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Now silent on BC Rail deal, Campbell boasted of it in 2003.

Now silent on BC Rail deal, Campbell boasted of it in 2003.

For Premier Campbell, unsavoury questions pile up.

As I write this, I’m coming to the end of a long road trip where I’ve been speaking to groups about the Campbell government’s energy policy, which bids fair to permanently lay waste to 600 to 700 of our rivers and streams in this wonderful province of ours.

In fact, tomorrow evening I will do my seventh speech in six days, 10 in the past two weeks. During those days, I’ve had time to reflect on just what makes this premier such a destroyer of our unique environment.

When Gordon Campbell was leader of the opposition, I was up to my eyeballs fighting Alcan over Kemano II, or as they preferred to call it, the Kemano Completion Project. He wanted to know more about this matter so he came to my radio studio and looked at my material. He was with me for half a day whereupon he pronounced himself opposed.

Some time afterwards I asked him what had made him take that position and he related to me that he had seen a billboard showing sockeye salmon going into the Adams River to spawn and he didn’t want his kids deprived of this wonder. I was impressed.

It surprised me when he became premier and almost immediately took the moratorium off Atlantic salmon fish farms.

Questions about our salmon

The issue at that time was the huge escapements of farmed salmon and the question was whether or not they might establish themselves in our rivers and streams. The premier was deaf to the entreaties of many of us who asked that he bring back the moratorium and apply the “precautionary principle” before anything further was done. Taking him at his word, I assumed that he cared for our environment.

Then, in 2003 or thereabouts, a lady named Alexandra Morton from the Broughton Archipelago, on the mainland opposite Port McNeil on Vancouver Island, came upon the scene. Though not a fish biologist, she was a scientist and had come the Broughton to study whales. At the suggestion of some nearby First Nations people, she tested young pink and some chum salmon and warned that sea lice from fish farms situated on their migration paths were slaughtering them.

The then minister responsible, John Van Dongen, wouldn’t listen.

Neither did the premier who asked me to do a paper for him. Again, taking him at his word that he cared for the outdoors and our salmon, I did it. I collated all the scientific evidence available and it made an irrefutable case that Morton was right. He never acknowledged my work, let alone thanked me for it.

Questions about BC Hydro and our rivers

The more the evidence piled up, the more licenses were granted. When a legislative committee and then a commission under John Fraser, appointed by Campbell, confirmed Alexandra Morton’s findings, the Campbell government issued more licences and expanded others.

Now we have the Campbell’s 2002 Energy Policy, which mirrors the recommendations of Alcan. BC Hydro is no longer allowed to bring in new sources of energy. That must be done by the private sector, which is being allowed to stake rivers like old-time prospectors staked claims for gold. These private firms then will divert “their” rivers, often through tunnels up to 20 kilometres in length, thus reducing the flow in portions of the river bed by up to 95 per cent.

Questions about sweetheart deals

BC Hydro must pay huge contracts for this private power, often twice as much as they can get on the market. All this is done, we’re told, to meet imminent power needs in the province. I will simply deal with the claim by observing that the National Energy Board, which vets export of energy, says B.C. is in most years an exporter of power.

Here is the insidious part. Even if B.C. did need new power, they would not be getting it from private operations for this reason: you cannot store electrical power in quantity, it must be used as it is created. You can, and BC Hydro does, “store” power by storing water in reservoirs behind dams but private projects have little or no ability to do that. Thus, private power, for the most part, can only be generated during the spring run-off when there’s enough water to make their generators work.

That happens to be the very time BC Hydro’s reservoirs are full so that they can’t use the private power!

This means that all private power produced for the foreseeable future will be for export. We have, then, a BC Hydro unable to bring in new energy sources, strangled at this writing with $30 billion dollars in sweetheart deals with the private companies, no longer able to contribute millions of dollars to the public treasury, large companies making the power and sending their profits to their shareholders.

Questions about backroom dealings

Last year BC Hydro gave the public treasury about $500 million for schools, hospitals and the like. Now that money is going out of the province. Everywhere I go people ask the same question. Why?

The people look at the Basi-Virk “Railgate” court case and see the disappointing Attorney General Wally “Stonewally” Oppal refusing to answer questions about documents being disclosed. The premier does the same on the specious argument that the documents emerging from the trial are sub judice (before the courts).

There were the huge fees paid to Ken Dobell who was in a clear conflict of interest. We all read daily about the money that Liberal backroom boy Patrick Kinsella apparently got for consulting for the purchasers of BC Rail and the private power moguls while advising the government.

