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 rafeonline.com.
View all posts by Rafe Mair →
In 1988,a year before the Iron Curtain fell, I was in Budapest and after a stroll I went back to my group in the hotel and said this: “Folks, this regime is in trouble…when I was in the main square, the money changers were doing their deals bold as brass right under the nostrils of the police. When moneylenders in a communist country lose fear,respect, call it what you will, authority is in trouble.”
I really had no premonition that 10 moths later, that ironclad border which passed through to Austria would be as open as the Ambleside Seawall on a Sunday afternoon.
People are that way. Where they will hide their actions at one point, the more time that passes, the more caution is fluttering off in the breeze. I thought of that when I read the National Observer yesterday and was horrified to find myself about to upchuck my Cheerios at a sight I thought was out of my life – the admittedly pretty face of the last premier, her full toothed, ear-to-ear grin of self satisfaction at something agreeably trivial.
What now, for the sake of sanity, was she back for? And what was the Observer, which had the guts to tell her to get stuffed when she was in office, doing with that god damned – forgive me, I lost my head – picture, hard hat and all?
It was a good story. The first line says it:
[quote]Environmentalists expressed shock and outrage on Monday over revelations from internal documents that suggested that British Columbia’s plan to tackle climate pollution was written in the boardrooms of big oil and gas companies in Alberta.[/quote]
The story was broken by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – sort of. In fact, the Vancouver Observer tentatively broke the story in February, 2014 when they did a feature on the Tar Sands and told how Postmedia was holding hands with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. I got in the act, penning a series of editorials on the relationship between big media and big oil, including a similar deal between the Postmedia-owned Vancouver Province and Resource Works, the shills for the Woodfibre LNG project.
Now, patience dear readers, none of this is what I’m on about. The media, the oil companies and governments, federal and provincial, are thicker than thieves – in fact, they are thieves. It’s rather got down to this: it’s hard to set a thief to catch a thief when the whole bloody lot are thieves. No, my sights are where they’ve been for some years – on a provincial government that from the moment they took office were corrupt.
Now, I was scarcely the first journalist to notice this or to chronicle it. From the time Damien Gillis and I became colleagues in The Common Sense Canadian we had an outlet and were able to provide it to others. It’s a pretty narrow band, to be sure, but the alternatives are narrow too, and not many.
A number of people have chronicled the several tales which have resulted in the complex fraud perpetrated on the public. I have no desire to pick jockeys and steeds for special attention and there have been many facets to the debacle. Few would disagree that Norm Farrell has been the main master chronicler, with other specialists in different areas. When you consider that BC Hydro includes Site C, political pay-offs, draining public assets into private pockets, environmental carnage and international trade shenanigans, there’s been more than enough chronicling to share, with the provincial debt and ICBC left over, not to mention countless associated shell games.
What surely is not missing is the miscreants who plotted and profited.
No, it was the hard hat, the cheerful visage, the Pepsodent smile about to burst into happy songs for all the happy kiddies to join in that did it. Something snapped. Doesn’t anyone have to pay for the party? Even a little bit?
Is this all a 16-year victimless serial crime? Is it just that the Campbell/Clark – not government, for God’s sake, perhaps frolic is the word – brought our youth back, eternal laughing youth, where Santa Claus was really in charge? Nothing cost anything because a guy in a 3 piece suit always methodically intoned yet another balanced budget; where the cash piled up in the corner was real stuff but the bills just took Monopoly money?
Were there no laws because there weren’t any bad people meaning no policemen and empty jails?
And it came to me, this was the punishment. Of course, the victims paid, and the crooks got to laugh endlessly in our faces at our stupidity.
So that was it – we all have to look at that fucking hard hat and the mocking smile for eternity.
And since our stupidity was unbelievable, it just goes on…and on…and on.
Justin Trudeau is not as young as he looks – obviously. If he was, he would have noticed a sea change in public attitudes that this old man, more of his father’s generation, has not just noticed but takes as obvious and natural.
Prime Minister, lets take just a very short look down the road and start with parliament. You are in the lull before the storm, sir, and you would be wise tothink about it, not only in your interest but that of the country.
Canada is a complacent place. It doesn’t like change. We always avoid it by making perfection the enemy of improvement. That’s what happened in 2005 when BC narrowly defeated a new electoral system more because opponents cast doubt than demonstrated flaws in a governance method that worked fine elsewhere.
Please pay attention here, Mr. Trudeau. People are slow to react to injustice if it’s not accompanied by serious pain and people have become accustomed to what pain there is. But eventually the dam breaks and when that happens, all political hell breaks loose. I think – and I’m far from alone in this – that moment is nigh.
First, let me deal with the “democracy deficit.”
Government for and by elites
We’re taught to believe that the people, through their MPs, run parliament and pass laws for the general good of the people. That, sir, is demonstrable nonsense.
Parliament is run by the elite of the nation for the benefit of the elite who control the power structures – industry, organized labour, major lending institutions and, most notably, the editorial offices of the Mainstream Media. In fact, the elite have become so used to getting their way that they usually don’t even trouble themselves with parliaments – they just get you todeclare the desired policy. Tell me,Mr. Trudeau, when did the people have that debate andvote in Parliament on the proposed LNG plant in Squamish? How about the Kinder Morgan pipeline? Or Site C Dam?
In all likelihood, a civic council proposing a crosswalk will have public hearings, a passionate debate, and a proper vote. You simply casually let it be known that a $15 or 20 billion project will take place and that no genuine public consultation, much less approval, will be sought. The press applauds like trained seals and those who will profit handsomely sing your praises while the public can only scowl in frustration.
Do you think this will go on forever, Prime Minister?
You have sung such lovely songs about climate change and became a world star at the Paris Conference,saying, “Today, with my signature, I give you our word that Canada’s efforts will not cease. Climate change will test our intelligence, our compassion and our will. But we are equal to that challenge.”
[quote]We are deeply disappointed that the United States federal government has decided to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Canada is unwavering in our commitment to fight climate change and support clean economic growth. Canadians know we need to take decisive and collective action to tackle the many harsh realities of our changing climate.
While the U.S. decision is disheartening, we remain inspired by the growing momentum around the world to combat climate change and transition to clean growth economies. We are proud that Canada stands united with all the other parties that support the Agreement. We will continue to work with our domestic and international partners to drive progress on one of the greatest challenges we face as a world.
This is not only about the huge economic opportunities of clean growth and the need to address the pressing threats of climate change. This is about an ambitious and unshakeable desire to leave a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet for our kids and for generations to come.
We are all custodians of this world…[/quote]
That’s been the talk, Mr. Trudeau, let’s look at the walk.
Where the rubber meets the road
From the moment you returned from Paris you have passionately supported the refining, use, and sale of LNG, the worst of all the fossil fuels in terms of impact on the atmosphere. You forced Woodfibre LNG in Squamish on us based upon fraudulent Environmental Assessments or, in the critical matter of fitness of Howe Sound for LNG tankers, no assessment at all and even contrary to industry standards.
Your consultations? None with the House of Commons, none with the public, indeed you didn’t even bother to inform the local Liberal MP!
Kinder Morgan. You have placed critical areas of British Columbia into certain disaster in Burrard Inlet, the Salish Sea, the Gulf Islands, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and beyond and threatened to use force on any who get in the way. This is your position: revive the filthy Tar Sands, use the sensitive coast of BC as a sewer, ship the highly toxic bitumen to Asia where it will burned, the resultant methane poison pumped into the atmosphere to pollute the entire world including Canada, all while you praise the business acumen and patriotism of Alberta and call British Columbians bad Canadians and threaten them.
