I wish John Horgan and his new government well. He has his work cut out for him.
There has been a load of pollyannish bullshit spouted by the media about what will and what will not happen to his shaky government when it finally gets going. And that’s my first note. As soon as the LG called upon him to form a government, Mr. Horgan should have done so. After his time watching his colleagues in opposition, surely be could have have presented a Council to Her Honour in 24 hours.
Is the answer to the delay perhaps that this matter had not yet been settled with Dr. Weaver? That’s an unnerving thought and raises the first worry wart. Just what is the arrangement?
The Deal with Weaver
I must confess that I thought he’d get a cabinet post but that would really have necessitated a coalition government and neither party is prepared for that.
So, what does Weaver get? A right to approve/disapprove selections? That, I should think, would be too much, but just the right to be consulted? That would be mighty thin gruel.
Horgan not only must run a government but must appear to the voters to be doing so and if he has to raise his hand and get permission to go to the loo, he will hardly look like a man in charge. But at the same time Weaver has to show his little pack that he really matters in the process of governance or else, who needs him?
The words “politician” and “prickly” are synonyms and both Horgan and Weaver have egos that at this point vastly exceed their accomplishments They are required by the circumstances to like each other yet apparently don’t, and are partners, senior and junior, as curators of a nest of adders.
It is bound to be interesting.
Opposition can make life difficult
I’ve seen no media analyses of the main problem Horgan faces because they’ve never been there. Even media with experience watching and reporting have never lived in the monkey house.Indeed, neither really has Horgan, but being Opposition leader should have prepared him for a legislature of high tension.And this one should be a lulu.
I have no idea what tactics the Liberals in opposition will use and they probably won’t know themselves until their leadership question is settled and they analyze their options. But I can tell you that they can make the government’s existence all but unbearable when the House is sitting.
The House operates out of a small red rulebook but that is backed by two volumes of practice and precedents:Beauchesne and Sir Erskine May, with sufficient nitpicking material therein for days of delaying tactics. I don’t say that the Liberals will employ these tactics but both the NDP and the Socreds did in their days. In fact, the Socred gambit of “not a dime without debate” in 1974, quite unfairly, portrayed the NDP as wastrels. It was phoney as hell, but, more than anything else, cost the NDP the 1975 election.
Before going on, let me say that in a parliamentary system it is, as Lord Randolph Churchill said nearly 150 years ago, “the duty of the opposition to oppose”. Even though it can get ridiculous, I support that aphorism. The Opposition, however, must always be wary, lest they go too far and piss off the populace.
Almost everything the government does can give rise to an objection, a point of order that isn’t one. Same with a point of privilege – whatever the devil that is – a lengthy and often ridiculous argument unto a shouting match, a routine Speaker’s ruling usually just approved on a voice vote – “all in favour”. But to further delay, the Opposition will call for a “division”, meaning a 10-minute delay as bells summon members to the Chamber for a formal vote. I recall one day Gary Lauk, before the session had been called to order, stood up and asked the Speaker to adjourn because he didn’t think that there were an appropriate number of Ministers there for Question Period. A thoroughly specious position, out of order if only because the session had not even been called to order, but an ingenious delaying tactic.
Question Period is 15 minutes and I can remember many that ran over an hour with objections, followed by a division vote. I remember one afternoon a member drew the Speaker’s attention to the clock, the formal way of ending at 6 pm for the dinner break. Objection was taken, and it was after 7 pm before the Speaker could declare the time to be 6 pm!
The opposition usually extends a promise to the premier or minister not to call any formal vote while they are away on business but in nastier times, that might be withdrawn at the very last moment.
The ability of the Opposition to harass and delay is virtually limitless and it can be very hard on government morale.
Teetering on a one-vote edge
The government, with a one vote edge, can never be certain it has enough bodies available, and while a vote lost, if not a confidence vote, won’t bring the government down, again, it’s embarrassing and bad for morale.
As I said, I have no idea what tactics the Liberals will employ but you can be certain that good sportsmanship and accommodating the government will not be considerations. Mr. Horgan says he will govern for four years before an election is called and I must ask him if he’s a betting man.
In all these considerations, one must speculate on the NDP/Green pact. There are a lot more ways it can fold than stay together.
The Green Team
Let’s talk about Sonia Furstenau and Adam Olsen, the other Green MLAs. What does Weaver do to keep them amused? They are not real opposition members so can’t join in on the mischief. Being a backbencher at the best of times is an exercise in overcoming world-class boredom. They all carry briefcases full of unnecessary pieces of paper and the leader spends much of his time thinking up make-work projects to keep the idle hands from doing the Devil’s work.
These are bright, ambitious people and giving speeches to service clubs and snipping ribbons at the opening of the latest car dealership is scarcely enough to keep the mind alive, much less strut your stuff. .
Let’s not forget that while Dr. Weaver is the Green leader, he is not, by any means, representative of Green Party members, of whom there are many who don’t care for him or are only there because they’re pissed off with everyone else. Weaver is very good at getting up people’s noses – we saw plenty of that in the May election.
Dr. Weaverwill see his biggest responsibility to be keepinghimself as leader, which may not correspond with Ms. Furstenau and Mr Olsen’s evening vespers. The Liberals won’t have to remind them that there’s always a warm spot for them in front of the Liberal hearth.
Four more years?
The media have, since May 9 last, been crunching numbers and giving you their speculations. But until a reporter has been there a long time, drunk a lot of beer with disgruntled MLAs, watched a host of affairs start and marriages end, watched up close the emotions and ambitions they will be struggling with – only then can they give the public an accurate picture, and, even then, you really had to be there.
This government staying in power for four years?
And pigs can truly fly, your kids aren’t going “all the way”, and you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan.
Looking ahead at our political situation in BC and assuming that the NDP will govern with a one vote majority, perhaps it might be well to consider what that actually means.
An accepted authority isHOUSE OF COMMONS PROCEDURE AND PRACTICE, edited by Robert Marleau and Camille Montpetit
This on “Confidence”:
[quote]What constitutes a question of confidence in the government varies with the circumstances. Confidence is not a matter of parliamentary procedure, nor is it something on which the Speaker can be asked to rule. It is generally acknowledged, however, that confidence motions may be:
• explicitly worded motions which state, in express terms, that the House has, or has not, confidence in the government;
• motions expressly declared by the government to be questions of confidence;
• implicit motions of confidence, that is, motions traditionally deemed to be questions of confidence, such as motions for the granting of Supply (although not necessarily an individual item of Supply, motions concerning the budgetary policy of the government and motions respecting the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. (my emphasis)[/quote]
What this does not mean is that every time the government loses a vote it must resign. That is plain fiction encouraged by the fact that when such a vote is lost, cries of “resign!” are shouted from the Opposition benches with enthusiasm but no justification.
Clearly the NDP government can, with good management and a bit of luck, govern for a considerable period of time without facing a substantial problem giving rise to a confidence vote.
Obviously, they can’t go far if the opposition nail them on their initial Speech from the Throne and they will soon face a Budget vote but it’s well to remember that with their majority, however small, they can probably weather the first two of these motions on the assumption that their members are healthy enough to live long enough for it. It’s also well to remember that the Opposition needs all its votes and Liberals, in spite of their evident beliefs to the contrary, are mortal too.
Making life difficult
Mr. Horgan faces a more imminent problem though – if the Liberals have any experts on rules of Procedure, they can make the operation of the House itself all the way from unpleasant to utter hell. Points of Order, questions of clarification, down to highly questionable objections can stall matters from hours unto days. Whether or not the Liberals pursue this tactic remains to be seen.
Confidence motions arise by operation of rule or custom more often than by actual motion. Still, the opposition will want to move with care. Like the rule for taking a drink of whisky, it’s not done every time it’s possible but, if the drinker is wise, a good drinker, he only takes one when the time is right. It’s called discipline. And so it is with confidence motions. It would not be unusual at all for the Liberal opposition to avoid a possible confidence situation because it is not in fact to their advantage at that point.
The Polls may be terrible. The most obvious reason for it not being the right time would be lack of money in the election kitty. Elections are very expensive and are taken with care if only on that basis. There is no doubt that the Liberals carry an advantage in that department but what if there are new funding reforms? This just may not be an appropriate time because the polls say that voters want to give the Horgan government a chance and the Liberals are faced with the ephemeral notion of fair play as an issue.
Of one thing you can be sure – politics is just one damned thing after another and accurate predictions as rare as hens’ teeth.
