Category Archives: LNG

BC LNG: Boon or Boondoggle?LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) is one of biggest energy stories to hit Western Canada. It is promoted as a clean bridge fuel that will create thousands of jobs and turn British Columbia into a trillion-dollar global energy leader. The idea is to cool natural gas into liquid, so it can be shipped to higher-price markets in Asia. But is it really all it’s cracked up to be? And what are the trade-offs and impacts associated with LNG and the fracked gas that would feed it?

The Common Sense Canadian is your go-to source for in-depth analysis of the potential benefits and risks of this “game-changing” industry.

Reductio ad absurdum: Why we environmentalists are missing the boat with sham hearings, technical arguments


Reductio ad absurdum- Why we environmentalists are missing the boat with sham hearings, technical arguments

I have had the chance recently to sit back and look at what Damien and I and indeed others like Erik Andersen have written over the last four or five years on environmental matters and I wonder whether or not we haven’t fallen into the trap of debating serious social and safety issues strictly on the basis of technicalities. Governments and industry throw out statistics and we dutifully match those with some of our own while we are forgetting more important issues such as do we want pipelines and tankers in the first place?

From BC’s point of view – which is my home – there are two intertwined issues. I will be criticized no doubt for taking the BC point of view but why in the hell shouldn’t I if Christy won’t?

Democracy deficiency

First, I have no say in all this. I’m up against the federal government plus Victoria and hundreds of billions of dollars from them and industry to put their side of a debate I can listen to but not take part in.

Thus, my first point is that there has been, throughout, a democracy deficiency which makes a mockery of the word. It’s said, of course, that democracy is practiced on our behalf by the people we elect to the legislature and the House of Commons. Anyone with half a brain knows that that’s rubbish. None of the MLAs or MPs we elect have any more influence on these events than does a stray cat. If we can’t get our minds around that – if we cannot understand the truth of that, then we might just as well pack it in and accept whatever is meted out to us by our “betters”.

Phoney assessments ignore public

Let’s just look for the moment to two areas in greater Vancouver, Burnaby and Howe Sound. Have any citizens ever been asked to vote on whether or not they want either the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion or an LNG plant?

The honest answer is more than negative because instead of democracy, phoney assessment processes have been set up with an illusion of citizen participation – mockeries of justice.

We know that if authorities tell big enough lies often enough then people will believe them. As if that needed further demonstration, we have countless examples being bombarded into our lives every day.

Nothing to worry about

Let’s look at pipelines. The federal government particularly wants pipelines to the BC coast and in fact agreed with China that with the new trade agreement (FIPPA), one will be built. (I don’t remember being asked about that, do you?)

What about government’s obligation for our safety and well-being? They tell us over and over again that pipelines are safe and – this is good for a wry laugh – if perchance they do leak, why, they will do no damage because the company will clean it up in no time! The same about LNG tankers. Nothing bad can possibly happen and, again, even with some unbelievable bit of bad luck and something leaked somewhere, why the company and the authorities would have that out-of-the-way before you could say “Shazam!”

This means, of course, that there are no concerns about using passages like the Fraser River, Howe Sound, or Juan de Fuca because accidents can’t happen and, forgive the repetition, in the extremely unlikely event a tiny little one did occur, why, the authorities would have that fixed up in no time.

During the time of the more aggressive Enbridge debate a few years ago, over and over the company and politicians assured us that there was no danger of accidents with Northern Gateway and in the unlikely event…blah, blah, blah. The same time, we read on a daily basis what had happened to an Enbridge spill on the Kalamazoo River in Michigan. I was scarcely the only one to ask what the devil would happen if that kind of a spill occurred, say, in the Rocky Mountain trench or the Great Bear Rainforest.

A mathematical certainty

So, before I go further, I submit to you that the evidence is overwhelming on the subject of pipelines, oil and LNG tankers: The companies and governments simply lie through their teeth and are prepared to say anything, no matter how preposterous, to support their demand to use our land and safety for their profit.

In all of this, there’s a shining truth that cannot be denied. There will be accidents with pipelines and tankers as a matter of plain mathematics. It’s a statistical question – the law of probabilities. And the more you do something, the more likely a bad thing is going to happen. One of the major factors is, of course, human error. This will never be eliminated no matter how modern and computerized our activities become.

Therefore, let us take this as a given: pipelines are going to burst, tankers are going to hit things and on and on it goes, no matter what we do or the safety precautions we take.

If that point is made, the companies and the government barely pause to change gears as they go into their “we can fix anything” mode. It doesn’t matter that the Kalamazoo River is still full of Bitumen five years after the spill – why, spills can be easily handled. It doesn’t concern them that many of the locations are out of reach of help or, as we know from Kalamazoo, there isn’t really any help anyway.

Don’t forget Paris

There is a third string to the bow – according to all experts including those at the recent Paris Conference, we’re not supposed to be producing, moving and using this stuff anyway! These fossil fuels are the cause of our climate problems and our poisoned atmosphere. Why, then, are we going through these hoops to increase the use and transportation of the very thing that’s causing us all the trouble and that we have sworn to get rid of?

“No” means “no”

Now let’s get down to cases. I have no right to speak for British Columbians individually or collectively and I am not doing that. I am speaking just for me.

I don’t want any pipelines into British Columbia. Never mind why I don’t want them, I just don’t and insist upon my democratic privilege to stop them. Going further I don’t want them because they destroy the beautiful environment in which I have always lived and that I wish to leave to my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. I have no wish to screw up my homeland to make money for people who shouldn’t be trafficking in fossil fuels in the first place.

Having said that, I don’t want to take the risks that are associated with this industry. These are not fiddling little risks but enormous certainties. The tendency of industry is to expand, so the damage will expand as well. I don’t want to rely upon self-serving governments and industry telling me that they can clean things up as if nothing had happened when I know that’s bullshit.

I deny utterly the right of any other Canadians to put me, my family, community, and my environment at the certainty of ongoing disasters just so they can make money off something which is an internationally recognized poison.

Pipelines and fossil fuel tankers are ever-present, ongoing, serious dangers that contribute nothing but misery to the world at large.

I ask only that we treat these fossil fuels as we in British Columbia treat uranium mining and recognize that they are too dangerous to hand over into the hands of the greedy.

Prince Rupert at Risk- LNG tanker safety is the elephant on the water

Prince Rupert at Risk: LNG tanker danger is the elephant on the water

Prince Rupert at Risk- LNG tanker safety is the elephant on the water
LNG tanker (Photo: Torbein Rønning / Flickr CC Licence)

By Graeme Pole

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines due diligence as: “The care that a reasonable person exercises to avoid harm to other persons or their property.” As the debate on British Columbia’s proposed liquefied natural gas (LNG) industry enters its fourth year, it is past time to bring one aspect of that industry under scrutiny – the safety of people in proximity to LNG vessels and terminals.

