About that moral obligation to the people of China suffering from air pollution…

Reading Rob Shaw’s column this morning, I became a little verclempt at the altruism displayed by BC LNG advocate, Gordon Wilson recently:

Premier Christy Clark’s hand-picked advocate for liquefied natural gas says British Columbia has a “moral obligation” to develop the industry to save the lives of Chinese residents dying of air pollution.


“So let me just say this, when you’ve got 500,000 Chinese dying each year attributed to air pollution specific to coal — and somebody finds that funny, I don’t,” Wilson said, interrupting himself to shoot back at a heckler.

“That’s the number that is slightly greater than the population of the Capital Regional District that dies every year because they can’t breathe the air. And we have an opportunity to not only maintain and build our economy here, but we have an opportunity to provide an alternative fuel that will save lives abroad and help the global climate. And I say we have a moral obligation to do it and we need to get on with the job.”

Bless Mr. Wilson, for thinking of the people who live in truly horrible air pollution conditions in many parts of China and the rest of Asia.

But forgive me if as an ‘online blogger’, I ask for some clarity on a few issues that are a bit problematic in consideration of his statements on our moral obligations as a province.

In this archived version of a blog post written in 2013, Wilson points out some concerns with a developing LNG industry in BC ( and really,not much has changed on these points since) :

“The impact of an expanded hydrocarbon economy will certainly speed up global warming and cause us to build a dependency on a revenue stream that originates from processes that are poisoning our atmosphere. The most compelling reason to be concerned about relying on this golden goose, however, is the fact that the markets we are told will buy all we can supply may not materialize as we think, and even if they do, the price they are prepared to pay for our product may be well below what is anticipated…”


Clearly his views have changed significantly since this was written….but I do encourage you to read that entire link.

If BC has a moral obligation to develop LNG to  save “500,000 Chinese dying each year attributed to air pollution specific to coal “, then I dearly hope Mr. Wilson will also explain his views on the thermal coal shipments we’ve exported to Asia for years, and why doesn’t BC also have a moral obligation to immediately put a halt to the Surrey Fraser Docks  Thermal Coal Facility?  

“Port Metro Vancouver has approved changes to a planned Surrey Fraser Docks coal-loading terminal that will see transport on the Fraser River switched to ocean-going vessels from barges.

The proposed $50-million project will enable thermal coal from the U.S. — used to fire electricity plants — to be loaded onto ships for direct transport to energy-hungry Asia.

The earlier project plan was to load up to 640 barges annually, which would be towed to Texada Island where the coal was to be transferred to ocean-going ships. The new plan will see 80 Panamax-size ships — 225 metres in length — loaded each year.

The volume of coal that will be loaded — four million tonnes a year — will not change, with the switch to ships from barges made to reduce operating costs.

However, some realignments of planned buildings will be needed and a taller and longer ship loader will be installed.

Surrey Fraser Docks is evaluating timing of construction due to a coal slump that has hit the industry hard.

For example, major U.S. coal producer Cloud Peak Energy is paying a contract penalty at Westshore Terminals in Delta that allowed them to halt coal shipments because prices are down 25 per cent since the beginning of the year and are nearly half of their highs in 2011.

“The market is not as strong as what we would like it to be at this point in time. But we still think our capacity is required,” Fraser Surrey Docks president and CEO Jeff Scott said Tuesday.

“We’re working with our customer to determine the right timing,” he said.”


So BC has a moral obligation to develop LNG to save lives of people dying from air pollution in China, but it’s ok for BC to keep exporting the massive trainloads of US thermal coal to Asia that is causing the problem in the first place?



I think as global citizens we do have obligations,but the hypocrisy of this particular argument is stunning. I’ve been writing about the Surrey Fraser Docks coal facility project since 2013, when I first traced the business and big money connections behind it-even with coal prices in a slump, someone is going to make a lot of money and it isn’t the province of BC.  

