Independent Joseph Hughes states case

Kootenay West candidate tackles Columbia River Treaty and other issues

  • May. 7, 2013 5:00 a.m.

Just under 300,000 acres of southern B.C.’s four fertile valleys were destroyed by the Columbia River Treaty (1966-2024) which provides water storage for the U.S. – water to power their dams, their industry, and above all, their farms.

Remuneration from the U.S. to B.C. has averaged $40 million per year for the past 48 years.  The U.S. announced this spring that this remuneration will be reduced by 90 per cent to just 10 per cent by 2024.  The losses to B.C. include a 92 per cent collapse of a sustainable inland fishery, the destruction of some of B.C.’s finest forest, recreation, small industry and agricultural areas (completely wiping out agriculture in the Arrow Valley which was formerly the third most productive valley in B.C. and further increasing our dependency for food from the U.S.) while entire species of aquatic, avian and terrestrial wildlife have been extirpated or severely reduced in numbers.

Free-flowing rivers and lakes have been transformed into sterile industrial reservoirs. Former vibrant, lush ecosystems rendered non-functional and broken. With none of the powerful legislation protecting riparian ecosystems that are in place in the U.S., the Columbia River Treaty has been the largest man-made environmental disaster in B.C.’s history.

Even more serious, the North American Free Trade Agreement (written by the U.S. for the U.S.) is poised to permanently confer sovereignty over B.C.’s water to the U.S.  With the U.S. facing rapidly diminishing water supplies (both from reduced precipitation and the decommissioning of more than 450 of their own dams – eight per year – as restoring ecosystems becomes a priority) combined with an increasing population, the riding of Kootenay West is in an uniquely critical situation. How very much greater the U.S. need for water will be in 2024, the date when the first changes to the treaty in 60 years will be permitted (providing 10 years advanced notice is given).

It must be understood that there was no requirement for a treaty to provide B.C. with flood control of hydro generation. The treaty was devised by the U.S. solely to permit immense water storage in B.C. for U.S. benefit – benefit amounting to billions.

Now is the time to throw your support behind a candidate who will fight to restore sovereignty of B.C.’s river system back to the residents of B.C.  The B.C. dams will continue to generate hydro power for residents and export. The Columbia Basin Trust and its power arm, Columbia Power Corporation, will also be unaffected. Flood control will likewise continue. Termination of the treaty means that from September 2024 onwards, B.C. will for the first time in 60 years be able to manage the Canadian portion of the Columbia River for the benefit of B.C. and not the U.S.

There are certain rare times in history when only an Independent MLA who is not bound by Party dogma can do the seemingly impossible. Which is why Joseph has turned down requests by the mainstream parties to join them. Even more extraordinary that one should come forward with the unwavering sincerity, commitment, tenacity and determination required. This is undeniably a David and Goliath situation but the original David won the fight, and with your support this one can too.

PS – Joseph Hughes is not a one-issue candidate. He will fight for employment opportunities, the balancing of a vibrant economy with the needs of the environment, health, education, the rights and well-being of our seniors, for the “no fee opt out” provision on smart meter, the restoration of B.C.’s Parks system and support for B.C. agriculture among many other issues. He is an outspoken opponent of frakking and the Jumbo resort where, as with the Columbia River Treaty, democracy was completely taken away from the people most affected. But because of the 10 year advance notice for the decision of the Treaty is imminent (September 2014), Joseph is focusing on this. He is a passionate defender of true democracy.


– Submitted by the committee supporting Joseph Hughes’ independent candidacy.