“If Leaders fail, the people will lead.”

“People want responsible leadership. On big issues, they are not going to sit in their homes. They will act and press for action.”

Kofi Annan

It’s a hard job being a politician.

From the moment you announce you are running until after your career ends, everyone wants a piece of you.

Questions, questions and more questions! All these bloody questions! And accountability- you mean I have to be accountable too? Damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Sometimes, it’s enough to make even the most seasoned politician want to duck for cover and there lies the difference between a real leader and someone who just likes the position and title.

The news today brought forth a crisis for Vancouverites  in the form of leaked bunker crude/fuel from a grain tanker in English Bay.  It  reportedly started around 5 pm on Wednesday and with all the pandering of pipelines, LNG and the resulting tanker traffic in coastal waters, one would have expected something close to a world-class response.

In fact, the reality was far from it and should have all British Columbian’s concerned.

Bunker fuel is a nasty substance that is incredibly toxic to animal, human and aquatic life…and it is the lifeblood of commercial shipping.This is a very busy harbour, and at any given time you can see many ships in English Bay waiting to offload or pick up cargo.

How did it leak? No one knows and at last report the company that owns the ship suspected as the source, denies all responsibility for it. ( a good friend who is a long time mariner put forth his theory that it may have been human error, with someone operating the bilge pump incorrectly)

City of Vancouver officials claim they weren’t advised for 12 hours of the spill and despite official statements the spill has been contained, many are left wondering what exactly that means. Photos available online show the slick moving towards Burrard Inlet and the changing tide peaking at around 11 pm this evening is sure to leave its mark as it departs.

Of course, one can’t help but wonder how all of this would have been different had the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base had still been open and could have responded within minutes. Harper defended the closure back in 2013 despite incredible opposition – I’d like to know if he would still defend that decision today.

The fallout from this should and must be severe.

A call into the Simi Sara show today from former Kits Coast Guard Base Commander Fred Moxey, was chilling:

”  …former Kits base commander Fred Moxey, who told us that  a special pollution response boat formerly stationed at the now shuttered Kitsilano Coast Guard base is sitting empty with no crew at Sea Island base in Richmond. According to Moxey, only a rubber boat from the Coast Guard responded to the English Bay oil spill last night. Moxey also told us the Osprey formerly stationed at Kits was dismantled and sold off then when the base was closed. Moxey says if Kits Base was still active today crews would have been on scene at the spill in six minutes with the equipment to deal with the situation.”

Way to go Harper.

I know you don’t live here, but you really do spend a fair bit of time out here looking for votes,so why not just try faking that you’re still into us. After all, we are the Gateway to Asia-Pacific trade!! Oh wait.. darn… that fouled harbour and all..oops.

Even  James Moore, federal Minister of Industry, supported the closure,serving up some attitude directed back at Vancouver city officials objections: 

” The reality is that the City of Vancouver — and all British Columbians, as a matter of fact — have more Coast Guard resources, have better coast guard protection, than any other port on any other coast in all of the country, even with the changes at Kits,” maintains Moore.

His defence comes even as rescue coordination centre staff say the closure could endanger lives.”

Silly us for worrying. It seem like they forgot about all the other vital functions the wonderful men and women serving in our Coast Guard do, least of which is responding to front line spills like this one. As I said, this is a very busy harbour and we need the ability to respond in minutes,not hours.

And so now we have bunker fuel, thick and nasty, fouling some beaches around English Bay, no one accepting responsibility for it and surprise surprise, as of this posting-more than 24 hours post-spill, neither Premier Clark or Prime Minister Harper has spoken.

Mary Polak, BC’s environment minister is deftly pushing all responsibility to the feds as the lead agency on twitter, saying they will co-ordinate the land operations.

And what did the people do?

Despite the city of Vancouver telling people to stay away for now because of the toxicity of this bunker fuel – please heed these warnings-  some Vancouverites not happy to wait for the leadership to arrive took the matter into their own hands.

Armed with buckets and wipes, there are photos on social media of them wiping brown crud off the rocks at the beach yesterday. People have been asking how they can volunteer, what they can do to help. They are on it. There is a veritable army of volunteers ready to go should our leaders bring the call to action.

