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.
Like a large number of people in the WestVancouver- Sea-To-Sky constituency, I am breaking the usual rules – I want the NDP to form the next government but I am passionately opposed to Woodfibre LNG which the NDP candidate supports. If I were to support her, my neighbours, with every justification in the world, would lynch me, as I would them were they to vote NDP.
Protection of Howe Sound is a huge issue and while our very strong position should, one would think, bring major party support, not so. This isn’t a NIMBY issue but a dedication to save BC’s most southern fjord and one of the worlds great natural beauty spots now recovered from past industrial waste thanks in large measure to citizen measures. Howe Sound, with its killer whales, humpback whales, salmon, herring, seals, sea-lions and other sea life back, is seen as a British Columbia treasure to be protected by all decent British Columbians.
Overall, I’m supporting the NDP
This is the 3rd election where I’ve publicly supported the NDP. I am still asked, weren’t you a Socred minister, an oppressor of the working folk and a greedy capitalist lining his own pockets at the expense of the poor?
Minus the hyperbole, yes. I ran for the Socreds in 1975 and again in 1979, won both elections, and spent over five years in the cabinet. During that period Premier Bill Bennett fully supported me and my deputy minister, Tex Enemark, as we modernized BC’s antediluvian consumer laws, completely overhauled the liquor laws, established the hugely successful cottage wine industry, and forced Chartered Banks, who claimed exemption because they were federally chartered, to obey our laws. When I moved to Environment, I negotiated with the City of Seattle, stopping them from raising the Ross Dam and saved our beautiful Skagit River from ruin, stopped the killing of wolves – which enraged all ranchers, nearly all of whom were Socreds – and, to the outrage of the mining industry, placed a moratorium on Uranium exploration and mining. As Health minister I brought in Homecare and Palliative care.
I assure you I relate all this only to show you my personal experience with the bad, old Socred capitalist pigs and tell you that under the present Liberals, such radical socialistic notions wouldn’t have stood a chance.
What’s really happened is that public attitudes towards former “lefty” issues like the environment, health, social services have changed dramatically and are no longer the private preserve of the left. At the same time, the heirs to the deceased Social Credit Party, the BC Liberals, have lurched to the right – far to the right of the Bill Bennett Socreds – while the NDP cast aside the old time rhetoric and stopped scaring people in the Centre. The Green Party has, sadly, moved from true Green to playing political spoiler hoping to win a balance of power.
Clark’s Keystone Kops have to go
Let’s get down to cases.
I frankly cannot understand how anyone would want another four years of the gross incompetence and lack of truthfulness that we’ve endured since 2001. In my opinion, the Campbell/Clark bunch is the worst government I have ever seen in this province. The massive Keystone Kops bungling of the LNG mess in itself should be enough to see the back of them for quite a while. It all was so reminiscent of Peter Sellers and a Pink Panther classic farce. The Liberals’ 16 years are unblemished by a single success story.
What sticks out, however, is the good economic situation they inherited and the bloody awful mess they are leaving. They have doubled the provincial debt in 2016 $ and have so mismanaged BC Hydro that it’s a corporate tragedy that truly beggars description. The Independent Power Policy has been a huge political pay-off to wealthy supporters, all at the expense of the Public. The lingering memory I carry is of a premier whose mind is seldom, if ever, troubled by telling fibs, from small to big.
It may well be, of course, that many of you really don’t place clean government very high on the list. I happen to think it’s essential to good government. Perhaps the Liberal endemic dissembling comes from the docile unto supportive media, but that scarcely justifies the Liberal government under both Campbell and Clark – particularly the latter – being incapable of telling the truth. I’m not interested in perpetuating that sort of leadership.
LNG is NDP’s weak spot
The situation on the Kinder Morgan line and similar environmental intrusions by the federal government themselves are enough for me to vote for someone else. When it gets to BC Hydro and Site C, I run the risk of being rude by saying I can’t understand how anyone could vote for a government involved in such preposterous policies.
Yes, I support the NDP, with considerable reservation, which is dwarfed, however, by the brutal inadequacies of the Liberals – combined with their corruption.
Horgan has produced an idiotic policy of favouring LNG without any criticism and that has taken away a number of opposition opportunities, including the one in my riding, but elsewhere too.
No politician with half a brain would have said, “We can’t be against everything, so we’re for LNG” – a preposterous proposition when you think of it. The reason you are for a policy isn’t because it’s a good one but because you can’t be against everything! It wasn’t necessary that he be opposed, just committed to an open inquiring mind judging each proposal on its merits. In taking the position he has, Horgan has foreclosed some of the serious issues concerning LNG, such as fracking, for example, or discharges into the air or waterways, or tanker traffic, as in the case of Howe Sound, which, by every standard imposed, is too narrow for tanker traffic. As I write this, the polls show a small Liberal lead has overtaken a large NDP advantage, which may reflect a public not satisfied that Horgan has their confidence to even be more competent than Clark!
Horgan still the best choice
For all that, politics is a comparative game and compared to the record of the Campbell/Clark government, particularly the financial wreckage they have piled up, with his shortcomings, to me John Horgan still looks like a much better choice to lead the province.
The Green party has been disappointing in my view. I find myself very attracted to the green concept and can only wish that my advice to Elizabeth May had been followed and that she had taken over the BC party, but that was not to be.
Dr. Weaver’s position on so-called “run of river” and IPPs has been so non-green as to disqualify him in my view from that appellation. He has done well in the debates and the party has gone from being one of principle to one of grabbing for seats, hoping to gain a place in a coalition government.
A disappointing campaign, all around
I must say that this entire campaign has been very disappointing in too many ways. The Liberals have not made any effort to justify their record, the NDP have shown very little ability to restore confidence and bring us a competent government and the Green party have switched from being idealists to opportunists.
I close very simply by saying one must deal with that and if one is adult, under these circumstances there is absolutely no way they could support a dishonest and utterly untruthful government.
I understand that politicians have been known to gild the lily on occasion. A certain amount of wriggle room between truth and falsehood is traditionally accepted. But with this premier it’s well beyond a joke. She seems temperamentally incapable of telling the truth and I’m not prepared to vote for such a person.