And then there is Site C, not only an environmental disaster to all affected but a financial boondoggle of the first order.
I’ve warned you in the past and warn you again that if you do these things, you will split the country, if not politically, in terms of loyalty. We have values that all Canada once had – apparently we are now alone.
A new era
I warn you of this too: The chickens will soon be home to roost. People are waking up. The environment is no longer the private preserve of long haired youth. You wouldn’t have noticed, Prime Minister, but that summer day in 1993 in Clayoquot Sound when 900 so-called “tree huggers” were thrown in jail, British Columbia lost its virginity and came of age.
The public are not only noticing your assault on our wondrous, precious legacy but you’re doing it as a dictator. When I compared the ability of our Liberal MP to the effectiveness of afencepost with hair, I was flattering her.
There have been two books – about to be three – on the market exposing this, the first two in 2014; the allegations have never been denied, much less disproved. The first, in time, is Tragedy in the Commons by Alison Loat and Michael MacMillan (Random House, 2014).
It relies upon the evidence of 50 retired MPs and it tells how useless and powerless MPs have become, down to being little more than ombudsmen for the bureaucracy, ensuring that pension cheques arrive on time and that sort of thing. They jealously guard the right to personally deliver cheques of any size even when they are routine government payments they had nothing to do with. These payments always have the local press there, complete with cameras.
The second, Irresponsible Government (Dundern 2014) is by Brent Rathgeber, an Edmonton lawyer who left the Harper government in disgust over the very matters I have mentioned here. Both books are easy-to-read, compelling presentations and from those who have seen the inside and know how to report. I personally felt a strong sense of déjà vu reading each of thess highly readable and irrefutable stories of prime ministerial dictatorship in action.
The third book is called POLITICALLY INCORRECT: How Canada Lost Its Way and The Simple Path Home.I wrote it and it will be out later this month.
There will be more. So my point, Prime Minister, is that the jig is almost up and soon the entire country will see that it’s been cheated of its prize possession – the right to govern itself. How the country handles that, Prime Minister, depends on how the elite handle it.
Perhaps my book will pass unnoticed but I can tell you, Mr. Trudeau, just as sure as God made little green apples,the story it tells will not go onuntold much longer.
And your legacy will be secure – the last, arrogant tyrant to tromp his jackboots over this glorious province of ours.
I pray that I’m still around to join nearly 5 million other voices yelling “good bloody riddance”.
I have a bit of a knack for remembering doggerel as part of my brain’s principal function as a storehouse of useless information. Ergo this:
[quote]You cannot hope to bribe or twist
Thank God, the British Journalist.
Considering what the man will do
Unbribed, there’s no occasion to.[/quote]
It seems that this applies equally to our political writers with the odd, very odd exception, right here in Lotusland.
In 1986, Bill Bennett retired after 10 years as premier through some tough economic times with the province in good shape financially. He had managed public money carefully, been a builder with the odd overrun which were laughably tiny compared to those since, especially the whoppers of the Campbell/Clark bunch, and he gave us Expo 86, for which the boo-birds predicted a catastrophe but which turned out to be a huge win that’s still paying off. In a very careful move, he demurred on Site C after a referral to the BC Utilities Commission and even though in those days there was not the prospect of backup from alternative sources, there are, in fast growing terms, today. Yet many people bid Bennett goodbye with a shout of “good riddance”.
Ms. Clark leaves us with Site C, a $10 billion (at least) ad-on to the already bankrupt BC Hydro, a project for which there is no domestic need (filling that happens to be BCH’s mandate) and no customers, unless the LNG mirage becomes a reality in time to take the power and convert it into massive atmospheric pollution and climate destruction.
ICBC is a hard company to lose money on given it has a virtual monopoly on car insurance, but it’s in deep trouble because of holding rates down to buy votes and pocketing a cool half a billion dollars as a dividend to government. This is an accounting masterpiece invented by the Campbell/Clark wizards, where you cure huge losses in Crown Corps like Hydro and ICBC by pilfering huge sums from their already deeply indebted treasuries. As The Tyee reports, “Last November, ICBC admitted that it would require the equivalent of a cumulative 117 per cent increase in basic insurance revenue to keep its capital reserves from falling below the government’s regulatory minimum levels.”
Then we have the huge bonanza brought to you by Christy Clark and the brains of the outfit, Rich Coleman, and with a roll of the drums I give you BC’s majestic LNG industry. The Christy and Rich Show kept up an almost never-ending sales extravaganza round and round the world selling LNG we didn’t have to countries that didn’t need it at prices they couldn’t afford. But prosperity was right around the corner said Christy who won the 2013 election because voters accepted her solemn promise of multiple new LNG plants, 100,000 jobs and enough money to fill a $100-billion prosperity fund to erase B.C.’s debt and lower taxes.
Surely Christy and The Brains didn’t lie to us, did they?
I’ll answer that question. Writer after writer, scientist after scientist, every international economist you can think of said that this was all nonsense. Mind you, to get this bitter truth you had to read The Common Sense Canadian or The Tyee, not the government organs of Postmedia. It was sheer drivel, yet the more Clark was told this, the more she and The Brains jumped into the 1st Class section and visited their valuable contacts in Asia – the ones not in jail – and got more assurances of even more sales. Somehow, at the end of the day, the multiple new plants came to ZERO, the 100,000 jobs came to NONE and, golly gee whiz, that $100 billion Prosperity Fund fell just $100 billion short.
But, in fairness to Christy, maybe the government overspent on health, education, welfare, help to children, assistance to women in distress, the homeless, the mentally ill, and those of our fellow citizens in distress who needed our help.
No, I can’t tease on this issue because this government was far and away the cruelest in modern history to those in need. I, for one, am ashamed – good God, if this is how we treat those in need during prosperous times, what will happen when the inevitable recession or depression comes?
As I close, I must comment that one well-known journalist, who ought to know better, lauds the government for 5 straight “balanced budgets”. What a crock of barnyard droppings. It’s not hard to balance your budgets if you get to leave all the bad stuff “off budget”. I am surprised that anyone would believe that bullshit from Finance Minister DeJong, much less an award-winning political journalist.
Now my question: Given the record above, which is scarcely complete, and given that one of the obligations of high office is a reasonable proximity to truthfulness, why in the name of God are you singing the praises of a woman who has driven the province into a huge financial mess, destroyed money-making public companies, spent millions flogging a product we didn’t have to people who didn’t want it while lying through her teeth at every turn, and let down the very neediest of our fellow citizens? Didn’t you do harm enough by failing in your duty to hold her to account while she was in office?
I hate to say it but my brand of journalism was both honest and accurate when I summed up her leave-taking in two words: Good riddance.
A short note on Gordon Wilson who just got canned from his ill-gotten sinecure flogging LNG, with singular lack of success after being vehemently opposed to the stuff until he needed the money.
From 1987-93 Wilson led the BC Liberals and surprised all by taking them from zero seats to Official Opposition in 1991. He badly mishandled his relationship with his House Leader, whom he married, and politically it was all downhill after that as he formed a new party after Gordon Campbell took the Liberal leadership away from him, moved over to the NDP for a cabinet post in the disastrous Dosanjh Government, and lost his seat in 2001. In 2013 Wilson completed the circle by becoming a right-winger again, supported Clark and, after she won, he became an LNG salesman.
