Rafe to Horgan: Get Serious about Kinder Morgan, Woodfibre LNG

John Horgan being sworn in as Premier, with Environment Minister George Heyman looking on (Photo: Flickr/Province of British Columbia)

Dear Premier Horgan,

My congratulations to you and your new government. I can tell you that a great many British Columbians who do not usually support your party voted for you on May 9 last with the same feelings as Dr. Johnson ascribed to second marriages – a triumph of hope over experience.

I realize that over the past few years I have not been flavour of the month for either you or Dr. Andrew Weaver but I know that you would think even less of me if I allowed that to bother me. It doesn’t.

Until the Liberals came to power, it was not customary for the mainstream media to shower governments with praise. I intend to practice my profession the traditional way – the way I was treated when when I was in government.

Allow me a short anecdote, Premier. In 1975, during the Dave Barrett NDP years, I was the nominated candidate for the Social Credit Party for Kamloops. Each evening I would faithfully read the late Sun Columnist, Marjorie Nichols, chortling with glee as she regularly kicked hell out Barrett. Night after night I listened, enjoying every syllable. On December 11, I won a seat in the general election and on the 22nd, was sworn into cabinet. It wasn’t long before Marjorie, good old Marjorie, was kicking hell out of Bill Bennett! Then me! What the devil had caused her to change?

Well, she hadn’t – it was the government that changed!

M.r Premier, I have two points today. The first is on LNG – you seem to have a blind spot about Woodfibre LNG proposed for Squamish.

Do you not know Howe Sound, Premier? Allow me to introduce you to some of my neighbours in Howe Sound, my backyard.

Next to the beautiful Chinook Salmon, or Spring as we used to call them, those are Orca, commonly called Killer Whales, which abounded in Howe Sound when I was a young boy in the 30s, along with humpback whales, seals, porpoise, dolphin, all 7 species of Pacific salmon native to BC – and herring.

They all gradually disappeared from much of Howe Sound, largely due to industrial development. Some 20 years ago, the government, with massive involvement of ordinary people, went to work and began cleaning up the old pulp mill site in Squamish and the mine site at Britannia. Slowly but steadily nature healed and our friends were all back. Surely you have a soul, Mr Premier, and can understand what this means. Well, the biologists tell us that with an LNG facility in Squamish, with their discharges and tankers, we’ll almost certainly lose it all again.

Do you know, Premier, that the environmental process held for Woodfibre LNG was as phoney as Confederate money, having been conducted, so to speak, by the National Energy Board in hearings so roundly criticized by Prime Minister Trudeau, who now relies upon them?

Did you know, Mr. Premier, that Howe Sound is too narrow for LNG Tanker traffic by world standards, US EPA standards and – get this, Mr. Horgan – by the standards of SIGTTO, the Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (the Industry’s own organization) and that the Federal Liberal government hasn’t taken this into account? You are our premier, Mr. Horgan, and Howe Sound, the most southern fjord in Canada, an internationally renowned beauty spot, is on the brink of ruin by the LNG industry, and you are on record as supporting Woodfibre LNG!

Why, Premier, in the name of God, why?

Now I turn to the Kinder Morgan pipeline, over which both you and your Attorney-General David Eby were dressed down by Justin Trudeau and you hung your heads like naughty schoolboys. I can’t speak for others, Mr. Premier, but I watched conference after conference attended by Premier Bill Bennett with Justin’s father – twice the man – time and time again standing up to him and for British Columbia. I have little doubt that Dave Barrett would have done likewise. You cringe because if, as you first suggested, BC works to rule, thereby delaying provincial permits for Kinder Morgan, BC will be sued.

I hate to mention this because he is a fine man, lawyer, accomplished author, teacher, civil rights advocate and activist – all accomplishments I admire and indeed he’s a man I admire – but David Eby is not a British Columbian of sufficient length to have all the assets, especially the animal life of Howe Sound and the Salish Sea, engrained in his psyche as is necessary for a BC warrior to be prepared to go to the wall for this province.

