Rafe to Justin: Kinder Morgan approval makes mockery of democracy

Prime MInister Justin Trudeau (Canada 2020/Flickr CC Licence)
Prime MInister Justin Trudeau (Canada 2020/Flickr CC Licence)

My Nova Scotia pen pal, the voice of common sense in this country, Silver Donald Cameron, is fond of saying “laws are made by those who have the power to enforce them.” My own variation is that the people who make the laws are the ones that use them and you can judge that from how fair they are.

How long?

In the 1960s and 70s, the buzz words were “pourquoi pas?” or “why not?”. It signalled the end of the State in the bedroom and a whole new morality developed, ironically under the current Prime Minister’s father.

As of today, I put Justin Trudeau and Christy Clark on notice that the buzzwords are how long?”

My remarks today will be basically from a British Columbian, for the simple reason that’s what I happen to be. I expect that my colleague Damien Gillis and I will have much more to say about this as time goes on.

How long, Mr. Trudeau and Ms. Clark, do you expect the people of British Columbia to put up with your bullshit?

Justin Trudeau and Christy Clark (Province of BC/Flickr CC)
Justin Trudeau and Christy Clark (Province of BC/Flickr CC)

Granted, this is only a recommendation by the NEB to approve the project, but you, Justin, have given every indication thus far of your support and done nothing meaningful to intervene in this Harper-appointed panel’s process. Christy says she’s “a long way” from signing off, but she already gave away the province’s power to the federal government and has made it clear where she stands on pipelines and fossil fuels, so we can’t expect her to hold this project up.

Your dictatorial decision on Kinder Morgan was not unexpected and simply typifies what we know the governments are going to do to us. And those are the operative words “do to us”. Let’s get it right on the table – there isn’t a soupçon of democracy any of the decisions that you have taken since assuming power, from the smallest through to Kinder Morgan.

Surely you don’t pretend the BC public in the last election debated and approved of any pipeline, let alone Kinder Morgan? What would have been the point?

Do you seriously suggest that any member of Parliament from British Columbia effectively represents a single person, let alone a constituency in our province?

Woodfibre LNG OK came from sham process too

Let’s examine that just a moment from the point of view of West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast-Sea to Sky Country. Even an Easterner would have heard something about the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant. Given the fact that the Tory MP was unceremoniously dumped because he supported this project, I have to assume you knew that the mood of the people was anything but supportive.

The so-called environmental assessment scheme the feds and the province concocted was, and there is no other word for it, fraudulent in the extreme. There had been no examination of flows of contaminated water into Howe Sound and the hugely important issue of protecting ocean values. The entire question of the width of Howe Sound, which is dramatically too narrow, has not even yet been canvassed. We were assured that your candidate, now the MP, if she did not oppose this project at least, had a completely open mind. (I must confess I told all who would listen that it didn’t matter and they now know I was dead right!)

Well, Mr. Prime Minister, how long did it take your minister of environment to approve this project based upon one absolutely phoney environmental process? Your MP, Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, wasn’t even advised by the minister prior to the decision being taken. Not that it mattered, but it would have looked a lot better.

Let’s stop there – that’s democracy? That’s the way you see consultation with the people of British Columbia about British Columbia matters? That’s how important we are to you?

I am not wasting time talking about the Clark government, which has paid no attention whatsoever to our concerns. I ask you again, prime minister, when will it end?

Do you seriously suggest that the shenanigans that go on inside your office, caucus meetings and so on provide even the slightest opportunity for a British Columbian to present his or her feelings effectively? At least be honest!

Not an ounce of democracy

Oil tanker passing Stanley ParkNow comes Kinder Morgan. Your party screamed like a stuck pig at the Harper government’s loading of the National Energy Board in favour of business – business that financially supported his government and now yours. There were going to be reforms. Structural changes, independence, fair play and the appearance of it. I say it again – compared to the NEB and all environmental assessment boards I have attended, the old Soviet show trials look like paragons of British justice. My response to the press when asked what was proposed for WFLNG was that after attending several meetings myself, I would rather have a root canal without an anaesthetic than go through another.

