Rafe Mair was a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. Since 1981 he has been a radio talk show host, and is recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists.
After more than a week of some ailment where solid foods were a problem (not liquids, however) I should be at my rest, book in hand to help me snooze…but I find myself so goddam angry I’m here spouting venom.
I’ve just read our economist Erik Andersen’s blog in the Common Sense Canadian and can’t believe my eyes…please take the time to read this blog.
The story is simple – which is what makes it so hard to understand. In short, under BC’s Vladimir Putin, Cop Supreme Rich Coleman, this government is about to ruin several more BC rivers to get more private power. Puzzle this one for a moment. As we sit and digest this, BC Hydro is spilling water over its dams while buying private power at egregiously inflated sums under deals this rotten government has forced upon them! And there will be more!
More of our rivers shattered by bulldozers so uncaring corporations can provide BC Hydro with power they don’t need any time but are now buying at hugely inflated prices while they piss away their power over the top of their dams!
The reason for this ongoing insanity is clearly that the Liberal Government just doesn’t know how it can get unstuck from the tar baby Bre’r Rabbit Gordon Campbell left them stuck to. The chickens have come home to roost – the companies given these sweetheart deals are producing power which BC Hydro is forced to buy at a huge premium even though its own reservoirs are full to brimming.
Coleman sees the only way is to brazen it through, scattering wildly inaccurate power needs as he goes.
Why has Premier Clark said nothing? She was around at the beginning of these Independent Power Project (IPP) approvals – why has she not said “enough” and put a stop to the program?
I’m afraid it’s emerging that she simply is not too bright. Her handlers knew, for example, that the Tar Sands would be high on the agenda at the Western Premier’s Conference, that Clark would be forced to deal with it and just couldn’t handle it, so they conjured up a cock and bull story about her being needed in the Legislature.
The insiders know that Premier Clark is no good on issues – she simply cannot understand them well enough to deal with them so she must be confined to what she does best: warm fuzzy issues like Family Day holidays and photo-ops. Coleman is now running the show.
The IPP issue is not complicated. IPPs have contracts to make private power, destroying the river and its ecology, and BC Hydro, under the sweetheart deal, must buy that power at a hugely inflated cost, even though they don’t need it. The only complicated part is the obvious question: why would any sane government get into this sort of sweetheart deal? This is followed by another obvious question: how the hell do we get out of this mess?
I have a partial answer to that – Adrian Dix makes it clear that no more of these licenses will be granted and all of the present deals will be put to the “smell test”. To those who cry “sanctity of contract”, I pose this in reply: suppose a mayor was elected to clean-up city hall – do you suppose he’d honour the sweetheart long-term and viciously inflated contracts that the previous mayor made with his brother-in-law and other cronies?
Briefly, on another matter we’ll be addressing comes the brilliant blog by Captain Edward Wray in the Sunday Province which I emailed out and put up on Facebook.
Capt Wray smells a “bait and switch”. The federal and provincial governments will, at the right moment, admit that Kitimat is the wrong port and Douglas Channel the wrong channel and will announce that the new port will be Prince Rupert. Having done that, they will authorize the Enbridge pipeline to the latter port and, like Little Jack Horner, say, “Oh, what a good boy am I.”
It’s reminiscent of what the late Robert Strachan said about W.A.C. Bennett: “He puts a stone in your shoe and just when it becomes unbearable, takes it out and you’re so grateful, you forget how it got there in the first place!”
More on that in the days to come.
The refusal of Premier Clark to represent BC at the annual Western Premiers' Conference is a disgrace!
This is a very important conference. It allows Premiers to discuss many important issues. No doubt the Enbridge and Kinder Morgan pipelines and resultant tanker traffic will be on the agenda and Clark hasn’t the guts to deal with this. This means that when Alberta Premier Alison Redford, who favours the pipelines and tankers, raises this issue, whether on or off the record, there will be no premier of BC to put our views on the table.
It wasn’t until Bill Bennett, in 1976, pressed the matter that BC was even part of this process. I went to all five conferences when I was in cabinet and was made chair of a special WPC committee to assess federal intrusion into provincial constitutional rights which became very important during the later run-up to patriating the Constitution. This is but one example of many where the conference becomes a political power in the country.
