The fraudulent public hearings


We are reading a lot about “hearings” these days, especially as they relate to private rivers and pipelines/tanker traffic.

And, on the surface, what could be fairer than to let the public in on the decision making process?

I have indeed spoken of these things before.

The hearings are a fraud, plain and simple, for the public is denied the opportunity to make their views known on the wisdom of the project. The last hearings that meant anything were the BC Utilities Commission hearings about three years ago which reported back that the private rivers policy was “not in the public interest.”

The Campbell government immediately defanged the Commission, for embarrassing findings were not a good idea as far as the government was concerned.

There’s much to be said for technical hearings into environmental matters.

As long as the decision to hold them comes after the public has had a chance to air its opinions.

British Columbians had that right through the Regional District until 2008 when the Squamish Lillooet Regional District vetoed the plan to dam the Ashlu River. The Campbell government immediately took the power to evaluate away from the Regional Districts.

Ashlu is a cautionary tale, for everything the public and experts said about this proposed venture came true. It is an environmental nightmare with thousands of fish blocked from passage by the dam – so delicately referred to as the “weir” by the company.

I have been to a number of joint federal/provincial hearings and, as I have said before, I’d rather have a root canal without novocaine than attend another. The chair and the company representative are joined at the hip even demonstrably socializing before and after the “hearing”. The desirability of the project is off limits for the great unwashed, not so for the company spokesperson who can sing the project’s praises as much as he likes.

Now, let’s go to the root of the matter. Unless you live in an NDP riding. no one is raising questions on your behalf.

Isn’t it remarkable that with a project getting more and more opposed by the public, not one provincial Liberal MLA nor any federal Tory MP will utter a peep about the wisdom of the pipelines and tanker traffic proposed? When they do mention it, like my Conservative MP John Weston, they demonstrate an utter lack of understanding of what is proposed. Think on that – not one single government MLA or MP has demanded hearings into the wisdom of the project before it moves to the environmental assessment stage.

It’s worse, actually, for the Prime Minister has made it plain that no matter what the joint hearings into the pipelines and tankers recommend, the projects will go ahead.

Thus is the state of democracy in this province.


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

6 thoughts on “The fraudulent public hearings

  1. The appalling state of Canadian, not just British Columbian democracy, is a direct result of our first past the post electoral system combined with the most rigid party discipline system west of Joseph Stalin. When minorities are allowed to take majority control of parliaments, and the people’s representatives are muzzled, democracy dies. But our fake democracy serves the Liberals, NDP and Conservatives just fine. Only the BC Greens want to restore democracy with a proportional election system and elected representatives who are free to actually represent the voters.

  2. The Stunning thing about this hearing for the Enbridge Pipeline is how it came about.

    The “Joint” in joint review, is between two federal agencies. The NEB and the CEAA. The Province of BC is nowhere in the loop.


    Because they did a behind the scenes secret deal, that was greenwashed.

    in June 2010, while Campbell was palling around with Enviros, and receiving rewards and awards from them, his environment minister magically empowered staff with his Ministerial ability to sign away our right to a BC Hearing.

    Staff singed an Equivalency Agreement, which accepted the Federal process in lieu of one of our own.

    Moreover, they did not go through any of the protocols required to enable such an agreement.

    The whole sordid affair is treasonous and has left BC twisting in the wind on not just northern gateway but four major oil and gas projects.

    We no longer live in a democracy. Our representative government is busy finding ways to abandon us and represent big oil.

    Its shameful and disgusting.

  3. Harper’s stacked Enbridge pipeline panel reminds me of, the BC Liberals stacked panel, regarding the study of the BC HST.

    Harper can bring over his entire Communist China army. Harper has Canada exactly like, Egypt, Libya and Syria’s tyranny. Like those people, we will have to make our stand, against Harper’s insane, Enbridge pipeline and the dirty tar tankers. Oliver and Harper have threatened us with, RCMP anti-terrorist squads. We all know Harper cheated to win, with robo-call election fraud. Harper is one ugly, evil character. Over 3/4 of Canadians despise Harper, and want him gone. The Federal election is dirty and contaminated. Harper has no right to be the P.M.

    These evil politicians cheat to get into office. Then we can’t get rid of the s.o.b’s. The BC people and the F.N. of BC, are going to have to stand on our own, to save BC from becoming a polluted wasteland.

    Harper is a traitor committing High Treason. He has permitted Communist China in our country. China’s aggression around the globe, has angered many country’s. Canadians do not want Communist China in our Nation, what-so-ever.

    Harper’s greed, is disgusting.

  4. If they are concerned about Japanese tsunami debris spoiling our pristine coastlins, wait until we have a bitumen spill on our coast. Compared to an oil spill, tsuunami debris clean up is a “beach comber’s paridise.” Yes, debris is an eye sore but it does not have the same devastating and lingering effect on our environment.

  5. ” the dam – so delicately referred to as the “weir” by the company.”

    I remember Bill Bennett referring to the BC Place stadium project as an “amphitheatre” and not a stadium, presumably to ease the bloody money-sucking thing past the regular BC taxpayers, almost none of whom would ever enter the place in their entire lives. What’s in a word?

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