The memorial for former long time premier Bill Bennett was held yesterday as many friends, family and politicians gathered to remember his life and his life’s work.
Among those speaking was Premier Christy Clark,who somehow still managed to find a way to mention herself in her eulogy:
“She promised to finish Bennett’s vision for the controversial Site C Dam project.
“Premier Bennett, you got it started and I will get it finished. I will get it past the point of no return.”
Moving beyond the fact that politicking at memorials is really poor form,her statement raised eyebrows of many, I’m told by some who were actually there.
Partly because of the inappropriate timing of the comment, but also because Bennett handled his governments attempt at building Site C in a manner completely opposite to that of the current government.
Bennett did have a vision, but he did not just force it through like the Clark government is -at least not when it came to Site C
It’s job was ( and still is when government allows it) to regulate Hydro rates and review BC Hydro’s projects independently fully and independently to ensure they are needed, costed properly and ensure all projections/estimates are correct.
Site C did not come to pass back in the eighties because when the BC Utilities Commission reviewed it ( remember it was then premier Bennett’s government that created this independent agency) they found that there was no need and that it was not in the best interests of British Columbians. The BCUC instructed BC Hydro and the government to begin investigating and pursing other alternatives like geothermal,solar and other alternate means.
And that was the end of Site C. It died with the BC utilities commissions denial. Why?
Because Bennett did not force the dam through like Clark is. He trusted the analysis of the agency he helped create, and put a stop to the plans when they said no. Whether you were on the same side of Bennett politically or not, you have to respect that he did the right thing here.
As I’ve written of previously, it was the Campbell government that exempted Site C under the Clean Energy Act, in my opinion not because hydro power is clean, but because they knew it was very likely that the BC Utilities Commission independent review would once again say it was not needed or justified and deny the project.
Which, will forever be a travesty forced onto this province and certainly not something I could imagine Bennett being proud of. What the Campbell/Clark governments have done with the BC Utilities Commission, crippling it, is appalling.
Cities in the area of Site C, asked the province to send it to the BC Utilities Commission. The Union of BC Municipalities, made of representatives from all cities in BC, passed a resolution asking the Premier to send Site C to the BCUC, all because of concern over the escalating costs & lack of proof it is needed. Many other groups and organizations have asked, including other political parties – all to deaf ears.
There are still several outstanding court cases on Site C from First Nations in the area and Clark knows all of this was done wrong – she also knows there is a good chance that any of those three court cases could put a stop to all of it.
It just doesn’t make sense. Particularly to make a vow of “getting it past the point of no return” in a eulogy for the man who created the process her government refuses to acknowledge and participate in. That is not, by far, a show of respect.
Recently, Clark heralded the federal government for reversing the decision on the Coast Guard closures in BC, and it’s time for her government to do the same thing on Site C- particularly when you look at what happens when you do things the wrong way.
Look at Muskrat Falls, a dam project that looks like it might go down in history as one of the biggest boondoggles an eastern province has seen. In fact, the costs and projects are so out of line, that the Newfoundland government is conducting an independent review now, during construction. Ironically the scope of the review is nearly identical to what the BC Utilities Commission should have done on Site C.
It’s now being called an over budget burden on the province and there are growing calls for the province to cut its losses and stop construction before it gets worse:
The Muskrat Falls hydroelectric project in Labrador was always destined to define the political legacies of the politicians who championed it. As by far the biggest capital undertaking in Newfoundland and Labrador history, it would either enrich the province as a North American clean-energy power provider or saddle it with a Hoover Dam-sized debt it would long regret.
The skeptics hovered long before oil and gas prices tanked, leaving the provincial government facing massive deficits far into the future and dismal prospects for fetching premium prices for the project’s power on export markets. Newfoundland taxpayers risk paying for Muskrat Falls in more ways than one.
The $7.7-billion project also risks burdening Canadian taxpayers, who, thanks to the federal loan guarantee on $5-billion worth of Muskrat Falls bonds, are responsible for repayment should the provincial entity that issued them default. t, thankfully, is not an immediate concern.
The project is behind schedule and over budget. In September, Nalcor upped its cost estimate for Muskrat Falls to $7.7-billion from an initial $6.2-billion. The total comes to more than $9-billion, when financing costs during the construction phase are included. That may not be the end of cost overruns before the power starts flowing in 2018 – or later.
“This politically charged project is large relative to the provincial economy and is expected to place considerable upward pressure on future electricity rates,” Moody’s noted this year in a report on Newfoundland Power, the private power distributor that, as a condition of the federal guarantee on Muskrat Falls, must buy its electricity from Nalcor.
Former top provincial bureaucrats Ron Penney and David Vardy, who estimate that Muskrat Falls will increase Newfoundland’s gross debt by 50 per cent, recently called the project “one of the most unfortunate public-policy decisions in the history of the province.”
Many Newfoundlanders wish they could simply pull the plug.
It’s crystal clear that much like Muskrat Falls, the politicians in BC who are championing Site C are also trying to define their political legacies,and Clark’s bizarre vow during her eulogy, sets an ominous tone for hers. This is not how Bennett would have wanted it finished.
It’s time to stop the project before more taxpayers money is wasted. Listen to the Forces of Know. Do the right thing. There are good, solid, job creation alternatives. Twin the Transcanada to Alberta. Create a market for solar power. Be proactive, not reactive.
Remember Ms. Clark, you said it yourself: “It’s never too late to reverse a mistake that was made.”
** Link to the fundraising page for legal fees of Rocky Mountain Fort Campers named in BC Hydro lawsuit . https://www.gofundme.com/s6c4s4vs
** Check back tomorrow for another post with some compelling photos that are raising big questions.