BC Premier’s position is disingenuous

There is something disingenuous regarding the position BC Premier Christy Clark is taking regarding the proposed Northern Gateway Pipeline.  Ms. Clark has indicated that she is opposed to the proposed pipeline from Bruderheim, Alberta to Kitimat, British Columbia, unless British Columbians get their “fair share”.  Yet “fair share” remains undefined and nebulous.

If she truly believed that BC was entitled to compensation for assuming land and marine risk regarding a potential oil spill, presumably she should be able to put a price tag on the alleged entitlement to financial compensation.  But she can’t because the proposed damage is speculative. Major projects will go through a thorough and rigorous environmental review before they are allowed to move forward.  An oil spill hopefully will be non-existent, it could be minor or it could be catastrophic; but it cannot be predicted and therefore cannot be calculated in advance.  Accordingly, she is claiming compensation in advance for damages that are incalculable, speculative and if the project is properly regulated, non-existent.

Moreover, the Premier is incorrect when she claims that BC gets only 8% of the benefit but assumes almost of all of the risk.  In actuality, it is Enbridge, the owner of the line, which would be 100% liable for any potential problems.  BC taxpayers face no risk or liability if there is a spill.  So according to her own numbers, the taxpayers of BC will receive at least some of the benefit but the financial risk involving a clean-up is borne by the owner, not by the taxpayers.

I am aware Environmentalists will correctly argue that there are intangible and incalculable environmental costs following a spill.  I don’t disagree that if a pristine mountain lake is ruined by gushing bitumen, no amount of financial compensation will restore the lake.  As a former insurance lawyer, I know all too well the limitations of financial compensation.  But financial compensation is what the BC Premier is asking for; implying that enough money indeed would compensate for environmental ruin.

And that is what is truly troubling about the position Christy Clark has assumed.  If she truly believes that the possible risks of a pipeline outweigh the $6B in proposed benefits, than she should oppose it unequivocally.  That is the apparent position of the BC Opposition Leader Adrian Dix; a position shared by federal NDP Opposition Environmental Critic, Megan Leslie.  They oppose the Northern Gateway Project full stop.  I disagree with their position but at least I respect them for taking an unequivocal position and having the courage of their conviction to stand by it.

That is quite different from the position of the BC Premier.  She apparently has environmental concerns.  Fair enough, but she has publically stated that for enough money or BC’s “fair share”, she will give the project her blessing.  The BC Premier is stating that her supposed concern for the environment has an undisclosed price tag.  I am being kind when I call her position “disingenuous”.


18 comments for “BC Premier’s position is disingenuous

  1. Casey DesChamp
    July 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm

    Brent, I thought the transition payments brtween provinces ensured that all provinces received their “fair share” from each other. I take Ms. Clark wants more.

    • August 8, 2012 at 1:34 am

      Right now the Americans pay about $10 LESS per barrel for our oil than world maekrt prices because we can’t sell to anyone else. Imagine what boon to Canada’s balance sheet we’d get by being able to increase the price on ALL of our bitumen exports.That’s the REAL reason the Americans don’t want the Northern Gateway pipeline. It’s to protect their favorable pricing structure.BC didn’t give a toss about increasing gas a couple of bucks for their silly eco-tax. They shouldn’t get bent out of shape over this.Oh, and just filling the pipeline will pull millions of barrels out of the world maekrt forever and have a short term impact on price.

  2. Liam Connelly
    July 25, 2012 at 2:41 pm

    Is she not also on constitutionally shaky ground in making these demands?

  3. Don McLeod
    July 25, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Talk about disingenuous. Enbridge is a business and therefore it will fail. All business’s fail. It is the nature of free markets, business failure. Some fail because those that Dr. Robert Hare writes about in his book – Snakes in Suits, When Psychopaths Go To Work, as executives protected by directors insurance. Who cleans up the mess, the tax payer. A political leader who says there should not be some financial provisions made incase of failure has no business experience therefore a widow maker. There are many horror stories were the news is silenced by the threat of legal action through corporate lawyers of firms. Toxic Bob.

