Rafe: Trudeau, Notley’s defence of Kinder Morgan doesn’t wash for BC

Justin Trudeau is greeted in Alberta by Rachel Notley (Premier of Alberta/Flickr CC licence)
Justin Trudeau is greeted in Alberta by Rachel Notley (Premier of Alberta/Flickr CC licence)

I listened to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley on CBC with Rick Cluff this week and must say she said nothing to give me cause to change my mind on Kinder Morgan. To the contrary, I asked myself how could she be so indifferent to the problems 400-plus tankers a year full of bitumen would bring to the BC coast.

I have a lot of trouble with the Trudeau/Notley attitude because the position British Columbians take is so obviously rational and natural. Just why people in the rest of Canada can’t understand eludes me. Wouldn’t they protect themselves and their homes?

Clark cutting a deal for BC?

The light went on when premier Notley talked about Christy Clark trying to make a deal with Kinder Morgan for money, saying that she understood that they were pretty close.

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

Of course! Clark, being a far-right-wing airhead (forgive the redundancy) has never concerned herself with the impacts all these extra tankers plus would have on our coast.

It would never occur to her that the colossal damage done by the inevitable spill would be permanent. It would never cross her mind that a simple understanding of the law of probabilities tells you accidents will happen over and over again and that, given the filthy nature of the cargo of these tankers, the damage is bound to be extremely serious. If these things don’t bother her, why would others care?

I dare say that if you mentioned Kalamazoo to Christy Clark, she would immediately think of the old Glenn Miller song of the 40s;  it wouldn’t  occur to her that it now signified the worst pipeline spill in history, six years ago, which has never been cleaned up and never will.   

If the premier of our province is not telling other Canadian leaders how serious the Kinder Morgan issue is to her province, then the press, such as it is, won’t pick up the story and all people east of the Rockies will have read is Gary Mason in the Toronto Globe and Mail.

Horgan ready to make Kinder Morgan an election issue?

The NDP's only shot at winning in BC: Embrace the NEW ECONOMY
BCNDP Leader John Horgan (BCNDP/Flickr)

Until very recently, John Horgan, leader of the BC NDP has been waffling, so any who gauge the opinion of a province by the pronouncements of their politicians would conclude that it was only a small group of crazies that were opposed to this pipeline. Somebody has obviously had a word with Mr. Horgan and he now realizes this is an issue upon which an election might depend. He’s seen the error of his ways and is now enthusiastically opposed.

The result of this misrepresentation of our general position makes us look bad in the eyes of other Canadians who simply don’t understand what our problem is. Although it is difficult for me to keep my cool on this subject I will try to put this in clear terms.

Public opposition based on common sense

Other Canadians must understand that the case against a multitude of bitumen loaded tankers on the BC Coast has never been stated by the government for the people. Quite, the opposite: the BC Liberal Government went as far as to sign away the province’s constitutional authority to represent its constituents on this matter, through a controversial “equivalency agreement”, which we’ve documented in these pages. Thus, it has been left to private individuals and groups. This is taken to mean that the environmentalists are hysterical and the government is calm and accurate.

In fact, environmentalists have all of the science as well as common sense on their side and, importantly, the law of probabilities. When you have this many tankers constantly using water ways such as exist in the routes out of Vancouver through the harbour and all of the channels involved, the law of probabilities says there’ll be more accidents as this traffic increases, as it surely will. 

What’s worse, the bitumen cargo ensures that an accident will have very serious consequences, especially near populated areas. Added to to this, Mr. Trudeau has approved an LNG plant near Squamish, sending tankers loaded with LNG  through Howe Sound to meet with the tankers coming from Vancouver. Mr. Trudeau chose to overlook the fact that even by standards of the tanker industry organization,SIGGTO, Howe Sound is far too narrow for the necessary tanker traffic. He doesn’t give a damn and neither does careless Christy.

It must also he understood that clean-up is a very iffy proposition. Both Kinder Morgan and the government play down the frequency and seriousness of spills and their inability to handle them, but they don’t mention that bitumen is impossible to clean up under the best of circumstances. I mentioned the Enbridge spill in the Kalamazoo River in 2010 and if one takes a moment to Google this tragedy, they’ll learn how catastrophic bitumen spills are, even when easily accessed.

