Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Setting priorities

I've written about politics influenced by a captured and compliant press. This is from a Canadian Press article that Liberals found helpful, published by Macleans Magazine weeks before the last BC election:
...A Liberal government would dedicate all revenues from liquefied natural gas and a proposed oil refinery in Kitimat to debt reduction until all provincial debt is eliminated, said Clark. She pointed out that the New Democrats have said they will increase taxes on the LNG industry.

B.C. would be debt-free in 15 years under her stewardship, she said, and the Liberals would tie government spending increases to the rate of nominal GDP...
It is worth noting that when Premier Clark made the 2013 promise to be debt free within 15 years, debt and contractual obligations were $55 billion and $100 billion. Liberals forecast total provincial debt will be $70 billion in Mar 2018 but don't report on the larger contract obligations total. By then, one-third of Clark's 15 year time frame would have passed and BC would have no material LNG revenues. Nevertheless, LNG skepticism is rare within the pro-media. It still occupies government attention and hundreds of millions in annual ministry spending.

The linked Maclean's article read like an advertisement but it was not marked as such, nor is it so marked today at their site. No reservations or alternative voices were included for even a pretense of balance. The incomplete piece would earn a failing grade in a first year journalism course.

That such fantastical claims were made and sustained so easily explains why British Columbia's government remains focused on natural gas as a supposed economic driver. It is simply electoral politics and pro-media has done a full buy-in.

LNG was the magician's rabbit in 2013 and Liberals calculate that it can be the same in 2017. That natural gas is such a tiny industry in this province matters not; it offers so many political advantages. This graph is drawn from information assembled and published by BC Stats. It needs no further commentary to emphasize my points.

Government preoccupation with the fossil fuel industry hurt BC's export and tourism industries. Observers know that billions of dollars spent by the Chinese government to acquire Canadian resource companies contributed to a dollar that went above parity with the US. We've suffered from "Dutch Disease." In BC, there has been an accelerated increase in low paying McJobs and lower employment in manufacturing and other non-extractive industries. As a result, this province has joined Ontario and Quebec at the bottom in measurement of recent wage growth. This is unsurprising since Central and Upper Canada have had similar experiences with Dutch Disease.

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  1. Would you mount an election campaign based on a jobs strategy for food and beverage stores? Instead of training welders, the emphasis would be on shelf stockers and retail clerks. Too little romance to win votes.

  2. This document shows BC contractual obligations projected to 2020 and beyond. Total is $102.8 billion. IPP power is the biggy. Lots of P3's, Policing contract, BC Ferries. All apparently not considered debt?


    1. Liberals think that if they borrow $50,000 and buy a car they are in debt $50,000. However, if they lease a $50,000 car for five years, there is no debt.

      In the first option, they might repay $11,000 a year and own the car free and clear at the end of five years.

      Choosing the lease option, they might pay $11,000 a year for five years but owe a balloon payment of $7,500 at the end if they want to pass the car to a son or daughter.

      Now, the first option would seem the preferred one to most people because it is the cheapest one over time. But, if the lease option allows you to pretend you are not in debt, even though you are obliged to make a stream of payments, that might be the convenient option.

      And, if someone else - taxpayers for example - were paying the extra costs, the lease option might serve your purposes.

    2. "if they want to pass the car to a son or daughter"

      There-in lies the issue. The BC Liberals, their appointees, their government communications staff and their mainstream professional "journalists" have no concept of paying it forward for future generations.

  3. The "disease", of obfuscation and manipulation, in this province, has been honed to a fine art. Communications "spin doctors" employed by governments make use of corporate media, to bend and twist their "message" to an every increasingly dumbed down population. The elimination of the middle class is a requirement, of the new world or in this case BC order. Their "corporate friends" are more than willing to lend a hand, in this destruction of values and ultimately reduce us, to indentured servitude. "Shut and pay your taxes", is their new mantra. Oh we will provide jobs, jobs, jobs, however, we the "new order" will make sure we have full control of your media, what we want you to think, and of course your money or taxes. The increases keep on coming, you continue to lose ground.
    Seems history, has a way of dealing with this type of thing, in our case hopefully sooner than later. Whether, tyranny or totalitarianism, the media is the first thing to control, followed by the dumbing down of the population, while pushing a hidden agenda.
    The answers are clear. BC Liberals, and Harpers Conservatives, are engaged in a systematic method, of enhancing their corporate friends agenda's, at the expense of the taxpayer. We get poorer, while they get wealthier. Economic subversion of the middle class, you bet.
    What is the solution? As evidence in your article above shows, other industries would be far better served with economic infusions of government funds.
    Oil and gas are industries, undergoing severe change. The "old boys club" is behind the curve. Governments are heavily lobbied and contributed to by them. Seems, the agenda is being "bought", not for the good of the economy, but for the enhancement of wealth for a few.
    Personal opinion,... If economic subversion was a "crime", these people would already be in custody.
    A solution for this "crime" must be found, if the average Canadian can have "any trust" in our so called "democracy"?

