Tag Archives: Politics

Enbridge’s Line 9: Shipping Tar Sands Crude East


This article is republished with permission from Watershed Sentinel.

In a move that could cost him significant political support, federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair has endorsed controversial west-to-east pipeline proposals that would move tar sands crude from Alberta through Ontario and Quebec to Atlantic Canada and points beyond.

During a Sept. 28, 2012 speech to the Canadian Club of Toronto, Mulcair said, “Let me be clear, New Democrats support recent proposals to increase West-East pipeline capacity. This is an initiative, led by industry,  that will pay economic dividends for every region of our country: new markets for [tar sands] producers in the West, high-paying value-added jobs and lower energy prices in the East.”

Mulcair called this a “pro-business common sense solution.”

With a bottleneck of crude at the storage hub in Cushing, Oklahoma, pricing discounts for diluted bitumen (dilbit) at US Midwest refineries, and strong opposition to tar sands export pipelines in both BC and the US, the industry has seized upon “eastern access” to Atlantic tidewater as a solution. Canada’s top two pipeline/utilities companies – Enbridge and TransCanada Corp. – are each developing plans to pipe crude east, while environmental groups across Ontario, Quebec and New England have been gearing up for a major fight on the issue.

The “Wrong Product”

Ironically, only hours before Mulcair’s speech, Alberta Federation of Labour president Gil McGowan issued a press release (Sept. 27) stating:  “The bottom line is Alberta is selling the wrong product [dilbit]. The glut of bitumen on the market is a result of bitumen looking for appropriate refineries. If the product was SCO [synthetic crude oil], we could be selling the product to any refinery in North America.” As well, many pipeline safety issues could be avoided (see March-April 2012 Watershed Sentinel).

Tar sands producers generally produce either “synthetic crude,” which has passed through an on-site upgrader, or dilbit, which is raw bitumen thinned with lighter petroleum products and proprietary chemicals. With increased production over the last few years, tar sands producers (which are mostly foreign-owned) are now piping out more dilbit in order to cut their costs. According to Alberta Energy, there are only five operating upgraders in Alberta, and in 2011, “about 57% of oil sands production was sent for upgrading to synthetic crude oil within Alberta,” a percentage that will rapidly decline as production vastly increases. Over the next decade, tar sands producers reportedly plan to triple the amount of dilbit they pipe.

On July 23, 2012, the US National Academy of Sciences began hearing expert briefings on whether dilbit increases the risk of pipeline spills, as environmentalists claim. Gil McGowan’s point is a crucial one: not all refineries in North America can handle dilbit, nor can all refineries in eastern Canada. That fact is significant to understanding who would benefit from “eastern access” pipelines plans.    

Line 9 Reversal

Enbridge is now moving quickly on a plan to pipe tar sands crude through Ontario, Quebec, and New England to Atlantic tidewater in Portland, Maine. From there it would be shipped by tankers to refineries in the US and elsewhere.

In May 2012, Enbridge announced a $3.2 billion expansion of its North American pipeline system, including expansion of its Lakehead system which pipes dilbit from Alberta to US Midwest refiners. Some of that dilbit also reaches refineries in Sarnia, Ont., via Enbridge’s Line 5 (which brings dilbit from Superior, Wisconsin, across northern Michigan to Sarnia), and Line 6B (which pipes dilbit from Chicago across Michigan to Sarnia). Both Line 5 and Line 6B extend from the tar sands across Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba before entering the US at Superior, Wisc. According to rabble.ca (Sept. 11, 2012), in Sarnia “tar sands are already being refined [by Imperial Oil and Suncor] at an estimated rate of 225,000 barrels per day.”  

It was Enbridge’s Line 6B that ruptured in Michigan in 2010, spilling 20,000 barrels of dilbit into the Kalamazoo River. During repairs, Enbridge has quietly been increasing the capacity of that pipeline to 500,000 barrels per day (bpd). 

Enbridge also intends to reverse Line 9, which currently carries 240,000 barrels per day of imported conventional oil from Montreal to Sarnia. On July 27, Canada’s National Energy Board granted approval for the reversal of a portion (9A) of Line 9 between Sarnia and Westover, Ont. (where an oil hub is located that diverts crude to Imperial Oil’s refinery in Nanticoke, Ont. and to Pennsylvania refineries).      

Enbridge intends to file for the reversal of the remaining portion (9B) between Westover and Montreal this autumn. On Oct. 23, Enbridge filed a document with the NEB showing it plans to increase the capacity of Line 9 to 300,000 bpd and switch it to carrying “heavy crude,” which includes tar sands oil.

In order for tar sands crude to reach the Atlantic, another pipeline – the Portland/Montreal Pipe Line (PMPL – which brings imported conventional oil from Portland, Maine to Montreal) – would also have to be reversed. The PMPL passes through Quebec, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.

The Portland/Montreal pipe is majority-owned by Imperial Oil and Suncor. Officials with PMPL have reportedly been in talks for over a year to reverse that line.

Enbridge also intends to export tar sands crude from Portland, Maine. According to the Globe and Mail (June 1, 2012), “In a recent conversation with Streetwise, Stephen Wuori, Enbridge’s president of liquids pipelines, said his company believes it can export crude from the US without consequence. Asked if it would be possible to send oil to international markets from Maine, he said the answer is yes.”

More recently, the Globe and Mail reported (Sept. 6, 2012) that Enbridge “has met with officials from refineries in Quebec City and Saint John to discuss their appetite for Western Canadian crude. Companies could barge oil from Montreal to Quebec City, and then perhaps ship it by rail to Saint John.”  

TransCanada’s Mainline to the East Coast

TransCanada Corp.’s natural gas Mainline runs 14,000 kilometres from the Alberta/Saskatchewan border to where Quebec meets Vermont. The Mainline, which pipes natural gas to Ontario, has been operating at only half-capacity in recent months because of competition from US shale gas. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. and others have been urging the company to switch to carrying crude in its gas Mainline. TransCanada Corp. is also one of the owners of Ontario nuclear power-generator Bruce Power, which has been pushing the nuclear option for tar sands/energy production in Alberta and Saskatchewan.

TransCanada Corp. has not disclosed much about its west-to-east pipeline project, but recently Globe & Mail reporters Nathan Vanderklippe and Shawn McCarthy provided (Sept. 6, 2012) some details on “a massive $5.6 billion new pipeline system that would carry large volumes of western crude to refineries in Ontario, Quebec, and beyond.”

Their news report states:

The East Coast project described to [us] by industry sources would involve converting roughly 3,000 kilometres of underused natural gas pipe – the Mainline is made up of a series of parallel pipes – into oil service. It would also involve building at least 375 kilometres of new pipe from Hardisty, the Alberta oil hub, to the Mainline at Burstall, Sask., and from near Cornwall [Ont.], at the other end, to Montreal. Another 220 kilometres would be required to reach Quebec City. Oil could be loaded onto ocean-going vessels either on the St. Lawrence River, or destined for American refiners via Portland, Maine, through a pipeline [PMPL] to Montreal whose flow could be reversed…The TransCanada proposal would send 625,000 barrels a day across the country to Montreal, Quebec City and potentially Saint John, NB, where Irving Oil Ltd. runs a large refinery. Tanker exports could then also take the crude to Europe or Asia.

In late July 2012, RBC Capital Markets urged that TransCanada Corp. stop focusing on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline to Texas and instead convert its Mainline to carry 900,000 barrels per day of tar sands crude to Sarnia, and then use Enbridge’s Line 9 to move it to Montreal.

So potentially, more than 1.4 million barrels per day of tar sands crude could be piped through southern Ontario and Quebec – the most populated area of Canada – to points east. The industry considers “eastern access” pipelines to be in addition to projects like Northern Gateway.  

Refining is currently considered a financially viable business in North America mainly for companies that both produce (“upstream”) and refine (“downstream”), largely because they can buy dilbit and other feedstock cheaply and then sell the refined petroleum products for a high price internationally.

In the tar sands, companies with both upstream/downstream facilities in North America include Imperial Oil, Suncor, Shell, Husky, Valero, Marathon, ConocoPhillips, Cenovus, BP, and Flint Hills Resources/Koch Industries. Many of these companies have already invested billions to convert their refineries in the US Midwest and Gulf Coast for processing tar sands crude. 

