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Rafe: Why Judges should be judged too


Rafe- Why Judges should be judged

I’m a lawyer by trade and recently helped celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UBC Law Class of 1956. Like all of my classmates, I am very proud of our Class, one of those of those extraordinary comings together of individuals who somehow become an identifiable entity.

Out of the 56 who graduated, 14 became judges. They were all a great credit to our Class, the Bar and the Bench. It is therefore with considerable trepidation that I criticize the Bench in anyway.

This, perhaps, is the genesis of the problem. Judges are seldom criticized and, when they are, it seems that every lawyer in the country springs to their defense, stating that they don’t have the ability to defend themselves because of their lofty position.

But they must be held to account when they go off base.

This is especially so because they are in that protected position and can only be fired under the most exhausting of procedures.

“Shock Jock”

I want to quickly recount a personal story which only troubles me because it indicates an exceptional protection for judges no one else has.

A few years ago, as a litigant/defendant, I won a very important libel case in the Supreme Court of Canada with the entire bench sitting and the vote being 9-0 in my favour. I had nothing to do with this other than state the words complained of – I was just a spectator.

I’m proud of my broadcasting career – I admit that I was sometimes outspoken but my professionalism was recognized by my receiving the Bruce Hutchison Lifetime Achievement Award from the Jack Webster Foundation, the Michener Award, the highest award in Canadian broadcasting, and election to the Canadian Association of Broadcasters’ Hall of Fame. I was, therefore, indeed pissed off when one of the judges referred to me as a “shock jock”, the equivalent of me referring to him as a former shyster.

I wrote to the judge and politely but firmly demanded an apology and, as you might imagine, got a bunch of mumbo-jumbo back from a secretary.

Not content, I wrote to Chief Justice McLachlin and demanded from her that I receive an apology and I asked whether or not judges were shielded from the normal strictures of good manners and appropriate behaviour towards people who appear before them. Again, I received mumbo-jumbo.

I was taught as a young man by my lawyer idol, M.M. McFarlane, to stand up for my rights as a barrister and since he became Treasurer of the Law Society, a judge of both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal, it was authoritative advice and my candid discussions with the Supreme Court of Canada are not the only ones I had with the Bench.

Unjust treatment

For most of my years in practice, ending in 1975, women were treated very badly by all branches of the Bench. They were put down at every opportunity, their cases were trivialized, and if they won the case, they felt a great deal more humiliation than pleasure.

Recently, we have seen three judges hailed before the Special Committed for outrageously insensitive remarks to young women who have been sexually attacked. It is hard to believe that any man today would utter these words, much less a learned judge, but they did.

When I moved to Kamloops to practice in 1969, it did not take me long to learn that First Nations were treated like rubbish by the courts and the prosecutors, usually RCMP officers.

On one occasion I was in court in Prince George waiting to set a trial date and I watched the trial of a young First Nations lad accused of driving while his license was suspended. It had been suspended by the superintendent, not a judge, and the distinction is an important one because in the latter case it is contempt of court and usually brings a jail sentence and in the former it’s like getting a serious traffic ticket and you are fined.

At the close of the case, the  judge looked around the courtroom and asked if there were any members of the press. There were not, so the judge, even though there were no previous offences, sentenced him to six months in jail. I wish that I’d had the courage to jump up and raise hell but I didn’t. I wrote the Attorney General but, sadly, nothing came of it.

On another occasion I represented two young First Nations lads who had been fairly seriously hurt in a traffic accident and the Supreme Court judge who tried the case treated them as if they were barely above imbecility, made it pretty clear that people of this stature really didn’t deserve damages anyway and dismissed the case.  I’m happy to say I took the matter, pro bono, to the Court of Appeal, which sorted things out appropriately.

Six months in jail for just smoking pot

The reason that tipped the balance in favour of this article today was learning that both Terry Jacks and his former wife Susan Jacks are quite ill in hospital. I remain a huge fan, especially of the Poppy Family of the the 60s.

When I wrote Terry and Susan wishing them well, I could not stop humming, from the Poppy Family, “Oh, dear, what can the matter be?” The key line in the song is “six months in jail for just smoking pot”.

I flashed back to a case I took for a 16 year old boy in the 60s who’d been charged with smoking pot. His father, a friend of mine, was horrified to learn that there was nothing I could do to prevent his son from going to adult jail for six months. The BC Court of Appeal had mandated that to be the minimum sentence, no matter what the circumstances were.

These old men, who had no compunction about drinking a belly full of good scotch whiskey when they felt like it, were sending kids to jail for smoking a joint.

You may think lawyers are insensitive but that just isn’t so. I can still see that young man, tears rolling down his face, and his father and mother hanging onto him as he was taken away to the slammer for smoking something illegal.

A test for judges

All of this is simply to make this point: Judges do an admirable job day in and day out – it is not an easy job and it is one which I was once offered and couldn’t turn down fast enough.

When they do take the position, however, there must be some sort of testing of their attitudes, to determine their suitability to judge people based upon the year they’re living in, not the one in which they went to school.

If you had asked me a few months ago whether or not any judges in Canada would tell a woman who had been raped that she should have clamped her knees together, I would not have believed it. Surely to God those days are long behind us.

Well, we know that three Supreme Court judges would have proved me wrong and one has to wonder if they are the only ones or, more likely, symptoms of a much larger problem.

Leaving aside the horrible injustice committed by the judges I have referred to, think of the terrible impact they have upon the people who were forced to trust them to give them her Majesty’s justice.

It is now the duty of our minister of justice, The Honourable Jody Wilson-Raybould, herself First Nations, to put in place procedures to determine if judges under her jurisdiction have been properly examined as to their suitability to judge people on the law and the moral standards of today – not something they think the law should be or standards they learned 70 years ago in much different times.


Rafe: How it became offensive for women to wear too much clothing

Photo: Flickr CC Licence / Flood G
Photo: Flickr CC Licence / Flood G

Yes, yes, yes, I know, Mr. Editor, we’re in the last stretch before the last stretch just before a big, real last stretch going into next May’s election and I should be thinking wall-to-wall BC politics. Well, sir, I’m not going to do that today, for a couple reasons.

I have commented till hell won’t have it on the incompetence of the premier and her quasi-government. I have said plenty, for the nonce, on the invisibility of the Opposition and, surely, all that needs saying about the pathetic display of a Green Party many of us expected much more of.

