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The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Phone: 604-266-6552
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  • Volume Eight, Number Five: July 2003

    Publisher's Note

    The Great BC Fire of ’03 is generating it’s own media firestorm.  Images of hundreds of burn-out homes, dramatic shots of trees engulfed in flames, photos of firefighters slogging through the smoke, all create and reinforce the spirit of involvement in some sort of basic elemental struggle.

    In the largest conflagration this year, the Kelowna fire, the actions of the firefighters should be considered heroic both individually and collectively.  The citizens of Kelowna owe them a great debt of gratitude.

    But it’s not just Kelowna because by the time we go to press there will have been over 3,000 individual fires over one hectare in BC since April 1st of this year. And those fires will have all been extinguished by the people on the ground.

    What seems to slide out of frame is the fact that hundreds and thousands of men and women are daily employed in this battle – it’s their job.  As firefighters they have chosen and are prepared daily to face great danger to protect their fellow citizens.  As firefighting professionals, they have willingly chosen associations and unions to ensure their rights are protected in a very hazardous work environment.

    But you don’t read in the paper or see on television that the firefighters are members of the BC Government Services and Employees Union, or that they are members of the Public Service
    Alliance of Canada, or the Canadian Union of Public Employees, or the BC Professional Firefighters Association, or any of the many other Unions representing those people fighting the fires.

    That’s simply because the owners of most of the mainstream media outlets just don’t like unions and their members.  Until their own houses are in danger of annihilation, the media are quite content to demand wage rollbacks and tax-saving downsizing austerity measures from firefighters support groups. Once the fires are out, the media will resume its attack on the organizations that support our firefighters and the many other public servants in this country.

    There were plenty of photo – ops for Gordon Campbell at the Kelowna fire, but not many for the leaders of the unions representing the many firefighters.  There were pages of grateful thanks from e-mail sites for the firefighters, but nothing on any of the editorial pages recognizing their work as union members.

    The media didn’t have the decency to commend and congratulate those firefighters and their unions at any editorial level.

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