In 2010, Royal Dutch Shell closed its Montreal refinery and converted it into a fuel storage terminal. Imperial Oil put its Dartmouth, NS refinery up for sale on May 17, 2012, but is also considering converting it into a storage terminal. By the terms of its sale to Korea National Oil Corp., the North American Refinery in Newfoundland only refines the province’s offshore oil, with most of its refined petroleum products exported to the US. As of March 2012, Shell is considering upgrading bitumen at its Ontario refinery and Suncor is considering the same thing for its Montreal refinery. The resulting “synthetic crude oil” would still have to go to another refinery to be made into products like gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel.

Peter Boag, president of the Canadian Petroleum Producers Institute – which represents the refining and marketing sector – told the Globe and Mail (Sept. 6, 2012), “Significant changes to the crude diet to really ramp up the volumes of western-based heavier crudes in Eastern Canada is going to require some significant investment in refinery reconfiguration.” As Gil McGowan put it, Alberta is selling “the wrong product.”
The Irving Empire

According to the University of Calgary’s Jack Mintz (Financial Post, Dec. 16, 2011), the only refinery on the Atlantic that can currently process “heavy sour diluted bitumen [dilbit]” is “the Irving Refinery” in New Brunswick. Otherwise, he said, “this type of crude cannot be processed in eastern North America.” 

Enbridge has been planning its “eastern access” pipeline since at least 2008. On March 11, 2008, Reuters reported that “Enbridge Inc. is looking at moving oil sands crude to the US Northeast and Eastern Canada,” and quoted Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel: “If we move to reverse Line 9 [in Ontario], that could come before [Northern] Gateway [in BC]. If it is a large volume, 400,000 barrels a day, [Northern] Gateway would come first.” 

In 2011, Enbridge appointed to its board a director of Irving Oil, which now owns 50 per cent of an oil terminal in Portland, Maine.

The Globe and Mail reported (Aug. 23, 2012) that Irving Oil “unveiled a proposal three years ago to build [another] 300,000 barrels-a-day [refinery] facility to serve the northeast United States,” and later partnered with BP on the idea – which is currently shelved. According to the same newspaper (Sept. 6, 2012), the Irving Refinery in Saint John buys about $10 billion per year of imported conventional oil, refines it, and then sends “eighty per cent of the plant’s production” south of the border. 

Obviously, tar sands producers like Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. – which owns no downstream refineries – are eyeing that annual $10 billion in hopes that it will be used to buy crude piped east. Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. plans to greatly increase its tar sands production to one million barrels per day over the next decade. Frank McKenna – the former premier of New Brunswick and a current director of Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. – has been one of the most vocal proponents of west-to-east pipelines from Alberta, and has called for a new oil pipeline from Montreal to Saint John.

In mid-July, Canada’s Parliamentary Standing Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources (with 7 Conservative and 5 Liberal members) endorsed west-to-east tar sands pipelines as a “nation-building” project.  

Besides Frank McKenna and the Senate Committee, other outspoken proponents include Derek Burney (a director of TransCanada Pipelines Ltd.), Eddie Goldenberg (a lawyer with Calgary law firm Bennett Jones), the “ethical oil” people, and now the NDP’s Thomas Mulcair. Some commentators consider the west-to-east pipeline plans to be the centre of Alberta Premier Alison Redford’s “national energy strategy.”
But the plans by Enbridge and TransCanada Corp. seem largely to be a strategy for Big Oil to get a higher price for dilbit by export via the Atlantic – most likely to the US Gulf Coast, where their downstream profits would be highest.   

Environmental organizations across Quebec, Ontario, and New England, along with some First Nations and landowner organizations residing along Line 9, have been rallying in opposition to these west-to-east pipeline plans.

All this is happening mainly because the Alberta government is too timid and subservient to require that all tar sands production be upgraded or refined on-site. Instead, it keeps allowing Big Oil to pipe out more and more of “the wrong product.” As a result, tar sands pipelines will continue to be fought across North America.


Joyce Nelson is an award-winning freelance writer/researcher and the author of five books.


Fort Nelson First Nation Pushes for Shale Gas Water Licence Reform


Read this story by Mark Hume in the Globe and Mail on Fort Nelson First Nation’s concerns about long-term water withdrawal licence applications for shale gas development in their territory in northeast BC. (Nov. 13, 2012)

Kanute Loe, an elder with a small native band in northeast British Columbia, measures the impact of the gas industry on the environment by looking at the water levels dropping in the streams and rivers he fishes.

“I spend a lot of my time in the bush. I travel the rivers … there’s creeks that there’s no water coming out of,” he said Tuesday.

“All of a sudden we’re having trouble catching fish … Our rivers are getting harder to navigate … it’s almost like somebody drilled a hole in the bottom of the bathtub,” Mr. Loe said in Vancouver at a news conference to express aboriginal concerns about increasing water extraction by industry.

Sharleen Wildeman, chief of the Fort Nelson First Nation, said her band has grown alarmed at the growing needs of the gas industry, which draws water from streams, lakes and rivers. The water is mixed with sand and chemicals in a slurry that is injected deep under ground. The process, known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, breaks up shale structures and releases gas deposits.

Ms. Wildeman, whose 800-member band is located near the booming Horn River gas fields, said industry in that area has 20 long-term water licence applications before the B.C. government. If those licences are approved, she said, it would authorize industry to withdraw “tens of billions of litres of water annually” for up to 40 years, for use in fracking operations.

“We are extremely concerned about a massive giveaway of water from our rivers and lakes, without any credible process identifying what the long-term impacts will be,” she said.

Ms. Wildeman is upset with a government consultation process “that has stalled,” and she said the band is demanding five conditions be met before any new water licences are approved.

She said the band wants baseline environmental studies done before licences are issued; multi-year development plans filed in advance to identify proposed water sources, gas-well sites, roads and camps; environmental plans that cap water withdrawals at ecologically acceptable levels; protection of culturally significant land and water resources, and an agreement that environmental impact monitoring and enforcement will be done by an independent body.

“Failure to embrace these fundamental reforms will lead to increasing yet avoidable conflict,” Ms. Wildeman said.

Read more: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/british-columbia/native-band-in-northeast-bc-pushes-for-water-licensing-reform/article5268459/


Where Was the Climate in US Presidential Election? Ben West in the Huffington Post


Read this column from Ben West in the Huffington Post on the lack of attention focused on climate and environmental issues in the recent US Presidential election and what that means for concerned Canadians. (Nov. 5, 2012)

“It’s global warming, stupid!” Believe it or not, that is what it says on the cover of Business Week right now. This is of course a reference to Bill Clinton’s internal campaign slogan from 1992 — “It’s the economy, stupid” — which was made famous by the documentary film The War Room. The slogan is a play on the old adage, “Keep it simple, stupid,” sometimes known as the “KISS” principle.

As Canadians, we are well aware that we are sleeping next to an elephant, and that the choices made by the American president have broad implications not only for Canada but for rest of the world.

Much to the chagrin of many conscientious Canadians, the implications of a changing climate were off the radar in the American election before Hurricane Sandy swept in. The topic was not raised even once during the 2012 U.S. presidential debates. You would think it would be a no brainer to talk about this issue, given that the United Nations has called climate change “the single biggest threat facing humanity today.”

This “climate silence” has perhaps been a reflection of the power of the fossil fuel industries in U.S. politics. In one of the debates, Obama and Romney actually fought over who was more supportive of the coal, oil and gas industries. Romney attacked Obama for stopping the Keystone XL pipeline and Obama responded by bragging that he had built enough pipeline during his presidency to “… wrap around the earth once.”

The fact checkers at Politifact checked it out and it’s true. Over 29,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines were built in the U.S. in the last four years; the circumference of the globe at the equator is a little less than 25,000 miles.

Even with that, Obama looks like a tree hugger compared to Romney, who is heavily backed by barons of the oil industry — like the infamous Koch brothers who are behind much of the junk science that still to this day is trying to undermine the international consensus that human activity is causing climate change.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/ben-west/us-elections-climate-bc-canada-oil-gas-global-warming_b_2077627.html

Schematic drawing for closed-containment fish farm - from DFO's feasibility study on the subject

One Step Forward with Fish Farms, Two Steps Back with Proposed Fossil Fuel Exports


A couple of thoughts today.

A promising article on fish farms appears in today’s Vancouver Sun. At face value it looks like great news – the story of fish farming on land with no contact with the ocean.

As I say, it looks great but I want to hear what Alexandra Morton has to say.