Don’t take from this that I’m having an exotic boozy blast on Capri  – it’s just that I need a little time to see how some of these issues settle out in real terms.

Besides, I’m overwhelmed by the international concern about what women should wear, where not long ago the issue was whether women wore any clothes at all.

It’s not that fashion has not been of interest going back to the famous fig leaf. We may not be quite sure what  Elizabeth I looked like throughout her life but know what she wore. Literature is replete with descriptions of clothing or lack of it and fashion magazines for both men and women abound and are expensive. It’s very hard to believe that any aspect of clothing or unclothing has not been dealt with by society and that which is deemed by it to be immoral or truly harmful dealt with by the criminal law. For a criminal action to be taken, there must be an evil needing correction, otherwise there is no point.

Well, the Criminal Code, whose encodement started 125 years ago and has never stopped, with 28 parts, nearly 900 sections has not a peep about women’s clothing styles.

In recent years the criminal code has spent almost no time on the lack of clothes because since Hugh Hefner, Playboy, topless waitresses, bottomless dancers, the naked female body in all its contortions has gone from being sexy and seductive to about as provocative a litter of cats. There was a time not long ago when a Vancouver city councillor set her hair on fire over nude people at Wreck Beach (where I skinny-dipped as boy – now there was a sight!) but that’s no longer an issue. In short, dear friends, if you want to see naked females, that poses no problem – just take a Sunday drive. We even have just the beach for you here in sedate old Lions Bay.

Suddenly it’s not lack of clothes that’s the issue but the wearing of them. It seems that from the neck down, where the private parts are located, no one cares, but all hell breaks loose when the woman puts clothes on north of the larynx. It’s a big deal, apparently, if a woman wears anything that covers her face and head, especially if the item is black.

Now, by an amazing coincidence, it’s an even bigger deal if  the lady happens to be Muslim. No one has yet tested a Catholic or Anglican or Jew or follower of Zoroaster on this point, I suppose because this attire is not fashionable with them. I should add that in the days when Catholic and Anglican nuns wore “habits”, clothing that covered the face although not the eyes, no one seemed to complain. It was clothing based upon religious belief but, of course, that was different.

Wasn’t it?

Now we mind a great deal but it’s excess clothing that’s such a problem on the Riviera, with women in black swimsuits that cover every square centimeter. The once-mighty nation of France, home of the Folies Bergere, the Can-Can and famous the world over for its volume and variety of hooker, banned wearing this kind of swimming suit, called the Burkini, not for offending morals but flaunting Islam. The court just threw out this law.

Even in usually rather temperate countries like Canada, rage rises at the sight of women in black from the neck up, even – nay, especially – if it happens to have a scarf involved. But it really hits the fan when the woman wears a veil covering her eyes. This to some is an egregious abuse of those who happen to see her and should require the utmost penalty the nation can impose. (Of course there would be an exception made for Christian women getting married, attending a baptism or Easter Sunday Services).

I mean that’s different!

Isn’t it?

There are a many reasons given as to why this outfit is so serious – it’s not our way of life; it’s not how we do things; I want to see the face of the person I am talking to; it’s a symbol of men’s domination over women…and then the lesser reasons come out.

Now, Canada is a country of amazing coincidences and by an amazing coincidence, the only women who habitually wear veils along with the other black headgear happen to be Muslims and, as we all know, Muslims are terrorists, and would cheerfully murder all white Christians in their sleep.

If one has a sensitive memory about things like this, one is taken back about 15 years or so to that deadly serious issue as to whether or not a man wearing a turban in a Legion was insulting the queen by wearing a hat. It took a while but somehow we got over that.

The argument that the outfit symbolizes male domination is troubling but scarcely unanimous. And while this is a legitimate concern of some Canadians, as is the question of female priests, married priests, and gay marriage as a sacrament, it is not a question for the Parliament of Canada, as the Supreme Court has been trying to tell it.

But let’s bring this mercifully to an end. I have an opinion and I really don’t care if no one in the world agrees.

I think it is all racist bullshit. I couldn’t care less what a woman wears anywhere on her body except as a matter of good or bad fashion or, put another way, sexual attractiveness. If she wishes to wear orange and green hair covered by a baseball cap, even a Blue Jays one, to church with a fake moustache and beard, I would consider that to be distinctly unfashionable but I certainly won’t feel threatened by it.

If people demand to see the eyes of those they speak to, then they should not speak to women wearing a veil.

If they object to women wearing dark facial covering and dark scarves, they should simply walk away, as they would from someone wearing a clown suit top only.

To those of you whom I have insulted and who feel very strongly that they have God and righteousness on their side, as far as I’m concerned – pooh.

I don’t believe you for one moment, nor do I think you believe it yourself. You just don’t like people from certain other religions or traditions displaying that fact. If First Nations folks came to your church next Sunday wearing feathered headdress and deerskin trousers you wouldn’t raise a peep because it’s not fashionable to say unkind things about them, nor should it be. It is very fashionable, however, in some circles to be very unkind to Muslims and instantly link them to violence. It’s the politics of Trump and Palin and I want no part of it.

You can hate me for this view but, in the words of Rhett Butler, “frankly, I don’t give a damn”. You should all give your heads a shake and redirect your anger at social problems, poverty, homelessness, that need attention in this country of plenty.


Rafe: In absence of political leadership, public and First Nations stepping up

Citizens line the Sea to Sky Highway to protest Woodfibre LNG (My Sea to Sky)
Citizens line the Sea to Sky Highway to protest Woodfibre LNG (My Sea to Sky)

Dr. David Suzuki, in a recent column well worth reading, talks about a change in attitude across the country – changes with First Nations, increasing environmentalism, a new government in Alberta. Big changes are happening everywhere.

I wonder how many British Columbians have thought about the disgraceful attitude of industry and government towards our environment and the contempt they show for those who disagree with them?

Dr. Suzuki covers a number of these areas and I’ll just deal with one or two of my own.

Private power play

Let’s go back to the Independent Power Projects (IPPs) of the Campbell government which have destroyed our rivers and continue to cost BC Hydro huge amounts of money that we cannot afford. They are nothing more than Liberal slush. They are economic disasters for Hydro and any doubts on that score are dispelled by economist Erik Andersen, who no stranger to these pages.

Herring fishery fiasco

Another revealing moment came with the Heitsuk First Nation in Bella Bella when the federal government finally had to shut down the gillnet fisherey, as Damien Gillis documented in these pages, proving that the Heiltsuk knew more about the health of the fishery than did DFO.

