Tag Archives: Politics

Premier Clark promoting BC seafood exports to China during a trade visit in November 2011 (photo: BC Government flickr page)

Premier Clark Supports Canada-China Trade Deal, Abandons BC’s Constitutional Rights


I don’t suppose that many of you have not by now heard of FIPA (Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement), the trade deal between Canada and China Stephen Harper is pushing forward – and I don’t suppose that many of you, including me, have a full comprehension of what this will mean to trade, not to mention our economy, resources and environment.

Dr. Gus Van Harten of Osgoode Hall has written a must-read letter to Premier Clark which you can read here.

There are a few things we do know:

  1. It applies to trade agreements between Canada and China and, thanks to the premier, BC as well.
  2. It is, like NAFTA, a treaty that for practical reasons, is all but unbreakable for 31 years.
  3. It gives China the ability to obtain huge damages if we don’t perform our side of any deal and to sue for them in her own courts
  4. This agreement has not been debated in Parliament nor in the Legislature of BC
  5. It won’t be debated in Parliament or the BC Legislature because both the Prime Minister and Premier Clark don’t think they need the agreement of our legislative bodies
  6. Without any question, this treaty will impact upon the Province of British Columbia and could cost us hundreds of millions of dollars
  7. It seriously compromises the constitutional rights BC has under Section 92 of the Constitution Act (1982)

Let me direct you to the Premier’s letter (below) for which I’m grateful to Laila Yuile, a blogger who’s a necessary read if you want to really see what’s going on inside.

Let us suppose the Province, under a different government, wants to stop the Enbridge pipeline or any other contract where China has an interest. This will involve us in a huge claim in damages. Indeed, any deal the federal government makes with China has been accepted in advance by Premier Clark.

Think on that for a moment. We have signed away, without any mandate from the Legislature, let alone the people, our constitutional right to oppose trade agreements with China no matter how badly they fly in the face of BC’s constitutional powers or how injurious they are to BC’s interests.

Below you’ll see a letter from Clark pledging BC cooperation with the feds.


Jane Sterk, Leader of the Green Party of BC, questioned this policy and got this rubbish in reply on October 26:

Dear Dr. Sterk:

Thank you for your letter of October 23, 2012, regarding the Canada-China Foreign Investment and Protection Agreement (FIPA) that was signed at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in September.

The provincial government has been involved in the process that led to this agreement and we are confident the new Agreement will provide a framework through which greater economic prosperity will come for British Columbians and for British Columbia’s business sector.

I think we can agree that international investment is key to building our provincial economy. We feel encouraged that written in the Agreement are unambiguous assurances that provisions and procedures for investor-to-state dispute settlements are clearly laid out and that they stipulate transparency provisions that are important to Canada. We have been advised that the Agreement will likely result in one of the best written investor protection treaties ever and significant efforts have been put into ensuring the Agreement is in the best long-term interests of Canada.

The main goal and objective of this FIPA is to establish a more transparent investment relationship with China and to ensure Canada and Canadian businesses are treated fairly. China is B.C.’s second largest trading partner and we want to strengthen that relationship. This investment agreement is an important step in the right direction towards improving our trade, investment and cultural ties with China.

Christy Clark

There are two major issues here:

  1. Is this a good deal for Canada and BC?
  2. What are the implications for BC’s constitutional rights under the Constitution Act of 1982?

As to the former, again, I urge you to read this letter from trade expert Dr. Gus Van Harten to Premier Clark.

As to the latter, as one who has been involved in such matters at the highest level, I can tell you that on the face of it, Premier Clark’s letter abandons the constitutional protections BC has.

This is no minor, legal nit-picking. We live in a federation where both the federal government and the provinces have legal, inviolable rights. This is the glue that holds the nation together.

On the pipelines/tankers specifically there are a number of areas where BC has the absolute right to make conditions or ban them outright. Premier Clark, in her disastrous statement, has, on the face of it, estopped BC from exercising our rights. “Estopped” means that she has taken a position upon which another has acted and can no longer exercise the rights she signed away.