I remember through all this a very courageous Gordon Wilson.
Wilson became Liberal Leader at the same time as the Meech Lake Accord. In spite of serious opposition from influential backbencher David Mitchell and other prominent Liberals, Wilson opposed Meech Lake and gave hearty and welcome support to Newfoundland Premier Clyde Wells. At the same time, I was vigorously opposing Meech on my morning show on CKNW.
Wilson brought Premier Wells on my show where he became almost a regular and gained enormous popularity. By 1990, Meech was dead, Wells was, under duress, switching sides and we were into the Charlottetown Accord. In spite of losing his Newfoundland ally, Gordon Wilson stayed the course and supplied much assistance to me on my show.
I can’t help but remember Wilson’s fall from grace but I know what courage it took for him to stand by his convictions too. Luck, raw luck, has a lot to do with the seminal events of life. When I, as a cabinet minister, had an affair of the heart, such things were considered to be private matters and ignored. When I went hugely broke, was desperate and probably would have taken any job that came my way, I met CKNW’s John Plul at a party and a few days later was hired by CKNW, leading to a 19 year career, a Michener Award and the Hall of Fame. All just plain good luck. Similar circumstances, but Gordon Wilson didn’t have my luck.
It makes you think a bit when you assess what others do when they’re in a jam and makes it easier and appropriate to say “good luck” Gordon, good things could happen, for, as Margaret Thatcher, in one of her wiser moments, once said, “It’s a funny old world.”
My congratulations to you and your new government. I can tell you that a great many British Columbians who do not usually support your party voted for you on May 9 last with the same feelings as Dr. Johnson ascribed to second marriages – a triumph of hope over experience.
I realize that over the past few years I have not been flavour of the month for either you or Dr. Andrew Weaver but I know that you would think even less of me if I allowed that to bother me. It doesn’t.
Until the Liberals came to power, it was not customary for the mainstream media to shower governments with praise. I intend to practice my profession the traditional way – the way I was treated when when I was in government.
Allow me a short anecdote, Premier. In 1975, during the Dave Barrett NDP years, I was the nominated candidate for the Social Credit Party for Kamloops. Each evening I would faithfully read the late Sun Columnist, Marjorie Nichols, chortling with glee as she regularly kicked hell out Barrett. Night after night I listened, enjoying every syllable. On December 11, I won a seat in the general election and on the 22nd, was sworn into cabinet. It wasn’t long before Marjorie, good old Marjorie, was kicking hell out of Bill Bennett! Then me! What the devil had caused her to change?
Well, she hadn’t – it was the government that changed!
M.r Premier, I have two points today. The first is on LNG – you seem to have a blind spot about Woodfibre LNG proposed for Squamish.
Do you not know Howe Sound, Premier? Allow me to introduce you to some of my neighbours in Howe Sound, my backyard.
Next to the beautiful Chinook Salmon, or Spring as we used to call them, those are Orca, commonly called Killer Whales, which abounded in Howe Sound when I was a young boy in the 30s, along with humpback whales, seals, porpoise, dolphin, all 7 species of Pacific salmon native to BC – and herring.
They all gradually disappeared from much of Howe Sound, largely due to industrial development. Some 20 years ago, the government, with massive involvement of ordinary people, went to work and began cleaning up the old pulp mill site in Squamish and the mine site at Britannia. Slowly but steadily nature healed and our friends were all back. Surely you have a soul, Mr Premier, and can understand what this means. Well, the biologists tell us that with an LNG facility in Squamish, with their discharges and tankers, we’ll almost certainly lose it all again.
Do you know, Premier, that the environmental process held for Woodfibre LNG was as phoney as Confederate money, having been conducted, so to speak, by the National Energy Board in hearings so roundly criticized by Prime Minister Trudeau, who now relies upon them?
Did you know, Mr. Premier, that Howe Sound is too narrow for LNG Tanker traffic by world standards, US EPA standards and – get this, Mr. Horgan – by the standards of SIGTTO, the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (the Industry’s own organization) and that the Federal Liberal government hasn’t taken this into account? You are our premier, Mr. Horgan, and Howe Sound, the most southern fjord in Canada, an internationally renowned beauty spot, is on the brink of ruin by the LNG industry, and you are on record as supportingWoodfibre LNG!
Why, Premier, in the name of God, why?
Now I turn to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, over which both you and your Attorney-General David Eby were dressed down by Justin Trudeau and you hung your heads like naughty schoolboys. I can’t speak for others, Mr. Premier, but I watched conference after conference attended by Premier Bill Bennett with Justin’s father – twice the man – time and time again standing up to him and for British Columbia. I have little doubt that Dave Barrett would have done likewise. You cringe because if, as you first suggested, BC works to rule, thereby delaying provincial permits for Kinder Morgan, BC will be sued.
I hate to mention this because he is a fine man, lawyer, accomplished author, teacher, civil rights advocate and activist – all accomplishments I admire and indeed he’s a man I admire – but David Eby is not a British Columbian of sufficient length to have all the assets, especially the animal life of Howe Sound and the Salish Sea, engrained in his psyche as is necessary for a BC warrior to be prepared to go to the wall for this province.
A man who has the commitment I’m talking about is Grand Chief Stewart Philip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs; others include Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who is personally prepared to go to jail; a man like Mayor Derek Corrigan of Burnaby; Vicki Huntington, former MLA; Kai Nagata, communications director for the Dogwood Initiative; Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr; but more than this, Premier, while your Central Canada-loyal Attorney-General is quaking in his boots because someone might sue us, for using the obvious “work-to-rule” tactic of delaying provincial approvals,you’ve also chickened out.
For God’s sake, Mr. Horgan, thousands of British Columbians are prepared to go to jail while you and the Attorney-General, leaders of the party of protest, heirs to the men and women of the people whose names you still mention in hushed terms of reverence, are afraid that if you stand up for our sacred environment, that nasty man Trudeau Minor or big, bad Kinder Morgan might sue us!
Do you think that real British Columbians ready to risk going to jail are going to be pushed around by a coward from Ottawa, propped by the oil industry, just as you apparently are?
Time is short, Mr. Horgan, and I suggest that you and the Kid from Kitchener, David Eby, look in the mirror at two politicians prepared to sell out their province, so that the Tar Sands can hum away, polluting the earth’s atmosphere and so Justin will be nice to you as he goes back to chasing old Tory seats in Alberta.
If Kinder Morgan happens on your watch, do you think voters will forgive you because some lawsuits were threatened? I tell you plain, Premier, it won’t be a mere 16 years next time if Kinder Morgan is forced on British Columbians who marched and went to jail while the quislings in Victoria skulked in their offices and sent obsequious emails to Kinder Morgan and Justin.
Yes, Mr Horgan, l’ll stand up to Ottawa for British Columbia. So, I suspect will most British Columbians. And what are you going to do when Ottawa shoves another environmental catastrophe under your nose and says, “Here, Premier Pussycat, sign or by golly you’ll be sued?”
Not a very good start, Mr. Horgan, not a good start at all.
In politics, speculation is half the fun – the other half is figuring out how, with all your experience in the field, you could have been so bloody wrong.
Actually, for the new minister, the reasons he or she is usually wrong are predictable as hell to a guy like me – not because I’m smart, but because I was there once myself. I went into my new Ministry office back on December 22, 1975, full of piss and vinegar, not to mention urgent plans. After all, I had 3 1/2 years of mismanagement to clean up and there’s no time to start like right now.
