25 days to save the environmental sovereignty of British Columbia ? Who is willing to take a stand?

I hate lazy people who won’t click links, even when their interests in our province are likely at stake.

Further to my earlier post, Add another to the 100 reasons the BC Liberals need to go, I am posting the complete letter to unelected premier Christy Clark, from economist Robyn Allan , because I don’t think enough people realise what this agreement could mean for us, and for our province.

Robyn is to be commended for her excellent work and push to get this out there. I urge your to read the links to the agreement in her letter and think hard about why Christy has not taken a stand on this. My understanding of this agreement very much gives the province the right to terminate as Robyn points out, but as a reader points out below, the minister did not sign the agreement and there is some contention around that point. Please read the comments below as well.

This is a must read for every British Columbian. Our sovereignty as a province is potentially very much at stake :

April 19, 2012

Dear Premier Clark,

Your government has not spoken out for or against the Northern Gateway pipeline proposed by Enbridge Inc., rather preferring to wait until the National Energy Review Board process is complete.  I am writing to you today to explain that, unfortunately the current Northern Gateway environmental and public interest process is flawed and as a result the public interest of BC is not protected.

The Federal government, as I am sure you are aware, has publicly endorsed the project, stated it is in the national interest of Canada, and has systematically demonized individuals and groups who oppose the project.  This behaviour has made a travesty of the necessary arms length relationship between government and an independent regulatory body.

As long as there was some sense that the Joint Review Panel (JRP) was independent and had the authority to reject the proposal regardless of the political pressure imposed by the Prime Minister’s Office, a semblance of due process was maintained. That necessary condition was violated when Federal Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver unveiled proposed legislation on April 17, 2012.

The Federal Government now intends to further weaken environmental protection and favour large oil companies operating, primarily, in Alberta.  This has betrayed any remaining trust in federal energy decisions as they relate to the province of British Columbia.

With the overhaul of the environmental assessment rules and process, and making final decision on oil pipelines—such as the Enbridge Northern Gateway and proposed Kinder Morgan projects—a Federal cabinet prerogative, there is no confidence that the Government of Canada will make decisions that will be in the best public interest of the residents of this province.

A major change in policy in the midst of nation breaking events such as Northern Gateway or Kinder Morgan requires deliberate action on the part of your Office to protect the public interest trust and rights of BC residents and First Nations.

Certainly when the NEB process for Northern Gateway commenced in June 2010, the BC government thought the JRP would be objective and have the power to recommend a binding decision which would reflect the public interest of British Colombians and Canadians.  I can imagine that the safety and efficiency inherent in one independent review body—which the NEB was believed to be at the time—and the belief that our public interest would be protected were reasons why the Liberal government of BC under the leadership of Gordon Campbell, felt it acceptable to sign away our right to conduct an environmental assessment under B.C.’s Environmental Assessment Act.

During my review of the Enbridge economic documents as part of their Application to the NEB, I wondered why there was no real or meaningful review of their case by various ministries of the BC government.  The deliberate intent in the Enbridge documents to increase the price of oil for Canadian consumers and businesses, and the lack of concern over the impact our petro-currency has on forestry, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, appeared to be glaring examples of an economic case intent on presenting only the benefits to the oil industry without due consideration to the economic costs for the rest of us.  The development of a strategy to export raw crude to Asia at the cost of value added jobs and control over environmental standards also seemed worthy of provincial comment.

I felt surely, there should be professional economists, paid by taxpayers, that would stand up and present a fair picture of the macroeconomic impact rapid resource expansion and export has on the economy of British Columbia, not to mention the threat to the environment and First Nations rights.   That is when I discovered that BC had signed away the right to actively assess the project.    I then understood that not only have you, as Premier, elected to remain silent on the issue, but our provincial departments have effectively been muzzled as well.

I draw to your attention the Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement signed between the NEB and BC’s Environmental Assessment Office (EAO) on June 21st, 2010.  I have attached a link to the agreement for your ease of recall.