Prime Minister, you must understand that these are not little niggles were talking about here – it goes to the root of the matter, for I’m telling you that there’s not an ounce of democracy in our system and that to say we must obey the law is making legitimate a law is set up by the brigands to assist the pillagers in their piracy.

The pretence of consultation and representation

As you know, I was a member of the British Columbia government back in your father’s time in Ottawa. I know how the game is played and where the bodies are buried. I played the game of making believe that my colleagues on the back bench did effectively represent their constituents and their constituencies.

It was rubbish! They did no such thing except in ill-disguised appearance. The best the backbenchers would hope for was a bit of consultation, which is to say having the bill presented to them as a fait accompli. The pretence of consultation was there – often lengthy caucus meetings occurred and sometimes even the premier and the minister appeared for show. And members spoke out, but cautiously, for the same reason that Pamela Goldsmith-Jones, very much on the make, is not going to offend you and all your pretence to the contrary are unbecoming. Her next stop is cabinet and no cruddy LNG plant is going to interfere with that!

Electoral reform plans are for show

There are many more examples but let’s just close with your proposed amendments to the electoral system. I was asked by a large organization to help in this matter, given my experience with Premier Bennett, your father and others during the Patriation of the Constitution. It didn’t take me long to realize it was the same old crap. The Liberal Party of Canada, professing to represent the country, has already concocted a scheme that I would be expected to rubber stamp. Worse than that, I would be asked to tell the world what a fair system it is to BC.

That’s not how it works Mr. Trudeau – any British Columbia will tell you what it’s like to be unrepresented, patronized, and instructed to be a good Canadian, Ontario definition thereof. You will take that as snivelling, but a couple of years at UBC doesn’t make you a British Columbian any more than graduating from Laval would make me a Quebecker.

The basic issue – please don’t lose sight of it – is democracy, namely the right of the people to participate in the decisions by which they are governed and have the right to remove laws that are odiferous.

What right do you have?

Botched English Bay oil spill confirms BC 'woefully unprepared' for more pipelines, tankers- Open letter
Bunker diesel debris from last year’s relatively minor spill in English Bay (Vancouver Aquarium)

On the three issues I mentioned, British Columbia has been absolutely correct insisting on its right to be heard and listened to. Our atmosphere and ocean are to be polluted, while dangerous LNG tankers expose our citizens to high risks without even consultation, much less consent.

What right does parliament have to expose our lands, parks and waters to the certain destruction that will come from toxic tankers from the Kinder Morgan pipeline? What right have you to do that without a word of consent from a single, solitary citizen?

You assume that right because it’s always been done – well, a great many of us are determined that it not be done that way much longer. If freedom and democracy are mere words, we’re left with a consultation process reminiscent of the Soviet presidium! As our leader, you ought to be ashamed not only of standing aside and doing nothing but actually exploiting this abomination for your own gain.

Be warned! Seminars on civil disobedience have taken place with many more scheduled. It’s no evil to disobey an evil law.

This is not going to go away, and while I don’t believe for a moment that Kinder Morgan is finished, even if it is, the fight will continue on and on and on until we get back our birthright, the privilege of participating in decisions made about us.


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.

20 thoughts on “Rafe to Justin: Kinder Morgan approval makes mockery of democracy

  1. Our PM does exactly what he is told, nothing more, nothing less. We have been fooled into thinking that Canada is a free and democratic country… we are owned, our politicians are owned, our natural resources are owned and our future (or lack there of) is owned/preordained. We can argue about climate change, environmental issues, whether our poultry should be shipped to China, processed and shipped back to us (‘yes’ say the oil barons), etc., etc., but I believe the real task at hand is to help ‘wake up’ the masses (our neighbours, our family, our bridge club, our drinking buddies) because until there are more people aware that we are owned than people who don’t have one iota, not even an inkling, of the ‘true state of affairs’, we don’t even stand a chance… the details (as debated here) are a moot point.

  2. Be warned! Seminars on civil disobedience have taken place with many more scheduled. It’s no evil to disobey an evil law.
    …..i am sure the gov’t is quaking in its boots….

