By Rafe Mair. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has thrown down the gauntlet with his promise of federal tax giveaways for LNG enterprises.
I expected this sort of nonsense – just one look at the smug sneer of power on the face of James Moore, Minister of Industry, over the last few months, indicated that this decision was coming and that the opinions of the people of British Columbia didn’t matter a tinker’s dam.
This I think is one of the central points.
When it comes to industry and the people with whom this government are philosophically aligned, the people lose every time.
It may well be, when one thinks about it, that Mr. Harper takes few if any risks with this policy.
Trudeau and Mulcair fuzzy on LNG
Liberal leader Justin Trudeau is extremely “wet” on this issue. He wants more science involved on the fracking issue and then cautions premier Christy Clark that she shouldn’t put all her eggs in the LNG basket.
Tom Mulcair, the leader of the NDP, has also been pretty fuzzy. He talks about better environmental assessment – and who could argue with that – but he’s obviously leery of opposing the provincial NDP’s support of LNG.
That leaves the Greens, and while I believe that they will get some seats in British Columbia, they will not be forming the federal government.
The elephant in the room
There is an elephant in the room, which the Tories want nothing to do with, the Liberals want something but not too much to do with, while the NDP seems happy to feed the pachyderm as long as he behaves. This is, of course, is the “fracking” issue.
On this question, the science is pretty clear. Not only is hydraulic fracturing, “fracking”, highly toxic to the atmosphere and unhealthy generally for human beings, it creates increased earthquakes where it is practised and it can poison the water system. Interestingly enough Andrew Nikiforuk, a true energy expert, has just written an interesting article in the tyee.ca on the stability issue in the Netherlands, where dangerous earthquakes, both in frequency and intensity, are occurring in the Groningen area where intensive fracking takes place.
Again, it would seem that Mr. Mulcair is handicapped by the position taken by his provincial colleague, John Horgan. Mr. Trudeau talks about science but doesn’t want to deal with the clear science that is already here and pretty definitive on the matter – and, of course, Mr. Harper and his local marionette, James Moore, simply don’t give a good goddamn about the issue.
For British Columbia is this is a pretty sad scenario.
Economics are LNG’s Achilles’ Heel
It brings into focus the one tool we have at our disposal namely civil disobedience. Now it would seem that with Bill C 51, the anti-terrorism the bill, that the federal government will throw us all in jail as terrorists if we physically protest a project.
The saving grace is, of course, economic. Unless there is a miraculous return of prices, which would mean that somehow the glut of natural gas in the world disappears, LNG plants will be unfeasible.
It is sad, indeed, to contemplate that when it comes to the serious environmental and health concerns surrounding LNG, none of our elected representatives or those who wish to be elected – with the clear exception of the Green Party – care about us, the people.
Some day, some way, the people are going to have a say on this.