Well, yes, there is, you quickly find out from your Deputy Minister, because there are several decisions to make first. Not that they’re earth-shattering, just that not making them means you’re going to be pestered until you do. You need a good parking spot, preferably better than Vander Zalm’s, a key to your private loo lost by your predecessor, and clear instructions on how to replenish your liquor cabinet.
This turns out to be a good thing because you quickly learn that you need to take a bit longer getting acquainted, but it will have to wait a few days because, at the Premier’s request – well, not really a request – you’re flying out to Ottawa that afternoon with two colleagues to meet federal counterparts to straighten out an issue that the Premier pledged to clean up personally the moment he was sworn in.
When you get back to your office four days later, you discover that priorities you were going to deal with up front will have to come even later because you have a cabinet meeting you’re already late for and, afterwards, your deputy has arranged for you to tour your offices, show the flag, and meet the people who work for you. Cabinet runs late and you’re off to meet the 120 pissed off employees that didn’t leave at quitting time. Welcome to government, Mr. Minister.
A sticky problem
Former Minister and friend, Dr. Tom Perry and I were talking about this not long ago and agreed that if you’re lucky, you run into a sticky, double-headed problem right off the bat because it re-occurs with nauseating frequency and best you get used to it and have some practice dealing with it. I’ll make up an example because it’s just the kind that happened to me and, later, Tom.
A rancher is irate and won’t leave your office. Once a year he must drive his cattle over a faraway piece of unused land but the Agricultural Land Commission won’t permit it. Exceptions are routinely made in cases like this, so my Deputy Minister tells me, but they won’t budge. He is sure that a nudge from me will get the job done.
Then, prepare a suitable letter and I’ll sign it, I say. “Minister,” my deputy replies, “the trouble is he’s a regional director of the opposition party, hated by your party, and we know that if you do him a favour he’s going to raise hell with your party for doing him, the enemy, a favour you were under no obligation to do. Your cabinet colleagues will shun you, your constituency president will give you hell, and the Land Commission members will badly lose face and accuse you of usurping their sworn jurisdiction.” Shit!
The other scenario is exactly the same except the rancher is a bagman for your party, is the premier’s wife’s second cousin, and the Opposition is just waiting to pounce, big time! Shit!
If you don’t think this happens, you’ve never been in politics.
Out to get you
Actually, we’re all in for a huge adjustment and we should get ready – a good, stiff, single malt whiskey should do it.
Are you ready?
The Postmedia papers, the Sun and the Province, will have columnists, editorial writers, the editor of the Op-Ed page, the Canadian Taxpayers Federation and the Fraser Institute on high alert to pour it on this pack of Reds now running things and, at the suggestion of the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, there will be a new feature in the Sun called “Oil and the Sun for everyone”. Resource Works – the BC LNG booster – will have a feature in the Province, their formal partners, called “Hey, hee, golly gee, LNG is good for ye, hotter weather for me and thee!”
Phil Hochstein will have a feature called “Breaking the Union for Sun and Fun”, but Jimmy Pattison, having killed all the salmon, in a public display of contrition, will set up a benevolent society called Jimmy Pattison Pals in Poverty for fishermen, last place car salesmen and talk show hosts he’s known.
The biggest change will come in the media, of course, where the Masthead of the Vancouver Sun will holler, “Hating Horrible Horgan helps keep the climate crummy and casts comforting kisses to Coleman and Christy.”
The last big change may come when Damien sees this and puts his own masthead saying “Rafe’s Ready for Retirement”. [Publisher’s Note: You’re not getting off that easy, Rafe]
I wish John Horgan and his new government well. He has his work cut out for him.
There has been a load of pollyannish bullshit spouted by the media about what will and what will not happen to his shaky government when it finally gets going. And that’s my first note. As soon as the LG called upon him to form a government, Mr. Horgan should have done so. After his time watching his colleagues in opposition, surely be could have have presented a Council to Her Honour in 24 hours.
Is the answer to the delay perhaps that this matter had not yet been settled with Dr. Weaver? That’s an unnerving thought and raises the first worry wart. Just what is the arrangement?
The Deal with Weaver
I must confess that I thought he’d get a cabinet post but that would really have necessitated a coalition government and neither party is prepared for that.
So, what does Weaver get? A right to approve/disapprove selections? That, I should think, would be too much, but just the right to be consulted? That would be mighty thin gruel.
Horgan not only must run a government but must appear to the voters to be doing so and if he has to raise his hand and get permission to go to the loo, he will hardly look like a man in charge. But at the same time Weaver has to show his little pack that he really matters in the process of governance or else, who needs him?
The words “politician” and “prickly” are synonyms and both Horgan and Weaver have egos that at this point vastly exceed their accomplishments They are required by the circumstances to like each other yet apparently don’t, and are partners, senior and junior, as curators of a nest of adders.
It is bound to be interesting.
Opposition can make life difficult
I’ve seen no media analyses of the main problem Horgan faces because they’ve never been there. Even media with experience watching and reporting have never lived in the monkey house.Indeed, neither really has Horgan, but being Opposition leader should have prepared him for a legislature of high tension.And this one should be a lulu.
I have no idea what tactics the Liberals in opposition will use and they probably won’t know themselves until their leadership question is settled and they analyze their options. But I can tell you that they can make the government’s existence all but unbearable when the House is sitting.
The House operates out of a small red rulebook but that is backed by two volumes of practice and precedents:Beauchesne and Sir Erskine May, with sufficient nitpicking material therein for days of delaying tactics. I don’t say that the Liberals will employ these tactics but both the NDP and the Socreds did in their days. In fact, the Socred gambit of “not a dime without debate” in 1974, quite unfairly, portrayed the NDP as wastrels. It was phoney as hell, but, more than anything else, cost the NDP the 1975 election.
Before going on, let me say that in a parliamentary system it is, as Lord Randolph Churchill said nearly 150 years ago, “the duty of the opposition to oppose”. Even though it can get ridiculous, I support that aphorism. The Opposition, however, must always be wary, lest they go too far and piss off the populace.
Almost everything the government does can give rise to an objection, a point of order that isn’t one. Same with a point of privilege – whatever the devil that is – a lengthy and often ridiculous argument unto a shouting match, a routine Speaker’s ruling usually just approved on a voice vote – “all in favour”. But to further delay, the Opposition will call for a “division”, meaning a 10-minute delay as bells summon members to the Chamber for a formal vote. I recall one day Gary Lauk, before the session had been called to order, stood up and asked the Speaker to adjourn because he didn’t think that there were an appropriate number of Ministers there for Question Period. A thoroughly specious position, out of order if only because the session had not even been called to order, but an ingenious delaying tactic.
Question Period is 15 minutes and I can remember many that ran over an hour with objections, followed by a division vote. I remember one afternoon a member drew the Speaker’s attention to the clock, the formal way of ending at 6 pm for the dinner break. Objection was taken, and it was after 7 pm before the Speaker could declare the time to be 6 pm!
The opposition usually extends a promise to the premier or minister not to call any formal vote while they are away on business but in nastier times, that might be withdrawn at the very last moment.
The ability of the Opposition to harass and delay is virtually limitless and it can be very hard on government morale.
Teetering on a one-vote edge
The government, with a one vote edge, can never be certain it has enough bodies available, and while a vote lost, if not a confidence vote, won’t bring the government down, again, it’s embarrassing and bad for morale.
As I said, I have no idea what tactics the Liberals will employ but you can be certain that good sportsmanship and accommodating the government will not be considerations. Mr. Horgan says he will govern for four years before an election is called and I must ask him if he’s a betting man.