Premier welcomes crook to BC LNG industry

Woodfibre LNG- Shady PR firms, lobby violations, fraudulent owner - Is this the kind of business BC wants to welcome
Sukanto Tanoto (right), owner of proposed Woodfibre LNG

Let’s move ahead and talk about LNG and I want to bring up a point, which I have spoken of before, but is absolutely critical when the British Columbians make their judgment about the LNG companies and Premier Christy Clark and her group. We only need to look at the proposed plant at Woodfibre LNG to make my point. Yes I have written about this but I think the point must be hammered again and again.

Apart from the whole issue of LNG, we have a Premier who has brought to us a company wholly owned by crook, Sukanto Tanoto, who has defrauded governments and who has been an environmental catastrophe in Indonesia where he plies his trade. Premier Clark asks British Columbians, her fellow citizens, to accept within our community a man whose entire operation is geared to steal taxes and royalties and who shows no intention of caring about environmental standards such as those covering the minimum acceptable width of Howe Sound for LNG tankers.

Moreover, Premier Clark and Sukanto Tanoto know what those standards are. We have brought them to their attention as forcibly as possible. We didn’t make them up – they are accepted by the US government. We have printed, here, the industry standards set by SIGTTO, Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators Ltd.

We have shown them charts with the appropriate lines drawn showing the clear limitations. This paper has carried them. Clearly, Howe Sound is utterly inappropriate for LNG freighters.

Why hasn’t premier Christy Clark squarely and honestly faced up to these issues?

Why hasn’t the NDP and leader John Horgan forced the premier to face these issues and come clean with us?

Green groups demonized for defending public

This in no way lessens our need to raise all of the environmental concerns which have been brought forward not by a government caring our interests but by environmental groups. Not only are these groups bearing the brunt of the work, they are being pilloried and insulted by people like Prime Minister Harper and Finance Minister Joe Oliver not to mention our own premier and her pet poodle, Rich Coleman.

Now we come to the part where the government is supposed to provide environmental assessment and protection but the overwhelming evidence is that this process is so badly flawed as to be beyond a joke.

So what do we do now?

MPs, MLAs useless

Why, of course, in a democracy we go to our MP or MLA MLA.

We might just as well ask the neighbourhood cat for all the help we are going to get. In my own constituency where the Woodfibre LNG plant is proposed, the MP, John Weston, and MLA Jordan Sturdy are as useless as tits on a bull and indeed worse – because they are so much part of the problem, they only aggravate matters when asked to get involved.

These are some of the factors that enter into the utter disgust people have for those in charge of corporations and governments, the main one of which is that nobody tells the truth. In fact, at the risk of sounding like a cynic, when I hear a captain of Industry or his PR creep on the one hand or a politician on the other, I don’t believe a word they’re saying, not a single word. Ever.

What does this mean for federal election?

It’s interesting to contemplate what effect this public disgust will have on the voters. As I write this, the three major parties are almost to level according to the polls with the Greens far back.

But we have seen that polls are not terribly accurate these days. One only has to look at the United Kingdom and Alberta.

My bet is that Dr. Suzuki is right and that there will be a great many surprises. I believe that applies to my constituency of West Vancouver-Howe Sound-Sea-To-Sky Country.

But there’s one more thing, quickly.

If Dr. Suzuki senses it correctly, and he is an excellent position to do so, no matter what happens in the election, the public is no longer prepared to put up with the same crap from Ottawa, Victoria, and the Corporate Head Office. How that plays out will be fascinating to watch and be a part of.

Lawyer warns LNG industry- Don't count on power from Site C dam

Lawyer warns LNG industry: Don’t count on power from Site C dam

Lawyer warns LNG industry- Don't count on power from Site C dam
Lawyer Rob Botterell represents First Nations and landowners in the Peace Valley region

The following is an open letter sent by lawyer Rob Botterell to the BC LNG Alliance, key BC Liberal ministers, and Treaty 8 First Nations. Site C Dam is being looked to as a possible source for the additional power required for proposed LNG plants on the BC coast.

Dear Respected First Nations, LNG Industry and BC Government Leaders:

In my capacity as a lawyer who has represented First Nations for many years, I am writing to you about the relationship between the planned Site C dam and the proposed new LNG export industry.

Premier Christy Clark announced the approval of the Site C dam on December 16th, 2014, but the dam lacks First Nations’ support and the social licence necessary to proceed. Currently, seven strong court challenges from First Nations and non-First Nations are underway. Construction of Site C is delayed at least until summer 2015.

True reconciliation of First Nations, LNG Sector and BC government interests requires full respect for, and accommodation of, First Nations’ constitutionally protected treaty rights, title and interests. The Site C dam would adversely impact First Nations’ treaty rights, title and interests in a massive and irreversible way. This devastating impact is completely unnecessary when cost competitive, renewable and non-renewable energy alternatives to Site C exist.

Contrary to the Premier’s statements, these energy alternatives would also provide combined short, medium and long term economic benefits to First Nations’ governments, contractors and community members that far outweigh any economic benefits from Site C.

For those First Nations who are engaged in impact and benefit agreement (lBA) negotiations with LNG sector companies or the province, I respectfully urge you to insist on IBA provisions that require the use of electrical power sources other than Site C by those LNG sector companies.

For those LNG Sector companies and BC government ministries involved in such discussions, I urge you to respect the legitimate interests of BC First Nations and agree to incorporate such provisions in IBAs.

An energy future that respects First Nations’ treaty rights, title and interests in the Peace River Valley is long overdue.

Yours truly,

Robert H. Botterell, LLB, MBA, FIBC


Asian LNG prices take record 60% plunge from last year


Asian LNG prices take record 60 per cent plunge from last year

Asian spot market prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) have plunged by a single year record of 61.7% since February 2014, according to Platts JKM (Japan/Korea Marker) – a leading source of benchmark prices for the industry.

Average prices for March delivery peaked at a historic high of $20.20 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) on February 14 ,2014. By February of this year, prices for March delivery had tumbled to$7.44/MMBtu – representing the largest year-over-year drop since Platts began tracking the market in 2009, and the lowest benchmark price for Asian LNG since 2010.

