No one likes the political leaders in British Columbia

By Brian Peckford

0730 - The real news in the latest poll on B.C. politics is not so much that the Liberals and NDP are virtually tied but that the three party leaders are so disliked. I mean the sitting Premier is more disliked than the Liberal leader or Green leader. They are all recording unfavourable ratings.

Why so unfavourable?

Well, Premier John Horgan is a serious, labor type who is still fighting the political wars of the past. 

Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson, uninspiring academic (is there an inspiring academic—oh, yes, Jordan Peterson) turned politician.

And then there is rotund Andrew Weaver, another academic turned politician who is  largely (metaphorically speaking) still in the classroom. His pronouncements say as much. Hardly an inch of charisma in total. 

Their Communication skills —nada. 

Here are the numbers: Horgan minus 9.5, Weaver minus 6.7 and Wilkerson minus 4.2.

Perhaps someone can get them to genuinely smile. That could do wonders for those unfavourable ratings.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Why Middle America is so upset at the 'swamp'

By Brian Peckford

0723 - Just for the next moment, think about A U.S. Security Court (set up under Foreign Intelligence Security Act)  deciding on whether to spy on a U.S. citizen. 

The year is 2016 – before the last presidential election. Obama is President. 

The CIA goes to this Court to get a warrant to spy on a person named Carter Page.

They think he is a spy for Russia. They need a warrant to spy on him. 

Some of the key information used to decide whether a warrant is in order is a document/report from a Mr. Steel (Steel Dossier) who is paid for by the Clinton Campaign and the American Democratic Party. Additionally, information from a Yahoo News report. 

Did the CIA/FBI go and check out the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic Party to test the validity of the Steel information or whether in fact they paid for it? 

NO!

The warrant was issued and Carter Page was spied on by his own government. 

At the time many news outlets, including CNN, said that they, the authorities, FBI, must have the goods on Page; otherwise CNN said that the FISA Court would never have agreed to the warrant. I just saw that excerpt from CNN played on TV. 

So a US Security Court (FISA) issued a warrant to spy on a U.S. citizen based to a large measure on a report paid for by the Clinton Campaign and the Democratic Party plus a news report from Yahoo News. 

That person, Carter Page, had worked briefly on the Trump Campaign.

So, what did the FBI get from that warrant ???? 

There was the allegation that he had met with two Russians. Never proven. Mr. Page said he never met with them. 

So, this evil Carter Page of CNN description?

Where is he now? 

Behind bars? 

No! Alive and well, free in America. 

Any charges laid against him? 

No. 

So the FBI has said it was wrong?

No!

FISA has said they were wrong?

No 

CNN has apologized to Mr. Page.

No. 

What’s going on here? 

That’s why Middle America is upset. That’s why the term ‘swamp’ sticks .

That’s one reason why Trump is still President and Fox News reigns the airways.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C

 

Site C — troubling signs are appearing

By Brian Peckford

0721 - A First Nation group, West Morberly, has gone to court to try to stop The Site C dam project, saying it violates its rights and has applied also for an injunction to delay the project while the rights case is being heard. 

Supporting their case, the First Nations group hired a hydro dam expert, E. Harvey Elwin, who has been involved in such projects around the world, including the mammoth gorges project in China. Elwin’s 196-page report for the West Morberly has just been submitted to the court. 

In this report, Elwin questions whether the project is on time, the quality of the work being done, and BC Hydro’s assertion that any delay arising from an injunction would involve hugh costs.

These are serious questions by an expert in such projects. Additionally, Elwin makes the charge that he has never seen, in 50 years, a public project providing so little information to ratepayers. He says this in the knowledge that BC Hydro provides update reports to the Utilities Commission.

These charges need to be answered in detail by BC Hydro and the Provincial Government so that taxpayers of the Province can be assured that this project remains on budget and on schedule. Additionally, the Province needs to investigate the reporting being provided by BC Hydro to the Utilities Commission to ascertain whether it is sufficient to allow for a full understanding of the projects costs, quality control and progress. 

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Federal Cabinet shuffle: action would be better 

By Brian Peckford

0718 - Following a tired old tradition our Prime Minister has added quantity to his Cabinet; quality, that’s doubtful. 

It is all about politics and less about policy and program.

