I live in a small island which is a part of the Islands Trust, a level of governance that ensures that the unique character and ecosystems of our islands our protected and preserved on behalf of all British Columbians. I happen to like the Islands Trust and consider it a useful level of governance, not without its need to reform and change, but in general we live in a unique place and we need to unique form of stewardship.
Not everyone feels the way I do.
There is a tiny but extremely vocal group of anti-government fear mongers who go by different names and handles. Mostly they remain anonymous hiding behind titles like “Concerned Island Residents.” Their leaflets are transparent attempts to stoke outrage, promising that the rapacious appetite of the Island Trust is coming to eat all of your wealth,or that a tree policy “Is putting your home at risk of forest fire.” and that it’s an archaic and dysfunctional organization that is bloated and dictatorial. The usual libertarian talking points. Their communications are often handled by Bill Tielmann, a notorious freelance political muckraker who never seems to say no to lighting dumpsters on fire for pay.
Today in my mailbox I got a leaflet from the Gulf islands Coalitions (or the Southern Gulf Islands Coalition, or the Concerned Island Residents or the Southern Gulf Island Resident and Business Coalition, its hard to tell because every one of these groups is listed randomly throughout the leaflet as the contact or sponsor or organizer.) At any rate, the leaflet contained this pie chart used to show the results of a survey of 189 people.Along with the fact that their listed social media handles are wrong and their email address is either misspelled, or they misspelled it when they signed up at gmail, makes me almost think that this is a parody.
There’s not much more to say about this kind of thing. Every couple of months before the Islands Trust quarterly Council meeting, something like this gets mailed out and honestly, it leaves me wondering if they know anything about the issues they purport to be outraged about. They seem to be mostly interested in raising anger, pointing fingers, and endlessly whining about their right to have bigger houses, more docs, and lower taxes.
There are issues to discuss about how we are governed in the world, and how we need to change things – especially in fragile social and environmental contexts like the Gulf Islands. Climate change, the financialization of property and land, reconciliation, development and population growth pressures, increasing needs for social services in remote and small communities, food security and local economic sustainability are all issues that require us to constantly engage in meaningful and real policy issues.
We need a mature conversation about the policy implications of these issues and how to address these challenges. I know why anonymous groups send out these kinds of pamphlets. I know that they think they are coalescing a righteous movement towards a bright future.
But honestly? An elementary school child will tell you what is wrong with that chart. So, sheesh. Let’s stop this nonsense and have some proper, informed conversations about our common future.