Despite having made an office nook inside our home, I still prefer to write at my kitchen table, by the deck doors. In this space I feel as close to nature as I can be while indoors, and today the high winds are tossing the brilliant red leaves of a maple in the back, riotously all over the yard. The sky is a kaleidoscope of colours, black and grey clouds now cut with beams of light as the sun tries to peek through.
I love the words above. It speaks to the last 4 weeks of this untimely election. This is the first election in a decade that I haven’t been a pundit or commentator, and I admit to missing the online camaraderie of #bcpoli, if not the blind partisanship and hypocrisy that still runs rampant. Especially sparring with my pro-Site C and pro-LNG followers ( ahem, yeah I was right Ryan )
Covid changed everything this year..our flaws and inequities were laid bare, the vast numbers of people living on the edge of and in poverty was blatantly revealed, and we released prisoners and locked up elders, both in the name of protecting them. 2020 has been rife with revealing moments in our lives, our communities and even moreso now with our political leaders and candidates.
So much of it is relevant to why and how this election even came to be. It should be clear to everyone by now, particularly with the revealing Site C FOI release that respected journalist Sarah Cox reported on yesterday, that this election was anything but snap.
The parties knew in April that Elections BC was already thinking ahead to next years election, and the minutes of the Elections Advisory June 11th meeting reflect the work done to date.
The BC NDP even held a Covid savvy campaign school online from June 11th to the 24th, covering everything from fundraising in the time of Covid, to safe outreach and a new candidate school. This is why the NDP campaign was able to be ready so quickly, when most were still just focusing on moving to Stage 3 and getting back to work. Thanks to Sarah Cox’s report on the 2000+pages Site C FOI she fought 9 months to get, we know Horgan would not want to face the Milburn report without attempting to get a majority for the next 4 years it will take the public to forget whats coming.
But there is definitely more, because there is a very strong possibility the sweetheart deal he gave to LNG Canada is going to be something else he may not want to answer for. It was 2015 when then opposition leader John Horgan, railed against former premier Christy Clark for the LNG tax credits and incentives legislation the BC Liberals had crafted to entice a final investment decision on LNG projects in northern BC.
“Opposition leader John Horgan promptly announced that the NDP will vote against the bill.
He said the Liberals failed to secure job guarantees, protect the environment or get a fair return for the people of B.C. “A 25-year deal? Who does that? Who does that in the 21st century?”
He said the project handcuffs future governments by granting a “25-year tax holiday to a foreign company”
He was right then…who would sign a sweetheart deal with foreign companies for that long, committing future governments to it whether they want to or not?
Why, John Horgan would. But the BC NDP took it a step further and further sweetened the deal Clark had offered…and LNG Canada finally announced a final investment decision. But things haven’t been rosy since then.
In January I noticed a rash of LNG lobbying going on in BC, new registrations and new efforts to talk to the government about more subsidies ” to ensure market competitiveness.
In February, I did some research in the various factors that impact natural gas prices and the industry, and discovered that even in 2018, the LNG projects aren’t even viable in BC, *with all the current tax incentives and credits*,unless the price is far higher than it is now.
More concerning is a future glut from projects already underway and coming online in the mid 2020’s. why would LNG Canada move ahead on such unprofitable conditions? Some analysts speculate it’s just a way for LNG Canadas partners to lock down a dedicated gas supply for 40 years. Pretty much on BC taxpayers dime. Its been observed there’s been an effort to buy up everything along this projects route, from well to plant.
Now, Covid has changed everything, and has created challenges in every sector across the board, from job loss, to manufacturing delays, cost increases and staffing issues. And its not going to stop anytime soon. Just 3 weeks ago, S & P Global reported construction delays at the LNG Canada site :
“Two years after a Royal Dutch Shell PLC-led consortium gave the commercial go-ahead for the massive LNG Canada export terminal in British Columbia — dubbed the single largest private sector investment in Canadian history — construction delays have clouded the LNG supply picture and raised the prospect of cost overruns.
The project was likely about four months behind schedule in February because of factors that included delays in engineering and making equipment for the terminal off-site, according to analysts at the investment research firm Webber Research & Advisory. Now the project is probably around six months behind, which is enough to suggest the potential for significant cost overruns and pressure on a planned expansion, the firm said.
“If they are that far behind heading into COVID, I find it hard to believe the delay is not going to ultimately be measured in years,” Managing Partner Michael Webber said in an interview.”
Funny this isn’t a big issue in the election. Those with skin in the game are pretending everything is awesome, but in reality, it really isn’t.
And when there is no plan B, when you’ve put all your eggs in this giant, money losing basket, that’s an issue. Ironically, just this week, the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis issued a report basically repeating everything I had posted in the above two blog posts in January and February of this year.
