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How Will the Whales Know the Difference?

October 15th, 2018 · 24 Comments

I never knew Premier John Horgan and his NDP cohorts have such a great sense of humour!

But there was BC’s self-proclaimed environmental champion, standing right next to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in Kitimat … both of them beaming and laughing … thoroughly enjoying themselves at the prospect of a $40 Billion Liquid Natural Gas pipeline, processing megaproject plant that will bring hundreds of additional tankers to the West coast each year.

“This is a spectacular day for all British Columbians,” the NDP leader deadpanned.

“I can’t tell you how proud and how pleased I am to have the opportunity to lead the government’s work with all levels of government to make life better for all British Columbians,” Horgan pontificated  … reminding me of some Jerry Seinfeld-created character trying to court favour with his targeted audience.

“I can’t stop smiling,”  the Premier grinned, delivering his political punchline to those within listening range.

But environmental activists … especially those with intact memories … were not laughing.

Why?

Because as Michael Smyth, columnist for The Province, in fact recalled, there used to be another Horgan/NDP … without the big grin when it came to LNG.

“Although the official NDP position was to support the industry in principle, the New Democrats opposed the Petronas project and ridiculed Christy Clark’s previous Liberal government for its optimistic courting of the LNG sector” Smyth wrote in September.

“I would stop spending all my time talking about an industry that’s going nowhere,” Horgan said in 2015.”

(You can read the entire Smyth column here: https://theprovince.com/news/bc-politics/mike-smyth-lng-politics-ramp-up-as-massive-project-approval-looms … a really highly pertinent retrospective. )

In fact, in 2017, the new NDP government went so far as to cancel an international LNG conference planned for BC. Naysayers denounced and ridiculed the Christy Clark Liberal regime’s LNG dreams: the world LNG markets are oversupplied; the prices are too low; the environmental and coastal vessel impact would be devastating.

Some even pooh-poohed Clark’s LNG industry push as a “fantasy’ and even “pixie dust”.

Now they’re all sneezing!

Although certainly nothing to sneeze at are the huge GIVE-AWAYS the NDP have agreed to for the project:

“Horgan’s government promised LNG Canada in March approximately $5.3 billion in tax breaks, including exempting the project from planned increases to the carbon tax and exempting construction from the provincial sales tax” The Vancouver Sun reported  Oct. 4.

The NDP is also reportedly “repealing the previous Liberal government’s 3.5 per cent LNG income tax”… and is looking at ways to do that without even having the Legislature vote on the matter, so the Greens don’t quash the deal!    (Read The Sun full story here: https://vancouversun.com/news/politics/horgan-considers-ways-to-pass-lng-canada-project-without-a-vote.)

Talk about GIVE-AWAYS to big corporations and offshore resource developers! And this is being done by the NDP!!!

Can you even imagine the outcry on the left if the Liberals had not only given such massive tax breaks but also promised not to invoke a planned LNG income tax?

No laughing matter there …. but what we could all laugh about today … or cry over … is the hypocrisy of the NDP’s newfound belief in not only the viability of massive LNG exports, but also their huge give-aways to seal the deal and  their failure to adequately deal with concerns those tankers will pose for the West Coast’s endangered orca population and coastline perils.

LNG is different from oil, goes the latest spin.   (Especially NDP LNG as opposed to Liberal LNG?  LOL!)

Let’s keep it real: in case of a major accident and massive release, yes, LNG could vaporize, not sink into the ocean waters. BUT those vapors are highly explosive and any accident in port or nearby could still be devastating.

Plus, although the cargo will not be oil … the millions of gallons of bunker fuel propelling all those LNG-laden tankers will be!!!!  What happens then … in a major port or coastal accident or disaster?

And what about all the concerns we’ve heard about propeller noise and all the increased traffic will have on the orcas and other marine life on the Pacific coast?

The LNG project will add 350 vessels a year … 50 more than Trans Mountain’s additional 300 vessels a year.

Are the whales supposed to know the difference … and adjust accordingly between nice tankers and bad tankers?

