Rafe: With LNG approval, Trudeau govt shows true colours…but we shouldn’t be suprised

Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna with BC Premier Christy Clark (right) announcing her government's approval of PNWLNG (Province of BC/Flickr)
Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna with Industry Minister Jim Carr (left) and BC Premier Christy Clark (right) announcing the federal government’s approval of PNWLNG (Province of BC/Flickr)
[quote]Developing a climate plan to meet Canada’s Paris Agreement commitments is a challenging but achievable task for the federal government. Doing so while meeting Alberta’s and BC’s oil and gas production growth aspirations, however, will be virtually impossible.
The oil and gas industry is certainly not going away any time soon, but if Canada is serious about meeting its climate commitments it is time for the prime minister and premiers to do the math and stop telling us we can have it all. – David Hughes, geoscientist, shale gas expert and 32-year retired veteran the Geological Survey of Canada.[/quote]
British Columbians have every reason to be fighting mad at Trudeau’s decision to approve the Pacific Northwest LNG project. Yes, every reason to be fighting mad but absolutely no reason to be surprised.
Philosopher George Santayana famously said, “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it” and we just had that jammed up…er, shoved in our face.
Already early this year, people like Dr. David Suzuki, Norman Farrell of In-Sights and myself and colleagues at this publication were raising the issue that Trudeau’s emerging Liberal environmental policy was inconsistent with the commitments he had made at Paris.
Well, you will never find a clearer example of the dissembling and hypocrisy of this two-faced Trudeau bunch than in my constituency of West Vancouver—Sunshine Coast—Sea to Sky Country.

Woodfibre LNG approval was first clue

Liberal MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (Flickr/CreativeMornings Vancouver/Matthew Smith)
Liberal MP Pamela Goldsmith-Jones (Flickr/CreativeMornings Vancouver/Matthew Smith)

It’s no exaggeration to say that the only substantive issue in the 2015 election was the proposed Woodfibre LNG plant at Squamish (WLNG). People were enraged at the Harper government and MP John Weston on this issue, wanted to see the end of them, looked for a considerable period as if they would vote Green, panicked at the thought of a split vote and the Tories returned to ruin Howe Sound with WLNG, and so switched to the Liberal candidate – former West Vancouver mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones – who’d pledged she would support the wishes of her constituents.

In an election where the only substantive issue was WLNG, it was not surprising that Goldsmith-Jones won by a landslide. Having been assured that there would be consultation with them, voters felt confident that at worst they would have a fair opportunity to be heard.
Ha! Silly buggers trusted this new, attractive and sweet-talking Prime Minister and had forgotten Santayana entirely. Completely out of the blue, on March 18 last, environment minister Catherine McKenna quietly announced the Trudeau government approval of WLNG.

Environmental assessments still broken

Apart from all else, the so-called environmental assessment process was flawed unto fraudulent, such that Trudeau promises a review and fixes during the election. We’re not talking technicalities here but very substantial concerns about deadly, poisonous discharges – both into the atmosphere and directly into Howe Sound, putting all sea life at serious risk, including recently restored salmon and herring runs. There was no consideration given to the width of Howe Sound, considered grossly unsafe for LNG tanker traffic both by international rules and the industry’s own standards.
Not only were the people of the area not consulted, they were deliberately misled. Sandbagged is the better word. The esteemed, former mayor of West Vancouver, now Trudeau’s MP and parliamentary secretary to the foreign minister, was not even advised that this decision was pending, much less given notice that it had been made.
After it was released in such a shocking, high-handed manner, she clearly lacked the guts to speak out and hasn’t done so to this day.
In fact, the deception and hypocrisy didn’t end there by any means. On the orders of her government, Goldsmith-Jones held two sets of public hearings, after the decision,  neither of which dealt with the wisdom of the decision. Indeed, the second group was classic Liberal cynicism that should have been as familiar to us as Goldilocks and the Three Bears.
These meetings were held so that the government (the same one that had just approved WLNG) could explain it to the rabble, all aspects of climate change and how we could prevent it. There was just one niggling detail – we weren’t permitted to raise the issue of pollution from LNG, the most significant contributor to climate change! Nothing, of course, to do with the fact that the same Trudeau government had just approved the LNG plant in Squamish which would contribute dramatically to climate change!

Fox put in charge of the hen house

By now you must be begging for mercy, but there’s one more dollop of pure Liberal party policy, so typical that you can evaluate the rest of the process by it.
Now the damage has been done, Trudeau, to the accompanying of sucking from our MP,  has set up an  environmental review process.
Guess who the chair of this process will be?
Doug Horswill - LNG lobbyist and Trudeau-appointee to review environmental assessments
Doug Horswill – LNG lobbyist and Trudeau-appointee to review environmental assessments

Doug Horswill, Founding Chair of Resource Works, an industry advocacy group founded for the sole purpose of doing everything possible to get government approval for Woodfibre LNG!

