Third and final installment of Playing with the Dragon series coming next week.

At long last, the final installment of  the Playing with the Dragon series is nearly done, effectively creating a trilogy. It is perhaps, the most incendiary of the three posts, and for good reason-it speaks to the reach of the Chinese government in a Canadian arena where it should have no access whatsoever.

As a primer to provide background and context for readers unfamiliar with the series, I am re-posting the prior installments leading up to the new post.

Originally posted here:

Playing with the Dragon:  Who is looking after Canadian interests while China outwits our governments?

“We cannot enter into alliances until we know the designs of our neighbours.” ~ Sun Tzu

It should come as no surprise to anyone, that the script of a 6th century general and military strategist has been converted into a business playbook. Yes, Sun Tzu 孫子, author of The Art of War, was indeed a brilliant strategist and in this day when war is a business and business is war, his words are referred to by many for guidance.

Canadians would do well to take heed, and find a copy to read. Not only will it offer you a deeper understanding of the strategies used by many corporations, it will also help you to understand why the Chinese government is so interested in investing in Canada, if not only for our natural resources.

Indeed,as many news reports show, China seems to have decided – after several years of little to no investment – that Canada is one again a good place to invest. Therein lies the heart of this post.

Are all these new Chinese corporate or state investments and ownership good for Canada ?

Or has China simply played the part of the sleeping dragon for another reason, waiting for our government to become willing again to allow such open and easy access to our resources, our technology and our proximity to the United States? What is the real motive for China’s increasing interest in Canada ?

Although I have followed foreign investment interest in British Columbia for some time, via the Macquarie group in particular, it was Richard Fadden’s remarks in 2011 that really sparked my interest in the potential for foreign influence over domestic governments.

Fadden took an incredible amount of flack from then premier Gordon Campbell, along with several provincial MLA’s and municipal politicians after remarking that in B.C., CSIS was investigating foreign influence over several politicians/ government employees.

Oddly enough, this revelation was considered a racial swipe at the entire Chinese community in B.C.,as if every immigrant were suddenly tarred by the actions of a few associated with foreign governments. In fact, Fadden did not single out China as the only foreign country of influence, and it was clear that this was not a racial issue, but a government influence issue.

This is the full Fadden interview, with reference to his now infamous speech. Please watch in its’ entirety, for a pre-cursor to what comes next.

There you have it.

If anything, I think Fadden was trying to warn Canadians, British Columbians, to wake up and smell the coffee.

Look what has happened in our country – look what may be happening now.

Of course, he became the object of many B.C. politicians wrath and ire for his statements, had to do some damage control, but again, most assumed he was referring specifically to Chinese influence, and perhaps he was, but the interview does not reflect that.

You have to have some background understanding of espionage threats in Canada- most of which are vastly under the radar of average Canadians, but I think he wanted to let those know who might be too friendly with foreign governments, that CSIS was watching.

Others have looked at the American influence on BC politicians, and while I do agree that is occurring, there has been much discussion and attention in the past to China.

That is why, it was with great interest this article popped up on my alerts recently: China trying to politically infiltrate NZ and Australia.

Not because it involved China, but because the article details an alleged leaked intelligence briefing for Australian law enforcement agencies that boldly refers to the Sidewinder Report… a report many assert was killed, debunked and shredded directly because of political pressure.

In fact, in the comments section below this very brief preview of the article online, someone tries very hard to negate the reference and again, debunk Sidewinder as conspiracy, even over ten years after the fact.

When you consider that an ex-envoy who defected from the Chinese consulate in Australia came to Canada with evidence of a Chinese spying program in Australia, stating the Chinese used the same methods in western countries to exert political influence over sensitive issues… this alleged leaked intelligence brief takes on a new significance for Canadians.

Here is that brief preview, the full article is available only with a subscription:

“A leaked intelligence briefing for Australian law enforcement agencies suggests China may have already deeply penetrated Australian and New Zealand political and business circles for espionage purposes.

The document, reprinted in the new Investigate magazine out this week, says the pattern of Chinese “investment” in Australia and New Zealand is following exactly the same lines as it did in Canada, where intelligence agencies discovered Chinese government agents posing as rich investment migrants had bribed and corrupted Canadian politicians and officials.

“Few of you will have heard about the “Sidewinder Report”,” states the briefing paper published in Investigate.

“Allowing it was tabled over a decade ago, after which money, influence and corruption were all brought to bear to have copies shredded, that isn’t surprising. Fortunately a single digital copy survived, so we can still analyze/learn from this in-depth and rather alarming study, which is a very good example of Asian/Triad/Organized crime/long term planning.

“I personally believe a similar scenario exists/is being established in the likes of NZ and Australia, where similar immigration policies are in force. For this reason, I want to give you a detailed breakdown of the report, and you can perhaps reach your own conclusions.

“The report was commissioned in the mid 1990′s codenamed “Sidewinder” and was a joint effort prepared by Canada’s Secret Intelligence Service and the National Security Division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Its mandate was to look at Chinese Triad involvement and integration into Canadian Financial and Governmental sectors.

“The report clearly found that over a period of time many Chinese triads, agents of the Chinese Secret Intelligence Service, and Hong Kong tycoons, had firmly established themselves in Canada and had acquired Canadian nationality.”

The document states that Western governments have relied on official Chinese agencies to “vet” prospective immigrants to Canada, the US, Australia, UK and New Zealand, because local law enforcement has no way of independently verifying the identity or history of migrants.

That’s allowed China to slip its own agents into Western nations under the guise of immigration vetting.

“Canadian and Chinese consular staff were selling visas to members of the Chinese mafia and China’s intelligence service, prices were as high as $100,000 per visa,” says the leaked report.

In return for being approved to live and do business in the West, the migrants were given orders on how they could repay the favour to Chinese intelligence.

“They were instructed to make donations and get involved with political parties. Children studied hard and were directed at Government positions, many becoming well established in the ranks of the Immigration dept.  [Name withheld] was Minister of [Portfolio withheld] during the 90′s. He forged close links which China. “Somehow” he and his cronies are now all millionaires.