But where are they? Gregor Robertson is cutting his vacation on the island short to come home. Christy Clarks media reps said she wont be commenting and Harper? I don’t know. captioncontest

Even the young Trudeau with locks so glossy one might have thought he swam through that oily sheen to save a sea lion, had the wits to say something coherent and appropriate- or at least his media handler did:


It’s during times like this, when there are more questions than answers, when people are upset,agitated and rightfully concerned, that the test of real leadership arrives.

A real leader doesn’t continue on their day and wait for updates from staff-a true leader initiates communication, assesses the situation and makes themselves visible in some form to the public. Even on vacation. That is what we elected you to do.

British Columbia has a face and for many, it’s Vancouver that makes the first impression. Tourism is a money maker and so is a clean harbour where in recent weeks orca’s have been filmed playing in English Bay.

When things go wrong, people look to their leaders for  their reaction and for their guidance because leadership isn’t just a position, it’s an action.

 If today’s lack of response from our leaders is any indicator of what we can expect in a more serious incident, you are on your own, my friends.

Frankly, I have more faith in you, than I do in them.

34 thoughts on ““If Leaders fail, the people will lead.”

  1. Justin Trudeau’s comment was not coherent and appropriate; it was political. He did say what he would do so that, “this never happens again,” which is a favourite phrase of both politicians and the media.
    Sadly, people will probably elect a liberal government. The choices are limited. Then we have to sit back and watch another four years of closures of facilities and reduction of services.
    If the solutions are left up to us – as you imply – then it is time to move to a different system of government, one in which politicians could not have done what Harper did when he closed the Kitsilano Coast Guard Base. This country and this province cry out for a direct democracy system of government.
    What are we waiting for?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was political, absolutely. But that it was even made before Clark, Robertson and the feds is to his credit regardless of how opportunistic it’s intent.

      I’m afraid the solution you suggest never gains any traction because the majority of people know it will never happen – the electorate is really not anywhere near ready for that one.


  2. there looked like a extra large beige ship 1030 am ,fishing processor?,wednesday off point Grey.Just was largest ship in area at the time.


  3. “Not my problem, its Federal jurisdiction”. “No comment”. Really!!? We have more Coast Guard resources than say, Saskatchewan! Just great! A few more tide changes and the problem will just disappear like the Russian ship at Haida Gwaii.
    If these ‘little’ incidents don’t result in a wake-up call, what will it take? Heaven forbid, an LNG travesty? “Not my problem.” “I warned you about that.” “Tsk, tsk.”
    We’ve been told of the potential for a spill innumerable times. Now we’ve been given a little taste of reality. Do you think finally they (the Not My Problem/No Comment people) will recognize the folly of increased dilbit/LNG traffic? Probably not.


  4. Being a politician is hard. I get that. And even the bad ones work hard to push their wrong agenda. I get that, too. I am sympathetic to their challenges in principle and as a human being who gets tired at the end of the day but I am also quick to point out that, essentially, they are the ones making it harder on themselves. And us. They do not cooperate. They lie. They duck and cover. Time is NOT of the essence for them. And they live in an insulated, elitist world. Christy should scrub rocks and NOT just for the photo op but for the week that it will take. 40+ hours of rock and duck scrubbing. They should all be there. And Enbridge should be there with an army. You know why? “Because we live in your community and we really care about the environment, too” (their TV ads). So, where are they?


    1. She’s learned a trick or two about not doing silly photo-ops like the one she did sweeping the sidewalk in a suit silently as the cameras watched following the stanley cup riots.


  5. World Class…right? Suspect Source of toxic spill pinpointed. Not a grain ship rather the Harper Conservative State-ship.

    Mr Harper parachutes in and out of Vancouver for an election photo-op (shamefully using students as a backdrop for his shilling) – the show funded by us tax payers. Suprise, suprise, Harper leaves with a drifting oil slick fouling Burrard Inlet in his waves. So much for escaping to the West Coast to avoid the Duffy debacle. Harper returns to his closet bunker. This may be natural Karma as the tide turns.

    The Con base really needs to wake up connect all the dolts and abandon there stinking ship.


