Rafe: Gutless Horgan caves to union, apologizes for opposing LNG project

BCNDP leader John Horgan (BCNDP/Flickr)
BCNDP leader John Horgan (BCNDP/Flickr)

Apparently, according to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley and BC NDP leader John Horgan, we have a new doctrine in Canada which essentially says that Jobs Come Ahead Of Crisis When A Powerful Union Leader Says So.

Any free society, as part of its basic philosophy, permits citizens to better themselves, legally, and to withhold their labour. At the same time, no society can permit those rights to endanger society as a whole. Moreover, it can hardly be permitted because society hasn’t been able to control some of its segments, like the bastards exposed by the Panama Scandal. That behaviour exposes the weakness of people, not of the philosophy.

Horgan’s about-face shows humiliating weakness

Having once been a cabinet minister in a Socred government, I risk being called anti-union if I offer any criticism of a union. There’s a distinct odour of Senator Joseph McCarthy in an allegation that because one belonged to a certain group, they therefore can be assumed to have certain beliefs. I support unions, have been a member of three, had formal election endorsements from two, and I couldn’t have been elected, twice, in Kamloops, a union town, if I was anti-union.

What I’m on about is the humble, indeed humiliating volte face when John Horgan met with the union, and its powerful leader whose support, more than any other, made Horgan the NDP leader.

This from the April 14 edition of the Toronto Globe and Mail:

[quote]B.C. NDP Leader John Horgan met with his toughest critics on the party’s liquefied natural gas policies, and said his party’s official rejection of the Pacific Northwest LNG proposal could yet turn to Yes.

Mr. Horgan was speaking to the annual convention of the BC Building Trade unions in Victoria on Wednesday, where he sought to diffuse anger from his party’s labour allies over his decision to ask the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency to withhold approval for the proposed Pacific Northwest LNG plant near Prince Rupert.

The NDP Leader apologized to union leader Tom Sigurdson for sending the submission to the regulatory agency without giving him notice that the party had come out against the proposal.[/quote]

Many, evidently including Mr. Horgan, think there’s an easy, gradual way to deal with the fossil fuel/climate crisis so nobody ever has to make a sacrifice quite yet. Forgive the indiscreet example, but that’s like the young boy, who, being warned he’ll go blind if he keeps playing with himself, promises to quit just as soon as he needs glasses.

One leap forward, two bounds back

I heartily congratulate the NDP in Convention for, barely, passing the Leap Manifesto and ask Notley, Horgan and company, “What’s the equivalent of needing glasses to inform us we must now act?” Doesn’t this, at least in principle, make abundant good sense?

Of course Premier Notley has a problem, but letting it fester, indeed helping it get worse, is scarcely the solution. In spite of 70 years of Alberta arrogance towards less well-off provinces, we all have a societal obligation to help. And we must do that as part of the same Canadian way Albertans were so grumpy about when they were rolling in petrodollars.

What we do not have is an obligation to suffer the fatal consequences of “business as usual”. Someone has to explain that to Ms. Notley and Mr. Horgan, who must then stand up to those who would put themselves first.

A Canadian problem

The solution lies in accepting the fact that this is a national problem affecting every single Canadian and that those who will be most directly affected need the assistance of the rest of us. Just what form that takes must be worked out but we have to make a start, which the Leap Manifesto does.

Beyond a reasonable doubt

Tom Sigurdson
Tom Sigurdson

What the hell do Mr. Horgan and Mr. Sigurdson need for evidence? Ninety-seven percent of the world’s scientists dealing with this problem confirm that we have a crisis which, unattended, will be fatal.

Of course there are doubting Thomases – articulate ones. If you’re one, here’s my answer.

As a lawyer, I can assure you that there isn’t a proposition ever propounded that I couldn’t make a case against.

Are you a “round earther” – I guarantee I can make a hell of a case for it being flat.

Believe in God? I can rally no end of scientists, including Richard Dawkins, to refute that.

