BC NDP Leader Adrian Dix issued a statement Tuesday, offering an explanation and form of apology for the surprise provincial election loss he presided over recently. In the letter, published here, he accepts responsibility for the loss, acknowledging a common criticism of the campaign - levied often in these pages - that he wasn't tough enough on his Liberal opponents. "We did not do a good job prosecuting the case against the government, based on their record," Dix admits. And yet, he appears to remain committed to the "nice guy" approach that to many observers was his undoing: "I don't believe last week's results are the end of 'positive politics' in BC."
And so it begins.The spin to jettison Enbridge's proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline in favour supposedly "safer" alternatives.
This narrative will play out in two ways. The first was demonstrated by Conservative MP James Moore on CKNW's Bill Good Show earlier this week (read the full interview here). After slagging Enbridge for its poor public engagement and safety record, the MP for Port Moody-Westwood-Port Coquitlam moved onto what he presented as the superior alternative.
And I think, you asked the question, who else is there out there? I think if you look at the Kinder Morgan pipeline and the way in which they are very judiciously and responsibly engaging with British Columbia’s First Nations, the way in which they’re taking environmental challenges seriously, they way in which they’ve operated for 60 years without any spill—there’s one on land that had nothing to do with Kinder Morgan, but had to do with contractors who were tearing up the streets in Burnaby. There’s a difference, I think, night and day between a company that gets public engagement, Aboriginal engagement, environmental stewardship and Enbridge, which I think their track record is not one that I think any other company should follow if they want to do business in BC.
Bear a few things in mind when you read these extraordinary statements by Mr. Moore. First, Moore, the Federal Heritage Minister, is a rising young star in the Consetvative Party - particularly in BC.
Second, nobody but nobody in Stephen Harper's button-down caucus opens his mouth - especially about something so key to the Prime Minister's agenda, not to mention such a hot button issue - without having first received explicit directions to do so from the very highest echelon. What this clearly means is that Moore has been tapped to do Harper's Enbridge damage control in BC - and the choice of the Bill Good Show to debut this new framing was as calculated as a Catholic Sunday Mass.
The second alternative to the Northern Gateway Pipeline to Kitimat is one that will only work if Enbridge's reputation is deemed salvageable - and let's face it, at a spill a week, that's looking increasingly doubtful. Neverheless, there may well yet be a move to reroute the Kitimat line to Prince Rupert, dumping the perilous planned port at the end of Douglas Channel in favour of a safer harbour just up the coast.
In many ways, Rupert is the more sensible choice, although the pipeline route itself is potentially riskier in this case, transiting several hundred km down the Skeena Valley - a vital salmon artery, rife with geological instability. It is for this reason the Prince Rupert option lost out to Kitimat back in 2005 when both were still on the table.
No matter the comparative safety of the Port of Prince Rupert, many other concerns about the pipeline, the Tar Sands it would carry and whose expansion it would facilitate, and the dangers of a spill in BC's rugged coastal waters - particularly in Dixon Entrance and Hecate Strait, which the tankers from Prince Rupert would still transit - remain unchanged in this scenario.
Moreover, Enbridge's credibility remains a major obstacle no matter what. The choice could be made to switch to a different pipeline company altogether, such as TransCanada or Kinder Morgan (the company from whom Kinder bought the Trans Mountain Pipeline, Terasen, had a rival bid to build a pipeline to Rupert in the early 2000s)...but I wouldn't bet on the Prince Rupert option, for all of the above reasons.
Rather, as James Moore predictably indicated, the twinned Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain Pipeline to Vancouver would seem to be the alternative the powers that be will most likely glom onto to salvage their dreams of expanding the Alberta Tar Sands and accessing new Asian markets.
It is for that reason Mr. Moore needs a refresher on Kinder Morgan, the Texas-based energy giant that has indicated it wants to boost its bitumen pipeline capacity through BC from 300,000 barrels a day to 850,000, meaning a five-fold increase in tanker traffic through Burrard Inlet, the Gulf Islands and Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Moore was wrong on everything he told Bill Good about Kinder Morgan's track record.
First, to his claim of good aboriginal engagement on the part of the company, just ask the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation, in whose territory the pipeline terminus lies and the tankers would transit. They came out last month, along with their neighbours the Squamish First Nation, to sign the "Save the Fraser Declaration", joining over 60 BC First nations who've already declared their opposition to oil pipelines and tankers through BC.
The Musqueam First Nation of Vancouver, who also have a big say in the company's plans, had already signed onto the declaration.
