Sunday, January 25, 2009

Fundy Opinion - A Plea for a New Democratic Process Based on Old Democratic Standards

Judy Gibson is one whose soul truly lives in the beauty of the Quoddy Region. Her eloquent plea for a rethinking of our democratic process is highly relevant in the current transitional mood in the United States. Her plea should not go unheeded. We clearly have one last chance to get this right or we may, like our right whale neighbours and other species that have already become extinct, wither and pass from this world. We thank Judy for this timely email and guest post which is highly pertinent as Quoddy citizens struggle with increasing challenges and threats. Art

Dear Tim, Art, et al. in the BPC and Quoddy Group,

I deeply regret not being on the spot so that I could be more useful as a voice, and as a researcher, against the proposed industrialization of our magnificent and historic St. Croix and Passamaquoddy Bay region.

If our much-vaunted Canadian democracy really existed:

(a) Area residents would be part of the planning process of any proposed change to any portion of their communities.
(b) Municipal councils and community groups would be invited to participate before any proposals are made concerning their communities. This should be long before any formal proposal is articulated and presented to provincial/state and/or federal governments.
(c) Governments should facilitate the research process by providing free and immediate access to information deemed necessary for area residents and property stakeholders (such as home owners and business owners in a given area) to respond to proposals,
(d) Sufficient funds for research and communications should be provided by (a) branch(es) of government relevant to a proposed project (e.g. Quarries and LNG, by the Dept. of Natural Resources, the Dept. of the Environment, the Department of Wildife, the Department of the Interior, etc. plus the Treasury Board).
(e) The time to prepare responses to all proposals which will impact upon a given area economically, environmentally, and/or socially, should be fully adequate to enable respondents to make their wishes known to proponents, politicians, and the public at large.
(f) Media should guarantee equal coverage in space, time, and prominence, to both sides of any proposal. For example, a full-page advertisement in a newspaper, paid for by the proponents of a proposed project, should be balanced by an ad of the same size, by community residents and/or groups opposing the project.
(g) Government should examine each proposal based not just upon anticipated, or promised, economic benefits such as new jobs and higher tax revenues, but should balance the relative merits of any proposal by examining probable negative consequences on other occupations and property values, as well as changes in local economies which are foreseen to be negative.
(h) The constitutionally-guaranteed equality of citizens should be upheld, so that no investment from outside an area should be given more power than any organization or group of citizens living in that area. (Therefore, groups such as the Quoddy Group, the Bayside Preservation Council, the Passamaquoddy Tribe, the Town Council of St. Andrews, the elected representatives in the provincial and federal governments, the NB Tourist Association, the residents and property owners and businesses of each of the area communities, health care professionals, and others, should be considered to be representative of their communities, if each group represents the majority of individuals in any one group.) Suppose that adult residents of St. Andrews number 2000--if 1350 of them are against these proposals, the majority voice should speak for the town; and this should be the case for all similar groups.
(i) Employment created which causes pollution of land, water, and/or air, and damage to ecosystems (people, animals, and plants) and which would tend to diminish the quality of life, in respect to health, environment, and local governance, and lower property values, should be given low or no value whenever such 'employment schemes' are proposed, no matter whether the proponent(s) is/are local residents or not.

Can we not approach the new US President and ask for the support of his administration in really bringing about change to our very badly degraded democracies?

Good luck to all of you...individuals and groups. You are in my thoughts.

Please, if you find any or all of this helpful to your cause, use it.

Judy Gibson