In short, by agreeing to this treaty, she has, for the length of the contract, surrendered our right to exercise our constitutional rights.  

Why did Premier Clark do this?

We can’t overlook the fact that she may just be too stupid to understand what she has done. One hates to say this sort of thing but this is surely an option we must consider, remembering Mair’s Axiom One which states, “You make a very serious mistake assuming that people in charge know what the hell they’re doing.”

If she took advice, it was terrible. Moreover, she couldn’t possibly have read outside independent advice as that given by Dr. Van Harten.

To my way of thinking it’s because she’s at the mercy of the Feds when it comes to canceling the HST, just a month ahead of next May’s election.

We have, then, given our constitutional rights away without any consultation with the people who lose these powers. It’s been called “economic treason” and I agree.

Is there any doubt now why she was too cowardly to call a fall sitting of the Legislature?

To give this bunch another mandate would be insane.

Protestors outside the Rio Climate Conference earlier this year. Photograph by: Aaron Favila, AP

The ethics of politically impossible


Most words are to be read and forgotten; others are to be read and remembered; and some few are to be read, remembered and considered carefully. The words of Michael Marshall fall into the last category. They appear in “Climate’s Dark Dawn”, an article in NewScientist (Dec. 31/11).

The poignancy of Marshall’s words derive from the scientific consensus that we can’t afford to warm the planet any more than 2°C without incurring climate change that could be catastrophically stressful to a global civilization already under pressure from other serious environmental threats. In response to this warning, our leaders at international gatherings have concurred with the scientific consensus, have adopt this temperature increase as their tolerable upper limit, and have pledged that regulations on allowable emissions will hold the global temperature increase below this critical mark.

But modelling of these pledges shows “that even if those cuts were implemented in full we would still see 3.5°C of warming by 2100,” writes Marshall. And this temperature increase could easily escalate to the 4.0°C that “could wipe out the Amazon rainforest and halt the Asian monsoons” (Ibid.).

So, here are Marshall’s words to be remembered and considered carefully. “The reality is that the 2°C target is technically and economically feasible,” he writes, “but politically impossible.” In other words, we have the technology to reduce greenhouse gas emissions sufficiently to avoid the serious environmental consequences of raising the global temperature above 2°C. We even have an economy that can afford to do so. But our leaders lack the political will to rectify a problem that they both recognize and have the power to correct.

This failure of political will is disappointing, destructive and cancerous. It creates a metastasizing cynicism that infects optimism with pessimism. It transforms high hope into sinking despair. When forecasts are bleak but corrective resolve is weak, we abandon the best and resign ourselves to the worst. Everything we think and do is shadowed with frustration. Trust is replaced by suspicion. So we drift in confusion and conflict rather than moving together with focus and resolve. Indeed, if our leaders would publicly acknowledge that global warming and its haunting partner, climate change, were as serious as scientists describe, then we could unite in common cause and firm commitment. But without the political declaration, direction and leadership, we flounder.

This is why the future isn’t what it used to be. The mood of innocence and optimism that once pervaded our individual and collective lives is now sobered by the growing realization that we are confronting a major environmental crisis without leadership. We have reached the edge of yet another crucial limit without an initiation or coordination of remedial measures.

We now know that almost everything positive we want to do comes with negative consequences that weigh against the folly of proceeding with thoughtless habit. Old practices, once accepted and unquestioned, are presently complicated with unwanted results and complex ethical dilemmas. It is the role of our leaders to read this conundrum and steer us through a dangerous and difficult course. Instead, they are silent. Or even worse, they remain the proponents of the thoughtless habits that mire us in a deepening problem.

