I have been given strong legal advice not to call someone a liar because that implies that he is an inveterate liar. Because of this I need your help dealing with the BC Finance Minister, the Honourable Colin Hansen.
Just prior to the last election, Mr. Hansen did a short interview, on camera. Let me tell you what he said and I was taught by one of the best libel lawyers never to call I’ll ask you how I can describe this in a manner that won’t get me using the “L” word.
Mr. Hansen says “BC is a net importer of electricity.”
This simply is not true. Both the National Energy Board and Stats Canada, the most reliable sources we have, tell a different story: Over the past decade BC, our public power province, has typically been a net exporter of power. Mr. Hansen makes his statement based upon BC Hydro figures which don’t count energy created and exported by Alcan, Teck-Cominco and Fortis – all of which form part of our larger public power system, and are considered by the National Energy Board as part of BC’s energy imports and exports. We grant these companies access to our public resources to produce and distribute power, in exchange for job creation and access to purchasing excess power they create at an affordable rate. For instance, BC Hydro just bought a share of the power from one of Teck Cominco’s dams, which further reduces our need for new private river power, yet Mr. Hansen’s government makes no policy change in private power development to reflect this. Perhaps I just call Minister Hanson disingenuous which means, according to Merriam dictionary, “giving a false appearance of simple frankness”.
Disingenuous statement #1
Mr. Hansen says that these are small scale projects. This demonstrably is not so. If you check out www.saveourrivers.ca and look at the Powerplay videos you will see what these things look like. Far from being “small” the Bute Inlet project which will divert or dams 17 rivers and the operating Upper Toba project are both controlled by General Electric, one of the biggest companies in the world. The Ashlu project is Ledcor, a construction giant, while the Glacier-Howser is proposed by the immensely rich Dupont family.
Disingenuous statement #2
Mr. Hansen says that the private river power project proposals to date represent just “.03% of the rivers in BC that could sustain any kind of hydro electric activity.” Mr. Hansen knows this is simply untrue, as very few rivers and streams in BC have large enough flows to make the development of them economical – nevertheless, this industry has so far been able to find 700 of them! The web of transmission lines and roads needed for these projects would indelibly impact virtually every major watershed in the province – to the contrary of what Mr. Hansen says. Just go to www.saveourivers.ca and look at the google map there depicting all the proposed projects around the province and you’ll see what I mean.
Again, in deference to my legal advice, let’s call Mr. Hansen’s nonsense as “disingenuous”.
Disingenuous statement #3
Mr. Hansen says that these are “run of the river” projects which allow rivers to have their “normal stream”. Again, please look at the videos at www.saveourrivers.ca and see for yourself the massive diversions of rivers running for many kilometers and involving hundreds of kilometers of industrial roads and transmission lines through our wild places. The Glacier-Howser project in the Kootenays proposes to take the majority of waters from five different rivers, diverting them through 16 km worth of huge tunnels, then dumping them into a lake so that they never return to the riverbed.
Perhaps, out of an abundance of caution, we will once more characterize Mr. Hansen as disingenuous.
Disingenuous statement #4
Mr. Hansen says that BC needs “its own secure source of energy.” This has two aspects to it: Do we need more power and, if we do, will private power companies do the job?
On the first point, all the independent experts tell us that if we practice some conservation, upgrade current Hydro generators, build generators on flood control dams and take back from the US the power we are entitled to under the Columbia River Treaty we have all the power we need for decades to come.
Disingenuous statement #5
On the second point, if we did need power we would never get it from these private river power projects because for the most part their power making ability is confined to the few months of the Spring run off which is when BC Hydro, will full reservoirs doesn’t need it. This power is for export as the head of the Plutonic/General Electric Don McInnis admits. In fact he says that anyone who doesn’t know this “would have to be in a coma”. This is a very important point and the public is entitled to have the same candor from Mr. Hanson. Why aren’t they getting it?
Disingenuous statement #6
We can, I think, assume that Mr. Hanson has the Bute Inlet project in mind since that was the major issue at the time he made his statement. This government loves to compare the two saying “if you don’t want our rivers policy you’ll have to accept Site “C”, This is a false dichotomy set up by the Campbell government to demonstrate that Bute Inlet will out produce Site “C”. This, again, is demonstrably untrue since, again, Bute Inlet can only provide power during the spring run-off when we don’t need it.
Again, a false statement by the minister.
While the Bute project would have an immensely larger ecological footprint than the proposed Site C dam – it would yield approximately half the annual power output, mostly at a time of year when we don’t need and can’t use the power! And despite being less valuable and useful power, it would cost us considerably more than the power from Site C, and would be private instead of public power! We at Save Our Rivers don’t favour Site C either – this just to illustrate how much of a better deal it would be for British Columbians than the disastrous GE Bute proposal.
Mr. Hansen is dead wrong in what he says and is guilty of misleading by not telling the whole story about what we need and the inability of private power projects to supply appreciable energy to BC when Hydro’s reservoirs are low.
I must say that I’m sore tempted to use a stronger word but let’s just say that, once again, Mr. Hansen is disingenuous.
Disingenuous statement #7
Incidentally, the clip I’m alluding to has less than two minutes and, if you’re a fan of disingenuousness, can be seen here (go quickly – as I wouldn’t be surprised if it disappeared soon after this article appears). It’s not often that I recommend that anyone watch a Liberal government clip but this one demonstrates in graphic terms the utter falseness of the Campbell’s statements. Here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wYzKzvNQkrE (transcript)
Now let’s see where we stand. Leaving aside the things Mr. Hansen didn’t address but should have, in 1 minute and 51 seconds we can record 7 huge, may I say world class, disingenuous statements. Perhaps we can characterize this video as a “tissue of disingenuousness”.
And here is where I need your help. When a man, a senior member of cabinet, in just a few seconds, pronounces seven completely false statements in formal defence of the government of which he is a big part, seven statements that are demonstrably untrue, false statements deliberately made to fool the public, is “disingenuous” the most I can say?
Your suggestions welcome!