Don’t get me wrong.

I support the LNG project … including construction of the 670-km pipeline that will bring the product from northeastern BC to Kitimat:  as long as state of the art environmental standards and protections are included on land and at sea; as long as most of the jobs go to British Columbians, Canadians and First Nations; and, as long as a fair share of the riches/benefits also go to British Columbia, Canada and First Nations.

But I am no hypocrite.

I also support the Trans Mountain project, under the VERY SAME rules: as long as state of the art environmental standards and protections are included on land and at sea; as long as most of the jobs go to British Columbians, Canadians and First Nations; and, as long as a fair share of the riches/benefits also go to British Columbia, Canada and First Nations.

And so should Horgan and the NDP  … ending their hypocrisy.

Harv Oberfeld

(Reminder: Follow me @harveyoberfeld on Twitter to get First Alerts of all new postings on this BC-based political blog.)

→ 24 CommentsTags: British Columbia · International · National

NO to Proportional Chaos/Blackmail: There’s A BETTER Solution

October 11th, 2018 · 30 Comments

It’s too bad governments don’t really listen to the people … or even fully canvass us on critical issues like how we elect our representatives.

The referendum ballot that will soon be mailed to British Columbians will NOT be the open, fair or free discussion of possible voting changes as promised by Premier John Horgan and his NDP/Green alliance when they took power in May 2017.

At that time they said they would “CONSULT” with the people on the issue and come up with a specific particular alternative proposal.

That has NOT happened.

What we’re getting instead is a  REFERENDUM BALLOT …  to choose to keep the current first-past-the- post system  or, if not, opt for one of three convoluted proportional systems … two of which have apparently NEVER been tried anywhere in the world (although they don’t tell you that on the ballot).

Democracy is far too important to be trifled with this way.

Readers of this blog know that, looking at the referendum as now formulated, I believe it would be better to KEEP the existing first-past-the-post  system … for now.

What SHOULD then be looked at by the government … IN TRUE CONSULTATION WITH THE PEOPLE … is an idea that was broached on this blog in the latest discussions by our citizen contributors … much more simple and a lot less dangerous than any of the proportional representation proposals  the NDP/Greens are trying to force on us in the referendum.

I’m talking about a RUNOFF system.

British Columbia and Canada are rich enough entities to be able to afford an electoral system that requires each winner to carry at least 50% of the total vote in that particular riding; and, failing that, the top two candidates would then face a RUNOFF vote a few weeks later, ensuring ultimate majority support for the representative chosen to hold the seat for years.

Think about it.

That not only would give independent candidates in each riding a better chance of getting elected, as a second choice,  as those with well-funded party backings/campaigns, and it would also ensure the ultimate winner DOES capture at least 50% of the total votes cast.

Brazil is the most famous country right now in the news that uses the runoff system … and a perfect example of a benefit under that system. The  ultra far right presidential candidate failed to win 50% of the original vote … so now there will be a runoff pitting him against the second place finisher, a leftist contender.

The runoff gives VOTERS … including those who initially voted for smaller parties or independents … a second chance either unite behind the original poll leader OR unite to make sure he does not get elected and take power.

More than three dozen countries already use the runoff system… including France, Czech Republic, Austria,  Poland, Portugal …  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Two-round_system .

Surely that is better than our current first-past-the-post system, under which someone can “win” with 30% of the vote or even less … and it prevents the chaos and dangers (read my earlier blog on proportional representation) that the referendum ballot about to drop on your doorstep would unleash.

First … we should ALL vote to KEEP the first-past-the-post system …  period.  Leave the p.r. section of the ballot EMPTY.

And then, the government should enter into a TRUE consultative process with THE PEOPLE about the idea of having a RUNOFF system to achieve what I believe most do want:  majority representation in every riding and every government.

And that would be brought in much more simple, efficient and understandable than the chaotic, blackmail-encouraging p.r. system now proposed.

Harv Oberfeld

(If you care about this issue and feel the RUNOFF option should be considered, instead of the convoluted proportional system, feel free to send it along to others.)

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