Just look at the Fisheries portfolio, for example. Liberals are pretty safe in the east — at least that’s what their polls show. In the west, with the Trans Mountain issue, not so much. So switch this portfolio to the west. Strictly politics, nothing to do with fisheries policy. The fact, for example, that fishery research needs many more dollars is irrelevant.

The so-called emphasis on trade is nothing more than window dressing and rewarding some loyal back benchers to say nothing of attempting to boost Ontario and Quebec representation. The number of trade delegations to Asia since Mulroney was Prime Minister is staggering but little has changed. 

What is needed is smart regulation not more as is the case right now. Pipeline projects have been cancelled as a result. What we need is free trade inside our country. What we need is no monopolies like we have in dairy.  What we need is a more productive work force — our productivity levels are some of the lowest in the OECD. What we need is less taxation not more.

Widow dressing may look nice, but if the foundation is fragile, the house will still creak. 

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver distorts reality

By Brian Peckford

0706 - On May 29, Andrew Weaver said this in a press release about Trans Mountain Pipeline expansion:

"We should be investing in growth industries that are clearly where the world is heading. Investing in this pipeline is like investing in the horse and buggy industry at the advent of the car."

The Institute of Energy Research, an energy think tank in the U.S. , has produced an article July 5, examining the 2018 BP Statistical Review of World Energy. 

 It indicates :

 ‘A new oil production record of 92.6 million barrels per day was reached in 2017– the eighth straight year global oil production increased. In 2017, the United States was the world’s top oil producer when natural gas liquids are included, exceeding 13 million barrels per day, followed by Saudi Arabia at 12.0 million barrels per day, and Russia at 11.3 million barrels per day.’

So how can Weaver, a long-time professor at the University of Victoria, say such things like pipelines are obsolete when oil production continues to increase and must get to market. 

Global Energy demand is increasing by 2.2% a year, this article says, and while solar and wind generation for electricity are increasing, although still more expensive than natural gas generation, such renewables cannot replace all other forms of generation . The article states :

"Despite non-hydroelectric renewable generation increasing by 17 per cent, wind and solar accounted for only six per cent of total electricity globally."

Six per cent! Ninety four per cent from other sources . So much for the horse and buggy industry that Weaver describes. 

 And this after :

"Public and private entities spent $1.1 trillion on solar and over $900 billion on wind between 2007 and 2016."

 Germany and Spain are often quoted as examples of the new ‘green' countries. Yet their carbon emissions went up this past year. Germany has had to increase its coal generation because of nuclear generation ‘phase out' and wind and solar was unable to fill the gap. 

Meanwhile, in the U.S., that country that pulled out of the Paris Environmental Agreement, carbon emissions went down last year and for the last three years. 

The Press has overall given Mr Weaver a free ride. Its time the facts were presented. 

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Bombshell Report – It’s called ‘Dirty Money’

By Brian Peckford

0627 - The report is the result of a study by former Deputy Commissioner Dr. Peter German. He was hired by the NDP Government to look into the alleged Casino dirty money racket. Was it happening? why and how and how to fix it. 

It was released today by Attorney General David Ebey. 

Well,  it was happening alright. Bags  of money coming to B.C. casinos to be cleaned, laundered as they like to call it. German says at least $100 million over the last several years, if not more. 

Apparently proper regulatory measures were not in place and there was likely confusion between agencies who were supposed to regulate the casinos. 

German calls for a separate regulator with close police involvement and outlining other recommendations:

Creating clearer roles for the BCLC and its regulators;
•Making casinos stop accepting funds without confirming the source;
•Direct reporting from casinos to Fintrac using unaltered data;
•Refusing to allow VIP patrons to handle cash or chips;
•Enacting tougher cash limits;
•Tracking chips. 

In all there are 48 recommendations. 

Many B.C. residents might not realize just how important the lottery business has become for the B.C. Government and paying the Province's bills.  

The Public Accounts for 2016/17, the last year for which we have them, shows that in that year the B.C. Government received in revenue from the BC Lottery Corporation $1.074 billion. Oil and gas revenues were only a little more at $1.130 billion. Forestry revenue was less at $789 million.

If you combine Lottery and Liquor revenue they top oil and gas and forestry revenue to the Province.