The objection industry has always made is that it’s too expensive for them to compete that way. The answer to that, according to the Sun article, is that excrement can be recycled for profit and that expenses such as fish lost to predators, or to kill sea lice are avoided.

There is only one fair way to compare the two approaches: charge fish farms an appropriate rent for their leases to include ALL the environmental losses. This levels the playing field and is only fair.

The market for farmed fish is there as we deplete wild stocks around the world. The trouble is that our wild stocks are not depleted by over-fishing anymore but by allowing poisoned farmed fish to mingle with the wild.

Bringing the farms on land will only happen if ocean farms are taxed their appropriate due.

On another note, no sooner had the news been out that the US was looking to be self-sufficient in energy than the bottom feeders rose as one to tell us this means we must update our mining of the tar sands and the piping of it though BC to the coast then shipping by tanker to Asia. The US will no longer need our filthy bitumen so we must redouble our efforts to bugger up the environment in BC to ship even more of the stuff down our fjords.

What ever happened to weaning ourselves off fossil fuels?

If the rapacious industry must continue to mine bitumen, send it to a refinery in Alberta. Irrespective of US capabilities, there will always be a world market for oil.

Moreover, there is an economic reality being ignored. The price of fossil fuels will reduce considerably over what we figure makes a profit. It’s an open ended market. China takes our bitumen if that’s the cheaper way to get energy, it abandons us if it’s not.

I invoke Mair’s Axiom I: “You make a serious mistake assuming that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing!”

Here we are in BC doing everything we can to press forward with LNG plants to convert natural gas to liquid to ship it to new markets while the gas prices plummet. With “fracking”, supply around the world has dramatically increased. Do we really believe that the third largest country geographically in the world, China, doesn’t have fracking capability either at home or closer than Canada? In fact, they are just getting started.

China has it both ways – it can import from us when supply is short (don’t hold your breath for that to happen) or produce it cheaper closer to home.

We are idiots.

This neatly segues into the question of the next BC budget.

Going into the May election the Liberals will want a balanced budget. One of the main factors will be, of course, income and no prize for guessing where that will come from.

You got it – natural gas. The government hasn’t a clue what that figure will be but you can bet the ranch that they will generously err on the high side.

We must all remember that in 2009 they were more than $2 BILLION short of the real numbers and they got away with it.

Desperate people do desperate things and the false card the Liberals play is that they are better stewards of the economy than are the NDP – even though the evidence is quite to the contrary.

The NDP, in the meantime, have completely lost their minds. They are, you see, going to help the Liberals prepare the next budget! This all from Adrian Dix‘s desire to make the legislature more cooperative.

(I wrote a two-part series in The Tyee, recently on how that can be accomplished and this is not the way).

Randolph Churchill (father of Winston) once said, “it’s the duty of the Opposition to oppose”, and he’s right. My series suggests how that can be done safely.

The greatest fear of any legislator is the “unforeseen consequence” of his policy. Now the NDP are going to join the process so that we will not get the value of “the other side” and the NDP will deprive themselves of any ability to question the budget in the next election because, it will be said, it was the NDP’s budget too.

I, for one, am becoming quickly disillusioned with Dix and Co. Not only are they onside with the government’s energy policy – or prepared to go easy is areas like LNG – they seem to be laid back polishing up the crown they’re sure to get next May.

This isn’t helpful for the public but also puts the NDP into a sort of “drift”. The Liberals can see that and you can bet they will be in better political shape next May than they now are, helped along by the total collapse of the Conservatives.

Mr. Dix, in politics 6 weeks is an eternity and in this old pol’s view you are looking to inherit that which you must earn.


Addicted to Oil: The Politics of Canadian Dilbit Pipelines


Not long after the Defend Our Coast rallies, a pollster phones, wanting to know whom I plan to vote for in the provincial election. The first party to unequivocally say NO to tar sands oil in pipelines and tankers through BC land and waters, I tell her.

This causes a bit of confusion, as it clearly isn’t one of the options in front of the caller. So, she asks after some hesitation, the NDP?

Given NDP leader Adrian Dix’s tough talk on Enbridge’s Northern Gateway pipeline, she might very well think so, but where is he on doubling the capacity of the Kinder Morgan pipeline into Burrard Inlet?  The silence is deafening.

Does one conclude that Mr Dix has no intrinsic objection to BC enabling fossil fuel addicts around the world? Because that’s my objection to the pipeline proposals.

Yes, I’m worried – as most people in BC are – about the inevitable environmental devastation oil spills will bring. I’m also concerned about the environmental devastation extracting oil from Alberta’s tar sands has already caused.

According to federal NDP leader Thomas Mulcair, the damage isn’t just environmental, it is also economic. Back in the spring, he accused the tar sands industry of causing Dutch Disease. And, while Harper & Co spluttered their objections to Mulcair’s claim, the OECD supported his assessment.  

Mind you, that was then. It seems Mulcair has had an epiphany. Apparently he has now decided tar sands oil is good for the economy – if it travels east from Alberta, not west.

With the Globe and Mail declaring the Northern Gateway pipeline all but dead and the Obama re-election making the future of the Keystone pipeline less certain, it should come as no surprise to learn – as Joyce Nelson reports at length in Watershed Sentinel – that tar sands mules Enbridge and TransCanada Corp have well-advanced plans for converting existing pipelines to transport diluted bitumen from Alberta to refineries in eastern Canada and New England.

According to Nelson, if  these plans – which seem to be attracting little mainstream media attention – go ahead, “more than 1.4 million barrels per day of tar sands crude could be piped through southern Ontario and Quebec – the most populated areas of Canada.”

Which begs the question: Just how crude do Alberta’s exports need to be?

Diluted bitumen is 16 times more likely to leak than conventional crude transported in pipelines and a far greater clean up challenge when spilled, as it was, in the Kalamazoo River.

Appearing on The National recently, fossil fuel dealer Alison Redford smiled patiently and explained to the country that without pipelines through BC to enable Alberta to ship its diluted bitumen to Asia, the province will be condemned to making less than top dollar per barrel from its resources. Really?

If Redford truly wants to maximize the economic benefits from the tar sands, perhaps she should insist, as Gil McGowan, president of the Alberta Federation of Labour, has suggested, that her province’s oily gunk be upgraded to synthetic crude oil before it’s exported. (Most dealers know you get less for crack than you do for powdered cocaine.)

Neither Enbridge nor TransCanada care whether their package is diluted bitumen or synthetic crude, but everyone along their proposed pipelines should.

Although there are obvious measures we could and should be taking to aid our withdrawal from fossil fuels, as long as Hopalong Harper is in charge, investment in green energy and electric cars is likely to remain even more of a pipe dream in Canada than in many other countries. And, as beneficial as going cold turkey might be for the health of the planet, it is not a viable option.

So, here’s the deal (because apparently someone died and made me king): No new pipelines either heading west or east and henceforth tar sands companies must upgrade their bitumen before it goes anywhere. This won’t help with our fossil fuel addiction or with arresting the impacts of climate change, but at least it might reduce the immediate threat of environmental devastation.

That’s reduce, of course, not eliminate.


Stopping FIPA: Follow-up Action You Can Take to Halt Canada-China Trade Deal


Call to Action to support Our Follow-up Correspondence with Lead Negotiator and Cabinet

We have been overwhelmed with your support for the Common Sense Canadian’s effort to prevent the ratification of FIPA and want to extend our thanks to the many readers who have participated so far.

Since November 1, the Common Sense Canadian has been reporting about the significant FIPA Environmental Assessment (EA) process not yet completed. Our reports have detailed how the FIPA Environmental Assessment offers us a clear path for an effective action to prevent ratification.

Our detailed reporting has uncovered many serious shortcomings that we have worked to bring to your attention and we have therefore encouraged people to submit some of these concerns to the FIPA EA committee through a public hearing process that is open until November 11, 2012 for the General Public.

Now we are going to communicate our closing argument and we need your continued support.

This is our final call to action in advance of the closing of this public comment window – Only 3 Days Left to send this crucial message. We will, however, continue to stay on top of the FIPA file and explore and share other means by the public can work to prevent this disastrous treaty.

We have drafted the letter below as our closing correspondence regarding the EA process to FIPA’s Lead Negotiator, demanding ratification of FIPA not occur at this time and detailing our reasons.