This is the root explanation for the rising chorus of public objections to mines, pipelines, oil tankers, tar sands, free trade agreements, international financial systems and a corporate world of manufactured venality and consumerism. All these practices are carrying us in the direction of environmental trouble rather than away from it. Negativity becomes the pervasive mood because the pervasive course is negative. We cannot be hopeful if we are moving in the direction of our undoing. When we are not actively pursuing solutions to difficult problems then the frustration accumulates as cynicism. If society’s energies are not directed in constructive behaviour, they are wasted in destructive diversions.

The role of political leaders is to inform and lead the public. If they are in denial about the global climate crisis, or if they are deliberately avoiding the scientific evidence, or if they are attempting to deceive, then their exercise is futile and defeating. This is the age of information. People know. They can recognize dishonesty because it appears as hypocrisy.

People also recognize honesty and bravery, the attributes of heroes, visionaries and leaders. “Politically impossible” is the acquiescing course of the opportunist who follows the path of old destructive habits even when a better route is known.

The present is connected to the future through the unfolding of circumstances. We know how those circumstances are unfolding. So, what will be history’s judgment of those who knew of the unfolding climate crisis but did not act to prevent it? When something could have been done, ethics require action. History has declared that “politically impossible” has never been an excuse for abject and wanton neglect.


Anti-Fracking Candidate George Heyman Wins NDP Riding Nomination


Read this column from Vaughn Palmer in The Vancouver Sun on former BCGEU president and current Sierra Club BC leader George Heyman’s victory in Sunday’s Vancouver-Fairview NDP riding nomination. (Oct. 22, 2012)

VICTORIA — B.C. New Democrats have nominated a leading critic of expanded natural gas production as a candidate for the next election, setting the stage for a showdown over the practice known as fracking.

George Heyman, who won the party nomination in Vancouver-Fairview Sunday, has been one of the leaders in the fight against hydraulic fracturing, the growing practice of extracting natural gas from shale deposits by injecting the rock with water at high pressure.

Fracking accounts for about half of the natural gas production in B.C. and is the key to future expansion and hopes of exporting the product in liquefied form to markets in Asia.

But as executive director of Sierra Club BC, Heyman has challenged the “rapid expansion of fracking, without sufficient oversight and scientific review to address the long list of threats and risks.”

During his tenure, the club toured the province with Gasland, a U.S.-made anti-fracking documentary that illustrates concerns about gas contamination of groundwater with sensational footage of tap water being set on fire as it flows from a faucet in somebody’s home.

“Fracking is referred to by some as ‘the Tar Sands of Natural Gas’ in terms of the water and energy resources needed to extract the hard-to-reach shale deposits,” declared the club in calling for a moratorium on the practice.

“The B.C. government needs to take a huge step back from their aggressive pursuit of unconventional gas and fracking to allow time to better understand the impacts, keep B.C.’s northeast from becoming a fragmented wasteland of gas wells, respect indigenous rights and protect the health of northern residents.”

Heyman reiterated the call on the eve of the NDP nomination meeting in Fairview.

“I’m not proposing that we don’t sell any gas,” he told reporter Carlito Pablo from the Georgia Straight. “I am proposing that we stop the expansion of new frack wells until we have an appropriate public study on the health impacts, the community impacts, the water impacts, and the climate, greenhouse-gas-emissions impact.”


Law Professor Warns Harper About Canada-China Trade Deal


Read this letter by Osgoode Law Professor and international trade expert Gus Van Harten, republished in The Tyee, to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, sounding alarms over a controversial new Canada-China trade deal, the Foreign Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (FIPPA). (Oct. 16, 2012)

Dear Prime Minister Harper and Minister Fast,

I am an expert in investment treaties. As a Canadian, I am deeply concerned about the implications for Canada of the Canada-China investment treaty. As I understand, the treaty is slated for ratification by your government on or about Oct. 31. I hope you will reconsider this course of action for these reasons. 

1. The legal consequences of the treaty will be irreversible by any Canadian court, legislature or other decision-maker for 31 years after the treaty is given effect. The treaty has a 15-year minimum term, requires one year’s notice prior to termination, and adds another 15-years of treaty coverage for assets that are Chinese-owned at the time of termination. By contrast, NAFTA for example can be terminated on six months notice.

