Friday, January 28, 2005

Solutions made easy with Evil Beaver Armies.

I am little concerned for sovereignty at the moment, considering the fact that the US just bought a ghost town in BC. Kitseault, BC first went on the market in '92 and the asking price was $23.5 million. Here's an excert from Lena Sin's Province article.

"Located 139 kilometers north of Prince Rupert on
Alice Arm,the sale of Kitsault included 130 hectares of land,
2.4 km of oceanfront, 92 homes, 210 apartments, a shopping mall,
recreation centre, a gym, library, curling rink and paved roads.

The former mining town was built in the late 1970s, but when
molybdenum prices plunged in 1982, the Climax mine was closed.
Its last residents moved out in 1983, with a sign on the edge
of town asking the last person leaving Kitsault to "please turn
out the lights."

This September the asking price was $7 million and four months later it was sold for an "undisclosed amount" to Krishnan Suthanthiran, a US based property developer. Now, this whole "I'm not going to tell the public how much I paid" seems suspicious to me. I mean, $7 million should be parking change for this guy right?

And no one seems concerned that this guy just bought a town, an entire town. So far Suthanthiran hasn't decided what to do with the town but the options are practically endless. Suggestions have included a resort town, university or spa destination.

I suppose the one good thing to come out of this is that Suthanthiran and his new company Kitsualt Resort Ltd. are going to be working with Nisga'a First Nations as well as the government to decided what to do with the town.

This to me, completely devalues Canadian sovereignty. I mean, if we're just going to sell off pieces of Canada to other countries, why are we even here? What is the point of protecting our sovereignty if we're just going to sell it anyway?

This isn't the only sovereignty problem though.

A) The Danes sent the frigate Vaedderen to patrol the waters between Ellsmere Island and Greenland. They've been doing things like this for several years but this time, the frigate took it too far. They sailed in disputed waters and may have landed on Hans Island, an island that Canada has always claimed as Canadian. Apparently the Danes want it too, they even planted a flag on it. Am I insulted by this? Completely; I thought the Danes were our friends but you don't go planting flags on other people's islands, it's just not done. Now, you might ask, who the heck cares if the Danes want an island that usually doesn't show up on maps and is really of no value to Canada.

First, the waters around the island contain important fish stocks as well as turbot and shrimp stocks.

Second, Greenland Inuit have reportedly been crossing over to Baffin Island to participate in illegal polar bear hunts. Personally, if you want to come over, just phone. It's way nicer than coming home to find your neighbour just let himself inside and is now comfortably vegged out on your couch drinking the last beer.

Third, if we give/let them have the island, it will set a precedent. I'd rather keep our "territorial integrity" rather than just give up. Why can't we defend our northern border very well? It comes down to money and insufficient funding for the military.

B) The US still says that the Northwest Passage is an "international strait". That's like saying the Missouri river is open for business and hello, it's not. So what the hell do they think they're doing? Apparently it's far cheaper and quicker to sail through the Passage than to go around North America. Also, due to global warming, it's predicted that in about 50 years time, the Passage will be free of ice in the summer time. It's not just Americans gallivanting through here though, ships of all kinds, commercial and recreational are just zooming through, assuming that it's perfectly fine. Apparently, the Passage has also been renamed "Panama Canal North which just about makes me sick. Let me make this clear, our backyard is not a sidewalk.

And this story just about made me smack my computer screen. Writer, Usha Lee McFarling apparently doesn't think that the Northwest Passage belongs to us.

"So many American military personnel had flooded
into the Arctic to monitor Russian threats by air and sea
from stations at Eureka and Alert that the Canadians feared
losing control of their northern flank. The Inuit were human
flagpoles, dispatched north to establish Canadian sovereignty.

Since then, the Canadians have considered the frozen archipelago
of ocean, ice and islands to be their land and the Northwest
Passage to be their internal waterway. 'It's ours,' said Col.
Kevin McLeod, commander of the Canadian Northern Forces."

Since then, the Canadians have considered...the Northwest Passage to be their internal waterway? Excuse me? But what exactly does she know of Canadian history? The Northwest Passage has belonged to Canada for over 100 years. Any waterway that connects two oceans is considered international waters, but the passage impenetrable for most of the year and it's certainly not an open passage.