We are requesting that the Lead Negotiator of the FIPA Treaty, who is also the Chairman of the EA process, take into account the obvious facts we present in this letter which prove that the treaty-enabling EA is severely compromised and no longer relevant or even applicable, and therefore cannot be completed at this time and must be extended or reopened.

This is a crucial requirement for the ratification process and an enabling mechanism of the FIPA Treaty. We are confident that sending this message loud and clear will have an impact.

In a nutshell, we are arguing that the entire decade-long process was done under laws and processes that no longer exist as a result of Harper’s Omnibus Bill which occurred after the negotiations were officially completed and before the Final Treaty is to be ratified.

This move of Harper’s is unconscionable and fatally detrimental to the Treaty Process.

The FIPA EAC has concluded that no increase in investment is expected from the Treaty and therefore no appreciable environmental impacts were anticipated as a result. Yet, plainly, under Canada’s new, severely-lacking environmental regulatory regime and the stated policy of the Harper Government to advance Canadian hydrocarbon development through this and other trade initiatives, the original conclusions of the FIPA EA are no longer valid and that a new process must be undertaken to ensure the best interests of the Canadian public and environment are properly protected.

If we ratify the Treaty now, we effectively lock in the new, much-diminished environmental laws and regulations he ushered in with the highly controversial Bill C-38 for up to 31 years, according to independent trade experts. Contrary to the FIPA EAC’s conclusions, this would have profoundly negative long-term impacts on Canada’s environment and thus must be prevented.

What You Can Do to Help One More Time – It’s easy!

We are asking those who agree with the findings and recommendations contained in the following letter to simply copy and paste the letter and send it to the e-mail addresses below.

We urge you to do so even if you have already submitted comments.

Doing so will send this definitive message, loud and clear, that the FIPA Ratification CAN AND MUST BE STOPPED as a result of the information clearly laid out in this letter that proves the EA process is defunct and void of legitimacy and therefore needs to be revisited BEFORE Cabinet moves to ratify the agreement or deliberate any enabling measures, including Orders in Council.


To the Lead Negotiator of the FINAL FIPA EAC,

It is our understanding that the Canada-China FIPA Environmental Assessment Committee (EAC) is chaired by the Lead Negotiator of the entire treaty process.

The Environmental Assessment is a significant, enabling component of FIPA. Its Guiding Framework, established in 2001, explains that the lead negotiator/chairman oversees the entire FIPA EA process which involves, at its very core, a “detailed analysis including ways in which the GoC’s current analysis could be strengthened.” The EA Framework goes onto outline that, “It is important to keep in mind that the assessment is focused on the possible positive and negative environmental impacts in Canada.”

The EAC specifically points out that the EA process and analysis is largely based on the fact that, “…investors, whether they are Canadian or foreign, are bound by environmental protection regulations and projects resulting from these investments are subject to applicable environmental assessment legislation.”

This is a pivotal point because the legislation referred to here, for which this detailed analysis and related conclusions are based upon, is the same legislation the Harper Government recently gutted and replaced with an entirely new and much-diminished legislative framework – through its Omnibus Bill C-38, which was introduced mere weeks after the FIPA negotiations were officially completed in February of 2012.

Moreover, even more changes have just recently been introduced in the second Omnibus Budget Bill.

This means the EAC conducted its “detailed analysis” on a legislative framework that no longer exists and is no longer relevant to the FIPA process, which clearly renders this key conclusion contained in the FIPA EA final report baseless and therefore irrelevant and invalid:

The Initial EA of the Canada-China FIPA concludes that significant changes to investment in Canada are not expected as a result of the Canada-China FIPA negotiations as there are no specific investments known to be dependent on the FIPA’s conclusion or no direct known causal links between FIPAs and expansion of investment. As such, the environmental impacts on Canada are expected to be minimal.

Quite the contrary, the new reality is that this FIPA and the industrial hydrocarbon development and trade it is clearly designed stimulate under Stephen Harper’s direction present grave threats to Canada’s environment. Given that the final conclusions (in bold above) are therefore no longer of any practical use or application, it is an absolute imperative that the Final FIPA EA be extended or re-opened to allow for proper analysis in light of the wholesale changes that have occurred since the EAC came to those conclusions.

Furthermore, throughout the entire FIPA EA process it is apparent that there was no stakeholder feedback, as two, month-long stakeholder input periods – one in 2005 and another in 2008 – passed without a single submission from anyone, including the general public.

Therefore, we are calling on the Lead Negotiator of the FIPA and chair of the FIPA Environmental Assessment Committee move to extend and/or reopen the Environmental Assessment process in order to perform the required detailed analysis and undertake the consultative stakeholder engagements necessary to properly assess the environmental impacts resulting from the ratification of FIPA under an entirely new legislative framework.

We are also insisting that Cabinet recognize the necessity of the Lead Negotiator to undertake this crucial extension of the FIPA EA in order to properly fulfill the legislated mandate of the FIPA EAC by delaying any Order in Council related to the enabling of the Chinese FIPA. The same should apply to any and all enabling legislation, acts or approval by the Governor General of Canada.

Under Canada’s new, severely-lacking environmental regulatory regime and the stated policy of the Harper Government to advance Canadian hydrocarbon development through this and other trade initiatives, it is clear that the original conclusions of the FIPA EA are no longer valid and that a new process must be undertaken to ensure the best interests of the Canadian public and environment are properly protected.


Kevin Logan
Damien Gillis
Common Sense Canadians

Send your letter to this address: EAconsultationsEE@international.gc.ca

It is important that you also copy Cabinet – in addition, you may wish to include your MP or the full list from BC:

Cabinet (full list):

diane.ablonczy@parl.gc.ca, leona.aglukkaq@parl.gc.ca, rona.ambrose@parl.gc.ca, keith.ashfield@parl.gc.ca, john.baird@parl.gc.ca, maxime.bernier@parl.gc.ca, steven.blaney@parl.gc.ca, ron.cannan@parl.gc.ca, michael.chong@parl.gc.ca, tony.clement@parl.gc.ca, john.duncan@parl.gc.ca, julian.fantino@parl.gc.ca, ed.fast@parl.gc.ca, diane.finley@parl.gc.ca, jim.flaherty@parl.gc.ca, steven.fletcher@parl.gc.ca, gary.goodyear@parl.gc.ca, Bal.Gosal@parl.gc.ca, stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca, laurie.hawn@parl.gc.ca, jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca, peter.kent@parl.gc.ca, mike.lake@parl.gc.ca, denis.lebel@parl.gc.ca, peter.mackay@parl.gc.ca, ted.menzies@parl.gc.ca, rob.merrifield@parl.gc.ca, james.moore@parl.gc.ca, rob.moore@parl.gc.ca, rob.nicholson@parl.gc.ca, gordon.oconnor@parl.gc.ca, Joe.Oliver@parl.gc.ca, christian.paradis@parl.gc.ca, Peter.Penashue@parl.gc.ca, lisa.raitt@parl.gc.ca, gerry.ritz@parl.gc.ca, andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca, gail.shea@parl.gc.ca, vic.toews@parl.gc.ca, tim.uppal@parl.gc.ca, Bernard.Valcourt@parl.gc.ca, peter.vanloan@parl.gc.ca, alice.wong@parl.gc.ca, lynne.yelich@parl.gc.ca


Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca, ron.cannan@parl.gc.ca, john.duncan@parl.gc.ca, ed.fast@parl.gc.ca, Kerry-Lynne.Findlay@parl.gc.ca, nina.grewal@parl.gc.ca, richard.harris@parl.gc.ca, russ.hiebert@parl.gc.ca, randy.kamp@parl.gc.ca, james.lunney@parl.gc.ca, colin.mayes@parl.gc.ca, cathy.mcleod@parl.gc.ca, james.moore@parl.gc.ca, andrew.saxton@parl.gc.ca, Mark.Strahl@parl.gc.ca, mark.warawa@parl.gc.ca, john.weston@parl.gc.ca, David.Wilks@parl.gc.ca, alice.wong@parl.gc.ca, Wai.Young@parl.gc.ca, Bob.Zimmer@parl.gc.ca

By riding:


Stephen Harper shakes hands with China’s President Hu Jintao in Beijing on Feb. 9, 2012 (photo: Chris Wattie, Reuters)

How You Can Help Stop Ratification of Canada-China FIPA


The FIPA Environmental Assessment is an important, official avenue to request the delay of the FIPA Order in Council

The vast implications of the now highly controversial Canada-China trade deal known as FIPA (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement) are mind-boggling and Canadians have not had the time to fully comprehend what we are being entered into by our federal government.

