An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
WE’LL SEE HOW COMMITTED Kamloops City council is to the environment today (June 18, 2010) when a seemingly routine request for a declaration of support comes up.
The Kamloops chapter of what’s known as the Blue Dot network will ask that council support the inclusion of clean air, clean water and healthy food as basic human rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The campaign started several years ago, asking for similar declarations in municipalities across the country, but only now is making its way to the Kamloops council. Why? Because the strategy is to build citizen support before asking for municipal support, and local organizers say they’re now approaching 2,000 sign-ups.
Sounds like a no-brainer, but is it? Blue Dot originates with David Suzuki, a man who carries controversy with him wherever he goes. While many love him for his environmental crusades, others criticize him for his extensive air travel and real estate holdings.
Not all municipal councils are enamored with the Blue Dot movement, either. The council in the rural town of Metchosen declined to endorse it due to what it called possible legal ramifications and “unintended consequences.”
When Kelowna City council was asked to support it, it didn’t get off the ground. The council declined even to investigate how other municipalities have dealt with it and how it impacts municipal policies.
Though the declaration is non-binding, and is only a step toward getting it into law at the federal level, it’s not without obligations. For example, when Surrey wanted to put a road through a municipal park, Suzuki accused the council of failing on its Blue Dot commitment.
Still, some 173 councils have endorsed it. Will the Kamloops council be onside, or will it get bogged down in questions?
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.