The Tsleil-Waututh have voiced their concern about the lack of consultation they've recieved on this matter from the BC Liberal Government and stated in April after the company made its plans official, “We want to make it crystal clear that we will oppose any and all increased oil tanker traffic in the Inlet and we oppose the notion of Kinder Morgan turning Vancouver into an oil port city.”
To Moore's point that Kinder Morgan wasn't to blame for the rupturing of its line in Burnaby in 2007, he must not be aware that the company plead guilty in 2011 in provincial court for the spill. The court heard that the pipeline's owner should have done a better job of monitoring work near the line that tore into it, as this Global TV report shows.
Moreover, with drastically increased bitumen flow and tanker traffic - up to nearly 400 a year from the company's port in Burnaby, if it gets its way - comes vastly increased risk; or, as my colleague Rafe Mair and many others remind us, certain calamities. And with such a disaster in the waters of Vancouver or the Salish Sea come enormous consequences, both environmental and economic, as Rex Weyler has illustrated in these pages.
Kinder Morgan may not have faced the same scale of public opposition to its plans as Enbridge has seen - but that's only because it just made its plans official a few months ago. Campaigns are already developing to target the Texas company (full disclosure: I'm part of one of them) and with the likes of Moore shaping this new narrative - dumping Enbridge for a supposedly "safer" Trans Mountain option to Vancouver - the spotlight will increasingly be on Kinder Morgan.
Either Mr. Moore is deliberately deceiving the public about Kinder Morgan's track record or he's simply ignorant of it - and being from Vancouver, frankly, he should know better.
I recently attended the one-day hearing for the Joint Review Panel into the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline in the small community of Shearwater - the umpteenth meeting of this sort I've documented over the past 6 years covering environmental politics in BC. At the end of the meeting, throughout which I recorded the continued disrespect of the public and Heiltsuk First Nations people - in whose traditional territory the meeting took place - by the National Energy Board panel running the show, I was assaulted by panel staff. But we'll get to that in a moment.
Listen to exclusive audio from the July 27 Enbridge hearing and Damien's interview with Rae Kornberger of CHLY 101.7 FM in Nanaimo on the Bella Bella and Shearwater hearings:
First, a little background. The July 27 meeting was a make-up for the lost day of hearings in nearby Bella Bella this past April, which I also documented thoroughly in these pages and through the national mainstream media. I was, in fact, essentially the only media in attendance at that hearing. I helped, along with a small team of terrific people from the Heiltsuk Nation, to correct the record when the panel attempted to cancel the whole week of scheduled testimony over bogus insinuations that a peaceful greeting at the airport, largely by schoolchildren, First Nations chiefs and elders in regalia, turned violent.
Representatives of the panel implied the group was an unruly mob that threatened the very safety of the panel. As our footage clearly displayed on everything from CBC'sThe Nationalto Global TV and CTV, the reality was nothing of the sort.
The RCMP, who were supervising the whole thing, later put out a statement affirming it was indeed a "peaceful demonstration and there were no incidents to report." Yet within a few hours of Sunday's greeting at the airport, the panel had sent an email to the band's chief, Marilyn Slett, informing her they were cancelling the week's hearings.
By Monday afternoon, however, following a barrage of provincial and national media stories which scoffed at the panel's story, the hearings were back on. No apology, of course, and the story had changed - now it was simply a matter of "logistical difficulties", a bold-faced lie given the email they sent to the chief, which stated:
The panel cannot be in a situation where it is unsure whether the crowd will be peaceful...Based on our experiences this afternoon, the panel is concerned that a meaningful hearing cannot be achieved.
The Heiltsuk went on to acquit themselves brilliantly at the reinstated hearings, in spite of the atmosphere of disrespect they were forced to operate within in their own territory - producing speech after speech of powerful material for the panel to consider, such as the testimony of young William Housty or this compilation of statements.
That brings us to July 27 - a day of testimony to make up for the lost hearings the last time around. Only, this meeting was held in the largely non-aboriginal community of Shearwater, across the water from Bella Bella, in a hall not nearly big enough to accommodate the community that wished to attend. Nor was it easy for media to reach - only myself, Kai Nagata of The Tyee, and perhaps one print journalist managed to make it.
None of this was surprising, based on my experiences with the panel to date, nor was their lack of contrition for their appalling behaviour in April, or their continued rudeness and adherence to invented, stifling protocols.