In all these considerations, one must speculate on the NDP/Green pact. There are a lot more ways it can fold than stay together.
The Green Team
Let’s talk about Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen, the other Green MLAs. What does Weaver do to keep them amused? They are not real opposition members so can’t join in on the mischief. Being a backbencher at the best of times is an exercise in overcoming world-class boredom. They all carry briefcases full of unnecessary pieces of paper and the leader spends much of his time thinking up make-work projects to keep the idle hands from doing the Devil’s work.
These are bright, ambitious people and giving speeches to service clubs and snipping ribbons at the opening of the latest car dealership is scarcely enough to keep the mind alive, much less strut your stuff. .
Let’s not forget that while Dr. Weaver is the Green leader, he is not, by any means, representative of Green Party members, of whom there are many who don’t care for him or are only there because they’re pissed off with everyone else. Weaver is very good at getting up people’s noses – we saw plenty of that in the May election.
Dr. Weaverwill see his biggest responsibility to be keepinghimself as leader, which may not correspond with Ms. Furstenau and Mr Olsen’s evening vespers. The Liberals won’t have to remind them that there’s always a warm spot for them in front of the Liberal hearth.
Four more years?
The media have, since May 9 last, been crunching numbers and giving you their speculations. But until a reporter has been there a long time, drunk a lot of beer with disgruntled MLAs, watched a host of affairs start and marriages end, watched up close the emotions and ambitions they will be struggling with – only then can they give the public an accurate picture, and, even then, you really had to be there.
This government staying in power for four years?
And pigs can truly fly, your kids aren’t going “all the way”, and you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan.
Looking ahead at our political situation in BC and assuming that the NDP will govern with a one vote majority, perhaps it might be well to consider what that actually means.
An accepted authority isHOUSE OF COMMONS PROCEDURE AND PRACTICE, edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
This on “Confidence”:
[quote]What constitutes a question of confidence in the government varies with the circumstances. Confidence is not a matter of parliamentary procedure, nor is it something on which the Speaker can be asked to rule. It is generally acknowledged, however, that confidence motions may be:
• explicitly worded motions which state, in express terms, that the House has, or has not, confidence in the government;
• motions expressly declared by the government to be questions of confidence;
• implicit motions of confidence, that is, motions traditionally deemed to be questions of confidence, such as motions for the granting of Supply (although not necessarily an individual item of Supply, motions concerning the budgetary policy of the government and motions respecting the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. (my emphasis)[/quote]
What this does not mean is that every time the government loses a vote it must resign. That is plain fiction encouraged by the fact that when such a vote is lost, cries of “resign!” are shouted from the Opposition benches with enthusiasm but no justification.
Clearly the NDP government can, with good management and a bit of luck, govern for a considerable period of time without facing a substantial problem giving rise to a confidence vote.
Obviously, they can’t go far if the opposition nail them on their initial Speech from the Throne and they will soon face a Budget vote but it’s well to remember that with their majority, however small, they can probably weather the first two of these motions on the assumption that their members are healthy enough to live long enough for it. It’s also well to remember that the Opposition needs all its votes and Liberals, in spite of their evident beliefs to the contrary, are mortal too.
Making life difficult
Mr. Horgan faces a more imminent problem though – if the Liberals have any experts on rules of Procedure, they can make the operation of the House itself all the way from unpleasant to utter hell. Points of Order, questions of clarification, down to highly questionable objections can stall matters from hours unto days. Whether or not the Liberals pursue this tactic remains to be seen.
Confidence motions arise by operation of rule or custom more often than by actual motion. Still, the opposition will want to move with care. Like the rule for taking a drink of whisky, it’s not done every time it’s possible but, if the drinker is wise, a good drinker, he only takes one when the time is right. It’s called discipline. And so it is with confidence motions. It would not be unusual at all for the Liberal opposition to avoid a possible confidence situation because it is not in fact to their advantage at that point.
The Polls may be terrible. The most obvious reason for it not being the right time would be lack of money in the election kitty. Elections are very expensive and are taken with care if only on that basis. There is no doubt that the Liberals carry an advantage in that department but what if there are new funding reforms? This just may not be an appropriate time because the polls say that voters want to give the Horgan government a chance and the Liberals are faced with the ephemeral notion of fair play as an issue.
Of one thing you can be sure – politics is just one damned thing after another and accurate predictions as rare as hens’ teeth.
Cleaning up the Liberals’ fiscal mess
Horgan has a big problem to deal with and the Liberals will make the most of it. The elephant in the government Caucus Room is a chap named Dr. Andrew Weaver, ironically the man who is responsible for the NDP being in power. Now, folks, carefully follow the bouncing ball.
The deep-seated case with which the “right” traditionally taunt the NDP is that they are fiscally inept. They couldn’t run a peanut stand, they say. Every time the NDP has run the province it is stated, unemployment soared, capital fled to more welcome climes and the deficit exploded. This story goes back to my childhood days when it was their predecessor, the CCF, who were considered philosophically incapable of understanding money except that paid by hardworking people to welfare bums.
The Campbell/Clark government has mismanaged ICBC – simply a cash-for-protection monopoly not much more complicated than the protection racket on the streets of New York City – into massive deficits.
But the clincher for the NDP is BC Hydro which, starting with Gordon Campbell’s private energy scheme in 2002, has been taken from one of the finest, most viable energy companies in the world to virtual bankruptcy during good economic times.
[quote]There’s no getting around the debt crisis. The Liberal government set BC Hydro on more than a decade of spending beyond its means, entering electricity purchase agreements it couldn’t pay for, and being unable to obtain the revenues it needed to meet its spending obligations. It was only following orders. A private company would have been bankrupt, and have liquidated its assets. Crown corporations have taxpayers to keep them afloat.” (Emphasis mine)[/quote]
Under this new policy, the creation of this all new power was by Independent (private) Power Producers (IPP) who were permitted to destroy the rivers they used and be paid 3x what they were entitled to. Needless to say, these IPPs were or soon became generous donors to the BC Liberal Party.
Fixing the problem
There are, I’m sure you would agree, three immediate things to be done.
Immediately appoint a Commission of Inquiry to examine allaspects of this financial debacle at BC Hydro to report back to the Attorney-General any evidence of Crime.
Immediately cancel Site C, with its entire undertaking subject to a Commission of Enquiry.
Move BC Hydro back to supplying all power and eliminate all use of IPPs
The loss of BC Hydro takes the breath away. If the public has any rights left, it’s to know how this happened and apply the Deep Throat Watergate Rule – follow the money…
It goes without saying that the operating maximfor the Enquiry is “let the chips fall where they may”.
The Weaver hitch
That last line has Mr. Horgan in deep trouble before he gets started because going back to Campbell’s private energy policy until now, BC Hydro’s purchase of private power has been consistently and enthusiastically supported by Dr. Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green Party of BC – John Horgan’s invaluable political partner. It’s been the huge cost of this power that has BC Hydro in all this trouble. To this day, Weaver, the environmentalist, refuses to show the slightest remorse for supporting policy that destroys rivers it uses along with its habitat, while enriching the politically powerful insider as it destroys the public’s power company!
And just how the Hell do you square that circle?
That, folks, is a pretty good example of what the phrase “Elephant in the Room” means.
[quote]The Trans Mountain pipeline [Kinder Morgan] expansion project will never see the light of day.