“By the year 2000, Chinese people affiliated to Triads owned one-third of downtown Vancouver. China invested over one billion dollars in 2001 to buy Canadian businesses in strategic areas and is also a large stockholder in Canada’s Imperial Bank.  It controls 15 corporations in the country’s technology sector.   By 2002, over 200 Canadian Companies were under the direct control of China’s International Trust & Investment Corporation (CITIC).

“CITIC (Pacific) has many links to major Australian and NZ businesses. The Pengxin Group currently bidding to buy Crafar farms in New Zealand are linked to CITIC. CITIC operates directly under the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It is also the world’s largest private operator of container terminals, having lucrative stakes in 17 ports in Europe alone.”

The full report is in the latest Investigate magazine, but its publication coincides with reports this week that Australian intelligence has vetoed the involvement of communications giant Huawei in Australia’s broadband network, for fears it will help China spy on Australia.

Huawei has already been given approval to take part in New Zealand’s broadband rollout.

The chairman of Huawei was formerly a senior official in the Chinese state intelligence agency, and its founder was formerly a solder in the People’s Liberation Army.

Huawei denies any involvement in espionage, but this week its links with US corporates were also cut over similar fears.”

How interesting, that an intelligence document alleged to have been leaked from an overseas source trusted enough to publish it, would mention Sidewinder after all these years.

Sidewinder, for those of you who may have not have heard of the scandal, was a controversial report worked on and put together by a group of RCMP and CSIS officials in the late 1990′s, that was ultimately suppressed, denied as conjecture and theory rather than fact by the SIRC – the Security Intelligence Review committee – the government agency that oversees CSIS.

All copies and supporting materials were ordered destroyed, however several copies were leaked to various media outlets, as well as  several writers across Canada. A full accounting of the scandal can be found here

From Operation Sidewinder – there are many, many other media reports, this is the most concise, comprehensive article:

“It was Sidewinder that sounded the first alarm bells that China is one of the greatest ongoing threats to Canada’s national security and Canadian industry.

But even after Sidewinder was side swiped by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, intelligence proves that there is no doubt that an active Chinese Intelligence Service has been able to gain influence on vital sectors of the Canadian economy, including real estate, high technology and security. The bottom line is that this unprecedented influence gave China ongoing access to economic, political and some military intelligence in Canada.

Operation Sidewinder met with a fate that silenced ringing alarm bells. Officially entitled Chinese Intelligence Services and Triads Financial Links in Canada, it was buried. Following orders from persons unknown, CSIS watered down Sidewinder’s worrisome conclusions and replaced it with a revised document called, Echo.

CSIS officials maintain that they buried Sidewinder because it relied on nothing more than conspiracy theories—even though heralded the news in August 2003 that some 3,500 Chinese spy companies had been identified operating in Canada and the United States.

While CSIS claimed that conspiracy caused them to go mum, other intelligence sources are saying that political pressure forced CSIS to abandon the Sidewinder report.

Prominent among Sidewinder’s case studies was The Chinese, state-owned China International Trust Investment Company (CITIC), which already has a subsidiary up and running in Canada. CITIC has spent about $500 million to buy a Canadian pulp mill, a petrochemical company, vast real estate and hotels. At the time of the Sidewinder report. CITIC already had connections with one large Canadian corporation.

Add to that portfolio, the Alberta oil sands, ownership of which is currently being contemplated by a state-owned Chinese company and a Toronto-based mine company, Noranda Mines–a deal worth more than $7 billion.


Conspiracy theories were tossed out the window when U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Export Affairs, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Rand Corporation had identified Li Ka-Shing and Hutchison Whampoa (Li’s primary business) as financing or serving as a conduit for Communist China’s military in order for them to acquire sensitive technologies and other equipment.”

To read what remains of the SideWinder report, you can access it in PDF format here:

At this point, I will mention that two men were, with calculated dedication, targeted with respect to their careers and reputations because of what they knew about SideWinder and because they would not drop it.

Cpl Robert Read, was fired from the RCMP for a ‘lack of loyalty to the government’, after a long legal battle. You can read about his battles, here:

Brian McAdam, a former Canadian diplomat, had his career toppled after discovering the sale of Canadian Visas and government connections to organized crime. You can read his story here:

Read those stories and you can see why I find it so interesting that an alleged leaked intelligence briefing, reported overseas, would candidly refer Sidewinder with clear respect for the information.

In my opinion, it bears re-examination of the past to learn for our future. And yet our government still denies all of the SideWinder report as conspiracy theory, even after ex-CSIS head Jim Judd had declared China the number one concern for espionage in Canada and that the agency spent half its counter espionage budget on dealing with China.

It is no wonder foreign governments mock Canada as the country bumpkin cousin.

Here is a telling( even the cached version is no longer available following the posting of this article)  2011 report from Embassy Magazine, Canada’s foreign policy newspaper, titled : Are Chinese spies getting an easy ride?    It is an absolute eye-opener,  and I recommend you read the entire story, however here is an excerpt:

“Since 2008, there have been at least 57 defendants in US federal prosecutions involving Chinese espionage or efforts to pass classified information, technology or trade secrets to operatives in China, according to a May 7 Associated Press report.

Armed with legal tools, and a sense of urgency fuelled by reports to US Congress citing a paramount risk to American technological superiority, the FBI enthusiastically goes after spies in their midst. One US judge, in the 2010 case of a former B-2 bomber engineer convicted of sending cruise missile technology to the Chinese, said he wanted to send a signal to China to “stop sending your spies here.”

But in Canada, several individuals with expertise in the field argue that a mix of federal agency infighting, insufficient legal frameworks, difficulties with prosecuting espionage cases, and fear of upsetting ongoing investigations has resulted in Canadabeing unable to bring any spies to court in the last few years.

They also say Canada’s “new era” of business-friendly relations with China, recently highlighted by Foreign Minister John Baird’s trip, has led to a hesitation by government to pursue legal action against spies.

Historic warnings

The lack of Chinese espionage prosecutions presents an odd situation for a Conservative government that burst into power carrying ominous messages about Chinese espionage in Canada, and that has recently been hit by a major hacking incident that was traced back to the Chinese embassy.

In 2006, then-foreign minister Peter MacKay told CTV the government was “concerned” that Chinese spies were stealing industrial trade secrets, and said it was something he would raise with the Chinese government.