2. Other investment treaties (aka FIPAs) signed by Canada have a similar duration and, in this respect, are exceptional among modern treaties. Yet none put Canada primarily in the capital-importing position. As such, the Canada-China treaty effectively concedes legislative and judicial elements of our sovereignty in a way that other FIPAs do not. Chinese asset-owners in Canada will be able, at their option, to challenge Canadian legislative, executive, or judicial decisions outside of the Canadian legal system and Canadian courts.

3. To elaborate, the treaty will likely be largely de facto non-reciprocal due to anticipated in-flows of Chinese investment to Canada outstripping Canadian investment in China. The deal gives Cadillac legal status to Canadian investors in China and vice versa. Yet Canada will be much more exposed to claims and corresponding constraints as a result of the de facto non-reciprocity. Two awards of a billion dollars-plus, and many over $100 million, have been issued against countries to date under these treaties, with more likely on the way. The awards are immune from judicial review, largely or entirely, and are often extra-territorial, depending on how the investor’s lawyers frame the claim.

Read more: http://thetyee.ca/Opinion/2012/10/16/China-Investment-Treaty/?utm_source=daily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=171012


Oil, Cancer and Bicycles: Enbridge Ride Sparks Emotional Debate


It’s October – Breast Cancer Awareness Month – which means, the fundraising drive for the annual “Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer” is revving up.

I first raised my concerns about this event in several articles last year, questioning the ethics of the alliance between the fundraising arm of the province’s BC Cancer Agency – a.k.a. the BC Cancer Foundation – and controversial oil and gas pipeline titan Enbridge.

Reading the comments on my stories, I gained a new appreciation for how sensitive the topic of cancer philanthropy is. Critiques ranged from hypocrisy for using petrochemical products myself to the fact that Enbridge, being only a pipeline company, doesn’t actually make oil products, to the following heartfelt comment from someone identifying herself as Anne:

…till you have sat at the bedside of a loved one and seen them die you have no clue as to my heartache, and by tarnishing the Ride you are possibly prolonging finding a cure.

While I believe we need to be able to engage in a rational, principled debate about this event, I appreciate Anne’s point, to whatever degree I can, given I have not walked in her shoes. Since last year’s event I’ve had time to reflect further on the issue and even come up with some positive alternatives.

On that note, I offer to Anne and others who wish to keep raising funds for caner through a cycling event, an alternative to the Enbridge Ride. The “Ride2Survive” is described on the organization’s website as “a one-day cycling event from Kelowna to Delta BC to raise funds for cancer research through as an Independent Fundraising Event for the Canadian Cancer Society.” The organization also boasts that 100% of the funds raised from the ride go directly to cancer research, something few cancer research initiatives can claim.

Back to the “Enbridge Ride” – a two-day trek from BC to Washington State – which is ramping up toward its fifth year next summer. The event in BC is joined by similar ones in Alberta, Ontario and Quebec. Enbridge, which began as the BC event sponsor, became the national sponsor for all four events in 2010. The proceeds from the BC fundraiser go to the BC Cancer Foundation, which is the fundraising arm of the BC Cancer Agency, a department of Ministry of Health. In my first story on the subject, I pointed to the confusion caused by the event’s brand – its graphics and signage are all in the colours of the better known and highly respected Canadian Cancer Society, which has nothing to do with this event.

A commenter on my story who identified himself as Steve Merker, wrote, “As someone intimately involved in developing the Ride to Conquer Cancer concept and branding, i can assure you in no way did we ever try to confuse the public. Yellow and cycling and cancer have strong associations via Lance Armstrong / Tour de France. The blue is similar to the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre’s blue.”

If the yellow is for Lance Armstrong, they may want to change colours right about now.

In any event, I do believe it’s important for donors to be clear on where their money’s going.