At one point, panel member Kenneth Bateman cut off Ingmar Lee of Shearwater, mid-testimony, issuing the following lecture:
This is not an opportunity to provide a personal political statement or to make disparaging remarks of any party. We want this to be respectful of all parties. It also needs to relate directly to the project and not to Canadian affairs at broad...I will stop you if you continue in the vein that you have because it is not consistent with the respectful approach that we have taken and have require from all parties.
Listen to the back-and-forth between presenter Ingmar Lee and panel member Kenneth Bateman:
Just how respectfully does this bunch conduct itself? At meeting's conclusion, the panelists leapt from their seats and darted out the back door. When I pursued them with my camera to capture their escape, I was immediately physically obstructed by two unidentified panel staff, knocking the microphone off my camera in the process. I was told by a woman who refused to identify herself to me but whom I was later informed provided "secretarial services to the panel" that I had "crossed the line" - evidently an invisible one somewhere near the front of the room, of which I was never informed.
We can argue about who crossed what line.
I chose not to take any action, even though the incident occurred in full view of the audience and a local citizen journalist with another camera and despite the platoon of police officers stationed outside the venue - I have more important things to focus my energies on. I did, however, take the opportunity to speak to the panel's facilitator, Ruth Mills, telling her that in all my years of documenting these sorts of processes, this panel has conducted itself with less class than any I've witnessed.
Yet in spite of the obvious futility of the process, I've had the great privilege to witness and document moving testimony from British Columbians and First Nations, which has given me a whole new appreciation for this land and its people - and a much deeper understanding of the history of our province and nation. And for that, it has proven an immensely rewarding experience.
I don't think it's a stretch to say that I've documented more environmental assessment meetings, judicial inquiries, and "public" open houses relating to industrial projects throughout this province over the past five or six years than anyone - so these Enbridge hearings call to mind a number of similarly negative experiences. I will relate just a select few below.
To borrow a line from my colleague Rafe Mair, "I'd rather have a root canal without anaesthetic than attend another one of these things." But I believe someone needs to do it.
The Cohen Inquiry into Disappearing Fraser Sockeye
At the Cohen Commission last year, I, along with all other media, was forbidden from bringing a camera into the proceedings. On some days, there was one camera permitted to a gentleman working on a documentary - that being connected to a video feed in a separate media room. I was initially granted access to this room by the the Inquiry's media liaison, Carla Shore, but told I couldn't patch into the video feed because the 30-year old beta deck had been rented by the CBC and I did not have their permission to use it. I gladly offered to: A. pay for my use of the machine; B. provide my own machine; C. contact the CBC and obtain permission from them to use their equipment. None of these was acceptable to her.
Fed up with this runaround, I plugged a video recorder into the deck, thus unleashing the fury of Ms. Shore. Little did she know, the recorder for the livestream audio feed, due to technical issues, had been placed directly in front of a small speaker inside the media room which was playing the audio from the hearings. That meant the microphone would pick up any noise in the room and stream it live on the Commission's website, along with the testimony inside.
I was later told by a number of people who were listening to the livestream that they figured a riot had broken out right in the midst of the Cohen Inquiry.
Listen to Damien's run-in with media liaison Carla Shore at the Cohen Commission last September:
Having later discovered the whole thing had been inadvertently captured, Ms. Shore sheepishly apologized to me for the incident and revoked the ban she had since instated on my use of the media room.
In the end, it emerged through our conversations that the reason she was so obstructive towards me was that she'd read my editorial earlier that morning and deemed me to be too opinionated, thus disqualifying me as a journalist.
I reminded her that my publication had produced a significant amount of well-read coverage on the Cohen Inquiry, that my colleague Rafe Mair was in the Canadian Association of Broadcasters' Hall of Fame and had won every major journalistic award in the country, and that together we had likely done more to document the salmon farming industry and salmon issues in general than any media team in BC over the past decade...and yet, somehow, this one woman's arbitrary opinion as to the worthiness of my credentials impeded my ability to report on a "public" Judicial Inquiry of enormous import.
Private River Power Environmental Assessment Hearings
Rafe and I have had far too many run-ins with the "run of river" assessment people over the years to mention. Suffice it to say, the entire process has been an affront to the public interest. Not one meeting is designed to hear whether citizens want these projects, and when a speaker goes there, they are promptly ruled out of order. The companies clearly control the process, choosing the most out-of-the-way, inconvenient locations and times for the meetings.