  4. Anne Streeter
    July 25, 2012 at 4:03 pm

    This proposed pipeline is simply too dangerous. As well, it is not as though Enbridge has a stellar reputation in terms of preventing major leaks and spills. Certainly BC should have a say in the project as should all Canadians. We can’t leave it entirely up to the corporate greed heads to call all the shots!

  5. Joel
    July 25, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    It’s not really clear what BC has to gain from this pipeline other than short-term jobs if they aren’t getting any of the oil money. They get all of the long-term environmental risk and none of the long-term economic benefit. If I was the Premier of BC, I’d probably be saying the same thing.

  6. Patrick Johnstone
    July 25, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Actually, Enbridge would not be “100% liable for any potential problems”. First, once ther bitument gets to the tanker, the liability shifts to the tanker operator— hopefull not one registered in Liberia if there is a spill off the coast. Second, their liability is capped at $40Million due to the Oil and Gas Spills and Debris Regulations. A major spill into any major watercourse could easily exceed $40 Millon in clean-up and compensation to affected parties.

    • August 8, 2012 at 7:33 am

      Lenny:All this talk about “money is going to corporations raethr than the public”. Why do none of you oil-haters understand that public corporations ARE THE PUBLIC. All our pensions / mutual finds / GICs and some of the best parts of all our investment portfolios are made up of these companies.The taxes made off these companies (corporate / employee income / capital gains & others) pay a sizable chunk of all those entitlement programs the left feel are so crucial. Kill the golden goose and try to find out how to pay for them.

  7. Kevin Logan
    July 25, 2012 at 5:35 pm

    Moreover, the “100% liability” of Enbridge’s Brent claims is not factual.

    Enbridge has structured a limited partnership to build the pipeline for the soul purpose of limiting liability. Second they have offered First Nations an ownership stake which is code for offloading liability.

    I get that politicians are not necessarily familiar with details and some are not even all that swift, but why go out of your way to write a piece that proves it?

    I see why you support the project, as it is clear you have no idea what you are talking about, but I am sure Enbridge’s donation is in the mail.

    Try representing people and not hydrocarbons, that is your job in a representative democracy. Oh right, my bad, we live in a petro state. I take that back.

    • August 7, 2012 at 11:52 pm

      “…public corporations ARE THE PUBLIC”Wow. I thuhgot you wingnuts were supposed to understand finance. Publicly traded corporations are not “the public”. More than half of Canadians don’t have any savings, let alone any kind of significant investment in the tar sands. Furthermore, “the public” has a whole spectrum of interests, a healthy environment, a peaceful society, gainful employment, healthy citizens, security, etc. Corporations have one single, solitary interest – making as much money as possible as quickly as possible. Corporations aren’t even remotely “the public”. The “Golden Egg” is the BC coast, which has fed and sustained its inhabitants for tens of thousands of years.

  8. Jim Rosgen
    July 25, 2012 at 10:51 pm

    Actually, Ms. Clark is not being disingenuous, She is just reverting to the basic political animal she is in a vain hope to get reelected next year. Very few Albertans get to vote for her.
    But you are being disingenuous if you say the risks are speculative. Insurance companies base their entire businesses on caculating risks and potential costs. Monetary risks can always be calculated, and properly compensated for if the will is there. Enbridge, however, is setting up a limited partnership to handle the pipeline, so their direct risk will be passed on the the partnership which will not, of course, have anywhere near the assets to cover the results of a major spill. They also have no liability for a tanker disaster. I find it strange that there is not a separate review panel to assess those risk factors.
    Those of us who live in BC will not accept this pipeline because the risks go way beyond financial risks, and cause great threats to the clean water, air, forests. wildlife, and the very way of life of a great many BC residents. Those are natural resources that must be preserved at all costs, and any risk is too large.
    The promised jobs are a joke, as the threatened lives far exceed anythiing promised in the most optimistic projections. And keep in mind Enbridge has already suggested they may hire the Chinese to build the pipeline, which means imported foreign workers at sub-standard wages. Mr. Harper has already cleared the stage for that.
    So don’t tell us its for the good of the country, because that is ridiculous, and is more echoing of corporate and party line with no thought.
    But you can ignore Ms. Clark. She is a joke in her home province, and will be gone before the pipeline ever gets approval. If you want true BC political reaction check in with Adrian Dix and the NDP. They are not asking for more money. Just less pipeline

