Tag Archives: environment

Calls to Kybosh Campbell’s “Super-Ministry”


Last bad decision by premier should also be rescinded

‘Re-org’ of resource, land ministries should go the way of tax cut

has been called Gordon Campbell’s last bad decision — the massive
reorganization of the Crown resource and land use ministries, launched
just 10 days before he announced that he would be stepping down as

The “re-org,” as it is known in bureaucratic parlance,
should be sharing the last/worst legacy status with the reckless cut to
income taxes that Campbell announced just one week before throwing in
the towel.

Except he and the B.C. Liberals pulled back on that
last desperate attempt to curry favour with taxpayers, conceding that
it would be unwise to restrict the fiscal options of the next premier
to the tune of $2 billion over the next three years.

declined to extend that logic to the reorganization, never mind that it
will fetter the next premier no less than the tax cut.

that’s something we’ve been working on for some time,” said Campbell,
when my Sun colleague Jonathan Fowlie asked recently why the re-org
wasn’t being put on hold. “We had a long discussion about how we were
going to implement that and I think it’s going to be very effective,
both in terms of the economy and better service for the public.”

In spite of what the premier says, the “we” in that sentence is very much in dispute.

Read full Vaughn Palmer Vancouver Sun article here


Scientist Finds High Arsenic Levels from Quinsam Coal Mine


Arsenic levels in the Quinsam River watershed are increasing because
of the Quinsam Coal Mine, says the UBC scientist studying the issue,
and to suggest otherwise – as the company has done – is a “gross
distortion” of the facts.

Dr. William Cullen presented his
updated Quinsam watershed study to city council Tuesday night. The
“disturbing findings” show arsenic levels increasing in Long Lake
sediments below the mine. Arsenic sediments are more toxic to organisms
than normal. Arsenic is increasingly available to organisms as far
away as the lower Quinsam River.

Cullen said study data shows sulphates and arsenic are clearly coming from the mine, and coming at an increasing rate.

Company officials say there’s no connection between mining the arsenic. Cullen scoffed at that Tuesday.

Read full Courier-Islander article here 


Prestigious Journal Calls Oil Sands an ‘Environmentalist’s Nightmare’


The prestigious scientific journal Nature is urging scientists to
speak out against the environmental impacts of Alberta’s oil sands.

“It would be unrealistic to expect that we could harvest fossil fuels or minerals without an effect on the environment,” reads an editorial
in this week’s issue. “But the fast development of the tar sands,
combined with weak regulation and a lack of effective watchdogs, have
made them an environmentalist’s nightmare.”

Since the 1990s, greenhouse gas emissions from oil sands
extraction have declined 30 percent per barrel, the journal notes. And
ongoing University of Alberta research to reduce water impacts is a
positive step, it reads.

On the surface, Nature’s editorial argues, Alberta
government regulations appear to be tough on industry. Large companies
have to pay $15 per tonne on each tonne of carbon they emit over a
certain limit and mined lands and tailings ponds must legally be

“But many of these rules are weaker than they seem,” the editorial argues.

Read full Tyee article here


Where We Stand on BC Politics & The Environment


Our readers should know the position of The Common Sense Canadian. In a word, the environment is the #1 issue before the people of British Columbia, indeed the world. If we lose our farmland, our precious salmon, and our rivers, what’s left?


How do you make money out of farms that aren’t there any more so you have to import your food?

How do make money out of salmon that are killed by lice from fish farms? Especially when all the profit goes out of province, mostly to Norway?

How do you make money destroying rivers and the delicate ecosystems they’re part of, to make power we don’t need, especially when we subsidize out-of-province companies who take all the profits and much more elsewhere?

How do you make money with a pipeline with someone else’s oil-or black sludge as The Tar sands produce – across delicate wildlife habitat, 1000+ rivers streams and agricultural land when a rupture would wreak incalculable damage-knowing that the pipeline company, Enbridge, is notorious for its negligence?

How do we profit from exposing our delicate coast to tankers carrying this stuff? Have we learned nothing from the Exxon Valdez?

And where’s the profit in taking a huge ever-increasing risk in piping oil to Burnaby to be taken thence, through the two dangerous narrows in Vancouver harbour out through the Salish Sea and through the treacherous Juan de Fuca?

There is no amount of money in the world that makes these risks, indeed certainties, worthwhile.

We stand firmly for help to the disadvantaged, improved healthcare, aid to the homeless, and better education-but how can we do that if we have to import more and more of our food?-if we toss away not only the commercial sale of fish but the significant domestic and tourist use of that resource?-if we subsidize foreign companies to provide electricity for themselves, bankrupting our jewel, BC Hydro, in the bargain?

