Bacher, John 1954-

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BACHER, John 1954-


Born November 25, 1954, in St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada; son of Winfred (a teacher) and Mary (Graham) Bacher; married Mary Lou Greeson (a labour ministry clerk), September 29, 2001 Education: Brock University, B.A. (with honors), 1979; McMaster University, M.A., 1980, Ph.D., 1985. Politics: New Democratic Party. Religion: Anglican. Hobbies and other interests: Cycling, hiking, bird watching.


Home and Office—134 Church St., St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada L2R 3E4. E-mail—[email protected].


Researcher, educator, and writer. Instructor in environmental topics at McMaster University and University of Toronto, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Ontario Drainage Tribunal, hearing officer, 1991-97; Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, researcher. Member, Niagara River Restoration Council; political candidate for federal office, 2000; lecturer, presenter at conferences and freelance writer.


Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society, Niagara Falls Nature Club, Friends of the Twelve.


Friend of the Great Lakes Award, Environment Ministers of Ontario and Canada, 1996.


(With others) Niagara Conservation Strategy, Preservation of Agricultural Lands Society (Ontario, Canada), 1988.

Keeping to the Marketplace: The Evolution of Canadian Housing Policy, 1900-1990, McGill-Queen's University Press (Montreal, Quebec, Canada), 1993.

(With Wayne Roberts and Brian Nelson) Get a Life, privately published, 1994.

Petrotyranny, Science for Peace/Dundurn Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Contributor of articles and reviews to periodicals, including Activist, Now, Urban History Review, Journal of Canadian Studies, Ecumenist, Acadiaensis, Toronto Star, and Peace Magazine.


Pleistocene Park, a novel for Pindurn Press; No Terror, for Dundurn Press.


Canadian educator and environmental advocate John Bacher is the author of Petrotyranny, an exposé that focuses on the tendency for elite governments in control of vast amounts of wealth to resort to fundamentalist ideologies. As Meir Amor noted in a review of Bacher's book for Peace magazine, the book puts forth the argument that "the stability and governability of democracies, their respect for human rights and social diversity, and their tendency to resolve conflicts nonviolently, are rooted partly in their political economy. Likewise, fundamentalism, belligerency, and corruption, the characteristics of oil-producing countries, are also rooted in their political economy." Noting that Bacher's work is a "clear departure from the conventional wisdom on the consequences of the world's massive reliance on oil energy," Choice contributor R. H. Dekmejian called Petrotyranny "timely and provocative."

Bacher told CA: "My passion for writing is sparked by an ambition to show how relatively simple, rational, and workable measures can do an enormous amount of good in fostering the connected concerns of peace, human rights, social justice, and the protection of the environment. This strong missionary approach pervades my writing, which is continually refreshed from deep involvement in environmental issues, and from nature observation activities such as hiking, cycling, and bird-watching.

" Petrotyranny emerged out of my long involvement in the peace movement and in teaching peace studies at McMaster University and the University of Toronto. My involvement in the peace movement was heavily influenced by the example of the remarkable British historian E. P. Thompson. His writings on the relationship between peace and human rights encouraged me to meet in Moscow in 1985 with the independent persecuted peace group, the Moscow Trust Group. I have also been inspired by the great American prophet of nonviolent resistence to dictatorship, Gene Sharp, and have tried to popularize his work through my university courses and writings.

"I am working on a new book, No Terror, to further develop the insights of Petrotyranny, which does illustrate how the problem of terrorism, particularly the then relatively obscure threats posed by Osama bin Laden, were caused by the misuse of great oil wealth. This new book seeks to further probe the origins and cures for terrorism by examining how Canada was able to overcome the terrorist threat posed by the Front de Liberation de Quebec and the Mohawk Warriors Society. I will examine how Canada's pattern of multicultural compromise and maintaining the rule of law was largely responsible for its escape from the terror trap, and how such a tolerant 'Canadization' can address the problem of terrorism in other countries. In developing this analysis I was heavily influenced by the writings of retired Canadian General Dan Loomis and the brave investigative reporter and former intelligence agent Jim Moses.

"In advising young environmental writers, I would urge them to listen carefully to the earth around them and develop friendships with other people who share these values of respect. Show patience and build bridges, and if you keep diligently pursuing your goal of being a writer who fosters better public attitudes and policies toward the environment, you will succeed. Avoid momentary fashionable extremist fads that legitimate violence and focus on what native American elders term the good mind of working nonviolently for peace, human rights, and the protection of the environment.

"Every community is full of exciting environmental issues which have evolved over thousands of years of human habitation and which can provide the basis for exciting and provocative writing. There are no shortage of inspiring stories to tell, making be believe that writers block must be some figment of the imagination. Consider, for instance, the struggles to obtain parks in your community, the history of its transit system, the impact of automobiles, and the role of aboriginal peoples. Try to discover and promote unappreciated heros of environmental protection and restoration. When the outlook appears bleak, attempt to create bold visualizations such as a world without car or the restoration of free-ranging bison to the great plains."



Canadian Historical Review, December, 1994, Albert Rose, review of Keeping to the Marketplace: The Evolution of Canadian Housing Policy, 1900-1990, p. 646.

Choice, March, 2001, R. H. Dekmejian, review of Petrotyranny, p. 1314.

International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, September, 1994, Pierre Filion, review of Keeping to the Market Place.

Peace, April-June, 2002, Meir Amor, review of Petrotyranny, pp. 26-28.

Ploughshares Monitor, March, 2001, review of Petrotyranny, p. 17.