My comment at the time was that this was the worst example of cynicism since Caligula made his horse a Consul. DeSmog Blog was bang on when they declared “the overarching message of Resource Works is that continued extraction of natural resources is essential to B.C.’s prosperity and anything that stands in the way of extraction — local opposition, regulations, taxes — is a threat to that prosperity. It’s a message they repeat over and over and over.”

What’s good for the Liberal Party

So now we have it. The tinpot dictator with the boyish smile arbitrarily approving a legally-contentious project, not approved by the First Nations involved, clearly a substantial threat to fish, a traditional part of First Nations existence, and without any concern whatever for the environmental and social consequences.
Will we ever learn the one fundamental principle that has always guided the Liberal party? “What’s Good For The Liberal Party Is Good For The Nation.”
I leave you with one question: Aren’t you glad we got rid of that soulless dictator Stephen Harper and his pals, the oil industry, so bent on destroying our natural resources, atmosphere, and principles of fair play?

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.

14 thoughts on “Rafe: With LNG approval, Trudeau govt shows true colours…but we shouldn’t be suprised

  1. There maybe a place for an approach to the risk to the environment issue that could feature risks in terms of cold hard cash, something everyone would understand. This idea was tried on Premier Campbell and got no reply.

    Each private enterprise should be required to post insurance coverage, that comes from independent insurers, to cover project risks that must be in place prior to getting an operating certificate, which gets suspended when the operator cannot afford the premium and during any clean up following a spill or pipeline rupture. The insurance would be paid directly to all those taking a direct economic penalty from such events and not given to any government as general revenue.

    Getting this insurance coverage is a market based test of risk and project insurability. If this kind of insurance is unattainable or too expensive then the project is automatically canceled.

    This is a way of keeping private business risks being passed over to the public, as has been done in so many instances.

  2. The Feds and the province are so out of touch with what is going on around the north coast not everything is oil and gas

  3. This is simply proofing the fact, that it makes no difference who gets in. They are all puppets of the elite. Those never take public office, but pull all the strings in anonymity. No Country is immune to their power and corruption. Any good intentions are blown in the wind once they are told to follow orders. Many who did not, had to pay the price and their departure was swift and permanent.

    1. Indeed he might, Anne just as Earl Warren surprised hell out of Ike on the segregation case.

      The message given by Horswill’s appointment is ghastly though. It’s a huge “up yours” to our riding an WLNG. But you’re right in this sense – I’d rather get shafted by someone I expected it from than one I did not.

      Looking at recent events one would have to be blind not to note that the country is run by the members of theCanadian Asociation of Petroleum Producers!

      1. ‘Mr Whore-Swill’…..
        Good one.
        I have said it before and I will say it again.
        Lobbyists and their corrupting influence should be criminalized and banned.
        Cash hand outs and the ensuing “favours expected and received” have become the norm in democratic elections the world over and the voting public is sick of it.
        And while I’m sure Christy couldnt possibly “survive” without the $50,000.00 cash per diems she receives on top of her $200,000.00 + salary for granting private meetings with the rich, powerful and the corperate elite……
        I’m sure she’ll find a way to suffer through the horrors of “bonus-less” lifestyle.
        Protest votes are becoming the norm.
        Hence Brexit, and Trump.
        The political system, rightly or wrongly,is either broken or percieved to be broken by the majority of voters.

        Ban lobbying and start over.

        Its that simple.

  4. We thought we were voting for the lesser of two evils. Not very damn much the lesser, apparently. It is a tradition in this country to campaign from the pulpit and govern from the boardroom, and I believe we have elected the most egregious example of that principle in modern history. Throw the rascals out! Rafe Mair for prime Minister!

  5. The Trudeau government has just abruptly forfeited it’s right to speak ever again on the issue of emissions and our environment. They have spat in the face of any country that takes climate change seriously and made a mockery of our voice as Canadians on these matters in the world.
    In one swift decision they have set a standard of hypocrisy that shatters any hope of meeting promises made at the Paris conference and made laughable their talks of carbon taxes on Canadians. For them to even bring up the subject of doing our part again would be insulting on so many levels.
    They have left B.C. now in a cloud of uncertainty that could last for many years while we are held hostage by Petronas of Malasia, who at their leisure can decide what the fate of our province and it’s environment will be.
    You would have hoped ONE of the geniuses in this government would have gotten a commitment BEFORE putting us in this position!

    1. Very well said and I completely agree with you. I am so disappointed in their hypocrisy as well, had so much hope that this government would be the change-agent that stops kicking the can down the road. Again, here is what we say … see what we do … huge disconnect.

      1. Apparently neither one of you read Rafe’s commentary.
        The govt and its elected lackey’s dont make decisions . Their election donars tell them what will happen and when…..
        A prominent LOBBYIST for the LNG industry will head the environmental assessments……
        Harper would be proud of the speed of the Liberals’ hypocrisy

  6. Liberals have always campaigned as progressives but governed as though beholden to corporations. A conservative at least campaigns and governs as a conservative. I wasn’t fooled by Trudeau I either.

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