On several occasions, this blew up in their face - such as the famous Pitt River meeting where so many people crammed into a tiny room the proponent had booked that the fire marshal had to be called and the meeting rescheduled to a much larger venue. This was again packed - this time with 1,400 people - and the day after, the project was essentially killed.
The same thing happened in the tiny town of Kaslo (pop. 1,000), where 1,100 people turned out to oppose the Glacier-Howser projects in the Kootenays. They had to take over the meeting from the proponent - who was intent on wasting everyone's time with a half-hour, glossy powerpoint - and one-by-one they delivered the message that this thing was not going to happen.
But my most heated private power run-ins involved GE's proposed Bute Inlet mega-project, particularly with the head of the Canadian Environmental Assessment team there, Ms. Kathy Eichenburger. Needless to say, Kathy and I got off to a rocky start when she insisted I not film the first round of proceedings in Powell River. I held my ground after 4 or 5 attempts by different staff to convince me to stow my camera. Rafe got in trouble once or twice too for his less-than-diplomatic language, as I recall.
Then, in Campbell River, Ms. Eichenburger continued to overlook me as a speaker, as I waited to voice my concerns about the project. In a side bar, she told me that since I'd spoken already in Powell River, I wouldn't be getting a turn tonight. I informed her that Campbell River was my hometown, that I'd traveled a whole day to be there and I was bloody well going to say my piece, even if that meant grabbing the microphone off its stand. To which she threatened she would call the police on me. To which I quoted Clint Eastwood.
Needless to say, I got my turn at the microphone and also fully documented both hearings, produced a short documentary on the project and continued to work with Rafe and many others to see it shelved, where it thankfully remains (though not certainly forevermore).
This is just a small sampling of the many colourful experiences I've had with these "public" meetings deciding the fate of our public resources.
Neither Rafe nor I are reporters; and we are only "journalists" if you accept Mike Smyth or Vaughn Palmer or Barbara Yaffe or any other editorialist as a journalist. We are in the business of expressing ourselves and the views of others, where it regards the environment and public interest in Canada, and particularly BC. We strive, above all, to get to the bottom of and speak the truth about these largely destructive projects.
In the course of our work around these meetings, we have found ourselves deeply frustrated by the process, for the above reasons. But these events are scarcely a waste of time - on the contrary, they have proven to be a focal point in the battle over our precious resources, even our very democracy. And so Rafe and I go to them - and we will not be told what to report on, how to go about it, nor how to express or not express ourselves at the microphone.
In all my days of witnessing these farcical stage-plays that masquerade as "public" hearings, The Enbridge JRP takes the cake. As I told the panel's facilitator after my run-in with her team, the harder you try to impede the public will, the ruder you are to the citizens and First Nations of this province, the more you help their cause.
Watch David Suzuki's powerhouse speech at the 7th annual Paddle for the Peace, inspiring hundreds of people from the Peace Valley and around the province who turned out to voice their opposition to the proposed Site C Dam. Said Suzuki, "The dam at Site C is being driven by the argument we need the energy to power our society, specifically for the Liquefied Natural Gas plant that's going in at Kitimat. We need this to create jobs - this is absolutely crucial. But in elevating the economy above everything else, we fail to ask the most elementary questions: What is an economy for? How much is enough? Are there no limits?...We're not asking the critical questions."
It was a record turnout and perfect conditions for the seventh annual Paddle for the Peace on July 14, 2012. Hundreds of boats and close to a thousand people in total joined in the event - co-hosted by Treaty 8 First Nations and the Peace Valley Environment Association - to show their opposition to the proposed Site C Dam, which would flood the area the boaters traveled, between the communities of Hudson's Hope and Forth St. John. See the day's highlights here, including a rousing speech from special guest Dr. David Suzuki.
The first in a series of new public service announcement videos (see below) from Tanker Free BC - a Vancouver-based organization taking on US energy giant Kinder Morgan's proposal to twin the Trans Mountain Pipeline to Burnaby - is being launched today. The one-minute video, titled "Some Risks Are Not Worth Taking", was produced through the volunteer contributions of a group of communications and film industry professionals opposed the plan to bring 400 supertankers a year filled with Tar Sands bitumen to South Coast waters.
I was privileged to be a part of the production, as one of the video's producers and a board member of Tanker Free BC.
The campaign to draw attention to tanker traffic in Vancouver has recently heated up with the release of the "Oil Spills and Vancouver’s Stanley Park" report by the Wilderness Committee and Tanker Free BC at the first in a series of local town hall meetings. This video launch complements the growing buzz surrounding this important issue.
