Gwyn Morgan (Peter J. Thompson/National Post photo)

Rafe Responds to Gwyn Morgan’s Attack on ‘Environmental Zealots’ Opposing Enbridge


I’ll say this for Fraser Institute “Fellow” Fazil Mihlar, in charge with the Vancouver Sun’s op-ed page: he certainly knows where to find the bottom-feeders to support his ultra-right wing views. Earlier this week, it was right wing zealot Herb Grubel, today it’s some deep thinker, I don’t think, from SNC Lavalin and a director of HSBC, named Gwyn Morgan.
Perhaps Postmedia, which owns the Sun and the Province, aghast at stands taken from the recent columns by Vaughn Palmer and Mike Smyth, has been under pressure to make amends by ensuring the op-ed page remains the bulletin board for fish farms, independent power producers and pipeline/tanker enthusiasts.
Morgan states, “how difficult it can be for ‘big business’ to be heard over the doom-laden exaggerations of environmental zealots…and powerful international groups…stopping Gateway is part of a large  strategy to stymie further oil sands (sic) development.”
Sticks and stones, Mr. Morgan; sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me!
Morgan’s article is full of praise for the safety of pipelines and tankers and deals with none of the points raised by groups like The Wilderness Committee and The Common Sense Canadian.
One can be untruthful in two ways – telling lies or ignoring the facts.

I have some questions for Mr Morgan:

  1. Enbridge has admitted that there will be spills, as does Dr. Grubel. You have not maintained that these will not happen so one must assume that you agree that spills will occur?
  2. Enbridge has an appalling record which over the past decade has had a spill of more than one per week. How can you possibly defend their building two pipelines (one bitumen, one condensate) in BC?
  3. Their record for cleanups, as exemplified by the Kalamazoo spill, forces the question: given that there will be spills in BC, why should we trust Enbridge’s ability to clean them up?
  4. The pipelines would cross the Rockies, the Rocky Mountain trench, the Coast Range and through the Great Bear Rainforest – how would Enbridge get men and equipment to the spill?
  5. The stuff being shipped is not traditional crude oil but the highly toxic bitumen which, when spilled on water, sinks like a rock and is virtually impossible to clean up. Why, Mr. Morgan, should British Columbia run the certainty of spills of highly toxic tar sands that cannot be reached and could not be cleaned up, even if Enbridge could get to them?

Mr. Morgan, because these spills cannot be cleaned up, we’re dealing with serial spills adding ongoing environmental damage to previous uncleaned spills.

The overall problem of pipelines/tankers is not just the certainty of spills but the high, long-living toxicity of the substance spilled. It’s rather like having a revolver with 100 chambers with one bullet – if you start pulling that trigger, sooner or later you’ll blow your brains out. If, however, the bullet is simply marshmallow, who cares? The risk of hitting the loaded chamber is still a certainty but there is no  damage.
Bitumen is not marshmallow, Mr. Morgan.
I have not mentioned jobs and money, so I’ll close with them.

The pipeline would be built by experienced crews from outside BC and there would be less than 100 jobs remaining on a full time basis.
As to the money, Mr. Morgan, BC is not for sale. We who love this province want to preserve it.
You and the corporate industry in general, in Oscar Wilde’s words, “know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.”


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 “Rafe Responds to Gwyn Morgan’s Attack on ‘Environmental Zealots’ Opposing Enbridge

  1. a simple idea… contain the oil within tankers in individual rubber bladders holding a hundred barrels of oil each. If a ship breaks most likely only a few bladders would be punctured or ripped open and the rest could be recovered at a fraction of the cost of current (useless) cleanup methods. Of course i am against burning the remaining oil in the tarsands but you know they’re gonna do it anyway…

  2. The people are slowly learning the truth about all the snakes in the grass that are running our “world”. It won’t be much longer until they’ve had enough.

    Thanks Rafe for your work in enlightening us all.

  3. Rafe your comment, “One can be untruthful in two ways – telling lies or ignoring the facts”, summarizes the behaviour of those currently in power.

    Business and their puppet politicians lose any possible credibility when they state bold faced lies. Although they have relied on apathetic populace for a considerable period of time, that now appears to be unraveling.

  4. Whenever I see something like this, I think that more alterations have been made to the face of the Earth over the past 200 years than during the previous 200,000 years that that Homo sapiens has existed in its present form. So, who are the real “zealots” and “radicals”? I say that Gwyn Morgan is one of them.

  5. Hey Rafe.
    Did you know English Bay was connected to Haro Strait? Me neither. But then I’m not as bright as Mr. Morgan.

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