-Grand Chief Philip Stewart, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs[/quote]
If you live anywhere in Canada other than British Columbia, you’re probably convinced that the Kinder Morgan (Trans Mountain) pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, BC will be built, since no less than Prime Minister Trudeau says so. Well, you may get a shock with this candid advice but you’d best accept the fact that this pipeline will never, ever be built, period.
Many much wiser and more powerful British Columbians than I will tell you the same in even stronger terms.
Might my story not be biased? Of course that conclusion’s an option since there is no more loyal British Columbian than I, but remember that we who will fight Kinder Morgan have only one interest: the beautiful land and water we hold in trust for those as yet unborn. We have no Tar Sands to flog, no political payoffs owed, no juicy House of Commons seats to covet, no faraway investors to enrich, no personal ambitions to fulfill, no face saving to be done – all that’s at stake for us is the salvation and preservation of our home.
Energy expert quit “fraudulent” review
Let’s start with the proposition that the product of the tar sands in Alberta is viciously poisonous, whether spilt on land, in the ocean, or put into the atmosphere. To talk of “world class cleanup” methods for bitumen (dilbit) is a cruel oxymoron. To pretend that massive accidents – carefully called “incidents” – are minor risks insults the intelligence.
The pious suggestion by government and industry that the undertaking underwent a “rigorous scientific investigation” is pure bullshit! It underwent (if that’s the word), a disgraceful National Energy Board hearing, the process Trudeau ran against in 2015 and, for fairness, was on a par with Soviet Union show trials. A process so egregiously biased that Marc Eliesen (former CEO of B.C. Hydro, former chair of Ontario Hydro, former chair of Manitoba Hydro, deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments, with 40 years’ executive experience in the energy sector, including as a board member at Suncor) withdrew as an intervenor, calling the proceedings “fraudulent”. So much for the “rigorous scientific examination” that Prime Minister Trudeau and Kinder Morgan tell British Columbians to rely upon for the security of Burrard Inlet, Vancouver Harbour, the Salish Sea, the Gulf Islands, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the rest of our pristine coast.
Trudeau breaks promise to the world
Let’s also remember that Prime Minister Trudeau made himself an international hero of the environment by stating clearly, beyond a doubt, at the Paris conference in November 2015, that fossil fuels must be phased out and that Canada was back in the game and raring to go. The principal concern was and remains climate change, he noted, and Canada would enthusiastically resist putting more fossil fuels into the atmosphere – in fact would both reduce them substantially and help other countries do the same.
Not unnaturally, people in British Columbia, concerned about their own environment as well as that of the world in general, were relieved at this unwonted leadership. The newly elected Prime Minister was seen in a new light as a forthright, dedicated environmentalist and not the weak dissembler we originally took him for. Sometimes, alas here, one is right the first time.
What pipeline boosters don’t get
Our main environmental concern – and it is huge – involves our rivers and oceans, over which we have control. Of particular interest but of no apparent concern to Trudeau and other Canadians, are the creatures that live in those waters.
This special and growing concern isn’t, for us, some abstract “Free Willy” reverie but a critically important reality that has never been understood by the federal Liberal party, as evidenced by their ongoing ill-treatment of the Pacific fishery from Confederation until today, when, in addition to the usual neglect, the Pacific salmon is being diseased and killed by federally-sponsored and approved, foreign-owned Atlantic salmon fish farms.
Our 5 commercial species of salmon are extremely important as a basic food for First Nations, as well as critical to their economy and to other important commercial and sports fisheries. Most Canadians to our east don’t seem to understand how strongly we feel about these issues nor have any appreciation of our values.
The Federal government, in Wilde’s words, “knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing”. To British Columbians, the sacred symbol of our province is the Pacific Salmon, all 7 discrete varieties.
Respect for First Nations
This leads us to First Nations, both in terms of individual tribes and united peoples, not only in British Columbia but right across the country. I have don’t know how other Canadians feel on this issue, however, there’s solidarity of the general British Columbia community behind First Nations, who’ve been leaders in environmental protection for far longer than most of us care to admit.
Stewart Philip, Grand Chief of the British Columbia Union of Indian Chiefs, is very highly regarded, not just as an Indigenous leader, but as a general community leader as well. He is hardly alone as he shares this respect with numerous aboriginal leaders of both sexes. If that basic reality is not understood, the BC position can’t be understood either.
Are British Columbians bad Canadians?
British Columbians are being painted as “bad Canadians”. As a lifelong (85 years) British Columbian, I tell you that BC is different, even though most outsiders prefer to see it as part of “the West” – shorthand that does no service to other western provinces any more than it does to BC.
British Columbia is unique geographically, historically, demographically, in terms of resources – with a very strong sense of that uniqueness and the set of values it produces. Not that we haven’t had some very careless times when it seemed that there was always another valley to log and river to destroy.
In 1993, the forces for change coalesced at Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, remembered by esteemed journalist, Stephen Hume:
[quote]People came from all over the country and beyond. Teachers, artists, musicians, university students and their professors, working folk, soccer moms, dentists, doctors and First Nations elders descended on the West Coast to put a stop to clearcutting by blockading a road. What followed was the largest mass arrest for civil disobedience in the province’s history.[/quote]
There was no turning back. Was it a collective, troubled conscience that just required some youthful idealism and energy? Whatever it was, it took hold deeply and quickly. Suddenly it wasn’t “tree-huggers” who were the unfashionable outsiders, it was the people calling them “tree huggers” – the elite suddenly, badly reduced in numbers and importance.
The genie was well and truly out of the bottle. No one believed industry leaders and supportive politicians anymore and just a moment’s reflection made it clear that based on their track record, they weren’t entitled to credibility. Things the long haired pot smokers had predicted had come true. Perhaps the very late realization that solemn, science-backed assurances that smoke from burnt coal “just went up there” was not just bullshit, but deliberate bullshit; the black crud London was removing from the Houses of Parliament had caked their lungs; and all those doctors smoking Camels were trying to quit.
In any event, fewer and fewer British Columbians believe what Trudeau, his National Energy Board, raw, uncaring political hacks such as Ministers of Environment or anyone connected with Kinder Morgan, the tanker companies who serve them or trained, clapping seals at Chambers of Commerce have to say. Time after time, they had been proven wrong, over and over the public saw that safety measures had to be compelled and that truths that diminished profits were hidden. Clearly, profits trumped all.
We’re not going anywhere
Hence, there’s no way British Columbia will obey Trudeau except by actual force and if that’s applied, the damage done to national unity will be irreparable. We’re told that Trudeau and Premier Notley of Alberta have the law on their side. I wish those who think that would pour themselves a glass of relaxant and think about it awhile.
It’s an exhausting subject, but ask yourself if the top court in the nation will put monetary profits from the world’s worst polluter in one province ahead of the natural and clean resources of a neighbour, causing enormous harm to both that neighbour and to others while at the same time further ruining the badly polluted global atmosphere Trudeau promised to make better? In the name of God, is that the essence of this country that dares preach to us about principles? Profit, however destructive, trumps all!
A whole new ballgame
Has the hubris of self-serving hymns of praise so dulled the national brain that no one has noticed an army of First Nations going to the Court of Appeal, thence to the Supreme Court? Have our “betters” not yet noticed that since the Calder case, then the 1982 Constitution, the entrenching of aboriginal rights and that aboriginal rights are, in the vernacular, “a whole new ballgame”, as summed up thusly by the Canadian Encyclopedia?