Fellow Canadians, this is merely a thumbnail sketch of the consequences of the Kinder Morgan proposed pipeline extension.

Bad deal for BC

Now, here is the deal proposed to us by Justin Trudeau and Rachel Notley:

Alberta gets to fully reopen the world’s biggest polluter, the Tar Sands, and ship its shit through BC by pipeline and then, by some 400 and ever-increasing bitumen tankers a year, ship it through the hazardous Salish Sea (formerly Straits of Georgia) to foreign markets. It bears no risk and neither do the Feds.

For its part, BC stops complaining about statistically certain ruptures in the pipeline and statistically certain bitumen spills on their coast with the calamitous consequences they bring, including the safety of citizens, and agrees to support the pipeline and bear the damage.

That way, we’re advised, both Albertans and British Columbian will then be good Canadians.

Well, Madame Premier and Mr. Prime Minister, in the politest phrase I can think of, get lost. Don’t go away mad, just go away.

Neither the Kinder Morgan line, nor any other, is going to get built, next year or any other year. We have the inherent right, like all good Canadians, to protect our homes from any outside threat and that sure as hell includes the Tar Sands.

You have pushed us too far.


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.

27 thoughts on “Rafe: Trudeau, Notley’s defence of Kinder Morgan doesn’t wash for BC

  1. What is in this diluent? How toxic is it? What is the cost of it? It seems to get a free ride in all discussions.
    Wouldn’t logic tell us that it will take up at least one pipe half the time?
    These are questions that need answers.

  2. There is another aspect to this that should be taken into consideration. The percentage of a product we can export to the USA,

    From NAFTA:
    Article 605: Other Export Measures
    Subject to Annex 605, a Party may adopt or maintain a restriction otherwise justified under Articles XI:2(a) or XX(g), (i) or (j) of the GATT with respect to the export of an energy or basic petrochemical good to the territory of another Party, only if:

    a) the restriction does not reduce the proportion of the total export shipments of the specific energy or basic petrochemical good made available to that other Party relative to the total supply of that good of the Party maintaining the restriction as compared to the proportion prevailing in the most recent 36month period for which data are available prior to the imposition of the measure, or in such other representative period on which the Parties may agree;

    What this means is that we can not reduce our percentage of total Bitumen extracted from the sands and exported to the US, so in order to supply any bitumen to China, for instance, we will have to supply much more to the USA at a rock bottom price to maintain their percentage of our production

    Catch 22? You bet!

  3. Thank you Rafe. This proposed K-M pipeline-terminal-tanker route is just not logical. Bitumen- diluent from Edmonton-Vancouver; then tanker Vancouver- China; distill off diluent; tanker diluent China-Vancouver; pipeline Vancouver-Edmonton. Suck up more bitumen and repeat.Tell me I’m wrong! Madness.

  4. No toxic, tar sands for Vancouver. A spill from a tanker down into Vancouver harbour will hurt Vancouver’s business base, as companies will have to close.The tanker corporations do not have any world-class equipment to clean-up a spill. When companies leave, Vancouver’s tax base will disappear. Vancouver will lose tourism jobs and future businesses, as tourists and companies will tend to shy away from contaminated areas, and companies will not locate in Vancouver. The tar sands should not be permitted to reach Burnaby.

    1. I wouldnt be worried about a spill in Vancouver Harbour.
      Lots of witnesses and the clean up crews would be falling over each other to contain the goo.
      Chances are the 1000 mile pipeline will spring leaks on a regular basis….
      ” Human error” or “unforeseen circumstances” or “a once in a thousand year event”. ( gee! I could work for Kinder Morgans PR dept with these canned excuses but Im sure they’re monitoring my phone calls so….not a chance)

      Plus we get the bonus of whale strikes, ship collisions in Georgia straight, storms, etc….
      Alberta CRUDE has a whole new meaning

      1. The tar sands would sink to the bottom. What equipment would the clean-up crews use and how does it work?

        1. Gee whizz Earl you’re partly right.
          The bitumen would sink but the naptha, benzene, tolulene and all the other nasty chemicals to help it “flow” wouldnt.
          As for the clean up….. I cant say for sure since I dont work for a oil spill clean up company ……but if you find out………… Please report back

  5. Terry Beech.

    The Liberal MP for Burnaby North clearly shows how the system works.