Cleaning up the Liberals’ fiscal mess
Horgan has a big problem to deal with and the Liberals will make the most of it. The elephant in the government Caucus Room is a chap named Dr. Andrew Weaver, ironically the man who is responsible for the NDP being in power. Now, folks, carefully follow the bouncing ball.
The deep-seated case with which the “right” traditionally taunt the NDP is that they are fiscally inept. They couldn’t run a peanut stand, they say. Every time the NDP has run the province it is stated, unemployment soared, capital fled to more welcome climes and the deficit exploded. This story goes back to my childhood days when it was their predecessor, the CCF, who were considered philosophically incapable of understanding money except that paid by hardworking people to welfare bums.
The Campbell/Clark government has mismanaged ICBC – simply a cash-for-protection monopoly not much more complicated than the protection racket on the streets of New York City – into massive deficits.
But the clincher for the NDP is BC Hydro which, starting with Gordon Campbell’s private energy scheme in 2002, has been taken from one of the finest, most viable energy companies in the world to virtual bankruptcy during good economic times.
[quote]There’s no getting around the debt crisis. The Liberal government set BC Hydro on more than a decade of spending beyond its means, entering electricity purchase agreements it couldn’t pay for, and being unable to obtain the revenues it needed to meet its spending obligations. It was only following orders. A private company would have been bankrupt, and have liquidated its assets. Crown corporations have taxpayers to keep them afloat.” (Emphasis mine)[/quote]
Under this new policy, the creation of this all new power was by Independent (private) Power Producers (IPP) who were permitted to destroy the rivers they used and be paid 3x what they were entitled to. Needless to say, these IPPs were or soon became generous donors to the BC Liberal Party.
Fixing the problem
There are, I’m sure you would agree, three immediate things to be done.
Immediately appoint a Commission of Inquiry to examine allaspects of this financial debacle at BC Hydro to report back to the Attorney-General any evidence of Crime.
Immediately cancel Site C, with its entire undertaking subject to a Commission of Enquiry.
Move BC Hydro back to supplying all power and eliminate all use of IPPs
The loss of BC Hydro takes the breath away. If the public has any rights left, it’s to know how this happened and apply the Deep Throat Watergate Rule – follow the money…
It goes without saying that the operating maximfor the Enquiry is “let the chips fall where they may”.
The Weaver hitch
That last line has Mr. Horgan in deep trouble before he gets started because going back to Campbell’s private energy policy until now, BC Hydro’s purchase of private power has been consistently and enthusiastically supported by Dr. Andrew Weaver, leader of the Green Party of BC – John Horgan’s invaluable political partner. It’s been the huge cost of this power that has BC Hydro in all this trouble. To this day, Weaver, the environmentalist, refuses to show the slightest remorse for supporting policy that destroys rivers it uses along with its habitat, while enriching the politically powerful insider as it destroys the public’s power company!
And just how the Hell do you square that circle?
That, folks, is a pretty good example of what the phrase “Elephant in the Room” means.
[quote]The Trans Mountain pipeline [Kinder Morgan] expansion project will never see the light of day.
-Grand Chief Philip Stewart, Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs[/quote]
If you live anywhere in Canada other than British Columbia, you’re probably convinced that the Kinder Morgan (Trans Mountain) pipeline from Edmonton to Burnaby, BC will be built, since no less than Prime Minister Trudeau says so. Well, you may get a shock with this candid advice but you’d best accept the fact that this pipeline will never, ever be built, period.
Many much wiser and more powerful British Columbians than I will tell you the same in even stronger terms.
Might my story not be biased? Of course that conclusion’s an option since there is no more loyal British Columbian than I, but remember that we who will fight Kinder Morgan have only one interest: the beautiful land and water we hold in trust for those as yet unborn. We have no Tar Sands to flog, no political payoffs owed, no juicy House of Commons seats to covet, no faraway investors to enrich, no personal ambitions to fulfill, no face saving to be done – all that’s at stake for us is the salvation and preservation of our home.
Energy expert quit “fraudulent” review
Let’s start with the proposition that the product of the tar sands in Alberta is viciously poisonous, whether spilt on land, in the ocean, or put into the atmosphere. To talk of “world class cleanup” methods for bitumen (dilbit) is a cruel oxymoron. To pretend that massive accidents – carefully called “incidents” – are minor risks insults the intelligence.
The pious suggestion by government and industry that the undertaking underwent a “rigorous scientific investigation” is pure bullshit! It underwent (if that’s the word), a disgraceful National Energy Board hearing, the process Trudeau ran against in 2015 and, for fairness, was on a par with Soviet Union show trials. A process so egregiously biased that Marc Eliesen (former CEO of B.C. Hydro, former chair of Ontario Hydro, former chair of Manitoba Hydro, deputy minister in seven different federal and provincial governments, with 40 years’ executive experience in the energy sector, including as a board member at Suncor) withdrew as an intervenor, calling the proceedings “fraudulent”. So much for the “rigorous scientific examination” that Prime Minister Trudeau and Kinder Morgan tell British Columbians to rely upon for the security of Burrard Inlet, Vancouver Harbour, the Salish Sea, the Gulf Islands, the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the rest of our pristine coast.
Trudeau breaks promise to the world
Let’s also remember that Prime Minister Trudeau made himself an international hero of the environment by stating clearly, beyond a doubt, at the Paris conference in November 2015, that fossil fuels must be phased out and that Canada was back in the game and raring to go. The principal concern was and remains climate change, he noted, and Canada would enthusiastically resist putting more fossil fuels into the atmosphere – in fact would both reduce them substantially and help other countries do the same.
Not unnaturally, people in British Columbia, concerned about their own environment as well as that of the world in general, were relieved at this unwonted leadership. The newly elected Prime Minister was seen in a new light as a forthright, dedicated environmentalist and not the weak dissembler we originally took him for. Sometimes, alas here, one is right the first time.
What pipeline boosters don’t get
Our main environmental concern – and it is huge – involves our rivers and oceans, over which we have control. Of particular interest but of no apparent concern to Trudeau and other Canadians, are the creatures that live in those waters.
This special and growing concern isn’t, for us, some abstract “Free Willy” reverie but a critically important reality that has never been understood by the federal Liberal party, as evidenced by their ongoing ill-treatment of the Pacific fishery from Confederation until today, when, in addition to the usual neglect, the Pacific salmon is being diseased and killed by federally-sponsored and approved, foreign-owned Atlantic salmon fish farms.
Our 5 commercial species of salmon are extremely important as a basic food for First Nations, as well as critical to their economy and to other important commercial and sports fisheries. Most Canadians to our east don’t seem to understand how strongly we feel about these issues nor have any appreciation of our values.
The Federal government, in Wilde’s words, “knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing”. To British Columbians, the sacred symbol of our province is the Pacific Salmon, all 7 discrete varieties.
Respect for First Nations
This leads us to First Nations, both in terms of individual tribes and united peoples, not only in British Columbia but right across the country. I have don’t know how other Canadians feel on this issue, however, there’s solidarity of the general British Columbia community behind First Nations, who’ve been leaders in environmental protection for far longer than most of us care to admit.
Stewart Philip, Grand Chief of the British Columbia Union of Indian Chiefs, is very highly regarded, not just as an Indigenous leader, but as a general community leader as well. He is hardly alone as he shares this respect with numerous aboriginal leaders of both sexes. If that basic reality is not understood, the BC position can’t be understood either.
Are British Columbians bad Canadians?
British Columbians are being painted as “bad Canadians”. As a lifelong (85 years) British Columbian, I tell you that BC is different, even though most outsiders prefer to see it as part of “the West” – shorthand that does no service to other western provinces any more than it does to BC.
British Columbia is unique geographically, historically, demographically, in terms of resources – with a very strong sense of that uniqueness and the set of values it produces. Not that we haven’t had some very careless times when it seemed that there was always another valley to log and river to destroy.
In 1993, the forces for change coalesced at Clayoquot Sound on the west coast of Vancouver Island, remembered by esteemed journalist, Stephen Hume:
[quote]People came from all over the country and beyond. Teachers, artists, musicians, university students and their professors, working folk, soccer moms, dentists, doctors and First Nations elders descended on the West Coast to put a stop to clearcutting by blockading a road. What followed was the largest mass arrest for civil disobedience in the province’s history.[/quote]
There was no turning back. Was it a collective, troubled conscience that just required some youthful idealism and energy? Whatever it was, it took hold deeply and quickly. Suddenly it wasn’t “tree-huggers” who were the unfashionable outsiders, it was the people calling them “tree huggers” – the elite suddenly, badly reduced in numbers and importance.
