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

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

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

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

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

The good news first

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

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

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

Why back LNG?

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

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

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

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

Woodfibre gets a free ride

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

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

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

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

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

Tanker danger

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NDP ignores call for help

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

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

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

God forbid!

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

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


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.

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

  1. In ‘walking’ their talk, the NDP seem to prefer ‘flip-flops’. Water and the Peace region were on John Horgan’s mind when he spoke as the NDP’s Energy critic in 2010. At the headwaters of LNG, hear what he had to say back then … https://vimeo.com/17221139

    The one (and ONLY) good thing about the recent announcements of additional proposals for LNG export facilities is the reception of more ears to hearing about what may be coming to their backyard. THANKS for the reminders Rafe and keeping it on our radar. It makes it easy to share with new folks just tuning in!

  2. John – what the hell would you have me do? I have presented irrefutable evidence that the Vancouver Province is a Partner of Resource Works whose only raison d’etre is to support an LNG plant in Squamish.

    I have given you written evidence that the fossil fuel industry and Postmedia have a deal whereby the latter uncritically supports the former.

    I have demonstrated how the Sun and Province and Palmer and Smyth have not uttered a word about Campbell’s Energy Policy of 2003 which has ruined our rivers, made foreign companies rich at the expense of the BC treasury and put BC Hydro on the brink of bankruptcy.

    I have demonstrated how the Official Opposition and its leader have refused to do theirn traditional duty and thus uncritically support Woodfibre LNG and refuse to even ask questions of the government about legitimate concerns

    And you give me shit for being monotonous!!!

    Are these not basic flaws I’m dealing with? A bought and paid for media, a government that approves an LNG plant against all the environmental and safety rules and an Opposition in bed with the government and industry?

    Who the hell else is doing this?

    1. Damien, Grant, Norm, Laila, Harvey, when he’s around.

      As I said, I appreciate what you’re doing, and maybe ‘monotonous’ was the wrong choice of word. Perhaps, ‘repetitious’ would be more apro pro.
      I know, it must be frustrating to keep on putting forth the evidence and basically being ignored. I know I get frustrated; and I have no idea of ‘what in the hell I would have you do’. Certainly, not stop doing it!
      You’re supposed to be the past master at this! Set your hair on fire! (I know.)

  3. I am an NDPer and I am listening
    Too often the BC NDP over the last decade, atleast. has been ignoring the grassroots
    For the first time maybe ever I am happy with politics in Canada . So far so good with the newly elected federal govt and I didn’t even vote for them.
    Smarten up NDP or you will be losing members who may want to get something else going

  4. My initial lengthy diatribe just disappeared because I neglected to put in my name, so forgive me if it turns up in the Ethernet.
    Rafe, while I admire your tenacity and have lauded your post far and wide, you are beginning to get a bit monotonous. I doubt there is anyone out there that has not heard of your well informed rants, but isn’t it time to take another tack? It’s becoming evident that the NDP, and Horgan are incapable of carrying the ball. Is there not some other venue to turn to? I don’t think the Greens are able to mount a credible challenge between now and the next election.
    I, for one, am not happy doing business with the likes of Sukanto Tanoto. Isn’t he the same dude that’s responsible for the huge wildfires in South Asia that are contributing to global warming.
    And I don’t like to finance Fortis’s natural gas pipeline that would be the supply line.
    And I wouldn’t dream of purchasing a property anywhere near the proposed tanker route. Must be hell on property values?
    I don’t think I’ll be able to cope with another 4 years of Lieberal governance. Probably neither will British Columbia.
    Anyway, I appreciate your message, but its time to address the ‘critical issues’ to someone who will listen.
    Good luck!

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