Common Sense Canadian

Rafe: Shame on Premier Clark for playing Site C politics at Bill Bennett’s funeral

Posted February 4, 2016 by Rafe Mair in WATER
BC Premier Christy Clark speaks at former Premier Bill Bennett's funeral (Province of BC/flickr)

BC Premier Christy Clark speaks at former Premier Bill Bennett’s funeral (Province of BC/flickr)

You will, I hope, overlook my coarse language, because I am really pissed off and have been for some time, the slow burn reaching a raging conflagration when I read a quote from the premier which I will give you in a moment.

I am an environmentalist and have been for many years and you’re entitled to know what I did about this when I had the chance as Environment Minster in 1979, 36 years ago. Here’s the record and, as Casey Stengel, used to say, “you could look it up”.

In a 12 month period, I stopped the killing of wolves in the north in the face bitter opposition from the ranching community who were almost all Socreds; saved the Skagit River from being flooded by Seattle Light and Power, to the horror of Socred MLAs in the area who slavered at the thought of the development that would come from the dam being raised, and placed a moratorium on exploration for and mining of uranium – to bitter condemnation from the mining community. The Premier, who supported me in the face of considerable opposition, was the late Bill Bennett.

Clark’s version of dam history doesn’t hold water

Last Sunday, I listened in horror as Premier Christy Clark, at Mr. Bennett’s Memorial Service, would you believe, accused him of being the author of Site C, alleging that she was simply fulfilling his wishes.

She promised to finish Bennett’s vision for the controversial Site C Dam project:

Premier Bennett, you got it started and I will get it finished. I will get it past the point of no return.

Not only was this terrible timing, it was a ghastly distortion of the truth.

Site C has long been a policy of BC Hydro, but, for it to ever be a reality, required the approval of the BC government. BC Hydro always has schemes and until they are approved, they are no more than dreams of Hydro engineers. Dave Barrett, Bill Bennett, Bill Vander Zalm, Rita Johnston, Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark, Dan Miller, and Ujjal Dosanjjh all had an opportunity to approve Site C and did not.

In 1993, the chair of BC Hydro announced that it would not go ahead because it was simply bad policy.

So who approved it?

None other than Premier Clark’s predecessor, Gordon Campbell, and it was then confirmed by her. For Christy Clark, of all people, to associate herself with a great premier was bad enough – to have her lie through her teeth about him is just too much.

The Forces of “No”

I supported the Paris agreement, which was also supported by Prime Minister Trudeau and – wait for it – Premier Clark. The essence of this agreement was a condemnation of fossil fuels and their egregious ill-effect on the atmosphere.

Now, this obviously means we should no longer extract the Tar Sands and that British Columbia should no longer consider passing it through in pipelines or otherwise. For saying this, to Alberta and many Eastern reporters, I’m a “bad Canadian”!

How the hell can you be opposed to the Tar Sands as the world’s worst polluter, commit yourself to the resolutions at Paris, and then act as an accessory to shipping the very same stuff to places that will use it and pollute the atmosphere?

Now, given that the premier supported Paris, wouldn’t you think that at least she would go to bat for those of us now being gloriously insulted as a bad Canadians because we not only support Paris in theory but in practice as well?

Ah, no. Here’s what Premier Christy Clark had to say recently about people like me and maybe thee:

The world is being divided into two – the people that will say no to everything and the people who want to find a way to get to yes. I’m not sure what science the forces of “no” bring together up there [in northwest BC], except that it’s not really about the science. It’s not really about the fish. It’s just about trying to say no. It’s about fear of change. It’s about fear of the future.

The premier is clearly referring to the Lelu Island situation and the First Nations refusing a billion dollar bribe to permit a pipeline to destroy their salmon. When we in the Howe Sound area oppose the proposed LNG plant in Squamish as people oppose the same thing in Bamberton on Saanich Inlet, we will no doubt be “bad Canadians”, as will those who oppose tanker traffic in other sensitive areas. If you put the environment on the top of your list of priorities, as did the First Nations of Lelu Island, you are a despised “no” person.

Premier Clark is clearly questioning the loyalty and the motivation of people who refuse to support development for development’s sake, irrespective of environmental consequences. It’s one thing to be persuaded that a project is sound, quite another for your Premier to insult you if you question her judgment or social philosophy.

There are better ways

If standing against pipelines, Site C, depletion of our fish resources, ruination of our agricultural land and so on is disloyal, may I assure Premier Clark that, far from being disloyal to our beloved British Columbia, it’s to her and her damned party who would destroy the province to satisfy their own philosophy and their greedy supporters.

Of course, everyone knows there must be development and that development will usually disturb the environment. That’s unavoidable. What is avoidable is doing this when there is no substantial need for doing so or when there are other, better ways. For example, I don’t advocate a giving up of power or energy – I advocate finding better ways of developing and transporting it.

We have better ways. This is not pie-in-the-sky from the 60s and the 70s. Alternative sources of energy are not only now available but the techniques for getting that power into the grid are here and very doable.