The genie was well and truly out of the bottle. No one believed industry leaders and supportive politicians anymore and just a moment’s reflection made it clear that based on their track record, they weren’t entitled to credibility. Things the long haired pot smokers had predicted had come true. Perhaps the very late realization that solemn, science-backed assurances that smoke from burnt coal “just went up there” was not just bullshit, but deliberate bullshit; the black crud London was removing from the Houses of Parliament had caked their lungs; and all those doctors smoking Camels were trying to quit.
In any event, fewer and fewer British Columbians believe what Trudeau, his National Energy Board, raw, uncaring political hacks such as Ministers of Environment or anyone connected with Kinder Morgan, the tanker companies who serve them or trained, clapping seals at Chambers of Commerce have to say. Time after time, they had been proven wrong, over and over the public saw that safety measures had to be compelled and that truths that diminished profits were hidden. Clearly, profits trumped all.
We’re not going anywhere
Hence, there’s no way British Columbia will obey Trudeau except by actual force and if that’s applied, the damage done to national unity will be irreparable. We’re told that Trudeau and Premier Notley of Alberta have the law on their side. I wish those who think that would pour themselves a glass of relaxant and think about it awhile.
It’s an exhausting subject, but ask yourself if the top court in the nation will put monetary profits from the world’s worst polluter in one province ahead of the natural and clean resources of a neighbour, causing enormous harm to both that neighbour and to others while at the same time further ruining the badly polluted global atmosphere Trudeau promised to make better? In the name of God, is that the essence of this country that dares preach to us about principles? Profit, however destructive, trumps all!
A whole new ballgame
Has the hubris of self-serving hymns of praise so dulled the national brain that no one has noticed an army of First Nations going to the Court of Appeal, thence to the Supreme Court? Have our “betters” not yet noticed that since the Calder case, then the 1982 Constitution, the entrenching of aboriginal rights and that aboriginal rights are, in the vernacular, “a whole new ballgame”, as summed up thusly by the Canadian Encyclopedia?
[quote]Aboriginal rights, like treaty rights, are recognized and affirmed by Section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. The Supreme Court of Canada has held that this provision protects a spectrum of different kinds of rights, including legal recognition of customary practices such as marriage and adoption, the site-specific exercise of food harvesting and other rights that don’t involve claims to the land itself, and assertions of an Aboriginal title to traditional lands.[/quote]
At this writing, there are at least a dozen discrete First Nations challenging Kinder Morgan, each of which will presumably go to the Court of Appeal thence to the SCC. There seems little likelihood many, if any, have sufficient in common to be united for trial. Given that none of the First Nations have a sense of urgency, how long do you think these cases will take? How long will Kinder Morgan have to be promising investors “soon”?
Only then will the workers on the pipeline finally be able to trot out their first front-end loader to be met by repetitive Civil Disobedience by ordinary folks, with associated court actions sending our friends and neighbours to jail for contempt of court, as happened in Burnaby in 2014. For what little it might matter, every ounce of my aged being, including freedom, will be with the protesters in the fight for justice for all British Columbians.
I recognize that many will take what I have written as defiant threatening. It is defiant because, I believe, that word accurately sums up the attitude of me and my neighbours. It’s not written to threaten but to lay before you my judgment of what will happen if matters continue as they are and beg you to understand us if you can’t lend us your support.
This evil project has, most unhelpfully, sharpened the divisions in Canada – but one can hardly blame British Columbians for that when their sole purpose has been not to make money, not to visit harm on anyone or anything, but simply to support the highest scientific and moral principles as we protect ourselves and the world’s atmosphere. I have much difficulty seeing how such defensive conduct could ever be seen as bad Canadianism.
Who of you, living as I do on Howe Sound, would sacrifice the killer whales, humpback whales, seals, sea lions, porpoises, dolphins, crab, shrimp, oysters, clams, abalone, salmon runs, herring runs and other sea life and bird life that thrive there in order that elements of certain destruction would cause serious harm to them, to say nothing of human beings, whilst being transferred elsewhere to do harm to everyone?
I should tell you that we speak from graphic experience. We once lost a good deal of all this due to industrial pollution but after the mill shut down in Squamish and Britannia Mine closed in 1974, people of the area and the government thoroughly cleaned up Howe Sound and it came back to life. If the people didn’t deeply care for these values, however esoteric they may appear to others, they would scarcely have gone to all that trouble and spent all that money, much of it private, to clean up Canada’s southernmost fjord, nor be so prepared to fight hard to see that it stays that way.
No longer Left v. Right
The environment is no longer a left v. right political proposition in British Columbia but a mainstream issue of vital importance to everyone. People have all learned that when industry or government talks of safety and respect for the environment, the truth is not in them and that citizens and they alone must protect it.
It has not been my purpose, by being frank with you, to make you angry or get your backs up – I simply want the rest of Canada to know that our basic values are being challenged by Kinder Morgan, the province of Alberta, and the Government of Canada and that doing so is not a good idea. Since this entire coast, right to the Alaska Panhandle, is under threat and it is the Canadian West Coast, it puzzles most British Columbians why Canadians generally do not want to protect it just as we do, if not as strongly.
If, as it appears, they do not wish to do this, I must tell them frankly that we who live here will do it for them, irrespective of who wants to spoil it. Yes, we respect the rights of Alberta, but we must accept what wise people know will be certain and serious damage to the natural beauty and resources that we intend to protect, not only on our own behalf but for the entire country.
One cannot serve the God Mammon by sacrificing one’s common heritage on his altar and still retain one’s soul. And isn’t this very wise question posed so very long ago even more appropriate than ever? “For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul?”
And if that answer doesn’t suit those who would make money with someone else running all the risks – not risks but certain calamities – how about this?
It will be a much postponed verdict but my initial reaction to the NDP-Green deal is positive.
Whether so motivated or not, Andrew Weaver has done the right politically moral thing – contradiction in terms though that is – by agreeing to support John Horgan and the NDP. It is particularly laudable in the form of being support not coalition. His obligation is twofold – first to the public, to give them the best possible governance option and secondly to the Green Party, which is the reason hehas the options in the first place.
Dealing with the latter point, that’s a bigger obligation than might first appear. The Greens are a worldwide “movement” with obligations outside BC and Canada and have ambitions for political power with reasons to believe they can, with time, succeed. The political persuasion that supports Green certainly is not compatible with the BC variety of the Liberal Party and Dr. Weaver has correctly borne that in mind. We will always suspect, with good reason, that in rejecting Ms. Clark, he turned down a pretty good personal offer.
Environment now a serious political issue
On one major point, self-serving though it may be, the Liberals don’t appear no have noticed that environmentalism is no longer the private preserve of the left. In fact, the whole notion is tied in with traditional “conservatism” back to the time of Republican Teddy Roosevelt. The first Federal Environment Minister was Liberal Len Marchand in the 70s, the first for a Province was Jim Nielsen of the Socreds in 1975. It was not until more recent times that the general public became truly alerted and alarmed. For the Liberals to have overlooked that in their early years might be understood, given their newness, bur how they could have continued that policy to the bitter end may account for that end having occurred. It was eloquent testimony to the stranglehold big money had on Ms. Clark and one can forgive all us Kinder Morgan foes taking a bit of whiskey usually beyond our means tonight!
I don’t think for a moment that Dr. Weaver’s anomalousposition as a Green can go unnoticed, but sooner or later – most likely later – his position on independent power producers will have to be reconciled with the general position of most British Columbians that they are an environmental catastrophe in addition to being financial disasters, with only the old Liberal hacks profiting handsomely.
Libs can still make trouble
Overlooked in these discussions has been the fact that the Liberals will have an extremely strong opposition and it will be well motivated, if only to make their opposition skills mask their appalling government. I have been in a government with a small majority and can tell you that the opposition can make governing extremely difficult if they understand parliamentary rules and procedures. They can also make new policies all but impossible. I do not believe this government can lastanything like four years and would be surprised if it went more than 18 months.
Every time a new government takes over from a government of long standing, the new bunch goes on ad nauseam about the mess they were left by their predecessors. In this case, that case is already made beyond any reasonable doubt, not by good NDP opposition but a vigilant private sector (and here’s where you act surprised, folks) who went largely unreported by the oil-stained media in constant genuflection to the government.
NDP inherit Liberal legacy of debt
Here’s part of the story. The provincial debt has, in real dollars, in 15 years of Liberal misrule in prosperous times times, doubled. In that same period, the “great Liberal money managers” all but bankrupted our great power company, BC Hydro, have left it not only without money but bound it to a $10 BILLION expense on Site C; have left ICBC on the ropes; have turned the provincial financial mainstay, natural gas, into a weird pipe dream now floating away into the great beyond, likely never ever to be seen again – called LNG. Were I a sarcastic person by nature – and heaven forfend I should ever be that – I would rejoice we have a trillion dollar Prosperity Fund, squirrelled away so skillfully it can’t be found, to tide us over until times gets better.
