Gulf Islanders are 15 times as likely to reject smart meters as are Vancouverites, and you are not surprised.
Nor does it amaze you to learn that Vancouver Island in general skews relatively high in opposition to the devices.
The statistics come from B.C. Hydro and Chad Skelton, the data-mining guru at the Vancouver Sun. They looked at Hydro’s 60 billing areas and found more opposition to smart meters in the Gulf Islands than anywhere else in the province.
More than 18 per cent of Hydro’s Gulf Islands customers have refused to allow installation.
That compares to 1.2 per cent in Vancouver, 4.2 in Victoria and 3.3 provincewide. The refusal rate in Duncan, Courtenay, Port Alberni and Port Hardy is more than twice the B.C. average.
Now, I don’t bring this up to rekindle the smart meters debate. Heavens, no. As you know, we in the MSM — the lamestream media — have been actively suppressing The Truth as part of our overarching global corporate conspiracy for, gosh, years. (Really, as I was telling Conrad Black while roasting marshmallows/environmentalists at the Bilderberg Group Summer Camp last week, it’s quite tiresome.)
So please don’t inundate me with proof of how Hydro is hell-bent on turning my brain into microwave popcorn, or whatever. Thanks, but I eat bacon three times a day, used to smoke and spent my childhood running through clouds of crop-duster malathion, pretending it was rain. It’s too late.
No, I mention the smart meter story only as reassuring proof of our continued insistence on dissent.
For this is one of the great things about living down here in the lower left-hand corner of Canada: independent thinking. More than anywhere else in the country, people here tend to question authority, reject convention and vigorously wriggle out of the warm embrace of Big Brother.
It’s a function of our history. Where eastern Canadians are held in place by roots that go back to Champlain or the United Empire Loyalists, B.C. was shaped by those who came from somewhere else, looking for something else. British remittance men. Russian Doukhobors. American draft dodgers. The disaffected and the disconnected.
The most restless made it all the way to Vancouver Island, safely moated away from pressure to conform to mainstream norms. Finnish socialists set up a commune at Sointula more than a century ago.
In the 1920s the mystical, monstrous Brother XII ran his Aquarian Foundation cult from Cedar and DeCourcy Island, near Ladysmith.
The quirkiness extended to unexpected places. The founder of this newspaper and B.C.’s second premier was the eccentric Amor de Cosmos (né Bill Smith), whose fear of electricity left him unwilling to ride streetcars and who occasionally started fist fights in the street.
That set the mould. With more free spirits than a distillery tour, Islanders not only march to the beat of a different drummer, but hear a whole other band, possibly Pied Pumkin or the Grateful Dead.
The Gulf Islands in particular are not places for people who are willing to be told how to think. Saltspring, which Valdy famously referred to as a difference of opinion surrounded by water, is known for its lamb, not its sheep. A Vietnam-era refugee from New York City once told me how he came to live on Lasqueti Island: “I saw a bumper sticker one day. It read ‘America, love it or leave it.’ I said, ‘Hey, great idea.’ ”
I must admit my faith in our non-conformity was shaken by the way we hounded the World Rainbow Gathering of hippies around Vancouver Island this week. The reaction seemed a tad alarmist, a little 1968, considering all the hippies have done so far is pick up the garbage left by previous campers.
But then came the smart meter story and proof that not everyone is willing to be swept along by the tide. Those who refuse the devices may or may not be right (critics say opponents have enough information to fuel their fears, but not enough to allay them) but at least they’re not basing their decisions on indifference, group-think or blind trust.
Here on the Island of Misfit Toys, contrariness is seen as a virtue, not a vice.
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