Breaking all the rules

The default document on this topic is one created by the LNG industry itself. In 1997, the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO) published Site Selection and Design for LNG Ports and Jetties. The document is clear and succinct in describing how to enhance LNG safety:

  • LNG ports must be located where LNG vapors from a spill or release cannot affect civilians.
  • LNG ship berths must be far from the ship transit fairway to prevent collision, and since all other vessels must be considered an ignition source.
  • LNG ports must be located where they do not conflict with other waterway uses now and into the future.
  • Long, narrow inland waterways are to be avoided, due to greater navigation risk.
  • Waterways containing navigation hazards are to be avoided as LNG ports.

Anyone familiar with the marine approaches to Prince Rupert and Kitimat will be aware that to propose marine transport of LNG from terminals in those harbours violates all of the SIGTTO standards referred to above.

Prince Rupert at Risk

Although industry analysts agree that not all will be built, four large terrestrial LNG export facilities are proposed for the Prince Rupert area, along with three, smaller floating facilities. At full build-out, the large plants would generate 796 round-trip transits of LNG vessels into port, the smaller facilities 208. That’s almost three round-trips per day. In 2014, the Prince Rupert Port Authority reported that 494 vessels called at port terminals to take on and offload trade resources and goods, and that was a year when coal export was markedly down.

A typical LNG tanker in a harbour - larger than an apartment block
A typical LNG tanker – larger than an apartment block

Key concerns are not just that LNG export could triple industrial vessel transits at Prince Rupert, and that the BC government sees no harm in promoting that possibility. Vessels in the Q-Max LNG carrier class are 345 metres long with a capacity of 266,000 cubic metres of LNG, comparable in size to the large ships that now dock at the Fairview Container Port.

The potential tripling of marine traffic at Prince Rupert would principally involve extremely large vessels carrying a dangerous commodity in a confined waterway.

Russian Roulette

The likelihood of a breach to one of the five or six storage tanks on a typical LNG vessel – whether accidental or intentional – is low. It has not happened since LNG marine transport began in 1959. But LNG itself as a substance, through its manufacturing process and in its steady-state in storage, possesses innate hazards. LNG terminals and storage facilities have suffered catastrophic explosions.

As more vessels are added to LNG fleets, making more voyages into confined and treacherous waters such as found on BC’s north coast, the chances of at least an accidental breach in a marine setting will increase. World events of the past two decades indicate that the risk of an intentional breach cannot be dismissed. For the LNG industry to tout past “safe” performance as an absolute indicator of future probability is hubristic.

Cold Explosion

What would happen if LNG were to escape from a marine vessel storage tank? In 2004 and 2008, the US Department of Energy commissioned Sandia National Laboratories to find out. Sandia reported that an instantaneous fireball would not be likely. What would be more likely is a “cold explosion” known as a rapid phase transition. The temperature of LNG is -161.5°C. Escaping from a vessel, LNG would release a blast as it froze the ocean surface, then evaporate as it warmed and picked up water vapour to form a low, heavier-than-air vapour cloud that would drift outward. The larger the breach, the larger the cloud.

Outright ignition of regasified LNG would require it to mix with air in a range of 5 percent to 15 percent LNG. If this cloud of LNG vapour were to spread from a vessel or a terminal with optimal conditions for ignition, an aerial fireball would be possible. That ignition would typically “backtrack” from the spark to the source of the cloud. But with an onshore wind a fiery blanket could disperse over land. Sandia’s research suggested that typical aerial dispersal distances from a small breach would be 3050 m from a near-shore source, and 4600 m from an offshore source.

Hazard Zones

Courtesy of Eoin Finn / Wilderness Committee (click to expand)
Courtesy of Eoin Finn / Wilderness Committee (click to expand)

LNG burns at more than 500°C. Sandia’s reports described three zones of hazard around an LNG vessel should a breach occur with ignition. Within 500 metres of the vessel, death to all living things on the water, surfacing from the water, in the air, or on adjacent land would be likely. This could result from shrapnel, incineration, cryogenic freezing or from suffocation. Between 500 metres and 1.6 km from the vessel, these threats lessen but are still critical. Second-degree burns to exposed human flesh would typically result from 30 seconds of exposure.

Structural fires, grass fires, and forest fires would be ignited. Effects would lessen moving from 1.6 km out to 3.5 km, beyond which the hazard is considered negligible. In the US, these hazard zones have been embodied in regulations governing LNG facility location. It is also standard for LNG ports to have fireboats that are foam-capable, as use of water on an LNG-fed fire would exacerbate it.

Plotting the Sandia hazard zones along the shipping lane at Prince Rupert is informative. All human settlement in Prince Rupert, Port Edward, Dodge Cove, and Seal Cove is within the hazard zones. More than 13,000 residents are at risk, along with up to 3,000 people who may be visiting at any given time. More than 60,000 passengers depart the port on ferries and water taxis each year in these hazard zones.

If this information can be gleaned from reliable sources on the Internet (such as Government of Canada and Prince Rupert Port Authority websites), with distances confirmed using Google Earth, be assured that the BC government, federal government, and the LNG industry are aware.

In harm’s way

Fishing fleet at Cow Bay in Prince Rupert
Fishing fleet at Cow Bay in Prince Rupert

LNG vessels transiting to the proposed WCC LNG facility on Tuck Inlet (across Fern Passage from Seal Cove) would ply the length of the Prince Rupert Harbour shipping lane and its approaches. The Fairview Container Terminal is on the verge of the 500-metre hazard zone, as is a 4 km length of the CN Rail line. The Coast Guard base, City Hall and its Emergency Operations Centre, the Fire Hall and its 911 call centre, the Prince Rupert Port Authority with its Port Security Operations Centre and Emergency Operations Centre, the BC Ferries and Alaska Marine Highway terminals, the Via Rail terminal, the Seal Cove Coast Guard Search and Rescue helicopter base and BC Ambulance medevac base, and the RCMP detachment all lie within 1.6 km of that shipping lane. Prince Rupert Regional Hospital and the BC Ambulance station are on the 1.6 km line.

To cement brazen disregard for the SIGTTO guidelines, LNG vessels approaching WCC LNG would pass other LNG vessels berthed for loading at the proposed Aurora LNG facility on Digby Island, at a point where the navigable waterway is scarcely 1 km wide. They would also pass LNG vessels docked at New Times LNG and Orca LNG on the Prince Rupert waterfront.

Boston-bound LNG ships require armed escort

Boston is the only US city with an LNG facility. The Everett terminal in Boston Harbour imports LNG – meaning that vessels enter the harbour loaded and leave empty – the opposite to what is proposed for BC’s north coast. Typically, only one LNG vessel every eight days makes the trip to Everett LNG, but the stir that each passage creates is instructive in terms of appraising risk.

Tight security for Boston-bound LNG tankers
Tight security for Boston-bound LNG tankers

When four days from port, an LNG vessel approaching Boston must contact the US Coast Guard with a manifest and crew list. The Coast Guard runs checks on the crew. When 12 miles from port, the Coast Guard boards the vessel to inspect it and to begin surveillance to ensure that all other vessels keep 500 yards away. When five miles out, a pilot boards the vessel and four tugboats are engaged. Passage into port is only permitted in daylight and with clear visibility.

