Horgan, John

Ruled by climate change deniers

At a meeting today of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, Premier John Horgan talked about the Coastal GasLink pipeline:

The project will proceed. It’s fundamental to our economy, fundamental to prosperity for people in the north.

Fundamental?

According to a report found among Labour Market Statistics at BC Stats, oil and gas extraction accounts for less than one-fifth of one-percent of jobs in this province.

Fundamental?

In fiscal year 2020, natural gas is providing one-quarter of one-percent of total provincial revenue. In fiscal year 2009, natural gas provided ten-percent of the British Columbia Government’s total revenue.

At a time when the scientific consensus says we must reduce, not increase, use of fossil fuels, when 40+ Nobel prize winners lobby Canada to stop any expansion of the fossil fuel sector, when the 65 degrees Fahrenheit temperature in shrinking Antarctica matched that of Los Angeles, when arctic ice is at record low levels, when temperatures of this planet in the last five years were the warmest ever, Canada and its three western provinces are ruled by climate change deniers who put fossil fuel expansion above all else.

In BC, government expects natural gas production to increase 26.2% in the next three years, with further increases if LNG processors open for business. Years of low prices that make these projects uneconomic are only noticed to justify higher subsidies and taxpayer supports.

Coastal GasLink oppresses the rights of Wet’suwet’en leaders, depends on a politically directed investment of workers’ pension funds, and is intended to move fracked gas, not a bridge fuel to be used while renewable energy is developed.

Today, Ricochet, a public-interest news organization from eastern Canada, reported that Coastal GasLink lacked approval from BC’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO).

Almost two weeks ago, the best energy reporter in BC provided similar information. Sarah Cox wrote at The Narwhal:

Coastal GasLink cannot legally proceed with pipeline construction activities in the area around the Unist’ot’en healing centre, where Wet’suwet’en nation matriarchs and their supporters were arrested on Monday for defying a court-ordered injunction, the B.C. environment ministry has confirmed.

Last week, the environment ministry told The Narwhal the environmental assessment office is in the process of reviewing the report, a process that includes consultation with Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs.

If the office deems the report unsatisfactory, Coastal GasLink must go back to the drawing board and re-submit the report, a process that could take up to several months.

The report was unsatisfactory. It is clear now that RCMP commandos were arresting and threatening people to prevent interference with unauthorized construction.

Photo: Amber Bracken / The Narwhal

In BC Supreme Court, Madam Justice Marguerite Church had issued an injunction, saying workers needed to have safe passage to get to their construction sites. Yet, that construction was not authorized.

The court and the RCMP proclaim “the rule of law” must be upheld. Yet, under the law, Coastal Gas Link’s construction activity was not allowed.

Justice Church blundered, not just because the Coastal GasLink lacked a vital EAO permit, but because she failed to respect findings of the Supreme Court of Canada in Delgamuukw v British Columbia and restated in Tsilhqot’in Nation v British Columbia.

In Delgamuukw, Chief Justice Lamer stated:

…first, that aboriginal title encompasses the right to exclusive use and occupation of the land held pursuant to that title for a variety of purposes, which need not be aspects of those aboriginal practices, customs and traditions which are integral to distinctive aboriginal cultures; and second, that those protected uses must not be irreconcilable with the nature of the group’s attachment to that land.

In Tsilhqot’in, Canada’s high court stated in paragraph 73 of its reasons for judgement:

Aboriginal title confers ownership rights similar to those associated with fee simple, including:  the right to decide how the land will be used; the right of enjoyment and occupancy of the land;  the right to possess the land; the right to the economic benefits of the land; and the right to pro-actively use and manage the land.

Both the Horgan and Trudeau governments made symbolic commitments to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). Neither was sincere.

Horgan passed UNDRIP into BC law but now ignores the declaration. Trudeau said they would table a bill on UNDRIP but this week decided to put the promise aside.

Indigenous people won’t be surprised by choices of either government. They’ve observed 150 years of oppressive acts and broken promises.

11 replies »

  1. A long time ago, as a UBC student trying to earn enough for the coming year, I did a lot of flying between Smithers and Terrace. My favourite route was via the Bear Pass because it was the shortest and there was a convenient lake in the pass I could use if weather caught me.
    In those 60s there was never any evidence of humans on the ground past the back side of Hudson Bay mountain.

    If it matters, the first nation folks of Morris Town, Hazzelton and Terrace were not to be seen anywhere on this route.

    I guess after 50 years the stories can get exaggerated.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. These protests are just the tip of the iceberg. The young people of today are getting pissed-off in how our world is being run; which is by old angry white baby-boomer climate deniers. One of the frequent comments I hear by the boomer deniers is that “If climate change happens, it doesn’t matter because I’ll be dead”. Which my comment back, that attitude is selfish and aren’t they concerned with their children and grand-children. Hey Norm, Have you heard that Jeff Bezos is going to donate $10 billion to climate change and a portion of that money is to climate activists. Sit back and watch more protests and watch the deniers have more hissy-fits.

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  3. With regard to the filthy money lubricating this environmentally horrific LNG boondoggle, have you seen Joyce Nelson’s Counter Punch article “Wall Street Invading Wet’suwet’en Territory”?
    https://www.counterpunch.org/2020/02/12/wall-street-invading-wetsuweten-territory/
    A few quotations from the above link:
    “On December 26, 2019 KKR announced the signing of a “definitive agreement” to acquire – along with Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) – a 65 percent equity interest in the Coastal GasLink Pipeline Project from TC Energy.

    Only days later, on December 31, a B.C. Supreme Court judge extended an injunction to stop Wet’suwet’en members from blocking access to Coastal GasLink’s work camp. The injunction will reportedly be operative until the pipeline project is completed.

    The Georgia Straight recently highlighted a statement by Stanford University professor Mark Z. Jacobson about methane leaks from an ExxonMobil fracking site: ‘Next time some paid liar in the fossil fuel industry insists fracked gas is helping solve the climate crisis, remind them a single @exxonmobil fracking site leaked more methane in 20 days than all but 3 European nations over an entire year’.”

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  4. Norm, perhaps you can compare the net proceeds to provincial coffers from oil and gas revenues, to the projected $16 million to gained from taxing Netflix users in 2021-22 — or the proceeds from the new tax on soft drinks, projected to raise $37 million in 2021-22.

    My point being: if those two new taxes will bring in close to the same value as natural gas mining… how can any company or government expect untold riches from LNG? That’s a LOT of trouble and expense to go through, when the simple push of a “tax this” button can generate the same income.

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  5. To take this debate from the deniers the world needs thousands of more voices like yours. The very same people will be first to squeal if anyone they know dies from covoid-19. Then they will say we must act as science dictates. Why can’t they see? Thank you for posting. Act! People – act!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. GregL
    Thanks Norm. When facts are so easy to understand why do so many people fail to act ? As I said to my old neighbor ” just wait until the actual cost for LNG project becomes known to us who pay taxes and the costs of forgone revenue and native legal action against BC and Ottawa governments. ” These cost will be greater than TMP and Site C. Boondoggles.

    Liked by 2 people

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