Said Stephanie Wilson, managing editor of Asia LNG at Platts:

[quote]Moderate temperatures and high buyer inventories continued to cap demand for spot cargoes in northeast Asia, despite the lower prices in March. Exacerbating the oversupply were cheaper competing fuels, which many utility power generators opted to burn rather than LNG.[/quote]

Taking its nuclear reactors offline post-Fukushima, Japan drove up LNG prices from 2011 on, sparking a global race to supply the Asian market with LNG. But subsequent weakening demand, increased competition and lower oil prices – to which Asian LNG prices are indexed – have all exerted significant downward price pressure on the resource.

What is the Clark government thinking?

This should leave British Columbians doubting the wisdom of betting the province’s economic future on Asian LNG exports – underscored by one after another global energy player backtracking on its investment plans.

These prices match up perfectly with predictions of two years ago by business news leader Bloomberg, which foresaw precisely a 60% drop in Asian LNG prices – the only difference is the speed at which the drop has occurred. Bloomberg saw it coming by 2020. In the same story, Bloomberg calculated this would mean a $6 million loss per tanker, pegging the break-even point for shipping LNG from North America to Asia at around $9/MMBtu (in some of Northern BC’s shale gas plays, this figure can be as high as $10-13/MMBtu). With current Asian LNG prices, we are already well below that point, calling into question the entire business case for BC LNG.

Yet, somehow the Clark government remains bullish on the industry, leaning heavily on future anticipated revenues in its recent Throne Speech.

Credit: Platts JKM
Credit: Platts JKM

First Nations react to LNG approvals with highway blockade

Highway 16 blockade on Saturday (Photo submitted)
Highway 16 blockade on Saturday (Photo submitted)

A group of 65 Gitxsan First Nations and supporters, led by several hereditary chiefs, showed up on an icy December Saturday to block Highway 16, near Hazelton. They were peacefully registering their opposition to the recent granting of 3 new environmental certificates for proposed LNG infrastructure in northern BC – including two pipelines that would transit Gitxsan territory and an LNG plant that threatens Skeena River salmon stocks.

Photo submitted
Photo submitted

The demonstration was led by the hereditary chiefs who, this past summer, constructed a camp named Madii Lii in the path of several proposed pipelines designed to carry fracked shale gas from northeast BC to LNG plants near Prince Rupert. The camp is part of a growing movement of hereditary and grassroots First Nations in various northern territories who are standing up against proposed LNG development – including the Unist’ot’en camp in the path of several Kitimat-bound pipelines.

The provincial approval of more LNG infrastructure by the Clark government in late November spurred the group to take to the streets this past weekend. The projects approved include Malaysian energy giant Petronas’ proposed pipeline and LNG plant on Lelu Island, in the heart of the Skeena Estuary. The project has drawn criticism from fisheries experts and First Nations over its potentially catastrophic impacts on juvenile salmon. Also approved was Spectra’s planned Westcoast Connector pipeline.

Spookw hereditary chief Guuhadakwa (Norm Stephens) declared in a press release Saturday:

[quote]The Gitxsan people have relied on the Salmon for thousands of years. The importance of the salmon to the Gitxsan people far out weighs any of the financial benefits that are and may be offered in the future for these LNG pipelines. The risk to the salmon is far to great to allow any pipelines to cross our territories and none will. We will not loose the salmon on our watch.[/quote]

But LNG opponents have something to celebrate as well, since Petronas, just one week after receiving its environmental certificates, announced late last week that it is putting its projects on hold – due to the rapidly deteriorating economic fundamentals of the global LNG market. Plunging oil prices are negatively affecting Asian LNG rates, while intense competition and a growing global glut of LNG supply mean it’s harder for companies like Petronas to see a profit from the massive investment they would need to make in BC LNG.

The other recently approved pipeline being protested by the Gitxsan on Saturday, Spectra’s Westcoast Connector, also faces an uncertain future, as British giant BG Group has been getting cold feet about the Prince Rupert LNG plant that Spectra’s pipeline is intended to supply.

With both tough economic hurdles to face and growing First Nations opposition, it appears the bloom is off  the rose for BC’s once-vaunted LNG industry.

David Suzuki: Leaders must put people before politics

David Suzuki: Leaders must put people before politics

David Suzuki: Leaders must put people before politics
G7 leaders meet in The Hague in 2014

When we elect people to office, we give them power to make and enact decisions on our behalf. They should have a vision that extends beyond the next election and the latest Dow Jones average — to our children and grandchildren.

We expect our leaders to have a clear picture of our world and the conditions necessary for human life and well-being. If they don’t, how can they make informed decisions? So let me outline some simple, scientifically validated truths about us and the world we live in — truths that should guide our political decisions.

We are, above all else, biological beings, with an absolute need for clean air from the moment of birth to the last death rattle. We take air deep into our lungs and filter whatever’s in it. Plants on land and in the ocean take in the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and release oxygen during photosynthesis, creating the atmosphere we depend on.

We are about 60 per cent water by weight, so we need clean water to be healthy. When water falls to Earth, it’s filtered through tree and other plant roots, soil fungi and bacteria, cleansing it so it’s safe to drink.

All the energy in our bodies that we use to move, grow and reproduce is sunlight captured by plants in photosynthesis and converted to chemical energy, which we ingest. We eat plants and animals for our nourishment, so whatever they’re exposed to ends up in our bodies. We need clean soil to give us clean food.

These are basic, biological facts and should be the prism through which any decision is made at individual, corporate or government levels. Protection of air, water, soil and the web of life should be the highest social, political and economic priority.

We’re also social animals. Scientists have shown that love during childhood is essential for healthy development. Children who are deprived of love at critical points can develop a variety of physical and psychological deficits. To avoid those, we have to work for strong families and supportive communities, full employment, justice, greater income and gender equity and freedom from terror, genocide and war.

Finally, we are spiritual creatures who require sacred places, a sense of belonging to the world and a recognition that we are not in charge of nature, but dependent on the biosphere for our health and well-being. We are not outside of nature; we are part of it.


To be fully healthy and human, our most elemental needs are biological, social and spiritual. Politicians ought to know this. Their role is to protect and enhance those necessities of life; otherwise there is no vision, direction or leadership.

That’s why it’s absurd for a politician or government representative to speak about any aspect of the economy without acknowledging the threat of human-induced climate change. Many oppose doing anything on ideological grounds, but the science is overwhelming and compelling, and the need for action is clear. What can you say about “leaders” who choose to ignore the best available evidence to the detriment of the people they are elected to represent?

