Rafe-with fracking, tankers world-class safety is just a weasel word

Rafe: With fracking, tankers “world-class safety” is a weasel word

Rafe-with fracking, tankers world-class safety is just a weasel word
BC Premier Christy Clark touts “world-class” safety for fossil fuel projects (Canadian Press)

Many times I have referred to Premier Clark’s demand that Enbridge and others have “world-class” cleanup processes in place. To repeat myself, these are “weasel words” and mean absolutely nothing. “World-class” firefighting procedures doesn’t mean the building didn’t burn down.

I was delighted to read Stephen Hume’s column in the Vancouver Sun of July 17, where he talks about “weasel words”, especially the term “world-class”, and other matters. This particular article is about fracking and in his surgical way, Hume carves up the government for it’s utter lack of process and covering each and every one of their tracks by use of the words “world class”.

Government naively accepts industry’s word on safety

We have seen a similar absence  of investigation by the Clark government into the risks of LNG, be it in pipelines, plants, or tankers. This government is now known for two things: an utter lack of preparation and lying through their teeth.

British Columbia under Christy Clark is brought to the position where we are to have pipelines and oil tankers; LNG  plants, pipelines, and tankers; and fracking for natural gas, without any idea as to the safety of these projects. Premier Clark and her cabinet lickspittles simply take the company’s word that what they plan is environmentally benign.

Companies lie by their very nature. They spend hundreds of millions of dollars on public relations every year. One only has to look at the ads from Enbridge over the last year or so to see the kind of money they spend and the sort of message that they put out.

Many British Columbians accept the need for oil pipelines, LNG, and fracking and the tanker traffic associated with them and I must ask my fellow citizens upon what do you base your support? Do you have some information about the safety of these projects that we don’t? If so, would you be so kind as to vouchsafe  it to the rest of us so that we can, perhaps, change our minds?

British Columbians face onslaught of projects

A couple of years ago, in a speech,  I observed that the attacks on the environment of British Columbia were so many, so varied, and so widespread that it would be difficult for us to deal with them just because of their sheer volume. Unfortunately this has manifestly been proved true.


Citizens of a democracy, faced with this sort of an onslaught, have a right to expect that their government will stand at the gate and not let anybody by who is going to do harm. We are entitled to believe that our government will investigate each and every potential environmental assault and advise us of what dangers we face.

We expect governments to give a full accounting on the danger of oil spills from pipelines and tanker accidents; we expect a full investigation by the government of safety factors as well as the environmental concerns around LNG plants, pipelines and tankers; we expect our government to make a thorough investigation of fracking before the first undertaking starts. On that latter point, fracking is going ahead full blast and the government hasn’t lifted a finger to deal with its safety or environmental concerns – like massive climate impacts and water contamination, as recent, reputable studies reveal.

Public can’t rely on government

We, who pride ourselves on being environmentalists, must do extensive investigations on our own to learn the facts. There is absolutely no point in going to government departments to find out what they know because they know nothing. It is idle to go to the companies involved because they are incapable of telling the truth.

This is the extent of democracy under the Christy Clark government.

NDP ‘opposition’ not much better

One would like to think that the NDP, her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, would be different.

Unfortunately, the leader of the NDP seems to favour LNG. He is thinking about fracking. He is also, apparently, confused about the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion and on this critical issue, the Party Policy falls all over its own feet.

British Columbians left on their own

It is the totality of tanker traffic carrying diluted bitumen (dilbit) and LNG which has not been assessed by the government and doesn’t seem to be bothering the opposition – yet this is a massive issue.

We are left in British Columbia on our own. Those people to whom we pay a great deal of money to manage our affairs are in thrall to big industry, which finances the Liberal Party and supports it politically. It, like the government, is hugely economical with the truth. We citizens must then inform ourselves.

As I see it, we have only one political option. I am, God knows, no socialist. I ran against the NDP twice and beat them twice. I stood against them in the legislature. My last two votes in provincial elections have been for the Greens.

Having said that, the Greens are not going to win the next election and the NDP do have a chance.

What the NDP must do to regain public’s support

If the NDP are to win they have to increase their support substantially.

If the NDP do increase their support by candidly, fully and fairly looking at environmental matters and reporting to us faithfully as to their findings and encourage the fullest debates, I not only think they have a chance to win, but would be an acceptable government to have.

One thing that I must say in conclusion – I cannot believe that my fellow citizens would be insane enough to support Christy Clark and her bunch once again.

If that happens, we deserve what we get, even though our kids sure as hell don’t.


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.

17 thoughts on “Rafe: With fracking, tankers “world-class safety” is a weasel word

  1. How long since ExxonValdez spilled oil, and in spite of millions spent on clean-up, the mess is not cleaned up… look at the Kalamazoo spill…and we could go on moaning, bitching and complaining about this spill, that spill, the next spill, but to what avail? There is no such thing as “world class” clean-up, nor “world class” safety, nor “world class” anything except proliferating mess. The coast of Louisiana is dying, the off-shore drilling is wiping out sea life, and the time for us to be nice, polite, quiet-spoken and logical people is long past. When the BC Liebrals start spewing their rhetoric we should holler BULLSHIT and drown out their weasel words. Talk to your neighbours and expose the lies, spread the information and let’s start trying to find ways to laugh these clowns out of power. We don’t want their BULLSHIT and we don’t want their mess. By me, they can take a hike. And please, for the love of gawd, the angels, and this planet, take the Liebrals with them.

  2. “Third wod class”
    True indeed, the leaders of all the ‘5 eyes’ countries have plugged their ears and refuse to listen to reason, the leader of BC has done exactly the same.
    They live in a sequestered virtual enclave cut off from the public they theoretically lead, worried only about the next election—if there is one, while some of us, myself included, worry about the next meal–if there is one.
    thank you, Rafe

  3. So when all is said and done, how are you going to increase or replace the money that would come from income tax? Without taxing anyone else anymore?

  4. A good rule of thumb is that every time you hear a BC Liberal say World Class, put Third in front of it, this will always bring you closer to the truth.

    Third World Class…..

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