  6. It’s time for a NEW business to install/remove stand-off booms around every anchored ship to prevent major spills damaging the marine environment and our shorelines. Relying on putting the FIX in afterwards won’t help the economic benefits from tourism.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Grumps: I could have the spill cleaned up by the time it took to read that report! 103 pages and the first one blank. What a way to start off. Obviously no one else read it either, or acted on it. Lets see; its not Harper’s problem, not Chrispy’s, not Gregor’s, and the boat didn’t do it. Lets blame the Coast Guard, cuz they’re not here any more.
      Apparently its the Tax Payer’s problem!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. None of these politicians really care about this spill or any other. They have enough money to go somewhere else to swim and enjoy the great out doors. Mayor moonbeam, not his problem and he is dumb enough to not take leadership control. Christy Clark, not time fore an election, so she doesn’t care. remember this is a woman who didn’t care enough about children to stop clawing back their child support until this sept. even though the children live at 50% below the poverty line. So if she doesn’t care about kids, why would we think she cares about the environment.

    Now stevie slime, he is gone to Ottawa to hide for awhile. he doesn’t believe the oil spills will “hurt’ us because his version of the bible promises him it won’t. This is a man who, with 60 of his caucus, belongs the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church. Their believes include, the bible is “inerrant” and the second coming is ‘imminent”. So if you believe that, who cares about an oil spill. that jesus guy is coming again and he will make everything ok.

    the corporations aren’t going to spend a nickel until they have to or the fall out is so great it will endanger their bottom line. But even with the oil gushier in the Gulf of Mexico, B.P. is doing just fine financially and its business as usual.

    Not until our shore lines are coated with oil/tar and citizens have to go clean it up, will citizens vote to get rid of politicians who don’t care about the environment.


  8. “If leaders fail, people will lead?” I don’t think so. Firstly, modern so-called leaders DON’T lead and never have. They follow. They follow the rules, the party lines, the polls and the advice from the hacks and those who donate. Some let their new found elected status go their head now and then and TRY to lead as Harper tries to lead us into war and petro-damnation but no one is following that ego-maniac except corporations. The people are saying ‘NO’ to Harper. So, he is not a leader. He is merely a queue-jumper who rushed to the head of the Canadian Neo-Con audition line. And, anyway, after high-school how many of us seek to follow leaders anymore? Basically, we either march to our own drum or don’t care. And we genuflect when we have to so as to get along. But no one is leading us. NO ONE. And NO GROUP either! See anyone running out to take full responsibility for anything these days? And the main reason for lack of leadership is all our ‘prominent people’ suffer lack of vision, lack of integrity, lack of courage and/or lack of imagination. They’d rather make a buck! The real leaders (we likely still have somewhere) opted out of the BIG FIX that is politics and have pursued other venues. Want a good leader? Find a good renegade.
    Well, there is Elizabeth May. I concede to you the exception that she is. But she is the exception that proves the rule and, anyway, the BIG FIX will get her in the end.


  9. Leaders? What leaders?
    Robertson: Point finger at province and feds.
    Clark: Point finger at Ottawa as well. (although we don’t want to get Steve peed off so toss in a qualifier that it’s not just this current government that has not been present for west coast protection, but several governments in Ottawa. There, that ought to keep us in his good books. Laughable had it not been so glaringly obvious)

    2012 7.7 quake off Haida Gwaii. Took BC 40 minutes after a tsunami warning was issued by the U.S. before municipal leaders in BC got notice.
    2014 Mt Polley catastrophe, the worst environmental disaster in BC history. Took days before Clark decided to go to Likely for a photo op.

    And she says today that maybe BC should take over the handling of west coast oil spill clean-ups.
    Ya, maybe not.


  10. This tiny spill has actually served a purpose – it has exposed every one of our city, provincial and federal leaders as the Emperors Without Clothes they really are. No leadership, no responsibilty, no acknowledgement of personal failures, no realization they are abominable at their jobs. They are all ducking and weaving so hard they can’t point fingers fast enough. Not sure who was worse Clark, Polak or Moore, but Clark was hilarious explaining Robertson doesn’t understand chain of command, then proceeded to parrot exactly what he said, thereby proving she has no understanding of what she’s been told to say.


  11. Sounds to me like our world class oil spill response is about as good as our fishfarm science ,our world class tailings ponds rank right up there too..i can’t hardly wait for them to twin that pipeline into Vancouver harbour ….the main part of the population that keeps voteing for theese idiots should love that


  12. perhaps its time to move to Calgary because I can guarantee Naheed Nenshi isn’t moving here. alas, we will have to struggle along with the idiots in charge, but what does it say about the people who vote for the idiots.


