Monday, 31 December 2012

Environmentalists - spinmasters of 2012

2012 Master of spin or Protector of Mother decide 

Wildsight continues to stretch the truth and smear the facts. The coalition of Sierra Club, Y2Y, CPAWS and Wildsight use misleading statements to fire up the imagination of readers. Just about every issue these groups campaign against uses similar media hype and thinly veiled threats of doom and gloom. There is a place for environmentalism in BC but not in the way these groups do business. Their campaigns twist the truth and use sketchy details  to garner an audience.  The latest campaign on a new coal mine in the Elk Valley is typical of how they twist reality. It would be useful to the environmental assessment process if Wildsight and its partners used some credible statements in their opposition to new coal mines in the Elk Valley.


Here are the statements that Wildsight and their partners published as compared to the facts:

“jeopardize a crucial international wildlife corridor”  

The wildlife in the Elk valley range in the Elk Valley or Alberta depending on the summer and winter ranges.  There is always the off chance that a singular animal will migrate south 200+ kms to cross the US border. This is not an internationally crucial wildlife corridor, unless of course you are peddling the Y2Y project. 

 “Centermount Coal Ltd.’s Bingay project, which is 45 per cent Chinese-owned” 

Foreign investment is needed to build infrastructure so we as Canadians can reap the long term benefits. Two private Chinese citizens own 45% and Canadians own the other 55% majority shares which control the company. I hope Wildsight is not implying that non-Canadians can't invest in BC, if they did then Wildsight would stand to lose millions from US foundations. Wildsight is trying to get a free ride off public sentiment from the recent federal decision to allow foreign ownership of oil sand companies. Here’s the breakdown of ownership of Centermount taken from the project description submitted to the BC Environmental Assessment Office: 

The BingayMain Coal Project (the project) is wholly owned by Centermount, a private, Canadian company with its head office located in Vancouver, BC. Centermount is 55% owned by Centerpoint Resources Inc., also a private Canadian company, with the remaining 45% owned by two Chinese private shareholders.”
“The Elk is one of the last strongholds for genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout and endangered bull trout.”
Westslope cutthroat are abundant throughout the Kootenays including the Elk River which is not the last stronghold. Bull trout are found throughout BC and are not endangered. They are blue listed which means they are sensitive to human activities or natural events, but are not Extirpated, Endangered or Threatened.

 “This mine would be smack in the middle of a globally-significant wildlife corridor that UNESCO has asked B.C. to protect,” 

Just where is “smack in the middle”? According to the proponents application they put the location at: 80 kms north of Sparwood and 80 kms south of Banff National Park. UNESCO has never stated that the Elk Valley is a globally-significant wildlife corridor” nor have they ever asked the BC Government to protect that value.  UNESCO did however use similar references to the federal government for the Flathead valley which has no bearing on this project.  

“contravene a United Nations recommendation for a moratorium on new coal mines in the Elk” 

The United Nations never recommended a moratorium on new coal mines in the Elk Valley in fact they stated:
Urges the State Party of Canada not to permit any development or other resource extraction in the upper Flathead River basin until adequate baseline and comparative research has been completed and considered jointly with the State Party of the United States of America;  

“This could ultimately impact the whole corridor, including the nearby Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park.” 

Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park is over 200 kms away as the crow flies in a different province across many mountain ranges with five other open pit coal mines in between. I doubt visitors to Waterton will notice any impact.

It’s time that people start to ask tough questions of Wildsight and their  environmental partners. They want the government and corporations to be accountable, responsible and open yet they don’t follow that creed. The untaxed millions that registered charities such as Wildsight, CPAWS and Sierra Club use are governed by strict rules from the Canada Revenue Agency.  Its time they started to act like a charity, do some good for the communities, rather than the oppose and protest with their junk science.  You can read the application submitted by the company online at 

Think twice about what is written and look further to make an informed decision on this and other environmental issues. You can view other informative articles at Kootenay Think twice. 

Paul Visentin
Member of the Kootenay Thinktwice group
Comments from article published in e-Know Jan 5 2013
Wildsight welcomes constructive critique of our work. We work with leading researchers in the field of conservation and ecology and invite feedback from scientists and the public. We regularly incorporate new information into our presentations. Wildsight’s agenda and finances are open to the public through our website, The critique by Mr. Visetin is an opinion piece that is not based on the facts. It is written in the same vein as previous Think Twice attacks on the Canadian Cancer Society and Wildsight for our position on cosmetic pesticides. The writer denies the fact that UNESCO has acknowledged that the Elk Valley is a critical wildlife corridor, and that it has recommended a moratorium on mining in the Elk Valley.I would encourage readers to review UNESCO’s 2010 State of Conservation Report ( which states,”steps should also be taken to minimise the barrier to wildlife connectivity due to mining, transportation and communication lines and associated developments in the Crowsnest Pass of British Columbia and to plan and implement relevant mitigation measures. The mission recommended a long-term moratorium be placed on any further mining developments in south eastern British Columbia in a corridor providing vital habitat connectivity and to the Rocky Mountains World Heritage property in Alberta. Other measures should include minimising future infrastructure development and removal of unnecessary structures, maintenance of core natural areas and rehabilitation of degraded areas, and development of a pro-active plan for enhancing connectivity in the area.”
Reply to John Bergenske
The original article published by Wildsight, Sierra Club and CPAWS contained numerous statements that were designed to illicit support for their cause. I doubt any “experts” would have signed off on those statements. I referenced 7 statements that had factual errors and only one is refuted where Mr. Bergenske errs again in stating that the elk valley is part of the 2010 UNESCO decision. It clearly makes no mention of the Elk Valley but does have concerns about the Crowsnest Pass and areas to the south, specifically areas south of the US border in the Flathead and the World Heritage Site at Waterton – Glacier National Park. My critique of Wildsight and the CCS stance on cosmetic pesticides is well known and is also based on the credible experts that have long standing careers studying pesticides and their effect on people and the environment. I have not seen any documentation of the “experts” they claim to use on any subject they campaign against least of all the pesticide campaign. Will Mr. Bergenske provide the names and CV’s of the “leading researchers in the field of conservation and ecology” that Wildsight uses? Kootenay Thinktwice uses facts to back up statements something that Wildsight and its partners need to incorporate into their messaging.
Paul Visentin Member of Kootenay Thinktwice

1 comment:

  1. You may enjoy this site with similar articles.

    In particular, this analysis of Wildsight's funding

    Fear and misinformation is a lucrative business. Wildsight spends nearly $1M / yr while collecting only $10k in membership revenue.