The long and the short of it is we cannot prosper by wiping out our natural resources-in fact we commit fiscal suicide and abandon our children’s heritage.

This means that The Common Sense Canadian will support candidates or parties based not on their political philosophy, but on their commitment to saving our environment-not just because it’s beautiful but because to do otherwise is fiscal madness.

Does a labourer, a small business person, someone in need, the sick, the elderly, the unemployed-or even the well off for that matter-win if the party they support ruins our environment?

No matter how smart you are with money, you can never make up fiscally or spiritually for the loss of the environment.

It’s not too soon to be looking ahead to the May 2013 election. We at The Common Sense Canadian are already campaigning and will do so full time until the election.

In the next few months we’ll learn a lot about who is going to be promising what.

With the Liberals it’s hard to see who can pull them out of their political quicksand. Will Carole Taylor be dragooned into seeking the leadership? Will it be Christy Clark? Mike DeJong? Kevin Falcon? George Abbott? An unknown?

Carole Taylor can’t escape responsibility for the disastrous Liberal policy towards farmland, fish farms, and energy. She would have to make pledges that would cost her support from industry and Ms. Taylor knows something about money matters and that you don’t get campaign funds unless you’re prepared to pay the piper.

Christy Clark is more to blame than Ms. Taylor, for she, after all, has had three years with her own talk show to support our environment before a large, daily audience. Rather than holding the Campbell government accountable, she has uncritically supported her old cronies the Liberal Party to which she’s joined at the hip. As for all other cabinet ministers, they, too, supported the utter desecration of our environment for the profit of their political friends.

The NDP is in the process of devouring each other but then it’s always been a nest of adders that rarely sheath their fangs. Even at the testimonial to Dave Barrett last Saturday you could sense the unsettled conditions. The question in the NDP, in case you’ve been on Mars for the past couple of years, is whether or not Carole James can win. It never seems to dawn on them that she might lose because they can’t get their act together.

The Carole James I saw in her press conference last week when she took the best the media could throw at
her and batted pitch after pitch out of the park, showed toughness not much seen before. It was the same at the tribute for Barrett-she didn’t beat about the bush and made it clear that she was in the fight to stay.

If she can maintain that steely determination and get her venomous adders targeted on Liberals rather than themselves, she could be tough to beat.

There are deep rumblings of a third party to take the place of the old Socreds, a party which under the Bennetts, père et fils, staked out the middle ground where most of the people of BC are politically. If it happens, it will badly hurt the Liberals by capturing the “centre” (abandoned by Campbell), while helping the Conservatives to steal their “right wing” support. The two we hear most about are Gordon Wilson and Chris Delaney, both decent men with an excellent grasp on issues-the edge perhaps going to
Wilson because of his electoral and cabinet experience.

What then does The Common Sense Canadian look to?

Four things:

1. A re-commitment to protecting
farmland, a “commitment that commits them to keep to their
2. A closure of all fish farms in
our oceans especially near routes of migrating Pacific salmon while encouraging
dry land operations.
3. A commitment to keep our precious coast free of Tar Sands oil supertankers from the proposed Enbridge pipeline and Kinder-Morgan expansion

4. A commitment to end all
licensing of private power construction, PLUS-and this is critical-making
public all private power contracts in existence, coupled with a flat refusal to
honour any which are unconscionable.

Carole James has shown a lamentable reluctance to pledge this in the name of “sanctity of contract” and
no doubt out of fear of losing support from business.

We put it to her and other political hopefuls this way: suppose you were running for mayor in a town run by a “Boss Tweed” on a ticket of cleaning up the city. If you won would you continue the unconscionable deals the old council had made with the mayor’s brother-in-law and other cronies which screamed of lining the pockets of friends and supporters? Of course not!

These private power contracts can’t pass the “smell test”-can they pass the “unconscionable” test?

How can it be conscionable to force our own power company, BC Hydro, to buy power that they don’t need, meaning that they must either sell it at a 50%+ loss or use it at 12 times the price they can make it themselves?

Surely these private power so called “contracts” must be made public so that we can see just what Campbell & Co. did, and if they’re unconscionably unfair to the public, be able to rescind them.

We always hear from the corporate giants that if we as a province don’t honour contracts with foreign investors, they won’t come to BC.

Really? Are they saying we should, in order to have their business, let them fleece the taxpayers? Is it their
position that crooks are welcome?

No one is saying that if the private companies simply got a better deal than we would have made that they should be rescinded. But if, as we suspect, BC Hydro is forced to buy power at twice or more what it’s worth, or 12 times as costly as Hydro can make it for itself, does this mean we can’t state the obvious, namely that we were cheated?