The video asks viewers to consider the risks posed by the almost one million barrels of tar sands crude oil that would be passing Vancouver’s beaches daily if Kinder Morgan’s expansion plans are approved. Tanker Free BC Campaign Director Sven Biggs said “people all around the inlet are not only standing up to say, no, I’m not okay with that, they are ready to do something about it.”
I look forward to working with this group on future projects for Tanker Free BC; we are already working on the follow-up to this first project as we work to raise awareness about this vital issue.
The argument we hear most frequently from the Harper Government in favour of bulldozing through the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines is the major job benefits the project would carry for Canadians. But recent talk of importing foreign workers from the United States and China make a mockery of that boast.
The latest evidence to this effect - a job posting on the American website run by Veterans of Foreign Wars, which helps vets find employment - bears some claims that are so absurd as to beg the question whether it's a hoax. Some of the figures cited are highly suspect; nevertheless, on the whole, it provides telling window into an alternative narrative emerging around the Tar Sands pipelines issue. The posting reads:
The Veterans of Foreign Wars of the U.S. is proud to announce that its partly owned veterans jobs board has secured an exclusive employment initiative with Alberta, Canada, that could see thousands of U.S. veterans heading north to work on their oil pipeline.
“This is a great opportunity for veterans, transitioning military, National Guard and reservists, and their family members,” said Ted Daywalt, founder and CEO of VetJobs (www.vetjobs.com), a recognized industry leader in helping veterans find work.
“Though America’s Keystone Pipeline is delayed, the Canadians are moving forward on their side of the border and have an immediate need for tens of thousands of workers,” said Daywalt, whose website averages more than 55,000 daily job postings by employers strictly interested in hiring veterans. He said the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation anticipates a shortage of 114,000 workers in the Alberta area, and they want to hire American veterans to fill that shortage.
According to the development corporation, the positions being offered are long term, with many paying as much as 30 percent more than similar industry positions in the United States. Some positions will require a move to Canada, but many others will allow veterans to commute — working several weeks in Canada, then one week back home. (emphasis added)
The posting came my way via a BC-based environmental discussion listserv, Land Watch, and has provoked some interesting questions.
For starters - beyond the matter-of-fact assertion that "the Canadians are moving forward on their side of the border" with our highly controversial proposed pipeline projects - there's the eyebrow-raising jobs claim. Creating 114,000 jobs would essentially mean doubling the current employment of the entire Canadian oil and gas sector, and yet the ad only mentions pipeline construction jobs specifically.
Even Enbridge (whose new ad campaign touting myriad economic benefits sputtered recently over a spoof by Province cartoonist Dan Murphy that went viral) and the project's looniest boosters acknowledge the pipeline would provide a few thousand temporary jobs at best. Once it's built, BC would see only several dozen permanent jobs. A recent study by the Petroleum Human Resources Council of Canada suggests the workforce of the Alberta Tar Sands - which altogether employs just 20,000 people, constituting 15% of Canada's total oil and gas jobs - will rise by 73% by 2021, but that pales in comparison with the numbers being thrown around by Veterans of Foreign Wars.
The posting rings true on another front, though - the fact that both BC and Alberta are approaching full employment territory, putting paid to the argument we need new jobs at the expense of our environment. BC and Alberta are both seeing strong job growth today - with unemployment in BC falling by .8% from May to 6.6% in June (though some of BC's lower unemployment numbers derive from workers heading across the border to Alberta). Alberta lost a handful of jobs in June, but its unemployment rate remains at a paltry 4.6%.
We're told ad nauseum that we need to accept the certain risk of pipeline leaks and tanker spills because we badly need the jobs that come with these projects, yet the plain fact is we don't have the workforce to provide tens of thousands of new employees for Tar Sands-related development.
One line in particular stands out in the job ad, namely that "...[the] veterans jobs board has secured an exclusive employment initiative with Alberta, Canada..." Secured? With whom? The Alberta Government? The Government of Canada? Has an American company signed a deal with our government(s) to provide foreign labour to Canada, and if so, why have we heard nothing of it from our elected officials? It could be this is just exaggerated salesmanship on the part of this jobs site, but these are questions that need answering.
Another question the posting raises is why would we pay these workers 30% more in Canada than south of the border? This claim seems to conflict with the other major challenge to the jobs argument - the recent revelation that state-owned energy giant PetroChina wants to build the Enbridge pipeline. The advantage to Enbridge from this proposition is a significant discount on labour, as the Harper Government recently changed our laws to allow companies operating in Canada to pay temporary foreign workers 15% less than the average wage for Canadians. This hardly seems like the policy of a government concerned about creating oil and gas jobs for its citizens.