Premier Clark has obviously concluded that notwithstanding the photo-ops this conference would provide, the prospect of making an ass of herself is more important.
All British Columbians have been shamed by this bad excuse for a Premier.
This short blog is a result of a call from John Fraser.
This from the CBC, a news story across the land this week:
Four former federal fisheries ministers are questioning the government's motives behind the inclusion of environmental protection changes to the Fisheries Act in the Budget Implementation Act."
Mulroney-era Conservatives Tom Siddon and John Fraser, and Liberals Herb Dhaliwal and David Anderson, who both served under Jean Chretien, say in an open letter they don't believe federal ministers have given plausible explanations for why so much environmental legislation has been included in a money bill.
Former fisheries ministers have sent an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, questioning his government's decision to include major changes to the Fisheries Act in the omnibus budget bill. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)
"Quite frankly, Canadians are entitled to know whether these changes were written, or insisted upon, by the minister of fisheries or by interest groups outside the government. If the latter is true, exactly who are they?" ask the four in an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
I find it interesting that Siddon has found religion, considering that when he was minister, the Kemano Completion Plan was authorized - a project that would have seen two major sockeye runs imperilled. I wonder if he’s now prepared to apologize to me and pay the insurer back over the conflict regarding my coverage of the issue at CKNW?
The fact that all four former federal fisheries ministers have taken a strong position on an omnibus bill that will not imperil but most surely devastate fisheries, fresh and salt water, across the land, should be taken seriously by the Prime Minister and his loyal lickspittles.
The two important voices are those of John Fraser and David Anderson, both lifetime environmentalists who had, while in cabinet, the clout to protect fish and unhesitatingly risked their portfolios - something the present minister, Keith Ashfield, hasn’t the guts to do.
It’s not easy laying your ministry on the line, I can tell you from experience – but if you won’t, what the hell are you there for?
An omnibus bill is as it sounds – one bill to cover various areas of legislation. It’s traditional role has been one of housekeeping – fixing bad grammar, bad draughtsmanship and that sort of thing. Recent governments have taken it as vehicle where several unrelated, politically touchy areas are put into one bill to restrict the Opposition’s ability to oppose the individual issues.
It is a mark of an arrogant government that cares not for the spirit of parliamentary democracy and couldn’t care less for any who are not their supporters or, in Ashfield’s case, flunkies.
Scarcely a minor matter, the stripping away of protection of fish habitat is the death knell for an already badly wounded animal. The reason for it is to satisfy developers who traditionally pay big money into party bank accounts – I wonder if Tom Siddon is saying this now, since my saying it brought a lawsuit from him.
Canadians across the country must understand what this means and unite their voices against the Harper Herd no matter what their personal politics. This appallingly arrogant Prime Minister must be stopped before our Pacific salmon becomes a curiosity found only in occasional rivers to satisfy rich fishermen, as has become the case in Europe.
When John Fraser and David Anderson speak out on the subject of fisheries in this country they should be listened to.
Yesterday morning, listening to Suzanne Anton, one of my co-panellists on Rick Cluff’s Early Edition political panel, avoid the issue of BC Hydro rates rising because of the scandalous sums they are forced to pay private power companies - and government avoidance of the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) - fill the airwaves with hot air and non sequiturs, I called her an inkfish and was asked through emails to say what this meant.
Well, the inkfish is a species of octopus that has an ink sac, which can be used to expel a cloud of dark ink to confuse predators.
I was not, of course, saying that Ms. Anton’s verbal flatulence was literally an emission of dark ink but that the techniques are the same and clouding of the issues the same result.
The issues are not complicated:
- The Campbell/Clark government has forced, and continues to force BC Hydro to buy power from Independent Power Producers (IPPS) on a “take or pay” basis, meaning Hydro is spilling its reservoirs over their dams and paying several times the market value to IPPs. Literally, Hydro is spilling your Hydro rates over the dam in order to meet the “sweetheart” deals the Campbell/Clark government has forced them to sign.
- This has forced Hydro to incur huge debts that will be paid for by the only way they can be paid – by us as ratepayers or taxpayers, or both.
- Some three years ago, the BCUC determined these IPP deals were not in the interests of British Columbians. BCUC was, for its candour, stripped of its power to review BC Hydro rate increases unless directly asked by the government to do so.