    He is “struggling” with his own decision on this issue. Of course he is, because he is looking after himself and his eastern bosses not the people who put their trust in him.

    What he fails to realize is that Trudeau does not need him. Does not care about him. Or any of the 17 MPs from BC.

    Born in Comox, lived and served in Nanaimo, Mr. Beech should know better but hey, I guess one can’t blame the naïve rookie for trying to please the coach and owners.

    1. No.
      Terry Beech is “struggling” because he’s been warned not to say anything against his Leaders’ decision.

      Case closed.

      They dont call them Party Whips for nothing.

  6. Amen.
    We are being bullied by a narcissistic Twerp. I can only suppose people voted for the name Trudeau. What they voted for was a lightweight who has been riding his late fathers’ coat tails and has now shown how ignorant he is.
    He’s apt to find out most people on the coast would rather secede than submit to such ridiculous pipeline mania.

    1. Well.
      As far as Mr Trudeau “riding his fathers coattails…..total agreement.
      I’d say Trudeau won because most voters were fed up with Harpers arrogant style.
      A monkey playing with it’s own “mess” could have won against Harper.
      That not withstanding. The year long honeymoon is over for Trudeau. He has difficult decisions to make and a lot of mud to dodge.
      Lets see if his fathers intellect will come to the fore or his dama teacher training.
      The next year will be fun to watch.

  7. I’m finding Justin Trudeau has much in common with our own Christy Clark. Vanity aside, they both put their corporate agenda ahead of taxpayer’s needs. Both of them to a large degree are controlled by their corporate sponsors and lobbyists.

    Justin’s insistence that his decision to proceed was based on sound scientific data and not politics is of course nothing less than disingenuous. Going forward he’s entered this arena betting on a wing and a prayer that BC’s coast will escape tragedy. Should it not, Justin should implement Japanese etiquette.

    1. Salal … of course you’re right but it’s even worse. As a longtime member, no longer, of the federal Liberal Party I can tell you they believe that the nation depends upon them to rule so that whatever they do to win is in the interests of Canada. That began when they lost to Diefenbaker in 1957. Before that Mackenzie King, for all his peccdilloes, always saw Canada from coast to coast and had powerful ministers in all regions including Justin Trudeau’s grandfather Jimmy Sinclair in BC. After Diefenbaker, the Liberals with Jim Couttts and Senator Keith Davey it was win in Ontario and part of Quebec, or vice versa, and to hell with the rest of the country. This was Pierre Trudeau’s way and it worked. Sadly, it still works today and Justin knows it.the plain fact is that Justin and the Liberal hierarchy don’t give a fiddler’s fart for BC for the sound oolitical reason that they don’t have to. If we understand that, we at lest understand why we’re always getting screwed; if we don’t, we keep thinking that if we’re real nice to the bastards they might be nice to us.

      As the Duke of Wellington said to the man who accosted him with “Mr Robinson, I believe”, “if you believe that sir, you’ll believe anything!”

      1. Well stated Rafe! Oh and I like the “careless Christy” description. I would just have put it as “care less Christy”.

  8. Well done Rafe!!!

    Another key fact that is ignored by politicians is that at best, the Kinder-Morgan pipeline would only resurrect Alberta’s economy for a short period. Setting aside the inevitable obsolescence of oil as a major source of energy, its bitumen/tar cannot compete in the long run against the real oil produced by Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, the Gulf states, Russia, the U.S., et al, in terms of quality or price.

  9. Thank you, Rafe! You speak (eloquently and factually) for me and a majority of BCrs! Whatever it takes… this pipeline will NOT be built! May_9_2017 Take out this Liberal trash! Future generations and beautiful BC are counting on us to oppose and resist corporate owned dirty politicians and those who would profit from the potential destruction of BC… not to mention global warming! Trudeau claims that if ‘this’ weren’t safe he wouldn’t support it! Science says it’s impossible to clean up bitumen! IT’S NOT SAFE no matter what flower words Trudeau doublespeaks.

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