In support of God are many of the world’s greatest thinkers, including Albert Einstein.

Mr. Sigurdson (I take it you have precedence in the NDP), Mr. Horgan, the scientists have done more than meet the civil onus of “on a balance of probabilities” but have satisfied the criminal test of “beyond a reasonable doubt”.

Beyond “a shadow of a doubt”? Perhaps not, but it’s impossible to think of any proposition that meets that test.

But Mr. Sigurdson, Horgan, if you’re wrong, if your “scientists” are wrong, everything is lost. And if the 97% are somehow wrong, we have still made the world a hell of a lot better, safer, cleaner and nicer place to live.

One might reduce the argument, then, to this: “Better safe than sorry”!

Gentlemen, we are all in this together, including you!


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at rafeonline.com.

45 thoughts on “Rafe: Gutless Horgan caves to union, apologizes for opposing LNG project

  1. If he changes direction then, as it is with most politicians, he will NEVER have any credibility… ever. another liar and flopper

  2. Horgan is damed if does and damed if he doesn’t.He might as well be damed for does.It would be better to get a party elected who at least has some regard for the environment in how we go about resource extraction in this province, instead of a Liberal party who have zero regards and will say yes to anything and everything regardless of it’s impact ,in the name of jobs. Once the NDP is elected they could then work from within to change the coarse we are on.If we don’t elect them this time ,BC will continue swirling around the turds in the cesspool the Christy liberals have created for us.

  3. I did not interpret Horgan’s apology to Sigurdson for not telling him in advance of sending the feds the party position as any indication that he had turned tail and supported the project.

    Why get up in arms about an industry that does not have a hope in hell of advancing the way the preemy and her gaseous minister say it will.

    Clark and Coleman are inveterate prevaricators and nothing they have ever promoted has been a raging success, so let’s all just chill out and vote out the lying libs and let Horgan deliver the last rites to the sparkle ponies nightmare.

      1. Hate to break it to you Salal….

        She is going to mop the floor in the next election.

        when she trots out another “balanced budget” when the rest of the country are showing multi billion dollar deficits, none of the other stuff will really have traction. I don’t want her to be premier as much as anyone; the reality is we do not have an opposing party with a strong enough platform or charisma to battle her.

        She is, as once again proven last time, a hell of a campaigner. Unless she gets caught setting fire to a hospital while stuffing her pants with cash from a drug deal, I don’t see how she loses the next election.

        1. First of all, I refuse to believe that British Columbians are stupid enough to believe the BC Libs have a ‘balanced budget’.

          Secondly, I refuse to believe that British Columbians don’t read the news. Even the MSM has been forced to tell some inconvenient truths about Christy and her cabinet.

          And finally, I don’t believe that British Columbians don’t know that LNG is dead in B.C., that the Site C dam is unnecessary, and that we’ll never reach our emissions targets if we don’t start to phase out fossil fuels and switch to renewable energy like the rest of the world.

          1. Never underestimate the stupidity of the voting public……present company excepted of course.

  4. Yet another study a few weeks ago – this one by Oxford University stating that animal agriculture is not only burdening the healthcare system, but is responsible for more than 25% of all global ghgs.

    Fossil fuels are important, but so is what you eat, and you can choose to significantly lower your personal carbon footprint and benefit your health by going vegan.

    This is the REAL inconvenient truth, Rafe.

  5. LNG and fracking is BS. Horgan should ask unions to develop their own sustainable energy companies by investing their pension savings like they did to found Concert Properties.

    The other BS is the lie that climate change is fatal. It is not. Disruptive and costly yes, but scientists are not predicting human extinction due to climate change.

  6. A parallel issue to Horgan’s support for LNG – in spite of scientists saying climate change is a big issue – s NDP support for a billion-dollar land-based sewage plant project in Victoria even though many marine scientists, public health officials and engineers are skeptical that the sewage plant would provide the environmental protection to marine waters that many people may believe it would.