[quote]Aboriginal rights, like treaty rights, are recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that this provision protects a spectrum of different kinds of rights, including legal recognition of customary practices such as marriage and adoption, the site-specific exercise of food harvesting and other rights that don’t involve claims to the land itself, and assertions of an Aboriginal title to traditional lands.[/quote]
At this writing, there are at least a dozen discrete First Nations challenging Kinder Morgan, each of which will presumably go to the Court of Appeal thence to the SCC. There seems little likelihood many, if any, have sufficient in common to be united for trial. Given that none of the First Nations have a sense of urgency, how long do you think these cases will take? How long will Kinder Morgan have to be promising investors “soon”?
Only then will the workers on the pipeline finally be able to trot out their first front-end loader to be met by repetitive Civil Disobedience by ordinary folks, with associated court actions sending our friends and neighbours to jail for contempt of court, as happened in Burnaby in 2014. For what little it might matter, every ounce of my aged being, including freedom, will be with the protesters in the fight for justice for all British Columbians.
I recognize that many will take what I have written as defiant threatening. It is defiant because, I believe, that word accurately sums up the attitude of me and my neighbours. It’s not written to threaten but to lay before you my judgment of what will happen if matters continue as they are and beg you to understand us if you can’t lend us your support.
This evil project has, most unhelpfully, sharpened the divisions in Canada – but one can hardly blame British Columbians for that when their sole purpose has been not to make money, not to visit harm on anyone or anything, but simply to support the highest scientific and moral principles as we protect ourselves and the world’s atmosphere. I have much difficulty seeing how such defensive conduct could ever be seen as bad Canadianism.
Who of you, living as I do on Howe Sound, would sacrifice the killer whales, humpback whales, seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, crab, shrimp, oysters, clams, abalone, salmon runs, herring runs and other sea life and bird life that thrive there in order that elements of certain destruction would cause serious harm to them, to say nothing of human beings, whilst being transferred elsewhere to do harm to everyone?
I should tell you that we speak from graphic experience. We once lost a good deal of all this due to industrial pollution but after the mill shut down in Squamish and Britannia Mine closed in 1974, people of the area and the government thoroughly cleaned up Howe Sound and it came back to life. If the people didn’t deeply care for these values, however esoteric they may appear to others, they would scarcely have gone to all that trouble and spent all that money, much of it private, to clean up Canada’s southernmost fjord, nor be so prepared to fight hard to see that it stays that way.
No longer Left v. Right
The environment is no longer a left v. right political proposition in British Columbia but a mainstream issue of vital importance to everyone. People have all learned that when industry or government talks of safety and respect for the environment, the truth is not in them and that citizens and they alone must protect it.
It has not been my purpose, by being frank with you, to make you angry or get your backs up – I simply want the rest of Canada to know that our basic values are being challenged by Kinder Morgan, the province of Alberta, and the Government of Canada and that doing so is not a good idea. Since this entire coast, right to the Alaska Panhandle, is under threat and it is the Canadian West Coast, it puzzles most British Columbians why Canadians generally do not want to protect it just as we do, if not as strongly.
If, as it appears, they do not wish to do this, I must tell them frankly that we who live here will do it for them, irrespective of who wants to spoil it. Yes, we respect the rights of Alberta, but we must accept what wise people know will be certain and serious damage to the natural beauty and resources that we intend to protect, not only on our own behalf but for the entire country.
One cannot serve the God Mammon by sacrificing one’s common heritage on his altar and still retain one’s soul. And isn’t this very wise question posed so very long ago even more appropriate than ever? “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”
And if that answer doesn’t suit those who would make money with someone else running all the risks – not risks but certain calamities – how about this?
It will be a much postponed verdict but my initial reaction to the NDP-Green deal is positive.
Whether so motivated or not, Andrew Weaver has done the right politically moral thing – contradiction in terms though that is – by agreeing to support John Horgan and the NDP. It is particularly laudable in the form of being support not coalition. His obligation is twofold – first to the public, to give them the best possible governance option and secondly to the Green Party, which is the reason hehas the options in the first place.
Dealing with the latter point, that’s a bigger obligation than might first appear. The Greens are a worldwide “movement” with obligations outside BC and Canada and have ambitions for political power with reasons to believe they can, with time, succeed. The political persuasion that supports Green certainly is not compatible with the BC variety of the Liberal Party and Dr. Weaver has correctly borne that in mind. We will always suspect, with good reason, that in rejecting Ms. Clark, he turned down a pretty good personal offer.
Environment now a serious political issue
On one major point, self-serving though it may be, the Liberals don’t appear no have noticed that environmentalism is no longer the private preserve of the left. In fact, the whole notion is tied in with traditional “conservatism” back to the time of Republican Teddy Roosevelt. The first Federal Environment Minister was Liberal Len Marchand in the 70s, the first for a Province was Jim Nielsen of the Socreds in 1975. It was not until more recent times that the general public became truly alerted and alarmed. For the Liberals to have overlooked that in their early years might be understood, given their newness, bur how they could have continued that policy to the bitter end may account for that end having occurred. It was eloquent testimony to the stranglehold big money had on Ms. Clark and one can forgive all us Kinder Morgan foes taking a bit of whiskey usually beyond our means tonight!
I don’t think for a moment that Dr. Weaver’s anomalousposition as a Green can go unnoticed, but sooner or later – most likely later – his position on independent power producers will have to be reconciled with the general position of most British Columbians that they are an environmental catastrophe in addition to being financial disasters, with only the old Liberal hacks profiting handsomely.
Libs can still make trouble
Overlooked in these discussions has been the fact that the Liberals will have an extremely strong opposition and it will be well motivated, if only to make their opposition skills mask their appalling government. I have been in a government with a small majority and can tell you that the opposition can make governing extremely difficult if they understand parliamentary rules and procedures. They can also make new policies all but impossible. I do not believe this government can lastanything like four years and would be surprised if it went more than 18 months.
Every time a new government takes over from a government of long standing, the new bunch goes on ad nauseam about the mess they were left by their predecessors. In this case, that case is already made beyond any reasonable doubt, not by good NDP opposition but a vigilant private sector (and here’s where you act surprised, folks) who went largely unreported by the oil-stained media in constant genuflection to the government.
NDP inherit Liberal legacy of debt
Here’s part of the story. The provincial debt has, in real dollars, in 15 years of Liberal misrule in prosperous times times, doubled. In that same period, the “great Liberal money managers” all but bankrupted our great power company, BC Hydro, have left it not only without money but bound it to a $10 BILLION expense on Site C; have left ICBC on the ropes; have turned the provincial financial mainstay, natural gas, into a weird pipe dream now floating away into the great beyond, likely never ever to be seen again – called LNG. Were I a sarcastic person by nature – and heaven forfend I should ever be that – I would rejoice we have a trillion dollar Prosperity Fund, squirrelled away so skillfully it can’t be found, to tide us over until times gets better.
The chickens have come home to roost but, unfair though it is, they are no longer Farmer Christy’s responsibly. In fact, watch as these massive Liberal fuckups all become the NDP’s fault when they must be dealt with.
In short, the new Horgan government is going to be fighting for physical survival from the beginning and will be a pretty soft target for the Liberal truth-benders who, already at this writing, just a few hours after the deal was struck, are flooding the social media with gloomy predictions that businesses will be fleeing British Columbia, leaving the unemployed writhing, hungry in the streets.
