Rafe: Gary Mason, quit lecturing Vancouverites for opposing pipelines

Recent Kinder Morgan protest in Vancouver (Photo: Lu Iz/Facebook)
Recent Kinder Morgan protest in Vancouver (Photo: Lu Iz/Facebook)

I simply couldn’t believe Gary Mason in Friday’s Globe and Mail In his article entitled “Sorry Vancouver: The rest of Canada needs pipelines”. I urge you to read the article so that if I misrepresent Mr. Mason you will see it for yourself.

Mason gives Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson hell and by extension all of us the same for being overly proud and concerned about our coastline and other beauties we cherish. He tells us about the unemployment in the oil patch and tough times in Newfoundland and Labrador and praises Justin Trudeau for his decision on the Kinder Morgan pipeline, the strong implication being that this was in the best interest of all Canadians and therefore it didn’t matter if it was distinctly not in the interest of some of them.

We selfish British Columbians

The, dare I say, majority of British Columbians are bad Canadians because we are not prepared to sacrifice our coastline, homes, fjords, mountains, forests, rivers, farmland, lakes and oceans so that Alberta can reinvigorate the Tar Sands, the world’s worst polluter, and send its, forgive me, shit through our province, into our ocean and destroy what we hold dear.

Mason glosses over the environmental disaster that Alberta’s Tar Sands are. It’s evidently an act of patriotism to get it up and running again so that Alberta will be rich again and their employment problems all behind him. There isn’t a suggestion, perish the thought, that Trudeau has a large political stake in this decision.

It doesn’t seem to matter that this decision will wreak huge destruction in this province. Oh, a bit of a risk perhaps but nothing to be concerned about. Never mind that a risk is an event waiting to happen, never mind that, once started, not only does it never end but increases. Overlook the fact that statistically it’s a certainty that there will be bad spills and collisions and never mind that the consequences will be terrible, British Colombians are churlish in the extreme to withhold their support for such selfish reasons. Mason, at one point, sneers:

[quote]People in Vancouver need to get out of their Idyllic little bubble and see how things are in the rest of the country. Not everyone has fluked a small fortune as a result of home ownership. Many people across this country live day to day.[/quote]

This from Gary Mason surprises me a great deal. I believe that British Colombians have a great deal of empathy for other Canadians who are having financial difficulties. In fact, I was part of the debates on equalization in the 70s at first ministers conferences and our province was always supportive of the “equalization” being part of our Constitution and we consistently recognized that we were fortunate in our natural resources where others have not been so lucky. Alberta, I might add, wasn’t quite as supportive. However, it never occurred to me, nor did I ever hear it suggested, that it was part of our obligation to permit our resources to be damaged and destroyed in order to fulfill our patriotic duty.

BC has changed…for the better

British Columbians have made extraordinary adjustments in their outlook in the last several decades.  When I was a boy and a young man there was always another valley to log, another run of fish, more farmland around the corner, more rivers to dam or even reverse. This was considered our birthright. But though it took us a long time to realize it, we saw that we no longer had those luxuries. For far too long we carried on with blindfolds, in denial, but, helped considerably by brave men and women, mocked for their ideas, who marched, picketed, protested, harried, we changed. Groups seen as crazies, even outlaws, gained respectability and stature. I think of people like Colleen McCrory, Joe Foy, Paul Watson to name just a few. Resource extraction companies and politicians, however reluctantly, began to change. We started to ask questions and do research before we acted.

We left a hell of a lot to be desired but we did better and better. We began to respect what we have and not just see resources as dollar signs in the making. We accepted that conservation and restraint cost money. Not everyone did, of course, but more and more every day.

More environment than “resources”

Photo: Canada2020 / Flickr
Photo: Canada2020 / Flickr

Those who didn’t feel this way sometimes just said to hell with it as Stephen Harper did. Others, like Justin Trudeau learned duplicity, how to speak out of both sides of their mouth. They eloquently talked about saving the environment and changing our ways while doing the very opposite.

As I assess it, and I could be very wrong, the majority of British Columbians, in ever increasing numbers changed and saw their province as much more than a cash cow. They took increasing pride in what was around them and became determined to protect it. They also noted a great example of what past government follies unchanged can do to a great salmon fishery. This has become a daily reminder to British Columbians but unnoticed by Justin Trudeau and his crew.

And they learned that oil companies and their own government obscured facts and in fact lied. They saw and remembered what Enbridge said was a minor pipeline rupture did to the Kalamazoo River. When they’re told that tankers don’t hit things they read publications like gCaptain and see about one serious collision a week. They see environmental assessments as about as honest as a the old Soviet show trials were. There is no trust of corporations and governments any more because they damn well don’t deserve it.