- Scheduled BCUC hearings into Hydro’s proposed rate increases in consequence of these IPPs have been cancelled by Minister Rich Coleman, thus public scrutiny of this scandal won’t happen.
- The Minister and the Cabinet have rejected BC Hydro’s proposed 30% rate increase over 3 years and cut it to 17%. This is a purely political decision which is supposed to make us feel warm and fuzzy about Premier Clark.
- The fact is that BC Hydro’s proposed 30% hike would not, by a long shot, cover their escalating IPP-induced deficits. It is also a fact that you and I will cover these deficits either through increased rates or taxes, or both.
- BC Hydro has also set up special deferral accounts. As CTV reported, “the amount of debt that BC Hydro has deferred' into special accounts is expected to more than double to $4.5 billion in the next two years, the province has acknowledged.” Madam Inkfish would have us believe that this amount represents deferred capital expenditures, but this simply is not so and the Auditor-General has stated that this policy must end.
These deferred accounts are, for the most part, taking Hydro’s losses due to the IPP sweetheart deals, making them into a special account which they then say - because ratepayers now owe this money to BC Hydro - is now a Hydro asset! (By all means, read that again!!! Monty Python lives!)
Marjorie Griffin Cohen, a professor of political economy at Simon Fraser University, told CTV News that the BC Government is to blame for rising hydro costs because of a number of political directives it has handed down during the last decade.
Professor Griffin Cohen said, "The government has required BC Hydro to buy very expensive private electricity at a time when it basically doesn't need it. It has also introduced the smart meter program, which is very expensive." (Emphasis added)
Here we have it, once the ink has dissipated. Where BC Hydro once put hundreds of millions of dollars into the Provincial Treasury as a dividend for us the citizens, we are now on the hook for a minimum $4.5 Billion over the next two years by the government’s own admission - this increase being largely the Campbell/Clark “sweetheart” deals with corporate pals.
When Premier Clark and Minister Coleman say they are reducing BC Hydro’s proposed rate increase from 30% to 17%, that is a contemptible distortion of the truth. The fact is that BC Hydro’s deficits are our deficits and whether we pay them off by rate increases or tax increases is a purely political calculation. To say they cut Hydro’s demands is an election ploy which, even for this bunch, is remarkable dissembling.
Why is our healthcare, education funding and the like strapped for cash?
Ask Madam Inkfish and her clients that question.
Well, well – if I had false teeth I would have swallowed them on Monday morning when I saw, on the op-ed page of the Vancouver Sun, an article by Gwen Barlee on sustainability. Here was the page dominated by the Fraser Institute’s own - Fazil Milhar - doing something on the environment that wasn’t an industry screed.
Ms. Barlee is the Policy Director of the Wilderness Committee and a bright, articulate woman who writes very well as you will see if you take a moment and read it in the paper or online. This is an excellent and balanced column as those who know Gwen would expect.
It raises this question. Gwen, because of tax implications for the Wilderness Committee, must be careful of getting into party politics. This rule concerns all advocacy groups who must maintain an even hand politically or lose their tax exempt status. That being said one wonders how the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation get away with their partisanship.
But let’s turn that question over to Mr. Milhar. Assuming that the Fraser Institute and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation are not partisan (you may take 30 seconds off for laughing here) why do they get constant access to the op-ed page of the Sun and the Wilderness Committee do not?
Let’s expand that question – recently you’ve had two large legal firms shilling, in the first case for the great impartiality of government Environmental Assessment procedures, and the other on the benefits of the Tory Omnibus Bill that will remove habitat protection; the Omnibus Bill lumps this in with several other initiatives thus all but eliminating any serious debate on the part that eliminates habitat protection rules for large developers.
Over the years, you have given Mary Ellen Walling, shill for the BC Salmon Farmers Association, space any time she has demanded it.
Now then, Mr. Mihlar, how many times have you given op-ed space to Alexandra Morton who, since 1992, has fought against fish farms? Or to Dr. Daniel Pauly of UBC, a world wide name in science who has consistently opposed fish farms. Or to any other opponents of fish farms? Please give us the number.