Last week Sean Holman and Mark Hume, in the Globe and Mail, laid l’affaire Kinsella bare before the public. If this isn’t sleaze, what the devil is? And people, not surprisingly, ask: What the hell’s going on here?”

They reflect on the fact that Gordon Campbell ran for office as a man who loved our precious fish and promised never to give up BC Hydro or BC Rail. People see money that used to come to us now goes to foreign shareholders and they ask again: What gives?

Questions about the smell in the air

How can any decent taxpayer look at all these goings on and not say in Hamlet’s words “there’s something rotten in the state of Denmark”.

That doesn’t make it so, I agree, but the air is odoriferous.

What I do say to Mr Campbell is this:

Your dealings with the sale of BC Rail.

The clear attack on BC Hydro.

The favouritism towards fish farmers and private power moguls (especially after posing as an environmentalist and defender of our Crown Corporations).

The conflicts of interest and huge fees paid to favourites.

All of this is bound to make ordinary British Columbians ask: Mr Campbell, just what the hell IS going on here?


6 Responses to “Hey Gordo, What’s Going on Here?”

  1. Ronnie Two Shoes says:

    Thanks once again Rafe, for addressing the issues which really matter in this election. We’ve had a great thing going in this province for a long time and now Campbell and the LeoCons are stealing it all away. No government in the history of this province has ever so brazenly disregarded the hopes and dreams of the people who live here today; and those who will be here long after we are gone. Too bad for the environment, lousy luck for the children – Gordo needs his ego fed.
    Thank you for pointing out that many of our natural rivers will be shunted into underground tunnels for the benefit of just a few. Thanks for reiterating yet again that science has spoken on open net fish farms and small minds refuse to see. Now I can see in my mind’s eye the bears, wolves, foxes, otters, eagles and seagulls waiting patiently for the fish which will never return. These species should not be a plank in anybody’s election campaign – they are part of what makes BC ‘supernatural’ and should be protected by law.
    Too bad you weren’t running for premier yourself. You’d certainly have my vote!

  2. Capitalist Pig says:

    There’s hardly anything Liberal remaining in the BC Liberals … imo, BC NEO-CON’s disguised as Liberals gained control over key issues some time ago…. even the BC Conservative Party is more left-leaning than the BC Neo-Liberals.

  3. It just keeps getting worse. Campbell’s agreed to let the disaster that is Ottawa’s DFO muck about with our freshwater fish now as well:


  4. Hixxville says:

    The problem with saying something must be protected because it’s priceless is that you are simultaneously admitting it is worthless. A thing will not be protected, and we have abundent evidence in our history, until it has a real, market driven, monatary value.

    Our working forests are a mess because the government sets the value for them, not the market. The environment will be protected when it has a commonly understood value.

    You want to log an area, block a stream, pollute the atmosphere? Fine, how much would it cost to return that thing to it’s original state when you’re done or create an identical environment somewhere else? That’s what you pay to do it.

  5. brian says:

    Dear Rafe , You are absolutely right about the neo liberal agenda to privatize all of our once public assets. I never thought I’d see the day where we would have to pay for clean water . This wholesale destruction of our rivers thanks to campbell’s version of green energy and the whole nafta rip off must be stopped. I thought I was the only one aware of these charlatans . The media blackout of these crucial issues leaves us all in the dark . We have a crummy constitution that places corporate rights before public interest . I Think we need to start a canadian constitutional reform party to hammer out our rights to our common heritage , our land , our resources . These things are our god given birthright. Are we not shareholders in this great land . We need a new constitution and a new party . God Bless You

  6. Fraser says:

    Now I heard the the funniest story on the news, Campbell stated he was going to help the ranchers. He is going to build fences, is that to keep us in or out? Please leave us alone! Your beef prices are up over $100 per cow because of government policy, we have to book appointments 1 year in advance to have them processed. We can’t sell them locally from our ranches.
    Last summer and fall in my area the vehichles were running the cows over and several near misses with the cowboys, the Transportation Ministry erected two signs after numerous communications with them (I don’t understand the point, livestock can’t read). Still more cows were killed and Moose.
    Thier resolve was I now own the only insured excavator in BC. to be allowed to cross a highway, to get to the other part of my ranch.The highway which was gazetted through my ranch for $91.00 from the government creating a Work Safe disaster. I have written two Mla’s to no avail on numerous occasions.

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