The chickens have come home to roost but, unfair though it is, they are no longer Farmer Christy’s responsibly. In fact, watch as these massive Liberal fuckups all become the NDP’s fault when they must be dealt with.
In short, the new Horgan government is going to be fighting for physical survival from the beginning and will be a pretty soft target for the Liberal truth-benders who, already at this writing, just a few hours after the deal was struck, are flooding the social media with gloomy predictions that businesses will be fleeing British Columbia, leaving the unemployed writhing, hungry in the streets.
We will soon see what sort of stuff Mr. Horgan is made of and my suspicion is that it is much sterner stuff than many, including myself, have projected. His principal tasks are two. First, the NDP must be much better prepared to meet the political bullshit that the Christy prevaricators will dish out starting in the first minute they’re in opposition and do so much better they did in 2001 when, contrary to the claims of new premier Campbell that the province was in a terrible fiscal mess,in fact the NDP had a left it with 1.5 BILLION cash in the bank.
The second and far more important task for Mr. Horgan will be to keep his cool. He is known to have a touch of volatility in his personality and while that sometimes serves one well in opposition, it’s very different in government where you must show coolness and firmness. The cabinet will mostly be rookies and be carefully led. I had lunch last week with a former NDP cabinet minister and agreed that the sooner a new minister learns that it’s a lot easier to run the government from the pub than the cabinet room, the better. Everyone arrives at their seat on Day One determined to cure the ills of government, only to find that it’s not quite that easy, as the government faces the reality of trying to make two dollars do the work of one.
It’s normal to close dissertations such as this with a pat on the back to the outgoing government, with words of bonhomie dripping from the lips. As someone who has, in Lyndon Johnson’s little aphorism, been inside the tent peeing out, and outside the tent peeing in, plus the passage of a lot of time, I tend to overlook these flattering obsequies, so my valedictory remarks can be summed up in two words: Good riddance.
There is no risk in transporting Alberta’s bitumen through our forests, over our rivers, past our sparkling, azure lakes, through our cities, into Vancouver Harbour, over the Salish Sea, past the Gulf Islands, through the Straits of Juan de Fuca. No risk involved at all, just an absolutely certain ongoing series of accidents, small, big and enormous just waiting to happenlike the flipped penny waits for heads to turn up.In fact, I can tell you after listening to companies and governments lie through their teeth for a great many years that there’s a maxim here, the origin of which is credited to Ralph Waldo Emerson but may go back further: “The louder he talked of his honour, the faster we counted our spoons” – freely translated, the more they downplay and minimize the consequences, the worse they’re sure to be.
Ms. Notley is afflicted with the same problem as Premier Photo-Op in our province – she finds it not just difficult to tell the truth when a big fat lie is available, but impossible. Christy is still lying through her teeth, strictly by accident of course, alleging that LNG is a less harmful fossil fuel to burn than coal, which, besides being untrue, is rather like the ad years ago that went, “More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette”.
So let’s talk about that. Try telling the truth – it only hurts for a moment. Burned fossil fuels cause enormous, ultimately crippling damage to the atmosphere and, of course, our health. Not even kindly old Doc Weaver, who loves “run of river” and Independent Power Producers, would support burning LNG or bitumen – and he’s a climatologist with an infinitesimal sliver of a Nobel Prize to show for it.
Prime Minister Trudeau, Secundum, was once convinced that burning fossil fuels was terrible until he got urgent calls from the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers after the Paris Conference on Climate – same guys who control Postmedia, Christy, and the oil-crazy BC Government.
What if BC shipped uranium through Alberta?
Ms. Notley, all that codswallop you’ve been barfing about one province not being allowed to stop another province from getting products to market went out with the Stutz Bearcat and the tricycle. You see, we’re not talking products like those back in the good old days of Sir John A, the National Policy and shipping wheat. Bitumen isn’t a product like wheat or pickled prairie oysters but a deadly additive to the atmosphere which, after we let you ship it over and spread ruin in our precious province, is thrust into the atmosphere by your customers and comes quickly back to poison us! Didn’t you know that Premier? And didn’t you know that the Tar Sands whence springs this shit are the world’s worst polluter?
You’re of the Left, Madam, and they’re supposed to care about pollution, destruction and death. Gross indifference as you are displaying belongs to Bay Street and their deadly deniers on the right, including their ambitious acolytes, the ever self-gratifying Liberals.
Here you are, Premier Notley, the caring champions of fair play and decency behaving like greedy, uncaring capitalist porkers at the altar of oil just like the good ol’ boys in the Petroleum Club, whistling past the graveyard, sipping single malt Scotch. Sorry for the naughty but so expressive word, but Rachel Notley, aren’t you fucking well ashamed of yourself?
Here’s a question for you, Premier: BC has scads of uranium. What would you say if we wanted to ship raw uranium down Jasper Avenue in Edmonton, down the South Saskatchewan River, en route to, say, North Korea, to be used – cross our heart and hope to die – for peaceful purposes. Hell, what about uranium to our friends and allies in the good old US?
You’d just as soon ship the stuff to North Korea, you say?
You have a point there Rachel. But seriously, what’s the difference between bitumen and uranium, save in degree and not much of that, only being that uranium may kill us a bit faster than Tar Sands gunk?. Let me put it to you this way – there’s no way in the world you would expose Albertans to death and destruction so that BC can sell uranium without any supervision of its use, yet you have no qualms making British Columbians handle your cannon fodder so Alberta can get rich selling bitumen to countries who will put as much of it as they wish into the atmosphere – and this doesn’t even raise a blush.
I guess it’s sort of like Church on Sunday, foreclose farms the rest of the week.
The pot calling the kettle black
What the hell, eh Premier, the constitutional lawyers at U of A support you, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers supports you, your customers in China support you and, of course, Trudeau the Turncoat supports you.
By the way, Premier Notley, when did Alberta become so dedicated to generosity in the name of patriotism?
When you were barely a teenager, I was attending myriad conferences drawing up the new constitution for the country. Most provinces, including British Columbia, believed that “have not” provinces like Atlantic Canada should get equalization payments from the better off, to give them a helping hand. Alberta? Their Ministers from the top down squealed like a piglet without a teat to suck and told poorer provinces, in patronizing terms, to manage their affairs more carefully like Alberta does – never mind that Alberta has all that oil.
Ah, yes, look at Alberta, once the miser, watching sister provinces eke livings from paltry resources, by an amazing conversion today the very soul of amicable sharing, now skulking about the portals of power with a dagger in one hand and a begging bowl in the other. I guess it all depends upon whose ox is being gored.
This isn’t the Canada I thought we were re-creating back in 1982. With all its flaws, I hoped we’d started down the road to fairness and respect. Now you, Rachel Notley – our own faithless government hoping for a share of your bounty – and Trudeau tell us that these new attitudes of respect and fair play for all, didn’t mean British Columbia, for heavens sake, and our love and respect for the land that we cherish is trumped by the Tar Sands, deadly pollution, environmental rape and the moneyed few.
Don’t be so cocky, Rachel Notley. We British Columbians, all the way from those who arrived today to old farts like me who were born here, are about to learn what we’re made of.
We didn’t ask to have to defend our home and integrity from attacks from you and big oil any more than we did when Brian Mulroney tried to foist further Central Canadian domination on us with Meech Lake and Charlottetown 30 years ago. Nearly 70% of us told Lyin’ Brian to get stuffed back then and I have the gut feeling we’re about to tell you, Trudeau, the oil industry and the rest of the elite the same.
You’re playing with fire, Rachel Notley, and, like Mulroney, you don’t understand that we have different values in what many call Cascadia – our land, trees, rivers, lakes and farms mean more than dollars; our Howe Sound, Burrard Inlet, Salish Sea, Gulf islands, Straits of Juan de Fuca, our entire magnificent coast up to Alaska, very much including our unique Haida Gwaii, mean a hell of a lot more to us than qualifying for Trudeau’s version of “good Canadians” by genuflecting before Alberta’s self-proclaimed right to place all that in jeopardy in order to get the Tar Sands into the atmosphere and the money into their pockets.
Premier Notley, You had better hope and pray that you don’t piss off the rest of British Columbians as much as you have me.
