Earlier this year, American Bernie Sanders warned us about the failures of corporate media. In How Corporate Media Threatens Democracy, he wrote:
…For years, major crises like climate change, the impact of trade agreements on our economy, the role of big money in politics and youth unemployment have received scant media coverage. Trade union leaders, environmentalists, low-income activists, people prepared to challenge the corporate ideology, rarely appear on our TV screens.
Media is not just about what is covered and how. It is about what is not covered. And those decisions, of what is and is not covered, are not made in the heavens. They are made by human beings who often have major conflicts of interest.
As a general rule of thumb, the more important the issue is to large numbers of working people, the less interesting it is to corporate media. The less significant it is to ordinary people, the more attention the media pays. Further, issues being pushed by the top 1 percent get a lot of attention. Issues advocated by representatives of working families, not so much.
For the corporate media, the real issues facing the American people— poverty, the decline of the middle class, income and wealth inequality, trade, healthcare, climate change, etc.—are fairly irrelevant. For them, politics is largely presented as entertainment. With some notable exceptions, reporters are trained to see a campaign as if it were a game show, a baseball game, a soap opera, or a series of conflicts…
In recent days, Postmedia showed how its partnership with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers affects information circulated:
— Norm Farrell (@Norm_Farrell) November 13, 2017
This week, aging veterans of the BC Press Gallery demonstrated their loyalties again.
It appears Vaughn Palmer wants to keep Site C construction underway and Liberals absolved of responsibility for BC Hydro’s disastrous situation:
…if the New Democrats do kill Site C, ratepayers would be facing a 10 per cent hike with nothing to show for it…
Palmer wrote that Energy Minister Michelle Mungall was “chippy” but that MLA Tracy Redies, former CEO of Coast Capital Savings Credit Savings Union, demonstrated expertise and “was able to elicit significant information.” He could have added that the information was already on the public record but this was about painting a complimentary portrait of the woman who departed Coast Capital unexpectedly with a huge severance payout after the member-owned bank donated large sums to the BC Liberal Party.
Palmer writes that BCUC “departed from past practice by basing cost comparisons on the low end of the range of Hydro’s load forecasts, instead of going with the middle” but he says nothing about how the commission thought even the low forecasts were too high. Of course, they knew the record of hugely overstated demand growth is long and consistent. Adding that fact might have informed Palmer’s readers in a way that didn’t serve the writer’s purposes.
The Palmer column ends with his belief that Michelle Mungall “perhaps let out more than the New Democrats intended.” Ah yes, if there is a question of competence in management of BC Hydro, it must be with the NDP minister. After all, she’s had more than three months in the job and Liberals had only sixteen years plus.
Palmer reports that a $4 billion write-off on Site C “would mean a rate increase of about 10 per cent.” That’s terrible but only 1/7 as terrible as the 68% increase since 2009 in the price of power sold in BC by BC Hydro.
Global’s Keith Baldrey makes his Liberal friendly contribution with Can there be a good ending for the Site C dam? He began by writing that:
…euphoria at the NDP convention last weekend…masked some real concerns about the first real, critical test of the fledgling government.
That is the sort of statement one might expect from a commentator who didn’t waste much time observing work of the convention. Delegates who spent hours debating policy positions and more time learning the intracies of new political finance rules, about improved communications, relationship building in rural constituencies and other subjects will be surprised to read they were in a state of euphoria for days.
Baldrey says the NDP Government’s decision to halt or proceed with Site C is “guaranteed to cost taxpayers an enormous amount of money.” No Keith, the Liberal decision to proceed with Site C – required to keep the lights on in BC, said CEO Jessica McDonald – without review by the BCUC and justified by countless falsehoods, is what will cost taxpayers a truly enormous amount of money, although less than the private power fiasco that has already been a bigger disaster and will continue to cost additional billions of dollars.
People must realize that BC Hydro has not been truthful throughout the planning and construction of #SiteC. Remember the claims of steadily rising demand, even though domestic sales same today as 13 years ago. #bcpoli https://t.co/PaTsXh4JsV
— Norm Farrell (@Norm_Farrell) November 11, 2017
Baldrey asks if Site C power is needed and if there are cheaper forms of energy production available. He answers his own question by writing, “There are no clear, foolproof answers.”
Little in life is 100% certain but there is overwhelming proof – taken from BC Hydro’s sales records for the last two decades – that demand has not grown for a very long time, despite population growth of 14.5% since 2004. There is also irrefutable evidence that other forms of energy are less expensive than Site C. Scientific American magazine reported last year the cost of solar power had fallen below five cents a KWh and it has fallen further since that report.
The cost of wind power also has been on a steady downward trend and yet more efficiencies are being implemented.
Alberta, a potential export market has an oversupply of electricity. It opened the Shepard Energy Centre two years ago and the gas fired facility produces power at less cost than Site C. Of course, Liberals prohibited gas-fired power generation in BC, except by IPPs. They didn’t want a crown corporation burning natural gas in BC for power, they preferred we pay foreign producers to pollute the world by shipping our gas almost 10,000 km to be burned for power in Asia.
Baldrey raises an idiotic claim that ending Site C would result in new private power producers coming on stream. Huh? To produce more power we don’t need and can only resell at huge losses, at prices we can’t afford?
Baldrey doesn’t bother to tell the real story about IPPs. That would reveal an unfortunate Liberal scheme that has already cost us dearly.
When you’re an activist for vested interests, complete and accurate reports are never offered. These might educate low-information voters that have supported BC Liberals for many years.
There is only one BC political party responsible for this costly fiasco. Liberals should apologize to BC taxpayers and pay into treasury imediately all the donations they took from #SiteC contractors. #bcpoli https://t.co/taK4Z5twfk
— Norm Farrell (@Norm_Farrell) November 10, 2017
My response in comments to Vaughn Palmer’s Vancouver Sun article: