Dear Editor ,

Tom Fletcher appears to be on a crusade. He is unflinching in his defense of the salmon farm industry and unrelenting in disparaging (nigh on slandering) the new provincial government, first nations activists, environmentalists and really anyone who suggests there might be concerns or problems with salmon farming. Whether it’s ‘reporting’ or ‘opinion’ – it is actually a bit embarrassing to read.

There are some very serious issues in the current disputes about Atlantic salmon farming in the Broughton Archipelago and the Fraser River, and we deserve thoughtful reporting and commentary to help us understand them. The first issue is that our current government is prepared to break into the completely new territory of trying to establish what the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) actually means in practice. Dismissing Canada’s signing of UNDRIP as being symbolic, or meaning nothing in law, is a dismissal of the first international law that recognizes indigenous people as human, with the human rights of all other people. Surely the upstanding people of this province, the business community included, are not opposed to this principle. Surely we are not opposed to figuring out what this means beyond symbolic gestures. Many Black Press readers are Indigenous people, and along with the rest of us deserve reporting that is open to, and helps us understand in particular what “free, prior and informed consent” to projects on Indigenous peoples’ territories should mean, in practice, in British Columbia. All of us – First Nations, all levels of government, businesses, public institutions – all of us have a big stake in getting this right. It is going to take vision, courage, intelligence, forgiveness of mis-steps, patience and above all the capacity to work through differences.

I am calling on Black Press to step up and provide us with much better than the polarized crusading that is coming from Tom Fletcher.