Tomorrow, Saturday Sept 20th 2008 is a big day. It’s a big day for me, everybody at Dogwood Initiative, our allies, our supporters, and for those who have fought this fight before.

It was over 35 years ago that the first major struggle over whether or not to allow oil tankers through BC’s north coast was waged, and it has been waged repeatedly since. The major heroes of those early days are known, including long time MP David Anderson – but I believe it was the strength and passion of coastal people standing up for what they believed in that was most fundamental to shutting those early oil tanker proposals down. People who used humour, song, and scientific and emotional testimony to connect their neighbours and their communities into a force capable of influencing politics.

This needs to happen again – because the spectre of north coast oil tankers has returned; this has been the goal of Dogwood’s ‘No Tankers’ campaign since its launch in 2007. By working with our allies, we have mobilized concerned people across our great province, and it is important that you take whatever opportunity you have to raise the tanker issue with your candidates in whichever riding you will be voting.

Our ‘No Tankers’ campaign is a vehicle to organize British Columbians around a shared value – a value in a coast free from the impacts of oil spills. For the next 25 days, we will be concentrating the power of this vehicle in the riding of Saanich-Gulf Islands. This riding is key, because (a) the incumbent is a coastal Cabinet Minister (Gary Lunn) whose position on tankers is on the wrong side of ~80% of coastal British Columbians, over 20,000 of whom have signed our ‘No Tankers petition’; and (b) because all three of the candidates running against him support a legislated ban on north coast tankers.

You are not alone if you feel cynical about our political leaders, about the real power of your one vote in a non-proportional election system, about the length of time it takes to achieve seemingly common-sense change. Just remember that any democracy takes work – voting is central, but organizing is key to real change. We have to incessantly hit the phones, hit the keyboard, hit the airwaves and print, and hit the streets. This is what it’s all about. If you are committed to keeping oil spills off the north coast, it’s as simple and as complicated as that. Let’s get to work.