Dear Editor:

There are many different ways for environmental concerns to be expressed in an effort to discover a workable balance in the relations between humans and natural systems. The Mike Harcourt NDP government of the early 1990s introduced British Columbians to public planning processes through social contract where citizens successfully participated in conflict resolution methodology in combination with judicial review, commissions, inquiries, a free press and public gatherings to open a reasonable path for social change.

Another way to express concern is through the tactical approaches of the American activism industry. American activism specializes in demagoguery, an appeal to people that plays to their emotions rather than to reason. Name calling, intimidation, issue substitution and ridicule intended to make people feel hatred toward individuals are common tactics.

Followers of the American-style activism industry are usually disciples of the American writer Saul Alynsky. His book, 12 Rules for Radicals, may be found quoted on many American activist websites. Heres rule five and rule 12. They set the tone.

Rule five: Ridicule is mans most potent weapon.

Rule 12: Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it Go after people and not institutions; people hurt faster than institutions. (This is cruel, but very effective. Direct, personalized criticism and ridicule works.)

This style of activism perpetuates the activist industry and also provides rich ground for corporations to harness ideology and sell product. Canada adopted the Westminster system of governance at the time of Confederation and it has since evolved based on the idea that in our democracy you accept that you do not get to be right all the time. Sometimes other people have their way, although we may ably make our disagreement known through a free press, work to elect sympathetic governments or appeal to the judiciary for support of our claims. Ours is not a perfect system but it is one that the 250,000 immigrants that we welcomed to Canada every year for the last ten years found more appealing than not.

The Canadian social contract approach disdains personal attack. Evidence must be substantiated. Hothead conspiracy theories, issue substitution, ridicule and uninformed character assassinations are seen through and discarded.

Of the different ways for concerns to be expressed in practice there are a couple of choices people can make: the American style activism or, alternately, the Canadian style social contract. Following is a comment from Bob from Calgary fame that makes it clear which approach I support. He says: I make a call to all of my fellow citizens to remain involved and vigilant to ensure that Canadian politics remains healthy, that we continue to invest in one another, that we avoid demagoguery and that we work to ensure that Canada remains one of the best countries in the world to live in.

Peter Christensen

Oona River B.C.