Essentially the agreement states that the EAO will accept the NEB’s environmental assessment for four proposed projects, including the Enbridge Northern Gateway Project, which would otherwise have to be reviewed under BC’s Environmental Assessment Act.  The NEB’s review would be treated as an equivalent assessment.

If the province of BC had not signed away its right to the NEB, under the terms of the legislation the EAO would have had to undertake a review.

 According to the EAO, it is a “neutral agency that manages the review of proposed major projects in British Columbia, as required by the Environmental Assessment Act.  The environmental assessment process provides for the thorough, timely and integrated assessment of the potential environmental, economic, social, heritage, and health effects that may occur during the lifecycle of these projects, and provides for meaningful participation by First Nations, proponents, the public, local governments, and provincial agencies.”

We have the power within BC to undertake meaningful environmental assessment within provincial jurisdiction, but signed it away.   However, not all is lost.   Clause 6 of the Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement states:  ”Either Party may terminate this Agreement upon giving 30 days written notice to terminate the other Party”. 

May I recommend that the Government of British Columbia inform the Government of Canada that the province is now exercising its right with 30 days notice in order that it may undertake a proper environmental assessment under the terms of the provincial Environmental Assessment Act, for the Enbridge project, and it will not entertain signing such an agreement for the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline.

This action will ensure that the public interest of the people of BC will be protected and will not be severely curtailed by the actions of the Government of Canada favouring primarily Alberta’s oil producers.


Original Signed by Robyn Allan

Robyn Allan

cc.  Dr. Terry Lake, Minister of the Environment

Mr. Adrian Dix, Leader of the Opposition

Mr. Rob Fleming, Environment Critic

Mr. John Cummins, Conservative Leader

Mr. John van Dongen, Conservative MLA

Mr. Bob Simpson, Independent MLA

Ms. Vicki Huntington, Independent MLA

35 thoughts on “25 days to save the environmental sovereignty of British Columbia ? Who is willing to take a stand?

  1. A MUST READ indeed! I expect to see this on Rabble and Tyee and every major news outlet this week. (No, of course I DON’T mean mainstream media – they’re not news.)

    I’m drafting my letter to PReier Clark right now. Thanks for the update!


    1. Draft a letter on the overpass of the Massey Tunnel why don’t you? I am not sure she can read, but we know the rest of us can! And thank you for the note, wish I could reply ; )

      All joking aside,this is no laughing matter. Did the opposition know this, and if so, when? And what are we willing to do to ensure this happens? ( Thank you EAF.) Everyone we know in BC, all citizens need to realize that they need to call their elected officials of all parties, now, and their area representatives. Now, this is Enbridge on the time crunch, but this applies to so many types of projects. Read the link!!!


      1. Waste of time putting a draft letter on the Massey Tunnel, she flies, not drives, to and from Victoria and Vancouver…. just check out Laila’s post that she broke the story on when it came to the use of Credit cards, twice as much spent that El Gordo.


  2. Hey Laila,

    Justine Hunter wrote a piece about this a few months back. I kicked up a big fuss on precisely this issue on discussion lists which reach over 500 environmentally oriented people in British Columbia and around the world. Arthur Caldicott and I discussed the details in a long thread with other contributers, Arthur is well known as a central figure in the death of the GSX pipeline as a pivotal intervenor, organizer and webmaster of a the Sqwalk website, devoted to energy issues.

    At the time we pressed Justine for details and we unearthed this “equivalency agreement.” I worked to bring attention to the document and in particular the clause that saw the Environment Minister devolve his decision making powers which enable such an agreement to the CEO of the BC EAO. A highly unusual move. It is very rare that legislated minsterial powers are granted to unelected staff and in this case it seemed clear that it was done in order to avoid any political implications in having the Minister actually sign the equivalency agreement which Robyn brings attention to in this letter.