Obviously extra money will now have to be spent to better regulate and enforce casino operations, an expense that will now lower casino revenue. Just how much casino laundered money indirectly contributed to the Government revenue stream we perhaps will never know. And how much, I wonder, of that laundered money ended up in other activities like real estate, horse racing, etc in the Province? 

Suffice to say that one hopes that the gravy train is over. 

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

New salmon farming policy comes without consultation

By Brian Peckford

The Government of British Columbia has announced a new salmon farming tenure policy with out any consultation with the  Salmon Farming Industry. 

This is what the Salmon Farmers Association indicated in a press release responding to the new policy. To quote the release:

 “The change in consultation requirements appears to be significant. We haven’t been involved in discussions about this change nor asked for any feedback on how it might impact our members, so need some time to consider it before commenting further.”

I am sure many British Columbians would find this a strange way to develop policy especially by a new Government, which when in opposition, constantly criticized the last government for its lack of consultation. So little seems to have changed. 

The new Government Policy will see all renewal of tenures (all coming due then) for fish farms after 2022 to require two new conditions:

• A Federal Government guarantee that the farm will not negatively affect wild salmon.

• That an agreement is in place with First Nations concerning the farm if the farm is on First Nations territory.  

0620 - Up to now fish farm applicants needed to consult and accommodate First Nations interest. This change seems to amount to a First Nation veto. A Federal Government guarantee that a prospective farm will not adversely affect wild salmon stocks may be a difficult one to provide and if provided to administer. 

The Salmon Aquaculture Industry of BC is a $1.5 billion industry employing 6,600 people with 20 per cent of them First Nation people. 

It is too early to measure the specific effects of this policy but it can be said generally that such change is likely to make investment in the industry more uncertain now than before this new policy was announced given the much stronger conditions applicable beyond 2022.  

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Nanaimo has a win – the province loses

By Brian Peckford

0615 - A welcome change in Nanaimo municipal politics occurred on Wednesday. A person has come forward to contest for Mayor; none other than Leonard Krog, the sitting  MLA for the city. 

Obviously , everyone in this town knows or has heard of Mr. Krog. As a relatively new citizen of the city,  but not of the region, I, too, have heard of him. From all reports across the political spectrum Mr. Krog is a competent and honest person who has served his city well in the Provincial Legislature. He should have been a Cabinet minister,  but petty Provincial politics being what it is, he was shut out. The Province was the loser. Of course, I did observe him perform in the Provincial realm and from all I can see he did an admirable job.

Mr. Krog does not need this job at 65. No doubt his Provincial pension would be sufficient for a comfortable retirement. Yet, he has thrown his hat in the ring and by so doing has elevated the status of the city already.

Nanaimo desperately needs competence and integrity at City Hall. Mr. Krog can provide that.

I am voting for him.

Common sense returns to have-not Ontario 

By Brian Peckford

The Blue Wave rolled over Ontario this evening. When the political dust settled the Progressive Conservatives had 76 seats, the NDP 39. The Mighty Liberals 7 and the Greens 1. And more people voted this time than in the last election.

The Liberals even lost party status in the Legislature, which means fewer dollars and less time to speak . 

What a change! And for the better!

Finally, the Ontario people have risen from their Liberal slumber and realized there is no free lunch. They watched as their mighty economic engine was muted, more taxes meant more spending, not less, and the debt  ballooned, and investment dollars were going elsewhere . 

How bad is it? Well, how about the most-indebted sub sovereign jurisdiction on the planet. It has the dubious distinction of beating out even leftist California for this disgraceful position.  

Its net debt climbed to  $311 billion in 2018/19 from $151 Billion in 2009/10.  Doubling the debt! So says the Royal Bank of Canada. 

 It has the second largest per-capita debt in the Country. 

And how about Have Not?  No one on either of the two TV channels I watched who were carrying the election mentioned that such a status was the Province’s lot. 

Many in Ontario are still in denial of this fact. I have talked to some of them and they expressed shock when I informed them. 

It was relegated to ‘Have Not Status ‘ in the Confederation beginning in 2009 and it has continued to this day. 

That means that Ontario was entitled to special help from Ottawa . How much? Well, since 2009, would you believe $20 billion?

I exaggerate – it was really $19,991 billion! (Federal Department of Finance). 

