Thursday, February 20, 2014

Has LNG Become Political equivalent of LSD in BC?

Any government that thinks liquefied natural gas is a fix-all is clearly hallucinating. 
Premier Christy Clark talks about the LNG future in terms of The Jetsons - her is Jane Jetson from the 1960s cartoon show
Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column
Tuesday February 18, 2014
By Bill Tieleman
Look for the girl with the sun in her eyes / And she's gone / Lucy in the sky with diamonds"
- The Beatles, "Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds"

How did LNG become the political equivalent of LSD in British Columbia?
Today's B.C. budget, like last week's throne speech, will mostly be about what a high time B.C. is going to have with liquefied natural gas solving all our problems, from debt to jobs.
But like LSD, or lysergic acid -- the drug made popular in the hippie 1960s -- LNG is not all groovy. It can be a thrill, or lead to a bad trip. And there are already signs that LNG, like LSD, can cause damaging side effects. says of LSD: "If taken in large enough doses, the drug produces delusions and visual hallucinations."
Premier Christy Clark is clearly suffering LNG-induced delusions, excitedly telling a business audience on Dec. 10 that "We have a chance to pay off our debt, a chance to create 100,000 new jobs, a chance to transform the face of our province."
Not so fast, premier. Geologist David Hughes spent 30 years with the Geological Survey of Canada, and he thinks you're hallucinating.
"The LNG export plans of the B.C. government are unlikely to be realized at the scale envisioned and must be seriously questioned," Hughes wrote for Watershed Sentinel, an environmental magazine.
"Arm-waving assertions by B.C. politicians of more than 950 tcf [trillion cubic feet] of recoverable resources are misleading, as they convey none of the geological and economic uncertainties in these estimates, nor the scale of the environmental and technical challenges in attempting to recover them," Hughes concluded, spoiling Clark's high.
Big energy bummer
The Canada West Foundation also urges caution on liquefied natural gas. In a report ominously titled "Managing Expectations," the foundation warns that "B.C. is coming late to the party" on LNG, and will face serious competition from Australia, the Middle East, Africa and the U.S.
"The opportunity for B.C. to supply Asian markets with LNG is solid, but not guaranteed," the report says, adding "China has lower cost or more strategic alternatives to LNG."
Last month in Australia, which is years ahead of B.C. in LNG development, Arrow Energy's major partners pulled out of a $10-billion LNG project, laying off 400 workers.
(You can take a quiz on LNG at a B.C. government website -- I was number 1,445 to do so and scored 80 per cent -- but the serious questions some experts raise about its viability aren't being discussed there.)
But LNG is like political LSD, and "under the influence of LSD, the ability to make sensible judgments and see common dangers is impaired."
LNG is a great asset, but it's not sensible for Clark to make incredible claims it will eliminate B.C.'s $56-billion-and-growing provincial debt or create 100,000 jobs.
"When I was growing up in Burnaby, shows like The Jetsons showed a fantastic vision of the future: two-day work weeks, robot servants, and flying cars," Clark wrote in an article last month about LNG.
Unfortunately, an LNG industry that solves all of B.C.'s problems in a few short years is just like the Jetsons -- imaginary.


Shadow warriors prepare for BC NDP leadership battle

Don't be deceived: A behind-the-scenes fight to succeed Adrian Dix is well underway.

John Horgan, left, Mike Farnworth look on as NDP leadership winner Adrian Dix speaks on April 17, 2011 - Bill Tieleman photo
Bill Tieleman's 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday February 11, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