  9. Jesse
    July 26, 2012 at 1:26 am

    This proposed pipeline is simply too dangerous. Why would British Columbia want to accept all that risk for the benefit of shareholders in Calgary?

  10. GMFcobourgon
    July 26, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    If someone wants to lay a pipeline across my property, wouldn’t it be appropriate for this group to pay me for this encroachment?

  11. Gloria
    July 27, 2012 at 2:55 pm

    The BC citizens, have never once asked for money. Christy Clark did. The BC people are more than happy, if Premier Redford keeps her money and her lethal chemical laced Bitumen to herself. We want none of it. So, problem solved.

    BC people have suffered enough, from the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals. Everything of value in this province, has been thieved and sold. Nor do we forget Harper’s part, in the treachery in the destruction of BC either.

    We will not assist, the sellout of control of the tar sands, to Communist China either. Gordon Campbell sold our resources to Communist China too. Our BC mills and our mines. Next, China wants our natural gas too.

  12. Haywood Jablome
    July 28, 2012 at 9:44 am

    What part of the word NO do you not understand??!!
    No amount of compensation is worth the risk to our beautiful province! The only right thing Clark has done so far, but she is on the wrong track, no pipeline for any amount of dollars! Send it east!

    I see in the news this AM another Enbridge spill, 1200 barrels……….its not IF it will happen, its when, and I’m not willing to take that chance.

  13. Paul Moulton
    August 2, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Are there not similar risks associated with the transportation of chemicals through BC using the rail system? I don’t see the Premier claiming the right to potential future damages from a serious derailment. I suspect, as others have pointed out, she is running for reelection and trying to gain votes from both sides in the debate.

  14. Myhasle
    August 4, 2012 at 3:46 am

    The Clark and Harper governments are liars and thieves. BC does not want anything to do with Enbridge or Alberta’s dirty political dealings. Forget it! Clark is on her way out and Harper would sell his mother down the river to make $, at the expense of the rest of Canada. BC is an area economically dependant on it’s environment. Enbridge and the feds will never be held accountable if a spill occurred here. They would ignore this province’s needs, as they have done for years. According to Harper, the west only extends as far as Alberta.

  15. August 7, 2012 at 10:09 pm

    Every time I see these videos, I can balery contain my anger. I wouldn’t care how much money would be offered, no amount could suffice me, to go along with this atrocity, on our beautiful province. We BC people love our wildlife and our marine life. People from all over come to whale watch and bear watch. The BC citizens also know, the First Nations people depend on the sea, the salmon, and their hunting grounds to feed their family’s.It’s bad enough that s.o.b. Campbell thieved and sold our rivers, decimating important salmon runs and now the steelhead and the salmon on the Kokish River hydro project. That the filthy diseased fish farms, are killing our wild salmon. Greedy politicians destroying our lakes with toxic mine waste, that leaches into the eco systems. The greedy destruction of our BC farmlands. Fracking for gas, only imbeciles do that, poisoning our clean underground drinking water for miles.Harper, the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals, Alberta, China, and Boessenkool, can all bugger off. The BC people owe them nothing. This province and the citizens, have had enough thieved from us by Campbell and Harper. Leave our beautiful BC province alone.