"The price of greatness is responsibility."
Friday, June 18, 2010 - Last night, my daughter graduated from Handsworth Secondary School. Not only I am very proud of her, I am also extremely grateful that she had the privilege of a Handsworth education. If all Canadian children could have an education that is as good as the students get at Handsworth, we'd have a better Canada.
On our way downtown for the ceremonies, we stopped at Stanley Park and then at the Vancouver Art Gallery to take some pictures. We had a little extra time so we decided to stop at Café Crepe before heading to the Orpheum for the big event. Cafe Crepe on Granville Street is just around the corner from the Orpheum.
As we walked in to Cafe Crepe, I happened to notice Dr. David Suzuki sitting alone, having a bite to eat. For three years, I have been writing letters to him (17 open letters since 2007), and trying unsuccessfully to communicate with Dr. Suzuki so I thought that perhaps I could just briefly introduce myself and give him a friendly handshake to go along with my name. As politely and as respectfully as I know how, I approached Dr. Suzuki to take the liberty of introducing myself. Actually, we have met before but that was years ago at the opening ceremonies of the Kitasoo/Xais-Xais cultural center in Klemtu.
"Dr. Suzuki, I wonder if I might introduce myself," I said, or something like that. "I'm Vivian, Vivian Krause," I said. He kindly stood up to shake my hand, I believe, but my name didn't seem to ring a bell so I added, "I've been trying to write you letters." Still, he didn't seem to place my name so I added, "I have a web-site, 'Fair Questions,' " I mentioned, adding that I would really appreciate it if I could speak with him or meet with him.
Then, he placed me, or so it seemed. "You're the fish farmer," he said. I had barely begun to explain that yes, I used to work in fish farming - seven years ago - but before I could say much Dr. Suzuki looked me straight in the eye and started telling me to f**k off. Not just once. Then, suddenly, he seemed to catch himself, and quickly sat down.
I was so stunned, I was speechless (which doesn't happen very often).
Dr. Suzuki went back to eating his crepe, or whatever he was eating.
I was rather offended. For three years, I have been open letters to Dr. Suzuki, fully referenced, in an academic and respectful manner. I don't feel that I deserved to be told to f**k off. What's more, Dr. Suzuki was quite happy to get up and speak with me - until he realized who I am .
My camera happened to be hanging around my neck as just minutes earlier, I had been taking photos of my daughter and her girlfriends. As it turned out, I picked up my camera and took a few photos. When I got the film developed, I found out that, in fact, I'd taken two photos.
At that point, Dr. Suzuki stood up again and came towards me. He seemed very angry, maybe even furious. "Look," he said, "What do you want? " he asked me, twice, I believe. He was yelling at me by this time - or so it felt. He seemed so angry that I was afraid that he was going to hit me so I started to back up - which is not very easy to do at Cafe Crepe on Granville. I told him that what I want to know is how much American money his foundation has received, how many millions, or perhaps tens of millions. U.S. tax returns that I have seen show that U.S. foundations have paid about $US 10 Million to the David Suzuki Foundation.
"Why?" he asked me, adding, "What do you care?"
I answered Dr. Suzuki's question by saying that the reason that I care is because hundreds of people have lost their jobs because of his crusade against salmon farming. That isn't the only reason that I care but it is the reason that I happened to mention. (Another reason that I care is that with his false claims about PCBs in farmed salmon, and sea lice, it seems to me that Dr. Suzuki has sold our country up the river on the safety and sustainability of salmon farming, but I didn't get into that).
The reason that I care so much about jobs is because not all of us have a house on the water in Point Grey, another property in Toronto, another one in Australia, and another one on Quadra Island, like David Suzuki. Some of us have to struggle just to pay for one home that we don't even own - let alone a university education for our kids. When I worked in salmon farming in 2002 and 2003, a woman at the Englewood fish processing plant in Beaver Cove told me, "If I don't earn it, my son doesn't play hockey." That plant has since been closed. I just can't forget about her and her son.
Dr. Suzuki then told me, "Look, I'm just here for my granddaughter's graduation." That didn't surprise me. His granddaughter has been at our home on more than one occasion. Dr. Suzuki's granddaughter and my daughter are classmates. I had no intention of upsetting his evening or ours so I asked him if perhaps I could call him next week, or if he would prefer to call me. "No," he said, sitting down, looking into his plate again as his wife arrived at the table.
The issue here isn't David Suzuki's short fuse or that he told repeatedly told me to "f**k off." The real issue here is accountability. The David Suzuki Foundation has obviously received at least $US 10 Million from U.S. foundations but this hasn't exactly been out in the open. For years, David Suzuki and his foundation have refused to answer any questions about their foreign funding - and they've gotten away with it because no one has been willing to call them on the carpet. Confronted with clear evidence that he has falsely reported some of his foundation's research findings about both PCBs in farmed salmon, and sea lice, so far David Suzuki has refused to admit it.
Instead of publicly clarifying the whole truth about its research findings with regards to PCBs in farmed salmon, and sea lice, the David Suzuki Foundation seems to have simply and QUIETLY REMOVED at least 23 press releases and web-pages against farmed salmon.
As it appears to me David Suzuki, Canada's leading environmentalist, is refusing to tell the whole truth about his foundation's own research findings and funding sources with regards to a major environmental controversy that as far as I can tell, has been manufactured in order to serve the purposes of foreign funders. This tells us something about David Suzuki and his foundation but more importantly, this tells us something about us, the public. The deeper question that we need to be asking is what can we change about ourselves and our society so that we don't get fooled again.
Note: This was originally written as two posts and has since been combined into one. This was originally written and posted on June 18, 2010 at my earlier blog, Fish Farm Fuss. See also: Temper, Temper, by Mike Klassen at CityCaucus.com
Please read: Copyright Notice & Disclaimer