Five armed boats, two from the Coast Guard and one each from three police agencies, escort the LNG vessel into harbour. Law enforcement officers patrol all piers and jetties along the route, with a helicopter or two dedicated to observe from above. Bridge traffic over the harbour is halted as the vessel makes way beneath. Marinas are shuttered and guarded for 20 minutes before and after each transit. The security cost? About 80,000 USD per transit. The economic cost? Unknown.

Tight restrictions on lone Atlantic Canada import port

The Port of St. John, New Brunswick, is home to Canaport LNG, Canada’s only LNG import facility. Transport Canada has implemented Boston-like measures for LNG transits: mandatory security screening of LNG vessel crews; a “marine safety zone” of 0.5 nautical miles (926 m) around any LNG vessel; no anchoring within 1.5 nautical miles of an LNG vessel; and no overtaking of LNG vessels when they are underway in the harbour.

When an LNG vessel is offloading at Canaport LNG, a 620 m radius from the centre of the terminal is off-limits to all marine traffic except tugs and service craft employed with that vessel. Given the large “sail areas” of LNG vessels, the harbour master may consider other “special provisions” to accommodate them, or may order them to leave port when they are empty and it is windy.

Harper rejected LNG on East Coast

Lelu Island and Flora Bank - site of Petronas's controversial, proposed LNG terminal near Prince Rupert (submitted)
Lelu Island and Flora Bank – site of Petronas’s controversial, proposed LNG terminal near Prince Rupert (submitted)

In 2006 and 2013, the Canadian government rejected plans for LNG vessel transits through Head Harbour Passage and Passamaquoddy Bay, New Brunswick, to a proposed LNG facility in Maine. Describing those Canadian waters as “a unique and highly productive marine ecosystem,” the 2013 letter from the Canadian ambassador to the US Federal Energy Regulatory Commission summarized concerns related to “the environmental, navigational, and safety risks as well as the adverse economic consequences…”. Which begs the question: What is so different about the setting for LNG vessel traffic proposed for BC?

Although piloting will be required, Transport Canada has not announced its plans for LNG carriers on BC’s north coast. According to its website, the Prince Rupert Port Authority is considering implementing “safe transit zones” and “traffic separation patterns to define specific routes for specific types of vessels.” In other ports, separations of as much as an hour are required between LNG carriers and other watercraft.

What about other boaters?

Rafe- Woodfibre LNG opposition isn't NIMBYism - it's based on real fear
Photo: Flickr/KsideB

What if, as is likely, setbacks and separations are mandated around LNG vessels approaching BC’s north coast? For one thing, LNG plants with planned multiple berths (Aurora, Pacific Northwest, and WCC) would not be allowed to have more than one LNG vessel at dock. But of greater importance, with the possibility of three LNG vessels a day entering and three a day exiting the port of Prince Rupert, what would be the effect on BC Ferries, the Alaska Marine Highway, the airport ferry, the Metllakatla ferry, water taxis, commercial fishing (especially salmon and herring openings), tour operators, cruise ships, and recreational boating and fishing?

Why aren’t these potential economic impacts and inconveniences being weighed against the touted benefits of the LNG industry? Although the issue was raised by the public during “consultation,” why wasn’t the possibility of restrictions to marine traffic included in the descriptions of any of the proposed LNG projects? Is it because the backlash would be over public safety, not mere inconvenience? And who in government has investigated the insurance requirements for LNG carriers and ports? Each LNG vessel is typically its own limited liability company, flying a flag of convenience; its owners beyond the reach of law should calamity occur.

Practice what you preach

Last words on the issue of LNG marine safety and due diligence go to those responsible – industry and government:

[quote]Engaging with our stakeholders in open and honest dialogue is a critical part of the way we do business and essential in helping us to understand concerns, share information and build strong relationships. In carrying out these activities, we are guided by five principles: inclusion, respect, timeliness, responsiveness, and accountability. -WCC LNG Project Description[/quote]

[quote]If spilled, LNG evaporates into the atmosphere, leaving no residue on either soil or water. No environmental cleanup is required. -BC government website, LNG fact card #5[/quote]

Graeme Pole lives near another LNG “ground zero” – in the Kispiox Valley, near the route of the Prince Rupert Gas Transmission Project.

Rafe- Liberals' broken promises should make for a tough election year

Rafe: Liberals’ broken promises should make for tough election year

Rafe- Liberals' broken promises should make for a tough election year
Christy Clark being sworn in as premier in 2013 (Province of BC / Flickr CC licence)

This is the time of year and the point in the government’s mandate that analysis of the months to come is de rigeur.

Time will demonstrate that Christy Clark’s big mistake, when assuming the premiership, was not nullifying Gordon Campbell’s Energy Program which has, predictably, enriched large international corporations and bankrupted BC Hydro. Had Clark tackled this issue, with a courage of which we have seen no sign, restored BC Hydro’s obligation to make new power and abrogated the sweetheart deal with the private companies, BC Hydro would be in decent financial shape and site C would still be the pipe dream of pointy-headed BC Hydro energy assessors.

In over her head

Ms. Clark’s second mistake was seeking the premiership in the first place, it now having been clearly demonstrated that she had none of the necessary skills. Past premiers who’ve been able to operate with limited skills surrounded themselves with talented advisers who understood history, world affairs, and the psychology of the public. This the premier has clearly avoided.

The Clark government has been a calamity on social issues: education, welfare and health, with the Ministry of Children and Family Development being the most tragic. Given Clark’s record as education Minister, this is no surprise.

Christy Clark went into government with no discernible experience at anything, least of all business, spawning a culture of political and economic ignorance the likes of which we’ve never seen before, not even with the worst of the NDP daydreamers.

Christy promised the world…and couldn’t deliver

All apples went into the LNG basket. From the outset, expert after expert predicted precisely what would happen. This paper led the way, presenting experts from all facets of the worldwide energy business stating that if there were viable markets for British Columbia – a dubious proposition – we were too late, with too little and too far away. It seemed that every warning was followed almost instantly by a confirming news story. Rather than listen to honest experts she didn’t agree with, Clark chose international crooks who promised the mother lode of all riches.

Bad enough if the premier had simply said LNG was promising for BC but in fact she touted it as the only thing for BC and painted glorious pictures of a “Prosperity Fund”, all provincial debts paid, employment everywhere and a province whose financial troubles were forever behind them. Needless to say, it’s not easy to back away from such a promise.

Clark, with no experience at anything, has dealt with corporate giants, absent any advice except from flatterers who would profit at our expense, while her high-profile, voluble principal adviser, Rich Coleman, is a joke – unless you believe that one can jump from a cop car into the boardrooms of world business and make intelligent deals about international energy matters which confound the most experienced experts. This has been her largest political mistake and has removed the tiniest vestige of credibility from her and her party.

What’s the alternative?

Rafe- BCNDP convention shows they still don't get it
Leader John Horgan at BCNDP convention (NDP/facebook)

The Liberals’ only strength may be that nobody is ready to take over! There may just not be a government-in-waiting.