It’s May 10, 2017 as I write this, an appropriate date to examine the election, being the anniversary of the Nazi invasion of France and the Low Countries in 1940 and the day Winston Churchill came to the rescue. Like then, much of the information during the campaign was questionable and virtually all of the mainstream media suppositions by a lamentable herd of trained seals unable to report intelligibly or intelligently. The stage was set by 16 years of kissing the backside of the provincial government, the print media distinguishing itself by managing to avoid the number one story of the times – their own newspapers’ deal with the oil industry ensuring that the latter always looked good in the newspapers and governments that wanted good press would be kind to the fossil fuel industry.
How annoying it was to hear the Global gabbers pontificate that when one party, with 100 votes cast, had 46% and the other 44%, thus the former had a “two point lead” – a piddling, meaningless statement. They used the same method with 5000 votes cast where that 2% was a substantial and perhaps final margin. In baseball, it’s percentages of hits per at bat; in politics it’s the number of hits that count. One might have expected the political pundits might have picked that up somewhere along the way.
Clark’s true economic record should have been downfall
There can be no doubt that all three parties lost one way or another. The Clark Liberals, with enough money to launch a small country, couldn’t buy a majority. The NDP, with the manifest sins of the Liberals to work with, couldn’t get a majority. The Green party with an electorate in the mood for environmental reform, managed three seats, all on friendly Vancouver Island.
That the Liberals sort of won had far less to do with their good record than the gentleness of Mr. Horgan on issues he wasn’t comfortable with, like money. That analysis runs contrary to what the media has said which is strong, if not irrefutable evidence that I’m bang on.
If I may be so bold – and this is my blog after all – I warned Horgan a couple of years ago that he was letting the Liberals off the hook in the very area they claimed a monopoly on wisdom, handling our money. Their constant fallback position was that the NDP always wantonly run up public debt and drive away business. This allegation doesn’t stand up to a moment’s scrutiny, so why did it prevail in the election?
The answer is that the issue has the NDP spooked. It’s been repeated so often they believe it themselves!
The list of Liberal fiscal shortcomings is lengthy but I would have thought that doubling the provincial debt in 16 years and essentially bankrupting BC Hydro in the bargain would have been enough. Liberal construction overruns alonemake Glen Clark’s “fast ferry fiasco” look picayune by comparison; add Site C, the issue that dare not speak its name, and it’s a wonderment that the Liberals got any votes at all. In short, what the Liberals got was that which Mr. Horgan could have got had he campaigned on issues and not spent time showing what a sweet guy he really is, despite nasty Liberal rumours about a nasty disposition.
NDP dropped the ball on LNG
Harken back for a moment to the LNG issue, which is where Horgan went politically bonkers. In politics, you simply do not take an issue completely out of play in order to look like a candidate for political sainthood. LNG was an immense and highly embarrassing failure for Clark so why did Mr. Horgan not beat up the Liberals on that point?
“Why”, he said, “we can’t be against everything”. Any politician with the faintest idea of what he was doing would have said “we’re in favour of development of our natural resources consistent with sound environmental practices and evidence that each development is in the best interests of the public of British Columbia”.
If he had done that he could have won my riding for one. Moreover, it would’ve left it open to him to raise hell aboutmassive expenses of the Liberal government in chasing this ever-disappearing will-o-the wisp, guaranteed by Christy, no less, which would make us rich and relieve us forever from all debt. He could then have shown Christy Clark to be a legitimate object of ridicule – and ridicule is one thing a politician cannot survive. Horgan and his party couldn’t employ this massive weapon because, of course, he could hardly attack Clark’s bumptious bullshit about something he and his party supported!
How the Greens lost too
The Greens lost in a rather different sense of the word. They were in a province which has become more alive environmentally in the last 10 years than anywhere else in Canada. Not only was there the LNG plant in Squamish but the huge issue of Kinder Morgan and related undertakings. And in this atmosphere they took three seats, all on Vancouver Island, the Green “stronghold”, and none even close to where many of the environmental desecrations are planned.
I have no doubt that had the Greens been able to whisk Elizabeth May away from Ottawa, they would not only have done better, they would have been serious contenders throughout the province.
The elephant in the room
When all’s said and done, the Liberals “won” because there were so many minor issues to divert attention from massive Liberal mismanagement, a diversion not achieved by Liberal cleverness but NDP cowardice, arising from their willingness to believe that their dealings with fiscal matters would be laughed at by voters conditioned to believe implicitly in NDP fiscal incompetence.
In addition, there was the lazy excuse that the public simply doesn’t understand big figures and colossal losses.
That may be partly so – but only partly. Had Mr. Horgan hammered at the absolute falsehood that the Liberals had actually balanced the budget, had he translated the tragedy of BC Hydro into huge rate increases, and had he expressed the doubling of the provincial debt in terms of higher taxes and diminished social services, spiced with that extraordinary YouTube presentation of Christy congratulating her parents for leaving their children no debt and promising the same fiscal rectitude for BC, then I have no doubt the public would have understood fully.
With the exception of independent papers, the media was appalling at presenting issues with coherent analysis. To think that the Campbell energy policy which ruined so many rivers and set BC Hydro on a path to bankruptcy went unmentioned in the mainstream media from its launch in 2003 until now, speaks volumes for the decline of that once-honourable profession.
Where do we go from here?
As to what will happen now, I have no more idea than anyone else except that I can say what should not happen. The Green party would be mad to unite with the Liberals, just as a suitable way for them to reward Dr. Weaver with a cabinet post for his all his political kindness to them. It’s to the left not right Greens must look if they are going to gather public support.
The Green party have a glorious opportunity to expand both in terms of numbers and appeal to thinking British Colombia if they avoid the future machinations of the BC Liberal party. It would make a great deal more sense if they were to support, short of a coalition, a minority NDP government, should that prove numerically possible.
I close with this observation – you might consider that any one of the three leaders was successful but that’s only because you’re comparing them to two losers. In their respective fields, they each failed by substantial underachievement, least so Weaver, who now must demonstrate that the Green Party can successfully move onto the Mainland and to other regions and his next move will tell.
On the eve of his candidate’s kick-off event, Green Party campaign manager Troy Grant reached his breaking point with Andrew Weaver, causing him to resign. “I can’t support the BC Green Party because of Andrew Weaver,” Grant now admits. Here’s why.
Troy Grant is a Vancouver Island resident and environmental activist who, up until a couple of months ago, was running the campaign of Green Party candidate Lia Versaevel. As part of his early groundwork on the campaign, Grant reached out to Common Sense Canadian lead columnist Rafe Mair, a man whose opinions Grant says he has always respected. Intrigued by what he heard about Versavel, Rafe proceeded to interview her, resulting in this relatively glowing review. Rafe being Rafe, though, couldn’t sign off on the piece without one caveat: his disdain for party leader Andrew Weaver’s ongoing support of IPPs (private power projects). After all, Rafe and this publication have been highly critical of IPPs going back to the Gordon Campbell era, when Weaver stumped for the BC Liberals as a UVic climate scientist.
By the time Grant showed up to a campaign launch for Versaevel in early February, he had already been berated over the phone by high level party operatives over the Mair article. They were incensed that Grant had reached out to Mair, a longtime critic of Weaver’s. Grant had no reason to expect what happened next, though. Weaver himself showed up to the event and proceeded to “rip into” Grant. So irate was the party leader that “minutes before the event was to start, I had to ask him to step outside,” Grant recalled for me in a phone interview this morning.
Two weeks later, Grant tendered his resignation from Versaevel’s campaign. Officially, it was for health reasons. Grant suffers from a serious disability and mobility challenges which, over the course of Versaevel’s early campaigning, grew worse. But, privately, the incident with Weaver was a big motivating factor for his departure – “the last straw”, he acknowledged. In an internal resignation letter he circulated to fellow Green Party members on February 27, Grant wrote:
[quote]After a bizarre tirade by Party Leader Andrew Weaver on Feb. 11, where I felt bullied and personally attacked, (about an article written by Rafe [Mair] that Weaver he blamed me for) I decided I could not in good conscience associate with an organization who’s Leader showed such lack of self control and decorum.[/quote]
More than Weaver’s angry treatment of Grant, his policies were also a serious concern. “I resigned because of a difference of opinion with the way the leader was leading the party,” Grant added.