I’m not so naive as to think that political supporters don’t get perks or that if you’re bidding on a government contract, donations aren’t helpful. But this government, with its policy of Independent Power Producers, has taken graft to a new level and has all but bankrupted BC Hydro, doubled the provincial debt and ruined the jewel in our corporate crown. Are we to overlook this?
Finally, let me dispel two myths. The Liberal government is only not lying when they talk about balanced budgets – because no one likes to use that word but it’s as close to lying as “damn” is swearing. Ask yourself this: The government has gone further into the hole by $71 BILLION in the last four years – how in hell can you do that with balanced budgets?
Easy – don’t put the bad stuff like BC Hydro or ICBC into the budget balancing game! Their losses are part of the huge provincial debt but, using the old adage “figures don’t lie but liars can sure as hell figure”, you can work miracles with a balance sheet.
Given the fiscal catastrophe created by the Campbell/Clark government and their lie-infested corruption, I consider they have forfeited any right to a position of public trust.
The NDP are inexperienced in leadership but not in government, with a number of MLAs who are clearly Cabinet material, some with cabinet experience. If they do no more than restore truth and integrity, support of Horgan and Co will be worth it.
As an old friend used to say when wondering about taking a chance and approaching a comely lass, “what the hell, take a chance…Columbus did”.
As the faux populist facade fades and the new reality show “Trumplandia” begins to emerge from the ruins of the Democratic elite’s embrace of hedge funds and wall street masters, one thing is crystal clear: Big oil and gas is now in the driver’s seat and Trump is just a hollow front man with a small army of propagandists and zealots hellbent on reshaping the world.
In Trumplandia, Hillary’s replacement for Secretary of State is none other than the CEO of ExxonMobil, Rex “don’t frack my backyard but yours is fine” Tillerson.
Such a raw front bench display of state capture by this industry is remarkable, especially after having been subjected to a so-called populist campaign full of “I feel your pain” rhetoric designed to appeal to the bottom half of the American populace who have been cut loose by the major parties and no longer have a voice.
Masters of the Universe like Tillerson have dominated the globe by crushing and fleecing nations, people and the environment. As a result, anyone expecting something other than a petro-dictator in the Secretary of State’s chair is clearly detached from reality. See Canadian Arch Conservative David Frum’s ominous warning outlining how the new Trump Administration will set the world on fire in a relentless bid to establish The Donald as the richest most powerful autocrat on earth.
Why this matters to BC
The current government hung most of its political capital in the last election on developing a new LNG industry. With grand designs to shoot from nowhere to first and compete with Qatar and Australia, the BC Liberals embarked upon an ambitious agenda scouring the coast for any exploitable opportunity to set up shop and fleece BC of its stash of gas.
Most of the plays are riddled with shenanigans and BC Liberal insiders as the now retiring Energy Minister himself claimed, “There is lots of wheeling and dealing going on behind the scenes.”
Since the last election, BC has been mired in conflict as Clark’s oil and gas agenda set about a process that many claim is akin to legalized bribery, or in the least a good old fashion greasing of the skids.
Much of the enabling deals have been done with untold millions of taxpayers’ dollars. Though the agreements with relevant First Nations and stakeholders are not publicly available, it does not take long for one to realize that the fleecing of the BC Taxpayer by this industry is already well underway.
In so doing, Clark simply adds insult to injury. Such bald faced lies and politicking with taxpayers dollars is nothing new for the BC Liberals, but Clark has brought the thing to a whole new level.
Clark’s Crony LNG capitalism hurts communities
One of the most audacious LNG proposals being stick-handled by the Liberals’ former Attorney General Geoff Plant is the Vancouver Island play, Steelhead LNG, that would see both a floating LNG terminal and a huge land-based terminal straddle the entire southern Island with a pipeline that, after coming under the ocean from the US, would make its way from Brentwood Bay to Sarita Bay.
And the proposal comes with all the trimmings of any major oil and gas initiative. Community infiltration, data mining and surveillance of stakeholders both for and against, as well as the typical onslaught of petro-propaganda. In addition to, “legalized bribery,” add community unrest, controlled opposition and political infiltration.
The Island is no stranger to fleecing by major industries, however the oil and gas agenda playing out in BC is unprecedented and its implications will alter the very fabric of Island communities by putting us on a path we have never before traveled.
How Trumplandia threatens Clarklandia’s LNG plans
A quick google of “Trump LNG” reveals the following headlines on the first page of results:
When asked in November if Trump would deliver for his coal company supporters and look to exporting LNG rather than displacing domestic coal power generation, his response was “What is LNG?”
While this clearly underscores the notion that he is simply a front man, void of any real understanding of domestic energy complexities, let alone the very real and strategic geo-political implications, he has stacked his deck with energy zealots who do. That said, we can glean from his “America First” rhetoric some potential outcomes.
In order for him to deliver for his coal supporters and the domestic natural gas industry, it’s very likely Trump will pursue both with great vigour, as the more LNG exports the US embarks upon, the less potential for domestic displacement of coal-generated power.
If Trump decides the US should be the top LNG exporter, as one of the above headlines claims, then LNG in Canada will be officially on notice, and the audacious Steelhead proposal for Vancouver Island would be the first on a very short list for the Trump Administration to review due to the fact they intend on exporting American gas through Canada.
Softwood & LNG: BC’s low-hanging fruit for Trumplandia
The Steelhead proposal, much like the Softwood Lumber Agreement, is low-hanging fruit in the new Trumplandia. No doubt, both are up for review in a bid to reflect the strongman’s election rhetoric and “prove” that he was right about how all the countries are “ripping off America” and “stealing good jobs.”
Cracking down on softwood and LNG would fit The Donald’s political persona to a T. They are also deliverables he could manage in fairly short order, just as we have seen with his approval of both Keystone XL and DAPL through executive order.
This is very important to consider, mostly due to the fact that Russia is obviously more influential in the new Trumplandia. Putin would clearly prefer North American gas be exported to places like Japan versus Eastern Europe or even China.