John Horgan made the fundamental error of supporting the government on their key policy decision, namely LNG. He has married the party to that issue from the moment the exploration for gas starts till the day the LNG tanker leaves our waters, thus has abdicated any right to criticize any part of the process.

As Lord Randolph Churchill famously said, “it is the duty of the opposition to oppose.” This is not an idle gibe but a sanctified political axiom. Under our system, the opposition, even though it may not have its heart in it, must always hold the government to account for every jot and tittle of its policy. If it doesn’t, what’s happened to Mr. Horgan and the NDP is inevitable – approving the government’s policy also means adopting all of its shortcomings, whether you like it or not. If anything goes bad, you’re stuck with it as much as the government.

NDP still has some cards it can play

Liberal cabinet members are, putting it kindly, nonentities, the exception being (perhaps) Finance Minister Mike de Jong who, since he went on that Asian LNG caper last summer to Malaysia, has carefully taken cover and artfully distanced himself from Christy and the Gumshoe. On the other hand, the NDP front benchers are better known, experienced and not without some ability. Mr. Horgan must find a way to use them effectively and get them better known.

The question is whether Opposition Leader John Horgan has the political balls to say something to this effect: 

[quote]Energy is the issue – clean energy. Fossil fuels are not only not the answer, they are the problem. We cannot meet our climate change commitments and still produce, use and export fossil fuels. We can’t have it both ways. It will take special effort, conservation, alternative and new energy sources. It means real sacrifice and dedication. We have no choice but to abandon make-believe, phony politics and bullshitting the public. None of us can claim any longer that there’s an easy way out, a silver or LNG bullet – that’s the past.

We thought LNG could benefit us all but we were wrong, as the Paris Conference recently demonstrated. John Horgan and the NDP stand for immediate, longterm, tough policies and, given a mandate, we will not waver.

We have no more time – there are no easy options left.[/quote]

How Horgan can win in 2017

Is this a dangerous position for John Horgan and the NDP to take?

Of course – all political positions are dangerous. People don’t like bad news. But this one has the huge advantage of being honest. Fossil fuels, global warming, atmospheric degradation, environmental protection and matters of that sort – things that seemed so airy-fairy less than a decade ago – are now front and centre in the minds of the public. Not all politicians have caught up to this, yet, to many campaigners in the recent federal election, the main issue on the front porch was the environment.

This tells me that Mr. Horgan can start again and that if he does, he can win in 2017.

If, on the other hand, he continues to drift and dream, he and his party will accomplish the impossible: running second to the worst government British Columbia has ever had.

BC's gift to the world- Premier Christy Clark

Rafe Mair on the perfect job opening for Christy Clark

BC's gift to the world- Premier Christy Clark
Premier Christy Clark, hard at work building an LNG industry for BC (Flickr CC Licence / Govt of BC)

I am a daydreamer who has had far too much time to daydream over the last months. I find I have brilliant ideas which seem fairly ridiculous once I move onto a new set of dreams, but every once in a while I find an idea which had merit that should have been explored. I’m also a political junkie and some people pay me to write or speak on this subject although, I’ve noticed, not so much these days as before.

A political issue of considerable note and worldwide import has crossed my febrile brain fairly often for last couple of years and it’s bothered me that no answers seem to pop out. Well, my skull gave me another brainwave as I bashed the hell out of it a couple of weeks ago and have been looking at a hospital ceiling much of the time since. Brilliant! And, you note, that this comes at Christmas time and the spirit of generosity fills the air as well as the tummy. Put all this together and I have this proposed Christmas present from British Columbia to the sports world, all but wrapped up and on Santa’s sleigh.

A star is born

We have a superior asset which many think has already been overused to the point that British Columbians are seen as selfish, something for which they’re not noted.

We trained this asset in school and she became an attendee at three internationally-known universities, although, for reasons known only to herself and her examiners, she did not graduate from any of them. Knowing, however, that genius called, she entered politics and, while accomplishing nothing, she did have the one thing politicians must have – timing.

In 2001, just as the NDP were gasping their last, our heroine, the Honourable Christy Clark, sought a seat in the BC legislature under the Liberal banner so sordid had the NDP flag become, even the Liberals looked good.

She got off to a flying start becoming the worst Education Minister in BC history, a list that includes Bill Vander Zalm. I’ll not trouble you with how she went from there to premier but in politics anything can happen and almost always does and that’s where she found herself.

Nothing discernibly adequate

In the years since, Ms. Clark has done nothing discernibly adequate, much less brilliant – except to display to all that we have a world-class incompetent leader.

Clark on a trade mission to India, praying hard for LNG deals (Flickr CC Licence / Govt of BC)
Clark on a trade mission to India, praying hard for LNG deals (Flickr CC Licence / Govt of BC)

I wouldn’t want it to to be thought that she doesn’t work at this because I have never seen anyone work harder at covering utter ignorance with smiles and photo-ops. Without knowing a single solitary thing about LNG – worse, everything she thinks she does know is wrong – she’s stamped herself as a world-class business class traveler to Asia and there’s scarcely a dishonest leader there that she hasn’t met and glowingly praised.

Ever mindful of the future, she has trained an ex-cop, likewise unsullied by brain or experience, to travel with her and demonstrate that he doesn’t know anymore than she does – not difficult to do.

The Peter Principle

Some complain that Christy and the gumshoe have no sense of humour but I think precisely the opposite is true. Just think of the hundred billion, or is it trillion, dollar Prosperity Fund she’s creating to finance our future fantasies! If that’s not high humour, what the devil is?

The famous Peter Principle states:

[quote]In a hierarchy, every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.[/quote]

Well, I think it is evident to all in British Columbia that premier Clark has rocketed right to the top of her “level of incompetence”, with scarcely a pause on the way.

The perfect job for Christy

Does this mean, alas, that there is nowhere for her to turn?

I didn’t think that there was, yet, while carefully regarding the hospital green on the ceiling the other day, it suddenly came to me! Eureka! After you get over your surprise, you’ll surely agree that I’ve discovered the ideal position for our premier in every imaginable way.

Sepp Blatter, through his own incompetence, has created the ideal job opening for Premier Christy Clark (Flickr CC Licence / PAN Photo)
Sepp Blatter, through his own incompetence, has created the ideal job opening for Premier Christy Clark (Flickr CC Licence / PAN Photo)

It requires not a soupcon of intelligence or intellectual curiosity. There’s no need to be overly honest – in fact the contrary is the case. No ability to lead is necessary – once the position is attained, all those who would like your job are too busy fighting over the scraps you brush off the table. The money is excellent, (none, going back to 1904, has failed to make piles for their pocket), travel exquisite, and, while one might think that the job is pretty boring, you must remember that our candidate brings boring to a level never yet approximated even in Sports history.

The position, now open to the public, (no previous experience necessary, just appropriate moral standards), is General Secretary of The Fédération Internationale de Football Association, the governing body of association football (Soccer), futsal and beach football, known as FIFA.