    Examples of marine scientists’ opinions:
    – Washington and BC marine scientists’ 1994 report “Shared Marine Waters of British Columbia and Washington” says that effect of Victoria’s sewage on area waters negligible: http://blog.pugetsoundinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/12/SharedMarineWaters1994.pdf

    – Several BC marine scientists’ published letter in academic journal with similar conclusion: impact of Victoria’s long screened effluent outfall discharge on Strait of Juan de Fuca is very low risk: http://www.excellentfuture.ca/sites/default/files/Marine%20Pollution%20Bulletin%20Sewage%20Treatment%20Wasted.pdf

    – Recent published letter again co-signed by several BC marine scientists reiterate that impact of Victoria sewage is very low.Scroll down to “Scientists on sewage treatment”:http://focusonline.ca/?q=node/651

    – Responsible Sewage Treatment Victoria website has many other science and public health opinions that support Victoria’s natural, sustainable marine-based sewage treatment system:http://www.rstv.ca

    More marine scientists’ letters and news stories on the sewage project:
    – Absence of evidence http://goo.gl/uNjeo4
    – Environment Canada billion-dollar screw-up http://goo.gl/smrKIJ
    – Scientists to CRD petition feds:http://goo.gl/oOlwnx

    Most recent letters from marine scientists expressing reservations about value of a Victoria land-based sewage plant:
    – Far more pressing issues than for local waters (Beamish, Garrett, Pedersen):
    – Marine condition findings clarified by U.S.-based scientist (Copping):

  7. Its very simple…voters need a voice no matter which party is elected. Let the people decide the future of our Province,Country, And Planet….Its that simple, the rich and greedy 1% are destroying the world and we are all along for the ride and have no say…its insane !!

  8. Dear nonconfidencevote – of course you have to promise jobs! That’s the whole point! To address unions depending on fossil fuel development promoted by fossils like Horgan, Sigurdson, Christy and Justin is not only harmful to society in environmental terms but in social terms by breeding unemployment and an unemployed community when they should be planning for use of renewables and making a new future for those impacted. What these half wits (I probably exaggerare by a quarter) are doing is cruel, made all the crueller by the fact that they know better, and that they are cheering for a short term, dare I say orgasm, so they can get past their next elections. Industrial upheavals breed social upheavals and people in charge always get it wrong. Of course workers are scared and scared people are worried about the next day, which is perfectly understandable. It is the duty of leaders to make sure they get through, decently, through all the “next days” it takes for the inevitable and large adjustments before us all.

    It takes no brains, no sense and no real compassion to support that which will only make things worse in the longer run, especially when that support is for personal gain.
    The Churchill to who, I have referred is not Sir Winston, whom I greatly admire, but his father, Lord Randolph whom I do not. The aphorism “it is the duty of the opposition to oppose” is none the less a wise one, that has borne the stresses of time and the ignoring of which has invariably beed disastrous as John Horgan is discovering.

  9. As unpopular as my statement will be recieved on this blog….here it goes.

    Unfortunately, as the federal NDP found out in the last election.
    If you want to become Prime Minister or Premier you have to promise jobs 1st….environment 2nd.

    The average voter is a simple beast. Food on the table. Bills paid. Then they become environmentally aware of their surroundings.

    The Liberals both Federally and Provincially, have figured that out.

    The only way the NDP will win in next years’ election is is Christy suffers from one of her “foot in mouth” episodes which is a distinct possiblity if a microphone is shoved in her direction while her “handlers” are busy elsewhere………..we can only hope.

    1. “The average voter is a simple beast. Food on the table. Bills paid. Then they become environmentally aware of their surroundings.”

      This is the mindset that simply must change if humans are to survive;

      There’s not a single scientific, peer-reviewed paper published in the last 25 years that would contradict this scenario: every living system of earth is in decline, every life support system of earth is in decline, and these together constitute the biosphere, the biosphere that supports and nurtures all of life, and not just our life but perhaps 30 million other species that share this planet with us.
      – The late Ray Anderson

      Without a healthy biosphere to live in there will be no bills to pay and no food for the table.

