Interview with a Granny

Last week I was lucky to take time out of my busy schedule and gain some perspective from raging granny Gillian Sanderson. She was eager to share her perspective on our Forest Minister, Rich Coleman, and his decisions affecting our beloved coast.
When asked upfront about Coleman she quickly replied “I wonder if he knows what he’s doing”, frankly, I couldn’t agree more.  As we settled in, the interview was nicely broken up with stories, and other jewels of experience. Here is some of what Gillian had to offer;

M: Tell me a little bit about yourself Gillian.

 G: I’m a raging granny, and I’ve done lots of activism work. I was a member of the first Wisdom Council in Canada.

M: How do you feel about the recent decisions by Rich Coleman, to delete 2800ha out of Western Forest Product’s Tree Farm Licenses without any public consultation or compensation?  

G: I am furious and outraged, this is another sign that the government had no thought of the needs of the people, and is only interested in further privatization.

M: How does this decision impact you and your livelihood?

G:  For 25 years I have been visiting these areas, the Jordan River and Port Renfrew areas are treasured. I go there to see wildlife (she went on to talk about the magic of the place, and further told a story about a developer who came into Port Renfrew promising green development, and in the end hacking down trees that were special nesting grounds).  This land shouldn’t belong to any corporation; it belongs to the people of the province and First Nations peoples.  

M: Do you think Rich Coleman acted in the best interest of the public?

G: Of course not.  I wonder if he knows what he’s doing.

M: Are you concerned about further deletions?

G: Yes

M: Who do you think stands to gain from these deletions?

G: Corporations.  

M: What would you like to see happen in the future?

G: A change of the system, this system is rotten to the core. We need more power in the hands of the local people.  Politicians need to have integrity; their sole responsibility is not to just represent the rich.  We need politicians who have a sense of accountability to the public. There needs to be more transparency of tax payers money. Capitalism and the free market economy will not regulate itself. Profit is always underlined, this has to change. We need responsible and honest politicians, because at the moment they are not.

M: Are you aware of the Auditor Generals inquiry into the competency of Coleman’s decision?

G: Yes, he is not a competent Minister.

M: Why should people be upset about this issue?

G: (In response Gillian was notably worked up, and I asked her if she was uncomfortable with the question. She answered, “No it’s just that I could go on all day!”)  
Canada is a special place; we have these vast spaces of natural beauty.  Our west coast is beautiful and accessible for many visitors. We have precious little forest left.  Indigenous people’s lands are being taken away and exploited, for foreign development.  The problem is they (Coleman and other politicians) are not ignorant, they are deliberately deceiving the public, and they are not responding to us.

 M: How can people move forward on this issue? What actions could be taken?

G: The public needs to engage in protest and dialogue with the minister.  Coleman needs to be told he is meant to represent us.  We have to call our MLAs, and demand that the minister justify his actions.  We need make sure he does what is good for the people he represents. People should write handwritten letters, which are worth more than typed or e-mailed letters.

M:  Is there anything you would like to add?

G: I know things are hard, people feel disempowered because of all of these lies. Even so, we have to slow down and focus on what we want instead of what we don’t want.  I refuse to live my life in fear, fear is a tool used to keep us down.  I will not be kept down.  

M: Thank- you so much for your time Gillian, let’s keep in touch.

This interview was a refreshing experience. Some of us seem to become complacent as we age, but Gillian assured me that the older she gets the more radical she becomes.  Now that’s something we can all strive for.