The real issue here, though, is the matter of allowing Enbridge to greenwash its sullied image in the midst of a highly contentious battle over a proposed pipeline through BC, and the hypocrisy of a cancer-fighting organization taking money from a company who deals in products that cause cancer. (More on that in a moment).

The website for the ride boasts the following: “…2879 participants across British Columbia and the Pacific Northwest raised $11.1 million in the third annual Enbridge Ride to Conquer Cancer. Since its inception in 2009, the Ride has raised $27.2 million, making it the most successful cancer-related fundraising event in B.C. history.”

Yet amidst all this success, the Cancer Foundation clearly grew concerned when I started asking questions and writing critically about the event. My columns provoked significant interest and lively debate online and the first of these prompted the BC Cancer Foundation to develop an internal PR strategy to better defend the program to the press and public, largely based on my initial questions to them. The document was leaked to reporter Stephen Hui of the Georgia Straight. I detailed the key questions and canned answers in a subsequent story.

One of my biggest beefs with the ride remains the connection between cancer and petroleum products – for which Enbridge is a central conduit throughout North America.

I asked BC Cancer Foundation representative Allison Colina, “Is it hypocritical for your organization to accept sponsorship from a company who deals in a known cancer-causing product?”

Her reply: “With regards to petroleum products causing cancer, we turn to the research and clinical experts at the BC Cancer Agency to determine what are cancer-causing substances…According to the World Health Organization, there is no conclusive research at this time that indicates that petroleum products cause cancer.”

That’s gross distortion at best. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer – the WHO subsidiary group that produces the list of known and probable human carcinogens Ms. Colina referred to – “‘Petroleum refining (workplace exposures in)’ is a probable carcinogen.” Moreover, Benzene, a byproduct of petroleum, is listed as a known carcinogen (that’s pretty conclusive to me). 

I also contacted Dr. Karen Bartlett of the UBC School of Environmental Health at the time, posing to her the same question: “To what extent can petroleum products be considered carcinogenic?” Here’s what she told me by phone:

There are two major petroleum products that we know are associated with carcinogenicity. One is in the distillation process of petroleum products, which produces Benzene. Benezene is carcinogenic. The other is in the combustion of diesel. Diesel particulate is carcinogenic.

A commenter on my story, Rob Baxter, added that, according to the American Lung Association, “Air pollution contributes to … lung cancer….In 1996, transportation sources were responsible for 47% of pollutant emissions.” Also according to the same organization, “The production of particulate matter (PM) less than 10_m is associated particularly with the combustion of carbon-based and sulphur-based chemicals such as gasoline and diesel. Exposure has been linked with… serious health effects including cancer.”

Ms. Colina and her organization are misleading the public when they say, “According to the World Health Organization, there is no conclusive research at this time that indicates that petroleum products cause cancer.” All that’s left is the defense raised by some that Enbridge doesn’t make or burn the oil products, so they’re okay. I think that’s nonsensical, but I should also note that Enbridge recently bought a controlling stake in what will soon be the largest and most carbon-emitting natural gas plant in North America, the Cabin Gas Plant in northeast BC.

They also continue to wreak ecological devastation with oil spills across the continent.

The fact that Enbridge is in no way suitable to be the title sponsor of a cancer research fundraiser should be as plain as day to anyone, especially the BC Cancer Foundation.

The other big issue I have with this event is the way it enables a highly controversial company which is aggressively targeting environmental groups and First Nations as we speak for opposing their highly unpopular proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline from the Alberta Tar Sands to BC’s coast.

If the Ride in any way helps Enbridge burnish its reputation in order to advance this pipeline and oil tankers on our coast, then I have a problem with that. And make no mistake, corporate social responsibility pledges aside, no corporation, including Enbridge, spends one dollar sheerly out of goodwill.  Enbridge is sponsoring this event for business reasons and none other.

Moreover, I particularly have a problem with the connection between this event and the provincial government, which is the recipient of these research funds.