Job qualifications

I realize dear readers that I have painted a fairly sketchy portrait of what our Christy would be required to do as the world’s soccer czar – perhaps this short summary of “retiring” Mr. Blatter’s term will be of assistance:

[quote]After holding FIFA’s general secretary post for 17 years, Blatter eventually succeeded…as FIFA president in 1998, winning a contentious election against Lennart Johansson, who was then the president of Europe’s confederation, the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA).

Blatter has long been a controversial figure in the global soccer scene. Under his watch, the World Cup has grown into a multi-billion dollar event and has been held, for the first time ever, in Asia (2002 in Japan and South Korea) and in Africa (2010 in South Africa). At the same time, he has often angered his constituents with his remarks, such as when, in 2004, he suggested that female players wear “tighter shorts” to attract more male fans.

Reports have also for years linked FIFA, under Blatter’s leadership, with corruption, bribery and vote-rigging in conjunction with various internal elections and the awarding of hosts for the World Cup, including the 2018 and 2022 tournaments, in Russia and Qatar, respectively…[/quote]

I realize that giving Christy up to international sport is an act of considerable sacrifice and generosity. But we can do it, fellow citizens. After all, virtue is its own reward.

My only concern in making this recommendation is that premier Christy Clark may be considerably overqualified for the job.

Tsawwassen becomes latest First Nation to reject LNG

Tsawwassen becomes latest First Nation to reject LNG

Tsawwassen becomes latest First Nation to reject LNG
Tsawwassen First Nation (Photo: TFN)

Members of the Tsawwassen First Nation rejected plans for an LNG terminal on their lands near the ferry terminal 74-65 yesterday. “As a consequence of this result, TFN will not be moving forward with any additional discussion regarding this proposed LNG concept,” notes a media advisory issued by the band.

The plan in question was for an LNG plant, situated on an 80-acre waterfront plot designated for industrial use, that would have produced 3-5 million tonnes a year for export.

The vote saw just shy of a 50% turnout from TFN members, including some from off-reserve. Said Chief Bryce Williams on the result:

[quote]With today’s vote, TFN Members have made the decision that the proposed LNG concept on Tsawwassen Lands is not one they support, and therefore we will not be pursuing it any further.[/quote]

In his comments on CBC radio this morning, Chief Williams acknowledged that concerns over where the gas for LNG would come from and its impacts on northeast BC through the fracking process were a key factor in the community’s decision to turn down the plant.

The project would also have meant considerable noise and light pollution for the community, a flare stack several hundred meters high with the possibility of acid rain affecting local waters, shellfish, and agriculture, and the likely discharging of heated, chlorinated water into the surrounding marine environment. While electric power for the enormously energy-intensive cooling process had been floated by proponent FortisBC, the possibility of gas-fired generation to cut costs would have also meant significant air pollution for residents already surrounded by a coal port and shipping terminal, a ferry terminal, rail yards and trains.

The TFN join the Lax Kw’alaams First Nation, in northwest BC, who rejected an offer of $1.15 Billion in economic benefits in exchange for supporting an LNG terminal near Prince Rupert.

Tsawwassen LNG plant would harm Treaty 8 First Nations, northeast

Tsawwassen LNG plant would harm Treaty 8 First Nations, northeast

Tsawwassen LNG plant would harm Treaty 8 First Nations, northeast
Tsawwassen First Nation Chief Bryce Williams announcing LNG plans or his community

Will LNG proposals put coastal First Nations at odds with those fighting to protect land and water in Treaty 8 Territory?

By Kevin Washbrook

On an unusually chilly afternoon last month I had the opportunity to listen to Chief Liz Logan of the Fort Nelson First Nation and Grand Chief Stewart Phillip of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs at the Drums for the Peace Rally in front of BC Hydro headquarters in downtown Vancouver.  The Rally was held to mark the start of Treaty 8 First Nations’ federal appeals court case, which argues that the BC government’s approval of Site C Dam infringes on their treaty rights.

I was struck by the speakers’ determination to continue fighting Site C in court even as BC Hydro races to clear land for this destructive project.  It saddens me that Christy Clark would willingly sacrifice the traditional territory of Treaty 8 Nations, not to mention some of the best farmland in BC in pursuit of her government’s obsession with exporting LNG, but that afternoon I was buoyed by the resilience of these front line land defenders.  The fight against Site C clearly isn’t over.

Tsawwassen chief downplays LNG plant’s impacts

Premier Christy Clark and TFN Chief Bryce Williams get a tour of FortisBC's nearby Tillbury LNG facility upgrade (Instagram - FortisBC)
Premier Christy Clark and TFN Chief Bryce Williams get a tour of FortisBC’s nearby Tillbury LNG facility upgrade (Instagram – FortisBC)

Like many people, a few days later, I was surprised to hear Chief Bryce Williams of Tsawwassen First Nation announce a joint proposal with FortisBC and others for yet another LNG terminal, this one on Tsawwassen Nation treaty lands at Roberts Bank on the Fraser delta.  Chief Williams explained that he was neutral on the proposal and that it would be put to a community vote, but he also took effort describe the project as relatively low impact, including pointing out that the LNG terminal would be powered by electricity, and not natural gas, if it went ahead.

Cooling and condensing natural gas into a compact liquid for export is a very energy intensive process, so powering up this new LNG terminal would take a lot of electricity.  As I listened to Chief Williams I had to wonder, is this the LNG project that will make Site C dam inevitable?  And if so, how will Chief Williams and the Tsawwassen people justify that to the Treaty 8 Nations in Northeast BC who are fighting to keep it from being built?

Lots more fracking needed to supply LNG plant

When Fortis, the BC government and the many LNG proponents now active in BC describe their LNG proposals as “low impact”, they are talking about the LNG facility itself.  However, that LNG doesn’t come from nowhere.  If the Tsawwassen LNG proposal goes ahead it will require an enormous amount of natural gas from the fields of Northeast BC — and that demand will trigger more well drilling and more fracking, and contaminate more fresh water in Treaty 8 territory.

Listening to Chief Williams I was reminded of Dene-Cree lawyer Caleb Behn — recently featured in the movie Fractured Land — who, along with many others, is working hard to reduce the impacts from all the seismic exploration, roadbuilding, well drilling and fracking generated by the natural gas boom in their traditional territories in the northeast.

LNG industry’s inconvenient upstream truths

These upstream impacts are an inconvenient truth that LNG proponents don’t like to talk about when they pitch their proposals.  Thanks to a model developed by the Pembina Institue and Navius Research, we’re now able to produce a solid estimate of the upstream impacts of any given LNG proposal. 

The Pembina model says that over a 30-year period, sourcing natural gas to supply the the Tsawwassen LNG project could require more than 2000 new wells in northeast BC, could use more than 30 billion litres of freshwater, and could produce more than 11 billion litres of waste water.  The model also says that over that 30-year period the Tsawwassen project could generate more than 47 million tonnes of climate emissions during the drilling, processing and transport of gas to the LNG facility on the Fraser Delta.

