Common Sense Canadian

Time for British Columbians to Get Serious About Energy Issues

Posted August 7, 2012 by Kevin Logan in Politics
Energy issues have been at the centre of Stephen Harper's political agenda - why are they not a key issue for BC voters?

It’s time Canadians and in particular British Columbians prepare for a crude awakening.

In a recent poll exclusive to the Globe and Mail, Canada’s most prominent and respected newspaper of record, these stunning results were reported in their online edition:

The online survey of 804 adults found the recent pipeline discussion had no immediate effect on the political landscape. Of those polled, 25 per cent said the economy was the most critical issue, while 19 per cent said health care. Twelve per cent chose leadership.

Energy – which scored 1 per cent in an Angus Reid poll in early July – remained at that figure, tied with aboriginal affairs and daycare. “Other” scored 4 per cent. (emphasis added)

At 4%, “Other” issues inconceivably scored 400% higher than Energy issues in terms of priorities for British Columbians.

This is not just some freak accident either, as the same result has been registered in two separate polls this summer. Energy issues registered at 1% before Christy’s EPIC roll-out as newly minted champion of British Columbia, with her pathetic and duplicitous BC First campaign, and then once again precisely at 1% immediately thereafter. (Note that the title of Christy’s Putting BC First campaign “coincidentally” lifts the name of the BC First independent MLA initiative)

While it is no surprise that Christy’s hollow mid-summer stunt has reaped little political benefit for her doomed government, it is incomprehensible that energy issues do not register on the radar screen of British Columbian voters, when in fact they are at the very epicenter of contemporary politics in Canada. It is quite possible people in British Columbia are under the misconception that Alberta is the entire Oil and Gas story, but they would be sorely mistaken, as BC is a huge player and no other jurisdiction besides Alberta has more skin in the game.

The traditional concerns with the economy and healthcare register as top priorities, but it would seem there is a deep disconnect prevalent in these numbers which suggest British Columbians do not fully comprehend the importance of energy issues and there impact on things like the economy and healthcare. In fact, all of the issues registered as concerns in this poll, including leadership, aboriginal affairs and even daycare, are almost entirely dependent on how we manage the energy portfolio in this country and it is time we give our collective head a shake and get with the program.

As I explained in my last piece here at the Common Sense Canadian, there is an agenda of EPIC proportions playing out in our country and this is an absolutely pivotal time. In fact, no other chapter in our Province’s history has been more important for our future success.

These polls illustrate that average Canadians do not fully appreciate what is involved and what is at stake. It is barely ever reported in this manner, but Oil and Gas is a multi-trillion dollar resource – the Tar Sands alone is unparalleled anywhere else in the world. It is what is responsible for propelling Harper into power and it dominates the entire political and policy agenda of his government, not simply on the domestic front, but also in terms of foreign policy, as the Oil and Gas agenda has reshaped our role in the international community just as drastically as it has altered the very fabric of the country. It has budget ramifications that dwarf any other single contributing factor, is the single most heavily subsidized undertaking in the country, and it reaches into the pockets of each and everyone on of us and those of our children.

At no other time have our politicians been so utterly irresponsible in terms of their most fundamental purpose. Representing the citizens of this great country while protecting and forwarding what is in our best interest is the most basic function of a politician in a representative democracy such as ours and the current crop has failed in EPIC proportions. That a mere 1% of British Columbians believe “energy” is a priority reflects the fact that we have been given the old mushroom treatment – left in the dark and fed a lot of a manure – for if our politicians had properly communicated the importance of what we face at this time and with these issues it would undoubtedly be on top of everyone’s agenda. This is one instance where we cannot simply point the finger at the media – we must take a long hard look at our entire system in light of such an EPIC fail in terms of having the tools required to properly manage ourselves as citizens, our province and the most pivotal agenda we have ever experienced as a country.

When I sat down to carry out the research for a detailed piece about Canada’s EPIC “National Energy Strategy” – my fifth installment for the Common Sense Canadian on Energy Issues in British Columbia – I came across this stunning Globe and Mail story with their most recent poll. I will carry on with my original intention of detailing the all-encompassing, far reaching, essential aspects of the energy strategy and its implications for us all, however that will now have to wait for my sixth installment.

For now I will leave you with this brief synopsis of just a few of the main points underscoring the depth and breadth of these vital energy issues currently reshaping our country and province:

For starters, Canada led the NATO intervention that toppled the leader of an independent nation and led to his brutal death. A leader who, mere weeks before, filled the streets of his nation’s capital with over a million citizens in an overwhelming show of support for him – the likes of which this country has never seen. That was an unprecedented undertaking for us and not only did a Canadian lead the military offensive but we also flew 946 individual bombing sorties under the banner of a “humanitarian” mission and with a cost that was never truthfully disclosed to Canadians, neither was the resulting death toll.

