Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The art of forgetting

There's a reason why we reward selfless acts of public service with a commemorative statue in the park or the naming of a ship, as opposed to, say, giving the hero a nice gift certificate to Bed and Bath. It's because we wish as a community to show our gratitude by honouring and remembering them.

Last March the people of Hartley Bay went out in their fishing boats in the middle of the night and rescued 99 people off the sinking Queen of the North. Immediately popular opinion called for the replacement ferry to be named Spirit of Hartley Bay. Good idea. The people of Hartley Bay liked it.

A couple of days ago I heard the president of BC Ferries David Hahn announce on CBC that the new $51M ferry would not be called Spirit of Hartley Bay after all. We gave the people of Hartley Bay a new dock and some fire-fighting equipment instead, explained Hahn, and we're naming the new replacement ferry Northern Adventurer. It was "purely a marketing decision", he said.

I'll fucking bet it was.
It was a marketing decision to fire the BC Ferries safety inspector before letting him investigate the crash, a marketing decision to shred all documents related to the Queen of the North five days after it sank, and a marketing decision to destroy the all the crew operation manuals.

Hahn would just like this whole thing to disappear. And thanks to P3remier Gordon Campbell quasi-privatizing the corporation three years ago, he will probably get his wish. According to the Deputy Auditor General, BC Ferries is no longer answerable to government as a shareholder.while still being a risk to the taxpayer.

The Czech novelist Milan Kundera once said the fastest way to rewrite history is to change the street names - that way no one will remember what the old street names stood for.

I guess not naming them after anything in the first place is even faster.

6 comments:

Cat said...

P3emier Gordon Campbell.
Heh.

Chris said...

Exactly what was stopping Hahn from fixing their dock, donating the fire equipment, AND naming the new ferry Hartley Bay?

BC Mary said...

The people of Hartley Bay could've thought about THEIR marketing strategy before they rushed out into those stormy midnight seas last 22 March 2006. But they still have their humanity ...

These are the same people who -- out of the goodness of their hearts -- undertook to protect the white Kermode bears. The Spirit Bears. All the more reason to honour that community with the ship's name: SPIRIT OF HARTLEY BAY.

But not with Dudley Do-Wrong in charge. Under this premier, this community was recently strong-armed into giving up THAT Spirit Bear symbol, too, for another Campbell marketing strategy: the 2010 Olympics.

Alison said...

Thanks, BC Mary, I didn't know that.

Anonymous said...

Great post!
This story will live long in BC history, and who knows if the people will ever get to the bottom of it.
Same as BC Mary and her quest for accountability over the Legislature raid.
A lot of paper shredding and forgetfulness going on, in both cases. Time to look into the executive appointments to these positions in the face of such incompetence.
In the BC Campbell government, when the going gets tough, the wimps close the BC Legislature and shut the people out.

jedwards said...

hmmm, a familiar story. welcome to the amerikanization of bc!
howdy neighbors! sic

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