Surely those who act only for short-term economic gain, imposing destructive consequences on generations to come, must be held responsible. We must also consider the consequences of rapid and excessive exploitation of fossil fuels on the world’s poorest people, who have done little to create climate change but are most affected by it.

Even though Canada ratified the legally binding Kyoto Protocol, which spelled out our obligations to reduce the risk of climate change, many of our “leaders” have wilfully ignored scientific evidence and urgent calls to meet the protocol’s targets, and Canada eventually abandoned the agreement. What should we call that?

And what can we say about “leaders” who can see something is wrong and have the means to respond but choose not to? This is what Canada is doing — in the face of overwhelming evidence and pleading of other industrialized nations.

Our elected representatives deserve respect for their commitment. But the elevated status and power of politicians also carries responsibilities. Many are abrogating those responsibilities for ideological reasons that have nothing to do with our well-being.

Government allowed massive production, toxin increase at Mount Polley Mine before tailings pond disaster

Mount Polley bankruptcy could leave BC public footing cleanup bill

Mount Polley bankruptcy could leave BC public footing cleanup bill
Rod Marining, a resident of the region, surveys the damage Polley Lake (Chris Blake)

Republished with permission from

By Peter Ewart

The clean-up costs for the massive tailing pond spill at Imperial Metals’ Polley Mountain mine have been estimated by some to range between $50 and $500 million.  In addition, legal action will undoubtedly be launched by individuals, businesses, and First Nations in the region which could result in hundreds of millions more in costs.  And then there are law firms launching suits on behalf of Imperial stockholders who have suffered huge stock losses when the company’s stock plunged over 40%.  Whatever the final amount, the issue comes down to – Who is going to pay?

On August 8, BC Environment Minister Mary Polak said: “We have a polluter-pay model in British Columbia and we expect the company will be the one paying for the cleanup and recovery” and that she has “heard commitments that [the company] is ready, willing and able to continue to fund what they need to”.

However, comments from Imperial Metals president Brian Kynoch suggest that the situation may be a lot more dicey than this optimistic statement from the Minister.  According to one news report, Kynoch has committed to paying for the clean-up “to the best of [his] ability”.  But in contrast to Mary Polak’s statement that the company is “ready, willing and able” to pay for the spill, Kynoch is more equivocal and doubts that the company’s insurance will be high enough to cover the cost (for more on the insurance issue see Aug. 12 column).

Imperial in financial Catch-22

After indicating that the company does not have the money in the bank at this time, Kynoch goes on to say that, “If it’s $400 million, then we are going to have to get mines generating to make that money to do the cleanup.”

But there is a problem here when Kynoch says that we need to “get mines generating” the cleanup funds.  For one thing, as noted before in 250 News on Aug. 7th, company financial statements of previous years reveal that the Mount Polley mine itself was being used to generate “cash flow” for the company’s new Red Chris mine in northwestern BC, as well as other Imperial operations.  Yes, the Red Chris mine is nearing finish as is its extension to the Northwest Transmission Line, and presumably will generate substantial amounts of revenue down the road.  But completion of the construction, as well as start-up funds, will be required for a while before that happens, especially since negotiations are still going on between Red Chris and that Tahltan First Nation regarding the mine.

So the Red Chris mine will still need cash flow from other parts of the company.  But the Mount Polley mine, which has been a cash cow for Red Chris, will likely not be in operation until the end of the year or later.  In the meantime, clean up and associated costs for the spill will be mounting by the day.  To compound the problem, Imperial Metals’ other operating mine, Huckleberry Mine (which Imperial has a 50% stake in), was down for several months earlier this year because of equipment failure.  The company has a lot of debt, and, as one financial analyst says, “the shutdown of Mount Polley will stretch thin an already tight balance sheet”.

Red Chris: The sharks are circling

Red Chris Mine
Red Chris Mine (Unuk River Post)

So how will the financial oligarchs who dominate the Canadian and global mining industry view this dicey situation?  Speaking plainly, some are no doubt looking at how to hive off the lucrative Red Chris mining asset and other Imperial assets from the Mount Polley operation, which is already nearing the end of its life as a mine and will be beset with clean-up costs and lawsuits for years to come.  Indeed, a number of big companies were in fierce competition to gain control of the Red Chris property several years ago, but Imperial Metals eventually won out.  Now the situation has changed and the sharks are circling again as can be seen by recent business analyst speculation on how Red Chris might be torn away.

But could this conceivably happen?  Could the Red Chris mine and other Imperial assets be siloed or separated off from a Mount Polley mine that is burdened with debt and lawsuits?  Could then the Mount Polley operation (or even Imperial Metals itself) eventually go bankrupt requiring public funds to clean up the mess and leaving plaintiffs twisting in the wind?

Each Imperial mine is its own separate company

The first thing to get straight is that, although the Mount Polley mine and the Red Chris mine are all part of the parent company Imperial Metals and are subsidiaries of it, they exist as separate companies.  For example, the Mount Polley mine is owned by the Mount Polley Mining Corporation (Imperial Metals acquired majority ownership back in the 1990s) and the Red Chris mine is owned by the Red Chris Development Corporation.  In turn, both are wholly owned by Imperial Metals.

To many, it would seem logical that any debt or obligations incurred by the Mount Polley Mining Corporation should fall on the parent company Imperial Metals and its wholly owned subsidiaries such as Red Chris Development Corporation.  But that is not necessarily the case according to current corporate law and government policy.

For example, a few years ago in BC, there was a tank car spill on a railway and the parent railway company and its 100% owned subsidiary company (which actually operated the railway) were sued.  But the BC Provincial Court ruled “that the parent company wasn’t liable for the subsidiary’s environmental offences” because it merely owned the railway and didn’t operate it (Environmental Compliance Insider).

But wait.  If we examine Business Registry records regarding Imperial Metals and its subsidiary companies, we find that there are several overlapping members of the Boards of Directors, i.e. several of the Imperial Metals directors sit on the board of Mount Polley Mining Corporation and the same is true for some of the company officers.  Doesn’t this prove something in terms of potential responsibility?

Not in this particular railway case.  The court found that it didn’t matter that there were overlapping directors.  The parent company got off scot free (although this does not always happen).

BC public could be left out in the cold

In such a circumstance, it is within the realm of possibility that the subsidiary company could then go bankrupt and leave the plaintiffs and the people of BC out in the cold.