Canada’s largest Tar Sands operator Suncor amongst other Canadian energy interests – most notably SNC Lavalin – were the major benefactors in the Libyan “humanitarian mission.” Canadian taxpayers, on the other hand, were handed the near-million dollar bill for the celebration upon the return of our service people. 

In another high profile oily foreign policy debacle, Canada’s role in Afghanistan has been extended repeatedly with little if any tangible results; however, many are aware of the oil pipeline to the Caspian that was at the heart of that conflict.

While the Government of Canada underwent a re-branding to “the Harper Government”, we also saw how the role of government was fundamentally altered. Our diplomatic role in most major developed countries slowly became overwhelmed with an agenda that revolved around the marketing of “ethical oil”. Here at home, in a shocking role-reversal, we saw a Conservative lawyer gain a national television platform to espouse the ethics of the new petro-state, while a television anchor man became the environment minister and promptly echoed the ethical oil mantra. He went on to pull us out of the Kyoto Protocol while overseeing the gutting of his ministry and rewriting most of the laws applicable to the extraction of “energy” resources.

This barely scratches the surface of what has been a never-ending barrage of energy related issues that have dominated the agenda and altered the very fabric of this nation, all the while massively escalating oil and gas production with an equally massive escalation in public debt, as Harper filed the largest deficit in history the same year Tar Sands production hit its peak.

Finally, British Columbians too have registered enormous debt over this time while having fracked the north of the Province beyond recognition to exploit what Christy Clark describes as near inexhaustible natural gas reserves.

It is very possible you may have missed it, what with the it being mid-summer and with the grand spectacle of the Olympics – not to mention Clark’s BC First campaign – but our Finance minister Kevin Falcon released a quiet little update stating that, whoops,  he was wrong and in fact The B.C. Government posted a deficit of $1.84 billion last year, higher than the $925 million originally communicated, doubling the most recent deficit numbers this government filed, which has contributed to the stunning $24 Billion in total debt the Liberals project they will have shoveled onto our backs during their time in office by by this budget’s end. This comes on top of an additional $50-plus Billion of other hidden liabilities, slammed by BC’s Auditor General.

This despite record-breaking activity in the natural gas sector and coming on the heels of the 200 million dollar “dent” in the budgetFalcon reported a mere three weeks earlier as a result of a dip in natural gas prices, underscoring how vulnerable the Liberal royalty regime leaves us to the whims of the “energy” market.

As you can see, Energy Issues are pivotal to British Columbians and therefore should be pivotal to the success of our politicians. We must not only ensure that British Columbians fully appreciate the importance of the oil and gas agenda, but also understand the importance of the political agenda and its impact on all of us – our future depends on it. I will explore these points in depth along with the National Energy Strategy in my next installment for the Common Sense Canadian.


About the Author

Kevin Logan

Kevin Logan's career has been diverse, ranging from small business to NGOs through finance and government. Early on, he operated the research department for the Vancouver branch of international brokerage Richardson Greenshields. After leaving the finance industry he owned operated small businesses and eventually established a consulting company which contracts with both the private and public sectors. He served as a ministerial assistant to numerous ministers and a premier in the former BC NDP Administration. Kevin is also an independent researcher and writer who has administered many diverse and successful campaigns.


    Kevin Logan

    Its a good point you raise Milt.

    I left out a lot of very relevant issues, for the sake of brevity mostly and I did mention that this was a brief synopsis of “some” of the pivotal issues. Smart meters and the whole fiasco surrounding both BCUC and BC hydro (well explored in recent interviews posted at Common Sense Canadian between Erik and Rafe)

    i also want to make a correction in this piece that is important.

    I state that the export license applied for by Shell and partners was for 24 million tonnes over 24 years. However it is more accurately stated as 24 million tonnes A YEAR for 24 years. Which equates to fully one third of total natural gas production in Canada on 2011.

    A jaw dropping, heart stopping volume.


    Excellent story and you failed to mention the smart meter fiasco. 1 billion in just start up costs to force people into having a meter that is just waiting to cause a death. Bathing infants,elderly and the environment with 2b Carcinogens are OK in BC I guess as long as it is a liebral friend that makes the profit. This is to not even touch the security concerns . What a province we have.

    lorain james

    thanks for the research and clarifying the facts about the Energy sector being the major player here in the west with little understanding of the negative impacts it continues to impart for the majority of British Colombians.

    The costs and debt passed on to the public(tax payers) for the energy given to take the resources out of the ground for the global market, with little or no consideration of the financial/debt or environmental havoc currently brings nothing but doom to the majority of Western Canadians.

    The handful of temporary jobs for Canadians is a drop in the bucket compared to the exploitation that us Canadians have and will ever witness .

    We need new leadership that supports Canadian values enough of these hired want-to-Be’s who serve only their self image/self interest .
    let’s wake-up. or is it too late.

    Ron S.

    Wow. I suspected energy is a big player but not that big. What an insightful, if not mind blowing, article. People should and better wake up as Kevin has forcefully suggested.

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