Shouldn’t any companies wanting to do business in BC know, right up front, that we will not put up with any more
“sweetheart deals” made by corrupt governments?

Surely even the Fraser Institute, that rightwing “think” tank whose advice Campbell uncritically
accepts, would agree that these contracts should see the light of day, and surely the captains of industry don’t beleive that anyone, a person, a company, or a crown corporation, should be bound by an unconscionable contract
forced upon them.

If these private energy deals are like those given to “Boss Tweed’s” brother-in-law, would any decent person of whatever political stripe or walk of life say that a new, honest government must bankrupt its prize possession because the previous government made a corrupt deal?

We, at The Common Sense Canadian (www.thecanadian.org) ay an emphatic NO! font-family:Arial;mso-bidi-font-

There we have it-The Common Sense Canadian says simply this: While we support all who fight to save our environment, to use the business term, the bottom line, is that in addition to our moral responsibility to leave our environment to generations to come, risking our environment is the height of fiscal irresponsibility.

*Boss Tweed-was an American politician most notable for being the “boss” of Tammany Hall, the Democratic Party political machine that played a major role in the politics of 19th century New York City and State.



Glacier-Howser Contract Canceled!


To those of us fighting to save our rivers around the province from the Campbell private power program, the recent revelation of the cancelation of a billion-dollar-plus purchase contract with BC Hydro was big news. But you wouldn’t know it from the mainstream media. In fact, a google search yields barely a trace – save for the independent Kootenay online paper, the Nelson Post, who reported on it this past Friday.

The 40-year energy purchase agreement for a proposed 5-river diversion project, near the town of Meadow Creek, was obtained back in 2006 by Axor Group, of the wealthy Dupont family, long before the environmental assessment process that would see thousands of citizens turn out in opposition to the proposal and a record-breaking thousand-plus submissions to the environmental assessment office. It appears this outpouring of protest helped delay the project to the point where Axor was about to begin incurring substantial penalties for not having the project completed as per their contractual commitment. Based on statements made by the company today, it appears they have been let out of their contract in advance of these penalties and are now looking to renegotiate a better deal with BC Hydro!

Back in 2009, when Axor Group (who we saw were really in charge of the provincial environmental review, not their sycophantic government attachés) refused to schedule a meeting in Nelson, the unofficial capital of the region, community organizers got school buses and carpooling together to transport concerned citizens to a meeting in Kaslo (pop. 1,000). When over 1,100 people showed up at that meeting to speak out against the proposal – on top of hundreds more who attended other scheduled meetings – it was clear then that the Glacier-Howser project was in serious trouble. The mountain of written submissions also included damning evidence of rare bull trout populations that would be gravely threatened by the project – highlighted by a joint submission from DFO and local First Nations, of all people.

Now, in recognition of the public uprising that was surely instrumental in the cancelation of this original contract, we’re pleased to present again my film from the summer of 2009 on those fabled public meetings that saw a record turn-out of citizens standing up for their wild rivers.

Postscript: In light of new information today from the Nelson Post that shows the proponent is looking to resurrect the project with a new and better contract, citizens and environmental groups would do well to stand on
guard and be prepared to take to the streets should Axor be able to
proceed with a new deal from our public utility, clearly against the public will and benefit.


Why Ottawa Really Said no to Prosperity Mine


The Sun’s editorial of Nov. 5 slamming the federal decision to reject the Prosperity mine reveals a lack of understanding of the relevant facts. The editorial states: “The government of the day could have saved everyone involved on both sides of the project much time, money and angst by saying no” 17 years ago when Prosperity was first proposed.

Well, the government of the day said exactly that. In fact, three successive federal fisheries ministers from 1995 onward notified both the province and the company, Taseko Mines Ltd., that a project involving the loss of Fish Lake (called Teztan Biny by the Tsilhqot’in First Nation) was not open for discussion. Taseko knew as early as 1995 that destroying the lake was out, but continued to push its original proposal without developing a real alternative that might have saved the lake.

Read more of Tony Pearse op-ed in Vancouver Sun here


Potential BC Premiers and their Environmental Stances


There could not have been a worse government for the environment than the Campbell Liberals. On every possible front – farmland protection, fish farm disasters, the sale of our rivers and bankrupting BC Hydro, the total lack of environmental enforcement – you name it, and only Ronald Reagan and James Watt would have been worse, and even that is debatable.

It’s more than just evil deeds but an evil philosophy that’s at the root of the matter. I say that because all candidates for office play the “I-truly-love-the-environment” card punctuated with stories of camping trips when they were kids and such things. Gordon Campbell once told me of how he’d seen a billboard with migrating sockeye at the Adams River on it and how he’d taken a solemn vow to protect the environment for his children and grandchildren so they could share this miracle.