Indeed, with the deathblow Trump delivered to the TPP, he clearly intends on renegotiating trade deals and that will be the death knell to some LNG proposals in BC, as Japan (and even Petronas from Malaysia, who has traditionally supplied Japan) had hoped to secure our gas resource for generations with the TPP deal.
But The Donald is having none of it – no more “dumb deals!” Instead, Trump is just gonna one-off nations with bi-lateral agreements designed to deliver for Americans. And that is where your softwood lumber fleecing kicks in and LNG development in BC is threatened.
All of this runs up against the Clarklandia fairytale of a BC First LNG utopia, or even a restoration of the moribund forestry industry, as no doubt The Donald would rather see America continue fleecing us of our resources and exporting them from the US so he can deliver on his jobs and prosperity promise.
Clearly, this new realty is finally settling in among Clarklandia cohorts. Clark, who first dismissed The Donald’s influence over the BC Economy, softwood lumber and things like LNG, recently flip-flopped and it’s now her “first priority” to set up a dream team to deal with The Donald.
This could include a new office in DC for Clark’s newly-appointed Trump Czar David Emerson, or maybe even in the Trump Towers in a bid to get his attention and ensure the Trump Train does not displace her government’s economic prosperity mythology with the new and brutal America First reality.
Oil and gas, forestry and other cross-border trade relevant to the success of Clarklandia are all up for grabs. And this is where it gets tricky.
Does The Donald care about Clarklandia’s economic mythology or her re-election? I doubt it, but no doubt Clark and her party’s rabid right-wing core have some appeal as they have handed the Republicans Billions in the past by dismantling Forest Renewal BC and sending those Billions – that once stayed in BC – over the southern border, which helped fund the re-election of the likes of George W Bush.
So when one considers the billions of dollars up for grabs with trees and oil – and now the new play with gas – one understands why the current Clark Liberals are very interested in sitting down and striking a new deal with The Donald that will see our resources fund his re-election campaign, like her predecessor Gordon Campbell did with the “W.” All in a bid to continue BC Liberal rule of this province and avoid the wrath of an America First protectionist president.
If the dream team is successful in their bid to hold power, the ‘Wrath of The Donald’ will most certainly be delayed until after the re-election of the BC Liberals in May, but after that, all bets are off.
When Justin Trudeau talks of oil pipeline projects as part of an energy transition, what exactly is he talking about?
That we will be on the path to reducing our dependency on fossil fuels by increasing our oil dependency in the short term? And that by immaculate conception we will reduce these very same dependencies over the long term? Supposedly, we will switch to a green economy sometime between now and when we are all dead, with the help of Adam Smith’s “invisible hand”.
Green is the future for jobs
When the Trudeau government repeatedly indicates we can grow the economy while protecting the environment, it knows full well that it is reinforcing the myth that the resource economy is about economic development and protecting the environment represents a cost. Journalists and most of the general public, who know nothing about green economics, can identify with this myth. This, despite the fact that the green economy offers better economic development models than the traditional resource economy model in terms of job creation.
If Trudeau was serious about working on a transition now, he could pursue his stated inclinations on the international scene to re-direct Canadian subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. For example, he could encourage, among other things, the diversification of the Alberta economy, and the Western Canadian economy in general, to join the global migration to the high-job creation, high-growth, green economy.
Corporate welfare for fossil fuel sector
The International Monetary Fund has estimated that the direct and indirect subsidies for Canadian fossil fuels work out to $46 Billion/year in US 2015 dollars. Reallocating these subsidies to help Western Canada catch up in the migration to the green economy would offer a more sound path to the country’s future prosperity
The pipeline capacity numbers speak for themselves – namely that we are headed in the wrong direction. The Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain project would increase the capacity of that pipeline from 300,000 barrels/day to 890,000; Enbridge Line # 3 would be doubled to 760,000 barrels/day and Keystone XL is set for Canadian and US approvals to carry 830,000 barrels/day. Energy East has not as of yet been approved, but Trudeau has claimed that opposition to the 1.1 million barrel/day Energy East pipeline is not based on science.
Stars aligned for green economy
Science is telling us that to avoid catastrophic climate change, 80% of known fossil fuel reserves must remain in the ground. The 100 megatonne ceiling that Trudeau likes to brag about as an example of putting limits on tar sands development will increase tar sands emissions by 40%.
The time is ripe for beginning the transition because solar and wind have come down so far in cost that they are often cheaper than fossil fuels. China, the world’s largest energy consumer, has figured this out and continues to set the pace for the rest of the planet with a $361 Billion commitment to renewables in its 5 year plan for 2016 to 2020.
Shells leads way diversifying into clean tech
Somehow, it is the oil giants themselves who have come to the realization that they will have to diversify if they are to avoid being left with large volumes of “stranded assets.” Fitch Ratings have gone so far as to forewarn that the oil companies will have difficulty gaining access to capital if they do not diversify into renewables.
Shell gets it! Shell has successfully won a bid for the 630 Megawatt Borssele 3&4 zone offshore wind project off the coast of the Netherlands. Shell’s chief energy advisor claimed “the penny has now dropped that this is the new business space.” Thus Shell will be more active in offshore wind in 2017, currently eying offshore tenders in Germany and the UK. Shell is also planning to divest from the tar sands. Norway’s Statoil has already done it.
France’s Total has ambitions to be a top-three solar player within 20 years after taking over battery maker Saft and having bought out a majority share in SunPower.
Dong of Denmark is divesting from petroleum and has become the world leading investor in offshore wind with 4.4 GW of offshore wind projects presently under construction off Europe’s coasts.
Cleaner cars en route
This brings us to the matter of the transition in the transportation sector. At this point, the US automakers, such as the CEO of Ford, Mark Fields, are gearing up to tell Donald Trump that the current US automobile fuel economy standards – which incrementally become more stringent through to 2025 – will cost US jobs and raise the average cost of vehicles. But the rest of the developed world will continue to require that the industry dramatically reduce its emissions.
