It’s rainy and cold in the mountains today and the clouds are so thick and low that it feels as though I’m floating in the sky.So,until this weather lifts I’m socked in and its the perfect time to tell you a story about one man who found out how hard it is to be right, when the wrong has already been done.
I can’t recall how I met Dennis online but somehow we found each other as a result of my many posts on BC’s next boondoggle, Site C. The first thing I noticed about Dennis in his online photo was his eyes. His eyes sparkle as bright as northern diamonds and his smile could melt the snow that blankets the trails the sled dogs travel in winter.Yet there are no smiles to be found when talking with Dennis Woodrow Burden about what it feels like to be right… about how wrong Newfoundlands boondoggle dam project is.
Not for the man who, in an attempt to bring attention to how wrong this project was, took an axe and chopped halfway through a power pole taking lines to the camp before being arrested.
Now Dennis isn’t some professional protester that goes from issue to issue to raise awareness. He’s a regular, hard working man. He goes out fishing, loves sled dogs and mushing, and his family.He’s a man who just felt so strongly that the mega-dam project that was being pushed through much like Site C is here in BC was wrong, that in frustration he broke the law to try and bring attention to it.
That’s why when the ceo of Nalcor recently came out and admitted that the Muskrat Falls dam was the wrong project and should never have been built, I immediately thought of Dennis. He had been right all along. He,along with many others who had been mocked for protesting ‘a sure thing’, the project that would fix all that ails Newfoundland. was right. (sound familiar?)
I messaged Dennis and asked how he felt to hear the province and Nalcor admit it was all wrong and a big disaster, and know that he had been right all along. His answer was poignant with more than a little bitterness, but I also found hope in it- I’ll tell you why in a moment.
But first,this is what he had to say:
“…to be truthful I do sometimes get that selfish feeling and smile when I receive a slap on the back or a ( you were right all along quote ) and yes I wanna scream I told you so and where the hell you been hiding and I do let it slip sometimes …. but then I realize that those sometimes self satisfying thoughts accomplish nothing ( and neither have I )….. all of the things I have tried …
The hundreds of hours researching the options , the sharing of info on social media , the $8000 Dollar civil disobedience charge , the crying for an RCMP criminal investigation into Nalcor and the NL Government , all of the protest I have held and been to , the sleepless nights , the lost family time , the neglected dog team ( as in not being ran enough ) , the wondering if continuously banging your head against the wall like that could continue without becoming a bitter ole man ( and if it would one day effect my health ) ….. and even when I would harness them I could still never really break free and shake the Dam thing from my mind …..
Today I`m a very sad and hurt because my motivation and belief always was if people only knew,they would awaken and say NO …. and now that day is here… the people know and still ??? …. why we the citizens have not descended on the Confederation building ??? ……
I see some hope with folks taking to the streets angry about lost services , gas tax , health / education cuts and that hated budget ( and I love it ) but still I wish folks would look beyond that and fight the monster that brought us the sick budget which is the Muskrat Falls boondoggle ….. I have been informed that the creditors would only let us as a Province 1.8 Billion and Nalcor needs 1.4 out of that to pour down the muskrat fails monsters throat …. I mention money more today as I find you get a bigger audience that way but for me its always been about trying to save a little bit of our fast disappearing habitat , rivers , forest , ocean and yes even the atmosphere ( go ahead google dam and methane gas ) , animals , birds , fish and the people who depend on it …..
I see the same sick story unfolding over on our west coast on the Peace as the Government supported maggots gather to destroy another piece of our mother and stick the bill to its citizens ….. its so insane how the exact same story is unfolding and leaves me thinking they must have stolen the script from Danny Williams ( same show different puppets ) …
I cannot believe that the project at muskrat continues still and a friend keeps whispering in my ear that the transmission line will double as a pipeline route and water will be our next bulk export …. its a corporate world today and those big multi national companies hold us and our governments hostage and even use them to create new laws that protect their sick system ( check bill 29 , 60 and 61 here in NL ) …..”
I read his words again this morning, and I shake my head. I wonder how it is that in the face of such a financial and environmental disaster in Newfoundland, that our government here can continue to claim due diligence was done on Site C? That they can claim with any shred of integrity, that they’ve done everything different.
Energy Minister Bill Bennett continues to mislead the public on this project,stating years of studies were done, but failing at every juncture to mention that his government intentionally exempted Site C from the single regulatory review that puts BC Hydro customers interests first…the same review that denied Site C twice already because it wasn’t right:
“Energy Minister Bill Bennett says that large differences between BC Hydro’s Site C Clean Energy Project and Nalcor’s Muskrat Falls Generating Facilty mean that the third dam on the Peace River won’t likely end up like its eastern counterpart…
Bennett said that the Site C Dam differs from Muskrat Falls in that the planning and budgeting for the dam was subject to a rigorous seven-year process. Bennett said that in addition to planning that included an independent panel of experienced contractors, and having the project’s budget audited by KPMG twice, that BC Hydro has built a strong inflation budget into the project. Along with those, Bennett mentioned the $440 million contingency figure that the province included in the final figure. According to Bennett, approximately $4 billion of the dam’s $8.335 billion final budget has already been committed.
“Newfoundland is in a bit of a pickle right now because they were kind of a one-trick pony. They depended almost entirely on offshore oil and gas. That’s gone away for them right now so at whatever cost that dam is going to have, they don’t need the electricity,” said Bennett.”
Umm… ” won’t likely end up like its eastern counterpart ” ? Sure Bill. Like your government hasn’t been a one trick pony with LNG? Let’s not talk about how you,Hydro ceo Jessica Mcdonald, and Premier Clark sound exactly like the crew that rammed Muskrat Falls through, even down to the newspapers quotes that can be easily found in publications back east…
Of course, Bennett isn’t running again, so he won’t be wearing this mess.
LNG is a word the BC Liberals are now avoiding heading into the next election as projects crumble,removing yet another false justification for the project.
And Hydro ceo Mcdonald keeps dancing between the lines on the ridiculous amount of debt held in deferral accounts as if it’s not a big deal that they were wrong…. and fails to grasp that her words are exactly why we should all be questioning everything on Site C if they can’t even get this right. http://vancouversun.com/news/politics/vaughn-palmer-hydro-deferral-rat-keeps-getting-bigger
And of course, the Trudeau government goes ahead and issues more work permits for this mess despite ongoing litigation before the courts,any of which could bring this all to a grinding halt considering the Enbridge ruling on First Nations. New era in government? Not so much.
Indeed…I feel strongly both these governments have committed a breach of public trust inherent to any elected official. It’s all there for everyone to see.
But when a story like the problems and failures on the north slope of the Site C project that is still receiving thousands of views around the world, still do not make the evening news, still see no headlines other than a brief mention in a story on an inside page...it’s easy to see how the message is crafted and controlled. It’s a travesty. Every single person who finds out the government exempted Site C from this review,changes their mind on this project. I point them to where it was done and why,as if being clean means not being accountable. It scares them.
And that’s why I and others will continue to write and inform the public. We will make Site C an election issue, that’s a promise. Because as Dennis Woodrow Burden found out… there is no comfort in being right, when the wrong has already been done. And we don’t need that burden here in BC. Not for any legacy.