Rafe: Union bosses fall for Clark's LNG pipedream

Rafe: Union bosses fall for Clark’s LNG pipe dream

Rafe: Union bosses fall for Clark's LNG pipedream
BC Premier Christy Clark and BC Fed President Jim Sinclair (photos: CP, Glen Baglo/PNG)

When I read that BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair and Tom Sigurdson, head of the BC-Yukon Building Trades Council, had arrived at a deal with Premier Clark on training workers for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) business we’re told is coming, I couldn’t believe my eyes.

Now let me make this clear – there is northing wrong and a lot right when traditional political foes shake hands on a deal that is beneficial to them or to the people of BC, or both. Way back in the 70s, Socred Labour Minister Allan Williams worked well with labour because there was trust.

Kicking Dix in the family jewels

The question this latest deal raises is more fundamental than simply making a deal that may never happen, complete with photo-ops in which, I might say, Mr. Sinclair looked most uncomfortable.

That this meeting kicks NDP Leader Adrian Dix right in the family jewels is obvious. Mr. Sinclair’s position goes way beyond NDP inner-politics and raises some interesting questions.

In his remarks, Mr. Sinclair talked about his members “building things”, as a basis for supporting LNG. He then went out of his way to attack Dix for opposing for the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to Vancouver.

Let’s look at a couple of issues that make me think Mr. Sinclair is for anything that can be built.

The risks of LNG

What if, as I believe (and I’m not alone), no LNG plant goes ahead? Apart from the fact that he will have a lot of fences to mend with his own members, Mr. Sinclair will be tied to a failure.

What evidence does he have about what an LNG pipelines and plants will do environmentally? If Mr. Sinclair doesn’t give a damn and his position is simply an attack on Mr. Dix, that’s one thing – but if he believes some LNG pipelines and plants will be built, surely his members and the public-at-large should know about these fatcors.

[quote]According to Bloomberg, the Asian price for LNG should collapse to the point where we’re actually losing money – right about the time we enter the market.[/quote]

Apart from LNG pipeline builders, who will mostly come from outside BC, and a few non-union white-collar jobs at the plant, where are the jobs for British Columbians?

For an LNG pipeline and plant to make sense, one must know what market there will be years ahead, when the plants are finally operational. If there are firm deals made – and open to public scrutiny – we must know what the price will be five years down the road.

Incidentally, according to Bloomberg, using the best data available, the Asian price for LNG should collapse to the point where we’re actually losing money, right about the time we enter the market.


What if the LNG entrepreneur wants to bring his regular crew in to construct the project? Is it Mr. Sinclair’s position that they can be barred to make way for local workers? Has Premier Clark guaranteed this? In advance of any action on the project?

Mr. Sinclair makes it pretty clear that he’s not concerned about the environment – if there’s something to be built, then let’s build it. He’s given his blessing for LNG projects before most of the dozen or so proposed have gone through environmental assessment of the plants or the pipelines associated with them. And that’s saying nothing of the controversial practice of  hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which would supply these pipelines and plants.

What about Fracking?

Let’s look at the last piece.

Environmental concerns are not piddling matters. Fracking involves deep drilling then using huge quantities of chemically-laced water. Where does that water come from? Where does it go? What about the stability of the ground around the extraction?

I infer from your comments, Mr. Sinclair, that you approve of the new Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Enbridge pipeline. I realize that you’re from Ontario and thus not as concerned about the beauty of this province as natives are. So are you saying that ”building” trumps environmental concerns?

Surely, you don’t insult the intelligence of the public by saying that Government/Industry environmental processes actually work! We know, for example, that Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and our Prime Minister have said that the Enbridge Pipeline will go ahead regardless of the findings of the Joint Review Panel hearings.

What you say, Mr. Sinclair, whether you think so or not, is that all members of the BC Federation of Labour must support LNG, the Enbridge pipeline and the Kinder Morgan expansion. The thousands of British Columbians who have strong environmental concerns must, if they are union members, change their evil ways and all get behind whatever project will allegedly get them jobs.

To meet with the government and try to get a good deal for your members is a very good idea, unless you’ve been played for a fool – which you just have been.


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.

19 thoughts on “Rafe: Union bosses fall for Clark’s LNG pipe dream

  1. Greetings! Somebody inside Facebook cluster shared impartial with us so that i came to check this stuff out. I’m obviously loving the knowledge. I’m book-marking and can be tweeting it to a followers! Splendid blog and even excellent pattern and pattern.

  2. I want to add my voice to the call for Jim Sinclair’s departure from BC Fed of Labour. That press conference with Tom Sigurdson and Christi Clark had a very bad smell , and makes a mockery of the proper use of a hard hat. How easy it was for Christi to impress these so called labour leaders with her frequent use of the hard hat in her campaign.
    We have heard no mention from Christi about the fundamental issue of First Nation/ Aboriginal rights and title, let alone the very serious concerns and alrarms being raised by Fort St. James 1st Nation for example by the feeding frenzy presently occurring in the NE of our province, with nuemerous applications for water licences, with absolutely no environmental accountability or consultation with First Nations of the area. We have heard no mention from Christi about any of the serious environmental concerns that come from fracking. All we hear is that BC is “first in the world’ etc etc.
    Shame on Jim Sinclair and Tom Sigurdson for being part of this shameful encounter with Christi Clark and for not telling the whole story.
    Mike Gildersleeve,

  3. When I saw Jim Sinclair, with crzed clucking clark, I spewed a mouth full of good coffee. Being at the B.C.Fed Lab. convention when he became president, I was a tad shocked. Things definetly have changed over the years, and not just Jim sinclair’s age. You have to wonder where his principles went. What caused him to participate in such a horrible photo op? Has he forgotten where the water will come from for these types of things?