    This is a very serious issue and I congratulate Robyn for forwarding it and yourself for bringing it to peoples attention. I would also suggest that your readers actually look at the “equivalency agreement” and the clause that sees the minister devolve his powers as this is the political flash point of the entire issue. There is some question, according to Arthur Caldicott, as to the veracity of the point that we “signed away our right to a hearing” he argues that there was never any such opportunity and that interprovincial pipelines are entirely in the Federal jurisdiction, however I found that difficult to accept given such extraordinary efforts, including the devolving of legislated ministerial power were undertaken.

    Also for people interested, the TILMA agreement Gordo ushered in ties our hands in this regard.

    Terms in that agreement work to sideline our Provinces ability to influence these processes and bringing some focus to that would be a good idea as well.

    Finally I also bring your attention to this story from Uganda where governments there have secured arrangements with oil majors that include a range of far reaching benefits for that region. A whole host of which are not even being discussed in this country at this pivotal time.

    The comparison is black and white ( no pun intended) and it puts to shame the capacity of our governments to not only protect our rights as Robyn claims, but also realize proper economic benefits for the exploitation of our resouces.

    Have you ever wondered why you never hear about the race to the botton anymore? I am beginning to think it is because we have won.
    Link to Uganda story: http://www.newvision.co.ug/news/630357-uganda-oil-pipeline-plans-in-advanced-stages.html


    1. Great comment and info Kevin, I haven’t even seen this before and from the volume of mail that came in overnight it seems like a lot of other people haven’t either. Can you send me those links to Justine’s story? I took a quick look and didnt find it but would really love to post it here too,and any others that go with this. Ms. Hunter is one of the best out there, in my opinion.

      I too wondered about the fact that the minister didn’t sign this… very interesting and I wouldnt at all be surprised to see this as some kind of loophole or out. Regardless it again demonstrates what we don’t know can hurt us… all of this merits further investigation.


      1. I have forwarded you a bunch of related discussion and links to your personal email account. Do not hesitate to post and comment. i am pleased this is finally getting some attention.


  3. We knew this was coming, for quite some time. Harper and Campbell frantically worked to ensure, the Enbridge pipeline was a done deal. Harper was practically in tears, when Campbell got the boot. Harper and Campbell also worked at drilling off shore oil wells, in Hecate Straight and the Queen Charlotte Sound. Get ready for that too.

    Harper is every bit as vindictive and spiteful as Campbell. With BC’s vast resources, the BC citizens will not have the benefit from any of them. I’m thinking Christy’s imported workers, will be mostly Chinese.


  4. Just sent a email to Terry Lake that included the letter by Robyn Allan, in case he didn’t get it or could feign that he had no knowledge of it. I also asked him if this agreement included the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion from Alberta that will go through Kamloops.
    Seems the flood gates on this nonsense opened the day the CRAP/Cons slimmed their way into power. The next four years is looking to be the darkest in Canadian history.



  5. Please pay attention folks. BC Liberals completely overlooked our interests when they changed our logo to “Canada starts here”. What was wrong with ‘Super Natural BC’ (remember that logo?)?
    I hope we’re not the mud room to Canada for China’s interests now, but it looks that way.
    Have our politicians totally lost control of BC and Canada to global corporations?

    Seldom a protest peep from the BC NDP opposition for years on any issue. Liberals and NDP have allowed our forests to be raped for foreign interests, they’ve sold out our wild salmon to mostly foreign corporations.with nary a word from the NDP, whos’ hope is to take over and continue pillaging BC.

    As a senior I truly regret my generation has been living in the best of times, because if we don’t protect BC for our children and future generations, then we are no better than pine beetles or gypsy moths. BC will not be recognizable in decades to come. California is living proof of that.


  6. I sent the letter to Nanaimo MLA (and excellent lawyer) Leonard Krog, the south Okanagan NDP candidates, and (for all the good it will do) Michael Smyth and Vaughn Palmer. I will send it to others, when I decide who can best help us terminate this undemocratic agreement.