  4. With respect to LNG, I read that Petronas officials are heading to BC for an update with government. Now from everything I read about Petronas and it's commitments to it's own government I would be surprised to see them announce a green light on BC. Assuming they don't what spin or lies will be forthcoming from Christy & Rich (with some help from the new lingo Minister) that would be acceptable to Petronas. The government owned company had poor 4th quarter earnings and for its financial year ended Dec 31, net profit fell to RM501.57mil from RM811.75mil the previous year, while revenue was flat at RM32.34bil. But then we have this " “These are exciting times for Petronas,” Dr Chan said “It is a huge milestone for the company – venturing into the unconventional energy sector in Canada – but it is also necessary as we push forward in our commitment towards exploring additional energy sources,” he said. Dr Chan said these investments might not see immediate returns, but “would definitely benefit future generations”.
    However Mazuin Ismail said another focus would be on cost reduction and that some of the projects would be deferred, as crude oil had dropped sharply from around US$115 to below US$50 per barrel, or by some 65%, in six months.
    Any thoughts Norm about the upcoming talks ?

    Guy in Victoria

  5. Have you listened to the podcast CanadaLand? They address the fact that Canada Press is not a news company but a private public relations firm that will publish anything it is paid to print. The fact that Macleans published the article without mentioning that is disgtusting...

  6. For the last few years, The Canadian Press has been owned by the Desmarais family's Power Corporation (owners of La Presse, Le Soleil and other QC papers) Torstar (Toronto Star, Metro and other media properties, including an interest in Black Press) and the Thompson family enterprises (Globe & Mail, Reuters, etc.). Thompsons are the richest family in Canada, Desmarais are in the top five or six.

    1. Norm, you should have added that Macleans Magazine is owned by the Rogers Family. What an amazing coincidence. Somehow, three of Canada's richest families were involved in serving up one dishonest bit of journalism to help Liberal efforts to stay in power: Thompson #1, Rogers #4, Desmarais #7. There is no doubt about who is served by Canadian media.

  7. 19 Proposed Natural Gas Projects Interactive Map which is more active than the LNG locations of North and South Coast of British Columbia.

    10 NEB Export Licenses and 33 Project Partners

    with facilities at Campbell River, Delta , Kitimat, Port Alberni Inlet, Port of Prince Rupert, Squamish, Stewart and Locations to be Determined

    Plain English Link http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/lng-projects/

  8. The above link includes a ONE YEAR UPDATE document created on February 7, 2013. 2014 doesn't exist nor does 2015.... maybe it was an election ploy... http://engage.gov.bc.ca/lnginbc/lng-projects/ bottom left sidebar

  9. When Christy Clark maneuvered her way into office in 2011, Gwyn Morgan was waiting there to sit her on his knee as her top adviser.

    As the CEO of natural gas giant EnCana, Gwyn Morgan said this to BC Business Magazine in April of 2005:

    “We’ve placed a lot of marbles on the line here. Bigger than forestry EnCana is the largest corporate source of revenues to the government in B.C. and we have been for a number of years. As a whole, our industry is responsible for close to $2 billion a year in revenues for the government – that’s just royalties and land sales. It doesn’t include the income tax from the 12,000 people working in the industry here. The total impact is something like $12 billion a year. That’s enormous – bigger than any other industry in the province including, of course, forest products.

    We’ve built the company around these huge areas where we can develop and produce for decades. And we have more land than anyone else in North America. That’s really how we distinguish ourselves from the competition. We applaud the government for trying to open up the offshore because it is truly a resource for all of B.C. If you look in just northeast B.C. alone there is a tremendous amount of natural gas. There’s natural gas from coal that hasn’t even been touched yet. Looking to 2015 ten years from now, people in B.C. are going to know what their number one industry is.”

    When I look at the graphs Norm has provided above I can see that Mr. Morgan’s plan for himself and his corporate associates worked. But since it’s now 2015, it’s time to ask Christy whether her plan was Gwyn’s plan, and whether she will tell us what BC’s number one industry is.

    I’m sure the proMedia folks will be right on it.

  10. If our governments are going to sell/give/gift our resources offshore regardless of our opposition or objections, why not make the big boys in the oil/gas/pipeline/rail companies pay for the trespassing on our lands and waterways.

    Since China's CNOOC is willing to pay over $4.50(U.S.) per barrel to Enbridge and Kinder Morgan to our coast from Alberta and if both lines are completed over our dead bodies, that will be close to two million barrels per day.

    I don't know how much Albertabit is transported by CN and CP Rail every day but I suspect their share would put the total volume well over the two billion bpd amount.

    Current rail charges are $16.73 (U.S.) per barrel and the province should be charging for the privilege and I think for starters $1.00 per barrel would be more than fair.

    Two billion dollars per day flowing into government coffers might seem a lot but I have no doubt that the pipliners and the railroaders would quickly ante up if we had a government with the balls to say no dough, no go.


  11. Maybe we could have a regional tax to fund ferries.

    Or do we have to wait until the BC Liberal crony who buys the bankrupted BC Ferries for pennies on the dollar to start running into trouble when ridership plummets in direct relation to gouging prices needed to bring the poorly maintained fleet back up to standard?

    I sure hope we get an NDP government before then---I'm getting too old to swim that far.



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