The Campbell/Clark government and BC Hydro have not pursued other more cost-effective, more environmentally benign and less risky technologies such as wind, biomass, geothermal and solar power, such as is the case in Germany and California, where wind power alone supplies 10 per cent and 6.5 per cent of annual energy consumption respectively.

Any amount of energy derived from these more benign energy sources would obviously help to significantly defer, or possibly eliminate, the need for the Site C project – a need which the Joint Review Panel and even BC Hydro itself openly question.

Commitment and Leadership

To find alternatives to fossil fuels and gigantic Hydro projects requires commitment and leadership. It’s always going to be easier to do it the same old way, keep your friends and bagmen happy and pretend that nothing bad is going to happen even though that’s not true. While it is more difficult to seek and make changes, the rewards are enormous, especially to those who will follow us.

It takes will, discipline, to change a society’s way of life; it takes leadership.

Sadly, it’s obvious that this premier is not only not going to lead us into change, she will do everything she possibly can to retain the status quo and to make the rich richer at the expense of our beautiful environment.

I must admit that I shudder at the thought of the official opposition taking over but that’s not enough to permit me to support someone for whom there is no hope. John Horgan may not present a great deal of optimism in this area but at least there’s a chance he may be persuaded to let his decency take over and do something right. There is also a real hope that the Green Party might have greater influence.

When you consider the unsuitability of Christy Clark and that the second most powerful person in government is Rich Coleman, surely British Columbians must pull out all stops to show her the door a year this May – not to gain anything but to save something.


About the Author

Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at



    Quite vile Christy would use his memorial to make political hay with site C “Oh, he was such a great man… WE WILL DO THIS FOR YOU BILL!!!!”

    You know, this shit works. She is very well likely to pull off another hardhat campaign promising LNG is still coming, Site C, and her amazing new bridge. I wonder if she will invoke Mr Bennett and Site C during the campaign as well.


    how low can she go ,this is unbelievable even for crusty cristy

    Teresa the Sailor

    Thank you for your article. I am so angry at what is going on, all the willful blindness, lying and obfuscation from our premier. She is so narcissistic and self-serving but that serves some businesses well, especially those right now chomping at the bit in dam construction. As if humans are above nature and have no use for a working natural environment. What the heck goes on in these people’s heads?


    here is the actual timeline of Site C rejected by all premiers including Bill Bennett until Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark.


    Another stellar article revealing Chrispy and the Gumshoe’s short comings. We’ve got to smarten up before May 2017 and groom someone into what BC stands for.
    Thanks Rafe.

    tom baker

    Yes they both need to be shown the door ,the sooner the better , Good Bye Crusty and Richy! and LNG


    Please pass the vomit bucket!!! How much more of her can we BCer’s endure! 🙁 She is one twisted stuck on herself individual…we need her gone! TY for this article!

    Richard Fahlman

    Rafe there are some other points to add to your argument. 1. If providing power for anticipated demand is the real purpose, it has been written that multiple geo thermal locations could provide the same amount of power at less cost. One reason for the lower cost is that the biggest expense in mega projects is financing. Multiple micro projects can be financed cash in hand as available and as needed. 2. In addition the skills required for such geo thermal generation are the same skills as are being laid off in the tar sands so it solves an employment crisis. 3. The pretence of being a green source of power is true for hydro power is true ONLY if we ignore the initial damage, lost migratory routes, and permanent loss of arable land. In other words it is false. Point number 1 makes me think there is something rotten here and it may well be in the form of contributors to the Liberal party from amongst the contractors and friends.


    I am distressed at so much ignorance and plain bad judgment. I understand how hard it is to govern and how much easier it id in the pub with a few pals and a suds. God knows I made my mistakes and so did all my colleagues. What I cannot understand – bear with me – is any leader who doesn’t understand that you don’t bring politics to a funeral and you sure as hell don’t try to bask in the reflected glory of the deceased – least of all when you hardly knew the man and had absolutely nothing to do with what happened 30 years before. If you don’t have, at 50 years of age, an instinct of appropriate behaviour for a leader, you shouldn’t be a leader.
    The premier represents everyone in the province. Even those who hated Bill Bennett had respect for him. He was entitled to be treated with respect. Friends who played tennis, golf, and so on as a friend were entitled and expected to be familiar. Not so the premier – that she evidently still doesn’t understand her role should be worrisome for those who expect statesmanship from their lesder on solemn occasions not a parish pump politician tryng to extract political points.
    Either you know these thngs instinctively as a matter of character or you don’t. Premier Clark does not.
    I frankly was stunnef and couldn’t believe what was coming out of the mouth of my premier when she was expected to honour the memory of a man who served so long and faithfully.
    There is a time and a olace for everything -,a funeral is neither the time nor the place for tye province’s leader to play cheap politics.


      Total agreement.

      The fact that Christy Clark used a FUNERAL to further her own political ambition speaks volumes about her character and , ultimately, her ability and qualifications to lead.

      Christy Clark. A self absorbed narcissist, completely devoid of empathy for others.

      A psychopath may be recognized by their lack of empthy for others.
      For example: While all other people witnessing a horrific traffic accident involving death and dismemberment may be shocked and sickened by the human tragedy. A psychopath witnessing the same event will be annoyed that the accident will make them late for dinner.