And again, these direct job-related concerns are on top of the certain environmental and economic calamities of pipeline leaks and tanker spills - which would also be a huge blow to BC's tourism and natural resource-dependent economy.
Perhaps a larger issue at hand is the matter of Canadian energy security and economic sovereignty.
The picture now emerging is of Chinese and American companies harvesting our bitumen, using Chinese and American labour to extract it, and building the pipelines to transport it back to their own countries to refine it (where the real jobs are), along with the profits from the whole operation. Moreover, we're only a trade deal away from it being illegal to stop exporting oil to China once we've started. We've already sacrificed much of our resource and economic sovereignty under NAFTA and the privately controlled American corporation, NERC, which we've empowered to regulate our public energy system. Now we're talking about recently retired American soldiers coming up here to build our oil infrastructure, which is more than a little unsettling.
Thus, when Stephen Harper and his minions declare the Enbridge pipelines would be good for "the economy", we must ask the key question: "Whose economy?" US veterans, Chinese migrant workers, China itself and the mostly-foreign shareholders of multinational corporations? Check.
Watch this new 6 min video from the Swedish Society of Nature Conservation, exposing in graphic detail the unsustainable methods of producing fish meal for both the Thai tiger prawn industry and Norwegian farmed salmon industry. Thai farms, which supply the majority of the world's commercially available prawns, are fed by meal made up of a wide variety of fish caught by illegal bottom-trawling throughout Asia. Meanwhile, the Norwegian open net pen farmed salmon industry derives much of its feed from unsustainable fishing off the coast of Peru.
Province newspaper cartoonist Dan Murphy went public on CBC yesterday to confirm suspicions that his publication had pulled a spoof he created last Friday, under pressure from Enbridge Inc.
The cartoon, which mocks Enbridge's new ad campaign designed to mollify concerns about its proposed twin pipelines from the Alberta Tar Sands to Kitimat, was posted on TheProvince's website Friday morning, only to be pulled several hours later.
Online magazine backofthebook.ca obtained a response from Province Editor-in-Chief Wayne Moriarty on Monday, confirming the company had pushed for the removal of the cartoon:
Wayne Moriarty, The Province‘s Editor-in-Chief, says the animation was removed at the request of Enbridge “because it contains copyrighted material.” He admits that use of the material might be protected under fair use laws, but says the newspaper chose not to pursue the matter. He points out that The Province has run editorials critical of the pipeline, and insists that the decision to pull the satire has nothing to do with the $5 million campaign, which is running in his paper and The Vancouver Sun, both of which are owned by The Pacific Newspaper Group, among many other media outlets.
But Murphy contradicted parts of Moriarty's statement on CBC Tuesday evening. The cartoonist said he was called in for a meeting with Moriarty, who told Murphy that the chief revenue and digital officer for Postmedia, The Province's parent company, was upset over the parody.
Said Murphy, "The information he gave us there was Simon Jennings was very upset over this video, that Enbridge was very upset, that Enbridge was going to pull a million dollars worth of advertising out of Postmedia newspapers if it didn't come down. And also if it didn't come down that Wayne Moriarty was going to be fired."
Murphy said Moriarty later told him, "Enbridge was mostly upset because we had taken their material and turned it into a parody."
The CBC story included reaction from Langara University journalism professor Ross Howard, who dismissed Enbridge's alleged concerns under the principle of "fair comment", noting, "When you're commenting about what that corporation is doing, what it stands for, it's the same as using their own name and putting their symbol on it. That's why they have logos and symbols."
Enbridge released a statement yesterday denying it had demanded the removal of the video or threatened to pull a portion of its $5 million ad campaign from Postmedia papers. According to company spokesperson Todd Nogier, "Enbridge Inc. did not request the Province or Post Media pull the video...Enbridge has not discontinued this campaign, nor its investments as a part of that campaign, nor did Enbridge threaten to discontinue that campaign."
And yet, the company later confirmed in a conversation with CBC that "...the company had a conversation with Postmedia and they apologized for the parody...any further conversation would be inappropriate."