    Christy is the last person I would expect to go to bat for BC.


  7. You think? ; ) That actually made me laugh, thank you gini. We must band together, each of us, to hold these politicians to account. We dont work for them, they work for us.


  8. Christy is the last person I would expect to go to bat for BC.

    Or anyone else for that matter, in the BC Liberal government – they are all bloody corrupt.



  9. Will pass this on, but curious as to why the letter was not copied to the leader of the BC Green Party and even our Green Party MP.


    1. All of this has been sent to more than the listed, by others before Robyn. Several months ago. I will post more about this later on this morning. No one seemed interested in getting on it, including a number of ENGO’s…


  10. I forwarded Robyn’s letter to John Horgan, energy critic and pasted this post on Adrian Dix’s fb wall. I have requested a reply from Horgan and asked him to send me the Hansard link when (and if) he addresses this in our House. We’ll see…


  11. i wish we could just vote on everything, make it a real democracy. the powers that be now are not acting FOR the people. they are acting FOR oil. money corrupts. oil buys governments. where is the alien free energy technology at?


  12. “Legally, says University of Alberta economics professor Bev Dahlby, B.C. cannot stop or tax the flow of oil across its land because that would constitute “a restraint on inter-provincial and international trade.” ”


    This looks like TILMA. That’s the 2006 agreement that allows companies to sue the province for up to $5 million for compensation for regulations, policies and programs that “impair or restrict” investment, trade or labour mobility between BC and Alberta.

    We need to scrap TILMA.


    1. I am not sure, to be honest. I have just been dealing with some things here that are taking my time away from this, however as soon as I get a break I will post more as promised. I would suggest you get in touch with the opposition, who seem to be quiet on this. I know several people have sent Robyns letter to them, Nathan Cullen and environmental groups and none have gotten a response, which is curious.

      Kim, have you heard anything from Horgon or Dix?


  13. Ah, I sense some sanity here and hope that sanity will prevail. I am going to forward Robyn’s letter to the politicians, and I hope many others will do the same, simply to let them see we want this issue of BC sovereignty to be addressed and taken care of. We have been sold out by NAFTA, now TILMA, and you can be sure CETA will constrain us even more, not to mention add to the pillage of our environment and resources. Not to mention the Asia Pacific trade agreements being negotiated. We are facing corporate takeovers, hand in glove with governments at all levels, to our detriment. We need a strong coalition of BC residents, who are awakened to what is going on, and who will refuse to let it continue. There is a call for a General Strike on May 1, to resist purchasing anything at all, to gather in rallies, and to protest the direction we are heading. Could we bring Robyn’s thesis to the public on May 1? Maybe May 1 is too soon. How can we bring together a huge number of BC residents to stand together to stop this takeover? Avaaz petitions? A gathering of existing coalitions?


  14. I haven’t had any response from the people I sent the letter to either, Laila. Not Dix, Krog, Marji, Julia nor Ray. It seems it’s not only the BC Liberals and Harper Conservatives who aren’t listening to British Columbians.

    BTW, I received an e-mail yesterday from the BC First Party, including letters from the party leader and Bill VanderZalm. If this party were serious, why do they just now start trying to recruit members? I can see why people want to be able to vote on everything. If we could, we wouldn’t need a political party to govern us.


  15. Yes gini, have just gone through several emails relating the same experience of non reply from various offices, not even a standard reply of acknowledgement. What can I say?

    The BC First party has undergone many changes, including the departure of Chris Delaney which in my opinion was a good thing. Great guy personally speaking, give you the shirt off his back,but I think his political reputation followed him and he repelled more people than he attracted – he went onto different ventures. The format of the party seems to be changing a bit too, and that I think is also a good thing. I really like Erik Anderson, a brilliant man and friend whose work I refer to and use as often as I can and Gary Young is also sharp guy, so it will be of interest to watch where and how they move the party.


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