The first concern is, of course, the Liberal leadership campaign which has the great attraction that the winner is automatically the premier. That this may be just for a few months is true but, what the hell, you made it to the top and your picture will go up on the wall of the rotunda in the Parliament Buildings. It therefore behooves us to examine the candidates very carefully and, in my opinion, rule out anyone who’s been in the Campbell Cabinet.
Even the sainted Carole Taylor?

You bet – she was there when the moratorium on farmed salmon was lifted and she knew what the scientific findings were. They all did and not even a road-to-Damascus-like conversion can change that. I have no doubt that Ms. Taylor would be a strong premier, especially on fiscal matters, but I say, and have long been saying this: “a future government can always clean up a bad fiscal inheritance, even though it’s tough to do, but once you’ve lost your environment, it’s gone forever.”
What about Christy Clark? After all, her husband Mark Marissen is a Liberal backroom boy with considerable influence.
She can’t be ruled out but after her humiliating loss to Sam Sullivan for the NPA candidate-for-mayor a couple of years back, she may well conclude, as I have, that she won’t get the nomination, and if she did, for the same reasons I’ve given for Carole Taylor’s unsuitability, she won’t be elected … then again, if she were, how would she compare being leader of the opposition to the untaxing (the way she does it) job as a talk show host?

What she does have going for her is her gender…but in my judgment that’s not a deal-cincher especially if she’s in against Carole James.
You must be able to read political jargon to know who’s in and who’s not and, quite frankly, if it’s George Abbott, Rich Coleman, or whomever, it doesn’t much matter for it’s simply one evil replacing another.
There are two outsiders to consider: John Furlong and Diane Watts. When Furlong says he’s out, I would say that’s 90% a commitment. I know John and I don’t believe that he does want the job. He’s a sports nut – a squash pro, and a good one, the head pro at the cushy Arbutus Club until he got into the Olympics. (For what it’s worth, my son-in-law Larry Armstrong has been pro since Furlong left). Furlong loves the game and if he were to leave the jobs and speechifying the Olympics have given him I believe he would move into the international squash scene. Still, until the deadline passes, you can’t count anyone out.
I’m changing my mind a bit about Diane Watts. Her recent denials haven’t sounded quite as dismissive as earlier ones have been. It almost sounds like “No, unless there is an enormous draft Watts movement count me out”.
Could such a draft occur?
Don’t rule it out. Although this is the BC Liberal Party not the federal party – the insiders are much the same for both and they have a very long history of not letting principles stand in the way of getting elected. Even though she has no experience in senior government much less the premier’s office she has proved to be a quick study in local politics.
I think she would be nuts to go at this time in her young life. There is no guarantee that she would win, meaning 4 or maybe 8 years in opposition – an unpleasant option – before she was in power. That amount of time in opposition is soul-destroying, especially for someone who has had no previous time in the “zoo”.
But by my reading of the chicken’s entrails, Diane Watts has only said “no”, not “no f’ing way”.
The other thing environmentalists must consider is the NDP with or without Carole James. Whether or not she is the best the NDP can put forward, let’s consider what would happen if she were to win. Her record on the environment has been dodgy at best. I say that knowing that she has shown an interest, which is more than any Liberal has, but she gets an “F” on private power companies (IPPS).
The government has forced upon BC Hydro “sweetheart deals” with IPPS which ruin our rivers to produce power when Hydro doesn’t need it, forcing Hydro to sell it at a 50% loss on the export market thus bankrupting our public power company. Ms. James says she will honour contracts.
This statement was no doubt made for the benefit of industry but it’s wrong. It’s like a mayor, getting elected on a “clean government” slate honouring the sweetheart deals the ex-mayor made with his brother-in-law.
The standard for judging government contracts made for political reasons is simply, “is it conscionable?”  These IPP contracts are only conscionable if the judgment is made on the rules of “Boss Tweed”, the Prendergast machine of Kansas City, or Chicago mayor Richard Daly Sr.
Ms. James must assure us that she will make these IPP contracts public and if, as I suspect, they are unconscionable, they must be terminated.
We’re faced, then, with a party, Liberal, that doesn’t give a fiddler’s fart for the environment and one that only pays lip service to our concerns.
I’ve spoken about a third party, perhaps involving Chris Delaney or Gordon Wilson, or both. This could well be the alternative environmentalists are looking for. They are both very fine, knowledgeable men but if they present themselves, environmentalists around the province must be satisfied that they intend to be that too.
These are interesting, no critical, political times and we at the Common Sense Canadian stand ready to join all who care about our environment as they make their political stances clear.