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Letter to the Editor

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Have I got a deal for you

The snake oil salesman always arrives in town under a new guise. The latest costume involves the snappy P3 suit featuring never-before imagined efficiency at the wastewater plant and shit that not only smells good, it increases share value as well. Money is no object when it comes to selling this new fantabulous poop-to-profits proliferator (special thanks to Dr. Seuss), especially when the money is yours and mine. I refer to last week's two page advertisements in both local papers about the unbelievable benefits of allowing corporations to turn our crap into gold.

If it weren't so disturbing it would be down right entertaining to watch the machinations of the well funded corporations and those who put themselves at their service, ie: our own municipality and the odd councillor willing to put their name down for the crap-to-gold snake oil scheme. And who can blame them? It all sounds so good and wholesome in the expensive ads--misleading and inaccurate information notwithstanding.

A few weeks ago, those opposed to the privatization of our wastewater treatment plant (somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,500 voters – more than the number of votes our mayor and all but one of the councillors received in the last election; and probably far more than most will receive in the next one), were accused in the press of being emotional about the issue. Yes, it's true, dreaded emotion has reared its head in Whistler politics. Of course, when you don't have pockets full of money (both your own and the public purse when it comes to the fancy new P3 scheme), a bit of emotion can be a good catalyst for educating yourself on an important issue, getting your voice heard and pounding the pavement to spread the word.

Those favouring the new (and I might add, stylishly bottled) P3 elixir, meanwhile, have the luxury to sit back beneath a banner of so-called 'reason' while they re-arrange the facts and whitewash the history of public private partnerships into a fairy story. If you want to know how effective the snake oil salesman's product is, it's always wise to look at the previous towns he's visited. Ask the people of Hamilton; Ontario Moncton, New Brunswick; Stockton, California; Georgia, Alabama or Lexington, Kentucky how their privatized waste water or water systems have worked out.

If council is willing to stall this process even longer by going to referendum rather than throwing out the P3 scheme ($250,000 a month by their own estimation), then the propaganda battle will begin to unfold over the next three months. The corporate interests will buy more expensive ads, offer information workshops hosted by high level PR companies (also not cheap) and generally set the propaganda mill a-churning. The opposed citizens will speak out, write letters to the editor and pound the pavement, fueled by that irascible human trait known as emotion.

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