For years, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have assessed the threat posed by Chinese organized crime and intelligence services on Canadians. There were reports in 2005 suggesting that there were as many as 1,000 Chinese economic spies operating in Canada, for example.

And despite earlier efforts to downplay the threat, CSIS has been trying in the last few years to alert the public. In 2007, CSIS director Jim Judd told a Senate committee that China “pretty much” ranked as the top country sending agents to Canada, with “close” to 50 per cent of all agents in the country.

Most memorably, in June 2010, CSIS director Richard Fadden told the CBC that municipal officials and provincial Cabinet ministers from two provinces were under the influence of foreign governments, and hinted that the Chinese government was one of the culprits.

Chinese-Canadian groups criticized him for inciting needless widespread suspicion, and he subsequently backed off his comments. Yet in another speech, he said that the recent explosion of Canadian technological prowess in the areas of agriculture, aerospace, biotechnology, mining and other sectors makes it a prime target for economic espionage from countries like China. And CSIS’s report to Parliament in June made some similar comments.

This year, the Treasury Board, Department of Finance and Defence Research and Development Canada computers, as well as the computer system of the House of Commons, were hacked and sensitive government information was stolen. Reports said the attack was traceable to the Chinese Embassy as well as computers in Beijing, but the Chinese government denied involvement. “

It brings me back to my headline: Exactly who is looking after Canadian interests while China seemingly outwits our governments?  Is anyone? Who is watching the watchers?

Considering the past and current BC Liberal agenda seems nearly at times entirely dependent on investment and trade with China and other asian countries, who is making sure the political decisions being made are right for British Columbia, and Canada as a whole? Yes, we as a country, and here in B.C. as a province, are banking on trade with China as an economic force to keep the economy strong, but is this happening with our eyes wide shut? I’m not saying bring it all to a grinding halt, I’m saying we as Canadians need to be asking our politicians some serious questions here.

I’m not the only person questioning our politicians motives and agendas, by far.

In this recent Edmonton Journal article, the direct link is made to a large majority of Chinese state control of the Enbridge Pipeline project ( 2014 update, cached version of this article is no longer available either) :

“More recently, the Chinese have turned their attention to securing control of the pipeline infrastructure that would take Canadian bitumen to refineries in China.

Perhaps you thought the Northern Gateway pipeline was solely a project of Canadian pipe-line company Enbridge Inc. Think again.

Enbridge offered a limited group of investors the right to equity ownership in the project in return for financing the National Energy Board regulatory approval process and predevelopment of the project. For $10 million each, these funding participants receive preferred access and toll rates as shippers on the pipeline.

Only six of the funding participants have identified themselves. This means there might be four others, or, perhaps some of the six participants hold more than one partnership right. The six companies are Sinopec, MEG Energy Corp., Nexen Inc., Cenovus Energy, Suncor Energy Marketing Inc., and Total E&P Canada.

With these funding partners, almost all roads lead to Chinese state control.”


All of this raises serious questions about the Harper government’s decision to champion a “rip-it-and-ship-it” export strategy over a value-added strategy for Canadian resources.

It’s not a surprise, nor is it inappropriate, for the Chinese to look after Chinese national interests. That’s why they want the Northern Gateway pipeline.

But the resources in question are not owned by the Chinese or the Americans. They’re not owned by oil companies. They’re owned by the citizens of Canada.

Who, we ask, is looking after the Canadian interest?”

Terry Glavin, goes even further in his recent column in the Ottawa Citizen, (***yet another error 404 in 2014, but here is another for you: ) examining the seeming about-face Harper has taken with respect to policies, regulations and the Northern Gateway project.

His column is an absolute must read from beginning to end, to understand the flips and flops the Conservatives have taken on this, but here is an excerpt:

“Sinopec had barely settled into its director’s chair at Syncrude’s board table when it revealed that it was partnering on Enbridge Inc.’s proposed $6-billion pipeline from the oilsands to awaiting supertankers at Kitimat on the B.C. coast.

Checkmate. Well, that’s odd, you might say. Isn’t this the same pipeline that Harper and Industry Minister Oliver are now calling a project that is vital to Canada’s national interests? Anyone can see how it’s in Beijing’s interests. But Canada’s?

It all depends on what you mean when you talk like that.

Way back in the 1980s, the Security Intelligence Review Committee was urging amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to spell out what Canadians mean when we talk about foreign-power connivings that are “detrimental” to Canada’s national interests. “It is almost wholly subjective: no criteria are provided to offer any standard for determining what is ‘detrimental’,” a SIRC report once pointed out.

The definitions in the CSIS Act still don’t clearly define what “detrimental” means, but unlike Investment Canada, CSIS has muddled through and is properly content to couple Canada’s “national security” with “the security and economic welfare of Canada.” Until late last year, Harper himself was happy to use language just like that whenever he returned to his solemn vow to keep Alberta’s oilsands jobs and investment opportunities in Canada, and not ship bitumen offshore to countries with haywire environmental rules like China. It was a Conservative party pledge in 2006 and 2008 and 2010.

But the rules had got hollowed out, and after Sinopec’s checkmate at the Syncrude table, everything went sideways.

Now, Harper is insisting it’s Enbridge’s Sinopec-backed bitumen-export project that is in Canada’s national interests. It’s positively vital to Canada’s interests and furthermore, it’s something we must all rally around because Canada’s very future depends on it…”

Glavin ends his column with this passage:

“Sinopec has managed to get away with being Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s most reliable sanctions busting ally. It succeeded as the protector of the genocidaire Omar al-Bashir’s regime in Khartoum. It’s still getting away with being the guarantor of the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad’s bottomless bank account in Damascus.

And Sinopec is Canada’s new best friend. We are all sitting ducks.”

Defenceless indeed, when Harper seems to be more than eager to push this pipeline though, gut regulations and allow transactions and buyouts that give the Chinese government tremendous leverage over our land, resources and yes, our governments.

And to be honest, I still don’t know who exactly is looking after Canadians interests – if anyone – while China continues to make strategic acquisitions and takeovers. Our governments seem to be only giving constant applause as they do.