A Morgan Stanley report projects that electric car sales will represent 10% to 15% of vehicle sales by 2025. This is less than Volkswagen’s projection of 20% to 25% of sales for the 2020 to 2025 period but nevertheless reinforces the growing consensus that the tipping point favouring electric vehicles will come in the 2020-25 period.
In effect, Fields is conveying half of the truth. That is, the vehicle manufacturers are investing in getting more efficiency out of the internal combustion engine, something which adds to the manufacturer’s costs. But the other half of the truth is that they will reach a point where investing in electric vehicles will be the more cost effective way to reduce vehicle emissions. This is what can be appropriately called a transition, as opposed to the Trudeau version of the word, which calls for more petroleum production.
No business case for new pipelines
Stanford University’s Tony Seba predicts that the falling costs of electric vehicle technologies will contribute to oil becoming redundant by 2030. That translates into a too-short life span for tar sands pipelines to be an acceptable economic proposition.
Further on the Fields argument on the cost of change, innovation should be regarded as a normal cost of doing business because the alternative is that of no improvements and being outclassed by one’s competitors.
The increasing cost of new vehicles has little to do with fuel efficiency improvements and more to do with consumers buying more fully-equipped vehicles for both comfort and entertainment; the shift away from cars to the high-profit margin light duty trucks and SUVs in particular; and automakers’ increasing pursuit of the higher end luxury market.
The reality is that Canada can support a more aggressive transition to zero and low-emission vehicles with standards more stringent than those of the US federal government. In doing so, the Government of Canada could join US states and the Government of Quebec, all of which have taken a different path than that of the US federal government.
Enough of Trudeau’s greenwashing
We could agree with Trudeau’s greenwashing line that we need to engage in a transition and that we can develop the economy while protecting the environment. But the transition needs to begin now to guarantee the economy of tomorrow. To do this we need a green economic development model.
Forces at play suggest there will continue to be significant advancements in the global migration to a green economy.Trudeau and Trump are rowing against the current.
Despite Trudeau’s continued focus on tar sands extraction and limiting provincial action on climate change; despite Trump’s obsession with fossil fuels – coal in particular – the US and Canada will be swept up in these global green economy currents.
One can be understandably be pessimistic with Trump’s appointment of climate change deniers to his Cabinet.In Canada, there are also grounds for pessimism given Trudeau’s recent track record, including:
Approving or backing the Kinder Morgan, Line 3 and Keystone XL pipelines, plus two BC LNG plants – Petronas and Woodfibre – and BC’s Site C dam
His favourable view on the Energy East pipeline, to the effect that he said that opposition to this pipeline is not based on science
A razor-thin climate plan, stemming from the agreement with most of the provinces
This means it would be very difficult to meet even the Conservative GHG reduction target, one now adopted by the Liberals and calling for a measly 30% yearly GHG reduction in 2030 relative to 2005 levels
His heavy reliance on carbon pricing, despite the fact that, as a stand-alone measure, this is not likely to be very effective – especially with low oil prices and the low carbon price proposed
Confirming in his 2016-17 Budget the National Energy Board’s (NEB) role for environmental impact assessments for pipelines
His plan to modernize the NEB subsequent to a 3 year-long process entailing advice from a panel of 5 people, 3 of whom are close to the oil and gas industry
On the issue of over-relying on carbon pricing, two provinces come to mind. First, BC has a $30/tonne carbon tax, but the government is quite comfortable with the Petronas-backed Pacific Northwest LNG facility and the $6 Billion Pacific Trails gas pipeline to connect to BC’s northeast shale gas to the LNG facility.This project alone would raise BC’s emissions by 6.5 to 8.7 megatonnes/year or an 8.5% increase in GHGs/year.
The current Quebec government is also favourable on Energy East.
And yet…renewables are now cheaper than coal
Let’s take a look at the emerging energy landscape in the US.
Trump’s rhetoric aside, the falling cost of renewables will make it hard for Trump to give full priority to fossil fuels in the electricity sector.Since 2009 in the US, the cost of solar has been cut by nearly half and wind has fallen by two thirds.Solar and wind installations are now cheaper than coal in many parts of the US. This trend is exemplified by the fact that99% of new US generation capacity in the first quarter of 2016 was represented by renewables, 64% from solar. For the year 2016, renewables will likely account for two thirds of new capacity.
As a result, there is now 20 gigawatts (GW) of wind capacity under construction in the US, or in an advanced development stage, which will ultimately raise the US total wind capacity beyond its current 75 GW.What Trump will not be able to ignore are the 88,000 jobs in the US wind sector, especially the 21,000 jobs in US wind tech manufacturing.
This reality undermines Trump’s ambitions for revitalizing the industry with “clean coal.”Not only has the popularity of renewables and natural gas resulted in the producers of 45% of the country’s coal output havingfiled for bankruptcy, but also the least expensive, least costly and easiest to mine US coal sources have beenfully exploited, making a return to the good old, cheap coal days unlikely.Against this backdrop, 11 GW to 14 GW of US coal capacity went offline in 2015.
Further on Trump’s promise to bring back coal jobs, these new economics had the US solar sector adding more jobs in 2015 than the US oil, gas and pipeline sectors combined.
And despite Trump’s rhetoric, he will not be able to counteract the global implications of China, the world’s largest energy consumer, which continues to shake up global energy economics with its massive investments in renewables and its war on coal.Not only has coal dropped from 80% of China’s electrical generation sources in 2011to 70% in 2015, but the projections are that by 2025 coal will represent just 55% of China’s electricity mix.
With the 2 principal consumers of coal, China and the US, at the precipice of massive declines in demand for coal, the International Energy Agency is projecting global coal demand to stagnate over the next 5 years.
Also on the global scale, emerging economies are giving priority to solar energy.Auctions in Chile and India have had solar coming in at half the price of coal power.Accordingly, the amount of solar PV added globally is likely to exceed wind capacity additions with as much as 70 GW installed in 2016, compared to 59 GW of wind.