How many times have you given space to those fighting private power that now has BC Hydro spilling $150 million dollars over the dam because they are forced, by the Campbell/Clark government to buy the power from private companies? I have tried to get an op-ed piece (and I am a professional writer) but you never even answer my letters. Why have you never given space to Erik Andersen, an economist. Or to John Calvert, whose book Liquid Gold tells the entire story. Please provide me, for passing on to others, the times and places you gave op-ed space to anyone opposing the private rivers scheme which has, essentially, driven BC Hydro into bankruptcy - only formally not so because they can visit their losses on to the public through higher rates or government subsidies, or both.
Let’s move on to pipelines and tanker traffic. John Brajcich, a lifelong commercial fisher (as was his father and is his son) can be found on The Common Sense Canadian - his letter tells what will happen with oil tankers full of bitumen going out of Kitimat down Douglas Inlet. How about Rex Weyler? What about Andrew Nikiforuk, whose book Tar Sands gives the full details about the Tar Sands and the consequences of them being piped ands shipped.
Have you permitted any op-ed pieces on the record of Enbridge, who propose the Northern Gateway Pipeline? They have had at least 811 spills since 1998 including one into the Kalamazoo River in Michigan, in July 2010, called a minor spill by the company, which spill has yet to be cleaned up, despite millions being spent, because one cannot clean up bitumen spills.
I challenge you, Fraser Institute Fellow Fazil Mihlar, who has long been in charge of the op-ed page of the Vancouver Sun, to tell me of any op-ed pages offered to environmental groups opposed to fish farms, private power or pipelines and tankers.
Rich Coleman, who learned about democracy as a cop, has taken away from the BC Utilities Commission the right to review proposed Hydro rates and promises that the government will keep rates down for consumers.
THE ONLY WAY HE CAN REDUCE RATES IS BY SUBSIDIZING BC HYDRO WITH YOUR TAX DOLLARS!
That’s right, folks. Instead of putting several hundreds of millions into the public treasury each year, BC Hydro must cover its losses, taking mandatory private power by financial donations from us, the citizens of BC.
This is not rocket science, folks. As we speak, BC Hydro is spilling millions of dollars over its dams because it is obliged by the Campbell/Clark government to buy power it doesn’t need from private companies at 2+ times the market price. It has been reported that this is costing BCH $150,000,000 this year - it will be much more in the coming years.
The reason Coleman, who since Campbell left has taken over as Pinocchio, wants BCUC out of the setting of rates is because they would look closely at this private power public theft and Coleman can’t allow this to happen.
A COUPLE OF YEARS AGO, THE BCUC DETERMINED THE PRIVATE POWER CONTRACTS WERE NOT IN THE PUBLIC INTEREST - AND THAT’S WHAT THIS DECISION IS ALL ABOUT.
Lastly, today, I want you to know what you can expect from the Common Sense Canadian re: First Nations' fight against pipelines and tanker traffic on unceded lands and waters.
We support the position of these First Nations but we would never presume to interfere in any way with their pursuit of these claims – if for no other reason than they clearly don’t need us to tell them how to proceed.
On the other hand, First Nations are also protesting against pipelines and tankers because of the certainty of enormous damage to the province we all share and in that we have a common cause and on that aspect of the issue, First Nations can expect our whole-hearted and active support.
I urge you to read again Rex Weyler’s blog on the Common Sense Canadian on the consequences of a bitumen spill in Vancouver Harbour. And “consequences” should very much on our minds, front and centre.
We are talking three pipelines and two tanker routes.
For the Northern Gateway project we have two pipelines. The reason is that bitumen, the Tar Sands gunk, is too thick to transfer and must have what they call “condensate” mixed in to move it. This natural gas addition does nothing to reduce the damage if there’s a leak or a rupture. Thus Enbridge takes the mixture, known as diluted bitumen (Dilbit), to Kitimat while pumping “condensate” imported by tanker to the Tar Sands by a second pipeline. This highly toxic Dilbit substance will move in huge tankers down what is probably the most dangerous coastline in the world.
The other pipeline is the old Trans Mountain pipeline now used by Kinder Morgan company (a clone of the disgraced Enron) and, if their latest application is accepted, will be twinning that line, thereby increasing their shipping capacity from current levels of 300,000 barrels a day to 850,000 barrels a day, with a tanker a day going through the treacherous Second Narrows.