Writ large, Weaver’s strategy of sidling up to Liberal voters was a problem for Grant, who explained it this way:
[quote]Weaver believes he can pick up the Green Party, plop it in the middle, make it “Liberal Light” and draw votes from both sides. It makes me angry when people minimize the urgency of our environmental challenges for political gain – and that’s what he’s done. It’s a travesty.[/quote]
In 2009, when Rafe I were both speaking out publicly against IPPs, we were dismayed to learn that Weaver wrote an op-ed and made robo-calls (listen for yourself) in favour of the Campbell Liberal Government, with supportive words for his energy program. Following that election, Weaver remained relatively silent about IPPs until, after becoming leader of the BC Greens, he was quizzed about his position by then-CFAX Radio host Ian Jessop. After hearing Weaver’s interview, Rafe wrote:
[quote]Dr. Weaver [is] still praising private power – only criticizing the Liberals’ lack of environmental monitoring and enforcement. What he fails to recognize or admit is that this industry has never been monitored, nor any protections enforced, since day one, which is precisely what we’ve been warning for nearly a decade now. This is not some mere wrinkle or oversight – it’s exactly how a privatized system is designed to work.[/quote]
Later writing about Green candidate Versaevel, Rafe included this line, which appears to have sparked the dust-up between Weaver and campaign manager Grant: “…Dr. Weaver [remains] an unrepentant supporter of IPPs without concern for the damage they do or the monetary wreckage they have visited on BC Hydro. If he is a ‘Green’, he needs a new paint job.”
But for critics of Weaver’s within the environmental community, IPPs are just one in a long list of gripes. Others include:
His support for David Black’s proposed oil refinery in Kitimat, on the grounds that it would result in tankers carrying a less-destructive product than bitumen on the BC Coast. Lost on Weaver, apparently, was the fact that this would still require Tar Sands extraction, intense carbon emissions, and a bitumen pipeline crossing BC’s rugged northern landscape, much the same as Enbridge would have done.
Weaver’s grizzly hunt policy, which only requires that hunters pack their meat out (as if anyone actually hunts grizzlies for food!). This would likely stop foreign hunters, but do nothing to stem the larger resident hunt. Weaver’s position has been ridiculed by bear advocacy groups and leading biologists, including Chris Darimont, an associate professor at UVic. Addressing some of Weaver’s most absurd comments on the subject, Darimont recently told The Vancouver Sun, “He is not only on the wrong side of history on the grizzly hunt issue, but he is also ‘dead’ wrong.” Adds Grant, “Weaver’s position should have been, ‘We’re against it, period.'”
Grant also points Weaver’s bewildering relationship with the Liberal Party, as other critics have done of late. When Weaver distanced himself from popular federal party leader Elizabeth May over the BDS controversy, he told the media, “I’ve got a lot of federal Liberals on my team who are members of the federal Liberal party but also members of the B.C. Green Party.” If distance is what he sought, that’s apparently what he got. One would expect May to be all over the BC campaign trail, rallying her federal Green supporters in key ridings where the Greens are vying for seats on May 9. Aside from a few campaign stops early on, there’s been barely any mention of the country’s brightest Green star.
Then there’s the overt Liberal support for the Greens – which last election meant pro-Green ads paid for by the Liberal campaign. This time around, it’s more subtle. There’s Judi Tyabji – wife of Liberal LNG booster Gordon Wilson and mother of Liberal candidate Mathew Wilson – working with the Powell River Chamber of Commerce to host Andrew Weaver in the very riding her son’s campaigning in, then extolling the Green leader’s virtues on facebook.
[quote]It is beyond me how Weaver could ever contemplate supporting Clark’s government—a government that has eviscerated B.C.’s globally-lauded climate action plan and that is diametrically opposed to virtually every plank in the Green party’s platform.
For the life of me, I cannot fathom how the Green party leader could ever equivocate on which party he would support if he finds himself holding the balance of power, as he did in the televised leaders’ debate, and as he did again in Wednesday night’s interview on Global TV.
Which is why I will be casting my vote for the NDP — a party I spent nearly a quarter of a century fighting against.[/quote]
For his part, Troy Grant is clearly still torn about his recent experience with the Green Party, noting how badly he feels about having to step away from the campaign of Versaevel, whom he holds in high regard. The same can be said for many of her fellow candidates and party supporters – but Weaver has jeopardized all that.
“All these people have done so much work over the years to build the Green Party,” he told me, “but now he’s turned it into the ‘Andrew Weaver Party’.”
Many people are ready for a change in Victoria. Christy Clark is one of the least popular candidates for premier in BC history and, after 16 years of scandal-filled rule, her Liberal Party has tried British Columbians’ patience to the extreme. Yet every day on social media, I run across a familiar refrain: “Better than going back to the NDP’s lost decade.” Clearly, that narrative is so deeply embedded that it threatens to keep the NDP out of government yet again.
But memory, science now teaches us, is unreliable. It can play tricks on us. In order to make an informed decision on May 9, voters need to know the hard facts about BC’s economic history – a straight up comparison between the two credible options in this election. A serious examination of the best available data on key metrics reveals that British Columbians have far more to fear from another four years of the Christy Clark Liberals running our economy than they do taking a chance on John Horgan and the NDP.
For a government that claims to “balance budgets”, it’s astounding to consider how much debt the Liberals have racked up on our behalf. While the NDP grew the provincial debt by roughly $17 Billion over their decade in power, the Liberals had added $33 Billion by the end of the last fiscal year. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. They’ve saddled BC Hydro with $24 Billion in debt and “deferrals”, plus another $58 Billion in unnecessary, sweetheart private power contracts, on which we lose over a billion dollars every year. This also explains the almost doubling of your power bills during their reign. And that’s before the unnecessary Site C Dam, which won’t be paid off until at least 2094! Here’s what UBC’s Dr. Karen Bakker had to say on the subject after she and a team of researchers published their damning report on Site C’s economics:
[quote]Site C will be 100 per cent surplus when it’s finished in 2024. That surplus energy will have to be sold, will have to be exported, from the province and B.C. Hydro’s own numbers show that those exports will occur at a high loss. Our figures show that loss will be about $800 million and could be as high as $2 billion.[/quote]
That’s just if the Liberal Government manages to keep to its $9 Billion budget for the project – hard to conceive of when their top 5 capital projects to date have doubled in cost, going over budget by a whopping $3.3 Billion (compare that with the NDP’s fast ferries, which went over by $250 million).
All this fiscal mismanagement has taken a huge toll. Add up our official provincial debt and liabilities ($84.3 Billion, according to the Comptroller General), then factor in hidden taxpayer obligations from private contracts for electricity and infrastructure building ($101 Billion, according to the Auditor General) and you get $185.7 Billion of real debt for BC, up from $39 Billion when the Liberals took over from the NDP. That’s about $40,000 for every man, woman and child in the province – double the per capita debt of the next closest province, Ontario, even when you factor in their own “additional taxpayer obligations”.
The BC Liberals also sold off one strategically vital and financially healthy crown corporation, BC Rail, and ran two others – ICBC and Hydro – into the ground, taking half billion to a billion dollar annual profits and turning them into equally large deficits.
The inputs into BC’s tax coffers are declining in other places as well. For instance, huge royalty giveaways to the gas sector have sucked billions out of our provincial revenues. As renowned geologist and shale gas expert David Hughes explains, “[BC’s gas] production has doubled since 2005 whereas revenue is down 87%”. The same thing can be said for stumpage fees from logging, which have sunk to pathetic levels over the past decade.
Given all this, the only way the Liberals can lay any claim to “balanced budgets” is by shunting debt into other accounts and onto the backs of ratepayers and crown corporations, while cutting services to the public. The effects of these debts may not be immediately visible – but they are guaranteed to be borne by young British Columbians and future generations for decades to come. BC’s credit rating is now under threat due to BC Hydro’s shaky position, which means servicing that growing debt is going to become even more costly going forward.
Jobs, Jobs, Jobs
One of the most telling moments during the televised leaders’ debate was this exchange between moderator Jennifer Burke and Christy Clark:
Clark went on to her mantra that she’s created 226,000 jobs. Even if it were true that British Columbians don’t care about anything else, or that jobs are a panacea for all BC’s socioeconomic ills, how true is her claim that NDP were so much worse for jobs than her government is?
The NDP inherited a high unemployment rate of 10% from the Socreds and saw that decline fairly steadily to 7.2 % in 2000 (BC’s lowest rate since the early 80’s) – the last full year before they left office. Things got worse early on under the Campbell Liberals, but that can be partly attributed to the tech bust and other factors beyond their control.
