“The road to power is paved with hypocrisy and casualties…” Frank Underwood,House of Cards.
The day started innocently enough: hot coffee, a scroll through the news and then I saw this:
In an interview with the Alaska Highway News last week, Clark said governments are facing increased pressure when it comes to massive industrial projects such as Site C, one of the most expensive public projects in modern history.
“I think it will be the country’s last major dam,” Clark said.
“It’s getting harder and harder to build dams in the country. The folks who would say ‘no’ to everything are getting more and more active all the time. It’s just getting harder and harder for governments to say yes to very difficult projects like this.
“And there were a lot of people who told me that we should not approve Site C, for all the typical reasons. We went ahead with it despite the fact it was hard. But I think it’s getting harder and harder for politicians to get the courage to confront the forces of no,” she said
But there is more. The full transcript of that interview can be read here: http://www.alaskahighwaynews.ca/regional-news/q-a-premier-christy-clark-1.2242019 ,but here are the two questions that caught my attention and I’ll tell you why in a moment.
I’m really pleased to see someone ask her about Muskrat Falls, a dam project back east that’s become a financial fiasco I’ve written about several times.
Seriously, it’s such a disaster that the ceo of Newfoundlands energy company stepped down recently and the new CEO hasn’t tossed the idea of stopping the project altogether.
Why? It’s so far over budget and deadline that you can’t even see the light from the original estimates. It’s so bad that in December, premier Dwight Ball called a comprehensive, independent review that would open the books “to assess the project’s cost, schedule and risk factors.”
A similar kind of independent review that all BC Hydro projects have to go through here in BC before starting, to avoid this kind of financial disaster before it gets started. If you’ve followed my posts covering the ongoing BC Utilities Commission hearings on the WAC Bennett Dam repairs, you’ll see the kind of thorough examination the commission gives these projects.They cover finances,estimates,contracts,rationale etc. They are the only check and balance the taxpayers have when it comes to these project. And they have turned down past governments efforts to build Site C not once, but twice.
So when I see interviews like this – and I have seen many in the last year in particular- where Premier Clark, or Energy Minister Bill Bennett, or Hydro CEO Jessica Mcdonald talk about about how much planning,studying and reviews have been done without anyone questioning those statements, it bothers me.
It bothers me because the public is left with the impression that all the risk is gone,that the government has done their work when in fact, they have completely evaded the single most important part of the process they set in place themselves to protect taxpayers! And they did because they knew that the BC Utilities Commission would never, in a million years, approve Site C on the third try.
Their bafflegab and bluster is allowed to remain part of the public record. And that is wrong. They should be counter questioned on this every single time.
This same government has allowed the ministry of mines and energy to become a political tool. Mt.Polley is a good example. Site C is another. The damning report of the auditor general should give everyone living downstream from a mining operation concern because it confirmed what many have known for a long time. Not enough funding,not enough staff,not enough enforcement and compliance. Not enough funds collected to fix things when something goes wrong. And Bennett? No honour. Not his problem. He’s not resigning nor is Clark showing leadership and taking him off this file.
Linda Reid, Speaker of the house warns the savior of vulnerable children in this province, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond of contempt for releasing a report, then suddenly someone tips off the Ministry of Children and Families? Bullying tactics against the woman and office that has worked tirelessly to hold this government to account for ongoing failures involving children in care.
So of course today, in the heat of these two galling stories that clearly show a leadership vacuum like no other in government, in the depth of shock over the terrible fires in Fort McMurray, the premier holds a press conference and announces that because BC is doing so well, you should be too and tosses some money at minimum wage.
But here’s another question or two for the premier, in case they haven’t been asked: If BC is doing so well, why is mining enforcement and compliance in such crappy underfunded condition?
But while the public at large may be fooled some of the time by the smiles and glib,down home remarks about getting to yes, the forces of’ know’, know better.
And we’ll do everything we can to ensure you pay attention, because you can be sure that Premier Clark is counting on you not to.
**Post blog last night, the ruling came came down that Clarks massive pay ‘stipend’ from Liberal party donors, was not a conflict. Not a surprise to anyone, really because our rules are so lax and this government clearly has no regard for doing the right thing.
But the conflict of the ethics commissioner himself in this ruling, was clear to many, particularly when the ruling was leaked to the Libs beforehand….
All I am going to say is this: Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. And clearly,a large majority of British Columbians agree. If Clark won’t ban corporate and union donations and limit the amount individuals can give, perhaps she could at least approve a new law requiring politicians to wear the logos of their sponsors so we know who we’re actually voting for….