In fact, as detailed in the link above, the president of Surrey Fraser Docks loudly applauded the decision because it would enable further dredging of the Fraser River, which facilitates their business.

But wait, I’m not done yet….there’s more.
The slump in coal prices might have temporarily reduced the amount of thermal coal BC is exporting,but long lines of coal trains are still rolling in with great frequency through Surrey and Delta daily. And China is hungry for more coal because of the low prices, with new coal fired plants being brought online as I write this. While some of their capacity is for natural gas, according to this article, most will be from coal which is likely to only be displaced with nuclear and hydro power in the future – not LNG.
Which really-kind of-sorta puts a big glitch in the humanitarian efforts of BC’s LNG advocate, who might want to reconsider his argument a bit the next time he tries wooing a community to buy what he’s selling via the moral obligation argument.
 ** while riding the high horse of moral obligations, one might consider the persons with disabilities bus pass debacle,children in care of the ministry or our mental health crisis, all or any of which might be deemed true moral obligations for BC to act on….

29 thoughts on “About that moral obligation to the people of China suffering from air pollution…

    1. When you consider that we have a Premier and a deputy premier running around the world selling a product we may never make to people that don’t want it competing with established LNG countried much closer, and their chief sales person is a badly failed politician who couldn’t even win when he defected to his enemy, and now is the classical political whore, this aphorism springs to mind – “whom the gods wish to destroy, they first make mad.” Then you consider that because there is no effective opposition combined with a press that loves big oil companies and the Clark government ,,, dammit, forgive me, I must find the loo and barf


  1. It was a jarring moment–just one of many– at that meeting. To hear someone who absolutely does not care about the lives and welfare of others making such a claim elicited a couple of shocked laughs, but left the rest sitting in stunned silence looking at their neighbours to see if they heard it too. Kudos to North Saanich for setting up such a meeting so Christy’s yes man could expose himself so thoroughly. My advice to any other proponent of such a project would be to tell Christy to pay Gordon Wilson to stay home.


  2. Anything-to-make-a-buck, Wilson. The always awkward opportunist. The man has made selling out a creative expression. Performance art. Expedience, amorality, lying, hypocrisy – he was picked to make Liberal politicians look NOT SO BAD.


  3. ‘Verclempt’ indeed! I can’t find it in my dictionary. Nevertheless, I hope ‘they’ are not doing all this largesse on the taxpayer’s nickel. One of these days? this dirty energy is going to become redundant. If renewables don’t respond perhaps the reduction in humanity may result in less reliance on fossil fuels. I just hope all the dredging and infrastructure is for naught. Perhaps the salmon will enjoy the increased access to the Fraser.


  4. Whenever I hear this talk about the Chinese replacing coal with LNG, I wonder if the Chinese are actually planning on doing that, or is it just wishful thinking by the BC Lieberals? That is, if we did export LNG to China, would China start shutting down coal-fired power plants? Does anybody know?


  5. Wonder why the LNG website cost 850,000 big ones, oh right it’s a BC liberal contract, unlike selling publicly owned resources for next to nothing anything that is built is under BC liberal procurement is outrageously expensive !


  6. Great point! I would add … ‘where is the moral obligation to NOT FRACK BC/Canada’s First Nation people’s L.A.W. [Land, Air, Water]? …


  7. Vancouver Island will resist being turned into BC’s little Industrial Island. Out of sight but close to the mainland. Setting up a factory in anyone’s neighbourhood is the first step in the area spreading out for more factories.
    Putting the factory right in the heart of our Island in the Saanch Inlet is so horrible.
    Right now this Island could be cleaned up and brought forth as Canada’s example of environmental diligence. Canada could shine in the world and this little gem could be a beacon.
    This Liberal government has proved itself to be void of human Respect for citizen with the Contaminated soil dump in Shawnigan.
    If the LNG moved the refinery out of busy Saanch there may be less resistance.
    As it stands you I people feel fine about ruining this beautiful Canadian Gem.