It is not my intention here to discuss the risks involved in these three pipelines and two tanker routes – there is no need to because ruptures and spills are a lead pipe certainty. The only issue is clean-up.
Anthony Swift writes for Switchboard, which is the staff blog of the Natural Resources Defense Council, the US’s most effective environmental group. Here’s what he has to say on clean-up:
Raw tar sands bitumen is nearly solid at room temperature and must be diluted with toxic natural gas liquids to create the thick sludge that travels in high pressure pipelines. This sludge is between fifty and seventy times as thick as conventional crude oil. When spilled, the light natural gas liquid in the tar sands vaporizes, creating a toxic flammable gas that poses a health hazard to emergency responders and nearby landowners. The bitumen, which is heavier than water, sinks into rivers and mixes with sediments. Bitumen contains significantly more heavy metals than conventional crudes and does not biodegrade. (emphasis mine)
This is an oversimplification but this may help – with ordinary crude, a process called “rafting” is used, whereby the spilled crude oil is pushed into a smaller area then removed. Even then, as the Exxon Valdez demonstrated, only a relatively small proportion of the spill can be cleaned up. Unfortunately bitumen sinks, so rafting is of no use.
It’s like a clear cut without reforestation. It’s death.
The bottom line is this: spills or ruptures are certain and the damage immense and all but impossible to clean up.
This is what Prime Minister Harper wants to have approved quickly and his poodle, Premier Clark, because she needs Harper’s generosity over the HST mess.
We simply cannot let these catastrophes happen to us.
This is neither a complicated nor a long story – but it’s a tragic vindication for a hell of a lot of people who have been telling the story, ignored at best, more often vilified.
Look at page 1 of the story in the Vancouver Sun, May 11 under the heading "HYDRO AWASH IN PRIVATE POWER", where you’ll see that BC Hydro is spilling water over its dams and missing a chance to make a huge profit and is, instead, sustaining a crippling loss all by reason of corrupt bargains it’s been forced to make with private companies.
Ask yourself how Hydro could lose money in one of the wettest years in history, when their reservoirs are chock-a-block full?
It’s because of the gross negligence of the Campbell/Clark government – supported by the mainstream media (which has refused to do its job and investigate the private power plan – a plan which compels Hydro to buy private power at double+ the market price.)
Yes, folks, the chickens I’ve been writing about for years have indeed come home to roost – BC Hydro is buying private power while spilling its own water over the dams. Your power company, instead of using the water in its reservoirs to make power for British Columbians, lets it spill away, unused, while it pours money into grasping private hands at immense profits to them and immense losses to us.
Moreover, BC Hydro – such is the surplus of power in the US – could be buying Bonneville Dam power for a song and flipping it into a neat profit.
The exposure of the evils of the so-called “run of river” scheme was first published by Dr. John Calvert in his book, Liquid Gold, which exposure has been re-emphasized by too many power experts to mention – though one must point out the work of our resident economist Erik Andersen, who has been putting the price of these corporate rip-offs in language we can all understand.
We at the Common Sense Canadian have had super back-up from our contributors. It’s dangerous to list some for fear of offending others but as the official spokesperson for the Common Sense Canadian I must give special thanks to John Calvert, Marvin Rosenau, Larry Dill, Joe Foy, Otto Langer, Rex Weyler and so many others who weren’t afraid to stick their heads above the parapet.
Do Damien and I feel vindicated?
You're damned right we do, though it leaves a very bitter taste. For nearly three years we’ve traveled this province from meeting to meeting, trailed by power company stooges putting out the bullshit that we weren’t telling the truth while having no “facts” of their own to put forward. We’ve seen local media reporters have their reports of our meetings spiked by editors told from above to make no mention of our evidence. We’ve searched and waited in vain for just one major media editor to back up the simple truths we were disseminating.
The momentary pleasure that comes with vindication is massively overwhelmed when one tots up the damage including the destruction of 75 rivers and streams and the ecologies they sustain, with hundreds more to come; the destruction of salmon runs and resident Rainbows, Cutthroat, Dolly Varden and Bull Trout; clear-cuts for utterly unnecessary roads and transmission lines; the incalculable loss of wildlife; and last but scarcely least, the bankruptcy of BC Hydro (the only reason it isn’t officially bankrupt is that it can always raise money by raising rates and obtaining grants from the government – this means that British Columbia, its citizens and industries are bankrolling slick, greedy corporations as they cheerfully comply with the secret sweetheart deals the Campbell/Clark government has forced BC Hydro to give them. Yes, the profits from these corrupt deals are, for the most part, sailing out of the province directly out of your pockets and mine..
