You will, I hope, overlook my coarse language, because I am really pissed off and have been for some time, the slow burn reaching a raging conflagration when I read a quote from the premier which I will give you in a moment.
I am an environmentalist and have been for many years and you’re entitled to know what I did about this when I had the chance as Environment Minster in 1979, 36 years ago. Here’s the record and, as Casey Stengel, used to say, “you could look it up”.
In a 12 month period, I stopped the killing of wolves in the north in the face of bitter opposition from the ranching community who were almost all Socreds; saved the Skagit River from being flooded by Seattle Light and Power, to the horror of Socred MLAs in the area who slavered at the thought of the development that would come from the dam being raised, and placed a moratorium on exploration for and mining of uranium – to bitter condemnation from the mining community. The Premier, who supported me in the face of considerable opposition, was the late Bill Bennett.
Clark’s version of dam history doesn’t hold water
Last Sunday, I listened in horror as Premier Christy Clark, at Mr. Bennett’s Memorial Service, would you believe, accused him of being the author of Site C, alleging that she was simply fulfilling his wishes.
She promised to finish Bennett’s vision for the controversial Site C Dam project:
Premier Bennett, you got it started and I will get it finished. I will get it past the point of no return.
Not only was this terrible timing, it was a ghastly distortion of the truth.
Site C has long been a policy of BC Hydro, but, for it to ever be a reality, required the approval of the BC government. BC Hydro always has schemes and until they are approved, they are no more than dreams of Hydro engineers. Dave Barrett, Bill Bennett, Bill Vander Zalm, Rita Johnston, Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark, Dan Miller, and Ujjal Dosanjjh all had an opportunity to approve Site C and did not.
In 1993, the chair of BC Hydro announced that it would not go ahead because it was simply bad policy.
So who approved it?
None other than Premier Clark’s predecessor, Gordon Campbell, and it was then confirmed by her. For Christy Clark, of all people, to associate herself with a great premier was bad enough – to have her lie through her teeth about him is just too much.
The Forces of “No”
I supported the Paris agreement, which was also supported by Prime Minister Trudeau and – wait for it – Premier Clark. The essence of this agreement was a condemnation of fossil fuels and their egregious ill-effect on the atmosphere.
Now, this obviously means we should no longer extract the Tar Sands and that British Columbia should no longer consider passing it through in pipelines or otherwise. For saying this, to Alberta and many Eastern reporters, I’m a “bad Canadian”!
How the hell can you be opposed to the Tar Sands as the world’s worst polluter, commit yourself to the resolutions at Paris, and then act as an accessory to shipping the very same stuff to places that will use it and pollute the atmosphere?
Now, given that the premier supported Paris, wouldn’t you think that at least she would go to bat for those of us now being gloriously insulted as a bad Canadians because we not only support Paris in theory but in practice as well?
Ah, no. Here’s what Premier Christy Clark had to say recently about people like me and maybe thee:
The world is being divided into two – the people that will say no to everything and the people who want to find a way to get to yes. I’m not sure what science the forces of “no” bring together up there [in northwest BC], except that it’s not really about the science. It’s not really about the fish. It’s just about trying to say no. It’s about fear of change. It’s about fear of the future.
The premier is clearly referring to the Lelu Island situation and the First Nations refusing a billion dollar bribe to permit a pipeline to destroy their salmon. When we in the Howe Sound area oppose the proposed LNG plant in Squamish as people oppose the same thing in Bamberton on Saanich Inlet, we will no doubt be “bad Canadians”, as will those who oppose tanker traffic in other sensitive areas. If you put the environment on the top of your list of priorities, as did the First Nations of Lelu Island, you are a despised “no” person.
Premier Clark is clearly questioning the loyalty and the motivation of people who refuse to support development for development’s sake, irrespective of environmental consequences. It’s one thing to be persuaded that a project is sound, quite another for your Premier to insult you if you question her judgment or social philosophy.
There are better ways
If standing against pipelines, Site C, depletion of our fish resources, ruination of our agricultural land and so on is disloyal, may I assure Premier Clark that, far from being disloyal to our beloved British Columbia, it’s to her and her damned party who would destroy the province to satisfy their own philosophy and their greedy supporters.
Of course, everyone knows there must be development and that development will usually disturb the environment. That’s unavoidable. What is avoidable is doing this when there is no substantial need for doing so or when there are other, better ways. For example, I don’t advocate a giving up of power or energy – I advocate finding better ways of developing and transporting it.
We have better ways. This is not pie-in-the-sky from the 60s and the 70s. Alternative sources of energy are not only now available but the techniques for getting that power into the grid are here and very doable.
The Campbell/Clark government and BC Hydro have not pursued other more cost-effective, more environmentally benign and less risky technologies such as wind, biomass, geothermal and solar power, such as is the case in Germany and California, where wind power alone supplies 10 per cent and 6.5 per cent of annual energy consumption respectively.
Any amount of energy derived from these more benign energy sources would obviously help to significantly defer, or possibly eliminate, the need for the Site C project – a need which the Joint Review Panel and even BC Hydro itself openly question.
Commitment and Leadership
To find alternatives to fossil fuels and gigantic Hydro projects requires commitment and leadership. It’s always going to be easier to do it the same old way, keep your friends and bagmen happy and pretend that nothing bad is going to happen even though that’s not true. While it is more difficult to seek and make changes, the rewards are enormous, especially to those who will follow us.
It takes will, discipline, to change a society’s way of life; it takes leadership.
Sadly, it’s obvious that this premier is not only not going to lead us into change, she will do everything she possibly can to retain the status quo and to make the rich richer at the expense of our beautiful environment.
I must admit that I shudder at the thought of the official opposition taking over but that’s not enough to permit me to support someone for whom there is no hope. John Horgan may not present a great deal of optimism in this area but at least there’s a chance he may be persuaded to let his decency take over and do something right. There is also a real hope that the Green Party might have greater influence.
When you consider the unsuitability of Christy Clark and that the second most powerful person in government is Rich Coleman, surely British Columbians must pull out all stops to show her the door a year this May – not to gain anything but to save something.