  8. LNG from BC would be produced from fracked natural gas, where billions of liters of fresh water are polluted with chemicals and pumped into the earth, jeopardizing aquifers.

    In addition, the addition of tonnes of GHGs to the atmosphere.


  9. Laila,
    Thank you continuing to point out the hypocrisy of this government and its supporters and advocates.

    I am old enough to have known people, past and present, who lived in England when coal was the fuel in demand. They all told stories at one time or another about the days when there was no natural light because of the soot in the air. Your article brought those stories back to mind, and I realized I never heard them talk about people dying of pollution coal; although there were many accounts of miners dying from working in the coal mines.

    Apparently, China has imported significant amounts of LNG in recent years, yet it can’t keep up with demand. So my question is this: Why is so much manufacturing being moved to China when it can’t keep up with its own resources, and it causes severe declines in domestic economies in many other countries?


  10. Ah, just finished over at RossK’s, Gazetter with Gordon Wilson and the Shaw report. have calmed down a tad.

    Gordon Wilson must have spent too much time with his nose in the sheep shit and it impacted his brain. He is being paid with my tax dollars and his first responsibility is to me and my fellow taxpayers here in lovely downtown B.C. Wilson, get a grip. Communist China has a pollution problem because that was important to the Communist Chinese government. Villagers, fishermen, farmers, lawyers who represented them were and are routinely tossed in jail for protesting these abhorrent pollution conditions in China. Now you want to pollute my province, my friends, their children, etc. to make things better in China? Not on my dime boy.

    China wants to clean up their pollution problems, they can do it any time. Germany has more technology than Gordon has sheep and they sell and share it all. All China has to do is enforce some of their own pollution rules. Is that going to happened? Not so much. Many major corporations In Communist China are owned by the Red Army of China, the Communist Party of China and the Communist government of China.

    This maybe some one’s idea of selling this LNG to us, but not so much. Personally, how do I know when Christy and her cabal are lying? their lips are moving. Gordon Wilson and his wife are part of that cabal.

    I don’t care if 500K are dying from bad air in China. I care that 800 people will die from Fentyl. over doses this year and Christy and her crew aren’t doing anything about it. I care that people will die before their time because almost 500K of us don’t have family doctors. I care that people die because they don’t get surgery fast enough. I care children may die or kill themselves because their lives are so poverty striken–yes we have had the highest rate of child poverty in Canada for 14 of the past 15 years. So I’m sure Gordon Wilson can find it in his magnificent self to forgive me for not caring about those in Communist china. My Mom taught us, charity begins at home and my home is B.C., Canada.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. “…..its (Site C) construction will be exactly what the LNG industry needs – Gordon Wilson’s explanation of who it will benefit. Now if only El Gordo W. could find a way to compress electricity to the same degree as natural gas and ship it over there, too.


    1. You jest, Grumps… but “compressing” electricity is being worked on.

      I don’t know if Mr. Wilson knows about this. (He would, if he were a devoted CBC Radio fan, as am I…)

      Researchers at McGill are working on a way to burn iron dust — which actually gives off good energy as it oxidizes and doesn’t emit CO2. Once the iron dust is rapidly rusted up, it would be shipped back to the place that has cheap electricity (Quebec, for one) and the rust would be cleaned off electrically, then the iron dust would be shipped back to wherever, to be burned again.

      Surely, we are morally obligated to pursue this plan.


  12. You (author) seem to go out of your way to ignore the Teck metallurgical coal that you Canadians export daily to China from fernie. BC (Teck) coal builds the sweatshops that US coal powers. Maybe BC should quit funding development of a Chinese sweatshop regime that requires US thermal coal or BC Fracked gas to power? Let’s use the factories that have already been built in Canada / USA to make our goods, not build brand new ones 9,000km across an ocean in an oppressive regime.


    1. Didn’t ignore it, it’s not the subject of scrutiny here. I agree entirely that we should be growing our economy here at home via manufacturing.