British Columbia has the right to have this whole sordid mess investigated – we are also entitled to a media that delves into this grossly negligent government action and lays the facts out before us.
I cannot leave without making special mention of Tom Rankin, who spent a fortune in his Save Our Rivers Society bringing the truth to the people. Damien and I are both much in his debt and the Common Sense Canadian was, in large part, inspired by Tom’s sacrifices.
There it is, folks, the truth is out and, in all likelihood, they’ll all get away with it.
What is civil disobedience?
I ask because I’m going to be urging such a course in the times to come.
Although he didn’t invent the idea, Mahatma Gandhi invented the modern term when he protested a tax on salt imposed by the British which hurt the poor Indian especially. He broke the law deliberately and went to jail for doing so.
A more current example was that of the Freedom Marchers of the 1960s who challenged the segregation laws of the Southern US by “sitting in” at segregated restaurants; by Rosa Parks who defied the laws of Montgomery, Alabama, by sitting in the white only section of a bus; and by Dr. Martin Luther King who in the same time urged peaceful demonstrations.
Many would go back much further in time to Jesus.
What are some of the rules?
- It must be non violent. That is a very important rule.
- The law being protested must be unjust in one or more ways. It must be imposed unfairly or itself contrary to law or justice or both.
- Those protesting must be prepared to go to jail.
- There must be no other reasonable way to attain justice.
- They must be effective.
Where do I suggest civil disobedience?
Fish farms, for one area. Government policy allows them yet they are not only in violation of the UN law requiring the Precautionary Principle but against Canadian law in this regard.
So-called “run of river” projects which, without fail, severely damage the river and its ecology usually to the point of - for all intents and purposes - utter destruction.
Pipelines - especially the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway pipelines taking the ultra toxic bitumen from The Tar Sands to Kitimat - which don’t pose a risk of huge environmental damage but the certainty of it.
The utter lack of government concern for the environment and the public that wishes to preserve it is underscored by the recent decision of the federal government to dam the Kokish river near Port McNeill – a river that is home to all species of salmon, resident Rainbow, Cutthroat, Dolly Varden and has both a winter and summer run of steelhead.
Tanker trafficking of bitumen from Kitimat or through Vancouver Harbour which, again, don’t pose risks but certainties of huge environmental damage.
Civil Disobedience has had successes in the past in BC but too often there have been one or two who have refused to obey the law and once they have been jailed, the protest has petered out.
We must organize such that scores, even hundreds, defy the law and are ready to do time.
There has been very little by way of organization in the overall community but First Nations appear to be ready and, if nothing else, the rest of us must be prepared to support them and face the same consequences.
Our first step must be, in my view, a clear statement by environmental organizations and individual British Columbians that we will stand shoulder with First Nations - and we at the Common Sense Canadian plan to meet with their leaders and see how we can help.
The two by-elections are very bad news for the Liberals, not much better for the Tories and excellent news for the NDP.
Let’s start with the last first.
The loyal opposition is now in the position where a couple of Liberals crossing the floor can bring the government down. I don’t believe that will happen but it’s a worry for the Liberals. Mostly this confirmed Adrian Dix’s leadership. Any time you have a contested election, the losers and their supporters have a death wish for the winner - more about that in a moment. Dix is firmly in control. The NDP made a brilliant move in saying that while they oppose Enbridge and coastal tanker traffic they promise a local referendum for Kinder Morgan. One of the moves of the Campbell/Clark government was to extinguish the right of local governments to pass judgment on environmentally sensitive projects and the NDP understand that the late US Speaker, Tip O’Neill, was right when he said “all politics is local”.
For the John Cummins Conservatives this by-election was a bitter blow, for if the Tories can’t win a by-election – governments usually have trouble with them – in a staunchly “conservative” riding, what chance do they have in a general election. This hardly enhances the opportunity for a new party along the Socred lines since Cummins brings nothing to the table.
