Feature Story Saturday, January 11, 2014
Sometimes a Great Notion
Retired log boom worker takes issue with former MP Chuck Strahl over alleged conflict-of-interest
David Hersanko (R) holds a letter of complaint he presented to staff at Chilliwack-Fraser-Canyon MP Mark Strahl's office Thursday.
t's not often that we in Chilliwack hear about local news from eastern news services, or even from Vancouver outlets for that matter. But it does happen. The following story about former Chilliwack-Fraser-Canyon MP Chuck Strahl t-boned local media and we should be ashamed to call ourselves "media".
Strahl was recently exposed and criticized coast-to-coast when it was learned he was hired to lobby the three levels of government on behalf of Enbridge Inc. regarding their proposed pipeline plan while sitting as chair of the Security Intelligence Review Committee (SIRC) which oversees CSIS. The conflict has arisen because CSIS allegedly spies on anti-pipeline people.
When citizens have concerns about what's happening in Ottawa from a local perspective, they can engage their riding Member of Parliament (MP).
But, in the whacked-out world of Chilliwack politics, disgruntled constituents upset about former MP Chuck Strahl, father of MP Mark Strahl, say their complaints are falling on deaf ears when they have no other choice but to complain about the father to the son.
When word of a rally at Strahl's constituency office in the 7300 block of Vedder Road surfaced in social media earlier this week, it looked like Murphy's War was going to be rewritten.
Up until then, David Hersanko, a tough-as-nails retired log boom worker who now lives in Agassiz, was alone with the desire to take his concerns to MP Mark Strahl.
As word of the protest began to generate digital steam, apprehension about who the organizer was gave way, and by noon on Thursday a handful of people were waving placards at Strahl's office.
Strahl, who was seen around earlier, did not make an appearance, and Hersanko ended up presenting office staff with a letter outlining his problems with Strahl Sr.
Hersanko told the Voice Thursday he felt exasperated when hearing that former MP Chuck Strahl allegedly created the conflict by acting as a registered lobbyist for Enbridge Inc.
Reports are that Strahl has to survive on a measly $3 million pension. So admitted he had to take on part-time jobs — one of which is chairman of SIRC.
It's not clear how Strahl, with his background in the logging industry replacing asbestos brake shoes, can end up being appointed a SIRC chairman.
Strahl is often seen schmoozing with BC Liberal Party members. Some say he runs the provincial party. But if this guy was supposed to have retired due to asbestosis and lung issues, what is he doing embedded with both the provincial Liberal Party and the federal Conservative Party?
When asked what his take is on the the alleged conflict-of-interest, Hersanko's believes that CSIS spends a lot of their time "following around people who are Enbridge opponents".
"There's serious conflict-of-interest there because Prime Minister Harper is going to push this and we're going to push back, and Harper of course is at an advantage because of Strahl's position with Enbridge and with his relationship with Christie Clark, and his relationship with CSIS," said Hersanko.
"So there's a lot of confusion there and I don't think, personally, that Chuck Strahl can keep himself separated and on the right side of the fence. We're asking him to back out of one or the other. He either backs out of Enbridge or he backs out of national security, that's his choice."
Hersanko relies on his 27-30 years of experience on the West Coast, stitching that into his concerns about super tankers and the coastal city of Kitimat.
"Kinder Morgan should pull out of Vancouver and head out to the coal port in Tsawwassen and then the Enbridge line ought to go out to Prince Rupert," said Hersanko.
"I don't mind them hauling distillate or natural gas from United States. From the south going into Kitimat, that's okay, they've got room to do that and tankers are small, but a 1200 foot tanker is stupid. It's blockheadedness and it's ignorant and they're just pushing that here to make money without any concern."
"We as environmentalists have to show them how and where to move it because they obviously don't give a damn and that's our concern. We know the oil is going to come. It would be preferable to not have it, but it's a part of our life, but let's use our heads. If they want trillions of dollars spend 4 billion on doing it right," said the pragmatic protestor.
Former Chilliwack-Hope MLA Gwen O'Mahony says Hersanko contacted her via social media and she fully supports what he's doing.
Premier Christy Clark embraces Chuck Strahl in at the Liberal bye-election acclamation for MLA Laurie Throness February 7, 2012. Voice file photo.
"I was really, really impressed to see this man who is willing to come out, who's never protested before, even by himself, because he felt so strongly about the conflict-of-interest issue," she told the Voice at the rally.
O'Mahony said there were other issues that she is concerned and took the opportunity to get the message out there about those as well.
"I just wanted to come down and show that I am so upset at this government that I want to protest and so many of us feel the same way, and here you've got a man who doesn't have a lot of connections to this community, who put together a pretty darn good turnout on a short time frame."
Something else of concern that cropped up at the protest was the signage on Vedder Road indicating that there was also a Conservative Party of Canada office at that location.
Inside the main office, a photo of PM Stephen Harper and MP Mark Strahl hangs on the wall.
By law, MPs aren't allowed to advertise their party affiliation anywhere near the public office.
But it seems the rules were skirted by installing what appears to be a pseudo office for the Conservative Party in the same building therefore allowing them to put the party sign up as well.
See more photos below.
© Copyright (c) 2013 The Valley Voice
Thanks for looking.