      Now,if only people could afford to buy everything Canadian Made – sadly until the costs of local production meet the sweatshop price from overseas, I dont see that happening.


  13. What new altruistic idea is next with the BC Liberal govt?
    We’ll stop exporting cars to China? Cigarettes? BC wine? All to “save” countless millions of Chinese citizens from autoaccidents, pollution, second hand smoke and alcoholism?.
    My God this govt spews forth so much BS its hard to keep up….
    Gordon Wilson. another Liberal hack on the govt largess.


    1. nonconfidencevote, the sheep have left the pasture on exporting cars to China. This clip gives us a good idea of that and fits with Laila’s comment about meeting sweatshop prices from overseas.

      I wonder how much of our coal it takes to make a Chinese Cadillac?


  14. Moral obligations huh? What about their government? How about Trade deals where our partners can’t sue us because of “supposed interference” from little things like – oh environmental laws. More garbage from corrupt lap dogs to the evil corp. Great article Laila!


  15. With Gordon Wilson feeling morally obligated to correct the ‘Government’ of China’s sins which doesn’t have a Health care system to deal with their fourth worst condition that is prematurely killing them off, maybe Wilson should included three other categories to his portfolio:
    Number One position is Dietary Risks;
    Number Two High Blood Pressure;
    Number Three Smoking;
    Number Four is Ambient Pollution.


  16. Wow. And I just read the Bob Mackin piece on the new Christy Clark book. Apparently this is aimed right at the crowd that is in Christy’s pockets. You know the ones. Ethically bankrupt individuals like Gordon “Flip” Wilson and “bed friend” Judy Tyabi. Either that or semi-literate mouth breathers that are the rank and file of the BC Liberal party. Anyone believing a word from Flip or his wife are in need of therapy.


  17. Scumba!!l & Clarksell They and there Gang have ruined this Province on the backs of the aged,the working poor,the downtrodden.Teachers,hospitals,homeless,they have bought media and feathered there friends nest .Planted there cronies the likes of Bacuis,Dobell,Fraser,Opel,special proscecutors The media the ledge reporters, there spouses and any one willing to get paid and ride on the bull shit bus DISGUSTING


  18. Actually there is a lot of products made in North America and they aren’t that expensive or more expensive than products produced in China. there are a whole raft of new clothing designers and manufacturers in Vancouver and they sell all over the province, for a reasonable price, in locally owned shops. The clothing lasts longer.

    There are websites in the U.S.A where you can check for companies which produce American made clothing and its no more expensive than shops sell made in China products for. You can order it on line.

    I can go to Lee Valley and purchase gardening tools made in the U.S.A., Germany, England, Netherlands and they all are of better quality and last longer.

    if you put out the effort to find things made in North America or Europe you will find them. You’d be surprised how much money you save if you decide not to purchase anything made in 3rd world conditions. Like how many cheap white t-shirts do you need. Staying out of Wal-Mart saves you money. I can go to penningtons and purchase clothing made in China, which barely last a season. I can also go to a local women’s shop and purchase clothing made in North America and wear them for several years.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. eat, you made some excellent points in your comments. It’s also time that people woke up to the fact that China has no State healthcare or welfare system, no pension plans or subsidised housing. Neither do they have tax rate that would pay for those human services.

    I’ve been to China several times and walked into areas that I apparently shouldn’t have been in. Sure China has lots of millionaires but there are billions who are not. Those are the throw away people that manufacture those throw away t shirts.

    It’s pretty great deal for big businesses like Walmart and others like them to talk about their cheap prices. Those cheap prices come at a huge cost to human capital and it’s time to factor those costs into what’s “cheap”.

    It’s time for all levels of government to stop pulling on their forelock to the Chinese government. Let’s start lecturing them at press conferences and calling them out for the economic abuses visited on the ordinary Chinese citizen


Comments are closed.