But the most significant cause for optimism lies ahead, with the shift towards low and zero-emission vehicles being imminent.This has major implications for future oil demand, since the transportation sector represents 55% of global petroleum demand.
With respect to the vehicle manufacturers, it is not just that Volkswagen has announced an investment of $11 Billion in a battery manufacturing facility or its projection that 20% to 25% of its sales will be electric during the 2020 to 2025 period.Many vehicle manufacturers are actively preparing for the introduction of low and zero emission vehicles. Ford, Hyundai-Kia, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, Toyota and Volvo, all have ambitious plans for a wide range of electric and plug-in hybrid models by 2020.
Concurrently, the entry of electric trucks into the marketplace will also make a difference.
China’s electric vehicle-leading enterprise, BYD, will soon triple the 400 employees at its e-bus manufacturing facility in California to make trucks, as well as more buses.Canada’s Lion Bus, manufacturer of electric school buses, will be adding class 5, 6, 7 and 8 trucks to its lineup.Mack Trucks is working in collaboration with Wrightspeed to produce an electric garbage truck and Tesla has added trucks to its Master Plan.
European automakers are also getting into the act.In November, 2016, Daimler, BMW, Ford and the Volkswagen group (the latter includes Audi and Porsche) signed a Memorandum of Understanding to set up a fast Combined Charging System to cover common long distance travel routes in Europe – 400 station locations in all.The development of the network would begin in 2017 and the goal will be to have thousands of fast charging points on the continent by 2020.Other partners/manufacturers would be welcome to join the network. These fast charging stations will offer up to 350 kW of power, compared with Tesla’s fast chargers, which deliver 120-135 kW.
The Combined Charging System will be complemented by Hubject,a cross-provider, cross-border e-Roaming platform that connects 40,000 charge points worldwide.Charging point locations, availability and payments will be possible with the one application. The application is backed by a European consortium that includes Volkswagen, Daimler, BMW and Siemens.
Going one step further, the EU recently approved regulations that all new and renovated homes and apartmentsmust have charging stations in place beginning 2019.
On the downside, Trump may weaken or eliminate regulations for the vehicle manufacturers to improve their respective corporate average fuel economies.That said, the global government policy momentum and global private sector competition among the world’s vehicle manufacturers will ensure a progression to low and zero emission vehicles regardless.
Canada and the US will have to change
Currently, the global supply of petroleum on the market exceeds global demand.This is the result of a flattening of demand, combined with an abundance of new supply sources, due in part to the production of US shale oil, together with existing tar sands exploitation.
Not surprisingly, Dinara Millington, Vice-President of the Canadian Energy Research Institute, echoes the end of the era of exponential oil demand growth by pointing out that the decline oil prices is a reflection of thecollapse of the traditional supply-demand model. The demand has not materialized to accommodate increased supply in international markets.
Also a liability for Canada’s tar sands, Canada’s bitumen is a lower quality oil which only US Gulf Coast refineries are capable of handling.The result is Canada’s bitumen will acquire a lower price in European and Asian markets than conventional supplies.
Trudeau on wrong track
The pending decline in the appetite of the transportation sector for petroleum combined with the unstoppable momentum of the global green economy, indicate that Canada, with its big push on pipelines, is on the wrong track.
The Trudeau’s continued focus on pipelines and resource economy means it is unlikely that Canada will achieve even the poor Conservative GHG reduction target it has adopted.This is sad since there are 6 to 8 times more jobs per government investment unit created by investments in green jobs than from funds sunk into the traditional resource sectors.
Case in point: Quebec’s electric vehicle sector is not on the federal radar screen.(This sector includes 2 battery manufacturers; work underway on the development of a super battery; 2 charging station manufacturers;a developer of an electric motor wheel; an electric school bus manufacturer which plans on branching out into truck classes 5 to 8; a manufacturer of an urban transit electric bus soon to be included in a pilot project in Montreal; and several research facilities)
Whether they like it or not, the above facts mean that Trudeau and Trump will soon be forced to adjust their respective mindsets to address the emerging global green economy.
Allow me to introduce myself. I am a lifelong, pretty old British Columbian who loves his province with the same passion I’m sure people in Trois Rivières love theirs. Your inferential calling BC’s patriotism into question because we will vigorously oppose your approval of the Kinder Morgan pipeline demonstrates clearly that you’re quite unable to understand this, your connections to BC notwithstanding.
There’s a sense that British Columbians think that because they’re different that “different” means “better”. That simply isn’t so. What we cherish is our distinctness (a word I use advisedly). When BC is included in the term “The West”, we bristle because we are indeed a very separate region but also because it does a great disservice to our neighbours to meld them into a fictional, however convenient, sameness as us.
Let me tell you a personal anecdote. I’m a writer who’s written 11 books and God only knows how many columns. For many yearsI wrote for the Financial Post and during that time, perhaps 20 years ago, I was offered a column with the Toronto Globe and Mail to be called “The View From The West”.
I protested that this would be badly received because I didn’t live in the West but on the Pacific Coast. I told Sarah Murdoch, the editor, that people in Brandon, Saskatoon, and Lethbridge would be justifiably outraged that I pretended to speak for them and theirissues, as I would be if they spoke for mine.
Your decision to support the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the horrific Site C Dam demonstrates that in spite of your connections to this province, you don’t come close to understanding this – or you understand it perfectly but, for strictly political reasons, choose to ignore the inconvenient truth. More on that point later.
Sir, may I suggest that you read The West Beyond The West by Dr. Jean Barman, professor emeritus, Department of Educational Studies, at your old alma mater and mine, the University of British Columbia. Dr. Barman, a Winnipegger by birth, came to British Columbia many years ago and, like so many converts, became more devout than the natives. This highly readable book is a fascinating history of how this province really came into being, which was quite unlike Ottawa’s more preferred, vague version and I can assure you it contains much that will surprise you considerably.
