Author Archives

Norman Farrell

Made in Canada

Plug pulled on LNG

The BC Business Party told many contemptuous lies during its tenure but ones involving LNG were the largest. The captured corporate media crew in BC’s Legislative Press Gallery facilitated Liberal untruthfulness by failing to look behind or beyond government press releases. Attentive research would have convinced any objective researcher that government was telling tall tales when it projected an almost $3 billion a month increase in in gross domestic product (GDP).

A promise made…

In the May 2017 election, only two of the main parties committed to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. BC Liberals were uncomfortable with clauses related to informed consent that would interfere with business of their corporate donors. John Horgan’s NDP Government and Andrew Weaver’s Green Party committed to a different approach. This was affirmed in today’s Throne Speech and we are left to hope the promises are not hollow, as were similar ones by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Dots that may connect – UPDATED

With news the BC Ferries vessel Spirit of British Columbia is about to sail to Europe for an extensive refit, I bump this article back to the top. – In October 2015, the Commissioner approved $173 million for the project but, as evidenced by the confidential order three months later, increased the approved amount by $46 million to $219 million. Instead of five times cost of the last refits, the 2016 multiplier is eight. So, whether it is $140, $173, $219 millions or an even higher cost subsequently revealed, whether the contract is completed by 2018, 2019 or later, I predict the refits will be advertised as completed on-time, on-budget. That tag is applied to all BC Liberal projects, no matter how many times the budget or completion date must be altered.

We are the losers, who are the winners?

Brady Yauch is an economist at the Consumer Policy Institute (CPI), which identifies itself as “an independent think-tank dedicated to achieving lower costs and greater efficiencies for Canadian consumers, particularly in sectors run by government monopolies or those receiving large subsidies.” Mr. Yauch published a powerful examination of mismanagement at utilities in four Canadian provinces. I recommend reading the entire linked document but extracts follow that refer specifically to British Columbia. Regular readers of In-Sights will not be surprised at the stated facts but they’ve been routinely ignored by the province’s most experienced political pundits. The information doesn’t suit their political purposes.

R.I.P. Merv Adey

I’m hopeful that writers and readers in the online world of BC politics will find a suitable way to remember and celebrate Merv Adey. He took a serious interest in improving political reporting and perhaps a bursary or award in Merv’s name to a worthy student of journalism would be appropriate. Let me know if you agree.

LNG facilities: siting, safety, regulation

When British Columbia conducts LNG negotiations behind closed doors, without public statements of principles or bargaining frameworks, citizens should worry. I have written about our government’s willingness to provide the gas industry with 9-figure production subsidies and Liberal aversion to collection of natural gas royalties but there is another subject to consider. It is the safety and security of LNG facilities…

Similarities

Muskrat Falls was always a done deal, and a bad one says Pam Frampton, Saint John’s Telegram. “One week the project was all about clean energy, the next it was job creation, then it was all about being an affordable energy source, then it was a means of foiling Quebec, then it was a lure for mining companies.” The Progressive Conservatives’ sales pitch was scattershot; they threw out a whole bunch of messages and hoped something would resonate with people… Many people worried that the project might be far more than we needed or could afford.

Rising prices have only just begun

In the 20 years to 2006, BC Hydro’s charge per kilowatt-hour to residential consumers increased at 1/3 the rate of inflation. However, when Gordon Campbell’s neoliberal friends decided BC’s iconic utility was a ripe target for privatizing public wealth, things changed dramatically. In the 10 years to 2016, BC Hydro’s charge per kilowatt-hour to residential consumers increased at 5x the rate of inflation.

Socialized losses, privatized gains

Every megaproject conceived and executed by BC Liberals in recent years has ended with massive cost overruns, despite the predictable “on-time and on-budget” claims. Most involved contractors with foreign domiciles. Check out the Port Mann bridge project, South Fraser Perimeter Road, BC Place renovation, Vancouver Convention Centre, Sea to Sky Highway, Northwest Transmission Line, etc.

Falsehood flies, truth comes limping after it

A message to BC Hydro: “Figure out what you are supposed to be doing, then do it. W.A.C. Bennett established this vital crown corporation to provide reliable, affordable power to British Columbians. That’s what it should be doing. Instead, it is forcing citizens to pay much higher prices to provide financial benefits to foreign owned companies and a band of me-first IPP slicksters and a group of political contributors gaining returns on their liberal investments by sitting in the boardroom of BC Hydro.

From the news archives: Site C history – UPDATED

Large dams run 96 percent over budget on average, according to a University of Oxford study based on projects in 65 countries including Brazil and China. The study, published in the journal Energy Policy, showed that large dams also took about 2.3 years longer to complete than originally planned. That was about 44 percent longer than projected at the point of approval. The research was based on a study of 245 dams…