Now comes Gary Mason and the Toronto Globe and Mail telling us that British Columbians are wrong to be proud of caring about their surroundings and taking increasing steps to protect them and that when the likes of Justin Trudeau tells them they owe it to Canada to sacrifice them for the Tar Sands we should cheerfully do so.

The Prime Minister and Premier Christy Clark are prepared to do so.

Most British Columbians are not and to call their patriotism into question is disgraceful.  It is our Premier, Prime Minister, Gary Mason and The Toronto Globe and Mail who should be ashamed.


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.

40 thoughts on “Rafe: Gary Mason, quit lecturing Vancouverites for opposing pipelines

  1. Thanks for thisv Rafe. I sent a complaint to Gary Mason with a link to this article and he replied like whining schoolboy. Guess that’s his emotional maturity level.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hey Taivo. Good for you. Would you care to share Gary’s response? You could post here in comments section or email to us through the site…

      1. [Here you go, in reverse order from my email.]

        Written with all the wit and intellect I’d expect from a man of your stature. Thanks!

        On 12/7/2016 12:29 PM, Mason, Gary wrote:
        > Ouch. That hurts.
        > I’m going to need to find a “safe place” to deal with the feelings you have so deeply bruised.
        > I hope I can go on, is all I can say.
        > GM
        > —–Original Message—–
        > From: Taivo
        > Sent: Wednesday, December 07, 2016 12:27 PM
        > To: Mason, Gary
        > Subject: On your BC pipelines article
        > Dear Gary,
        > I’d say it but Rafe says it better.
        > http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/rafe-mair/2016/12/globe-and-mail-needs-to-stop-lecturing-british-columbians-opposing-
        > p.s. Not all of us “people in Vancouver” “fluked a small forture” off the housing market. To call your article paternalistic and blatantly insulting would be a the kindest review I could provide. Perhaps a return to sports writing would be worthy of your abilities?

  2. I don’t think Rafe left much for the rest of us to say . Well done Rafe. And to Gary Mason “Who are you? What Much Hole did you slither up from ?” I can’t imagine that you would even protect those at home in need of protection , hmmm would you???

  3. I suppose the irony is that Gary Mason’s article recruits more opponents to allowing rip and ship raw bitumen exports from our coastline. I read the article when it was first posted and was unable to comment, thank you Rafe for doing such an exquisite job for us all.

  4. I have a lot of time for Rafe because he has been evangelized by the Earth. I heard Gary the pouting reporter make the same repugnant statement about our pride in our pretty landscape on CBC. I guess Gary is so used to living in the garbage dump that is Southern Ontario, he has forgotten what clean looks like. Hey, I grew up in polluted St. Catharines, spent 27 years of my life in Ontario so I know the difference, Gary. This is not about ego, it is about protecting our homes, the animals and plants and Salish Sea who don’t vote but are victims of the Richard Kinder’s particular brand of predatory capitalism. Albertans had it made in the shade for decades, yet they were so enamored with the corporate crumbs of insanely high wages, that they did not see that they could afford to change to a clean energy system. If the Turks could build a tunnel under the Bosporus and make Istanbul clean, Albertans and Canadians can at least refine their own oil. How deluded are we? Owning the factors of production is good business, so Justin tell your buddies refine the damn oil while we speedily build a new clean energy system. We have know how, do we have the courage?

  5. We live in the age of the “Great Deceit”, as predicted in Orwell’s 1984, but it is a gentler, kinder deceit.

    Politicians have become puppets, selling themselves to the highest bidder, as
    “Pay to Play” has become the new democracy.

    We no longer live in a democratic nation, but again a kinder, nicer Fascist State, where regime change is in name only.

    Trudeau the Younger knows this and with mainstream media fawning over him, there will be many “Gary Masons”, pretend journalists who sell propaganda Herr Goebbels style, to the proles, with ever darker yellow journalism. Everyone has their price, including Prime Ministers, Premiers and Mayors.

    Trudeau the Younger is just taking orders from his real bosses, American corporations, who do not give a damn about rivers, BC, or tanker accidents.

    In Ottawa, Narcissism is the dominate religion and worshiping at the Temple of Mammon – with pipelines now the Holy Grail and Trudeau the Younger is now a full member of the new oil religion.

    To stop it will require civil unrest, jail or worse.

    Who is not afraid to ruin their life, belling the cat?