      Here is Anderson entire comment from the movie Corporation;
      Ray Anderson: Drawing the metaphor of the early attempts to fly. The man going off of a very high cliff in his airplane, with the wings flapping, and the guys flapping the wings and the wind is in his face, and this poor fool thinks he’s flying, but, in fact, he’s in free fall, and he just doesn’t know it yet because the ground is so far away, but, of course, the craft is doomed to crash. That’s the way our civilization is, the very high cliff represents the virtually unlimited resources we seem to have when we began this journey. The craft isn’t flying because it’s not built according to the laws of aerodynamics and it’s subject to the law of gravity. Our civilization is not flying because it’s not built according to the laws of aerodynamics for civilizations that would fly. And, of course, the ground is still a long way away, but some people have seen that ground rushing up sooner than the rest of us have. The visionaries have seen it and have told us it’s coming. There’s not a single scientific, peer-reviewed paper published in the last 25 years that would contradict this scenario: every living system of earth is in decline, every life support system of earth is in decline, and these together constitute the biosphere, the biosphere that supports and nurtures all of life, and not just our life but perhaps 30 million other species that share this planet with us. The typical company of the 20th century: extractive, wasteful, abusive, linear in all of its processes, taking from the earth, making, wasting, sending its products back to the biosphere, waste to a landfill. I, myself, was amazed to learn just how much stuff the earth has to produce through our extraction process to produce a dollar of revenue for our company. When I learned, I was flabbergasted. We are leaving a terrible legacy of poison and diminishment of the environment for our grandchildren’s grandchildren, generations not yet born. Some people have called that intergenerational tyranny, a form of taxation without representation, levied by us on generations yet to be. It’s the wrong thing to do.

      1. “Jobs 1st, environment 2nd”….
        “This is the mindset that simply must change if humans are to survive…”

        No arguement here.

        As I said. Not a popular observation, especially on this blog but….unfortunately however …..in reality….a majority opinion with voters.

        I dont have a lot of faith in the general populations’ ability to sacrifice for the common good ( or the “good of the common” ie atmosphere, oceans, water, soil, population, etc.).
        And if you have any doubts as to the mindset of young and old…..take a walk on English Bay beaches the morning after a fireworks display to view the metric tons of garbage lying everywhere. It isnt just “Boomers” that are to blame.
        Its the anonymity of crowds. If people know they can get away with dumping garbage on the ground rather than walk half a block to a garbage can…..take a wild guess as to what they will do….

        Perhaps in 50 years when its far far too late…..we’ll realize we totally screwed up. But of course it will be way way too late by then.

  10. I’ve had a nasty feeling that the NDP had been co-opted by the good old boys in the union. Emphasis on boys.

    1. So if it were “girls ” everything would be “hunky dory”?.
      Perhaps you should talk with people who lived through Margret Thatchers hated “poll tax” or the Falkland Islands ‘war” or Indira Ghandi’s neato idea for population control of “forced vasectomies” for the illiterate village farmers……

      Male politicians dont have a monopoly on evil or incompetance……….

  11. Note that all the of the BC Building Trades unions are based in the US: http://www.bcbuildingtrades.org/affiliates.html

    All are in favour of BC Hydro’s Site C boondoggle which will provide a few temporary jobs while costing billions to all of us, flooding a fertile valley, and trampling treaty rights. This is opportunism of the worst sort, not solidarity, and certainly not sanity. The NDP follows them at its peril.

