I had just finished reading Donald Gutstein’s book, Harperism about the rise of neo-conservatism in Canada and, feeling a bit depressed, went outside to get my copy of The NEWS for a cleansing check-up on merely local events.
I got by the lead story about Coun. Al Grier wanting to rollback municipal taxes (that’s right: it is a rollback when you freeze expenditures during even a mild inflationary period) and moved onto my favourite part of the paper. There editor John Harding predictably used his privileged position to castigate Coun. Kirk Oates for presuming to express his opinion that wood fire effluent is a contaminant when it is concentrated in an urban environment.
(Full disclosure: I love wood heat and used it almost exclusively to heat my farm home in Errington before moving into town.)
If anyone doubts the veracity of that view, I invite them to take a drive through Coombs any time there is a temperature inversion.
Every time our modern industrial society digs up dirt to get at its minerals, we concentrate such hazardous chemicals as arsenic; when you are turning the earth in your small garden, you are exposing yourself to botulism — fortunately in such small amounts that we can deal with it safely; if you live in a house on a concrete foundation, you are exposing yourself to radon gas. In these and in countless other examples, the unwanted by-products are endurable if we avoid releasing them in too large concentrations. The population density of Parksville is too high to permit unrestricted use of wood smoke — produced in an airtight stove or not.
The real calumny is linking Oates’ day job with his ability to function as part of the city’s policy-making body. If we are to apply that standard, what are we to say about Harding’s day job as a minion of one of B.C’s very own one percenters?