That is on top of the the Health and Social Transfers (that all Provinces receive proportionally) over the same time period of $189,644 billion. 

In listening to the NDP leader, Andrea Horwath, whose party lost in forming a Government for the third time with her as leader, you would think she had just won. 

And outgoing Premier Wynn? Let’s just say, thankfully, she is gone.

It is now left to the Conservatives, as is most often the case, to pick up the pieces, and bring responsible governance and fiscal discipline  back to an important part of this country . 

 Congratulations Doug Ford and Team!

When journalism stoops to the personal

By Brian Peckford

0602 - It has happened all over the US —most pronounced perhaps on CNN, The Washington Post and the New York Times . 

But it has also come to Canada. Read Andrew Coyne in the weekend’s National Post.

"This is a point that bears repeating. The sheer enormity of Trump, the impossible combination of every conceivable malignant quality in one man — comprehensive ignorance, pathological dishonesty, thoroughgoing corruption, and a seeming determination to use his time in office to cause as much damage in as many ways as he possibly can — is a constant invitation to denial. The mind does not want to believe what the eyes and ears are telling it, that an emotionally disturbed man-child has control of the White House. But it’s true. The nightmare is real."

Coyne was attempting to address the breakdown of talks among Mexico, the USA and Canada on reforming the North American Free Trade Agreement. More particularly, the imposition by the US, because of the breakdown of duties on the importation to America of Canadian aluminum and steel. 

Now, one can and should critically examine this imposition of tariffs but to go all the way to getting personal crosses the line. Journalism is suppose to be a little more objective, and even in a column in which there is a license for opinion, to abuse that license to the extent of calling the leader of another nation possessed "of every conceivable malignant quality" would seem to have been something that would not be a part of the curriculum of any credible journalism school. 

The article goes on to list the Paris Climate Agreement and the Iran Deal as other colossal "malignant" agreements that the President has cancelled . 

Well, is that so?

Not everyone is so convinced that the Paris Deal, which is already being broken by those who agreed to it, and the Iran Deal, where inspections of Iran's nuclear arsenal is a flawed provision, are in the best interests of the planet. 

Can people still disagree without the name calling?

Shame on Mr. Coyne, who is often held up as one of Canada’s leading journalists, to stoop to such lows. 

A bad day for Canadian Journalism.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Federal government taking over Trans Mountain pipeline

By Brian Peckford

0529 -The Canadian Government says it ‘will’ take over the Trans Mountain Expansion Pipeline Project.

The Government will immediately finance the project so that it can move ahead, I guess with Kinder Morgan and then Kinder Morgan will work with the Federal Government until August to find a buyer —if no buyer the project folds into a Federal Crown Corporation. Meanwhile Kinder Morgan is guaranteed $4.5 Billion.

In a technical briefing following the so-called announcement of a Federal Government take over , information was provided that the Federal Government has reached an agreement whereby Kinder Morgan will look for a buyer for the project until August —-THEN AND ONLY THEN IF THERE IS NO BUYER WILL THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT BUY THE PROJECT. That is what I just heard. Then and only then will the $4.5 billion Government Investment to buy kick in. So this report that construction going forward immediately is obviously erroneous.

Furthermore, if in August the Federal Government takes over the project, it will have to finalize the agreement with Kinder Morgan, put the project in a new Crown Corporation that will have to be formed and then work out agreements with companies to begin construction. So time line for actual construction is very much up in the air. 

What is clear, is that Kinder Morgan is guaranteed $4.5 billion. They obviously are not convinced it is a good deal for them. 

And that if the Federal Government takes it over the cost to the taxpayer is at least $4.5 billion purchase price plus $7.4 billion in construction – $11.9 billion. And we all know that construction costs keep rising. 

So things remain murky as to when the federal Government takes over the project, or whether there is a new private sector owner by August or when construction might begin . 

And let’s not forget all the court cases are still active and likely ongoing protests.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland-Labrador, now living in Nanaimo.

Oh, the hypocrasy of it all

By Brian Peckford

0508 - The British Columbia NDP Government must surely be feeling the heat or do they even care about the level of their hypocrisy .