Let’s deal with one area that you should know about. There are close to as many First Nation tribes and discrete languages here than in the rest of the country combined. I was surprised indeed to learn from Grand Chief Ed John that while he couldn’t understand the language of the nation next door, he could understand the Navajo in New Mexico. Our ignorance of First Nations is astonishing, except how could it be different when my generation were only taught about Iroquois, Algonquin and Hurons, not Salish, Secwepemc or Musqueam. This not terribly subtle effort to “Ontario-ize” English speaking Canada has been energetically applied in BC and just as energetically resisted. It spawns resentment, not national unity.
I don’t pretend to speak for all British Columbians but I believe, based on a long and multifaceted experience – including being a BC cabinet minister responsible for constitutional affairs – that there’s a general defiance in BC towards unfair treatment of their beloved province, endemic to Ottawa from the beginning. You may well see that defiance in action.
I need only point to federal fisheries policy going back to 1871, continuing to this day with Atlantic salmon farms. Science, always brushed aside by the highly politicized Department of Fisheries and Oceans, has demonstrated that fish farms containing the alien Atlantic salmon carry, multiply and spread disease to wild Pacific salmon. They also propagate sea lice that damage and often wipe out wild salmon runs. This redounds to the enormous disadvantage of First Nations who rely upon wild salmon for food and ceremony, not to mention the damage to the commercial industry and sport fishing sector.
Your government, Mr. Trudeau, persists in defying science and not only permitting Atlantic salmon farms in BC, but promoting them. The Pacific salmon is, for us British Columbians, Prime Minister, our symbol – our icon. And you want us to believe that you really give a damn about BC?
Let me put it plainly – are the Tar Sands of Alberta really more important than the renewable salmon from which so many British Columbians derive their daily bread, prosper and enjoy as sports people?
Mr. Trudeau, a question: As Canada’s prime minister and grandson of a former fisheries minister, can you (without peeking or prompting) name the seven species of Pacific salmon (8 if you count Asia) and tell us which five are commercially caught? What about your fisheries minister? How about your cabinet ministers?
The ignorance in Ottawa of the Pacific fishery – what it is, where it is and where each species spawns – goes back to 1871 and gets worse by the year. This appalling ignorance is part of Ottawa’s built-in lack of concern about the discrete character and makeup of this province and its people who love it so much.
This symbolizes, sir, the difficulties between our province and your autocratic attitude, as evidenced by the Kinder Morgan decision.
Let’s get down to cases. This is our home.
The land between the Tar Sands in Alberta and the ocean is extremely important to us, not only economically but as part of the ecology we have learned, often the hard way, that we must protect. Oil spills on land are permanent disasters because, even if they are reachable, bitumen is virtually impervious to clean-up. In the ocean, they are far worse. I urge you to spend a moment of your valuable time examining the spill in the Kalamazoo River six years ago which still hasn’t been cleaned up and never will be. In spite of the mindless blathering of our premier, there simply is no such thing as a “world class” cleanup that works on bitumen.
Like people everywhere, British Columbians had to learn environmentalism. This took time, a lot of effort, careful and often hard to accept education and a great deal of political shifting to decide that you couldn’t chop down all the trees, dam all the rivers and clog up the inlets with garbage. We discovered that the extraordinary beauty with which we, and I might add the entire country, were blessed with did not last without considerable, care, cost and sacrifice.
This is our home every bit as much as where you live is yours, Prime Minister, and we don’t intend to allow you or anybody else to damage, much less destroy it. I believe that the vast majority of British Columbians would endorse that statement and stand behind their province with every effort available to them.
This nonsense that bringing 400+ tankers laden with bitumen, plus many more with LNG, is of little or no consequence is, frankly, pure barnyard droppings. The constant statement by industry that that accidents are extremely unlikely, or if they do happen, they will be quickly cleaned up, is typical corporate bullshit from Kinder Morgan, and the people of British Columbia know it and will fight it desperately.
The Laws of Probabilities tell us that there will be serious accidents in Burrard Inlet, Howe Sound, Saanich Inlet, the Salish Sea and any of a number of passes, including Juan de Fuca. Moreover these explosive, poison-laden vessels won’t cease being a threat when they are outside the inner waters into the Pacific coast. Youhave to know what we’re dealing with here, Prime Minister – a substance which simply cannot be cleaned up.
Let me close with this. We will fight for our homes in the Peace Valley, which I’ve only touched upon, but you’ll soon know a lot more about that very grave issue. We will battle for our homes and safety on the coast. We will put up one hell of a fight.
What have you won if, through the enormous advantage you have, you beat us down? Think on that Mr. Trudeau.
Will Canada be a better place if, by force, you compel the Province of British Columbia, to facilitate the full exploitation of the Tar Sands of Alberta, the acknowledged worst polluter in the world, make the wealthy wealthier, save the political bacon of Premier Notley and give your party lots of Alberta seats?
The fossil fuel industry will be better off, as will Premier Notley, and so will you. But will Canada be better off with a badly alienated British Columbia – an alienation which will increase every time there’s a tanker collision or an oil spill?
British Columbia didn’t provoke or ask for this fight, Prime Minister – you did, and whatever defence you may mount, or noble motive you preach, the evidence will shine through that you and the Liberal Party of Canada had a substantial interest in the outcome.
That, sir, will be your everlasting legacy – not just to this province, but to the country.
Beyond doubt, British Columbia must get involved in two separate and substantial actions of civil disobedience, one with Site C and the other with the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline.
Civildisobedience runs against the grain of many people but I beg you to hear me out because we have reached the point where there is nothing left for our free society to do if it seriously wants to maintain any semblance of that freedom.
Let me state a critical axiom of democracy: It’s not important that those who dissent get their way but what is critically important, fundamentally important, is that they get to be heard in a meaningful way. The moment people are denied the right to speak their opinion freely and with a clear opportunity to convince the government that they are right, there is no democracy left but only a sham dictatorship of the elite.
Let’s examine our system and see if we meet that test and use the Kinder Morgan pipeline decision as the example.
British Columbians, I think it’s fair to say, are vehemently opposed to this; what then is the answer Premier Clark and Prime Minister Trudeau would give to those who complain that they cannot get a hearing that matters?