It is this point which resonated for readers when I first wrote about the issue.

Noelle wrote: “I too am a cancer survivor and have participated in the ride for the last two years. I also had signed up for the 2011 ride before Enbridge came on board and was appalled when I discovered this.”

This from one Sonya McCarthy: “I have watched Enbridge’s tactics and seen the undermining of local communities the right to say “no” whith the possible environmental damage by crossing hundreds of Salmon bearing rivers and streams. Where a spill from the increase tankers could cause an ecological disaster and there is no plan to clean up the mess.”

And a David Munro had this to say: “Given that my father died of cancer, it’s natural that I would want to support an event such as this. On the other hand, his particular cancer was hairy cell leukaemia, caused by long-term exposure to petroleum products.”

The Enbridge Ride controversy falls within a larger conversation that is only just beginning, catalyzed by films like Pink Ribbons, Inc. and books like Selling Sickness by Ray Moynihan and Alan Cassels, which contend that cancer treatment has become an industry driven by drug companies, while prevention takes a back seat because it’s less profitable. They also raise questions about the bureaucratic waste of large cancer charities and more and more funds being diverted to overhead and salaries.

This conversation – also covered by Miranda Holmes in these pages recently – is long overdue, and yet, I now understand why it has been so slow and difficult to foment.

I suggest we can no longer muzzle debate about cancer research and prevention with taboos designed to protect the status quo. The discussion must certainly be imbued with compassion and sensitivity to the pain of losing a loved one to this disease. But we need to be able to ask questions about the ethics of any fundraising initiative and debate the merits of different approaches to taking on cancer. Prevention, through healthy lifestyles and the restriction of environmental toxins, must play a far more prominent role in this discussion.

Moreover, Enbridge, a company whose products cause cancer, should not be able to shroud itself in a bullet-proof PR shield by linking itself with cancer research. This is a company that does not have the support of the public or First Nations in BC and threatens to destroy the things we hold dear – our rivers, salmon, coastline, communities, cultures and ways of life. As I write this, thousands of citizens are preparing to gather in our capital in one of the largest environmental demonstrations on record, to speak out against oil on BC’s coast.

The heavy-handed tactics of Enbridge and its supporters in the Harper Government have rubbed British Columbians and First Nations the wrong way for a long time now and Enbridge should not be getting any help from cancer philanthropies to repair its image.

To those who wish to ride for cancer – and I applaud them for their heartfelt commitment and sincere efforts for a noble cause – I suggest the alternative of the Ride2Survive.

To the BC Cancer Foundation, I suggest you can do better than Enbridge.


Rafe on Whom to Support in BC’s Upcoming Election


By the time this is published I’ll be away for two weeks on a neat cruise – Vancouver to Puerto Vallarta and return, no airplanes.

I’m often told, “You must be pretty well off to afford all these cruises,” but the fact is that if I had another ten or fifteen years to go I couldn’t, but not even the miracles of modern medicine can accomplish that! Therefore, our children, grandchildren and great grandchild can make their own ways in life – I had one legacy of $30,000 in my life long after I really needed it. So, to my descendants,  we are spending our savings and you’ll be lucky to get a dime each!

Normally I keep up on blogs when on vacation but this time no – I have a book to finish writing and that will be my writing for the next fortnight. I will be keeping tabs on email but only a cataclysmic event will get me answering it.

This seems to me to be a good time to ramble a bit over our website, the Common Sense Canadian and where we’re heading.

We’re two and a half years old now, having been an offshoot of the Save Our Rivers Society, Tom Rankin’s valiant effort to save rivers from destruction by Gordon Campbell and his thuggish corporate pals, which was fought well and lost. As the great football coach Vince Lombardi famously said, “Winning isn’t the main thing, it’s the only thing.”

Damien Glllis and I – a mere 48 years apart in age – worked together on the 2009 campaign and got to know each other well as we travelled the province – his videos and my tonsils working overtime. We worked well together and liked one another and were not content to accept the electoral decision and decided that the fight for our environment was too important to abandon.