( Also worthy of a read are the comments under the original post )

One more nail in the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline coffin as B.C. Mayors vote against the highly contentious project.

B.C’s mayors have been busy at their annual conference, held in Whistler this year, passing a resolution that staunchly opposes both the proposed Enbridge pipeline project, and another that calls on senior governments to formally ban tanker traffic and offshore drilling  in B.C.

From the Surrey Leader today, courtesy of Jeff Nagel :

A controversial pipeline that would carry oil sands crude from Alberta across northern B.C. to tankers on the north coast has taken a hit from the Union of B.C. Municipalities.

Civic leaders at the annual conference in Whistler passed a resolution opposing Enbridge’s Northern Gateway proposal.

They also voted to call on senior governments to formally legislate a ban on offshore oil drilling and to ban oil tanker traffic in the waters surrounding Haida Gwaii.

Opponents of crude oil exports were jubilant, particularly delegates from the Village of Queen Charlotte, which sponsored some of the resolutions.

“It is simply too much to risk, the consequences too high, our knowledge too insufficient and the wrong place to put our hopes and dreams,” Queen Charlotte Mayor Carol Kulesha said, adding she hopes the endorsement adds more fuel to the fight against the Enbridge project.

Critics say oil sands petroleum comes with a higher carbon footprint and the pipeline would bring unacceptable risks of pollution – both inland and offshore – in the event of a spill.

“The enormous environmental damage done in the Gulf of Mexico is something we don’t want to see here,” Metchosin Coun. Moralea Milne said.

Other delegates said the Enbridge pipeline would cross hundreds of northern streams and rivers and bring 225 tankers a year to Kitimat, through north coast waters prone to hurricane-force winds.

Stunning, and wonderful news that is likely tying some hefty knots in the knickers of Enbridge exec’s and trough-feeders like former Prince George mayor turned Enbridge propaganda artist , Colin Kinsley, who worked in the natural gas industry prior to moving into politics.

The question is, will we see this very newsworthy item on the front page locally?

At long last, a return to Bits and Bites,Tuesday June 8th, 2010

Good evening, my loyal friends and readers!

 I have to thank all of you for your continued patience and let you know how much I appreciate your faithful stops even though the pages here have remained vacant of posts for some time. All I can say is that sometimes life lobs you a hard-ball, and then sometimes life burns in two or three in succession, and as a result, I’ve had to take time to attend to my health and my family. I’ve still been working on various stories behind the scenes, but at a far less dedicated level than previously. I promise to be back to filling these pages with insight and revelations as often as I can over the summer, and who knows, you may even see a special feature of  the Laila Yuile Road Trip across BC…

And out of the starting gate today… It seems there was much ado about nothing at the Basi-Virk trial today, as we all wait -again- to find out the decisions of the two jurors who were not sure if they could continue their duty well into 2011.  I invite all of you to tune into my three favoured sources for all things Basi- Virk ( Railgate) ,each of which posts continued and detailed updates on the proceedings: The Gazetteer, my good friend BC Mary’s site, The Legislature Raids, and of course, my friend Bill Tieleman, who has had some interesting experiences in the past when it comes to Railgate related incidents.  

Next up, I have to say that if there is any grace, any tiny blessing in the horror that continues down south with the BP oil disaster, it is that it may jolt the minds of locals who have yet to form an opinion on the Enbridge pipeline, of which I have been blogging about since last year.  see these posts for my coverage of this issue:  Support divided for Enbridge Northern Pipeline, Close Call on BC coast should be “Wake-up call” for all British Columbians ( contains links to several other posts of mine, and a great video link of the Exxon Valdez) . I called it then in the first post about the fact that the alleged moratorium against tanker traffic is baseless, as did others before me- but did anyone listen then?

I think, I hope, that they are all listening, and watching now. What we have here in BC is unique, precious and must be saved and preserved at all costs for future generations.

I was thinking about all of this when I was surfing through YouTube recently, when I found the  following two videos.

The first is taken from Question Period in the Legislature, March 23rd, 2010. The entire video is worth watching ,but is you are short on time, FAST FORWARD TO the 2 minute mark and pay close attention to what Premier Gordon Campbell says in his rare moment of speaking in the house.  He says , quite clearly, ( and I paraphrase here ) that if the First Nations say no to the Enbridge pipelines, THEY WILL NOT PROCEED…. This is a very,very important moment caught on tape.

Now, the following video was taken the day BEFORE premier Gordon Campbell’s great speech declaring that if First Nations were opposed, they would not proceed with the pipeline. The date is March 22nd, 2010

This video shows the Coastal First Nations press conference  stating unequivocably that they will not allow, support or endorse in any way, the Northern Gateway project and the Enbridge pipeline. Clear as a  bell to me. 

So. Please tell me why this project has advanced to the environmental review stage, and why Enbridge is still spending tons of money emailing people like me their glossy new project brochure?  ( PDF)

And, if that wasn’t enough, check out this link  to the great people at the Dogwood Initiative :

By arranging to attend as official representatives of Enbridge shareholders, I and whoever comes with me have a once-in-a-year chance at holding Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel to account, by asking him point blank questions on the record. For representatives of First Nations who make it to the AGM, it’s a unique chance to assert their jurisdiction in front of senior executives, the Board of Directors, shareholders, and the financial media.

This year the AGM team included myself, Vice Tribal Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Terry Teegee, Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale) of the Wet’suwet’en, and Nikki Skuce from our colleague organization Forest Ethics.

I’m not gonna lie; trips like this are always stressful. There’s the logistics (e.g. my Greyhound bus broke down on the way to Calgary), the preparation, making sure media know why you’re there and what you’re doing, and the worry up until the end that something’s not going to go according to plan.

But somehow it always works out, and this time was no different. Super Calgary volunteer John Vickers pulled through with an entire series of professionally designed posters to be used as rally placards outside the meeting; we were able to speak with TV and print media about the issue; John and Terry did an amazing job of asserting First Nations’ jurisdiction over the project; and, we got Patrick Daniel on the record admitting to three crucial points:

(1)    That Enbridge hasn’t been completely upfront with all of the shippers they’ve been negotiating with about the inadequacies of the review process for the project.

