April 2019 marked the tenth birthday of this online site. I say thank you to regular readers who participate with comments and make these sections interesting and informative. Special thanks are due the readers who provide financial support. Without it, In-Sights would not exist today.
The BC Press Gallery has been a private club, reluctant to admit new members. Emma Gilchrist, co-founder of The Narwhal and Executive Director of its predecessor Desmog Canada, had media privileges blocked at the Legislature by Tom Fletcher, then Press Gallery president. Fletcher, the Black Press advocate for climate change denial and right-wing libertarianism, concluded that Desmog was an “advocacy organization and not a media outlet.” As a result, Emma Gilchrist’s organization was not eligible for journalistic accreditation at the Legislature.
Politicians in British Columbia’s two major political parties may speak about the need for urgent climate action in Canada. But, their moves to ramp up this province’s fossil fuel production put them firmly in the camp of climate change deniers.
LNG plants will only be constructed in BC if the province provides unprecedented subsidies and tax relief. Inducements include natural gas that is essentially free of royalties and other levies, electricity at a fraction of the cost BC Hydro incurs for new power and, after passage of Bill 10, tax credits that will eliminate provincial income tax that might otherwise be paid by LNG operators.
Excepting BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, politicians on both sides of BC’s Legislature are reluctant to discuss natural gas policies. This week, the BC NDP raised gas subsidies. That’s unfortunate because climate change is a critical threat to the world we live in and fossil fuels are a prime cause.
Charles Adler believes we should speak clearly. However, he said nothing about speaking accurately, a quality not always compatible with political propaganda.
Throughout that time, I couldn’t understand why the obvious insanity of costly private power programs didn’t raise the ire of many citizens. For that, I lay a large part of the blame on radio and Press Gallery pundits. Some had personal interests affecting their points of view and some believed that health of the business coalition party ranked above the public interest.
Politically connected individuals took advantage of citizens’ desire for clean, renewable energy and the Liberals wrote contracts with “lucky firms” that bore no relationship to market prices, guaranteed massive private profits and ensured all financial risks stayed with the public. The contracts in British Columbia last as long as sixty years and allow prices that are as much as 5x market value. In addition, the contracts have annual inflation escalators, a privilege allowed no other commercial segment. All taxpayers get is more power to sell at a loss.
BC Hydro sold less electricity to this province’s residential, commercial and industrial customers in 2018 than in 2005. The total of 50,472 gigawatt hours in 2018 was also a decline from 2017. Despite buying less in 2018 than in 2005, consumers paid BC Hydro 85% more, an extra $2.2 billion.
Canada’s remaining non-renewable energy resources are being sold off in an environment of low prices with minimal and declining returns to governments.
In early 2014, BC Hydro awarded SNC-Lavalin a contract to design, build, finance and maintain the John Hart Generating Station Replacement Project on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada.
In-Sights reader Hugh asked my opinion of a Tom Fletcher article. In it, the former head of the Legislative Press Gallery belittles the analyst who correctly estimated consumer losses from BC Hydro’s private power acquisitions are costing many billions of dollars. The Liberal ally and right-wing advocate complains BC’s NDP Government is moving away from previous energy policies…
After the Ken Davidson report to government about BC Hydro’s purchases of private power, David Beers’ wrote, “Somewhere up there Rafe Mair is smacking clouds together to make them thunder: “I told you so!”
Charlie Smith of the Georgia Straight identified a root cause of corruption in British Columbia. It is in his February 10 article linked here…
Retired economist Erik Andersen presented a paper about contractual obligations to the legislative budget committee 2 years running and was met with stony silence from all MLA committee members.
Darryl Plecas reported on many incidents and the suspended officers of the Legislative Assembly are due to provide response on February 7. An anonymous source leaked an incomplete list of the initial defences to be raised by Messrs. James and Lenz…
“Government watchdogs are supposed to have teeth, not wear muzzles,” said IntegrityBC executive director Dermod Travis. “It’s difficult to imagine that any successor to John Doyle will not read the writing that was written on the wall with this decision: if you want to be reappointed don’t do the job of Auditor General too well.”
Site C did not proceed through ignorance and stupidity. It was a mean spirited and carefully designed choice to favour special economic and political interests above all others. Residential and small business ratepayers were viewed as powerless consumers who, with sufficient advertising and mistruths, could be convinced to believe Site C was appropriate and inevitable, even a wise choice. The net effect is to remove money from many pockets and deposit it into the pockets of a few.
Following Liberal defeat in the Nanaimo byelection, Global TV reporter Sarah MacDonald talked to Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson for the 11pm newscast. Breathlessly, she asked what is probably the worst question in the history of BC political reporting…
Ms. Bellringer is another highly paid failure. She did not protect taxpayers by examining for fraud when warning signals had been issued. Auditors have access that citizen watchdogs do not. She had a responsibility to thoroughly investigate deceptive practices. Having failed, she complains that Darryl Plecas didn’t ask her to redo her work with more diligence.