The Common Sense Canadian was named in part for Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense, whose enormous impact became the bible of the American Revolution – and in part for the approach we take to environmental and resource management. We believe these aren’t matters of left and right but of right and wrong. 

Our motto comes from Churchill, when he said, “Never give in – never, never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty…Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.”

We knew that the opposition from government and industry would be considerable – and that became a challenge we couldn’t resist.

We are two in number but we have attracted some of the finest environmental writers in the province, which a quick trip to the website and contributors list will demonstrate.

We have little income and what we get goes quickly. We are not, as federal Environment Minister Joe Oliver has declaimed, “funded by offshore money”, but we do say this: we would be glad to have it, so wherever you live in this wide wide world, please help us – and we do not ask for passports!

The issue cannot be escaped – we’re in a political fight which means that, speaking bluntly, the NDP is our main hope, if not our only one.

Let me say that neither of us are “lefties” by instinct but we supported the NDP in 2009 on the Arab saying that “the enemy of my enemy is my friend”. Who else was there to support if you want to save agricultural land, ban fish farms, save rivers and BC Hydro from destruction, oppose pipelines and tanker traffic?

I know that the estimable Jane Sterk, leader of the Green Party would say that the obvious answer is them. But, unhappily, we live in a system that takes in minority parties and spits them out like caraway seeds. This is a sad political catastrophe that deprives large numbers of people of representation in the legislature.

Unfortunately, for now, it’s a fact we must live with.

Our position in the 2013 election will be to ask our readers and supporters to please vote for the candidate who is for the environment and has a reasonable prospect of victory.

It would be nice to think that we could simply vote for the man/woman but to do that means you don’t understand the system. To think, for example, that an MLA for the environment can make a scintilla of difference in a Liberal Caucus – and I have to be insulting – is dreaming in technicolor.

Are Damien and I satisfied that the NDP, if elected, will govern wisely in other areas, especially in fiscal matters?

My answer is no. But neither can we say that the Liberals have governed wisely. Starting with a billion dollar bonus to the well off, the Campbell/Clark government has lurched from one catastrophe to another, tripling the provincial debt in the bargain. BC Ferries has gone except we still finance it, BC Rail has been literally given away and BC Hydro has gone from being a cash cow to virtual bankruptcy – and we’ve yet to pay the federal government a substantial sum to let us off the hook with the HST.

The Liberals whine that they have been sideswiped by the Recession, when they could have substantially mitigated their losses by admitting they knew about the market crash and the recession that was plainly to follow.

But they have the nerve to blame outside forces, when the NDP were hit by a sudden catastrophe that no one foresaw in Asia, a catastrophe that virtually crippled our forest industry and the Liberal Opposition cut them no slack whatsoever. Evidently, they hadn’t anticipatedthe market crash and subsequent recession.

I suppose I can go this far – you can repair fiscal messes but once your environment is destroyed it’s gone forever.

For Damien and me, the issue of our environment transcends all other concerns and we will be urging voters to share those convictions when they cast their votes.


Harper Govt. Delays Chinese Nexen Takeover Decision by a Month


Read this story from CBC.ca on the federal government’s announcement today that it is postponing its decision under the Investment Canada Act as to whether to permit the purchase of Canadian oil and gas company Nexen by Chinese state-owned CNOOC. (Oct. 11, 2012)

Industry Minister Christian Paradis has extended the federal government’s review of China National Offshore Oil Corp.’s proposed takeover of Nexen Inc. under the Investment Canada Act by 30 days.

CNOOC, one of three Chinese oil companies controlled by the Chinese government, is trying to buy Calgary-based Nexen in a $15-billion takeover.

Shareholders have already signed off on the deal, but any deal worth more than $331 million to take over a Canadian company requires regulatory approval from the Canadian government.