Throughout Christy Clark’s tenure, BC’s unemployment rate has come down from 7.5% to around 6% today – on the surface, marginally better than then NDP in the late 90’s. But let’s also not forget that Christy came to power in 2011 on the heels of the biggest economic collapse since the Great Depression – a natural period for job growth (the NDP faced their own challenges from the global economy int he 90’s). So how much credit can Christy take for these jobs? According to a group of leading BC economists, very little. “I would say the [increase in jobs] is mainly due to market forces,” said Helmut Pastrick, chief economist of Central 1 Credit Union.
It’s also important to consider the specific nature of the jobs we’re creating and losing. For instance, most of the new jobs under Christy’s reign have come in urban centres. “The rest of the economic regions in B.C.— the interior, the north, they are actually losing jobs, and that is worrisome,” says Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives’ economist Iglika Ivanova.
Rural British Columbians know all too well the harsh realities of the BC Liberal job record. On their watch we’ve gone from 100,000 jobs in forestry, wood product manufacturing and pulp and paper to just 60,000 – largely due to poor government management, mill closures and raw log exports. And what of the 100,000 short term and 60,000 longterm LNG jobs Clark won the last election by promising? A handful of short term jobs on projects since shelved. Zero plants or longterm jobs on the horizon, as the bottom has predictably fallen out of the Asian LNG market.
Finally, many of the jobs Clark has created are low-wage, part-time, short-term, and without benefits. Here’s what a recent report from The Vancouver Sun had to say on the topic:
[quote]…an analysis of the federal labour force survey shows the share of part-time jobs has steadily grown here, from 15 per cent in 1976 to nearly a quarter of all jobs in 2016.
In fact, Statistics Canada data shows, of the 72,000 new jobs created in 2016, more than half were part-time. [/quote]
Adds UBC Sauder School of Business Professor Mark Thompson, “They overlook the fact that we lag the rest of the country in full-time jobs and that the rate of wage increases has been amongst the worst in Canada.”
Even if Christy Clark was telling the truth about her job creation record, what good is a job if you can’t afford your rent and bills? This is why affordability has become the biggest issue of this election. When Christy’s predecessor Gordon Campbell took office, the average price of a detached home in Greater Vancouver was about $369,000. That peaked last year at over $1.8 million! And Christy owns this one much more than Campbell. Since her Johnny-come-lately foreign buyers’ tax, the market for detached homes has cooled a little, but now it’s condos on the rise. The most dramatic increases have happened on Christy’s watch, as a Global News story from a year ago explained:
[quote]…[The Real Estate Board of Vancouver’s] data shows the average price of a single-family detached home in the Greater Vancouver area has increased as much in the past five months as it did from 1981 to 2005.
The average price of a sold detached home was $1.4 million in September last year  – but climbed to $1.6 million in October, $1.7 million in December, and $1.8 million last month – overall, an increase of $420,000.[/quote]
At the pocketbook level, what used to be among North America’s most affordable power bills have almost doubled since the Liberals came to power. ICBC premiums are headed in the same direction . In 2001, there were no bridge tolls in the Lower Mainland; today, people are being nickle-and-dimed to death, or driving extra distances to avoid tolled routes. Childcare costs have skyrocketed – which has even the Board of Trade raising alarms over the negative effect on our economy. Meanwhile, for BC’s least advantaged, disability and welfare rates have barely moved.
Time after time, we hear stories of bright tech employees turning down jobs in Vancouver or young, talented professionals fleeing the city for rural communities or other provinces. We don’t yet have a grasp on the real cost of this brain drain of the Liberals’ making.
One financial metric is way up under the Liberals’ reign: corporate donations to the Liberal Party. If we judge her on this factor alone, Christy Clark is a bona-fide financial wizard. But by many other measures, it’s high time British Columbians came to realize they have far less to fear with the NDP than they’ve been told and a whole lot to lose by sticking with the BC Liberals.
Like a large number of people in the WestVancouver- Sea-To-Sky constituency, I am breaking the usual rules – I want the NDP to form the next government but I am passionately opposed to Woodfibre LNG which the NDP candidate supports. If I were to support her, my neighbours, with every justification in the world, would lynch me, as I would them were they to vote NDP.
Protection of Howe Sound is a huge issue and while our very strong position should, one would think, bring major party support, not so. This isn’t a NIMBY issue but a dedication to save BC’s most southern fjord and one of the worlds great natural beauty spots now recovered from past industrial waste thanks in large measure to citizen measures. Howe Sound, with its killer whales, humpback whales, salmon, herring, seals, sea-lions and other sea life back, is seen as a British Columbia treasure to be protected by all decent British Columbians.
Overall, I’m supporting the NDP
This is the 3rd election where I’ve publicly supported the NDP. I am still asked, weren’t you a Socred minister, an oppressor of the working folk and a greedy capitalist lining his own pockets at the expense of the poor?
Minus the hyperbole, yes. I ran for the Socreds in 1975 and again in 1979, won both elections, and spent over five years in the cabinet. During that period Premier Bill Bennett fully supported me and my deputy minister, Tex Enemark, as we modernized BC’s antediluvian consumer laws, completely overhauled the liquor laws, established the hugely successful cottage wine industry, and forced Chartered Banks, who claimed exemption because they were federally chartered, to obey our laws. When I moved to Environment, I negotiated with the City of Seattle, stopping them from raising the Ross Dam and saved our beautiful Skagit River from ruin, stopped the killing of wolves – which enraged all ranchers, nearly all of whom were Socreds – and, to the outrage of the mining industry, placed a moratorium on Uranium exploration and mining. As Health minister I brought in Homecare and Palliative care.
I assure you I relate all this only to show you my personal experience with the bad, old Socred capitalist pigs and tell you that under the present Liberals, such radical socialistic notions wouldn’t have stood a chance.
What’s really happened is that public attitudes towards former “lefty” issues like the environment, health, social services have changed dramatically and are no longer the private preserve of the left. At the same time, the heirs to the deceased Social Credit Party, the BC Liberals, have lurched to the right – far to the right of the Bill Bennett Socreds – while the NDP cast aside the old time rhetoric and stopped scaring people in the Centre. The Green Party has, sadly, moved from true Green to playing political spoiler hoping to win a balance of power.
Clark’s Keystone Kops have to go
Let’s get down to cases.
I frankly cannot understand how anyone would want another four years of the gross incompetence and lack of truthfulness that we’ve endured since 2001. In my opinion, the Campbell/Clark bunch is the worst government I have ever seen in this province. The massive Keystone Kops bungling of the LNG mess in itself should be enough to see the back of them for quite a while. It all was so reminiscent of Peter Sellers and a Pink Panther classic farce. The Liberals’ 16 years are unblemished by a single success story.
What sticks out, however, is the good economic situation they inherited and the bloody awful mess they are leaving. They have doubled the provincial debt in 2016 $ and have so mismanaged BC Hydro that it’s a corporate tragedy that truly beggars description. The Independent Power Policy has been a huge political pay-off to wealthy supporters, all at the expense of the Public. The lingering memory I carry is of a premier whose mind is seldom, if ever, troubled by telling fibs, from small to big.
It may well be, of course, that many of you really don’t place clean government very high on the list. I happen to think it’s essential to good government. Perhaps the Liberal endemic dissembling comes from the docile unto supportive media, but that scarcely justifies the Liberal government under both Campbell and Clark – particularly the latter – being incapable of telling the truth. I’m not interested in perpetuating that sort of leadership.
LNG is NDP’s weak spot
The situation on the Kinder Morgan line and similar environmental intrusions by the federal government themselves are enough for me to vote for someone else. When it gets to BC Hydro and Site C, I run the risk of being rude by saying I can’t understand how anyone could vote for a government involved in such preposterous policies.
Yes, I support the NDP, with considerable reservation, which is dwarfed, however, by the brutal inadequacies of the Liberals – combined with their corruption.
Horgan has produced an idiotic policy of favouring LNG without any criticism and that has taken away a number of opposition opportunities, including the one in my riding, but elsewhere too.
No politician with half a brain would have said, “We can’t be against everything, so we’re for LNG” – a preposterous proposition when you think of it. The reason you are for a policy isn’t because it’s a good one but because you can’t be against everything! It wasn’t necessary that he be opposed, just committed to an open inquiring mind judging each proposal on its merits. In taking the position he has, Horgan has foreclosed some of the serious issues concerning LNG, such as fracking, for example, or discharges into the air or waterways, or tanker traffic, as in the case of Howe Sound, which, by every standard imposed, is too narrow for tanker traffic. As I write this, the polls show a small Liberal lead has overtaken a large NDP advantage, which may reflect a public not satisfied that Horgan has their confidence to even be more competent than Clark!