And yes, corporate reorganizations do happen all the time where assets are hived off.  Indeed, Imperial Metals, facing bankruptcy back in the early 2000s, did exactly that in a court-sanctioned restructuring which saw subsidiary oil and gas companies and assets shifted into a separate company from its mining assets (which were facing difficulty at that time as a result of low metal prices).


In any case, a better situation for the workforce, local communities and businesses, First Nations communities and the people of British Columbia will be that Imperial Metals and its subsidiaries remain intact and continue operating under strict public oversight, as well as with First Nations and community consent.  It is especially important that Red Chris Development Corporation is not sold off by Imperial Metals and that the Mount Polley Mining Corporation is not hived off and put into bankruptcy.

Red Chris revenue should support Polley cleanup

As revealed in Imperial’s Annual Reports, the Mount Polley mine provided cash flow for the Red Chris mine construction and all sorts of profits for Imperial shareholders.  Now it is Red Chris and Imperial’s turn.  Clean-up costs and legal costs can be expected to go on for years.  Rather than being sold off for a song and taken over by global financiers, the revenue from the lucrative Red Chris mine must be used to pay for these costs now and in the future.  As previously noted, Imperial Metals’ president Brian Kynoch appears to support that course of action.

In terms of Imperial’s current financial woes, an immediate solution could be for Imperial’s largest investors, several of whom have very deep pockets, to step up to the plate and provide financing to stabilize the company’s situation.  These dominant investors, who have directors connected to them on Imperial’s board, have profited greatly from Imperial’s operations in the past and should have been aware of the risks the Mount Polley mine was taking.

It is clear that vigilance is needed in this fast moving situation.  For its part, the provincial government must make it very clear to Imperial Metals, as well as those who may be considering carving the company up, that it will not go along with any financial maneuvers that will hurt or endanger the interests of the people of BC or hinder the clean-up and financial reparations.

Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia.  He can be reached at:


KSM Mine promises epic gold, copper, jobs…and waste

The location of one of KSM's three proposed open pit mines (Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska)
The location of one of KSM’s three proposed open pit mines (Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska)

The $5.3 billion proposed Kerr-Sulphurets-Mitchell (KSM) mine, which received BC government approval yesterday, boasts one of the world’s largest gold and copper deposits. But with big promises of jobs and ore come serious concerns over the staggering volumes of tailings and acid rock drainage the three-pronged mine could produce.

Its 2 billion tonnes of tailings, for instance, represent 6-7 times the volume slated to be produced by nearby Red Chris Mine.

Located in the northwest corner of the province, the project is made up of three neighbouring mountains from which proponent Seabridge Gold estimates it could mine 10 billion pounds of copper, 133 million ounces of silver, 38 million ounces of gold and 200 million pounds of molybdenum. Seabridge is trumpeting 1,800 jobs during construction and 1,000 permanent jobs once the mine is up and running.

Province touts “family-supporting jobs”

Employment opportunities seem to have been the key driver of the BC government’s approval. “This will be a major employer, not just for the northwest but for all of B.C. and it will pump a lot of money into our economy,” BC Minister of Mines Bill Bennett told the Canadian Press upon announcing the mine’s environmental certificate yesterday. “These are high-paying jobs. They’re family-supporting jobs.”

KSM mine
Under Seabridge’s proposal, separate mines would be located at Kerr, Sulphurets and Mitchell mountains

Seabridge is also touting broad First Nations support. It has signed an agreement with the Nisga’a Nation, which includes profit sharing and skills training. The company also claims support from the Gitxsan First Nation.

Alaska faces potential impacts of KSM Mine

The project is also stoking serious concerns about impacts on rivers and fish, particularly in Alaska, which would be forced to deal with much of the mine’s waste issues. This from Mary Catherine Martin in the Juneau Empirewhich produced an in-depth series on the mine back in April:


It would also produce more than 2 billion tons of tailings, and one of its three open pit mines would be about as deep as the deepest open pit mine in the world today. Water treatment facilities filtering water from the mine site and into the Unuk River, which flows into Alaska’s Misty Fjords National Monument, may need to operate 200 years or more to prevent acid from draining into Southeast Alaska waters.

British Columbia’s Environmental Assessment Office, which is reviewing Seabridge Gold’s 33,000-page mining application, says review and oversight — as well as Seabridge’s efforts to date — will ensure the mine, if permitted, is environmentally safe.

But others in Alaska and BC worry about the mine’s vast scope and effect on fish. They say should anything go wrong with this or other mines proposed in BC during or after their operation, acid mine drainage could contaminate important salmon producing rivers and Southeast Alaska’s waters, and Southeast Alaska and Yakutat’s more than 5,000 annual fishing jobs — and its fish — could be in jeopardy.


Despite these well-founded concerns in Alaska, its state regulator has lacked the resources to conduct a thorough review of its own, relying on funding from Seabridge to engage with the application, and putting a great deal of trust in the BC Environmental Assessment Office. “The state’s participation in the permitting review (for KSM) seems entirely dependent on funds from Seabridge Gold,” Chris Zimmer of Rivers Without Borders told the Juneau Empire. “I think this is an inherently bad situation.” His organization has been asking the federal State Department to get involved in the process, in order to ensure local authorities don’t give the matter short shrift.

To claims that Alaska has little regulatory power to intervene in the process, Zimmer retorts:

[quote]The state can be proactive and demand better standards, higher bonds, other mechanisms to protect water quality…invoke the Boundary Waters Treaty (of 1909). Look to the example of Montana and the Flathead Valley.[/quote]

With provincial approval of the project, that ship may have already sailed, but that’s not to say it doesn’t face significant hurdles going forward, on both sides of the border.

BC First Nations concerned about fish impacts

Impacts on fish have been a concern for First Nations in BC as well. The Gitanyow First Nation, which fishes the Nass River, where the tailings facility would be located, has expressed grave reservations about the project. It commissioned UVic biologist Michael Price to study the potential impacts of the project on downstream salmon. In a report submitted to the provincial government by the Gitanyow Fisheries Authority, Price concluded that salmonids “will undoubtedly be subject to sub-lethal metal toxicity. In some circumstances…the effect most probable is secondary death.”

Seabridge claims it has responded to these concerns with the addition of a lined cell to protect watercourses from  “potentially acid-generating material”. Says Seabridge Vice President of Environmental Affairs Brent Murphy, “This (lined cell) is one of the main aspects of accommodation and was built into the design to address the concerns of the local Aboriginal people.”