  3. There is only one party that can be counted on to stand against further pipelines. That party is the Green Party of Canada. Mr. Mulcair had his chance to join them in the MacLean’s Leader’s Debate, and declined. British Columbians concerned about issues like pipelines and climate change need to start electing more Green MP’s and MLA’s.

  4. I have no faith in Justin Trudeau.In my opinion he is a Traitor to our Country who has openly shown that supports Isreal and sells arms to Saudi Arabia, How can we suport that? Democracy , R. I. P

  5. Mr Mair,
    As a former politician I find your indignation laughable. Do we not elect governments to take care of the business of running our country. Do we the people not elect our MLA’s and MP’s to sit in their respective houses. Don’t say democracy is dead because it isn’t. We in Canada have a dictatorial government system. We have the opportunity to elect our next dictator and his party. I hate party politics. Watch the proceedings of the house, either federally or provincially. You know better than most it has nothing to do with what’s good for the country or province. It’s all about making the other parties look bad. How many times did you have to vote the party line even when you knew your constituents disagreed with your party? The oppositions job is to attack every piece of legislation that the sitting government tables. So when I read that democracy is dead from someone who is collecting their gold plated pension I can’t take them seriously. 99.9 % of the time I find your commentary intelligent and too the point but this time I think you dropped the ball.

  6. Power&Politics today parliamentary secretary Kim Rudd explained that the previous Harper government never got a pipeline due to ignoring first nations and the people of BC thus the need for a newly appointed three person panel who’s purpose will be to come here and massage our egos. Make us feel like we have input. They want to achieve ‘Social License” they say is needed. The Trudeau way seems to be that of a wolf in sheeps clothing with a silver tongue. We just need to see it for what it is and act accordingly.
    It seems as though the way our elected government officials approach us is determined in a corporate boardroom and we are in fact being played like a cheap fiddle.
    My thoughts are if the refuse to call it bitumen and want it called oil, I can’t trust them.
    If they won’t tell us the honest economic benefits, jobs etc. I can’t trust them.
    If they want to call it LNG instead of fracked gas they waste my time.
    It’s really very simple… we do have the power to stop this, that is obvious or they wouldn’t do this dance, we just have to realize that fact!

  7. Remember that examples abound but the point here is that the system is such that every last vestige of power rests with Trudeau as it did with Harper The MP does as he is told and when he says he pleads your case without fear, he is lying through hie teeth. His only interests are advancement keeping the PM happy. This is not a democracy deficit we’re talking about but a total absence. When I told Pamela Goldsmith-Jones that if she was elected, she would be as important as a fencepost with hair and I flattered her. It’s not her fault, but the ststem that we have pretended to be a democracy for 175 years.yout MP and the caucus he’s in does precisely what he’s told – the penalty for not doing so is political execution.

    All I ask of you is to demonstrate that I am wrong.

    1. Hmmmm.
      How much did Kinder Morgan donate to the Liberal Party’s election campaign
      ( Federal AND Provincial)?
      Pennies on the dollar for what they will earn I suspect.

  8. What a fine article.

    I’m from the east coast, home of three provinces and a protectorate, JD Irving Inc, formerly known a hundred years ago as New Brunswick. Oil is king in JDI, along with free lumber that JDI clears FOC from crown forestland as a public service. Very few nails stick up out of JDI floors because roving teams of men with hammers roam the dwelling places of the serfs looking for just such defects. All the newspapers are owned by JDI and private/public partnerships are the norm, except when public/private partnerships are approved where the private part runs things and the public pays for them. Maine is on the expansion list – the governor there is so right wing even the Trumpites tremble.

    Overstatement? Pay the place a visit. Ask a few searching questions and observe the “manner” of the response. This is your probable kind of future too, and remember to wear a hat so you can tip it to your betters.

    The gifting of dilbit pipelines, woodfibre gazoos, and ex-port facilities for same plus a mere spot of LNG, the ruining of the fruit-growing countryside for Site C, are all manifestations of the oligarchs sticking it to BC citizens for profit. Why, you’d never notice any degradation flying over the province on a WestJet luxury flight wolfing back the two free hazelnut wafers – it’s so BIG.