"All war is deception." 
- Sun Tzu

Don't be deceived by public indications, because a fierce war is already being fought for the B.C. New Democratic Party leadership.
But this is a battle being fought by shadow warriors -- until they choose the right time to step into the light.
When the B.C. Legislature resumes sitting today after an inexcusable absence of 200 days, attention will naturally focus on the BC Liberal government's throne speech, its stated agenda for new policies.
And while the traditional jousting between Opposition and government will dominate proceedings, simultaneously behind the scenes NDP MLAs will be involved in another, internal fight to determine who will next lead the party into the 2017 election after Adrian Dix steps down.
To date the only leadership announcements have been to say "No, thanks": MLAs John Horgan, Judy Darcy, George Heyman; Members of Parliament Nathan Cullen, Peter Julian, Fin Donnelly, Jinny Sims and Kennedy Stewart; and Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and city councillor Geoff Meggs have all declined the chance to succeed Dix.
But even this list of non-combatants is deceiving, for serious efforts are underway by party and labour activists to convince Horgan -- the fiery veteran who placed third in 2011's leadership vote -- to reconsider and run again.
Meanwhile, shadow campaign teams are actively soliciting support from MLAs, unions and key individuals who can provide the votes and money needed to win the one-member, one-vote contest that concludes in September.
Who hasn't said no
Veteran MLA Mike Farnworth, a former cabinet minister under NDP premiers Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark in the 1990s, is generally seen as the frontrunner after placing second to Dix last time.
Many of Farnworth's past backers are actively seeking support again now and believe he could have won the failed 2013 campaign against Premier Christy Clark.
But others, including Horgan himself when he announced he would not run last October, feel that it's time for new blood in leadership to face the future.
"I was hearing an inevitability about it. I felt it was best to get out of the way for our younger members. It will open up the party to new ideas. It was imperative I made this announcement to clear the field," Horgan told media then.
But late Sunday it appeared Horgan was indeed reconsidering. In an interview with CKNW AM 980 Radio's Shane Woodford, Horgan said: "I am candidly a bit disappointed. I was hopeful that we would have seen some of the younger people step up but I also understand, having been a leadership candidate, how absolutely daunting it is. It is a difficult task criss crossing the province particularly just so closely after a defeat."
And Horgan admitted he was being courted to run again.
"Well there certainly is an increasing amount of pressure for me to revisit my decision. I haven't done that. As I say I am going to stick to what I am doing now and as time unfolds we will see what happens September is a long way away. I am going to get through this week and then I am going to get through the week after that."
Notwithstanding Horgan's second thoughts on a leadership bid, members holding his original view that it's time for a changing of the NDP guard are coalescing around new MLA David Eby, who became a giant killer by defeating Clark in her own Vancouver-Point Grey riding and entered electoral politics with a significant reputation as executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association and lawyer for Pivot Legal Society representing marginalized people in the city's Downtown Eastside.
UPDATE - On February 14 David Eby announced he was dropping out of the BC NDP leadership consideration because his partner Cailey Lynch is pregnant, with their first child due in September.  
Both Eby's greatest strength and biggest challenge come from his past public advocacy roles, with former NDP government staffer turned turncoat BC Liberal Brad Zubyk already attacking Eby.
"He's a grandstander," Zubyk told The Province's Michael Smyth. "There are lots of people working quietly every day to help the homeless, but David Eby goes the YouTube route. He wants attention."
Those backing Eby are convinced a pre-emptive strike by Zubyk, who executed ex-corporate CEO Jim Shepard's $1-million pre-election advertising smear campaign against Dix, is a clear indication Eby is most feared by Clark and her strategists.
But other New Democrats are unconvinced either Farnworth or Eby are the right choice, so they are now heavily pressuring Horgan to re-join the battle, despite his October statement that it is time for new ideas and people.
Uniting browns and greens
They believe only Horgan can find a balance between the two solitudes that often plague the NDP -- the classic "brown" versus "green", or jobs versus the environment conundrum that bedevilled Dix after a mid-campaign announcement reversing his neutral position on the proposed Kinder Morgan pipeline by saying he now opposed it as well as the Enbridge Northern Gateway pipeline plan.
That surprise decision appeared to be the turning point in the election, letting a hard-hat wearing Clark to triumph against overwhelming odds by making the ballot question who would best lead on jobs and the economy.
Dix's position played well in Vancouver and Victoria, but was devastating amongst blue-collar workers in key swing ridings like Kamloops and other Interior and northern seats.
Horgan is seen by several union leaders and former NDP premier Dan Miller, who Horgan served as chief of staff, as the only potential leader who could avoid a repeat defeat on the same issue.
"I think he'd be the perfect guy," Miller told host Vaughn Palmer of Shaw TV's Voice of B.C. on Jan. 30. "He looks good. He's a stand-up guy. He looks you in the eye. He's a straight shooter." It all sets the stage not for a "lacklustre" contest, as some have predicted, but a hearts and minds battle that may determine the party's path for years.
Step forward, warriors
Regardless of whether Horgan reverses course and enters the race or whether Farnworth and Eby ultimately decide to run, the reasons for likely candidates not announcing for leader are many and strong.
Starting a campaign without committed support can lead to major public embarrassment when key endorsements go to other candidates.
BC Liberal Finance Minister Mike de Jong was seen as a heavyweight in the party but couldn't convince a single MLA to support his cause.
Fundraising, especially after a massive party effort that raised record donations in 2013, will be difficult -- and half of every dollar given to a leadership candidate goes to the NDP provincial office.
But the entry fee of $25,000 and a party spending limit of $350,000 shows finding a lot of financial backing is critical.
And the successful candidate needs more than just member votes -- they require high profile endorsements, and must be able to herd cats in the NDP caucus, deal with the prickly press gallery, navigate tricky party politics around potential pipelines, liquefied natural gas, fracking and the possible Site C dam, plus develop a very thick skin to shield from both external and internal attacks.
Despite his campaign crash, Dix -- who I endorsed in 2011 -- set the bar high by calming a caucus openly at war that forced leader Carole James' departure; launching endless and successful fundraising efforts, especially in the business community; breaking major news regularly; demonstrating an exhaustive grasp of a wide range of issues; and driving BC Liberal support and Christy Clark's approval rating into what seemed a bottomless ditch.
Plus, whomever wins the NDP leadership will face incredible expectations of victory from a party that feels it was robbed of government by an amazingly poor campaign and will have been out of office for 16 years by the 2017 election.
Daunting prospects for any potential candidate, but if the risks are high, the reward is too: by reversing the results in just nine seats, the next NDP leader can become premier.

