Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Podunk Below the Masthead, Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A man selling hemp walks into a town, it's almost election day for the Assembly of First Nations and a manslaughter case is moved back two weeks, some of the highlights of the Tuesday edition of the Daily News.

A MAN WITH A MISSION WANTS TO TALK TO THE COUNTRY-- Tuesday's paper outlines the cause of Rodney Graham, a Winnipeg man who is out to get the country to embrace hemp as the future for paper making when it comes to the unsolicited mail that we find piling up at our doors. The front page headline story, delves into his crusade and tries to draw a parallel of sorts to the days of the Great Trek to Ottawa of the Depression. (see story below)

Elsewhere in the paper were the latest developments in the manslaughter case of Melvin Chrisison who was killed in downtown Prince Rupert in June. Annallee Auckland, who has been charged with manslaughter in his death, will be granted another two week extension before the court begins to hear her case. It is the second extension in the case, the first was granted in order for her to find proper representation in court, this second one is to carry the case over until her lawyer has completed his holidays. The case has been conducted by video link out of Prince George, a procedure which will continue on July 27th when it next comes back to the court.

A familiar building on the waterfront may not in store for a change of purpose, as Odin Seafoods has been told to relocate its operations due to the deteroriating condition of the dock and pilings that are part of the operation. The plant which is located beside the Northland Cruise Terminal, will be moved further down the dock, a location which is described as more safe and stable. The current location is possibly to be renovated for lighter use and not in the industrial vein one would imagine.

The Sports page featured the silver winning performance of Pat St. Louis in bowling at a recent competition in Saskatchewan. The weekly look at the golf scene from Moe Hays also held its place in the Tuesday edition.

Total pages in the Tuesday paper (12)

Front page, headline story:


By George T. Baker

The Daily News
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Page one

Somewhere around town you may encounter a man with a spirally beard on a hemp crusade.

This Winnipeg native, Rodney Graham, is on what he calls, "the last great adventure."

And this adventure comes with a mission.

Graham, who is a social activist, street journalist and general intriguer, is making his way across the great expanse of Canada to raise awareness, gather signatures and perhaps offer Canadians an opportunity for economic gain: hemp paper.

"There is not a lot of talk about this,' said Graham in a conversation with the Daily News. "I'm very serious about this, though. Hemp grows very well in B.C. and the prairies."

Graham is in Prince Rupert this week to begin his cross-Canada trek to sign up as many Canadians as possible in support of his petition. He claims to have convinced 500 people thus far in this city and hopes to equal that amount again before he departs at the end of the week.

The petition will be forwarded to Environment Minister, Jim Prentice, with hopes that he will present legislation requiring all unsolicited advertisement mail to be produced-using easily recyclable hemp paper by 2012.

Graham stays in each city for about four days, "otherwise it would take me forever." And is looking for volunteers to continue his mission after he has gone, though he admits it is hard to convince people to take up his cause after he is no longer present to provide a driving influence.

Graham insists that pulp mills in Canada would not have to undertake any major infrastructure changes to process hemp in place of wood pulp.

And Graham believes there is no good reason for Canadians to ignore the plant's benefits.

Commercial hemp comes with a stigma attached due to its more commonly known narcotic use - marijuana - but Graham and groups such as the North American Industrial Hemp Inc. (NAIH!), believe that there's a market for hempbased paper, and that it's the right thing to do economically and environmentally.

According to the NAIHI, hemp has been grown for at least 12,000 years for fibre (textiles and paper) and food. It has been effectively prohibited in the United States since the 1950s.

With forestry workers looking at declining employment opportunities, and given how easily the plants grow in B.C.'s rainy climate, it could be a boon for them, argues Graham.

To illustrate his argument, the very Jack Kerouac's Dean Moriarity-like man will travelling across Canada by non-vehicular means as much as possible.

His journey is reminiscent of young Canadian men during another era of economic disparity, the Great Depression, when many British Columbians were on their own political activist train trek, "The Trek to Ottawa".

They were a rabble of unemployed men on their way to Parliament Hill to speak directly to then Tory Prime Minister RB. Bennett about the atrocities in the pacific province's work camps.

Gaining great publicity in the late 1930s, the trek was halted in Regina, being met by hundreds of police officers and ordered to return to B.C. Their refusal sparked the now infamous Regina Riot.

It's a situation Graham isn't likely to face, although he does want some publicity. In fact, the man is writing a book about his adventure called The Wanderers: In Search of the Wanderers.

It's an unconventional way to get a unique message across:, but Graham is very committed to realizing his dream of having every piece of flyer mail in Canadian mailboxes made from recyclable hemp.

So why begin in Prince Rupert?

"Because there are working class people here, and Vancouver and Victoria are not my style," said Graham.

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