Anonymous until just recently, the Save Our Rivers Society seems poised to become the most prominent group in the campaign against independently produced green energy. That would mean overtaking COPE 378 but that could be COPE 378’s intention — SORS appears to be another COPE 378 astroturf organization.
The SORS message matches that of COPE 378 exactly, right down to the BC Hydro union’s preoccupation with Accenture, a topic that’s irrelevant to green energy.
After B.C. Citizens for Green Energy publicly asked how an anonymous group found enough money to hire a local celebrity, SORS recruited a board of advisors.
SORS has money for other things besides its celebrity spokesperson. The group funds a series of short films under the title Power Play. The first was a classic example of the anti-green energy campaign. The film’s narrator piled misinformation on top of misinformation so that a single sentence often contained multiple falsehoods, one after another after another. The second showed lots of shouting, jeering and chanting at a demonstration and public forum. The films were narrated in the heavy-handed tone of a wannabe gangster. They followed the COPE 378 message closely.
The people behind the scenes at SORS hired Rafe Mair as their spokesperson. Mair is a former talk radio host who writes a weekly column for the Tyee, an online journal funded by big labour. Mair’s local fame and blustering manner has given the anti-green-energy movement renewed impetus.
Mair has a rambling, overbearing style that makes it hard to pin him down on facts. But from time to time he manages to repeat — and exaggerate even further — the standard COPE 378 myths.
Mair knows how to play to a crowd and he can talk at length without saying much. In a Pitt Meadows public forum that was stacked with busloads of activists, the audience cheered him on throughout his six-minute speech. But he said nothing about the transmission line proposal that was the purpose of the meeting. He said almost nothing about run-of-river hydro, except to claim that “500 to 700” rivers will be “sold.” (In one of his columns Mair further inflated the 500 rivers myth to 750.) For the most part Mair made bombastic political statements that were a huge hit with the crowd.
Mair isn’t just popular with partisan mobs. Journalists consider him a celebrity. For that reason alone, some reporters will accept anything he says without question.