And that's enough incentive for warriors to step out of the shadows and into a party battle.


Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Justin Trudeau's Liberal Senators MagicTrick - Leaves Them Still In Palm of Hand

Ironically, it was Conservative Senators, not the Liberals, who've shown true senatorial grit of late by demonstrating independence

Justin Trudeau - magician?
Bill Tieleman's 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

Tuesday February 4, 2014

By Bill Tieleman

"I'm not a former Liberal. I'm a Liberal. And I'm a Liberal senator. I think not a lot will change." 

- Senator James Cowan, "ex-Liberal" Senate leader, Jan. 29 
Justin Trudeau's unilateral "ejection" of 32 Liberal senators last week is like a magician making a readily visible coin suddenly disappear before an astonished audience.

Yet moments later the coin is miraculously back, and right in the palm of his hand.
Liberal senators will be no different.
While many media and academic observers have been impressed with the tactic's "boldness" or its "simplicity" -- including now ex-Liberal Senator Jim Munson's hyperbolic claim Trudeau had "set" his senators "free" from supposed $135,000 a year serfdom -- the reality is far less noble
Already it's clear that the "free" Liberals are demonstrating their "independence" by continuing to have James Cowan as their Senate leader and Munson as opposition whip.
Trudeau claims that "there are no more Liberal senators" despite most of the 32 he ejected continuing to call themselves Liberals, work together as Liberals and pledge to support the Liberal cause.
(Perhaps the "senators formerly known as Liberal" will follow the lead of rock star Prince when he temporarily dropped his name and replaced it with a stylized symbol? A giant red letter L could identify the "free" Grits.)
Trudeau reasoned that now the former Liberal senators could be "independent" from the party that appointed them and even challenged Prime Minister Stephen Harper to do the same.
"Join us in making senators independent of political parties and end partisanship in the Senate," Trudeau said.
An ironic twist
But in an ironic twist, it was in fact Conservative senators who demonstrated in 2013 what true independence means, when 16 of them voted to radically amend Bill C-377, a Conservative private members bill passed by Tory Members of Parliament but sent back "gutted," in the words of its sponsor, South Surrey-White Rock-Cloverdale MP Russ Hiebert.
C-377 was vigorously opposed by Canadian labour, including -- full disclosure -- unions that are among my clients, but it was then-Conservative Senator Hugh Segal who led a successful insurrection against the legislation.
The point isn't the content of C-377, but that 16 Conservative senators stood up in public to thwart Harper and his cabinet and show their displeasure.
Now that's independence! And it was demonstrated by challenging a far more powerful opponent -- the prime minister -- than the leader of Parliament's third party.
And when he had an earlier chance, Trudeau voted against an NDP resolution in the House of Commons on Oct. 23 that called on senators to be made independent.  
It was left last week to B.C. senator and recent ex-Liberal Larry Campbell to bring his forensic skills as Vancouver's former coroner and start the post-mortem on Trudeau's tactic.
"I think it's a brave move on the part of Justin. I don't know that it’s a smart move," Campbell said.
When it comes to tricks, sometimes the magic just wears off.