The latest is that the BC Pension Fund – invests in oil and gas companies and pipeline companies . You know the Companies that the Government says it despises. The companies that carry that ugly heavy oil, that bitumen that the Premier and his cohorts say that dislike. You would think that given the opposition to the expansion of the Kinder Morgan Pipeline and the public pronouncements of dislike for anything smelling of pipeline or heavy oil by the Government that they would see to it that any pension fund for Government employees would have heavy oil and pipeline companies off limits for investment.

Of course, we should not be surprised. 

Consider : 

The Province has 44,000 kilometres of pipelines carrying fossil fuel says the BC Oil and Gas Commission 

The Province is the largest coal producer in Canada. In 2016, 26,000 tons were produced according to the Government’s own records 

Coal is the largest provincial export product says the Government 

The Coal Port at Delta is the largest in Canada and one of the largest in North America. Have you seen that large ‘heap’ of coal there? 

Over 85% of the natural gas produced last year in BC came from ‘fracked ‘ wells , a proceedure that most environmentalists , of which many are NDP, say they oppose.

So do we see protesters at the coal mines? At the Delta Port ? 

And the trains that carry all that coal through the Province

Do we see protesters at the natural gas fracking wells?

Do we see protesters at existing pipelines carrying that fracked gas? 

Every day thousands of British Columbians are using fracked gas. 

Billons of cubic feet of that fracked gas are being transported from BC, through Alberta, Saskatchewan and four US states to Chicago constantly. 

The only place we see the protesters is at places to block extra Alberta oil through a proposed expanded pipeline.

Future of Kinder Morgan pipeline looks in serious jeopard

By Brian Peckford

0502 - Has anyone actually read the Kinder Morgan press release? If so, the project is ikely to be cancelled! Hope I am wrong 

It is hard to find the press release on the regular news websites. All you get is an interpretation of what it said. There was a time when the actual press release was carried. Not anymore. 

You will find the full release below from the Company’s website.

What is most striking is its clarity; ironically, the very thing the company is looking for in order to move forward with the project. 

If the Company sticks to its guns on what it says in this release it is almost certain the project will be cancelled.

Why?

No clarity will be forthcoming by May 31. It is unlikely the B.C. Court Of Appeal can hear and render a judgment by May 31. Obviously, the B.C. Government knew this when they made the Court Reference. And they also knew they can’t win. And the decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. And the government said it will use every tool in its tool box. Hence, an appeal to the highest court is almost guaranteed, if you believe what the government  says. 

Brian Lee Crowley of the McDonald Laurier Institute says getting a favourable court decision is likely only half of the problem solved. Extreme environmentalists are likely to obstruct and use the civil disobedience card; especially attacking Justin Trudeau for his comments that Governments issue permits, communities give permission.

So where is the clarity that the company legitimately seeks? 

Secondly, the Company is seeking adequate protection for shareholders. Given what has been already stated that is impossible. 

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland-Labrador, now living in Nanaimo.

                                  ____________________________

 Press Release of Kinder Morgan Canada

 Will Consult with Stakeholders until May 31st on Potential Paths Forward

CALGARY, April 8, 2018 /CNW/ - Kinder Morgan Canada Limited (TSX: KML) today announced that it is suspending all non-essential activities and related spending on the Trans Mountain Expansion Project.  KML also announced that under current circumstances, specifically including the continued actions in opposition to the Project by the Province of British Columbia, it will not commit additional shareholder resources to the Project.  

However, KML will consult with various stakeholders in an effort to reach agreements by May 31st that may allow the Project to proceed.  The focus in those consultations will be on two principles:  clarity on the path forward, particularly with respect to the ability to construct through BC; and, adequate protection of KML shareholders.

‘As KML has repeatedly stated, we will be judicious in our use of shareholder funds.  In keeping with that commitment, we have determined that in the current environment, we will not put KML shareholders at risk on the remaining project spend," said KML 

Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Steve Kean.  The Project has the support of the Federal Government and the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan but faces continued active opposition from the government of British Columbia. "A company cannot resolve differences between governments.  While we have succeeded in all legal challenges to date, a company cannot litigate its way to an in-service pipeline amidst jurisdictional differences between governments," added Kean.