Numerous campaigns have been launched to bring attention to the issue and prevent ratification of the agreement – most involving online petitions.

Yet there is an official avenue for public opposition that has been largely missed and presents a clear path to delaying FIPA or even preventing its ratification.

The Conservative government must pass an Order in Council in order to facilitate ratification. This is done at the cabinet table.

If you act now and submit your feedback outlining the grave concerns and serious shortcomings in the FIPA Environmental Assessment process, which is still active and open, we may be able to convince cabinet to delay the Order in Council until the pivotal Environmental Assessment is properly undertaken and completed.

You have until Remembrance Day, November 11, 2012, to file your letter with the FIPA EA and we encourage you to copy all Federal Cabinet members and BC Conservative MPs with your submission.


We have provided below a short form letter including some key FIPA concerns for your consideration.

We have also provided below a list of the Conservative members of Cabinet who will be deliberating the enabling Order in Council and their email contacts – as well all BC Conservative MPs and their contacts, for our readers in British Columbia.

Simply copy and paste them into your email to ensure they are copied on your submission, and email to EAconsultationsEE@international.gc.ca by Nov. 11.


Sample FIPA EA Submission

To Environmental Assessments of Trade Agreements,

I am copying Conservative MPs and Cabinet Members on this brief submission to the Final Environmental Assessment of the Canada-China FIPA.

I am submitting these comments to the Final EA before the November 11th deadline to request an extension for this important process, while urging cabinet to delay the FIPA-enabling Order in Council until the serious concerns outlined in this letter and by many other Canadians have been properly addressed.

It has been confirmed that no public input has been received over the 11-year FIPA EA process, including two separate month-long periods requesting feedback from stakeholders and the general public.

The conclusions of the Final EA and its public consultation and engagement practices reveal a great number of shortcomings – which draw into question the need for this agreement, while raising dire concerns of how it came about and grave reservations with respect to its recommendations.

It is stated in the Final EA analysis that FIPA will not result in any investment, nor will it impact the environment.

Given these conclusions, and the lopsided risk-benefit analysis provided by credible independent analysts, I am requesting that the FIPA EA process be extended to include a review of these contradictory analyses and conclusions.

I also believe the domestic consultations and engagement were not properly conducted, resulting in no feedback or input. The recent outpouring of public concern clearly suggests this lack of EA submissions does not accurately reflect the level of public concern about the issue. Therefore, I also request the opportunity to revisit and extend this vital component of the Environmental Assessment.

The Canada-China FIPA is of concern for a number of reasons, which have been raised through recent independent, expert analysis. These concerns include:

  • FIPA works to ‘lock in” the much diminished environmental regulatory regime recently ushered in by the Harper Omnibus Bill C-38, the full impacts of which have yet to be seen or understood
  • FIPA potentially negates the ability of government to legislate changes in environmental regulations, royalty rates, subsidies and any other laws that impact profitability
  • FIPA has serious constitutional implications which could have grave impacts on the environment, economy and Canadian sovereignty
  • The FINAL FIPA EA was to be included and available at the end of negotiations in February, yet no public comment has been included during the entire 11 years of negotiations
  • FIPA may have serious ramifications on the Treaty Process and on constitutional obligations to consult and accommodate First Nations where their traditional territories, resources and cultural practices are at risk from industrial development

I would like these issues addressed before Cabinet considers the FIPA OIC. Therefore, a delay in Cabinet deliberation of the OIC is imperative.


Concerned Citizen


Send your letter to this address: EAconsultationsEE@international.gc.ca

It is important that you also copy Cabinet – in addition, you may wish to include your MP or the full list from BC:

Cabinet (full list):

diane.ablonczy@parl.gc.ca,leona.aglukkaq@parl.gc.ca, rona.ambrose@parl.gc.ca, keith.ashfield@parl.gc.ca, john.baird@parl.gc.ca, maxime.bernier@parl.gc.ca, steven.blaney@parl.gc.ca, ron.cannan@parl.gc.ca, michael.chong@parl.gc.ca, tony.clement@parl.gc.ca, john.duncan@parl.gc.ca, julian.fantino@parl.gc.ca, ed.fast@parl.gc.ca, diane.finley@parl.gc.ca, jim.flaherty@parl.gc.ca, steven.fletcher@parl.gc.ca, gary.goodyear@parl.gc.ca, Bal.Gosal@parl.gc.ca, stephen.harper@parl.gc.ca, laurie.hawn@parl.gc.ca, jason.kenney@parl.gc.ca, peter.kent@parl.gc.ca, mike.lake@parl.gc.ca, denis.lebel@parl.gc.ca, peter.mackay@parl.gc.ca, ted.menzies@parl.gc.ca, rob.merrifield@parl.gc.ca, james.moore@parl.gc.ca, rob.moore@parl.gc.ca, rob.nicholson@parl.gc.ca, gordon.oconnor@parl.gc.ca, Joe.Oliver@parl.gc.ca, christian.paradis@parl.gc.ca, Peter.Penashue@parl.gc.ca, lisa.raitt@parl.gc.ca, gerry.ritz@parl.gc.ca, andrew.scheer@parl.gc.ca, gail.shea@parl.gc.ca, vic.toews@parl.gc.ca, tim.uppal@parl.gc.ca, Bernard.Valcourt@parl.gc.ca, peter.vanloan@parl.gc.ca, alice.wong@parl.gc.ca, lynne.yelich@parl.gc.ca


Dan.Albas@parl.gc.ca, ron.cannan@parl.gc.ca, john.duncan@parl.gc.ca, ed.fast@parl.gc.ca, Kerry-Lynne.Findlay@parl.gc.ca, nina.grewal@parl.gc.ca, richard.harris@parl.gc.ca, russ.hiebert@parl.gc.ca, randy.kamp@parl.gc.ca, james.lunney@parl.gc.ca, colin.mayes@parl.gc.ca, cathy.mcleod@parl.gc.ca, james.moore@parl.gc.ca, andrew.saxton@parl.gc.ca, Mark.Strahl@parl.gc.ca, mark.warawa@parl.gc.ca, john.weston@parl.gc.ca, David.Wilks@parl.gc.ca, alice.wong@parl.gc.ca, Wai.Young@parl.gc.ca, Bob.Zimmer@parl.gc.ca

By riding:


URGENT FIPA UPDATE: Public Comment Period Still Open for Canada-China Trade Deal


UPDATE: Step-by step ininstructions on how to submit your comments to the FIPA EA process by November 11 – act now!

The Common Sense Canadian posted a detailed breakdown of the Environmental Assessment process for the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPA) between Canada and China earlier this week.

In that piece we noted the fact that the final Environmental Assessment seemed absent in the soon-to-be-ratified FIPA.

Since publishing the story we have learned that indeed the final EA report has not been completed AND there is still time for input from Canadians.

We urge our readers to share their concerns about the process and inform the Government of Canada about the significant environmental impacts of FIPA.

Learn more about the FIPA EA at this government website.

And submit your comments by emailing: EAconsultationsEE@international.gc.ca

We will soon be posting more details about FIPA impacts that people can include their submissions.


New York Mayor Bloomberg Endorses Obama Over Hurricane Sandy, Climate Change


Read this story from the New York Times on New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s last-minute, surprise endorsement of Barack Obama for president – citing Hurricane Sandy and his sense that Barack Obama will more seriously address the growing challenge of climate change. (Nov. 1, 2012)

In a surprise announcement, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said Thursday that Hurricane Sandy had reshaped his thinking about the presidential campaign and that as a result, he was endorsing President Obama.

Mr. Bloomberg, a political independent in his third term leading New York City, has been sharply critical of Mr. Obama, a Democrat, and Mitt Romney, the president’s Republican rival, saying that both men had failed to candidly confront the problems afflicting the nation. But he said he had decided over the past several days that Mr. Obama was the better candidate to tackle the global climate change that he believes might have contributed to the violent storm, which took the lives of at least 38 New Yorkers and caused billions of dollars in damage.

“The devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to New York City and much of the Northeast — in lost lives, lost homes and lost business — brought the stakes of next Tuesday’s presidential election into sharp relief,” Mr. Bloomberg wrote in an editorial for Bloomberg View.