For the Liberals, these votes can’t be put down to the usual anti-government pissed off voters. Premier Clark’s leadership was on the line and the Liberals know it.
Going into the by-elections all but one caucus and cabinet minister wanted someone else. She has stumbled from one gaffe to another since she took office. She must go and soon; if she stays, it will be the best news the NDP could get. She’s like Bill Vander Zalm was in 1991 – a loser brought to his knees as much by cabinet and caucus disloyalty as personal stupidity.
When a premier is in trouble he/she must be able to rally the troops – this Ms. Clark is utterly unable to do. She must go, with a temporary leader in place pending a leadership convention, for which time is very short.
Never mind the weeping that a split vote cost them Chilliwack and a turncoat won in Port Coquitlam – the fact is that the government lost two elections which were referenda on the Liberals and their leadership.
There was another winner – big time: the environment. In Chilliwack, the Kinder-Morgan pipeline was a big issue – to my memory, the first time the Environment was a large issue there.
These by-elections did more than alter the make-up of the Legislature; they altered politics in BC – Big Time.
It’s indeed an overworked accolade but Dr. David Suzuki is a great man. In the Environmental world he is in that pantheon of heroes that include the likes of Rachel Carson, Jane Goodall, Thor Heyerdahl and Jacques Cousteau. Dr. Suzuki is a scientist but is better known as the man who brought the environment into the living rooms of the world, explaining things in ways we all could understand.
In years when it was unfashionable to be an environmentalist in Canada he, with the likes of Colleen McCrory, Mark Angelo, Joe Foy, Betty Krawczyk and so many others, slowly but surely got the public’s attention. Dr. Suzuki’s impact is incalculable.
But great people make mistakes and usually they are great mistakes, bringing unforeseen consequences that should have been foreseen. Perhaps that’s because people are reluctant to challenge those held in such high esteem.
Dr. Suzuki not only hasn’t suffered fools gladly, he doesn’t suffer those who disagree with him. This caused great harm for those who believe that the Campbell/Clark government has done irreparable harm to BC’s environment. I’m one of those people.
I felt so strongly on this subject that I campaigned long and hard for the NDP in the May ’09 election. In that election Dr. Suzuki and the crass opportunist, Tzeporah Berman, supported the private development of rivers.
Dr. Suzuki now admits that he was wrong to think that private enterprise and environmentalists could work together to obtain the best of both worlds. In my opinion, Dr. Suzuki failed to understand that corporations don’t give a rat’s ass about the environment and only act responsibly when they’re forced to. As a former Environment Minister I could have told him that. Indeed, a corporation’s mandate is to make money for shareholders and for management and the directors to piss away profits on environmental concerns is actually a breach of the trust placed in them.
Dr. Suzuki made his commitment to capital/environmental cooperation in good faith but that doesn’t alter the fact that he wreaked great harm on the environment he has laboured so long and hard to protect.
Those of us active in trying to save rivers were in shocked disbelief when we learned of his position. In fact I was so shocked that in a public meeting I referred to him as a “pseudo-environmentalist”, a remark instantly passed on to him - but much as I admire David, I wasn’t sorry for the outburst.
How can I say that his position helped the Liberals win a close election?
Because I was there. I campaigned all around the province for the NDP and saw first hand what people thought. If David Suzuki thought that damming of our rivers to produce power was OK, well then it must be - those who disagree must be just shrill tree huggers.
The impact wasn’t, perhaps, so great in the Lower Mainland and Southern Vancouver Island but it was substantial in rural BC where many races were very close. As I spoke in rural ridings, Suzuki’s words provided an invisible critic of what I was saying.
I applaud Dr. Suzuki leaving his Foundation so that their neutral status required for them, as a charitable society, to get public funds, isn’t compromised. (As an aside, I wonder if the Fraser Institute has such a status or is bias OK for the far right?)
David Suzuki must make amends. He must look at the serious issues of fish farms, destruction of farmland, ruination of rivers for electricity we don’t need produced for the bank vaults of larger corporations, pipelines and huge tankers taking Tar Sands gunk through our precious environment and down our coast and out of Vancouver Harbour.
He doesn’t owe a damned thing to me or any other who has disagreed with his 2009 stance.
He does, however, owe a hell of a lot to his province and to the next generation and those to come.
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