‘Today, KML is a very good midstream energy company, with limited debt.  The uncertainty as to whether we will be able to finish what we start leads us to the conclusion that we should protect the value that KML has, rather than risking billions of dollars on an outcome that is outside of our control," Kean said.  "

 ‘To date, we have spent considerable resources bringing the Project to this point and recognize the vital economic importance of the Project to Canada.  Therefore, in the coming weeks we will work with stakeholders on potential ways to continue advancing the Project consistent with the two principles previously stated."

KML had previously announced a "primarily permitting" strategy for the first half of 2018, focused on advancing the permitting process, rather than spending at full construction levels, until it obtained greater clarity on outstanding permits, approvals and judicial reviews.   

Rather than achieving greater clarity, the Project is now facing unquantifiable risk.  Previously, opposition by the Province of British Columbia was manifesting itself largely through BC's participation in an ongoing judicial review.  

Unfortunately BC has now been asserting broad jurisdiction and reiterating its intention to use that jurisdiction to stop the Project.  BC's intention in that regard has been neither validated nor quashed, and the Province has continued to threaten unspecified additional actions to prevent Project success. Those actions have created even greater, and growing, uncertainty with respect to the regulatory landscape facing the Project.  

In addition, the parties still await judicial decisions on challenges to the original Order in Council and the BC Environmental Assessment Certificate approving the Project.  These items, combined with the impending approach of critical construction windows, the lead-time required to ramp up spending, and the imperative that the company avoid incurring significant debt while lacking the necessary clarity, have brought KML to a decision point. 

Kean continued:  "We appreciate the support shown by the Federal Government and the Provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, and are grateful for the strong endorsements among the majority of communities along the route and 43 Indigenous communities, as well as customers, contractors and unions. 

The fact remains that a substantial portion of the Project must be constructed through British Columbia, and since the change in government in June 2017, that government has been clear and public in its intention to use 'every tool in the toolbox' to stop the Project.  The uncertainty created by BC has not been resolved but instead has escalated into an inter-governmental dispute."

 Trans Mountain has spent C$1.1 billion (approximately half of which has been spent since the KML IPO) and made unprecedented efforts to develop the Project since its initial filing with the National Energy Board in 2013.  As a result of extensive engagement, a comprehensive regulatory process and detailed engineering and design, the Project has changed in several, substantive ways during the intervening five years, including: thicker wall pipe in environmentally sensitive areas such as watercourses and aquifers; avoidance of several fish bearing streams; changes to the detailed route of the pipeline in consideration of community needs and concerns and environmental impacts; Burnaby tunnel construction, to avoid neighbourhoods and minimize impacts; changes to Burnaby Terminal tank design in response to risk assessments; and, enhancements to marine safety that will benefit all marine users.

 In addition, in an unprecedented negotiated commitment, Trans Mountain agreed to provide financial benefits from the Project, if completed, to British Columbia for a newly-formed BC Clean Communities Program to be accessed by communities for local projects that protect, sustain and restore BC's natural and coastal environments 

‘While we are prepared to accept the many risks traditionally presented by large construction projects, extraordinary political risks that are completely outside of our control and that could prevent completion of the project are risks to which we simply cannot expose our shareholders," said Kean.  "However, given the importance of the Project to Canada and Alberta, to Indigenous communities, our shippers, our contractors, and working Canadians, we are committed to trying to find a way forward, working with stakeholders between now and the end of May on measures that may allow us to advance this critical project, but only if it does not subject KML shareholders to undue risk.  

If we cannot reach agreement by May 31st, it is difficult to conceive of any scenario in which we would proceed with the Project.  

The time period for reaching a potential resolution is short, but necessarily so because of approaching construction windows, the time required to mobilize contractors, and the need to commit materials orders, among many other imperatives associated with such a large project."

Given the current uncertain conditions, KML is not updating its cost and schedule estimate at this time.’

It's Silly Season In British Columbia!

By Brian Peckford

0426 - The Socialist Government of B.C. may not be that competent. It may be controlled by the Green Party. It may be the most leftist in B.C. History .

 But who thought it would be the silliest ever? 

 Oh, Yes, I suspect some of of us did. 

The Government’s latest salvo in the Trans Mountain dispute is a reference to the B.C. Court of Appeal to test new legislation alleging it has jurisdiction over the movement of heavy oil from Alberta as a result of this new provincial environment legislation they are proposing. Essentially, the Government is asking the court: Do we have such jurisdiction under these circumstances? 