“Extensions to the review period are not unusual,” Paradis said. “In general terms, the Act provides an initial 45 days for the review, which can be extended for an additional 30 days.”

“The review period may be extended again, with the consent of the investor. A decision can be made at any time within this period,” he said.

Under the terms of the act, the transaction must be assessed on six factors, including whether or not it is of “net benefit” to Canada. That clause was most recently invoked with BHP Billiton’s $40 billion offer to buy PotashCorp. in 2010, which Ottawa nixed.

The proposed Nexen takeover has sparked concern across Canada, with Prime Minister Stephen Harper having said it “raises a range of difficult policy questions.”

The NDP is opposed to the deal, citing national security and environmental concerns in urging Ottawa block the transaction.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/story/2012/10/11/ottawa-nexen-cnooc.html

Rick Mercer

XL Too Big for Food Safety – Rick Mercer Rant Nails It


The tainted meat scandal that continues to dominate Canadian news headlines has provoked harsh criticism of XL Foods – the company at the centre of the nation’s largest ever meat recall – regulator the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and the Federal Conservative Government. Yet, as humourist and political commentator Rick Mercer astutely underscores in a recent video rant (see below), the most important question the crisis raises relates to the whether it is safe for up to 40% of the country’s beef to be processed by a single plant.

The XL scandal is but the latest and most dramatic wake-up call for Canadians as to the direction successive federal and provincial governments have pushed the Canadian food system – legislating smaller, locally run farms and processors out of business in favour of monolithic, centralized corporate food producers.

In the aftermath of this tainted meat debacle, as our politicians point fingers, attempt to derive lessons and develop policy changes to help prevent this situation from repeating itself, the primary focus needs to be on addressing this overblown corporate food system run amok. We are frequently told small operators can’t safely produce and process our agricultural products, yet the system our governments have imposed on us in their place is clearly proving the opposite is true.

Check out Rick Mercer’s prescient rant on the subject below.

BC Liberal Environment Minister Terry Lake (photo: youtube screen capture)

Rafe Responds to BC Environment Minister’s Enbridge Op-ed


You should read Environment Minister Terry Lake’s op-ed piece in Friday’s Vancouver Sun. If ever you needed proof of the utter incompetence of the Campbell/Clark government this will do it.

He gives the government position re the proposed Enbridge pipeline.

Lake calls for the Joint Review Panel to “successfully complete the environment review process”.

What does that mean, Mr. Lake, when the federal government says that Enbridge will go anyway? Don’t you see that the fix is in!

Have you ever been to such a meeting, minister?

You will find an essential piece missing – namely, can the people of BC give their opinions as to whether or not they want the project in the first place?

Then you call for “World leading marine oil spill reaction, prevention and oil recovery systems for BC’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and cost of heavy oil pipelines and shipments”.

Who writes this crap? The ever-active PR department of Enbridge?

Don’t you understand that spills are inevitable and likely in areas too remote for any machinery to get in? And that there’s very little they can do about it anyway, as demonstrated by Enbridge’s 2010 spill into the Kalamazoo River?

Haven’t you looked at Enbridge’s spill record of more than one per week?

But there is a deeper question minister – don’t you understand that the consequences of spillage of bitumen, whether on land or in the ocean, are many, many times more lethal than the crude oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez?

Don’t you understand that unlike crude oil spills, the bitumen sinks like a rock? With crude oil, the technique of “rafting” corrals the spill and allows much of it to be siphoned off, but that you can’t do that with bitumen?

Don’t you get it? That we’re not talking about risks, but, by Enbridge’s own admission, certainties? Certainties with catastrophic consequences?

I hate to urge people to read the Vancouver Sun, but your article is such appalling drivel that it gives the public a unique opportunity to see the sloppy crap that is your government’s mindless and highly political response to certain destruction of our heritage – all to supply China with bitumen to refine. 

At least you have, by this column, made clear what environmentalists have been saying all along – the Clark government is unfit to govern.