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Simply Unbelievable

Dubious bluster from BC Libs on e-mails, river power.

By Rafe Mair 27 Jul 2009 |

Rafe Mair writes a Monday column for The Tyee. Read previous columns by Rafe Mair here. He also acts as a spokesperson for the Save Our Rivers Society.

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Why was the button pressed?

The Campbell government has lost its moral compass, if it ever had one.

Let me give you two examples, starting with the private rivers policy.

Finance Minister Colin Hansen has a video clip. Here's the link if it hasn't been removed by a government noted for removing evidence. And below is a transcription with facts highlighted.

Colin Hansen (in quotes throughout): "I think, first of all, that we have to recognize that British Columbia is a net importer of electricity. We seem to think that, with all the tremendous hydro electric generating capacity we have, that we are a huge exporter. Well, we do export some, but we are a net importer..."

This is demonstrably FALSE as the records of the National Energy Board and StatsCan conclusively prove.

"...from Washington State, which largely produces their electricity from dirty coal, and also from Alberta, which uses a lot of natural gas in their electricity production. So I think it's incumbent on British Columbia to develop its own source of needed electricity. And, quite frankly, the independent power projects are the best source of that... "

Demonstrably FALSE. Even if we did need more energy (which we don't), because private power companies mostly produce river power during the run off when BC Hydro has full reservoirs and plenty of energy, remembering that electricity can't be stored in quantity, private power would be of no appreciable assistance and will all be exported -- this is admitted by Don McInnis of Plutonic, General Electric's partner.

". . . where we can encourage small companies . . ."

Demonstrably FALSE unless Mr. Hanson considers General Electric, Ledcor and the Dupont family small. The companies involved are huge, offshore corporations.

"... to build small scale hydroelectric projects that are run of the river, and what that means is, instead of having a big reservoir, a big dam that backs water up, and creates a great big lake, these are run of the river, so the river continues to flow at its normal but we capture some of the energy in the form of hydroelectric power from this...."

Demonstrably and egregiously FALSE. All these rivers are damned or diverted, often using long tunnels and leaving only traces of the original river in the river bed in the area the diverted water otherwise would have gone.

"...And again, from the perspective of some of the opposition, they would have you believe that every single river in British Columbia is being impacted. In reality, it is .03 per cent of the rivers in British Columbia that could sustain any kind of hydroelectric activity, are being used for these independent power projects...."

Demonstrably FALSE. In fact it's double that amount but this is a silly numbers game. What's important is that up to 900 river systems and the ecologies they support are at risk -- see the Google Map on this page.

"... So, it's being widely supported by many of the leading environmentalists, because it's clean and sustainable. It's also being supported by many of the First Nations communities in the province. So, I think that we have to look behind the scenes on this, and really question who is funding the opposition, and clearly they have their own agenda..."

This is misleading at best and readers should judge the matter with these facts in mind.

1. Our information is that more First Nations oppose than agree.

2. Two of the principal opponents are the Wilderness Committee and Save Our Rivers Society (for whom I'm official spokesperson), both of which depend upon public support for their funding and, in the case of SORS, it's been tough going.

3. Who is or is not an environmentalist is a matter of choice but here are the scientists on the board of advisors of Save Our Rivers Society: Dr. William E. Rees, Alexandra Morton, Dr. John Calvert, Dr. Craig Orr, Wendy Holm, Dr. Michael Byers, Dr. Marvin Rosenau, Dr. Gordon F. Hartman, and Otto Langer.

"...and in my view, it's not a responsible environmental agenda".

Mr. Hansen doesn't mention that BC Hydro must pay private companies, on long-term take-or-pay deals, for all private power which, because Hydro doesn't need it, must be exported at 50 per cent or less what they were forced to pay! The business-oriented Campbell government has developed a new market strategy: Buy high and sell low!

The scuttled e-mails

Carrying on with the credibility of this government, we have a new attorney-general, Mike de Jong, who knows that masses of government e-mails, created and sent during the critical years of the Basi/Virk issue, have been destroyed. As the CBC recently reported [under] "the government's own guidelines [they] should not have been deleted because of their relevance to the BC Rail corruption trial."

Let's do a bit of an overview here:

The sale of BC Rail was an initiative of the premier.

His most senior cabinet minister, Gary Collins, was in charge of the details and Mr. Virk and Mr. Basi worked under him.

Since December 2003, the government, including then attorney general Plant, then finance minister Collins, and the premier, knew that there was a stench about the BC Rail bidding process.

These questions come to mind:

Did then attorney general Plant advise the government to retain all documents? Did he do so in writing, and if so, where is the document? If he didn't, why not?

Did the next attorney general, Mr. Oppal, give such an order? If he did, where is it? If not, why not? He was AG after the trial began.

After the December '03 raid, or at any time thereafter, did the premier order all ministries to make sure nothing was destroyed?

If so, where is the directive?

If there was not such an order, why not?

Yes, appoint a special prosecutor

The government could hardly argue that they had to make more storage space available since, as Margaret Wente has pointed out in the Globe and Mail, for a few hundred bucks you can buy a computer at The Future Shop to take care of all of it.

It is now evident that just before the last election, documents bearing on the issue were destroyed. If done under orders of the government this could well amount to tampering with evidence and contempt of court.

Under the Attorney General Act there is a provision for the attorney general to appoint outside Crown counsel to investigate where there is a perception of conflict of interest. This was done with allegations against Glen Clark and Bill Vander Zalm.

The government will likely say that they already have appointed Bill Berardino, but he's confined to the Basi/Virk case and here we're talking about potential wrongdoing by members of the Campbell government including the premier himself, after those charges were laid.

Indeed, if Mr. Campbell is squeaky clean as he alleges, he should welcome such a move.


The history of the Campbell government is one of deceit, obfuscation and stonewalling. Campbell, for example, has declined to comment on documents which have become evidence in the Basi/Virk case saying that they are sub judice -- before the court. They are not. This is legal flim flam.

What if a document was tendered in the court saying "Premier and his colleagues were utterly uninvolved in this case" (difficult as this is to imagine). Would the premier then say "I can't comment because this is before the courts"?

A government, if it doesn't want to be seen as amoral, must have credibility. This one is blurring the line between fact and falsehood beyond recognition.  [Tyee]

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