A man who has the commitment I’m talking about is Grand Chief Stewart Philip, President of the Union of BC Indian Chiefs; others include Green Party Leader Elizabeth May, who is personally prepared to go to jail; a man like Mayor Derek Corrigan of Burnaby; Vicki Huntington, former MLA; Kai Nagata, communications director for the Dogwood Initiative; Vancouver City Councillor Adriane Carr; but more than this, Premier, while your Central Canada-loyal Attorney-General is quaking in his boots because someone might sue us, for using the obvious “work-to-rule” tactic of delaying provincial approvals, you’ve also chickened out.

For God’s sake, Mr. Horgan, thousands of British Columbians are prepared to go to jail while you and the Attorney-General, leaders of the party of protest, heirs to the men and women of the people whose names you still mention in hushed terms of reverence, are afraid that if you stand up for our sacred environment, that nasty man Trudeau Minor or big, bad Kinder Morgan might sue us!

Do you think that real British Columbians ready to risk going to jail are going to be pushed around by a coward from Ottawa, propped by the oil industry, just as you apparently are?

Time is short, Mr. Horgan, and I suggest that you and the Kid from Kitchener, David Eby, look in the mirror at two politicians prepared to sell out their province, so that the Tar Sands can hum away, polluting the earth’s atmosphere and so Justin will be nice to you as he goes back to chasing old Tory seats in Alberta.

If Kinder Morgan happens on your watch, do you think voters will forgive you because some lawsuits were threatened? I tell you plain, Premier, it won’t be a mere 16 years next time if Kinder Morgan is forced on British Columbians who marched and went to jail while the quislings in Victoria skulked in their offices and sent obsequious emails to Kinder Morgan and Justin.

Yes, Mr Horgan, l’ll stand up to Ottawa for British Columbia. So, I suspect will most British Columbians. And what are you going to do when Ottawa shoves another environmental catastrophe under your nose and says, “Here, Premier Pussycat, sign or by golly you’ll be sued?”

Not a very good start, Mr. Horgan, not a good start at all.


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.

29 thoughts on “Rafe to Horgan: Get Serious about Kinder Morgan, Woodfibre LNG

  1. You’re not gonna like this, Rafe, but when I finished reading your letter to Horgan, (aloud to my husband) he said, “If I didn’t know better, I’d have sworn that was a young Dave Barrett rallying the troops in one of his famous fiery speeches.”

    Keep it up, Rafe, and please, if you haven’t already, send this letter off to John Horgan personally.

  2. In regard to the total lack of discussion between Robertson and Trudeau on the subject of the Kinder Morgan pipeline …

    I understand that Gregor Robertson and Justin Trudeau are friends. However Robertson needs to set that friendship aside now, and DO HIS JOB.

    Because he really does fully understand the potential devastation that a local catastrophic event in the TMX pipeline system could bring to both BC’s Lower Mainland communities and to the Pacific coastline. He is on record already re his views about the economic risks the Kinder Morgan pipeline project entails. To not even broach that topic during this brief meeting with Trudeau does not speak well for Robertson’s credibility as a man of honour.

    The Mayor of Vancouver should now fulfill his sworn duty as the City’s chief executive officer and head of City council, an elected role legislated under a unique BC statute known as the Vancouver Charter, by IMMEDIATELY initiating a full and frank PUBLIC discussion with the Prime Minister about the very serious ecological and economic risks involved in Trudeau’s federal approval of Kinder Morgan’s odious ‘pipeline expansion’ project.

  3. John Horgan has asked the Attorney General, David Eby, to use all reasonable LEGAL means to stop the project.

    Eby recently said (and I quote) “I’ve been tasked by the premier to identify our options. There is an important piece to that, which is that we must do so within the laws of British Columbia and Canada, because if we don’t, we’ll be sued … we’ll end up paying hundreds of millions of dollars that should be going to schools and hospitals to an oil company and that is not a goal that anybody’s looking for.” He further said that the province cannot deliberately stall on permits without risking a very costly lawsuit, but that it CAN ensure that permits require that construction be done in a way that minimizes spills, protects the environment and ensures appropriate cleanup.

    I believe those construction permits are the key to re-initiating a new BC Environmental Assessment process. And I very sincerely hope that this permit process requires a PHYSICAL audit of the twelve 65 year old tanks at the Burnaby tank farm… tanks that were upgraded about 20 years ago, supposedly to API standards, with containment berms by an engineering firm known as SNC LAVALIN … a Canadian corporation based in Quebec which is INTERNATIONALLY FAMOUS for its blatantly CORRUPT PROFESSIONAL PRACTICES.

