Thursday evening, I drove back from Kamloops, British Columbia following two days of meetings that included Fisheries and Oceans (DFO) staff. As per usual, for almost any comment made, or criticism suggested, DFO bureaucrats have a bafflegab filled response. There’s a whole lot of “at the end of the day…” & “change doesn’t happen over night…” & “we care…” & “we are considering your input…” and so on,and so on.
Now, it’s not that I hold a personal grudge against these folks… I do think that many individuals have good intentions within various government ministries and some do good, hard work. However, the difference between DFO bureaucrats and, for example, First Nation representatives attending a meeting to discuss salmon is the difference between “a job” (with full benefits) and “a way of life“.
The Department of Fisheries and Ocean hasn’t really been around all that long; a few decades. The relationship between First Nations people and communities and salmon… well… that relationship has been around a little longer….
A mid to high level DFO staffer sitting in these meetings is surviving comfortably on a $70,000 – $100,000 per year job, with a full suite of benefits: medical, dental, RRSP contributions, and one heck of a decent pension after all those “years of service”. That’s somewhere between $6,000 per month – $8,000+ per month, or about $300 – $400 per day.
When someone such as myself attends a meeting (at a rate of $0 per day) and suggests that the Wild Salmon Policy is a joke; that it’s a nice piece of paper with pretty pictures; that came into being in the late 1990s, took until 2005 to bring it into legislation, and here we are in 2010 listening to DFO staff explain the “challenges” in implementing…(not to mention that DFO’s own internal audits suggest a severe lack of accountability in many of their multi-million dollar programs)
Therefore, when a DFO Policy gets called piece of shit, DFO staff jump up and defend these ridiculous little gatherings of words, sentences, and meaningless bumpf — as if it’s religious gospel. It’s about as close to gospel, as the Policy is to preparing for a Salmon Resurrection… (it’s also about as close to effective as the B.C. bike helmet law…)
I suppose they have to… it’s their job; and for folks working on salmon issues within DFO, it’s worked into their job description: “thou shalt sing the praises of the Wild Salmon Policy!”… (at least until 5 pm on weekdays…) “thou shalt defend shitty computer models as if they are one of the Ten Commandments”
And, as it’s been pointed out lately… “thou shalt bury any independent investigator [e.g. Justice Cohen] in a litany and avalanche of paper”
(Ghad knows, 10,000 full time equivalents within one department can produce A LOT of paper. Let’s say 5000 employees create one piece of paper per day (on the supreme low end). That’s 1.8 million pieces of paper in one year… good luck Justice Cohen and your team of lawyers)
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On my drive back from Kamloops, I drove north through the communities of Barriere, Clearwater, and Blue River — the north Thompson River. One of the areas I drove by was Louis Creek, just south of Barriere. Yesterday, this great little poster was emailed through various circles with the title: “Important message from Interior of BC“.
Now this is the type of paper that is truly important:
When kids speak, more folks should listen.
Having grown up on Haida Gwaii (formerly referred to as Queen Charlotte Is.) with a very close connection to salmon (see forthcoming book), as well as many years of salmon related work, I am not one to discount a kids connection to watching salmon swim up one’s home streams.
Some grumpy folks might suggest these kids were “put up to this”… I say hogwash. Kids care.
And truly… when there are only 6 Chinook counted, and even DFO says 1600 are required to simply keep the run alive.
Start listening – and maybe start thinking about: Hard decisions… If not now; when?
(for more info on this issue see posts like Fisheries and Oceans Canada breaking laws? and others related to Fraser Chinook)