(2)    That the broad opposition to Enbridge’s oil pipeline and tanker project creates “significant” risk for the company, which the Board of Directors discusses virtually every time they meet.

(3)    That the “protocol agreements” that Enbridge has signed with some First Nations don’t actually indicate support for the project, and that at current count, there are zero First Nations he is aware of that are publicly supporting it; in contrast to the 28 who are publicly opposing it. Enbridge’s project is on shaky ground

These statement’s by Daniel proves what we knew all along, the Enbridge project is on shaky ground. More importantly they give us the opportunity to drive home the message that Enbridge is in for a fight they can’t win

Campbell proved he was a liar with the HST, and continues it with Enbridge. 

The premier needs to put an end to this and stick to his word, for once. We do not want an environmental disaster here, in this place of incredible beauty and diverse ecosystems.

Speaking of the HST, a curious note to mention here , direct from my blog stats. WordPress shows me what search terms people used to find my blog ,and one of the top search terms for the last month has been : ” How much will my HST rebate cheque be if I am low-income?”

What does that tell you? People are freaking out about paying the HST and already counting on getting some money back. Yes, we know  the Liberals are going to issue rebate cheques for those among us who are hurting, but it is far too little in the end to save any of the woefully lagging Liberals. Especially now that the First Nations in BC have joined the fight.  (Let me guess if that is going to help. ..or hurt, the treaty process…)

Last, but not least, there will be more to come this week on an interesting angle to the South Fraser Perimeter Road, and let me tell you, it’s quite a PR angle that may not have been discussed yet.  Call me a tease, but that is all I’m going to give you right now.

A quick bit of insanity for you relating to the Canada Line: Who exactly decided giant orange Cheeto Bears make any kind of sense at all coming out of this wall ?  Yep. I thought so.Seriously, what’s the deal with these bears, and more importantly, how much did they cost?

Under the  ” Bet you won’t see this in the Sun or Province ” banner, I bring to you a very Proud to be Canadian moment from our friends at The Galloping Beaver ( and let me tell you, this would be a crowning blogger moment, if I may so so myself!)  

The Galloping Beaver – Banned in Guantanamo

Friday, June 04, 2010

We get mail :


Your website is one I have long visited and I was quite surprised when I was visiting Guantanamo last month and I was not allowed to visit your website while at the base. I received a notice that the website was not allowed to be accessed by the “administrator” (military censors) (not an exact quote). I was quite surprised, went to other websites that I thought might be more controversial but had no problem and checked at various times to get on to your website (I was there for almost a week this visit) but I never could get on to your website.

So, please take my congrats….I would consider it an honor to be barred by those thugs!

Best regards,

H. Candace Gorman

Well … just … wow. We at The Beav also consider it an honour to be visited by Guantanamo human and civil rights lawyer Candace Gorman.

Ms. Gorman was successful earlier this year in freeing one of her clients from Guantanamo and maintains The Guantanamo Blog to “provide updates on developments concerning the plight of the detainees, the ongoing injustice of current U.S. detention policies in the “War on Terror” and efforts to hold accountable those men and women responsible for the war crimes”.
Today she writes :

Of course Bush only spoke about his joy in waterboarding KSM…..I wonder how he will respond to questions about waterboarding Abu Zubaydah (some 100 times) as the government has now been forced to admit Abu Z was not al-Qaeda or taliban …. just some shmuck who had the misfortune to be captured by my criminal

Another recent blog entry asks you to lend your support to a military lawyer who refused to prosecute a man who was tortured into confessing. Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveldis is now at risk of losing his 19 year military career for doing so.

Thanks for making our day, Candace, and for all your fine work defending justice and the rule of law from thugs.

Email published with permission of author.

Congratulations to all the busy beavers posting over there, and if you haven’t been to visit, why not head over and check them out?  Consistantly great posts that hit the mark every time !

Last, but not least, I would like to thank my army of ” helpers”, who without which , it would be all that much harder to write the blog. You know who you are, and I thank you today for all that you do to get these stories out.

Take care , and see you again soon!

Close call on BC coast, should be ‘Wake- Up call’ for British Columbians.

A couple days ago, one of my  regular readers( astro)  shared a shocking story here in the comments section. His source for the information was

During one of last weeks storms and ensuing high seas, a cargo ship that was anchored offshore Mayne Island was pushed onto a reef, where it immediately became a serious threat to the coastline.  While the ship was a cargo freighter, the fuel tanks may have been carrying up to 1.2 million gallons that- had the hull been punctured or breached- would have had catastrophic impact on our coast line.

Now, ships run aground more frequently than one thinks, so the fact that a ship became grounded on a reef is not the shocking  part of the story  that I refer to.

What is shocking, is that the BC Ministry of Environment saw the seriousness of the situation, and immediately notified the American government – but did not tell British Columbians one word. The American government issued a press release immediately, and swiftly mobilized staff to monitor the situation.  I can not find one word of a press release from our government, still, today.

From Paul Willcock’s Blog:

So the B.C. Environment Ministry told Washington State, but provided no information to British Columbians.
The DFO, as far as I can tell, provided no public information.
The Gulf Islands Driftwood had the story by Friday afternoon.
But 72 hours after an incident that “could have oiled the islands on both sides of the border,” according to the government of Washington State, only a small number of British Columbians knew about the grounding. Governments were silent.
The argument for tanker traffic relies heavily on the effectiveness and accountability of governments in protecting the public interest.
But only Washington seemed to think this important enough to tell the public about.

The B.C. and Canadian governments didn’t think you needed to know.

Today is Tuesday, November 24th, and as of yet I have heard, nor read any coverage of this locally. Nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch.

In fact, had it not been for ‘astro’ bringing us that bit of information from Paul’s website, I would never had heard about the incident that ” posed a significant risk of a large black oil spill” and ” could have oiled  the islands on both sides of the border”. Likely you would not have either, unless you read Paul’s site.

To me, it is completely unacceptable that the BC government would see fit to warn Americans of the possible danger of this grounding, but leave British Columbians in the dark! It makes me wonder at what point would they have issued a press release? When the oil was lapping on our shores?

