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I have been in politics or commenting on them (same thing) back to the days of WAC Bennett. My first published piece was a criticism of Bennett’s position on the failed (thankfully) Victoria Charter.

During that time I’ve seen plenty of gilding the lily, massaging of the truth, opinions presented as truth – in fact the things we all do ourselves – yet I’ve seen very little actual lying, deliberate untruths. When we would hear, say, a premier making a statement which the Opposition Leader says is untrue, that was a difference of opinion. I must admit that some opinions come perilously close to falsehoods but it was not until the Campbell government that we saw a government whose basic political strategy has been to lie. Not just puff up a story, slide over the troublesome bits – but outright lie.

I make that statement after considerable thought because it’s the worst behaviour possible in government.

I’m going to give examples.

With the Campbell government, it started early with fish farms and persists to this day. Campbell and his then most unsatisfactory Minister of Agriculture, Food and Fish, John Van Dongen pursued their disastrous policy saying that the science was all with them. This wasn’t a mistake or a bit of government flatulence – it was untrue and the government knew that; in short it was a lie.

In two election campaigns Campbell promised he would never privatize BC Rail yet after he won office he did just that and, it must be noted, lied like a dog when he called it a fair process. We lost our railroad and were left with a hugely expensive lawsuit in the bargain.

The government, through the mouth of then Finance Minister Hansen, got serious with deliberate untruths with their Energy Policy. These statements are based on a transcript of a youtube video Hansen made during the 2009 provincial election campaign:

Colin Hansen: “I think, first of all, that we have to recognize that British Columbia is a net importer of electricity. We seem to think that, with all the tremendous hydro electric generating capacity we have, that we are a huge exporter. Well, we do export some, but we are a net importer…”

This is unquestionably and demonstrably FALSE as the records of the National Energy Board and StatsCan prove. The province of BC over the past decade has been more often than not a net exporter electricity.

Hansen (cont’d.): “…from Washington State, which largely produces their electricity from dirty coal, and also from Alberta, which uses a lot of natural gas in their electricity production. So I think it’s incumbent on British Columbia to develop its own source of needed electricity. And quite frankly, the independent power projects are the best source of that…”

Unquestionably and demonstrably FALSE. Even if we did need more energy, because private river diversion projects produce most of their power during the spring run-off when BC Hydro has plenty of electricity, their energy would be of little if any impact on our energy needs.

Hansen (cont’d.): “…where we can encourage small companies…”

Unquestionably and demonstrably FALSE – unless Mr. Hansen considers General Electric, Ledcor and the DuPont family small. The companies involved are huge, largely foreign corporations.

Hansen (cont’d.): “…to build small scale hydroelectric projects that are run-of-the-river, and what that means is, instead of having a big reservoir, a big dam that backs water up, and creates a great big lake, these are run of the river, so the river continues to flow at its normal [pace] but we capture some of the energy in the form of hydroelectric power from this.”

Unquestionably and demonstrably AND EGREGIOUSLY FALSE. All these rivers are dammed and/or diverted, often using long tunnels and pipes and leave only traces of the original river in the river bed throughout the diversion stretch. The sheer scale of some of these projects and all the roads and transmission lines involved gives them an enormous ecological footprint.

Hansen (cont’d.): Again, from the perspective of some of the opposition, they would have you believe that every single river in British Columbia is being impacted. In reality, it is .03% of the rivers in British Columbia that could sustain any kind of hydroelectric activity, are being used for these independent power projects.”

Unquestionably and demonstrably FALSE. In fact it’s double that amount but this is a numbers game. The fact is over 600 river systems (with over 800 individual diversion applications) and the ecologies they support are at risk.

Hansen (cont’d.):  “So, it’s being widely supported by many of the leading environmentalists, because it’s clean and sustainable. It’s also being supported by many of the First Nations communities in the province. So, I think that we have to look behind the scenes on this, and really question who is funding the opposition, and clearly they have their own agenda, and in my view, it’s not a responsible environmental agenda.”

Misleading at best and you should judge the matter with these facts in mind:

  1. Some of the key opponents (apart from the NDP), have been  the Wilderness Committee, Save Our Rivers Society, and now our organization, The Common Sense Canadian. Speaking for The Common Sense Canadian, it  has no institutional funding (corporations, Labour or otherwise).
  2. Who is or is not an environmentalist is a matter of choice but here are the ecologists, biologists and academics upon whom we rely: Dr. William E. Rees, Dr. John Calvert, Dr. Craig Orr, Dr. Michael Byers, Dr. Marvin Rosenau, Dr. Gordon F. Hartman, Dr. Marvin Shaffer, Dr. Elaine Golds, Dr. Michael M’Gonigle, Rex Weyler, Wendy Holm and Otto Langer.

We have, then, an Energy Policy based on a tissue of lies – not mistakes.

Perhaps the biggest lie of all is that BC Hydro is in good shape when our independent economist, Erik Andersen – a conservative-minded fellow with decades of experience working for the federal government and the transportation industry, I might add – says that if BC Hydro were in the private sector it would be headed for bankruptcy. The only reason it’s not is its ability to soak its customers – me and thee – with increasingly higher power bills to keep itself afloat.

In the election of 2009 Hansen and Campbell stated clearly that the budget of the past April was a statement of the true financial situation. Then, with the election safely behind them, they admitted that the budget was way out of whack but they didn’t know it until, conveniently, the election was over.

I’ve been there and I can tell you that the Finance Minister knew the province was in financial doo doo. For Hansen and Campbell to say that they didn’t have the evidence of falling tax revenues – the sales tax and stumpage are reliable barometers of the truth – is like a man standing across the road from a burning building with people jumping out windows saying he didn’t notice a thing because he was busy reading his paper.

The same scenario prevailed with the HST as Campbell and Hansen announced the HST after the election saying that it “wasn’t even on the radar screen” during the campaign, whereas it transpired that Hansen had received a detailed analysis from his ministry long before the election, which told him the HST would be a big mistake. Again, Hansen was apparently reading his newspaper across from the burning building.

There we have it – the government now led my Premier Clark won three elections by lying to the people.

The Common Sense Canadian will be doing a great deal in the days to come on Site “C” and we will, I assure you, be exposing interesting facts on the need (or lack thereof) for this mega-project; the costs, and what it means for the environment.

The plain facts are that the Campbell/Clark government has lied and thus fooled us in three elections.

If they do it again, we will get what we deserve and future generations will inherit the consequences of our shame.

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