    Moreover, there is serious doubt in the mind of by certain observers that those containment berms are adequately sized to accommodate both oil spillage and any water needed to douse the fires if two or more of them should (Heaven forbid) catch on fire at the same time. Particularly note that oil is lighter than water, and it is the oil products that would overflow the berm’s rated capacity, not the water used to put out the fire.

    AND even scarier, perhaps, is the fact that those twelve 65 year old tanks were themselves built to ZERO oil-storage construction standards in the 1950s (my understanding is that NO such standards existed at that time).

    Those tanks absolutely need to be INDEPENDENTLY TESTED for their tolerance of a potential serious seismic event. Note that in the NEB Application Kinder Morgan has only undertaken to build the NEW tanks to current API standards … and the NEB knew this, but preferred to ignore this fact.

    We desperately need an INDEPENDENT and UNBIASED ‘forensic audit’ at the Burnaby Mountain and Westridge sites … NOT the mound of paperage sent to the NEB by Kinder Morgan, but THE SITES THEMSELVES.

    The NDP/Green coalition better have the will to do the job right this time (unlike the Liberals who were well rumunerated by Kinder Morgan to turn a blind eye to the REAL-LIFE PHYSICAL FACTS of project construction requirements).

  4. Our new Attorney General needs to look VERY carefully at the issue of PROVINCIAL LIABILITY in the case of A MAJOR CATASTROPHIC EVENT at the tank farm or the marine terminal (not to mention anywhere else along the pipeline route). If any significant loss of life were to be involved in such an event, the cost of such liability could be monumental. Kinder Morgan would just walk away if it got so expensive the company could not afford to deal with this problem in financial terms. No amount of affordable insurance could be purchased to cover it.

  5. I want to hit the next STUPID reporter or politician parroting “The Liberals balanced the BC Budget for the last five years!”

    Will you PLEASE write on how the Liberals milked BC for their friends and to get re-elected to dispel this Myth?

    The GO (green/orange) Alliance have their work cut out for them to clean up the mess the Libs left.

  6. KM’s pipeline is a stupid idea to start with, because there is no world class equipment to clean-up a dirty, tar sands spill. This stupid idea is an insult to the intelligence of the British Columbian people. The dilbit is riddled with cancer-causing carcinogens. The toxic, tar sands should not be permitted pass the AB/BC border. Let’s keep beautiful British Columbia.

    1. Earl Richards,

      You hit on something. Dilbit, as a toxic substance, should be BANNED just like asbestos and PCB’s are.

      The Province of BC has Hazardous Waste Regulations which could be used to prevent Dilbit coming into BC.

      Make the Albertans process that crud first so they can create more jobs.

  7. There’s another demonstration day next Saturday (actually, it’s a parade, but an opportunity to wave signs and stand up for what we believe in) in Ladysmith. The local Greens are not letting Kinder Morgan or LNG get away with anything. We continue to stand, and to fight. With a resounding 24% of the vote, and a slightly Italian accent, we say “Forget About it” and will continue to fight until both of these insane projects are gone, gone, gone.

  8. you need to give Horgan and co some time – they have inherited chaos and huge debt on every front after 15 years of ruinous government. If you beat the drum of discontent you do the NDP no favours, and only increase the likelihood of a return to massive corruption and government in the interests of only the already very wealthy. Give them some time – a year at least.

  9. Bud – on this my wedding anniversary you remind me that Wendy calls me “her DonQuixote” because tilting at windmills is second nature to me. I’m also a believer in Churchill’s advice “Never give in–never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.” I have not, by any means, won all my battles but I have won some surprising ones. Churchill’s advice is practical – by following it, you often find that the other side isn’t nearly as committed as you are, showing a willingness to be distracted or become discouraged. Moreover, the longer you tilt, the more the chances of getting allies whom I have sometimee found where I least expected. Mostly, though, the other guy can’t quit if I did it first.
    Let me say this about David Eby – i in now way impugn his loyalty to the Province he serves. Kinder Morgan is a gut issue for a hell of a lot of British Columbians, including me. the Salish Sea and Howe Sound are to me sacred and dammit, let me be corny, the killer whales, seals, porpoise and so on are so important, that there is very little I won’t do to protect them. Things like Tar Sands, Alberta prosperity, the well being of the fossil fuel industry, the financial health of Bay Street, what other Canadians, particularly Trudeau Secundum think, mean exactly two times the square root of sweet fuck-all to me compared my love for and dedication to the land where I was born, have always lived and have a duty to pass on as best I can to others. And I make it clear that you don’t have to be born here to feel this way but my reaction to Trudeau would have been to put up my dukes, Mr Eby’s was to throw up his hands.