Why, they would be told, you have both the legislature and the Parliament of Canada and all you need do is persuade 50% +1 of either of those bodies and your complaint will be satisfied. It is at this point that I have a lot of trouble containing my anger.
We’ve been told a lot of rubbish, starting in childhood. I did a paper on this so-called system of “responsible government”, which paper has been highly praised by people who understand government. It’s easy to understand – you will be appalled at the simplicity of the methods used to steal away your democracy.
In the last federal election, it was impossible for any British Columbian to elect an MP who opposed the Kinder Morgan pipeline because the leaders of both the Liberal and Tory party supported it. Every Liberal and Tory MP were bound by party discipline to support the leader’s policy or be thrown out of caucus and the party. Think about that. Their judgment on this issue was already made for them. Even if the leader waited until after the election, his decision was also automatically that of all his MPs.
The fix is in
Now, if I am right that a majority of BC citizens oppose Kinder Morgan, of what use was their parliament? Their concerns would never be discussed, much less voted upon. Even if the Opposition were against the project, since no government MP would dare vote against it, the entire process becomes a sham, a make-believe debate and a vote where the fix is in. In fact, no longer can government be bothered and cabinet endorses the deal behind closed doors.
Since the BC government has always been in favour, over 4 million British Columbians have turned its forests, rivers, streams, land, coastline, marine line and public safety over to the tender mercies of the fossil fuel industry without any say in the matter!
And somehow it would be undemocratic to say “fuck you, we’re going to stop you, without using violence, from ravaging our beautiful province”?
In a nutshell, it’s lawful to be a thief and unlawful to try to stop him!
Media part of the problem
We are in a very different world from that even a few years ago. The people have caught onto big business and big government and know they’ve have been lying through their teeth for years. It’s taken a while but voters now realize that their vote really doesn’t mean much. Capital now owns governments – one only has to look at the situation in British Columbia to see how the fossil fuel-dominated media has not only supported the industry’s actions but meekly supports the lickspittles that make up the government. As long as the government behaves and does as it’s told then the muckrakers confine themselves to accepting large fees for making speeches before gatherings of friends of the government. It has become a pathetic sight, especially for a former cabinet minister like me who still bears the justifiable scars inflicted by Jack Webster, Marjorie Nichols, Jim Hume, Pat Burns, Gary Bannerman, Allan Fotheringham, Jack Wasserman, and the like, upon whom the public could rely to keep our feet firmly to the fire.
With respect, you the public must ask yourselves what you will do where there is an absence of any legitimate democratic process, where there is no place you can effectively voice your concerns and where the media won’t do it because they, the government and the domineering fossil fuel industry are all on the same team.
I have no hesitation in concluding that civil disobedience, properly exercised, is the only tool left to the voter to replace the meaningful vote they are supposed to have but have been cheated out of.
I listened to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on CBC with Rick Cluff this week and must say she said nothing to give me cause to change my mind on Kinder Morgan. To the contrary, I asked myself how could she be so indifferent to the problems 400-plus tankers a year full of bitumen would bring to the BC coast.
I have a lot of trouble with the Trudeau/Notley attitude because the position British Columbians take is so obviously rational and natural. Just why people in the rest of Canada can’t understand eludes me. Wouldn’t they protect themselves and their homes?
Clark cutting a deal for BC?
The light went on when premier Notley talked about Christy Clark trying to make a deal with Kinder Morgan for money, saying that she understood that they were pretty close.
Of course! Clark, being a far-right-wing airhead (forgive the redundancy) has never concerned herself with the impacts all these extra tankers plus would have on our coast.
It would never occur to her that the colossal damage done by the inevitable spill would be permanent. It would never cross her mind that a simple understanding of the law of probabilities tells you accidents will happen over and over again and that, given the filthy natureof the cargo of these tankers, the damage is bound to be extremely serious. If these things don’t bother her, why would others care?
I dare say that if you mentioned Kalamazoo to Christy Clark, she would immediately think of the old Glenn Miller song of the 40s;it wouldn’toccur to her that it now signified the worst pipeline spill in history, six years ago, which has never been cleaned up and never will.
If the premier of our province is not telling other Canadian leaders how serious the Kinder Morgan issue is to her province, then the press, such as it is, won’t pick up the story and all people east of the Rockies will have read is Gary Mason in the Toronto Globe and Mail.
Horgan ready to make Kinder Morgan an election issue?
Until very recently, John Horgan, leader of the BC NDP has been waffling, so any who gauge the opinion of a province by the pronouncements of their politicians would conclude that it was only a small group of crazies that were opposed to this pipeline. Somebody has obviously had a word with Mr. Horgan and he now realizes this is an issue upon which an election might depend. He’s seen the error of his ways and is now enthusiastically opposed.
The result of this misrepresentation of our general position makes us look bad in the eyes of other Canadians who simply don’t understand what our problem is. Although it is difficult for me to keep my cool on this subject I will try to put this in clear terms.
Public opposition based on common sense
Other Canadians must understand that the case against a multitude of bitumen loaded tankers on the BC Coast has never been stated by the government for the people. Quite, the opposite: the BC Liberal Government went as far as to sign away the province’s constitutional authority to represent its constituents on this matter, through a controversial “equivalency agreement”, which we’ve documented in these pages. Thus, it has been left to private individuals and groups. This is taken to mean that the environmentalists are hysterical and the government is calm and accurate.
In fact, environmentalists have all of the science as well as common sense on their side and, importantly, the law of probabilities. When you have this many tankers constantly using water ways such as exist in the routes out of Vancouver through the harbour and all of the channels involved, the law of probabilities says there’ll be more accidents as this traffic increases, as it surely will.
What’s worse, the bitumen cargo ensures that an accident will have very serious consequences, especially near populated areas. Added to to this, Mr. Trudeau has approved an LNG plant near Squamish, sending tankers loaded with LNGthrough Howe Sound to meet with the tankers coming from Vancouver. Mr. Trudeau chose to overlook the fact that even by standards of the tanker industry organization,SIGGTO, Howe Sound is far too narrow for the necessary tanker traffic. He doesn’t give a damn and neither does careless Christy.