However, it is a real stroke of genius the way the Government has described the question.

Just heavy oil, not all oil is involved. 

 And then not all heavy oil, just some heavy oil and that amount of heavy oil that comes in new pipelines. 

The heavy oil in old pipelines is okay. 

You get that?  Uh??

How do think the old pipeline feels? And the oil in that pipeline? Same oil as in the new pipeline, yet ignored! Left out completely, discriminated against! What an affront to fair play.

Seriously, The Court of Appeal should reject even hearing such a case. It breaks the silly meter and is outside the realm of common sense, let alone the law.

Sections 91(2) and 91(10) of the Constitution say so. Supreme Court of Canada decisions say so. All existing oil pipelines between Provinces have been built under Federal Jurisdiction. 

There is no distinction as to the nature of the oil or whether it is in old or new pipelines. All pipelines carrying whatever (light or heavy oil, natural gas etc) between Provinces is under Federal Jurisdiction. 

And the real silly is that somehow the existing Trans Mountain pipeline that carries heavy oil between Alberta and B.C. and was approved under federal Jurisdiction is exempted by the Province’s Action. 

More seriously, what the Province is doing is to further discourage investment funds from coming to the province. Who knows when this Government might introduce this or that Legislation and have it sent to the courts? 

And the May 31 Kinder Morgan deadline is to be bypassed since it is unlikely that the Court will hear and render a judgment before then. And, any decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

I suspect the added environmental regulations by the Federal Government and the new proposed ones in the last day or so will allow the Court to gently reject the Province’s action –i.e. sufficient environmental protection is provided with a nod to Federal jurisdiction over interprovincial pipelines. 

That’s the Canadian Way. Be Nice!

Meanwhile, for people like me, the B.C. Government should be called out for the silly Government it is showing itself to be and summarily shown the door. 

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland-Labrador, now living in Nanaimo.

B.C. should not be rewarded for unconstitutional actions

By Briana Peckford
April 12, 2018

What is going on? That is what at a lot of Canadians are saying about the Trans Mountain issue.

The Federal Government has Jurisdiction, so go ahead and enforce it. 

Now our ethically-challenged Minister of Finance is apparently handling the file. Where is the Princeling? Where is our selfie-driven, law-breaking, intellectually-challenged Prime Minister? Oh, I know that is too harsh, you say. But he did break the law and China has some of the best governance on the planet he says. So I maintain this phraseology. 

With all his faults, Justin is still the Prime Minister (Oh, the horrors of it) I have to admit. So it is he who should be speaking forcefully on this file. A Province of Canada is threatening the very nature of this country. Premier Horgan thinks he can flaunt the Constitution and get away with it. He must be shown in no uncertain terms, he cannot. Commentators across the country have unanimously rejected the B.C. Premier’s position. 

Now, once again more words — the Minister of Finance says the project will go ahead and they will see to it. Well, what are they going to do? It is not complicated. Bring B.C. to heel – now! 

And out of all of this the Federal Government must clearly and unequivocally demonstrate that B.C. does not get rewarded, through the front or back door, for its unconstitutional behaviour. That would be almost worse than doing nothing, 

ON THE SAME TOPIC, it could be asked if a Canadian federal polical party even reads before talking. It seems like at least one does not, and that is The Federal NDP Leader. Jagmeet Singh. 

He wants to refer the Kinder Morgan Pipeline dispute to the Supreme Court of Canada. 

Please, Mr. Singh, read our Country’s Constitution — Section 91(2) and Section 91(10) which clearly shows the Federal Government  has Jurisdiction.

Please Read the Supreme Court of Canada decision of May 19, 1954, Campbell Bennett v Comstock Midwestern Ltd  which confirms Federal Jurisdiction. 

Please Read the Special Act of Parliament of 1951 establishing the Trans Mountain Company with the expressed intent of building an oil pipeline  from Alberta through British Columbia which confirms Federal jurisdiction. 

Should we not expect that of a Federal Party Political Leader? Of course, I suspect this was B.C. NDP Premier John Horgan, talking to his friend,  the Federal  NDP Leader and concocting this ridiculous idea to further delay the project taking it well beyond the company deadline .