Regardless of Enbridge's claims, the controversy over the cartoon has only served to increase the attention it has received. The video was promptly reposted by citizen journalists on youtube, with one posting generating over 12,000 hits as of this writing. A story The Common Sense Canadian ran yesterday on the subject was picked up by several other online publications and has generated over 1,600 "likes" on facebook in a day and close to 10,000 hits on our website. Blogger Laila Yuile has generated significant traction covering the story on her website as well, as the story has been all over the blogosphere and social media since Friday.
The fallout over Enbridge's alleged actions is indicative of the clash of old and new media. Clearly the company believes it is still operating in an old media world, wherein a company can control a story by way of advertising dollars and corporate heft. But in today's increasingly online media world, these heavy-handed tactics pose a real risk of backfiring, as they plainly have here.
As one commenter noted on the youtube page where the video has been reposted, "It's on youtube now. It's not going away."
Read this blog from the Huffington Post Canada on today's announcement from the Clark Government that it will be adding natural gas to its list of acceptable "clean" energy sources to enable proposed Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) plants in Kitimat to use natural gas to power their facilities. (June 22, 2012)
VANCOUVER - Premier Christy Clark has tweaked regulations to ensure her job creation plan that includes building three liquefied natural gas plants in northern British Columbia squares with the government's aggressive plans to cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Clark has previously acknowledged the plants — which are known energy hogs — could be at odds with the provincial Clean Energy Act, but she's relying on them to create employment.
On Thursday, Clark announced she will be redefining only natural gas that's used to power the northern LNG plants as "clean energy," while keeping the classification of all other natural gas in the province as is.
The province's Clean Energy Act already included cases in which burning natural gas could be considered clean, and so the altered regulation effectively brings the natural gas used to fuel the LNG plants in line.
"To make sure that B.C. can win in the global marketplace, while also doing our best to make sure we're protecting our environment, we'll be announcing a new regulation," she told a conference of energy sector companies in Vancouver.
Clark added the designation will only apply to power generation that meets a set of environmental emissions standards.
The Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency announced earlier this week that it is terminating the environmental assessment of the massive proposed Bute Inlet private river diversion project.
The Agency explained the decision in a short media release:
Bute Hydro Inc. had proposed to construct 17 run-of-river hydroelectric facilities in the vicinity of Bute Inlet. The project was referred to a panel review in May 2009 and the Panel appointed in the summer of 2009. In March 2011, as Bute Hydro Inc. did not intend to move forward with the environmental assessment process, the Minister of the Environment disbanded the Panel and released the Panel members from their obligations under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act.
Given that the proponent (currently Alterra Power Corp.) has indicated that it does not plan to proceed with the environmental assessment process in the near future, Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Transport Canada, and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the responsible authorities, have confirmed that they will not exercise a power or perform a duty or function in relation to the project.
The proponent may apply to commence a new environmental assessment process if and when it determines that it wants to proceed with the project proposal.
The news is somewhat surprising, given the announcement by proponent Alterra Power earlier this month that it has signed a deal with the local Sliammon First Nation to build transmission lines for the project through its traditional territory.
It is not clear whether the withdrawal of the project from the environmental process is connected to a recent announcement by the Harper Government to eliminate thousands of environmental assessments and to "streamline" the assessment process via changes enacted through the government's omnibus budget bill.
As the above statement from the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency notes, "the proponent may apply to commence a new environmental assessment process if and when it determines that it wants to proceed with the project proposal."
The Bute project proposal has lingered at the environmental assessment stage for 3 years, held up in part due questions about impacts on fish - concerns which are heightened in light of the above new evidence of fish kills from similar projects.
Given the size of the anticipated purchase contract the project would require - more than double Hydro's current plan to purchase an additional 2,000 Gigawatt hours a year of private power - and the NDP's repeated vow to put a moratorium on new projects, it is difficult to conceive how the project could be revived at this stage, even if the Harper Government were to waive its environmental assessment requirements.
With human population exploding and demand for resources fast outstripping supply, Dr. Bill Rees, founder of the "eco-footprint" concept, calls for "a new cultural narrative that shifts the values of society from growth (getting bigger) to development (getting better) - from competitive individualism, greed and narrow self-interest toward community, cooperation and our collective interests in repairing the earth for survival."
What do ExxonMobil, Enbridge, Suncor, CP Rail and a Michigan Utility have in common? They've all spilled oil within the past week. This latest round of disasters should give Canadian and US lawmakers pause as they contemplate new pipelines.
An all candidates dialogue on April 3 at the Rio Theatre in Vancouver - featuring representatives from four different political parties and one independent candidate vying for office in the May 14 provincial election - will focus on solutions to climate change.