    1. I agree with your assessment of the media and our politicians completely.
      All that I would add is that I think because we are aware of those facts that we can act accordingly.
      We the people can choose to let our boy/man Trudeau ruin our province or we can choose to not let it happen. If he chooses violence against us and is exposed and continues then at least it will be out in the open. we can then asses on the facts of him lying to the world. one thing is certain is that all of his talk on reconciliation with first nations will not be forgotten and his fake commitment to climate change will be seen for the sham it is.

  6. GREAT NEWS! The protest at Standing Rock North Dakota has ended and the protesters are victorious. This after 2000 army vets. came to act as human shields on behalf of the protesters.
    This will surely have dire consequences for Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain to ever become reality. A good day for the world and the environment!

  7. Mason’s a moron. That was one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read. No wonder the corporate media in this country is in the toilet.
    The only pipelines we should be talking about is which one we’re gonna shutdown next!

  8. Which is the best delivery system for fossil fuels?….. Pipelines or Railways? Well that is a lot like asking….. which is a better delivery system for drugs? Snorting, smoking, ingesting, suppositories, or mainlining? This question is a smokescreen to prevent us from looking at the overall major devastations caused by fossil fuels.
    Trudeau,Notley,Clark and ilk are trying to brand pipelines as more green than railways. This is a desperate attempt to hoodwink British Columbians and other Canadians to accept the Trans Mountain Pipeline. Be aware!

  9. Christy Clark needs a customer for her white elephant the Site C Dam and therefore will do anything for Alberta.

  10. Bravo, Rafe, for speaking up on behalf of British Columbians! I thought I have voted for a caring and visionary leader, but utterly surprised on the contrary of Prime Minister Trudeau selling BC and environment out for political expediency!
    My great disappointment in our present PM will reflect my greater support of those who ‘truly’ speak out for and are concerned about our environment, British Columbia, Canada, and the world!

  11. I don’t think I’d blame the rest of Canada for what Gary Mason claims they want, need and are thinking. I know too many people in Ontario/Quebec/Alberta and elsewhere who are fighting just as hard as we are, fighting for our lives and a planet in which humans can still survive.

  12. let’s all remember that gary mason was a sports reporter, complete with the skill set that allows him to ramble on about things he really knows nothing about…. he’ll be appointed to the senate in 2 years

  13. What we in B.C. have to realize is that we are being sold out, we are angry, and therefore it is natural they will try and pitt us as the bad guys, the unreasonable.
    Justin Trudeau and his ministers have lied to Canadians about every promise made to us but we are the unreasonable.
    I am willing to be the most unreasonable person on the planet and be labeled as so if I can stop the madness. There is no more to this other than a Texas oil pipeline company wanting it’s way and for that we are expected to take it up the ass and squeal like a pig.
    Mr. Trudeau may be willing but I am not nor do I believe are opposers of this pipeline!
    We are being asked to do this for the expansion of the tarsands the biggest threat to the environment we have ever known,insanity yes!

  14. I would Gary Mason to tell me why we don’t build a pipeline that terminates on the Toronto waterfront. Or on the St. Laurence? It’s good for the country right? Especially since British Columbians don’t want an expanded pipeline.

  15. Rafe, you are absolutely right. I think back to the fight to preserve Clayoquot Sound and Alexandra Morton’s lone fight to save our salmon fishery. It was hard to get people to care or even pay attention but things have changed. People care, not just about BC but about th entire country. They know what is at stake and they know Trudeau’s “solution” is no solution at all. I am an Albertan and I care deeply that so many are suffering in my home province but I want real relief for them in the way of permanent and sustainable jobs that will not damage our environment any further. How dare Gary Mason tell me and the rest of this province that we are selfish for not wanting to put multiple industries at risk for the oil patch. Mason throws around unemployment numbers (tens of thousands here and thousands there) with nothing to back them up and insinuates that the country will go to rack and ruin if we don’t get the tar sands running at triple the output.

    People need to look at how important this industry is to Canada’s overall economy. The tar sands makes up 2% of Canada’s GDP with 90% of the benefits going to Alberta. After these pipeline projects are complete, the percentage of GDP is estimated to be 4% with approximately 94% of benefits going to Alberta. So BC is supposed to suck it up and put multiple industries at risk; the rest of Canada is supposed to suck it up and bear the increased costs and the effects of climate change all for an industry that will provide 2% to 4% of national GDP (over 25 years) with less than 1% going to each province’s GDP (except Alberta’s).

