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Cover of 2013 Petronas annual report

Cover of 2013 Petronas annual report

The Christy Clark government’s back down on LNG, as evidenced by the throne speech, is an admission that Ms Clark and her colleagues misled the public in the 2013 election and is an unmitigated disgrace.

As we all remember, Ms. Clark, found herself badly behind in that election. Something had to be done. She turned to Brad Bennett, son of and a grandson of former BC premiers. He, and his chamber of commerce enthusiasm, were just what the doctor ordered.

A story was concocted and there is no other word for it because it didn’t just come out of thin air. In fairness, I don’t know if Mr. Bennett played a role in this.

The story – LNG was going to be a $1 trillion industry in British Columbia, bring $100 billion into a so called prosperity fund, pay off all our debts, and ensure BC prosperity for all time. All we need do was re-elect Christy Clark and Co. This was, as said by many of us at the time, arrant bullshit. There was absolutely no reason to believe any of this.

That she had reasonable hopes for an LNG industry was fair enough. It would, however, take a lot of hard work and some careful nurturing. Nobody knew what the price for natural gas was going to be when any LNG plants in British Columbia came on stream. The competition from the United States and Australia for Asian markets was very keen indeed and many of them had a strong head start. China, the largest proposed customer, had huge reserves of shale gas. No attention whatever had been paid to serious environmental concerns about “fracking”, the hugely controversial method for extracting shale gas.

Recently, we have learned that the Premier and her minister Rich Coleman have been way over their heads in negotiating with Petronas, a Malaysian state government giant international energy corporation. They have not, for example, even had the faintest idea what tax they were going to charge or indeed what the traffic would bear.

Petronas president, a Mr. Abbas, has made it clear that there are a great many unsettled issues and that a commitment by his company prior to the end of the year is highly unlikely. This puts paid to another of Ms. Clark’s promises, namely that there would be an LNG plant up and running in 2015.

There is not a penalty to be paid, evidently. One cannot go back and re-start the election eliminating Mr. Bennett’s enthusiastic and effective cheerleading for Ms. Clark and her government fortified by the LNG nonsense. Even though the entire latter part of the Liberal campaign was fraudulent, nothing can be done. No one is charged – no one goes to jail. The only forfeit to be paid may come in 2017 – the next election. This however depends upon a number of factors.

New issues will no doubt come to the forefront. People, being forgetful, will overlook the election promises of 2013. Any change in government depends upon an opposition that can display itself as a government in waiting with a premier in waiting at its head. This, at this stage, does not seem likely.

The opposition, thus far, has been pathetic as has its leader, Mr. John Horgan. Much hope was placed in Mr. Horgan – that hope has not been realized.

The NDP and indeed all who wish to see Ms. Clark tossed out, must hope that Mr. Horgan will improve.

I think it likely that he will. He has not as yet had an opportunity to show his stuff in the legislature – he will soon have that chance. He seems to have been held back by an inability to be unkind – a disastrous failing in politics. He and his party have missed a number of issues and let them slide by to the great joy, I am sure, of Ms. Clark and her henchmen. Once Mr. Horgan gets his feet wet in the legislature and learns how to handle issues, presumably this will improve and just as Ms. Clark has time to put her failings behind her, so has he.

In the meantime, the LNG issue proceeds. As I say, it has become clear that Ms. Clark and her negotiating team are miles over their head. They’re dealing with pros who will take advantage of every single situation they can. They don’t need British Columbia while British Columbia needs them and that, in itself, makes negotiations difficult for the rank amateurs representing the government.

The Premier must appoint professional negotiators. There is nothing in her background that would indicate that she has the slightest talent for dealing at the highest level with international business. Her minister, is an ex cop, and while we all admire cops ex or otherwise, there is nothing in their profession that would indicate a talent for dealing on the international stage with rapacious international business.

It remains to be seen what the premier will do. If she is to put this all behind her before 2017, she would be well advised personally to get out of the action. As long as she stays as the chief negotiator for the province whatever happens will be visited upon her good or bad, and bad is all that’s happened so far.

But, there is always that great consolation from Yogi Berra – “it ain’t over ’til it’s over”.

6 Responses to “Flip flop fails to impress”

  1. John says:

    What will she do Rafe?

    Well, she’ll probably flash the pearly whites, toss out a few worn out euphemisms or some Christy Clark non sequiturs and it’ll all be good – then we’ll all lose again.

    So, do you think the NDP’s (non) reactions so far are strategic or are they really that adrift?

    Horgan’s a smart guy, I don’t know why we don’t hear him loud and clear on the Liberal Follies.

    In a way, he has a really easy job, whether the press picks him up on it is another matter though.

  2. Jack says:

    I remember a couple of years back hearing energy experts talk about the coming NG glut. Many nations will become energy exporters instead of energy importers, most notably the US. That is, many countries we consider to be a market will in fact be a competitor. Which means we will not be selling NG at the price Kristy thinks we will be selling it at, and we will not have the markets she thinks we will have. She should have asked me about NG instead of the Bennett grandson.

  3. Hugh says:

    One thing that annoys me is the idea that we can’t develop our own resources here in BC, we need big foreign companies to do it for us.

  4. Ieswideopen says:

    In politics, you only have to worry about keeping your promises if you’ve won the election. Lying is for “winners”.

  5. R says:

    Shut down H bay .make way for LNG super ships.

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