“Our climate is changing,” he wrote. “And while the increase in extreme weather we have experienced in New York City and around the world may or may not be the result of it, the risk that it may be — given the devastation it is wreaking — should be enough to compel all elected leaders to take immediate action.”

Mr. Bloomberg’s endorsement is another indication that Hurricane Sandy has influenced the presidential campaign. The storm and the destruction it left in its wake have dominated news coverage, transfixing the nation and prompting the candidates to halt their campaigning briefly.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/nyregion/bloomberg-endorses-obama-saying-hurricane-sandy-affected-decision.html?hp&_r=1&


Did Enviro Groups Drop the Ball on Canada-China Trade Deal?


IMPORTANT UPDATE TO FIPA STORY: Public Comment Window Still Open for Canada-China Trade Deal Environmental Assessment. Learn how to officially register your concerns with FIPA here.


An in-depth, out-of-the-box, common sense analysis and discussion paper issued on the day of the expected FIPA ratification.

Since May of this year we here at the Common Sense Canadian have been uncovering the behind-the -scenes legal and administrative practices undertaken by governments and industry collaborators to ensure the success of the oil and gas agenda.

Starting with “The Myth of BC Liberal Neutrality on Enbridge”, we have meticulously uncovered details of behind-the-scenes agreements that have seen British Columbia’s elected officials surrender our sovereignty, abandon our jurisdiction and capitulate to the mega-oil and gas agenda. All of which was done in silence, with the governments responsible boosted by organizations mandated to involve themselves in public processes on behalf of British Columbians to protect our rights and further our interests.

Over the past month we have seen an incredible flurry of concern arise from the Harper Government’s move to ratify the Chinese FIPA (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement). However much of the consternation expressed has not focused on the fact that this agreement is 15 years in the making and has involved the same players responsible for ensuring the success of behind-the-scenes agreements like the Equivalency Agreement of June 2010 between the Governments of BC and Canada.

Starting in 2001, FIPA laid out a Framework for the Environmental Assessment of Trade Negotiations, which resulted in a myriad of activities and outreach to stakeholders, many of which where the same stakeholders whom must have been consulted in the similar overlapping process which resulted in the Equivalency Agreement.

The Environmental Assessment (EA) component of the Chinese FIPA was sparked in 1998, however this detailed framework led to a process that spanned over a decade, but more specifically negotiations were “re-launched in 2004” and were “expected to successfully conclude in 2008.” And just like the 2010 Equivalency Agreement, the FIPA environmental assessment component included an open invitation for a “30 day time period for input from stakeholders and the general public” which occurred between February 20 and March 21, 2008 at the end of the multi-year FIPA EA consultative process dictated by the framework linked to above and detailed on that website.

In fact, the entire Chinese FIPA Environmental Assessment component included three phases, which were designed for transparency and broad input – here is the exact text:

Three phases of assessment are generally undertaken: the Initial, Draft, and Final EA. These phases correspond to progress within the negotiations. The Initial EA is a preliminary examination to identify key issues. It occurs earlier on in the negotiations. The Draft EA builds on the findings of the Initial EA and requires detailed analysis. A Draft EA is not undertaken if the negotiation is not expected to yield large economic changes. The Final EA takes place at the end of the negotiations. At the conclusion of each phase, a public report is issued with a request for feedback.

“Negotiations, Correspondence, Public Reports” and “Requests for Feedback” were all an integral part of the multi-year Environmental Assessment Process enabling the FIPA agreement, yet few of us heard anything about it and no doubt average Canadians were completely unaware.

This process also included outreach to specific groups – again, here is the text from the government website:

 4. Invitation to Submit Comments In keeping with the Framework, an Environmental Assessment Committee (EAC) has been formed to undertake the analysis of the Canada-China FIPA. Coordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, the Canada-China FIPA EAC includes representatives from other federal government departments, including Environment Canada, the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency, and Natural Resources Canada, and is formally chaired by the lead negotiator for the agreement. An important responsibility of the EAC is to gather input from provinces and territories, stakeholders representing business, academics, and non-governmental organizations, as well as the general public.
As part of its commitment to an open and transparent process, the Government has opened this Initial EA for public comment from February 20, 2008 to March 21, 2008. Feedback on the likely economic effects and the likelihood and significance of resultant environmental impacts is especially welcome, including ways in which the GoC’s current analysis could be strengthened. It is important to keep in mind that the assessment is focused on the possible positive and negative environmental impacts in Canada.All feedback received is documented in keeping with the guidance contained in the EA Handbook, and circulated to the EAC. It will inform the Final EA of the Canada-China FIPA, as well as ongoing EA work within the Government of Canada. (emphasis added)

Please take the time to visit the link this text has been taken from as it explains in exhaustive detail the Environmental Assessment’s “Open and Transparent” Process required to enable FIPA and the way in which the process was conducted. Furthermore, it outlines in detail how Environmental Non Government Organizations (ENGOs) were solicited for input as key stakeholders in the FIPA process.

Once again, as with the June 2010 Equivalency Agreement, we are learning after the fact that our sovereign rights, interests and ability to exert jurisdictional control and decision making over our land and water are being quietly abandoned without our knowledge and seemingly behind closed doors.

This is once again occurring despite the fact that ENGOs, remunerated by governments to participate in Environmental Assessments and related processes, have mandates that read like this one from a prominent BC ENGO known as the Dogwood Initiative, whose organization has been at the forefront of the high profile tanker and pipeline issues unfolding in British Columbia for several years now:

Everything we do is about giving British Columbians ways to take back decision-making power over their land and water. Right now, 96 per cent of British Columbia’s land is owned by the people, but 88 per cent of that land is controlled by large timber, mining and oil companies. That stinks.

We believe British Columbians should have the right to make their own decisions about how the land they live on is used and we know that there is power in numbers. That’s why we work with more than 100,000 supporters, as well as First Nations, businesses and communities, to leverage political victories and find common sense solutions to some of B.C.’s most pressing problems.

Ultimately responsible for these unseemly agreements are our elected leaders like Allison Redford and yet-to-be-elected Premier Christy Clark who have continued the very public bun fight over who gets what – and in so doing Redford maintains her appointed role as the front-woman for the Energy Policy Institute of Canada (EPIC) energy strategy, while Clark simply works to cling to power.

However, it is becoming crystal clear that the strategy to massively escalate oil and gas exploitation and liquidation was in the can long ago, just like Minister of Natural Resources Joe Oliver recently exclaimed in a story entitled, “No need for a National Energy Strategy”:

Oliver said Tuesday he has spoken with Alberta Premier Alison Redford on a number of occasions about her plans for a National Energy Strategy. But he said as far as he could tell, Redford mentioned nothing in their conversations that his government wasn’t already covering
“[But] if you want to put a bow on it and call it a National Energy Strategy, go ahead,” Oliver said at the closing news conference of the Energy and Mines Ministers’ Conference in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Indeed, all Clark and Redford seem to be fighting over is what colour bow to put on a now longstanding and complete capitulation to the oil and gas industry and its EPIC agenda. As Rafe Mair outlined in his recent column, the BC Liberal government was admittedly consulted throughout the 15-year Chinese FIPA negotiation period – all Provinces and Territories were (as linked to and outline above).

And they have not only quietly ushered it in, but they are also boosting it at high level international investment summits and overseas junkets to the new BC government Shanghai Office. As Rafe points, out doing so has virtually removed any legal ability for Provinces to reclaim their sovereignty and push back on the Federal Government and the FIPA deal.

It is therefore no wonder why they have boosted the FIPA deal at high-level investment meetings, while resisting pushing it in the media, which has worked to keep the 15 year process away from prying eyes, such as those of local blogger and professionally trained researcher Laila Yuile. Ms. Yuile, has distinguished herself among the BC blogosphere as an astounding researcher with impeccable journalistic integrity. She has made the China file her hobby horse for quite some time now and recently felt compelled to apologize for not being aware of FIPA and issues related to the BC Government. All of which attests to the strategically stealthy component of the British Columbian collaborators on FIPA. If this stuff got by Laila, then you can rest assured very few observers, if any, know of these important issues in the entire Province.

That said, key environmental stakeholders canvassed to be involved are defined as “a very important aspect” of the FIPA process. The Environmental Assessment component, as I touched on above, seems to be one of the most exhaustive components according to the government website. Indeed, the process and its vast implications, of which I formally wrote about in detail at another fine BC political blog, are immense and far reaching.

