Letter to the editor: Joseph Hughes

Independent candidate for Kootenay West Joseph Hughes is not a one-issue candidate.

To the Editor:

Just under 300,000 acres of southern BC’s four fertile valleys were destroyed by the Columbia River Treaty (1966-2024) which provides water storage for the US – Water to power their dams, their industry, and above all, their farms.

Remuneration from the US to BC has averaged $40 million per year for the past 48 years. The US announced this spring that this remuneration will be reduced by 90% to just 10% by 2024.

The losses to BC include a 92% collapse of a sustainable inland fishery, the destruction of some of BC’s finest forest, recreation, small industry and agricultural areas (completely wiping out agriculture in the Arrow Valley which was formerly the third most productive valley in BC and further increasing our dependency for food from the US) while entire species of aquatic, avian and terrestrial wildlife have been extirpated or severly reduced in numbers. Free-flowing rivers and lakes have been transformed into sterile industrial reservoirs.

Former vibrant, lush ecosystems rendered non-functional and broken. With none of the powerful legislation protecting riparian ecosystems that are in place in the US, the Columbia River Treaty has been the largest manmade environmental disaster in BC’s history.

Even more serious, the North American Free Trade Agreement (written by the US for the US) is poised to permanently confer sovereignty over BC’s water to the US. With the US facing rapidly diminishing water supplies (both from reduced precipitation and the decommissioning of more than 450 of their own dams -8 per year- as restoring ecosystems becomes a priority) combined with an increasing population, the riding of Kootenay West is in an uniquely critical situation. How very much greater the US need for water will be in 2024, the date when the first changes to the treaty in 60 years will be permitted (providing 10 years advanced notice is given).

It must be understood that there was no requirement for a treaty to provide BC with flood control of hydro generation. The treaty was devised by the US solely to permit immense water storage in BC for US benefit –benefit amounting to billions.

Now is the time to throw your support behind a candidate who will fight to restore sovereignty of BC’s river system back to the residents of BC. The BC dams will continue to generate hydro power for residents and export. The Columbia Basin Trust and its power arm, Columbia Power Corporation, will also be unaffected.

Flood control will likewise continue. Termination of the treaty means that from September 2024 onwards, BC will for the first time in 60 years be able to manage the Canadian portion of the Columbia River for the benefit of BC and not the US.

There are certain rare times in history when only an Independent MLA who is not bound by Party dogma can do the seemingly impossible. Which is why Joseph has turned down requests by the mainstream parties to join them. Even more extraordinary that one should come forward with the unwavering sincerity, commitment, tenacity and determination required. This is undeniably a David & Goliath situation but the original David won the fight, and with your support this one can too.

PS Joseph Hughes is not a one-issue candidate. He will fight for employment opportunities, the balancing of a vibrant economy with the needs of the environment, health, education, the rights and well-being of our Seniors, for the “no fee opt out” provision on Smart Meter, the restoration of BC’s Parks system and support for BC agriculture among many other issues.

He is out-spoken opponent of frakking and the Jumbo resort where, as with the Columbia River Treaty, democracy was completely taken away from the people most affected. But because of the 10 year advance notice for the decision of the Treaty is imminent (September 2014), Joseph is focusing on this. He is a passionate defender of true democracy.

Submitted by the committee supporting Joseph Hughes’ Independent Candidacy.