The company has signed an agreement with the Gitanyow to monitor water quality and fish health, but will that be enough to appease their concerns in the long run? Moreover, the company has yet to reach a deal with the Tahltan First Nation – renowned for blocking other mining and gas projects in the past, particularly over water and salmon issues. Without firm support from the Tahltan and Gitanyow – especially in light of the recent Tsilhqot’in decision – the project will remian on shaky ground.

On that note, The Tsilhqot’in case and failed Prosperity Mine project offer a reminder of how provincial approval can be trumped by legal complications and federal rejection of the project. With the Harper Cabinet yet to render a decision on KSM, any celebration of the project’s approval at this stage is premature. In a letter to the Canadian Minister of the Environment last year, the Gitanyouw Hereditary Chiefs complained, “the timelines imposed by the (BC) EAO are clearly inadequate to enable meaningful consultation and ensure that proper mitigation aspects are in place.” That’s just the sort of language that can form the basis of a constitutional challenge, built on the strengthened foundation of the Tsilhqot’in decision.

That said, all signs are pointing toward a Fall approval from Cabinet, as the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency  has already determined in its own review that the project would likely result in no “significant adverse environmental effects.” At that point, the strongest defence remaining against the project would likely be a First Nations-led legal challenge.

Funding not in place

Even if the company faces no serious legal challenges or regulatory hurdles, the project is not yet a given, without the significant financial backing required to make it a reality.

“Obviously, we have high expectations for this project, but until we get a partner in that’s willing to fund most of the capital and build the mine, the project is not a go yet,” Seabridge CEO Rudi Fronk told the Canadian Press.

[quote]We need that partner in place to make that construction and production decision. We’re not going to make it on our own.[/quote]

New Quebec government choosing fossil fuels over green jobs

New Quebec government choosing fossil fuels over green jobs

Canada's fixation on resource economy holding back green jobs
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard is putting green jobs on the back burner (Photo: facebook)

One thing Stephen Harper, Justin Trudeau, BC Premier Christy Clark and new Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard all share in common is the dated notion that economic and sustainable development are competing concepts that need to be reconciled, with great difficulty. And in hard times, the economy must take precedence.

The term reconciliation seems totally out of place when one considers that the green sectors are among the fastest growing and highest job creation sectors of our time and that this growth can only get better as nations adopt more aggressive approaches to fully participate in the new economy.  Moreover, the green economy is every bit as diversified, if not more so, as Canada’s traditional natural resource-based economy – while offering 6 to 8 times more jobs for the same level of government subsidy as the fossil fuel sectors.

New Quebec government disappoints with green jobs policy

Among its first public statements on the natural resource sectors and environment, the new Quebec Liberal government announced:

  1. A one-year strategic environmental evaluation study (SEE) of the development of fossil fuels in Quebec to be completed in 2015
  2. The continuation of the strategic environmental evaluation (SEE) of the shale oil potential of the pristine Anticosti Island
  3. A new variant of the previous Charest goverment’s Plan nord,  a key component of the Liberal an economic development plan calling for the development of mining potential in Quebec’s northern most regions
  4. Approvals for small hydro facilities on rivers all over Quebec.

What has become clear with the above and other pronouncements by the Couillard government to date is that it is preparing the terrain with inadequate or smoke screen environmental analyses to facilitate full-tilt fossil fuel and natural resource development in the province.

The Economist: China's going green...but is it fast enough?
China invests $70 billion a year in renewable energy

It will do so without assessing the economic costs and benefits – only paying lip service to the opportunities of the green economy.  With regard to the latter point, China is now the world leader in clean energy technologies, having installed 28 GW of new wind and solar capacity in the single year of 2013 while also being a world leader in electric vehicles. Meanwhile, there are currently 3.5M jobs in the EU green sectors.

Accordingly, in  a May 30, 2014 press release, the Liberal government stated that while it is favourable to the development of fossil fuels in Quebec,  it wanted to assure the population that the environment would be protected and safety would be addressed.

As for the rationalization of its interest in the development of the fossil fuel sectors, the Couillard government argues that while awaiting the shift to a green economy, it’s best that Quebec produce its own fossil fuels, rather than importing them. A rather strange line of reasoning since the prime focus on fossil fuels and other non-renewable resources diverts funds that could otherwise be directed towards to the high-growth and high-job-creation green sectors.

Investing in the green economy would offer better returns on public funds and the logic of Couillard’s yesterday’s economy club could entrench new fossil fuel economic dependencies, thus further impeding the migration to a green economy.

Shale gas and oil moratorium in jeopardy

Quebec currently has a moratorium on shale gas development. But all the signals are that the new Quebec government wants to put an end to this moratorium, under the guise of an environmental report which said that with certain precautions and regulatory tweaking, all will be well. Nothing to worry about.


Indeed, Couillard and company want us to think that a one-year strategic evaluation study (SEE) on the development of fossil fuels in the entire province will be more exhaustive than: 1) the two-and-a-half-year study on the development of the shale gas in the St-Lawrence River valley; and 2) the findings of the Bureau d’audiences publiques sur l’environnement (BAPE) (the public consultation office on the environment), which is now reviewing shale gas issues a second time.

The reality is that we are just beginning to grasp the horrors of  fracking. It is not environmentally benign by any stretch of the imagination.

Distorting the evidence on fracking impacts

Fracking has been tied to infant congenital heart defects

Fracking involves a reckless collection of secret, corporate-specific chemical cocktails injected into wells ultimately leave us with the “heritage” of have unchecked methane gas emissions escaping from wells long after the drilling has stopped, and serious prospects for water contamination and air pollution.

Some very substantive, scary, empirical evidence is coming to the fore, but, as with the case of the early reports on the impacts of smoking on human health, the private and government lobbies for shale gas development are implying that the absence of hard, one-to-one cause-effect data means the practice of fracking is safe.

Concerning shale oil, the Quebec Liberals said they will be an investment partner with the private sector to explore the shale oil potential on the of the pristine and huge Anticosti Island. The exploration will proceed this summer, long before the Strategic Environmental Evaluation on the matter is completed in 2015!

As for the much-touted economic benefits of the industry, we only have to look south of the border to see that the shale gas sector in the US is going through a boom to bust cycle, because after one has drilled to get to an easy to access sweet spot in a given well, it’s too expensive to go after the rest. US shale oil is on the same path and a decline in shale oil production may come as early as 2016.