    Smiling Christy Clark is the happy swaggering face of neoliberalism sticking it to you lot. And except for a few percent of people with enquiring brains, the sheeple couldn’t care less, because they have been brainwashed into believing they live in a democracy and the amorphous “they” will always have their very best interests at heart, and not that of some investor, no sir.

    I wish you luck in repelling the hordes, but I think they’ve taken over the kitchen and living room already.

    Side note: I have relatives in central BC so keep up a bit on the politics.

    1. What a fine article, yourself.
      One of many problems is the difficulty of the “average” person who is so tired from working they have little left to worry about or mobilize against these wrongs. Another problem is the BS from the media outlets leaves them “misinformed” , as Bogart said in Casablanca.
      The ones who aren’t so bad off have little “street cred”, such as teachers, or well, any academic- they’re considered lefty liberal anti business spoiled non-worker types; and there numbers are not large enough for any real weight. Small business have joined the dark side through a combination of ignorance, denial, and greed, -just or won’t get it don’t get it. When these small businesses team up with the corrupt politicians and 1%ers they just overwhelm the average person. Poverty cut off is around $30,000 a year, the mean income for BC is about $74,000. For full time workers that’s $15/hour,poverty cut off and $37/hour. But, the average hourly wage in BC is $25/hour, or about $50,000 annually. Gas is now $1.25/litre and milk is $1.10/litre and bottles water (free from taps-more on that see Lewis Black) is $1.07. Now how much milk and water do you need to get to work, with only 1/2 the province making less than $37/hour?
      So, they-“they” have not just invaded our kitchen and living rooms-they’re in our heads.

  9. We simply can not be surprised regarding the government of Justin Trudeau. New boss same same the old boss.
    If you want change, at the very least we must have a Socialist government that would make Tommy Douglas proud.
    Canada needs to elect working class Socialists, not moneyed Conservative, not moneyed pretty faced Liberal and definitely not confused technocrat Liberals that are members of the NDP.

  10. Trudeau has undermined democracy in almost every decision he has made.The fact that he kept the Harper appointed NEB intact was a dead give away. Why should the NEB even have a right to recommend the Kinder Morgan project or any project for that matter. Trudeau’s lip service to consulting Canadians on this and other policies is wearing thin.Trudeau has already consulted Canadians and we responded by giving him a majority. He knew exactly what Canadians wanted and it wasn’t a recommendation for Kinder Morgan, or the support of a conservative BDS motion, or the green lighting of a Saudi 15B vehicle containing weapons deal, or worse still the betrayal of Canadian Vets by, like, Harper taking them to court, after he promised he wouldn’t. But we ain’t seen nothing yet. Trudeau and his trade minister Freeland who called the CETA deal gold plated will ratify it. The public consultation on the TPP will be finished by June 30th and I have no doubt it too will be ratified. Yes the TPP the biggest global Neoliberal Corporate power grab in history will be ratified. Neoliberalism’s ultimate goal is to destroy independent Nation States, so we have Market State governments living under the umbrella of Global Corporate rule. The complete bypassing of Canadian law to settle disputes at tribunals is the final nail in the coffin of destroying Canadian sovereignty.What will Canadians do when they discover that they no longer are in control of their country? Bill C-51 will help the government curb dissent. Notice nothing has been said about amending it. Trudeau will do what Harper was working toward doing. He will sacrifice Canadian sovereignty and Canadian wealth on the alter of Global Neoliberalism. Trudeau is continuing on with Harpers Neoliberal Agenda! It’s as if he follows his advisors without any questions, and his advisors on economics are Neoliberals and on Foreign Policy his advisors are pro US/NATO Imperialism. The exclusion of Canadians by Trudeau in the decision making took place right out of the starting gate.The greatest threat to our democracy and freedom is from our own government. We just threw out the worst tyrant that Canada has ever had. It is our government and our country. Getting both back will involve the fight of our lives.