For instance, in that piece, I mention the fact that Harper’s gutting and rewriting of the entire legislative framework pertaining to environmental regulations and processes will be locked in for as long as 31 years and applicable to any Chinese investments occurring after this agreement is ratified. Remember, during the CNOOC/Nexen review it was widely reported that the “we ain’t seen nothing yet”, as that deal only marked the opening of the Chinese investment floodgates into the oil and gas sector.

Moreover, the Chinese FIPA involved exhaustive and pivotal processes spanning 15 years, resulting in the development of numerous environmental Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) on matters related to protected areas, cooperation on climate change and many on “environmental cooperation”, which included the “building of partnerships and facilitation of dialogue among environmental protection agencies, organizations and enterprises in both countries.”

While the EA framework for FIPA was established in 2001, the international environmental undertakings began in 1998, however these Bilateral Trade Agreements (FIPAs) were largely left dormant as relics of the past when Canada had struck deals in the 80s and 90 with mostly underdeveloped countries.

However, after globetrotting international financiers who stick-handle trade agreements suffered the very public death of the Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI), a renewed strategic focus was born on bilateral agreements done in a stealth-like, one-off fashion.

This was apparently appealing to David Emerson, who entered the fray after crossing the floor to be Minister of International Trade and Minister for the Pacific Gateway (before returning to the private sector to work for the China Investment Corporation.) In 2004 he eagerly went to work slam dunking FIPAs, and attempted to complete 4 during his time in office, ranging from little one-offs with minor countries like Peru to larger emerging economies like India.

However, his crowning achievement was the Chinese FIPA, which he kicked into high gear claiming it to be his “Ultimate Goal”, as published in the Chinese in Vancouver blog at the time. Once again these deals were left largely unreported in the mainstream media, and even the Chinese in Vancouver blog stated that Emerson’s “in camera” meetings had the opposition NDP complaining how hard it was to get “details”.

However, the blog did publish all the details of an exhaustive FIPA-related agenda dictated by the Chamber of Commerce, who were among NGOs and governments solicited by the FIPA process, all of which of course has been accomplished and will be complete if FIPA is indeed ratified.

Emerson, who wrote the forward to a Fraser Institute study on FIPA, used his history of “public service” as a catalyst to establish EPIC, which has been busy rewriting the entire legislative framework for oil and gas development ever since. Everything EPIC published was subsequently contained in Harper’s Omnibus bills while he positioned his huge corporate coalition as the chief architects of Canada’s new “National Energy Strategy.”

More recently a key British Columbia-based organization from Emerson’s hometown was invited into his EPIC National Energy Strategy at a kick-off meeting in Alberta. Tides Canada, who also established a loose coalition of over 150 endorsers for their strategic tome entitled, “A New Energy Vision for Canada”, laid out their vision within the EPIC strategic framework with the backdrop of the scenic Kanaskis mountain range, away from peering eyes and protests – and among governments and oil and gas industrialists, while along side Emerson and his EPIC directors.

Tides is headed up by Joel Solomon, infamously depicted as the “Greenfather” and a shrewd “business first socialist”, who is the funding engine behind most all of British Columbian Environmental Organizations (ENGOs), and of course two-term Mayor of the world’s “Greenest City”, Gregor Robertson.

Solomon’s labyrinth of foundations, investment companies and network of “social entrepreneurs” and activists spawned the internationally renowned “Green Think Tank” known as Hollyhock, which led to the development of Hollyhock Leadership Institute among myriad other well-resourced and connected organizations which have become the commanding heights of green, socially responsible development as well as the strategic headquarters for the “Greening the Oil Sands” initiative being communicated through the well-known internet E-zine The Tyee and supported by the online publication more intimately connected to Solomon, the Vancouver Observer.

All of these developments occurred during the course of the exhaustive and far-reaching FIPA Environmental Assessment process and much, much more. During this time we also saw other major achievements in the oil and gas legal and administrative agenda. TILMA (the Trade, Investment and Labour Mobility Agreement) was negotiated and then established in 2006, with barely a whimper from the environmental community, when the BC Liberals invoked closure to ram it through – despite the vast implications for oil and gas developments and the provincial sovereignty that agreement left in an abandon pile on the negotiating room floor.

Then there was the incredible, inconceivable BC Liberal move that spawned the Equivalency Agreement in June of 2010, which iced the cake for the oil and gas lobby. This agreement, done away from the limelight and while the government responsible was being celebrated for a Clean Energy Climate Change Strategy – and lauded by the environmental community – saw BC forfeit its last vestige of sovereignty and jurisdictional control by giving up any and all decision-making capacity on four major oil and gas projects in BC’s north, including the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. Amazingly, this agreement was implemented by senior staff and not the minister responsible, as the law dictates.

Each one of these far reaching and legally binding agreements would have involved BC stakeholders at all levels, but ENGOS in particular would have been solicited for serious roles as precisely outlined in the FIPA EA framework linked to above. Both the FIPA EA and June 2010 Equivalency Agreement involved a 30-day time period for broad stakeholder commentary, advertized in the Canadian Gazette – a process intimately familiar to British Columbian ENGOs.

When one considers each one of these separately, they appear relatively reasonable and were communicated as if they had little if anything to do with the oil and gas agenda and ultimately were pitched as integral to ensuring an investment climate that would grow our economy. However, after a closer look we learn that the exact opposite is the case. Indeed, these three agreements completely wrap up most every aspect of oil and gas development related to our jurisdiction and leave British Columbians in the cold as virtual bystanders, literally legally stranded as voiceless squatters on their own land.


  • Works from “the bottom up” versus “the top down” approach the FIPA trade agreement employs – dovetailing nicely
  • Ensures no level of government can create trade obstacles on or “through” their jurisdictions – doing so results in penalties up to 5 million per infraction
  • Ensures free flow of “investment” throughout the jurisdictions of all levels of government
  • Ensures the free flow of labour for all oil and gas projects
  • Involves a myriad of other details related to labour mobility, Trade and Investments
  • Was ushered in to law by BC liberals, who invoked closure
  • Recently updated and renewed as NWPA


  • Locks in complete legal framework ushered in by Harper for a generation
  • Negates any future changes to environmental protection or processes
  • Locks in Royalty Regimes for a generation
  • Negates future governments from making any changes

Equivalency Agreement

  • Forfeits BC’s sovereignty and decision-making capacity
  • Involves four major oil and gas projects including Enbridge NGP
  • Negates jurisdiction over land and water

Indeed it would seem that Minister Oliver was exactly right and boldly honest as all Clark and Redford are fighting over is the colour of the bow on the now longstanding strategy for massive escalation in the exploitation and liquidation of Canada’s oil and gas resources. The detailed terms in these three agreements leave British Columbians with little if anything else to decide. This is especially true when you consider reams of other supporting agreements like temporary foreign worker legislation and myriad other streamlining legislation which works to sideline all levels of government in deciding the fate and from of major developments slated to occur in British Columbia.

Further to this mind-blowing array of far-reaching, long-lasting, legally-binding policies riddled with serious implications for British Columbia, the Canada-Chinese FIPA also involved a detailed outreach effort to international investment and environmental organizations, resulting in The Canada-China Climate Change Working Group which was formed in March 2004, as a follow up to the Canada-China Joint Statement on Climate Change Cooperation. The Working Group co-ordinates and advances the bilateral effort to respond to climate change.

Other joint efforts include The Framework Statement which created the Canada-China Joint Committee on Environment Cooperation (JCEC) with Environment Canada and the Chinese State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) as the lead agencies. All of which started when Canada and China signed the “Canada-China Framework Statement for Cooperation on Environment into the 21st Century” during Premier Zhu Rongji’s visit to Canada in November 1998.

All of this, while substantial, is not the entirety of the FIPA Environmental Assessment component which was supposed to be released when the FIPA agreement was complete, however Stephen Harper signed the agreement almost six weeks ago and the final Environmental Assessment reporting which enabled FIPA seems absent.

Its absence may be a result of this bombshell directly from the Government’s FIPA EA report:

6. Stakeholder Feedback

The notice of intent to conduct an EA of the Canada-China FIPA was in the Canada Gazette on November 5, 2005. The notice included an invitation to interested parties to submit their views on the likely environmental impacts of the Canada-China FIPA on Canada. There were no comments received on the Notice of Intent. (emphasis added)

8. Conclusion and Next Steps

Canada’s Framework for Conducting EAs of Trade Negotiations calls for national assessments and allows for consideration of transboundary, regional, and global environmental impacts if they have a direct impact on the Canadian environment. However, it is outside of the scope of this study to assess the potential for positive or negative environmental impacts that could occur in China because of these negotiations, or to judge the measures in place within China to enhance or mitigate such impacts.