***UPDATE: November 25th- I found this item on the NDP site : ” Liberal minister clueless about major threat to our coast”


When questioned by media in the legislature on Monday about the threat caused by the Hebei Lion, a large freighter that ran aground near Mayne Island last week, the B.C. Liberal Environment Minister, Barry Penner, had no idea an incident had even occurred.


Fleming is especially concerned about the Mr. Penner’s lack of awareness about the situation given that other B.C. Liberal ministers are lobbying heavily for expanded crude oil supertanker traffic and for the lifting of the federal moratorium on coastal drilling.

“If the B.C. Liberal environment minister doesn’t even pay attention to the environmental threats caused by routine shipping activities, how can the people of British Columbia trust him to protect our coastal wilderness from coastal drilling and crude oil supertanker traffic?” asked Fleming.

Carole James and the New Democrats are fighting for an environmental action plan that respects communities, offers families positive choices and commits to concrete action to protect species at risk.

According to this release, the media questioned Barry Penner about this incident in the legislature, and he clearly had no clue it even happened, so what happened next?

Nothing for those of us on the mainland. The  Victoria Times Colonist ran this story yesterday, but as of this morning I can find nothing in any of the large local dailies or any other evidence this made a newscast in BC.

 Is this not newsworthy for all British Columbians, or is everyone expected to read the Times Colonist?


If anything, this incident give me another reason to make something old, something new again. The Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline Project.

An issue for me the moment I heard about it, this is something I have been blogging about since May of this year, trying to inform as many people as I can.

The following is a re-post of a piece I published here online back in July, and leads you to links on other bits I’ve done previous to then, that will give you even more background on why this latest incident should make you all think about the risks we may shortly face along BC’s beautiful coast.

Debate rages on over Enbridge ‘Northern Gateway’ Project and the Liberals plan to allow oil tankers along the B.C. coast

As I sat and watched the CBC documentary, ” Black Wave: The Legacy of the Exxon Valdez” , I couldn’t help but wonder how long it would be before a disaster like this hit our beautiful B.C. coastline. That is, if the Northern Gateway project goes ahead in northern B.C., resulting in oil-supertankers zig-zagging their way along-side it.

The focus of intense scrutiny from both residents in the area and environmentalists alike, the project centers around the  construction of two pipelines that  will, when built, originate in the Edmonton area ,cross northern B.C. and will end in the port community of Kitimat. This is where Enbridge will construct a new  port terminal, complete with two berths to accommodate oil tankers.  Residents and environmentalists are worried about the likelihood of oil spills along  both of the pipelines and the coastal waters of British Columbia –  frankly, so am I.

I’ve written about this issue previously HERE and HERE– covering both the political and environmental angles of it. Although the NDP brought this project and the likelihood of oil tanker traffic along our coast up as an election issue,( oil tanker traffic has not been allowed along the BC coast for years, but Gordon Campbell plans to change all that)  I’ve heard nothing since their defeat – a shame on all counts. The issue has certainly become no less important  nor has it gone away.

This is why the timing of an email I received from a Kitimat resident was so relevant to what I learned from the Exxon Valdez documentary. But first, let’s take a look at the statistics.

Contrary to information given by those who support the project, oil spills at sea are not uncommon events at all. In fact, they  actually happen all the time – they are just not highly publicized unless it is such a disastrous event that it merits the fleeting attention of the press. A good majority of spills happen at sea, and never even merit a mention, and some go entirely unreported. The documentary mentioned above covers all of this in complete detail, and is a must see for anyone who cares about this coastline.

According to the International Tanker Owners Pollution Federation, there were 13 reported spills in 2007, and 3 of them were over 700 tonnes, which is considered to be a large spill.

It is accurate to say that with the number of oil tankers predicted to be travelling the coast of BC carrying condensate and oil back and forth from the pipeline, it is not a matter of  ” if a spill happens”, but rather “when it happens”.  And unlike spills at open sea, a spill among the islands and channels of the B.C coastline would have devastating and long-lasting  consequences for years to come.

Nearly twenty years after the EXXON spill, there is still oil to be found in the area, not to mention the economic and personal costs inflicted on the residents that have never disappeared.

For example, the bankruptcies that occurred when several fisheries tanked as a result of oil contamination that affected the fish runs.

A class action court case that took so long children grew into adults while it continued on, because Exxon vowed they would do everything they could to NOT pay that judgement.

And the suicides – let us not forget those. Wonderful and vital members of the town of Cordova, Alaska who lost much during the years following the spill – including all hope – and could no longer bear the stress and strain of life after EXXON.  There is no compensation for them, or their families because how can you attach a monetary value to a life.

In the end, the ocean and the town and the people in it were nothing more than a big bill to Exxon, a bill they didn’t even want to pay, because to pay the judgment meant losing money out of their operating capital that could be busy making them more money. Despite telling the people of Cordova they would make it right, and do whatever it took to make that happen, in the end it was not anything good or noble that made them pay- it was the highest court of law in the United States of America.

Is this what the residents of B.C. want? I can’t answer that question, because in my experience, very few people  even know this project is happening, let along being supported fully by the B.C. government.

It is that lack of knowledge , and the lack of attention being paid to this by most local media, that infuriates me. How can someone object to something that they have no knowledge of?  This is just what the Campbell government wants, and does best – keep silent, don’t answer any questions, and keep the people in the dark.

You will hear  the premier speaking often about opening up the Asia Pacific Gateway, but has anyone heard the premier speak about how  his government plans to handle an oil spill along the B.C coast that he promotes every where he travels? Supernatural BC alright – I wonder what will happen when boaters and coastal residents wake up and see the tankers along the coast…or worse yet, the stench of crude oil as it laps upon their beautiful seaside retreats – some of them perhaps, Liberal vacation homes.

It is the effort to inform the public  combined with a fierce love for this province that drives the residents opposed to this project up north to soldier on, people like Murrey Minchin.