Offshore oil development: Old Harry

The Old Harry potential offshore development area is on the Quebec-Newfoundland border, not very far from the Îles-de-la-Madeleine (Magdalen Islands), an area for which the economy is largely about fishing and tourism.

The Couillard government’s interest in this Gulf of St Lawrence play offers further evidence that the Quebec government, very much like the Harper government, is using inadequate environmental analysis processes to fast track approvals for major fossil fuel projects.

Couillard has already indicated he will sign an agreement with Harper for the development of fossil fuels in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence.  The 2014-15 Budget confirms this intention.

Old Harry
Proposed offshore oil development at Old Harry (Council of Canadians)

With the possibility of developing Old Harry on the horizon, a 3-year, 800-page strategic environmental evaluation report on the Gulf, published in 2013, highlighted the deficiencies of exploration and development technologies – and the biological and human impacts of spills in the region. These risks are particularly high, given the region is covered with ice for much of the year.  The study concluded that Quebec does not have the capabilities to deal with a tanker spill.

The fishing industry in the Gulf represents $1.5 billion/year and tourism $800 million, while the development of Old Harry site on the Quebec side of the border would only generate about $300 million

While the federal government wishes to increase corporate accident liability in the event of a disaster, from $30 million to $1 billion, it is important to note here that the Gulf of Mexico catastrophe cost more than $40B to clean up.

Quebec as corridor for tar sands exports

Included in the “package” of Coulliard’s gung-ho development of the fossil fuel sectors are favourable views on pipelines running through Quebec to ship tar sands oil for export as well as meet Quebec “needs”.  Such is the case with respect to the TransCanada Energy East pipeline to bring Alberta bitumen to the Cacouna port, in the eastern section of the St-Lawrence River.

In this region, any spill would be devastating to both the fragile beluga population and a dozen important natural marine habitat zones.  A spill during the winter would be especially destructive, since there aren’t any adequate means to clean up bitumen in the presence of ice. It would also be devastating to the tourism industry, with $80 million in annual revenues.

Under the Couillard government – not all that different than the position of BC’s Christy Clark government on pipelines – Quebec would take all the risks as a transportation region for the sake of something in the order of 200 jobs. The main beneficiaries would be the exporters of the bitumen to foreign markets via tankers from Cacouna, carrying 80,000 to 200,000 tons of bitumen.

Quebec’s approach mirrors the expeditious National Energy Board smoke-screen evaluations of pipeline safety, meant to distract citizens from the fact that these evaluations do not include emissions associated with tar sands development and climate change.  No wonder the Federation of Chambers of Commerce in Quebec is happy.

Quebec’s new hydro development

Quebec's Romaine River
Quebec’s Rivière Romaine

Despite Quebec’s surplus electricity capacity, for which hydro power represent 94% of the supply, the new Quebec government favours building more dams – much like the BC Liberal government’s private “run-of-river” policy.

Carried over from the preceding PQ government without any changes proposed by the Liberals, on Hydro Quebec’s, site one finds a glowing synopsis from Hydro-Québec on the 1550 MW Rivière Romaine projects.  The web site informs us that, in the name of sustainable development and clean energy supplies for future generations, the 3 new power stations make sense.  No mention is made of Québec’s electricity surplus or that the Romaine is one of Québec’s last “damable” wild rivers.

Not content with having targeted all of Quebec’s great rivers with high hydro power potential, the new Couillard government has also announced approvals for small hydro facilities on rivers with modest hydro potential.

In this regard, this article  – “10 Things You Should Know About Dams” – offers a global portrait on dams to the effect they are are far less environmentally friendly than their proponents care to admit.

Plan nord, Version 2.0

The Couillard government picks up where Jean Charest left off, with an enhanced version of the former Liberal premier’s Plan nord. What Couillard has not factored into his economic vision is the fact that natural resource prices – relative to the prices of finished products manufactured with these very resources – have been declining for the last half century.

Subsidizing cement factories, cutting electric car budget

Last but not least are the following two amazing decisions of the Couillard government.

First, there is the amazing approval under an Liberal austerity Budget 2014-15 of the Port-Daniel cement facility, in the easternmost part of Quebec – the Gaspésie area. The government allotted $450M to support the $1B project, despite the fact that existing cement factories in Quebec are operating at 60% of capacity.

Moreover, the intention is to use the petecoke residues from petroleum/tar sands bitumen refining as a fuel. Petcoke is cheaper than coal but has much higher emissions.

Second, to keep his promise to the preceding PQ government, Couillard has agreed to maintain the transport electricification initiative. However, unlike the PQ, which allocated $500M for this initiative, the Couillard government has de-funded it, with responsibility transferred to Hydro-Québec. Meanwhile, the Liberals are putting a similar amount of funding into the unnecessary and high-GHG emission Port-Daniel cement plant.

This while China’s BYD is manufacturing electric buses and cars and recently built an electric bus manufacturing plant in California. Meanwhile, two Quebec urban transit commissions – the STM serving the Montreal area and the STO serving the Gatineau area – have run pilots projects with BYD electric buses.

That said, battery manufacturing and electric motor stakeholders in Quebec all have to take a back seat to the top priority given to the mining industry under Plan nord. So does the Volvo-owned Nova Bus urban transit facility in Ste-Eustache, which is working on the development of an electric bus.

A Matter of Priorities

Suffice it to say, with the Quebec Liberals – like BC’s Clark Liberals and Justin Trudeau in his promotion of tar sands exports – the environment is being used like an artificially flavoured candy coating to render projects palatable for public consumption, despite the evidence that their projects are not environmentally sound.

Also reflecting Couillard’s sense of priorities are the nomination of his economic Executive and Cabinet ministers, with the Minister of Finance Carlos Leitao, President of the Treasury Board, Martin Coiteux, and Jacques Daoust, Minister of l’Économie, de l’Innovation et des Exportations (Economy, Innovation and Exports). All of them have strong economic backgrounds.

By contrast, the Minister of Développement durable, de l’Environnement et de la Lutte aux changements climatiques (Sustainable Development the Environment and Climate Change), David Heurtel, has no background in environmental fields.

As for the Minister of Énergie et des Ressources naturelles (Energy and Natural Resources) Pierre Arcand, he was the Environment Minister in the previous Liberal Charest government, where he played the role of an eternal apologist for weaseling out of the responsibility for defending the environment.

It’s clear that the environment will not play a key role in Philippe Couillard’s government – despite the clear financial benefits of investing in the green economy.