  12. Don…right or wrong is a pipe-dream from the past! Only corruption permits the gathering of money any way possible! Look at Petronas and Malasyia…corrupt? Apparently so,but look how successful they have become by avoiding our outdated right or wrong! It appears that a lot of Canadians would forgo their scruples and their decent upbringing to partake in the money chase! I would like to feel sorry for them but I am sure they know what they are doing! Ken

  13. Boy–am I happy that I am not as concerned about being popular as I am about showing concern about what is happening to our so-called educated population! Who am I and what right do I have to speak out? I have, or had, a military tested IQ that I will not tell you the number because you would not believe it! I am 78 years old and spent my life working with others. Am I happy to be on my way out of this man-made mess—you better believe it! As I look back and especially around what we have created, I can only feel sorry for you. The average intelligence has been proven to be shrinking and I am not too sure how much you can trust the published results because the testing is done by someone involved in the shrinking…the fox guarding the chicken coupe? I was forced only once in my life [I was much younger then] to become a union member. I am going to say something that will prove beyond any reasonable doubt that I cannot see where unions have done any good in the last 50 years! As I said, I am not here to be liked! What kind of person needs the protection of a union? A good, desirable worker has to constantly say “NO” to employers looking to hire him! A not-so-good worker—yes, he or she needs union protection! Union wages? Great..you can get paid away more than you are worth by working under the protection of the union! These great undeserved wages do nothing more than shove the price of our produced products away out of line with the rest of the world! Be honest with yourself…can you afford to buy “Canadian Made”? Why are goods made in China found everywhere in our union controlled country? Canadians have subsidized their exports for years! We pay exorbitant prices for low grade products to enable us to ship our best elsewhere! How ridiculous can we be—or get? I guess being good at playing video games does not educate us properly to compete with the rest of the world! I hope this piece of my mind has been enough to infuriate you and make you think…just a little! Thanks for your time! Ken Jennings

  14. The real tragedy here is that neither Clark nor Horgan have a feel for the parliamentary system and how it works. Clark has no concept of the critical importance of not lying and why and when ministers, including premiers, must resign – it has nothing whatever to do with the innocence until proved guilty, presumption of innocence rule.
    Readers will know how hard I’ve tried to advise Mr Horgan of Lord Randolph Churchill’s dictum “it’s the duty of the opposition to oppose” – he can’t seem to understand that this is the only way that government policy can be thoroughly tested and the rule especially applies when the opposition actually agrees, for any experienced parliamentarian will tell you that’s just when bad stuff gets slipped in, whether accidentally or deliberately. This is why Horgan’s decision to give blanket support to LNG was a huge mistake as I told him here it would be.

    Now, for Horgan to apologize, publicly no less, to a Union leader for changing party policy without telling him first simply takes the breath away! That plainly says that Mr Sigurdson is like Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall. “Nothing gets done, boys, until I give the politician the word”.
    My sincere question to Mr. Horgan is “Do you ever think? Seek advice? Listen to others who have a feel for the system and what procedures make sense, what don’t, and why?”

    I’m sure all leaders consult with major supporters but they sure as hell don’t bend the knee in public and apologize if they don’t. Mr. Horgan, like your opponent across the aisle, you don’t understand how the game is played and would be well advised to seek other work.

    1. Good bye NDP Horgan is a sell out , hypocrite , and just lost my vote along with a lot of others I know . Adios . It will be sad to let our office here in Prince Rupert know they no longer have my support.

    2. Rafe, I believe that Mr. Horgan, in his mind, could give a rat’s ass about anything other than his agenda. To quote Churchill to him is just over his head and beyond his scope. It matters little whether we speak of John Horgan or Christy Clark we are talking about the same corporate puppets.
      How much proof do we need? How much more has to occur? To still have hope in anyone seems insane!
      We have been too slow, and I suppose too trusting, to come to this realization!

      1. I think we’re also confusing the issue of “duty” and “honor” in the same sentence with politics……
        Perhaps in Mr Churchill’s time…..not today.

  15. What is more upsetting, the cowardice or the total lack of consideration of what is right and what is wrong?
    Here we have an opposition leader to whom that question seems not to enter his mind.
    What hope could you have for a better future with someone so thoughtless and void of principles?

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