    British Columbians have every right, indeed duty to fight these bastards on every front.

    Sorry to occupy so much space this week.


    1. Well, a belated Happy Anniversary Rafe. From windmills and rubber lances, we now refer to another old yarn, “The Boy Who Called Wolf”.

      Like the NDP who excel at making mountains out of molecules, so too do the Greens. Both of which remind me of the old saw from the depression years “if we had some ham we could have some ham and eggs…if we had some eggs.”

      These two groups spend so much time worrying about what might happen, they have no attention span left for what is happening. Nor do they want to.

      No oils spills in Vancouver harbour is how many decades? That pipeline they wish to expand has had how many breaks in 50+ years? One, caused by a clumsy contractor.

      Eby is a proven idealogue and thus blind to reality as all idealogues are.

      I hope you had a delightful Anniversary celebration surrounded by friends and family.


      1. Bud, you are aware are you not that the purpose of the pipeline is changing? It has alway in the past transferred oil. The purpose of the twinning is to accommodate Bitumen and a dilutent. Bitumen sinks making it. basically impossible to clean up
        I would suggest that before you become a water boy for industry speaking on their behalf that you take time to not only understand the issues but be able to address them, otherwise you words carry little weight in this conversation.

      2. 72, Bud. 72 incidents on that Trans Mountain pipeline, by the company’s admission. You mean you’ve only HEARD OF one – which is entirely different from there only BEING one. This can only partly be attributed to your own ignorance. Much of the blame belongs to our media, which doesn’t report on such things. Moreover, no oil spill is “small” – no such thing. https://brokepipelinewatch.ca/trans-mountain-kinder-morgan-and-tank-farm-accident-history-canada-and-usa/

  10. “Howe Sound, the most southern fjord in Canada,”

    uh, no, even on the Mainland that title goes to Burrard Inlet.

    and in BC the southermost fjord is Saanich Inlet.

    And if you look at the national map, Gros Morne in Newfoundland is south of the 49th Parallel, and Newfoundland has other lesser-known fjords along it southern flank.

  11. You are encouraging Horgan et al to waste a great deal of tax money tilting at windmills. The feds have all the aces on this issue and the NDamnableP are, as usual, holding a handful of “it’s not fair”.

    To be certain, the NDP-which needs a name change BTW as it isn’t new and since it is in favor of abandoning the secret ballot for union certification, is definitely not democratic, is no stranger to breaking lances against windmills.

    These chicken little people are so busy building mountains out of molecules they wasted their 16 years in the wilderness. Listen to the recent interview of a new housing minister with John McComb on ‘NW. The poor woman hadn’t the vaguest idea why she was there or what she was going to do. One would think, after spending all those years whining and sniveling about the housing issue, they’d have a finely tuned program to fix things in their anxious hands.

    One would think that if they didn’t know what a complete failure the NDP are and have been since they were the CCF.


    1. Bud

      Yeh, damn those CCFers for laying the foundation of Canada’s Universal Health Care.

      I’m sure you’re a great fan of Trump.

  12. The peoples of BC will not allow Kinder-Morgan to further despoil our province our home and our responsibility to protect it from malicious trespassers for the generations yet unborn.

    Big oil money has and will continue to buy week-kneed politicians but like all bullies will turn and run when the people stand together and stand together we will.

      1. That is not written in stone. You would be amazed how quickly federal support for KM can shift given political pressures going forth. Trudeau Secundum enjoys a very tenuous hold on Canadians.

      2. I won a lot of beer and whiskey betting against people who said the same thing about Enbridge, Bud. And all these LNG plants.

  13. I agree, listen to Rafe, he speaks the truth re this project Now is the time to stand tall

  14. Premier Horgan, I hope you are listening. Rafe does know what he is talking about. Please show some spine. Woodfibre LNG must not be built.

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