Indeed, its not hard to see why John Horgan wouldn’t want to wait another year. Everything he has doubled down on, is falling apart and in the case of Site C, I mean that quite literally.
Which is why I want to show you this:
This is chart of the 2019 Gross Domestic Product in BC. More than half way down this graphic you will see that quarrying, mining, oil and gas extraction – all together – still only make up 3.45% of our total GDP. Now that is an important 3.45% to the communities surviving only because of those boom and bust industries right now, but overall, we have to ask why we are subsidizing this sector to the tune of $830 million yearly, with an additional $3.1 billion in royalty credits? ( Notice number one of our GDP? Real estate…) This is why a just and viable transition to new local industries is key. This matters.
But this is where I’m going to change gears. It was with irony that many noticed Horgans hopeful campaign ads were filmed during the week BC saw thick smoke roll in from the US forest fires, reminding us of the last time our skies were apocalyptic orange from BC forest fires a couple years ago. Whether you believe climate change is real or not, it is happening and it is being seen and felt all over areas of Canada most urbanites never see. I have written of this often, speaking to melting permafrost riddling Canada’s north. The world is changing faster, and in alarming extremes, than we are adapting. Clean BC, is a nicely wrapped package designed to allow industry to pollute, while the rest of us make up for it. And I’m not saying we each don’t have to do our part, we do, but I am saying I won’t applaud a plan that continues the same path we have been on for far too long.
This thread by the indomitable Lindsay Brown, who I hear is really is amazing on twitter for keeping the site C issue front and center, along with other issues, speaks to this direction so many find at odds with what we all know needs to be done.
So where does that bring us now, on the eve of an election?
As someone who has covered politics in BC for long enough to document and record over a hundred reasons the BC Liberals needed to go, I can say nothing has changed. Wilkinson is no more capable of leading a parade than he is the province and he proved that when he promised to cut the one reliable and critical stream of government revenue we have right now in BC. He is oddly and dangerously out of touch with reality on so many levels, it astounds me. The BC Liberals are not fit to govern their own party, let alone British Columbia.
The NDP has done some excellent work on some files with the Greens, and all parties worked together so well during the pandemic, but I really have big concerns with Horgans leadership and direction, particularly because of Geoff Meggs presence in the premiers office, along with so many Vision Vancouverites that helped steer Vancouver into what it is today. There was no effort as talked about after the last election, of getting rid of the old guard and executive of the NDP at convention. It was business as usual. And when the BC govt under the NDP, is allowing old growth trees to be ground into pellets to be shipped and burned overseas, and culling moose to save the caribou…
Houston, we have a problem.
We also, in despite of measures taken, have not protected our most vulnerable: our elders and others in long term care homes. Many might not be aware, but families are reporting that there is no consistency on visiting practices between long term homes, and many families are still not being allowed to see their love ones. This is cruel and mentally anguishing for both elders and families, and the number of stories being posted publicly is heartbreaking. And despite this isolation, covid continues to kill elders, most often brought in by staff. This is not to put the blame on staff, who are amazing and exhausted and also are getting sick or hospitalized. But there have been questions as to why mandatory frequent testing isn’t being used on staff as a proactive measure, rather than just screening and PPE. I worry we won’t have any elders left by spring if this isn’t done. We need to recognize staff have lives, partners, children and families of their own, and as Metro Van cases rise, so too will the number of outbreaks in LTC if preventative, proactive, mandatory testing isn’t done. Precautionary principle must be applied to our elder care now, not later.
We don’t have to sacrifice environment for the economy, and we don’t have to sacrifice social supports for it either. We must not forget the inequities Covid exposed, nor should we forget the lessons it showed us while in isolation. Streets filled with nature where people no longer walked. Dolphins returned to Venician canals, and locally here, whales returned to swim where marine traffic made it difficult before. Nature became a refuge where distancing and masks were not needed. Leaders rose in communities to help others and more often than not weren’t politicians, but just people who saw a need and filled it. We would be foolish to ignore the wake up call and fail to adapt and evolve at this immediate juncture. I’m hoping for another minority government, because having seen the environmental inaction the last 3 years, I’m not sure what will be left in another 4 if Horgan got a majority, let alone the Liberals.
Elections always belong to the people,even when we don’t want one. So if you haven’t voted yet, get your mask on tomorrow and go do it. Think of the most vulnerable person you know, think of the kind of province you want for your kids and grandkids, and think of the amazing and beautiful province we live in. And use your vote wisely.
Absolute power corrupts even when exercised for humane purposes. The benevolent despot who sees himself as a shepherd of the people still demands from others the submissiveness of sheep.
For Richard 😃