I received this letter to the editor he sent to the Northern Sentinal newspaper in Kitimat, on July 16th – Mr. Minchin will advise me if it is indeed published, as many publications in the north have developed a reputation for not printing letters that are in opposition to the project. I have inserted the link to the Enbridge webpage where the amount of oilspills they have had can be found, on page 34

 “ Dear Editor,
I’d like to respond to the article, ‘Gateway is a proposal, not a project: Harris’, in the July 8th, 2009 Northern Sentinel. In it, your reporter writes, “As for safety, Harris hoped the project will make the environment they work in” (then Harris is quoted as saying) “safer than without the project”.
When Mr Harris says things will be, “safer than without the project”, he’s probably referring to the aids to navigation on Douglas Channel that are part of the proposal. I can’t imagine even he believes two 1,170 km pipelines, one carrying 193,000 barrels (over 30 million litres) of condensate a day east to Alberta, and the other carrying 525,000 barrels (over 83 million litres) of oil a day west to Kitimat, or having supertankers zig-zagging their way down Douglas Channel can make the environments Enbridge works in, “safer than without the project”.
I’m guessing Enbridge didn’t hire Roger Harris as vice president of Communications and Aboriginal Partnerships for his in-depth knowledge of constructing oil pipelines and oil ports, or his expertise in their operation. My hunch is he was hired to draw on his many years in politics and be Enbridge’s spin doctor; to apply soft focus filters over the wrinkles in Enbridge’s Northern Gateway project. Spin doctors hide things like important details, or uncomfortable truths. They don’t give clear answers or reference their sources. I hope I’m wrong with this assumption, so I’m inviting Mr Harris to give some clear, concise answers to the following questions, and ask him to reply to them here in the Northern Sentinel for all to see.
1) How much time does it take a tethered tug to stop a fully loaded 1,148 foot long supertanker that’s carrying 2,050,000 barrels (over 325 million litres) of oil traveling at six knots, which has lost power?
2) If the powerless supertanker above was drifting at six knots while traveling with a six knot outgoing tide (or twelve knots relative to the shore, islands, shoals, etc), what distance would the tug and supertanker travel before the tug could stop it, then pull it backwards fast enough to gain directional control?
3) The almost 40 year old Pacific Northern Gas underground pipeline has been ruptured once in the Copper River valley and once in the Howson Range by landslides. How much oil would spill into the Copper River if the pipeline is hit by another 1.4 million cubic meter landslide, as happened in the Copper River valley 15.5 kilometers from the Skeena River on June 8, 2002?  Given there are to be ten pumping stations on the pipeline, isn’t there a possibility that 10% of the 525,000 barrels of oil (that would be 52,500 barrels, or over 8 million litres) would spill into the Copper, then Skeena Rivers? 
4) According to the Enbridge website their Canadian and US pipelines spilled 13,777 barrels (over 2 million litres) of oil in 2007. This was east of the Rocky Mountains on comparatively flat terrain. Do you, Mr Harris, believe the Copper and Skeena Rivers as well as Douglas Channel and all its connecting waterways are, “safer than without the project”? If not, why?
5) Why won’t Enbridge agree to have a full public enquiry held in Kitimat, requiring sworn testimony on all aspects of the Northern Gateway project?
My hope is Mr Harris will answer these questions clearly and with definitive numbers, but my fear is they’ll be spin doctored out of harms way. That would mean one of two things; either Enbridge is hiding facts which they know would cause massive environmental harm, or they haven’t bothered to research things fully. Both are unacceptable!
Murray Minchin
Kitimat, BC “
I have emailed the Northern Gateway office to ask if Roger Harris would like to answer Mr. Minchins questions and will post his reply if he chooses to respond. ( he did )

” Pipeline Propaganda” a revealing look at how Enbridge uses stealth marketing disguised as grassroots initiatives

It leaves a nasty, foul taste in my mouth, much like I imagine the dirty oil from the tar sands would leave.  Just how far will corporate giant Enbridge go to promote it’s Northern Gateway pipeline project? 

How about an “educational package that is targeted to school children”?  This, direct from the mouth of Colin Kinsley, ex-mayor of Prince George and the new face of Enbridge in northern BC. It doesn’t get any lower that that, if you ask me, unless you look at how Enbridge employs stealth marketing and big corporate $$$  to push their glossy PR propaganda  on the residents and businesses of northern communities – all under the guise of a grassroots initiative .

You might wonder why coastal and metro Vancouver residents should even care about a pipeline going across northern BC, but the potential risks from this project will have a massive impact on all of us. Imagine oil supertankers going up and down the coast. Imagine if even one develops a leak, even a small one. Oil tanker traffic has not been allowed along the BC coast for years, but Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals plan to change all of that, and more. This pipeline has received much support from our current  Liberal administration, as part of the Asia Pacific Gateway plans.( One wonders how the environment minister, Barry Penner, lives with himself at night. Guess it comes with being a lawyer)

 Inform yourself now, to prevent a nasty surprise down the road. Need I say… Exxon Valdez?

  From the Prince George Citizen, staff writer Gordon Hoekstra ( the link for this column is now working)

PIPELINE PROPAGANDA– Gordon Hoekstra, Citizen Staff

Enbridge is footing the bill for a northern advocacy group to generate community support for its proposed $4.5-billion project .The recently-formed Northern Gateway Alliance which is advocating support for Enbridge’s $4.5 billion pipeline through northern B.C. is the brainchild of Enbridge and is being bankrolled by the company, The Citizen has learned.
The Alliance was rolled out earlier this month during the North Central Municipal Association’s annual convention as a community coalition in support of the Enbridge project. It has also been billed as a “grassroots” group designed to create a voice for the North. Community leaders who have signed on include Prince George mayor Dan Rogers, Mackenzie mayor Stephanie Killam and Kitimat mayor Joanne Monaghan.
The recent announcement made no mention of Calgary-based Enbridge’s involvement.
But it is not the communities that are paying the bills, setting up the website or organizing the group’s activities. It is Enbridge.
In fact, the chair of the Northern Gateway Alliance, former Prince George mayor Colin Kinsley, is on Enbridge’s payroll.
Neither Enbridge nor Kinsley deny that Enbridge is bankrolling the Alliance, and that the community group was the company’s idea.
“It’s what Enbridge engaged me to do,” says Kinsley.
But the North American pipeline giant denies they are engaging in “astroturfing” — a term that describes companies that fund or create seemingly grassroots organizations to give their cause legitimacy.
Enbridge spokesperson Steve Greenaway said that characterization is unfair. “I’m not willing to accept that we are somehow trying to do this from the top down. We have gone to community after community after community to explain the details of our project and we will continue to do that,” he said.

