On April 21, 24 hours columnist Bill Tieleman publicized an email in which marine biologist and prominent conservationist Alexandra Morton blasted environmentalists Tzeporah Berman, Karen Campbell and David Suzuki for panning the provincial New Democrats' platform while praising the Liberals' policies. "Your love in with Campbell is a betrayal to all that are alive in BC. Campbell is selling BC's most vital resources....fresh running water...And that is OK with you? Because you sure did not get that into the headlines. Yeah, you got big headlines....now what. If Campbell gets re-elected you can take the credit for all that follows." So now that election is over, how much credit does Ms. Morton think those environmentalists deserve for Gordon Campbell's victory?
"First of all, let me say that letter is probably one of my least brilliant pieces of writing. That was an early morning before coffee when you should not have perhaps hit the send button. But that is how I felt. And I think they should take enormous credit for the Liberal government being in power right now because the election was so close," responded Ms. Morton on Public Eye Radio.
"What angered me is that a lot of us were working in one direction. And these three very big and powerful groups" - the David Suzuki Foundation, ForestEthics and The Pembina Institute - "came out without any consultation with us or even a heads up. So they divided the environmental community - I think irrevocably."
"Now this might be good," she continued. "Because I see a dangerous trend in environmental work where large - generally American - companies or organizations are starting to fund various projects here. And that's a good thing because, obviously, environmentalists need to eat and send their children to school. The problem is, once you get corporate money, of course they want to direct where it goes and how it's used. And they're going to see that through."
"They're business people and they're going to see that through. But if the living system you're trying save shows evidence it needs different treatment than what you're trying to do or what you're funded to do, I feel the people on the ground should have the ability to turn and adapt and fully protect the fish."
"So now there's this schism where you've got environmental groups who have decided to go big-time. And you have the others like myself who have disengaged from that process and we remain owners of our own voices," she concluded.
But that might not be a bad thing. "You need diversity. And I, at some level, do trust these large organizations. I know these are very smart and concerned individuals and I know why they got involved in this issue. And if they think they can get in there and negotiate with the Liberals and with the big corporations, well maybe they can. But it's essential not all of us get into that tent."
"Because, otherwise, there's no other side of the issue. There's no cheques and balances. And I refuse to be paid by anybody at this point. I don't want to be part of any group. I just want to be able to listen to the fish and do what they're telling me to do. And they tell you with how they survive."