It must also he understood that clean-up is a very iffy proposition. Both Kinder Morgan and the government play down the frequency and seriousness of spills and their inability to handle them, but they don’t mention that bitumen is impossible to clean up under the best of circumstances. I mentioned the Enbridge spill in the Kalamazoo River in 2010 and if one takes a moment to Google this tragedy, they’ll learn how catastrophic bitumen spills are, even when easily accessed.
Fellow Canadians, this is merely a thumbnail sketch of the consequences of the Kinder Morgan proposed pipeline extension.
Bad deal for BC
Now, here is the deal proposed to us by Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley:
Alberta gets to fully reopen the world’s biggest polluter, the Tar Sands, and ship its shit through BC by pipeline and then, by some 400 and ever-increasing bitumen tankers a year, ship it through the hazardous Salish Sea (formerly Straits of Georgia) to foreign markets. It bears no risk and neither do the Feds.
For its part, BC stops complaining about statistically certain ruptures in the pipeline and statistically certain bitumen spills on their coast with the calamitous consequences they bring, including the safety of citizens, and agrees to support the pipeline and bear the damage.
That way, we’re advised, both Albertans and British Columbian will then be good Canadians.
Well, Madame Premier and Mr. Prime Minister, in the politest phrase I can think of, get lost. Don’t go away mad, just go away.
Neither the Kinder Morgan line, nor any other, is going to get built, next year or any other year. We have the inherent right, like all good Canadians, to protect our homes from any outside threat and that sure as hell includes the Tar Sands.
Mason gives Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson hell and by extension all of us the same for being overly proud and concerned about our coastline and other beauties we cherish. He tells us about the unemployment in the oil patch and tough times in Newfoundland and Labrador and praises Justin Trudeau for his decision on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the strong implication being that this was in the best interest of all Canadians and therefore it didn’t matter if it was distinctly not in the interest of some of them.
We selfish British Columbians
The, dare I say, majority of British Columbians are bad Canadians because we are not prepared to sacrifice our coastline, homes, fjords, mountains, forests, rivers, farmland, lakes and oceans so that Alberta can reinvigorate the Tar Sands, the world’s worst polluter, and send its, forgive me, shit through our province, into our ocean and destroy what we hold dear.
Mason glosses over the environmental disaster that Alberta’s Tar Sands are. It’s evidently an act of patriotism to get it up and running again so that Alberta will be rich again and their employment problems all behind him. There isn’t a suggestion, perish the thought, that Trudeau has a large political stake in this decision.
It doesn’t seem to matter that this decision will wreak huge destruction in this province. Oh, a bit of a risk perhaps but nothing to be concerned about. Never mind that a risk is an event waiting to happen, never mind that, once started, not only does it never end but increases. Overlook the fact that statistically it’s a certainty that there will be bad spills and collisions and never mind that the consequences will be terrible, British Colombians are churlish in the extreme to withhold their support for such selfish reasons. Mason, at one point, sneers:
[quote]People in Vancouver need to get out of their Idyllic little bubble and see how things are in the rest of the country. Not everyone has fluked a small fortune as a result of home ownership. Many people across this country live day to day.[/quote]
This from Gary Mason surprises me a great deal. I believe that British Colombians have a great deal of empathy for other Canadians who are having financial difficulties. In fact, I was part of the debates on equalization in the 70s at first ministers conferences and our province was always supportive of the “equalization” being part of our Constitution and we consistently recognized that we were fortunate in our natural resources where others have not been so lucky. Alberta, I might add, wasn’t quite as supportive. However, it never occurred to me, nor did I ever hear it suggested, that it was part of our obligation to permit our resources to be damaged and destroyed in order to fulfill our patriotic duty.
BC has changed…for the better
British Columbians have made extraordinary adjustments in their outlook in the last several decades.When I was a boy and a young man there was always another valley to log, another run of fish, more farmland around the corner, more rivers to dam or even reverse. This was considered our birthright. But though it took us a long time to realize it, we saw that we no longer had those luxuries. For far too long we carried on with blindfolds, in denial, but, helped considerably by brave men and women, mocked for their ideas, who marched, picketed, protested, harried, we changed. Groups seen as crazies, even outlaws, gained respectability and stature. I think of people like Colleen McCrory, Joe Foy, Paul Watson to name just a few. Resource extraction companies and politicians, however reluctantly, began to change. We started to ask questions and do research before we acted.
We left a hell of a lot to be desired but we did better and better. We began to respect what we have and not just see resources as dollar signs in the making. We accepted that conservation and restraint cost money. Not everyone did, of course, but more and more every day.
More environment than “resources”
Those who didn’t feel this way sometimes just said to hell with it as Stephen Harper did. Others, like Justin Trudeau learned duplicity, how to speak out of both sides of their mouth. They eloquently talked about saving the environment and changing our ways while doing the very opposite.
As I assess it, and I could be very wrong, the majority of British Columbians, in ever increasing numbers changed and saw their province as much more than a cash cow. They took increasing pride in what was around them and became determined to protect it. They also noted a great example of what past government follies unchanged can do to a great salmon fishery. This has become a daily reminder to British Columbians but unnoticed by Justin Trudeau and his crew.
And they learned that oil companies and their own government obscured facts and in fact lied. They saw and remembered what Enbridge said was a minor pipeline rupture did to the Kalamazoo River. When they’re told that tankers don’t hit things they read publications like gCaptain and see about one serious collision a week. They see environmental assessments as about as honest as a the old Soviet show trials were. There is no trust of corporations and governments any more because they damn well don’t deserve it.
Now comes Gary Mason and the Toronto Globe and Mail telling us that British Columbians are wrong to be proud of caring about their surroundings and taking increasing steps to protect them and that when the likes of Justin Trudeau tells them they owe it to Canada to sacrifice them for the Tar Sands we should cheerfully do so.
The Prime Minister and Premier Christy Clark are prepared to do so.
Most British Columbians are not and to call their patriotism into question is disgraceful. It is our Premier, Prime Minister, Gary Mason and The Toronto Globe and Mail who should be ashamed.