On Wednesday December 16 Tsawwassen First Nations community members will vote on whether to move forward with their LNG proposal.  I have no doubt that Fortis and the other project partners are actively promoting the benefits that would follow from approval.  I sincerely hope that community members also have access to information on the upstream impacts that would be generated by that approval, so that they can make a fully informed decision on the project.

Kevin Washbrook is a director of Voters Taking Action on Climate Change.

Fed up with LNG, Kispiox residents band together to stop Petronas pipeline

Fed up with LNG, Kispiox residents band together to stop Petronas pipeline

Fed up with LNG, Kispiox residents band together to stop Petronas pipeline
Kispiox Valley residents at a recent gathering (photo: submitted)

A group of residents from the Kispiox Valley in northwest BC is vowing to stop a pipeline destined for Petronas’ contentious, proposed LNG plant on Lelu Island, near Prince Rupert.  “We tried working with the BC Government and the pipeline companies but they have ignored our concerns. Now it’s time to act together – as First Nations and non-First Nations, united,” says retired community development consultant and valley resident Gail MacDonald.

The group – made up of  doctors, farmers, loggers, farriers, nurses, business owners, and guide outfitters – was cemented at a December 3 gathering at the Kispiox Community Hall to discuss LNG projects, particularly that of Malaysian energy giant Petronas.

Work ramping up

Opposition in the valley to LNG projects has been galvanized by preparatory work for the pipeline that would feed the Petronas project, several hundred kilometres down the Skeena River, amid vital estuary habitat for wild salmon. The residents are dismayed by construction work in their own region, such as recent logging done for a work yard – especially since Petronas still lacks federal permits for its LNG project and no commitment has been made by the company to build it, with global LNG prices having plummeted to well below the profitability level.

“Residents were shocked to learn that while no LNG project has received a final approval or investment decision, the BC government has granted permits for pipeline work at several locations near their community and considerable work has already begun,” a press release from the group explains. “This has occurred without communication between the BC government and local residents.”

New statement follows unheeded declaration

This recent ramping up of the community’s resolve to stop LNG development follows a virtually unanimous declaration, signed by 150 of the valley’s residents last year.

“Our rural community is a proven model of economic and social resiliency, comprised of diversely skilled professionals, trades people, farmers, forest and resource workers, guides/outfitters, and creative and versatile entrepreneurs,” it noted.

[quote]We support common sense practices of conservative resource management, renewable energy production and use, agriculture as the basis of a strong local food system, and the long-standing wild salmon economy of our region…Therefore, we cannot stand by and allow any industrial presence, including oil and gas development, that would threaten or harm our values and responsibilities as outlined in this declaration.[/quote]

First Nations question unauthorized LNG deals

Chief Gwininitxw, Yvonne Lattie of the Gitxsan Nation questions the legitimacy of some of the deals being held up by industry and government as evidence of First Nations’ support for LNG projects:

[quote]Deals are being signed by a few Hereditary Chiefs but most of us don’t want this industry in our traditional territories. A Hereditary Chief does not have the sole authority to make decisions, as he or she has many house members who have a say on what happens in their traditional territories.[/quote]

Gilbert Johnson, a member of the local Kispiox Band, adds, “The BC Government is ignoring our concerns and has put oil and gas interests above the public interest. The corruption we’ve seen in their dealings with both First Nations and non-First Nations is staggering. We will not stand idly by and let this continue.”

Project faces multiple legal challenges

In addition to this newly formalized opposition from the Kispiox Valley, Petronas and its partners face challenges from a number of fronts, including court cases led by the Gitga’at First Nation, the Lax Kw’alaams Nation and the Gitxsan group known as Madii Lii. Members of both Madii Lii and Lax Kw’alaams are also maintaining resistance camps physically challenging pipeline and plant construction in their respective territories. Meanwhile, the Haida Nation has banned LNG tankers in their coastal waters.

Rafe: How does Oil-boosting Postmedia boss get into news Hall of Fame?

Rafe: How does oil-boosting Postmedia boss get into News Hall of Fame?

Rafe: How does Oil-boosting Postmedia boss get into news Hall of Fame?
Paul Godfrey (Photo: Samja Frkovic / Flickr – Victoria Rose)

In the news recently was an item about Paul V. Godfrey, C.M., the President of Postmedia, the largest newspaper chain in the country, owning some 15 papers in major centres plus a slew of community papers across the land. M. Godfrey has been admitted to the Canadian News Hall of Fame.

I have one or two questions for Mr. Godfrey, arising out of investigations I’ve been doing in recent months.

Mr. Godfrey, can we agree that Postmedia wholly owns the Vancouver Province, the Vancouver Sun, and the National Post, which circulate in Vancouver?

A question has occurred to me, Mr. Godfrey: Does Postmedia have some sort of deal with the Fraser Institute whereby you give that organization a great deal of coverage on almost every issue that deals with fossil fuels and the environment?

Now, a couple of years ago I would have been scared stiff to ask that question for fear of being sued for the inferences likely to be drawn from it. However, after the stranger deals of yours I have uncovered in the last few months, I realize that you are in no position to get too excited about questions along this line.

Nothing to worry about, says Fraser Institute

What piqued my interest recently was an article in the Vancouver Sun by the Fraser Institute assuring us that we had no need to worry about LNG tankers on our coast. The writer advised that the only major oil spill in the last 20 years was from a Ferry, not a Tanker so relax everybody.

I’ll not devote too much time to this absurd declaration but simply ask why the Fraser Institute doesn’t tell the whole truth and, secondly, avoids examining places where there’s a lot of tanker traffic, unlike BC where there is very little?

The fatal flaw in the Fraser Institute’s presentation comes in a few little words in one paragraph which talks about “The oil spills at sea”. This is similar language to what Woodfibre LNG uses, as does the self-declared expert – from the industry, I might add – Captain Stephen Brown.

The problem with this and similar pious declarations is obvious: Howe Sound, the Fraser River, Saanich Inlet, Strait of Juan de Fuca, Douglas Channel, Hecate Strait and so on are not at sea, or the high seas, in the words of WLNG’s Byng Giraud, and I would direct the learned gentleman to such places as the Bosphorous and the Dardanelles – to name but two places which more replicate what tanker traffic will face on the BC coast. Indeed, if the Fraser Institute would just subscribe to gCaptain (free) and read of regular tanker mishaps all over the worldn they might not spout such tendentious shit.

The question I ask Mr. Godfrey is:

[quote]Does Postmedia or any of its papers have a deal with the Fraser Institute similar to its one with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers? Or the formal partnership with Resource Works, the less than truthful advocate for Woodfibre LNG?[/quote]

Postmedia partnered with LNG lobby

My interest in this matter arose out of the partnership deal between the Vancouver Province and Resource Works. I admit my involvement – I, along with most citizens of the area, am vigorously opposed to WLNG.

