When I read that BC Federation of Labour President Jim Sinclair and Tom Sigurdson, head of the BC-Yukon Building Trades Council, had arrived at a deal with Premier Clark on training workers for the liquefied natural gas (LNG) business we’re told is coming, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Now let me make this clear – there is northing wrong and a lot right when traditional political foes shake hands on a deal that is beneficial to them or to the people of BC, or both. Way back in the 70s, Socred Labour Minister Allan Williams worked well with labour because there was trust.
Kicking Dix in the family jewels
The question this latest deal raises is more fundamental than simply making a deal that may never happen, complete with photo-ops in which, I might say, Mr. Sinclair looked most uncomfortable.
That this meeting kicks NDP Leader Adrian Dix right in the family jewels is obvious. Mr. Sinclair’s position goes way beyond NDP inner-politics and raises some interesting questions.
In his remarks, Mr. Sinclair talked about his members “building things”, as a basis for supporting LNG. He then went out of his way to attack Dix for opposing for the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion to Vancouver.
Let’s look at a couple of issues that make me think Mr. Sinclair is for anything that can be built.
The risks of LNG
What if, as I believe (and I’m not alone), no LNG plant goes ahead? Apart from the fact that he will have a lot of fences to mend with his own members, Mr. Sinclair will be tied to a failure.
What evidence does he have about what an LNG pipelines and plants will do environmentally? If Mr. Sinclair doesn’t give a damn and his position is simply an attack on Mr. Dix, that’s one thing – but if he believes some LNG pipelines and plants will be built, surely his members and the public-at-large should know about these fatcors.
Apart from LNG pipeline builders, who will mostly come from outside BC, and a few non-union white-collar jobs at the plant, where are the jobs for British Columbians?
For an LNG pipeline and plant to make sense, one must know what market there will be years ahead, when the plants are finally operational. If there are firm deals made – and open to public scrutiny – we must know what the price will be five years down the road.
Incidentally, according to Bloomberg, using the best data available, the Asian price for LNG should collapse to the point where we’re actually losing money, right about the time we enter the market.
What if the LNG entrepreneur wants to bring his regular crew in to construct the project? Is it Mr. Sinclair’s position that they can be barred to make way for local workers? Has Premier Clark guaranteed this? In advance of any action on the project?
Mr. Sinclair makes it pretty clear that he’s not concerned about the environment – if there’s something to be built, then let’s build it. He’s given his blessing for LNG projects before most of the dozen or so proposed have gone through environmental assessment of the plants or the pipelines associated with them. And that’s saying nothing of the controversial practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which would supply these pipelines and plants.
What about Fracking?
Let’s look at the last piece.
Environmental concerns are not piddling matters. Fracking involves deep drilling then using huge quantities of chemically-laced water. Where does that water come from? Where does it go? What about the stability of the ground around the extraction?
I infer from your comments, Mr. Sinclair, that you approve of the new Kinder Morgan pipeline and the Enbridge pipeline. I realize that you’re from Ontario and thus not as concerned about the beauty of this province as natives are. So are you saying that ”building” trumps environmental concerns?
Surely, you don’t insult the intelligence of the public by saying that Government/Industry environmental processes actually work! We know, for example, that Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver and our Prime Minister have said that the Enbridge Pipeline will go ahead regardless of the findings of the Joint Review Panel hearings.
What you say, Mr. Sinclair, whether you think so or not, is that all members of the BC Federation of Labour must support LNG, the Enbridge pipeline and the Kinder Morgan expansion. The thousands of British Columbians who have strong environmental concerns must, if they are union members, change their evil ways and all get behind whatever project will allegedly get them jobs.
To meet with the government and try to get a good deal for your members is a very good idea, unless you’ve been played for a fool – which you just have been.