      “A smart person may act stupid forever but a stupid person cant act smart forever.”

      I’d say that Christy falls in the latter category……..


    I agree with all of the above, folks, and “thanks” to Rafe for saying it like it is. Our illustrious “premier” used a memorial for a publicity stunt and photo op…..again. Is there no end to her disrespect and patting herself on her arrogant back? Who electioneers at an event that is about someone else? Why, our self-serving, self-inflated “premier”, or course….the world is all about her, and only spins on its axis because she is on this planet.

    Evil Eye

    Premier Photo-op is a narcissistic sociopath and firmly believes the end, justifies the means. The woman is evil and to let her reach the leadership of the BC Liberal Party tells me that the party is rife with corruption, to the point it rivals organized crime.

    Site C is merely an electoral gambit to provide jobs and have taxpayers monies diverted to friends of the government and it is a “win-win” situation for everyone; everyone that is except for environmentalists, First Nation types and of course, the taxpayer.


    Why is there no facebook share button on this site, or am I just not finding it. Rafe’s words need to be shouted from the bell tower. Our evil fairy princess in Victoria can’t leave soon enough. Unfortunately I think its May 2017 not this May.


    They’re trying to say that having BC Hydro supply clean, renewable energy to LNG production somehow makes it “green”.

    Thus the “need” for BC Hydro to spend $billions on Site C and new power lines.

    But natural gas normally used in LNG production that is replaced by power from BC Hydro gets burned anyway.

    Nicole Sims

    Thank you, Rafe, for once again putting things so succinctly onto the page.

    I cannot understand how anyone can, in this day and age, continue in tired and distorted belief that business trumps the environment. How many times do we as a species have to have our asses handed to us on a platter by this planet before we get it through our thick skulls that we must work within the limits of the natural world, rather than trying to bluster our way past limits? This continued hubris will lead to continued unpleasant, and even tragic outcomes for people all around the world, from those suffering with poisoned aquifers, to those being killed or left homeless by huge storm surges and floods, and to entire countries laid waste by civil wars that were caused in part by historic drought.

    I’m not one for conspiracy theories, but it doesn’t someone in a tinfoil hat to see that letting business take the reins has had some pretty disastrous consequences. Now is the time for leaders who are not in the pockets of the business elite, leaders with a grounding in science, and an understanding of both the limits and the potential of human endeavours.

    C. L.

    Thank you for telling the people of BC the truth about this!!!

    mark mc myn

    Thank-you rafe,for telling us what must be valued.The skeena cannot be destroyed . Clark and her corporate masters are the “people of destruction”.

    Shelley Falk-Ouellette

    I couldn’t have said it better. Corruption has no place in government. Ignoring the voice of the people and our concern for the environment is one thing, but to ridicule those people is shameful. Site C has been rejected by previous governments for good reason. It is not needed, it will destroy prime agricultural land and it is not in the best interest of the local First Nations people. My concern, being a resident at ground zero of site c, is the future quality of our air and water. The dam is a mere 6 km south of our small city and the SW & SE winds will bring all the construction pollution right to us. Further concern, after the dam’s completion, is the pollution in the reservoir. There is not a dam reservoir on earth that does not emit high levels of carbon, methane and mercury. The site c reservoir will be no different. This dam is a travesty to all citizens of BC who are on the hook to pay for it. To all of us in the dams vicinity, having to live with the harmful effects during and after it’s construction, it is much more than that. I have a right to a clean environment and clean, safe water. That is being taken away from me and many communities impacted by the construction of site c.


    Although I disagree with you about a lot that has happened in the past (not factually but ideologically), I can tell from reading a fair amount of your recent output that you have a good understanding of where we are at now and the future catastrophe we seem to have developed a death wish for. Yes, we need to be rid of the likes of Christy Clark but all is not bleak despair, the people did it in Ottawa, it can be done in BC too.

      Patricia Ray

      The next BC provincial election must be held on OR before May 9, 2017. If we, as the citizens and voters of BC are as dis-satisfied as we appear to be with the incumbent we need to start organizing now to get a Stop and Begone Clarke campaign off the ground. The Harper exit campaign had time to get traction due to the length of the electoral campaign — I would be pleasantly surprised if Crusty C. made the same mistake.


        She may be a train wreck but she’s not a political idiot.
        Her next election campaign will be just like the last.
        Short and simple.
        Folksy “Palin-esque” simplistic utterings to engage the voters( 2/3’s of whom, statistically, seem to be over 45) .
        Scare tactics designed to convince voters the NDP are fiscally incompetant socialists even as the BC deficit budget spending soars ever higher…..the illegally constructed Site C dam balloons horrendously over estimates, LNG world prices spiral into the toilet, Kinder Morgan has another pipeline leak somewhere in North America…..
        Christy will smile while standing next to a bunch of silent, glowering support staff nodding their heads in agreement to whatever inane drivel spews forth from the Princess of PR……..

        The NDP better have their game plan ready cause this election is coming fast.

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