    The Fort Nelson First Nations is circulating a petition asking the lieberal government to not give a water license to Encana. The license would permit Encana to withdraw 3 billion liters of water from the Fort Nelson river, per year. The impact of this is too horrible to comtemplate. Now Jim Sinclair wants to get into “bed” with an “old tired political whore”. Jimmy, Jimmy, you used to have much better taste in women, principles, what was important in life.

    The LNG projects will not bring work to unionized workers in this province. The workers will be brought in from China or the U.S.A. or from where ever, as long as they work cheaply. LNG is not going to be a legacy which any one should want to leave.

    This may have been an attempt by labour to demonstrate they do not support the NDP or visa versa, who knows. The Jim Sinclair who was elected to office, so many years ago, would not have done this, in my humble opinion. Jim, its time to retire.

  4. Mr. Sinclair kicked me in the family jewels too over a minor neighbourhood issue.

    He was a NIMBY neighbourhood whiner at the time. I beat him out over a development that his whining said block his view. It didn’t!

    I have no prob with unions but that guy Sinclair is a jerk.

  5. If the liberals are involved, it is for one reason and one reason only, to syphon off as much cash as possible from the taxpayers to their buisness buddies, they will build an LNG plant just to make money for the company that builds it, even if we end up selling the gas at a loss when it’s done, this is the mandate of the Liberals, take from the poor to give to the rich.

  6. I was at a private sector meeting today. The workers there by and large voted for the Liberals. At this time they are not convinced when we tell them they should vote NDP. Actually they laugh their heads off. When enviro extremists like Rafe and a cadre of the privileged and elites aer prepared to give us the transition plan we will be all ears. But for now Rafe just sounds like a hothead numb-skull man living on a government pension. We should all be so lucky.

    1. Rafe is bang on Sinclair is a fool and Christy and the Liberals will fall flat on their face with LNG but the sad thing is four more years of these right wing idiots the environment will be trashed!

    2. Peter,

      It is Rafe and my view that: a) the true environmental costs of LNG are being ignored; b) the economic fundamentals of the program are deeply flawed. There’s nothing “extreme” about that – extreme common sense perhaps…

      Blindly trusting in the BC Liberal spin around LNG without analyzing the facts and numbers like we’re doing here is extreme – extremely stupid.

      As for your question about a plan to transition away from a fossil fuel economy, that’s too much to answer in one comment, but I invite you to stay tuned to the Common Sense Canadian as we answer that vital question through many future stories.

      But to answer your question now in brief, the broad strokes involve:

      1. re-localizing food production and value-added manufacturing

      2. Quitting subsidies to oil & gas, reinvesting in renewables, innovation and building a green economy (for ideas on how to do this, I recommend a recent article describing funding models being used effectively in just about every industrialized nation except our own: https://commonsensecanadian.ca/canadas-green-economy-needs-public-investment/ )

      3. In BC, stewarding and rebuilding the most valuable renewable resources we have: wild salmon, forests, clean water – and our $13.4 billion “supernatural BC” tourism industry (which we’ll lose if we choose to become one of the world’s biggest fossil fuel exporters, guaranteed – https://commonsensecanadian.ca/if-enbridge-is-a-no-go-kinder-morgan-should-be-too/ )

      4. Reducing demand for fossil fuels in several core areas of opportunity – public transit instead of costly, inefficient, unsustainable highways; improved energy efficiency in homes and businesses; planning more walkable, densified urban communities with proper cycling infrastructure

      5. Raise taxes on corporations and high-earners, invest in education, health care, public services, relieving some of the burden off youth, seniors and families working hard to make ends meet…

      You’ll have to tune into to the site to hear the rest…

  7. Dix just announced he is making an announcement next week about his future.

    Interesting timing, the day after Sinclair shares a stage with Clark, and BCNDP Forward launches a successorship plan to replace the labour funded Moe and the executive, meanwhile labour’s committee err, “election review panel,” is poring over the election entrails and planning the upcoming convention’s response.

    No doubt Dix is just throwing in the towel, and who could blame him. Between Labour, Topp and Hill and Knowlton, it hardly matters who the leader is, there is no chance at coming out from under them.

  8. I recently commented that I expected the Liberals to allow LNG pipeline activity in BC Parks ( Grizzley Habitats) in the next 12 months……

    I stand by that statement and I expect then to whitewash it with the “jobs,jobs,jobs” mantra.
    Jim Sinclair will prostrate himself before the almighty altar of Christy for his “union brothers”.
    Because, lets face it, union membership is falling and they need all the union dues they can get their hands on to help pay for the rapidly depleteing pension funds

  9. Jim Sinclair’s embracement of the LNG pipeline and fracking reminds me of Union boss Jack Munro waaaaay back in the days of the “Spotted Owl” protected habitat controversy…..telling loggers that if they saw an endangered Spotted Owl in the woods….”Shoot it”……..

    Big Business and Big Unions …….Its about jobs, money and power. You cant have one without the other. To hell with the environment. Let the next generation deal with it.

    Time for these neanderthals to be voted out.

    Fracking is an abomination that will come back to bite us all.

  10. You’re right on, Rafe. As a Union supporter it’s embarrassing. When will the Unions in this country pull their heads out of their butts! Why do otherwise intelligent people in this Province keep having these cranial meltdowns. Maybe they’ve drank the fracking fluid!

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