We will soon see what sort of stuff Mr. Horgan is made of and my suspicion is that it is much sterner stuff than many, including myself, have projected. His principal tasks are two. First, the NDP must be much better prepared to meet the political bullshit that the Christy prevaricators will dish out starting in the first minute they’re in opposition and do so much better they did in 2001 when, contrary to the claims of new premier Campbell that the province was in a terrible fiscal mess,in fact the NDP had a left it with 1.5 BILLION cash in the bank.
The second and far more important task for Mr. Horgan will be to keep his cool. He is known to have a touch of volatility in his personality and while that sometimes serves one well in opposition, it’s very different in government where you must show coolness and firmness. The cabinet will mostly be rookies and be carefully led. I had lunch last week with a former NDP cabinet minister and agreed that the sooner a new minister learns that it’s a lot easier to run the government from the pub than the cabinet room, the better. Everyone arrives at their seat on Day One determined to cure the ills of government, only to find that it’s not quite that easy, as the government faces the reality of trying to make two dollars do the work of one.
It’s normal to close dissertations such as this with a pat on the back to the outgoing government, with words of bonhomie dripping from the lips. As someone who has, in Lyndon Johnson’s little aphorism, been inside the tent peeing out, and outside the tent peeing in, plus the passage of a lot of time, I tend to overlook these flattering obsequies, so my valedictory remarks can be summed up in two words: Good riddance.
There is no risk in transporting Alberta’s bitumen through our forests, over our rivers, past our sparkling, azure lakes, through our cities, into Vancouver Harbour, over the Salish Sea, past the Gulf Islands, through the Straits of Juan de Fuca. No risk involved at all, just an absolutely certain ongoing series of accidents, small, big and enormous just waiting to happenlike the flipped penny waits for heads to turn up.In fact, I can tell you after listening to companies and governments lie through their teeth for a great many years that there’s a maxim here, the origin of which is credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson but may go back further: “The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons” – freely translated, the more they downplay and minimize the consequences, the worse they’re sure to be.
Ms. Notley is afflicted with the same problem as Premier Photo-Op in our province – she finds it not just difficult to tell the truth when a big fat lie is available, but impossible. Christy is still lying through her teeth, strictly by accident of course, alleging that LNG is a less harmful fossil fuel to burn than coal, which, besides being untrue, is rather like the ad years ago that went, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”.
So let’s talk about that. Try telling the truth – it only hurts for a moment. Burned fossil fuels cause enormous, ultimately crippling damage to the atmosphere and, of course, our health. Not even kindly old Doc Weaver, who loves “run of river” and Independent Power Producers, would support burning LNG or bitumen – and he’s a climatologist with an infinitesimal sliver of a Nobel Prize to show for it.
Prime Minister Trudeau, Secundum, was once convinced that burning fossil fuels was terrible until he got urgent calls from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers after the Paris Conference on Climate – same guys who control Postmedia, Christy, and the oil-crazy BC Government.
What if BC shipped uranium through Alberta?
Ms. Notley, all that codswallop you’ve been barfing about one province not being allowed to stop another province from getting products to market went out with the Stutz Bearcat and the tricycle. You see, we’re not talking products like those back in the good old days of Sir John A, the National Policy and shipping wheat. Bitumen isn’t a product like wheat or pickled prairie oysters but a deadly additive to the atmosphere which, after we let you ship it over and spread ruin in our precious province, is thrust into the atmosphere by your customers and comes quickly back to poison us! Didn’t you know that Premier? And didn’t you know that the Tar Sands whence springs this shit are the world’s worst polluter?
You’re of the Left, Madam, and they’re supposed to care about pollution, destruction and death. Gross indifference as you are displaying belongs to Bay Street and their deadly deniers on the right, including their ambitious acolytes, the ever self-gratifying Liberals.
Here you are, Premier Notley, the caring champions of fair play and decency behaving like greedy, uncaring capitalist porkers at the altar of oil just like the good ol’ boys in the Petroleum Club, whistling past the graveyard, sipping single malt Scotch. Sorry for the naughty but so expressive word, but Rachel Notley, aren’t you fucking well ashamed of yourself?
Here’s a question for you, Premier: BC has scads of uranium. What would you say if we wanted to ship raw uranium down Jasper Avenue in Edmonton, down the South Saskatchewan River, en route to, say, North Korea, to be used – cross our heart and hope to die – for peaceful purposes. Hell, what about uranium to our friends and allies in the good old US?
You’d just as soon ship the stuff to North Korea, you say?
You have a point there Rachel. But seriously, what’s the difference between bitumen and uranium, save in degree and not much of that, only being that uranium may kill us a bit faster than Tar Sands gunk?. Let me put it to you this way – there’s no way in the world you would expose Albertans to death and destruction so that BC can sell uranium without any supervision of its use, yet you have no qualms making British Columbians handle your cannon fodder so Alberta can get rich selling bitumen to countries who will put as much of it as they wish into the atmosphere – and this doesn’t even raise a blush.
I guess it’s sort of like Church on Sunday, foreclose farms the rest of the week.
The pot calling the kettle black
What the hell, eh Premier, the constitutional lawyers at U of A support you, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers supports you, your customers in China support you and, of course, Trudeau the Turncoat supports you.
By the way, Premier Notley, when did Alberta become so dedicated to generosity in the name of patriotism?
When you were barely a teenager, I was attending myriad conferences drawing up the new constitution for the country. Most provinces, including British Columbia, believed that “have not” provinces like Atlantic Canada should get equalization payments from the better off, to give them a helping hand. Alberta? Their Ministers from the top down squealed like a piglet without a teat to suck and told poorer provinces, in patronizing terms, to manage their affairs more carefully like Alberta does – never mind that Alberta has all that oil.
Ah, yes, look at Alberta, once the miser, watching sister provinces eke livings from paltry resources, by an amazing conversion today the very soul of amicable sharing, now skulking about the portals of power with a dagger in one hand and a begging bowl in the other. I guess it all depends upon whose ox is being gored.
This isn’t the Canada I thought we were re-creating back in 1982. With all its flaws, I hoped we’d started down the road to fairness and respect. Now you, Rachel Notley – our own faithless government hoping for a share of your bounty – and Trudeau tell us that these new attitudes of respect and fair play for all, didn’t mean British Columbia, for heavens sake, and our love and respect for the land that we cherish is trumped by the Tar Sands, deadly pollution, environmental rape and the moneyed few.
Don’t be so cocky, Rachel Notley. We British Columbians, all the way from those who arrived today to old farts like me who were born here, are about to learn what we’re made of.
We didn’t ask to have to defend our home and integrity from attacks from you and big oil any more than we did when Brian Mulroney tried to foist further Central Canadian domination on us with Meech Lake and Charlottetown 30 years ago. Nearly 70% of us told Lyin’ Brian to get stuffed back then and I have the gut feeling we’re about to tell you, Trudeau, the oil industry and the rest of the elite the same.
You’re playing with fire, Rachel Notley, and, like Mulroney, you don’t understand that we have different values in what many call Cascadia – our land, trees, rivers, lakes and farms mean more than dollars; our Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet, Salish Sea, Gulf islands, Straits of Juan de Fuca, our entire magnificent coast up to Alaska, very much including our unique Haida Gwaii, mean a hell of a lot more to us than qualifying for Trudeau’s version of “good Canadians” by genuflecting before Alberta’s self-proclaimed right to place all that in jeopardy in order to get the Tar Sands into the atmosphere and the money into their pockets.
Premier Notley, You had better hope and pray that you don’t piss off the rest of British Columbians as much as you have me.