Investments in sectors of interest to China may have an impact on the environment. However, the impact would be the same whether the investment is made by a Chinese investors or a domestic investor. In addition, investors, whether they are Canadian or foreign, are bound by environmental protection regulations and projects resulting from these investments are subject to applicable environmental assessment legislation. (that is the same legislation Harper just gutted and rewrote)

The Initial EA of the Canada-China FIPA concludes that significant changes to investment in Canada are not expected as a result of the Canada-China FIPA negotiations as there are no specific investments known to be dependent on the FIPA’s conclusion or no direct known causal links between FIPAs and expansion of investment. As such, the environmental impacts on Canada are expected to be minimal.

The Initial EA will be circulated to decision makers to inform the conclusion of the Canada-China FIPA negotiations as well as other policy development activities.

Following the receipt of public comments on the Initial EA, the Final EA will be completed taking into account the consultative findings. In the light of the Initial EA’s conclusions regarding the unlikelihood of significant economic activity and environmental impacts in Canada, preparation of a Draft EA is deemed to be unnecessary. The Final EA will coincide with the conclusion of the Canada-China FIPA negotiations. (emphasis added)

Did you catch that? That underlined bit.

No specific investments known to be dependent on FIPA’s conclusion? Nor do they believe there are any links between FIPA and the expansion of investment!

Then what did we do it for and why was it Emerson’s “Ultimate Goal?”

And then the kicker: “In the light of the Initial EA’s conclusions regarding the unlikelihood of significant economic activity and environmental impacts in Canada, preparation of a Draft EA is deemed to be unnecessary.”

This stuff is incomprehensible! Due to a complete lack of input from the environmental side of the equation or any submission of appropriate analysis, the Federal Government has concluded that there will be no significant impacts on our environment as a result of hundreds of billions of dollars invested in Canada’s oil and gas industry.

And how does it all square with Harper’s election campaign platform? Here is a snippet from his Energy Platform:

Prohibiting the Export of Raw Bitumen to Higher Polluting Jurisdictions

A re-elected Conservative Government led by Stephen Harper will prevent any company from exporting raw bitumen (unprocessed oil from the oil sands) outside of Canada for upgrading in order to take advantage of lower pollution or greenhouse gas emissions standards elsewhere.

In conclusion, we have to consider very important impacts that are solidified as a result of the overlapping trade agreements coupled with the forfeiting of British Columbia’s sovereignty which demonstrate the green failing on FIPA is less about the environment and more about the cash. This is true as a result of two easy-to-comprehend concepts which are definitive. You cannot change the rules of the game after the investment has occurred and doing so will result in being sued. These notions run through all trade agreements and are at the very heart of the purpose of the FIPA.

  • Less about the Environment: The wholesale environmental and legislative changes authored by EPIC and ushered in by the Harper Government rewrite the entire legal framework for oil and gas development. As a result of ratifying FIPA on the heels of these changes, each and every future investment in the industry in Canada is therefore guaranteed under these terms for thirty years and many subsequent governments. If however, a subsequent government decides to restore any one of the rollbacks of the Harper government they will be sued under these agreements. If they decide to scrap the FIPA altogether they must give at least one year notice, and each and every investment that occurred during the time FIPA was ratified, will be protected automatically for an additional 15 years upon the revoking of FIPA and all of the existing legislative framework will apply for that time. And, once again, if subsequent changes are made, lawsuits will result reaching into the millions, if not billions. All of which locks in the gutting of environmental legislation and processes that have occurred thus far for a generation as making any changes is too punitive.
  • More about the Cash: The very same dynamics described in detail above apply to royalty regimes at all levels of government. Currently, oil and gas royalty regimes in Canada are some of the lowest in the world. FIPA locks in those rates for a generation or more and, once again, if any subsequent government wishes to adjust the rates to harmonize them with other jurisdictions – say, like those of oil producing countries in Africa who have recently struck deals with the same major oil companies operating in Canada – that involve Production Sharing Agreements (PSAs) which reach as high as 75% of total production being steered to public coffers, we will be sued for doing so and it will involve “forecasts of lost profits” which could range into the hundreds of billions, effectively destroying any potential whatsoever of altering royalty regimes away from being the lowest anywhere in the world. Moreover, Chinese companies are not just investing in production and market potential but rather are purchasing companies outright making our exposure to being sued for profit potential enormous. In the final analysis, this agreement is all about the cold, hard cash because even if we never are sued, FIPA ensures profiteering for anyone investing under the terms it dictates, the likes of which is unparalleled anywhere else in the world. It is important to remember that at current royalty rates, both BC and Alberta are filing huge deficits. And Canada itself has filed over 125 billion dollars in deficits just since 2008, meanwhile the Tar Sands peaked to its highest production rates in 2010 the same year Harper filed the country’s largest deficit in history. Clearly, adjusting some of the lowest royalty rates in the world is required to pull Canada out of the fiscal fire and attempt to return to balanced budgets.

Regardless of what seems to be total insanity as we explore the details of FIPA and supporting agreements. It is important to go through such great lengths and review all of these painstaking details in order to understand how and why it is most Canadians, and British Columbians in particular, where not aware of this agreement.

There was very little mainstream coverage and negotiations seemingly took place out of the public eye and away from the scrutiny of the media. Intentional or otherwise, it has left Canadians very vulnerable. Maybe they believe this agreement means nothing and has no impacts, as this report says, but as is clearly outlined here that is definitely not the case. And it clearly was the National Energy Strategy’s chief architect David Emerson’s “ultimate goal” for a reason.

Fortunately, some civil society organizations and (NGOs) made the effort to warn Canadians early on, despite not being engaged in the process in any way, or solicited directly for their input. That list includes groups like Canada’s Coalition to End Global Poverty, who produced this handy must read handbook entitled, Bilateral Investment Treaties: A Canadian Primer that works to hit the high points of these agreements and their immense implications, including the impacts on sovereignty, the environment and the economy. There were also independent, uninvolved, unsolicited lawyers who have drawn up abstracts which really work to inform Canadians. And the Council of Canadians jumped on FIPA as soon as it came to their attention in September.

In the end, it is difficult if not impossible to conceive how the FIPA’s pivotal and enabling environmental assessment process, spanning 15 years, received little if any attention. And it is impossible to understand how an Environmental Assessment involving legislated outreach to stakeholders as an important and pivotal aspect to the success of the agreement garnered “no comments” over a month-long input period at the end of a multi-year process – resulting in conclusions that there was little if any environmental impact, despite the obvious, far -eaching impacts explained here and elsewhere.

The FIPA EA resulted in multiple memorandums of understanding, the establishment of multiple joint international committees, in addition to policy certainty and harmonization. Cooperation on Climate Change initiatives and the list goes on and on, yet somehow all this escaped the lead environmental organizations in British Columbia who are mandated to represent our interests while protecting and furthering our jurisdictional and legal rights.

The lawyers who lead the ENGOS on the forefront of tankers and pipeline issues who signed up thousands for the Enbridge Environmental Assessment alone while undertaking a media campaign spanning years, were somehow unable to comment on, involve themselves in, or write as much as one press release in regard to the FIPA EA since its inception 15 years ago which, when in effect, locks in Harper’s gutting of environmental standards for any all Chinese investments now and for thirty years into the future.

To top it all off we learn of all this AFTER the agreement is signed by the Prime Minister and mere months after we first heard that as far back as June 2010, BC gave up its right to its own Environmental Assessment to decide on four major oil and gas development projects, including the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. Which was accomplished through the establishment of a “secret” equivalency agreement that saw us abandon our sovereign rights and legal jurisdiction in a process that also had been advertised in the Canadian Gazette and involved a month-long period for input from stakeholders. But, once again, the ENGO community who is mandated and remunerated to be involved in these processes said and did nothing.

Adrian Dix stood up for BC and made the move to restore our sovereignty by pledging to revoke the Equivalency Agreement within one week upon being elected.

It is time for all Canadian citizens to stand up and pledge to do whatever it takes to prevent FIPA from being ratified tomorrow or ever.

Its time to stand on guard for Canada!