Anyone who has been following the sorry saga of inexplicable diseases and unusual mortality in BC's wild salmon will not be surprised that the information in Twyla Roscovich's documentary, Salmon Confidential, links the source of this trouble to the salmon farming industry. The surprise, however, is the impact of such information when its complexity is condensed to an intense 70 minutes.
Shell Oil, the first energy company granted coveted Arctic drilling permits by the US Government, is shutting down operations for all of 2013, nearly as quickly as they began. Shell's hand is being forced by the Interior Department, following a scathing report which castigated the company for a series of misadventures in 2012 and early 2013.
A 2-minute video produced by Coastal First Nations - a group representing nine different aboriginal communities on BC's north and central coast - is underscored by the famous Simon and Garfunkel song, "The Sound of Silence." The video, which harkens back to the Exxon Valdez oil spill in nearby Alaskan waters, was released around the 24th anniversary of that disaster, in order to voice opposition to the new threat from proposed tanker traffic on BC's coast.
"Cortes is not just a bunch of crazy tree-huggers...We want to log our lands. We want a community forest," one of the subjects of the forthcoming documentary film Heartwood tells Vancouver-based director Daniel Pierce. The film explores the conflict over logging practices on a remote island on BC's south coast, which encapsulates a larger debate currently shaping the future of forestry in the province.
The BC NDP may finally coming to their senses on Site C Dam. On the heels of the release of new documents from BC Hydro in recent weeks, the Official Opposition is calling into question the crown corporation's proposed 1,100 Megawatt hydropower project. And so it should...With BC Hydro in virtual bankruptcy, skyrocketing hydro bills for consumers and businesses, a massive and escalating provincial debt and $80 Billion in additional contractual obligations for which taxpayers are on the hook, pushing ahead with Site C would be the height of fiscal recklessness for BC.
Damien Gillis hosts a google web video chat discussing how indigenous and non-indigenous peoples can work together through the growing Idle No More movement to address historical injustices and build a sustainable energy future. Featuring Squamish and Nisga'a First Nations member and protocol specialist Amanda Nahanee and Ben West, Tar Sands campaigner for ForestEthics.
On January 2, 2013, hundreds of First Nations and non-indigenous people converged on Vancouver's Waterfront Station for the latest Idle No More rally. The beating of drums and singing of traditional songs signaled this crowd's solidarity with the movement that is building across the country and beyond its borders.
Watch this presentation by Damien Gillis, co-director of Fractured Land - a documentary in production which examines the industrialization of northern Canada through the eyes of a young indigenous man named Caleb Behn - at the Vancouver International Mountain Film Festival.
On Oct 30, the Board of Change hosted a debate in Vancouver on American energy pipeline giant Kinder Morgan's plans to turn Vancouver into a shipping port to access new foreign markets with Alberta Tar Sands bitumen. Hear both sides of the story as representatives of Kinder Morgan and the shipping industry square off against an environmental activist, lawyer and filmmaker over the future of the world's "Greenest City", the province of BC and the planet.
Video from the press conference on the release of the final report from the Cohen Commission into disappearing sockeye. Justice Bruce Cohen highlighted several key recommendations to protect wild salmon from open net pen aquaculture operations, including: removing the promotion of aquaculture from DFO's mandate, prioritizing the health of wild salmon over suitability for aquaculture when siting farms, and even removing some farms if more research into diseases shows they cannot safely coexist with wild fish.
Watch this powerhouse speech from Dave Coles, president of the Communications, Energy and Paperworkers Union at the Defend Our Coast rally in Victoria explaining why his members are "diametrically opposed" to Tar Sands pipelines to BC's coast.
The Wilderness Committee, Canada's largest member-based environmental organization, honoured hall of fame broadcaster and co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian Rafe Mair with its annual Eugene Rogers Award for outstanding contribution to environmental protection in BC at its AGM this past weekend.
In Part 2 of Rafe Mair's July 2012 interview of economist Erik Andersen, the two cover the plan to build Liquefied Natural Gas plants on BC's west coast - to sell natural gas to Asia - and the proposed Site C Dam. Andersen raises real concerns about investing in new dams and electrical infrastructure to supply industries like mines and LNG.
Part 1 of Rafe Mair's July 2012 interview with economist Andersen, delving deep into BC's troubled energy situation, including Hydro's broken forecasting model, rip-off private power projects, and massive debt and Enron-style accounting practices at our public utility - all driven by the shadowy private American corporation to which we've unwittingly handed over our energy sovereignty.