  13. As a former mariner (C/E for 30 years) that has sailed on vessels from 165ft long tugs to 155,000 tonnes bulk carriers, I can assure you that the federal government is absolutely clueless regarding maritime needs and safe shipping practices – at least the government ministers and PMO are.

    The media should get some opinions from the Canadian pilots associations and ships masters before embarking on a rhetorical musical rides. I think the average person would be amazed at how out of touch the federal government really is, regarding maritime matters.

    It appears that the Coast Guard are following political directions from their Ottawa masters and not common sense IMHO.

    I have been retired from shipping for some sixteen years or so, but I shudder when I see what is happening to the shipping industry in Canada and the marine industry as a whole.

    There is no substitute for common sense and real world experience – both which appear to be in short supply in Ottawa and Canada these days.

    The silver lining from this relatively small oil pollution episode, is that the provincial and federal agencies have shown how woefully ill prepared they are for any marine emergency in Vancouver harbour or the BC coast for that matter.

    I had to chuckle at the minister complaint about the “bollacking” the feds got over this episode, from Gregor Robinson and Christy Clark. The government just cannot take any criticism at all – they dish it out but cannot take it!

    Methinks Harper and his stooges will be royally routed in the upcoming election this year.


      1. As someone who has ‘been at sea’ in every way (life and generally speaking, but I also built marinas, lived on boats, live on the ocean) all I can say is that Workforfun is understating it. The Feds are even stupider than what he says. The ONLY good part of the budget that is spent is on the ‘guys on the water’ now relegated to inflatables. The CG is good. Everything else: BAD. DFO is probably the biggest waste of taxpayers dollars after Harper’s salary. And the province? You may as well rely on a quilting club to care for the oceans! Most people have no idea how bad it really is. And most people live in the city…..gee…..I wonder if that has anything to do with it?


  14. Well,
    Obviously there is only one thing we can do.
    Fire whoever is responsible for the cleanup. Sorry I meant replace( with full salary, benefits, pension for another 1.5 years) whoever is responsible with someone else just as inept.
    Then form a Royal Commission with a $10 million dollar budget to travel coast to coast listening to everyone for 3 years.
    Produce an 800 page report that no one will read.
    Have a news confernce that only the media will attend.
    Wait for another oil spill.



  15. If once being world-class automatically meant always being world-class, the Edmonton Oilers would very possibly be heading into this years NHL play-offs as the 3o-time defending Stanley Cup Champions. It of course does not and the Oilers of course are not.

    Some things I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see one day soon where UBC now stands if today its current leadership was replaced by a Kindergarten class:

    – very difficult-to-dodge, highly dangerous tricycle paths/riders
    – monkey bars, teeter-totters, slides and the like in many, if not all, of the classrooms and hallways
    – far too much money paid for all the just aforementioned
    – chant’s of, ‘We’re the kings of the castle your the dirty rascals!’
    – very difficult-to-dodge, highly dangerous liquid spills
    – filth throughout
    – bickering over ownership of toys and…assets
    – many teens and adults excitedly hurrying to take advantage of young and naive leadership
    – acceptance of candy, ice cream and toys in exchange for’special’ arrangements
    – many students RIGHT ROYALLY pissed off about their needs and wants being COMPLETELY ignored in favour of wealthier forces
    – a giant condominium complex standing where just a short time ago a world-class university stood

    We can’t all be world-class leadership, we all certainly can wish we were and even claim to be.

    ‘Up! Up and away!’ yelled the toddler upon jumping off the lowest step into the pillowy-soft grass…not at all far away.


  16. manage the ocean from the middle of the country.?
    put DFO in charge or kinder morgan?
    worry- dilbit sinks doesnt it?
    6 months til next election.


      1. I don’t think so. No one ever has. How does a 35M person country threaten Russia? How ya gonna monitor the BC coast by way of a 1-800 number in Quebec? How does pumping dilbit into the sea (inevitably) help the world in any kind do of way? Why does the leader of our country take ‘shots’ at women-in-headgear? In every way, in all things, at every opportunity this government (and the ones before it, actually) first play the stupid card, then the denial card, then the lying bastard card and finally the boogey-man card. Frankly, I am sick of the clowns and rats having taken over the castle. Try Elizabeth May and, if that doesn’t work, burn the damn institution down and start again.


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