C) There's a dispute between the northern maritime border between Alaska and the Yukon. Within this disputed zone are oil and gas reserves so you can guess why we're fighting about. But if we had control of it, I'm sure that we wouldn't be drilling for oil and gas. Nobody on the West Coast seems to want to drill.

D) And let's not forget Machias Seal Island, a disputed island on the Canada/US border. It's claimed by both countries and the boundary has never fully been defined. Why do we have an interest in it? Well, it lies near the shipping lanes into Passamaquoddy Bay, the only shipping access for New Brunswick. This report says that 'Canada has been much more astute in creating the impression that it is sovereign over Machias Seal Island'. But the report suggests that because the island is of so little significance that the matter should just be left alone. Personally, I want the issue resolved. It's like having a loose thread on a sweater. It's always there, daring you to pull on it.

In conclusion it looks like we have a lot of problems with people wanting to move in or at least, bite off chunks of my country. It's disturbing and while I imagine that I should feel pleased in a perverse way that people would want parts of Canada, its not like that at all. They don't see it as a place of wildness, as a place of freedom for all. They simply see monetary value as the reward, something which I don't approve of. If I had my way, Canada would be defended by an Evil Beaver Army.


ADM said...

Hiya GWN,

I'm taking slight issue with your nevertheless astute observations re: Kitsault, BC.

Let's place several things into context, lest we get lost in the morass known as "the collective euphoria of Kitsault-bashing." I especially fear what may befall the heretofore good name of Mr. Krishnan Suthanthiran (I don't know him personally, nor am affiliated with the man, just for the record).

Fact: Suthanthiran *is* a Canadian citizen, and studied in Ottawa (he's a P. Eng.) during the 60s. He'd discovered the Kitsault site was for sale whilst on a business trip to Halifax (another great Canadian city).

Story goes, he'd been pining for an opportunity to give something back to the country which "took him in and gave him and his family a home."

With the steal of a deal in northern B.C. presenting itself, the golden goose egg was laid. The rest, as they say, is history. Bravo. Indicative of the everlasting truth that timing, alas, is everything in this life.

I'm pleased the purchase went down for several reasons:

1) many Canadian investors *could've* (in theory, and on paper) ponied up the cash, but DIDN'T! It took a savvy Sri Lankan entrepreneur based in Springfield, VA (, to have the clear vision of imagining what_just_might_be miles north of the more appealing Vancouver. Something good WILL eventually be done with this town, rest assured.

2) As a result of Mr. Suthanthiran's investment, BC gets to continue its stellar track record of coming to grips with its Native population. Restitution and reconciliation is accelerated by these Kitsault moves & shakes.

3) The possibilities of what to do up there are simply endless. What was at once a possible eyesore and a waste of precious resources shall now be placed into productive use.

Yes, yes, I do go on...

One last thing: Let me also state categorically (since I've studied the matter quite extensively, as you can see) -- the property was ALREADY in American hands to begin with (a Phoenix-based mining concern). It now STILL remains in American hands, so nothing's apparently changed ownership-wise.

Save for one vital difference --> Mr. S. bought it with very Canadian intentions in mind.

The fact he's also Canadian himself is a bonus.


I enjoy your writing style.

I'm in Toronto, btw. Where might we find you?

-- AM

The duck thief said...

I have to confess that I was looking to provoke with my comments on Kitsault, BC.

I did read several articles in newspapers that brought up the issue but they didn't necessarily lead to "the collective euphoria of Kitsault-bashing."

I was aware of Mr. Suthanthiran's nationality and of the mining in the area but I just didn't include that in my post.

But Kitsault is a beautiful area and you're right, the fact there will be economic development there is great.

On one hand these "sovereignty issues" seem so insignificant compared to life-threatening problems and social issues in Canada today but to others it's a matter of pride (definitely not a matter of national security). The way people approach these kind of issues seems very black and white. It's either not on the radar or it's an invasion by a foreign power.

Kitsault was thrown into the mix to see if people would identify the purchase of the town with Denmark's "occupation" of Hans Island and the other stories mentioned.

So far you've been the only person to dispute my comments. But I do have to apologize for my underhanded ways. It was very un-Canadian of me. I totally appreciate your comments on Kitsault though.

As for my location, I move around. Let's just say, the duck is everywhere.