    Hardly makes sense does it? What does make sense is that Trudeau sees this as his opportunity to vanquish the enemy (the Conservatives) in their own territory. If he cared about the unemployed in Alberta as much as he professes, about the Canadian economy, about climate change and about forging a new relationship with our First Nations (remember this was his most important objective), why wouldn’t he be pushing a renewable energy industry and using those huge oil subsidies as incentives and to help retrain the unemployed? And anyone expecting BC’s premier to stand up for BC is dreaming. She got approvals for Site C and her Pacific NorthWest LNG project. It’s all a nice little web of deceit.

    These are the facts Mr. Mason conveniently left out. How many jobs have been lost in the oil patch? http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/oil-patch-layoffs-how-many-1.3665250

    Percentage of GDP coming from the tar sands? http://www.vancouverobserver.com/blogs/climatesnapshot/tar-secret-2-what-percentage-canadas-gdp-comes-tar-sands?page=0,1

  16. Rafe, great letter.

    Please mention royalties.

    Right now, new oil sands plays are paying LESS THAN 1% of revenue of sale of bitumen in royalties.

    That’s a travesty.

    That’s like harvesting timber, timber that will never grow back, for nothing. For simply the privilege of “providing jobs” to a few lucky members of the oil industry.

    Alberta would need to pump about 10 Mbbl/day to have a balanced budget with non-existent royalties.

  17. Raef,
    You said it for all of us, and I thank you.
    Alberta needs to tax the energy companies so that the Province can provide replaceable energy and the jobs this would provide.
    Same for BC . Damn the dam.

  18. In the grand scheme of things.
    Controversial editorials sell newspapers.
    Gary Mason is no exception and the fact that his newspaper is a supporter of big business and the oil industry makes his comments that much more partisan.
    I take him with a grain of salt since he’s probably just “following orders” to pump out (pun intended) a yellow journalism hack job.

    HOWEVER, that being said, perception is 9/10ths of the new reality we face with biased media and , like it or not, the rest of Canada might very well perceive us as a bunch of hairy, dredlocked, unwashed, tree hugging, anarchist, professional protesting, welfare recipients……
    Oh well
    Sticks and stones……..

  19. Morgan is an American company headquartered in downtown Houston, Texas. Kinder Morgan is the biggest pipeline company in the United States. Richard Kinder and Bill Morgan are ex-Enron Executives. Enron is the corporation that famously swindled its own shareholders out of approximately 11 billion dollars. The Wall Street Journal called Richard Kinder the “luckiest ex-Enron employee”. His predecessor Jeffrey Skilling is currently in prison. Both men are now billionaires. Richard Kinder is the 110th richest man alive with a net worth of $8.2 billion.

    US regulators have documented over thirty significant accidents and violations in the country associated with Kinder Morgan’s operations. Kinder Morgan pipelines have exploded causing disasters and death. They have paid out millions of dollars in fines and settlements.Kinder Morgan Safety Violations[edit]
    In 2009, the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) cited Kinder Morgan for violating safety standards regarding the distance between a natural gas pipeline and a “high consequence area” such as a school or hospital; the pipeline was too close for safe operation in case of a leak.[33]

    In 2011, PHMSA cited Kinder Morgan for these safety violations:

    failing to maintain update maps showing pipeline locations,
    failing to test pipeline safety devices,
    failing to maintain proper firefighting equipment,
    failing to inspect its pipelines as required,
    failing to adequately monitor pipes’ corrosion levels.[34]
    Also in 2011, the U.S. Department of Transportation cited Kinder Morgan for violations including the company’s failure to have and follow written startup and shutdown procedures, and failing to have or use other measures to detect abnormal operating conditions, and proposed a fine of $425,000.[35]

    In 2013, the headline “Wall Street Worries About Kinder Morgan’s Safety Record: BC pipeline operator slashes and defers maintenance spending” was a concern to anyone who lived or worked near a Kinder Morgan pipeline.[36]

    The Wall Street Journal asked, “Is Kinder Morgan Scrimping on its Pipelines?” after an investment analyst charged the company with starving its pipelines of routine maintenance spending in order to return more cash to investors.[37] Deferred maintenance may account for the high number of Kinder Morgan pipeline accidents in the last decade.