Asked if the company was being dishonest in spearheading the creation of a so-called grassroots organization, Greenaway said no.
“I don’t think it’s fair to say that we’re putting words in anyone’s mouth. Those people are coming forward voluntarily and allowing, you know, allowing, quotes to be placed on our website,” said Greenaway. (The quotes from mayors like Rogers and Killam are posted on the Alliance website).
“I think it’s important that all voices are heard in this debate, and I think in terms of, you know, support we have provided through compensating a chair who is going to assemble a board of community leaders across the pipeline, to characterize compensating him for part-time work, as somehow, is anything untoward about that, is unfair,” said Greenaway.
He would not say how much Enbridge is spending on the creation and support of the Alliance, but did acknowledge that Kinsley was being paid by the company, which was also offering administrative support to the Alliance effort.
Kinsley acknowledges it could be argued the Alliance is not a grassroots organization if Enbridge has hired him to create it, but said that somebody has to lead it. “It’s a great deal of work, and an immense amount of travel.”
Kinsley also argues that the intent of the Alliance is to support the pipeline project proceeding to the regulatory review where questions can be asked by northerners. (Only once has the National Energy Board, one of the project’s reviewing agencies, rejected a major project, the Sumas 2 energy plant near the B.C.-Washington border).
“We want to make sure this thing isn’t stopped in its tracks,” says Kinsley.
But the former mayor’s enthusiasm for the project is hard to hide.
He defends the merits of the project by rolling out stock Enbridge arguments, pointing to a focused economic regional impact, lauding a trust Enbridge plans to create for community projects, maintaining there is no oil tanker moratorium on the coast off Kitimat and calling the federal government review process robust. “It’s probably the most sophisticated approach to a major project such as this, that’s ever been undertaken,” he says.
Kinsley makes a similar pitch on the Alliance’s website.
“This will be an outstanding project and it will have economic benefits that are untold for northern B.C. and Alberta, for both aboriginal and non-aboriginal communities,” he says in a short video on the site.
Kinsley plans to take this message to Rotary Clubs, chambers of commerce, town councils and regional districts, as well as construction and contractor associations. Also in the works is an educational package targeted at school children.
He’s also encouraging supporters to sign up on the Alliance’s website.
So far, under 200 supporters have signed up.
Even a casual inspection of the Alliance and the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline’s websites show startling similarities.
The design of both websites is similar, including the type faces, the muted green colour scheme and the positive messages on the project.
Identical messages cycling on both sites proclaim: Enbridge is a Canadian company that has been safely building, operating and maintaining pipelines for 55 years; Thousands of direct and indirect jobs will be created to support the construction and operation of the Northern Gateway pipeline, benefiting workers in northern B.C. and Alberta.
There are about 20 messages.
The logos on both sites are also very similar with an identical stylized green leaf.
There’s also a direct link from the Alliance website to the Northern Gateway Pipeline website.
There’s little doubt that Enbridge’s effort to create the alliance is aimed directly at environmental groups who do not support the project.
Kinsley argues that environmental groups are not local groups and are funded by U.S. foundations. Greenaway offers a similar argument.
An environmental group that is based in the North, the Terrace-based North West Watch, is dismayed by Enbridge’s recent tactics in creating the alliance.
North West Watch representative Julia Hill noted she just recently learned of the term “astroturfing” to describe this type of activity.
According to SourceWatch, a project of the Madison, Wisc.-based Center for Media and Democracy, “astroturfing” refers to apparently grassroots-based citizen groups or coalitions that are primarily conceived, created and/or funded by corporations, industry trade associations, political interests or public relations firms.
Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, a longtime Washington and Wall Street insider, is credited with coining the term.
There are numerous examples of the practice in the U.S. including its use to block health-care reform and to oppose restrictions on smoking in public places.
Closer to home, the B.C. Forestry Alliance was created as a citizens’ group in the early ’90s to improve the image of the forest sector, where it faced criticism from environmental groups on logging in the southwest of B.C. The group was funded by the forest industry whose members also sat on its board.
North West Watch recently applauded Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski for pulling out of the Northern Gateway Alliance. Pernarowski had objected to the wording on the alliance’s site that indicated unqualified support for the pipeline project.
North West Watch and Friends of Wild Salmon are calling for an independent public inquiry into the pipeline project similar to one held in the late ’70s.
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council chief David Luggi is not surprised by Enbridge’s tactics. “I think Enbridge is using (Kinsley) as a pivotal PR point,” observed Luggi. “It’s a PR (public relations) machine firing up on all cylinders.”
The Carrier Sekani Tribal Council has been calling for a separate government-funded, First Nations-led review process to assess major projects in their traditional territory.
In 2006, First Nations, which included the tribal council, had requested $2.4 million from the federal government to spearhead their own review of Enbridge’s proposed pipeline. Later that year, the tribal council filed a federal court challenge of the federal government’s decision to send Enbridge’s proposed pipeline to a review panel. The tribal council wanted the court to overturn the creation of the panel because they said they were not consulted.
Rogers, the Prince George mayor, who has signed up with the alliance, says he is under no illusion that the group is a creation of Enbridge.
“I think that everyone understands that is participating is that it’s being driven by Enbridge. No surprises there,” says Rogers. “It’s PR strategy.”
Nevertheless, Rogers is comfortable being associated with the alliance, saying Enbridge is looking at signing up those that believe there may be benefits because there will be those that are adamantly opposed.
Rogers says he is supportive of the project moving to the review stage.
“I’m not afraid as the mayor of B.C.’s northern capitol to reiterate, as the largest centre in the northern region, there are some economic benefits that could flow to our community,” he said. “We want a stake in those discussions and to participate in those discussion as it unfolds.”
Rogers said the city has not put any money into the alliance.

For more information and background on this project – some of which you will not see on the Enbridge project site –  check out my recent blog posts HERE and HERE.

( and since you are here, scroll down a wee bit and read how one suit took 16 days to get from Surrey to Prince George – travelling to Montreal and Edmonton along the way)