked in the forestry industry for four decades,
feels that Campbell’s big business-friendly government has cost his
union far more jobs than any environmental activists – and indeed,
saving the decimated forestry industry is central to WC2 message. Wu’s
never tried to hide it. But I asked him, will the presence of thirty
protesters outside the premier’s office – and on a day when no one’s
inside – actually get any attention? “We could have organized a huge
rally and got three thousand people out,” Wu replied.

“We did that in October. But the point this time was to create a spectacle.” He noted that CTV and CBC had each sent a reporter to cover the event, and
seemed happy with this result. The presence of a reporter, however,
doesn’t guarantee a report. While that October rally did indeed
generate national coverage, Saturday’s more modest effort has yet to
air on even local networks. “The way this stuff works,” Wu went on,
“you just have to keep pushing and pushing, and you don’t know when
you’ll see the effect. You can go for a long time without seeing the
slightest change, without knowing if you’re making any difference at
all, and then suddenly you hit that critical mass and everything goes
at once.”

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