    PHMSA’s incident reports for Kinder Morgan’s onshore gas transmission pipelines show that faulty infrastructure causes 45% of the significant leaks. Failure of the pipe, cracked welds, and faulty pipeline equipment together account for 28.3% of pipeline leaks, and corrosion of the pipe causes 16.8%.[38]

    In Texas from 2003 to 2014, Kinder Morgan experienced 36 “significant incidents” resulting in fatalities or hospitalization, fires, explosions, or spills.[39]

    Throughout the U.S. since 2003, Kinder Morgan and its subsidiaries’ pipelines (of all kinds) have been responsible for more than 400 spills, evacuations, explosions, fires, and fatalities in 24 states, incurring more than 110 federal enforcement actions. Kinder Morgan’s natural gas transmission pipeline accidents caused more than $224 million in property damage.[40]

    1. Thank you for your very comprehensive review of Kinder Morgan’s safety record. I spend several months per year in Arizona, which is very much a right wing Republican state. The Arizona Republic newspaper, several years ago, highlighted Kinder Morgan as having one of the worst safety records in the U.S.

      Of course, Premier Photo-op will protest and blather on about all these most wonderful safety/spill response regulations in the world, but I must ask: do any of us think that the BC Libs will follow up on inspections and enforce these regulations? And if that is what she is promising, then how the hell did the Mt. Polley disaster occur and what has been done to clean that mess up?

  20. You touch all of our nerves Rafe. We must try to touch the nerves of those in power before it is too late.

    “Unthinking respect for authority is the greatest enemy of truth.” Albert Einstein

  21. For all the so called experts and hustler politicians and there talking points there are as many unanswered questions. Questions they will absolutely refuse to answer because to answer would expose them for what they really stand for. They are nothing but snake oil salesman selling deception.
    Why is the oil I put in my tank form Saudi Arabia? Why is canada under siege to their control of global prices if we have such an abundance? Why do you choose to ship it as tar the minute it comes out of the ground and in doing so cause such danger to our environment? Why does another country refine and get all the benefit from our resource and we get all the risks?
    Why aren’t canadians refining this sludge and getting all the jobs involved in that process?
    These are questions those such as Mr. Mason and Mr. Trudeau avoid like the plague, why??
    The quickest way to a confrontation is by insulting another’s intelligence and trying to imply yours is superior. This is what Mr. Mason has done and if confrontation occurs he has no better place to look than in a mirror for a cause.
    As for the politicians, Minister Carr runs to Alberta to warn of repercussion should protester break the law?? I don’t think you’ll find many there Mr Carr.
    Justin Trudeau will not come to B.C. too explain the position he and no-one else has put us in?
    Shameful at best. pathetic to the extreme.

  22. As a recently retired BC public high school teacher, I spent most of the final 15 years of my career feeling that I was being portrayed in the media as public enemy number one for daring to challenge the government in their attacks on BC’s public education system. Now, I suppose all of us British Columbian’s who dare to oppose the government’s blessing of the Kinder Morgan nightmare will be targeted in a similar fashion. We’ll be categorized as selfish, entitled, spoiled and probably criminal for not agreeing that our spectacular natural heritage should be sacrificed to the benefit of the corporate tarsands overlords. Trudeau communicates that he doesn’t have to make a choice between what’s best for the environment and the economy. It’s true. He hasn’t made a choice that’s best for either of them. There will be so much human effort and intelligence used up fighting this reckless decision; an exhausted, divided and demoralized population is economically counterproductive. Insisting that we must build more pipelines so that we can transition to green energy options later is mind boggling. If we know that we must transition to clean energy for the sake of our ecosystems, what sense does it make to lock us into 20-30 years of increased emissions that will continue to cook the planet before we shift gears? I didn’t vote for him, and I don’t think a lot of the people who did vote for Trudeau voted for this treachery.

  23. So in the “Glory Days” in Alberta, while the lorded it over the rest of us because they had oil and it was feeding them an elusion of an economy, now they want us to sacrifice our coastline and wilderness areas so they can do it again? Would it not make more sense to learn a lesson that you don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Sorry but I see no need to cater to Alberta now. Right on Rafe!

  24. I was furious when I read the article. The arrogance in the Rest of Canada boggles the mind Is it time to secede and build Cascadia?

  25. Has Gary heard of the little inconvenient truth of climate change? Hello. Mainstream media are dumbing the public down every day a little bit more. Politicians meanwhile excel at post-truth as evidenced by Trudeau and his string of broken election promises. Our endless growth and high employment lifestyle is ending and it will make people happier to re-connect with the important things in life (relationships, nature, animals, real food, etc.) rather than superficial aspects of modern society (FB likes, tweets, etc.)

    1. “happier to re-connect”?????????
      I love the superficial!
      What’s wrong with:”high employment lifestyle”?????
      You need to find a job.

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