Earlier, we exclusively reported the B.C. Road Builders and Heavy Construction Industry Association was planting the seeds for an Astroturf movement that will "sway public and political opinion in support of the government's transportation programs." The movement will be known as the Livable BC Coalition - a name which (as one of our astute readers has already observed) bears a startlingly and surely coincidental similarity to the Livable Region Coalition, an association opposed to the Gateway Project. So how do the livable region folks feel about sharing their moniker with highway advocates? In an interview with Public Eye, the group member and Better Environmentally Sound Transportation policy and communications director Deming Smith said "It shows imitation is the most sincere form of flattery. And it goes to show the Livable Region Coalition has been very effective in getting our message out and getting the attention of some of the decision-makers around the region and in the province. And for that we've got to give ourselves credit where credit is due. I think people are starting to get the message and question the wisdom of going forward with this whole Gateway plan."
When asked about road builders' president Jack Davidson's comment that the Campbell administration didn't "specifically" ask industry to setup the Livable BC Coalition, Mr. Smith said "I think that these guys work had and glove on many initiatives. I think that the audience that (Transportation Minister Kevin) Falcon and (Premier Gordon) Campbell announced this to back in January when they rolled out their plans for the Highway 1 twinning and bridge twinning. And it consisted of basically the same people he named in the article - the road builders association, the BCAA, the board of trade types. So it doesn't really surprise me. I think they commonly work together on areas of mutual benefit."
And what about the road builders' calling their coalition a grassroots movement? "I think it's quite disingenous to call it a grassroots effort," said Mr. Smith. "It's a phoney-type initiative that's being driven by business interests - people with a direct financial stake in this particular project moving forward. So I think to call it grassroots - to assume they have broad public support behind what they're doing - is, yes, disingenous is the word that comes to mind."