When I read Resource Works’ mission statement and saw that the Province was a partner in their nefarious venture, I was horrified. This was so unethical and so contrary to the formal and informal principles that have always guided the newspaper industry that I couldn’t believe what I was reading. I must tell you, Mr. Godfrey, that when my findings were I printed here, the publisher Damien Gillis and I were concerned that it was some sort of strange mistake, even a hoax, and that we’d be sued. We took the chance – nobody else in the media was prepared to – and when no denial came from Postmedia or the Province, we had to assume we had struck paydirt.

Composite of Resource Works "Partnerships" page
Composite of Resource Works “Partnerships” page

In following through on this revelation, I discovered that the National Post, through its publisher, Douglas Kelly, had pledged its troth, in truly loving terms, to the fossil fuel industry!

Being a curious sort of bugger, I followed through and, lo and behold, came across the two agreements between Postmedia and the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), certified by documents. The first came by way of a Powerpoint-style presentation pitching Postmedia’s offer to CAPP for a nationwide editorial and ad campaign.  The presentation was leaked online, picked up by Greenpeace, then published by The Vancouver Observer last year. The other is a deal between the Financial Post and CAPP – freely available on parent Postmedia’s website.

I have repeatedly made these findings public – or as public as one can when no newspaper will print them – and in the absence of a denial from Postmedia concluded, hard as it was to believe, that these agreements were for real even though they demonstrate that Postmedia are little more than humble shills for the fossil fuel industry.

Bearing in mind that the Sun, Province and National Post, and a dozen other daily papers in Canada, belong to Postmedia and take their marching orders from you, Mr. Godfrey, it must surely be fair to ask: How can you defend managing your papers so as to burnish the image of the fossil fuel industry, of all groups?

This obviously includes avoiding stories which would be harmful to your partners in that filthy industry. When the fix is in, what the media does not report is even more important than what it does.

Special treatment for Fraser Institute

Perhaps there is no deal or nudge, nudge, wink, wink, understanding with the Fraser Institute. If that’s so, the question is obvious: Why do they get so much coverage in your newspapers and why don’t less right-wing think tanks get any, or at best very little? I guess you’d be pretty hypocritical to agree to brown-nose industry no matter how destructive they are and at the same time give equal time to those who care about sentimental things like the environment, the atmosphere and global warming.

Forgive a final question, Mr. Godfrey:

[quote]Considering your lovey dovey relationship with Resource Works and, even worse, with CAPP, and the journalist’s duty to report to the public free of any interest in conflict with that duty, aren’t you just a tad embarrassed at entering The Canadian News Hall of Fame?[/quote]


Fractured Land hits theatres

Making Fractured Land: Caleb Behn and Wade Davis (left) being interviewed by directors Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis (Photo: Zack Embree)
Making Fractured Land: Caleb Behn and Wade Davis (left) being interviewed by directors Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis (Photo: Zack Embree)

When I’m not wearing my Common Sense Canadian publisher’s hat, I’m making movies. For the last five years, one in particular, called Fractured Land – which examines the “fracking” and LNG industries through the eyes of a young Indigenous lawyer from northeast BC named Caleb Behn.

Caleb and his family graciously welcomed us into their world – one fraught with complex choices brought about by the energy and resources we down south, in the big cities, benefit from, without facing the impacts of the messy extraction process. Caleb’s world is an impossible balancing act – many of his family members work in the oil and gas industry but are deeply troubled by its effects on air, land and water, not to mention their traditional way of life in the Peace Valley and Fort Nelson regions.

Very early on in the creative process, we came to see the literal fracking of shale beds deep underground as an apt metaphor for what was going on inside people like Caleb, his family and community.

10 Vancouver screenings starting Friday

Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis at VIFF
Fiona Rayher and Damien Gillis at VIFF

Now, after a lot of hard work and incredible support from a large community of people, my Vancouver-based co-director Fiona Rayher and I are proud to share the 80-min documentary with audiences across BC and around the world. After six packed screenings on the Island and the Sunshine Coast over the past couple of weeks, we’re kicking off a 10-screening run in Vancouver this Friday, Nov. 20 (tickets to that first show are sold out but available for others).

This process began with a number of Canadian-based international film festivals in recent months – Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, and Toronto’s Hot Docs, where we world-premiered the film last April to a warm reception. We were delighted to introduce it to our home town at the Vancouver International Film Festival earlier this Fall, and humbled by the response, winning both the Best BC Film Award and the VIFF Impact Canadian Audience Award. Now, we’re taking the show on the road with screenings planned all around BC – see the full list here.

Drilling deeper

Much of the reaction to the film is based on the compelling character at its core and the fact that this is no typical “issue” or environmental film. It’s a story about a man who, while unique and exceptional in many ways, also personifies the struggles we face as a country – the push and pull between creating jobs and protecting what’s left of our natural world.

LNG & Fracking: Risky Business for BC
A drill rig in northeast BC

The medium of feature-length film afforded me an opportunity to delve into the sort of issues we discuss here at The Common Sense Canadian on a daily basis on a much deeper level – which is why I encourage our readers to catch a screening. The list below is just a starting point – we are planning many more for the new year, including a variety of panel discussions and q&a’s with the filmmakers and in some cases Caleb himself. We will also soon be unveiling a community screening program, enabling groups and individuals to host their own screening of the film in their community.

Special screening to feature Wade Davis

I’m particularly excited about our screening this coming Tuesday, November 24, at the Rio Theatre –  a terrific venue – which will be followed by a q&a with the filmmakers. Also, on December 1, we’ll be hosting a special screening with My Sea to Sky at the Kay Meek Centre in West Vancouver – featuring a panel discussion with celebrated author Wade Davis and retired KPMG partner Dr. Eoin Finn on the controversial, proposed Woodfibre LNG project. Then, we’re excited to take the film up north, to the communities along the proposed LNG pipelines and terminals who would be directly affected by our government’s LNG policy.

In addition to these theatrical screenings, the film has started to be broadcast by CBC’s documentary Channel (the first one was on November 8 – more to come next year), and will be carried by Knowledge Network down the road. I hope you’ll get chance to see the film and spend a little time in Caleb’s world – and, in the process, perhaps develop a better understanding of our own.

November and December Screenings

• Nov. 20 @ 8:30 PM: Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Nov. 21 @ 8:30 PM: Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC  (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Nov. 22 @ 8:30 PM: Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Nov. 23 @ 4:45 PM: Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Nov. 24 @ 7 PM: Rio Theatre, Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Nov. 25 @ 6:30 PM: Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Nov. 26 @ 1 PM: Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 1 @ 6:30 PM: Feat. Wade Davis @ Kay Meek Centre, West Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 3 @ 8:15 PM: Vancity Theatre, Vancouver, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 6 @ 7:00 PM: Lester Centre for the Arts, Prince Rupert, BC  (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 7 @ 6:30 PM: Roi Theatre, Smithers, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 8 @ 7:00 PM: Gitanmaax Tri-town Theatre, Hazelton, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 9 @ 7:00 PM: Mount Elizabeth Theatre, Kitimat, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)

• Dec. 10 @ 7:00 PM: Sportsplex Banquet Room, Terrace, BC (purchase tickets, get more info)


Rafe- BCNDP convention shows they still don't get it

Rafe: BCNDP convention shows they still don’t get it on LNG

Rafe- BCNDP convention shows they still don't get it
BCNDP Leader John Horgan at the party’s recent convention (NDP/facebook)

Political pundits are busy analyzing the recent NDP convention and I can tell you it’s easier to interpret the entrails of a rooster. Conventions organized to look like sunny expressions of the party’s solidarity and readiness for an election usually disguise more than they reveal.