  11. Rafe writes: “Christy says she’s “a long way” from signing off, but she already gave away the province’s power to the federal government and has made it clear where she stands on pipelines and fossil fuels, so we can’t expect her to hold this project up.”

    Rafe is correct in so much as Clark has repeatedly thrown BC stakeholders under the bus and nothing more obscene in this regard was the execution of the 2010 equivalency agreement I wrote exhaustively about on these pages.

    However, on January 13th this year the BC Supreme Court ruled that the “equivalency agreement” that “gave away the Province’s power to the Federal Government” was for the most part invalid.

    Since the court order the MOE has issued an order to KM to undertake a BC Environmental Assessment.

    This should be a full BC EAO Environmental Assessment as per the act but the BC liberals are once again trying to do a work around and simply issue environmental certificates and include some FN consultation.

    This is an atrocity on the heels of the groundbreaking January 13 th BC Supreme Court decision that upheld Provincial jurisdiction despite both the BC Government and Enbridge Pipeline lawyers arguing otherwise.

    I strongly urge you Rafe to read that court decision and see how the BC Liberals have interpreted it and how it matches their actions with both NGP and KM since.

    The Vancouver Sun wrote this of it the other day:

    Last month, the B.C. Environmental Assessment Office ordered a provincial assessment of the controversial project.

    In January, the B.C. Supreme Court ruled the province could not rely on an equivalency agreement signed between the federal government and the B.C. government that allowed a NEB review of the project to substitute for the provincial assessment.

    Kinder Morgan has not said whether it believes the provincial review will cause a delay in the project or increase costs.

    Found here: http://vancouversun.com/business/energy/neb-to-release-recommendation-report-for-the-trans-mountain-pipeline

    So indeed Christy Clark can “hold up this project” with a full BC Environmental Assessment and we should demand nothing less and force them to honor the spirit of the court’s decision not to mention represent British Columbians as she is elected to do.

    1. Thought you might enjoy this Rafe.

      On the eve of the NEB Kinder Morgan announcement the BC Liberals passed this OIC as a direct result of the now near invalid Equivalency Agreement court decision. Think deeply about the impacts Rafe.


      New exemption regulation under the Environmental Assessment Act

      Cabinet has approved an order-in-council for an exemption regulation under the Environmental Assessment Act to exempt previously approved, and constructed projects from requiring an environmental assessment certificate in response to a recent court ruling.

      The regulation was prompted by the recent British Columbia Supreme Court case, Coastal First Nations v. British Columbia. In that case, released in January of this year, the court found that the Environment Assessment Act does not provide government with the authority to dispense with an environmental assessment certificate decision under its equivalency agreement with the National Energy Board.

      The new regulation is limited to addressing the implications of the court decision on projects that had already been constructed after being reviewed and approved by the National Energy Board under the equivalency agreement, the established regulatory process at the time. Imposing a post construction requirement on this group of projects would neither be practical nor procedurally fair in these circumstances.

      The projects reviewed by the National Energy Board that meet the criteria under the new regulation and will not require an environmental assessment certificate are:

      Spectra South Peace Pipeline;
      Nova Gas Transmission Groundbirch Pipeline;
      Nova Gas Transmission Horn River Mainline Extension;
      Spectra Dawson Gas Plant; and
      Spectra Fort Nelson North Plant.

      EAO has begun a process for the projects which are also impacted by the court decision but have not been approved or constructed. These projects include:

      Approved Projects – not yet constructed

      North Montney Mainline Pipeline Project; and
      Enbridge Northern Gateway Project.

      Projects currently under review

      Trans Mountain Expansion Project; and
      Towerbirch Expansion Project.

      Following a process set out by EAO including consultation with Aboriginal groups, ministers will make environmental assessment decisions on these projects according to the act.

  12. So well stated, Rafe! Thank you for giving the people in BC our voice! And to repeat a recent phrase coined by our PM Justin Trudeau… if he’s not interested in democracy, if he’s not interested in keeping his Paris commitments (LIES) then he should GET THE F*CK OUT OF OUR WAY! BC won’t back down!

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