Thursday, February 5, 2015

Politics of opportunism

In a Times Colonist Op-Ed, Bercove, Madden and Coste wrote,
We have the choice between trying to build an industry of uncertain benefit based on a finite resource that is guaranteed to increase our contribution to the climate crisis, or rebuilding an industry that could provide livelihoods on a potentially infinite basis, while preserving forest resources and mitigating climate change.

Why on Earth would we ever choose the former?
They may wonder why Liberals disregard forestry and divert attention to liquefied natural gas but this is simply politics of opportunism.

The 30-year timeline for Christy Clark’s LNG reverie means that present day politicians will be long gone before success or failure is determined. On the other hand, had they committed to rebuilding the forest industry, the results would soon be measurable through production, employment and sales statistics.

Given the paucity of capability within Liberal circles, success would be unlikely and accountability would be imminent. The alternative to real industry had to be an imaginary one. Liberals’ monumental pretense of $1 trillion in LNG business is like JFK’s more sincere promise in 1961 of
...achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.
Eight years and two presidents later, Neil Armstrong took one small step for man. Regardless of whether the landing ultimately succeeded or failed, Kennedy’s undertaking served its political purpose because it was made ten days before the President’s 1961 Vienna Summit meeting with Nikita Khrushchev.

In British Columbia, a heavily subsidized industry might stand opposite to the province's long-term needs but the LNG and Prosperity Fund announcement served its political purpose. Clark made her declaration weeks before Lt.-Gov. Judith Guichon signed 2013 writs of election.

I’ve demonstrated before that natural gas extraction has ceased to be a major contributor to the public treasury. In 2014, cash receipts from royalties and rights sales were less than monies spent by the Ministry of Natural Gas Development. Petroleum and natural gas rights brought in $383 million in the last calendar year and 2015 started slowly with the January tender gaining less than $2.3 million. Sales of rights are recorded as revenues over nine years so only a fraction of those sums offset ministry costs.

At some point, the LNG fantasy will be dealt with; like BC Hydro rates, not until after the 2017 election. Wednesday, Justine Hunter, the Globe and Mail’s Press Gallery stenographer, reported this:
Hydro rates were almost frozen in the lead-up to the 2013 provincial election by order of the cabinet. Months after the election, rates were again suppressed by the government. But the Crown corporation’s growing debt and its need to upgrade aging infrastructure would lead to significant rate hikes if the regulator was allowed to take charge now, Mr. Bennett said.
For a moment, forget the debt issue and the aging infrastructure. They are not incidental but the business plan that has new power providers paid more than the sale price of electricity makes real business people shudder. Ms. Hunter didn't bother to explain that element.

Using a favourite word in Victoria, the LNG and electricity schemes are not sustainable. The ghost of Charles Ponzi survives in the BC Liberal caucus.

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  1. I'm going to recommend people check out and join efforts to bring the BCLiberals to account. Recall campaigns are set to begin near the end of March. 2017 is too far away. Between now and then, this is the only way to make them listen. Lots to gain, and nothing to lose that isn't already being given away - Merv

  2. Whoops.. That should have been

  3. Recall, in total agreement. Richard Lee and Mark Dalton are the first to be recalled—campaign starting late March. Volunteers needed.
    Let's get out there. Worn out by Liberal deceit, taxes, clawbacks, Mt Polley, hydro, ferries, etc.

  4. Reason to recall
    Wall of secrecy?
    P3 politicians protecting private interests?
    Needs 40 percent to qualify
    More wall of secrecy ? Recall please tight races first.
    Het we did it with HST.
    V Palmer on 690 cbc radio feb 4 at 340 pm on polley mine

  5. Great as always Norm. How does one get in touch with you anyway, or do you understandably not give contact info?

    1. I'm best contacted by email:

  6. Having a transit tax vote and overriding it would promote a recall?
    A general revenue proxy?

  7. Bill Bennett, BC Liberals’ 2013 election platform chair, said their platform focused on eliminating our debt to secure a safe, clean, healthy, affordable and debt-free B.C. for generations of families. “NDP economics puts this is all at risk. They believe that spending billions on the backs of our kids is acceptable. We believe government shouldn’t leave our kids with debt,” he said.

    Now he says that he won’t let the BC Utilities Commission have anything to do with setting hydro rates until 2019 because BC Hydro’s growing debt and its need to upgrade aging infrastructure would lead to significant rate hikes if the regulator was allowed back in its rightful place now. He also thinks it’s a good idea to borrow another 9 or 10 or (?) billion dollars to build a dam we might not even need, and that some say will only develop power to be sold at a loss in any event, without any independent Commission review.

    Due to decisions made by Mr. (I was ordered to do it) Bennett, our kids had better have strong backs.

    1. What I don't understand is why the NDP doesn't spew rhetoric like the Liberals do. It's so clear that BC voters are more interested in rhetoric than facts. Why doesn't the NDP start calling the Liberals the party of debt and tolls?

    2. I agree with you to a certain extent, and was disappointed to see the NDP show up to a gunfight armed with a wet noodle during the last election. But the NDP has been consistently raising these issues and John Horgan especially is more than up to speed on what has been transpiring.

      Norm raised the real question in his article when he pointed out that the Globe and Mail’s Ms. Hunter didn't bother to explain that the business model BC Hydro is pursuing is simply not economically sustainable. Why did she not do that? No need for transparent rhetoric, just investigate and report the facts. All of them. She and her colleagues should be doing much more than repeating the mouthings of Bill Bennett et al and better informing the public of what is really going on.

      The ghost of Charles Ponzi walks the halls of the BC Liberal caucus but Alfred E. Neuman is alive and well in the corridors of the BC Press Gallery.

    3. "Alfred E. Neuman is alive and well in the corridors of the BC Press Gallery".

      Best single line written in a blog in over a year. Bears repeating. Regularly.

      - persey


  9. The list of subsidies to the natural gas industry amazes me. It is a piece of information easily verified yet it has never been reported in similar form by daily newspapers or by Black Press and Glacier Media publications.

    I wonder why.

  10. If the $383 million paid for petroleum and gas leases in 2014 is recognizes as income over nine years, that is $42.5 million a year, about a tenth of what it cost to run the natural gas development ministry this year. Since royalties, a separate revenue stream, are bringing in a net value recently of about $60 million a year, government is spending about 4 times revenue on natural gas.

    Something wrong with this picture.

  11. Well Norm, the majority of people who voted in B.C. voted for Christy Clark and her cabal. Now they can live with it and go broke with it.

    Our debt problems could wind up making us Detroit North and we all know how that has turned out.

    With the provincial government going deeper and deeper in debt how do they plan to pay for our health care system when P.M. "the great economist" Harper cuts $36 Billion from the national health care budget in 2017? if that keeps up some of us are going to have to activate our dual citizenships in Europe, just to get health care.

  12. Total BC provincial debt has doubled since 2006.
    It's projected to keep rising every year to almost $69 billion by 2016/17.
    What happened to 'debt-free BC'?



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