What this NDP clambake tells me is that the party is sick to death of leadership fights and “the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t” – a highly dubious substitute for skill and character.

The good news first

Starting with the good news, the party caucus has done a decent job of exposing government malfeasance, in the health and the email scandals in particular, and demonstrating the general incompetence of the Premier and her cabinet. (Not too tough considering how willingly they do that on their own.)

Unfortunately for the NDP, history tells us that these sorts of issues don’t have “legs”. When it comes to election time, the public has different considerations; from experience they expect government misbehaviour and only want to know what will happen to their pocketbook in the next four years. Election after election has proved that.

It’s also true that parties tend to lose elections rather than win them and the Clark/Coleman government, now old and corrupt, is ready for a rest – a long one. A permanent one, in my view.

Why back LNG?

To take advantage, the Opposition must look like a government in waiting. If, however, as we have just seen in the recent federal election, voters want rid of a government badly enough, they’ll say, “they can hardly be worse than this bunch” and overlook opposition inexperience.

It’s foolish in the extreme for an Opposition to rely on this happening, yet Mr. Horgan, in his keynote speech, said nothing about the environment and showed no inclination to back off the party’s idiotic, wholehearted support for LNG. If this remains NDP policy, it will offer the atrocious Clark/Coleman bunch a lifeline because voters do care about these issues and before you write Premier Photo-op off, remember Mair’s Axiom I: “You don’t have to be a 10 in politics, you can be 3 if your opponent is a 2.”

Whether or not Mr. Horgan realizes it, LNG will be an issue in 2017, much including the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant. The Horgan-led NDP has badly let down those who expect that an Official Opposition will ask some basic questions about controversial and dangerous mega-projects like this one. WLNG is not a NIMBY issue at all but a real and substantial danger to life and limb, not to mention to the environment of this beautiful fjord.

Howe Sound belongs not to those who live near it but to all British Columbia – it’s a jewel in the provincial diadem. Thanks to a lot of volunteers particularly, Howe Sound has nearly recovered from decades of dirty industry; the herring and salmon runs are returning to what they once were, sea mammals, including several types of whales, are back, as are seals, sea lions, and even porpoise. It is incredibly beautiful and unspoiled even though next to a metropolis. I would have thought that not even the most cynical politician would place all this in jeopardy without at least asking a few simple questions of the government. I was obviously wrong.

Woodfibre gets a free ride

There’s the appalling environmental assessment pantomime which the government relied upon to approve WLNG with very significant aspects of the proposal not properly canvassed.

Before getting to the basic environmental questions, I must ask Mr.Horgan why he has never questioned the Clark/Coleman government about the integrity of Woodfibre LNG?

It’s owned, as most now know, by a crook from Indonesia best known for paying a $200+ million fine for evading taxes; for burning down jungles; and brutally evicting people who may be uncomfortably in the way of his plans. He’s not hard to investigate, Mr. Horgan, so why don’t you want to know why the Clark government is involved with this sort of man in an operation of this magnitude?

There’s the question of the plant itself, the pipelines involved, the safety of converting natural gas into LNG, the disposal of waste – especially warm water – the impact on marine life around Squamish, which is becoming increasingly important. All the normal environmental concerns and questions the citizens of Squamish and surrounding areas want answered were sloughed of or ignored by the ersatz environmenal assessment “process”.

Mr. Horgan, why won’t you, as Leader of the Official Opposition, on behalf of all British Columbians but Squamish people especially, carefully examine the Clark/Coleman bunch on these critical issues? Isn’t that your job?

Tanker danger

Then there’s the question of transportation of the LNG by tankers down Howe Sound itself. Here, in a nutshell, is the explosive (sick pun intended) issue.

The Society of International Gas Tankers and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO)* – the acknowledged world authority on LNG issues – has set standards for the LNG tanker trade. SIGTTO’s #1 and overriding criterion is that there is no acceptable probability of a catastrophic LNG release, i.e. the only acceptable probability is ZERO.

On the critical issue of separation, Sandia International Laboratories has defined for the US Department of Energy three hazard zones of 500m, 1600m, 3500m surrounding LNG tankers. The largest, a circle of 3500m radius, centred on the moving ship, represents the minimum safe separation between tanker and people. Other LNG hazard experts say at least 4800m is a more realistic minimum safe separation.

Plainly – and you need only look at the chart – Howe Sound is far too narrow. Surely that in itself must be fatal to the project!

Isn’t the safety of Howe Sound, extending to western West Vancouver, even worth a question to the Premier, Mr. Horgan?

Let’s just sum up what you evidently see as unwarranted whining, Mr. Horgan.

1. The owner of the company we must depend upon for taxes and royalties, plus caring of our delicate environment, is a big-time tax evader with an utterly appalling environmental record.

2. The people of Squamish and surroundings, facing the immediate consequences of any environmental “accidents”, are asked, and arrogantly expected, to accept a phoney environmental process, where the “fix” was in from the start, and which gave Woodfibre LNG the patented Christy Clark corporate whitewash. They would have been more honestly dealt with by a denial of process than by a process reminiscent of a Soviet Show Trial.

3. The most disastrous consequences to be feared are from a tanker mishap, which, mathematically, is not a possibility or even a probability but a certainty – merely a matter of time. This time will clearly be abridged by an utter lack of concern about internationally-recognized rules re: hazard and separation zones yet, Mr. Horgan, you haven’t uttered a peep to the government about this critical issue!

NDP ignores call for help

We’ve asked for NDP help, yet on these issues, of so much concern to so many of your fellow citizens, the Official Opposition, including you and your MLAs – because of your blanket approval of LNG – has been as scarce as a tumbler of Glenfiddich at a temperance meeting.

Is this the care you will show for British Columbians if you become premier?

Yes, the sunny simpleton and her trained seals now running the province must be replaced, but with the likes of you, sir? A man lacking the political or moral courage to help citizens threatened by crooks, environmental rapists, and tanker disasters, as our Premier? A Leader of the Official Opposition who doesn’t understand his duty? A man who imposed a catastrophic LNG policy on his party because he’s afraid of losing a couple of seats where highly destructive and dangerous fracking is prevalent?

God forbid!

BC deserves the Green Party or a new party representing the people of the province, not just cheerleaders led by a political sissy. But time is short, with just a year and a half left for serious contenders to get their asses in gear.

*WLNG claims that because they are members of SIGTTO that their plan is safe. This is corporate bullshit. Membership does not imply let alone confirm compliance and, indeed, anyone reading this can join SIGGTO as an associate member – which is all WLNG is!