Horgan still the best choice
For all that, politics is a comparative game and compared to the record of the Campbell/Clark government, particularly the financial wreckage they have piled up, with his shortcomings, to me John Horgan still looks like a much better choice to lead the province.
The Green party has been disappointing in my view. I find myself very attracted to the green concept and can only wish that my advice to Elizabeth May had been followed and that she had taken over the BC party, but that was not to be.
Dr. Weaver’s position on so-called “run of river” and IPPs has been so non-green as to disqualify him in my view from that appellation. He has done well in the debates and the party has gone from being one of principle to one of grabbing for seats, hoping to gain a place in a coalition government.
A disappointing campaign, all around
I must say that this entire campaign has been very disappointing in too many ways. The Liberals have not made any effort to justify their record, the NDP have shown very little ability to restore confidence and bring us a competent government and the Green party have switched from being idealists to opportunists.
I close very simply by saying one must deal with that and if one is adult, under these circumstances there is absolutely no way they could support a dishonest and utterly untruthful government.
I understand that politicians have been known to gild the lily on occasion. A certain amount of wriggle room between truth and falsehood is traditionally accepted. But with this premier it’s well beyond a joke. She seems temperamentally incapable of telling the truth and I’m not prepared to vote for such a person.
I’m not so naive as to think that political supporters don’t get perks or that if you’re bidding on a government contract, donations aren’t helpful. But this government, with its policy of Independent Power Producers, has taken graft to a new level and has all but bankrupted BC Hydro, doubled the provincial debt and ruined the jewel in our corporate crown. Are we to overlook this?
Finally, let me dispel two myths. The Liberal government is only not lying when they talk about balanced budgets – because no one likes to use that word but it’s as close to lying as “damn” is swearing. Ask yourself this: The government has gone further into the hole by $71 BILLION in the last four years – how in hell can you do that with balanced budgets?
Easy – don’t put the bad stuff like BC Hydro or ICBC into the budget balancing game! Their losses are part of the huge provincial debt but, using the old adage “figures don’t lie but liars can sure as hell figure”, you can work miracles with a balance sheet.
Given the fiscal catastrophe created by the Campbell/Clark government and their lie-infested corruption, I consider they have forfeited any right to a position of public trust.
The NDP are inexperienced in leadership but not in government, with a number of MLAs who are clearly Cabinet material, some with cabinet experience. If they do no more than restore truth and integrity, support of Horgan and Co will be worth it.
As an old friend used to say when wondering about taking a chance and approaching a comely lass, “what the hell, take a chance…Columbus did”.
We have all been screwed, blued and tattooed in the riding of West Vancouver-Sea-to-Sky, and let me tell you how this affects every British Columbian in every region of the province.
Just as Kinder Morgan would use the Salish Sea as thesewage disposal and latrine for Tar Sands bitumen; just as the Pacific NorthWest LNG proposal for an export terminal on Lelu Island would kill BC fish; just as all proposed LNG plants in BC are ecological disgraces, Woodfibre LNG is in clear violation of Canada’s agreement on Climate in Paris in November, 2015. I’ll speak of other problems with Woodfibre LNG in a moment.
Christy’s LNG lies
Christy Clark, who seems pathologically incapable of telling the truth, constantly trills the mantra “the greatest single step British Columbia can take to fight climate change” is to export LNG.This excessive verbal crap is so typical of this woman as you will see in this quote from a well known and mighty respected geologist and shale gas expert, David Hughes in an interview with the Squamish Chief last year. Dr. Hughes was asked this, point blank question:
[quote]Q: One argument is we are not being fair to the people in China who are suffering from coal production and that liquefied natural gas from here will save them from that. [/quote]
Here was his answer:
[quote]A: “On a full-cycle emissions basis, the planet would be better off if China built state-of-the-art coal plants rather than burning B.C. LNG for at least the next 50 years. It is true that at the burner tip gas produces about half the CO2 of coal. But you have to consider full cycle emissions from the wellhead to the burner tip for gas.The hydraulic fracturing process and the supply chain – pipelines, processing plants – emit considerable amounts of methane, which is 73 times as potent as CO2 on a 20-year timeframe and 25 times as potent on a 100-year time frame (because methane leaves the atmosphere more quickly than CO2). Plus, about 20 per cent of the gas must be burned to provide power for the liquefaction and shipping process. [emphasis mine -RM]
If you compare full-cycle emissions from B.C. LNG burned in China to a state-of-the-art Chinese coal plant, which runs at 46 per cent efficiency (compared to 33 per cent efficiency for an old coal plant), B.C. LNG is 27 per cent worse than burning coal over a 20-year timeframe and seven per cent better on a 100-year timeframe. So, you’d need to wait more than 50 years until you break even, while suffering from the effects of increased greenhouse gases in the meantime.[/quote]
Christy Clark, I should explain, has a rule:never read on once the word “however” appears.
Trudeau’s no better
If, like me, you have wondered why Trudeau has steadily and, one might say, violently swerved away from the commitments Canada made re: Climate change at Paris in 2015, here is a multiple choice: 1. Sunspots; 2. A mickey slipped into his ginger ale; 3. It was in French, an alien tongue; 4. The oil industry had him by the balls and started to squeeze.
[quote]The Trudeau government and the oil patch are in agreement: Canada needs to delay plans to reduce the heat-trapping pollution that causes climate change because those actions will cost too much.
It’s a stunning retreat from key promises and statements made by the government since its election in 2015. And it has left some environmentalists wondering whether Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is following the Trump administration’s race to the bottom on climate policy.
Environment Minister Catherine McKenna confirmed the news on Thursday during a conference call with reporters. She said that Canada would introduce plans that would delay tackling emissions of methane — a powerful heat-trapping gas — from the oil patch by two years, the CBC reported.[/quote]
• The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere continues to accelerate upwards despite global efforts
• The last two years had “unprecedented” increases
• Canadian CO2 extraction is playing an oversized role
The primary driver of global warming, disruptive climate changes and ocean acidification is the ever-increasing amount of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere.
In the pocket of the oil lobby
The plain fact, shorn of the political double talk and statements of lofty motives is this: The Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), who control the Postmedia newspapers with their notorious “mutual masturbation” agreement, needs only to whisper “jump” and Trudeau and Clark, in perfect harmony, cry back “how high, sir, and when?”
You may believe BC’s Premier Prevaricator, Christy Clark, that Woodfibre LNG is all about BC just trying to help China and the world solve climate change difficulties, but as the Duke of Wellington, at the height of his fame, said to the man who hailed him as “Mr. Robinson, I believe”, “Sir, if you believe that, you’ll believe anything”.
Howe Sound too dangerous for LNG tankers: leading scientist
Howe Sound is British Columbia’s most southern fjord and one of its justly famed beauty spots. Once polluted by a Squamish pulp mill and Britannia Mines, the treasures of my boyhood – the whales, salmon runs, the seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoises had mostly left. The sea flora and shellfish were disappearing. It looked as if Howe Sound had lost much of its distinctiveness forever.
But ordinary people joined government with hard work and their own money and we know what happened! The herring returned and the salmon runs with them. Killer whales, humpback whales, seals, sea lions, dolphins and porpoises returned. Divers told of rejuvenated plants and the revived shellfish populations.
Before May 9, I and others will tell you more about the phoney environmental assessment which missed more than it covered. We’re left with unacceptable emissions in the atmosphere and ground level, hot, polluted emissions into the Sound into the habitat of the recovered sea life and dangerous LNG tankers which will be ever-increasing. And guess what folks? Howe Sound is too narrow for LNG tankers! And who says so is pretty interesting.
The leading global expert, Dr. Michael Hightower, of world-renowned Sandia Laboratories of New Mexico, the United States government and – get this – the tanker industry’s own professional organization, The Society of International Gas Tanker and Terminal Operators (SIGTTO). They all say too narrow and disagreeing with them are Sukanto Tanoto, the Indonesian jungle burner, bully landlord and convicted crook who owns WFLNG, Justin Trudeau, Christy Clark, John Horgan and to round out that gathering of experts, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.
And how are we all being screwed, blued and tattooed?
Both parties with a chance of forming a government favour WFLNG and while Dr. Weaver, leader of the Greens, has spoken critically about WFLNG, worry beads are being fingered at the possibility of the Greens, holding a balance of power, might join Christy in coalition with WFLNG approval being a bargaining chip.
With uncertainty about Greens prevalent at the moment, that leaves an unknown Independent – a chap namedTristan Andrew Galbraith who owns “Critter Get Ritter,” a pest-control service in Whistler…and, who knows, a pest control expert may be just what voters will be looking for.
You’ll know more about him I suspect in the days to come.