And , of course, Mr. Singh swallowed it hook , line and sinker. Sad!

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland-Labrador, now living in Nanaimo.

You can't build a pipeline in court

By Brian Peckford

0408 - It was only a matter of time, wasn’t it? 

How can a $7-billion pipeline project proceed when the Province in which it is located goes to court to stop it? Hence, the owner, Kinder Morgan has suspended the expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline until its gets "clarity" on the matter. It has set the deadline for clarity for May 31. The company has already spent $1 billion on the project. 

 This is just not a problem for B.C. and Alberta. It is a problem for Canada. And Canada’s Constitution and the country as we know it. 

 This is what is NOT highlighted enough. 

It is clear that the Federal Government has jurisdiction over inter provincial pipelines. Section 92(2), the trade and commerce clause, and 91(10), the navigation clause, make this clear. And all existing interprovincial pipelines operate under federal jurisdiction. The Supreme Court of Canada has already ruled on such projects. 

 And the Trans Mountain expansion is an interprovincial pipeline. 

 The Government Canada has approved the project (after extensive hearings and consultation), the Government of B.C. opposes the project . 

 This present problem posses significant negative consequences for Canada. There is no question that already the investment climate has taken a hit and this latest Kinder Morgan decision adds to this. 

Does the rule of law still apply in this country, or does the Constitution of this Country mean what it says in some cases but not in others? 

 The Province of B.C. cannot have its cake and eat it too. That is, it cannot decide what parts of the Constitution with which it agrees and what parts with which it disagrees. Such a position must have consequences. 

 If this is so then the Country, as we know it, is no more. 

Hence, the Federal Government must act for Canada and our Constitution. That means B.C. must be brought to heel and the present B.C. actions opposing the project must be removed. 

 Why would anyone invest in this country if the present situation is allowed to continue?  

What is most insufferable and hypocritical about the B.C. position is that it uses the environment issue as its main reason for opposition while it approves a Site C Hydro Project which negatively affects the environment, flooding hundreds of acres of land, supports fossil fuel natural gas exploration (fracking), production and pipeline transmission, and the exploration, production and transmission of the worst fossil fuel, coal.

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland-Labrador, now living in Nanaimo.

Province has a responsibility to intervene in city's mess

By Brian Peckford

0330 - It’s difficult not to get exercised over the condition of the Nanaimo municipal government. And exercised in a negative way.

There is ample evidence about the troubled governance of that government. The Nanaimo Bulletin's latest edition highlights the personnel problems. From the issues around the Chief Administrative Officer being involved in alleged threats against employees, to the apparent troubles of the financial head, to various lawsuits against the city from fired senior employees , the list seems endless. And there was earlier legal action by the Council against the Mayor. 

It would seem that in this morass one would see some intervention, leadership, from the senior level of government in such matters, the provincial government. I have some experience in this field having served as a provincial municipal affairs minister. However, the Bulletin reports that the province has indicated that it will take a hands-off approach concerning the matter. I think this is unfortunate but really not that surprising. 

Some years ago, I conducted a review of municipal legislation in Canada and found that of all the provinces, British Columbia was the one that had devolved to the municipalities more power than had any of the others. Hence, the present position, seen in this context, is consistent with a long  history of a hands-off approach by the Province in dealing with its Municipalities. 

While perhaps in many instances there may be merit in such devolution, it should not mean that when very serious governance issues arise , like is obvious  in this Nanaimo case, that the province, in whose jurisdiction one finds the municipalities, Section 92(8) of our Constitution, that they should confuse devolution with ultimate responsibility. 

To argue, as the province does, that they will wait until asked by the municipality, the entity whose governance is obviously broken, is to give credence to the saying "the blind leading the blind."

18 billion reasons to oppose this Budget

By Brian Peckford

0228 - If you can’t balance the budget when times are good, as the Finance Minister says they are now, then when will you be able to balance it?

Canada’s Liberal Federal Government brought down its third budget Tuesday. And continuing the promise breaking ways we have another deficit – $18 billion. This was the Government which promised a maximum of a $10 billion deficit in year one (and it was $19 billon) and that the budget would be balanced in 2019.

So when will it be balanced? Obviously the Government does not know because they did not address it. The next three years sees deficits of $18 billion this year, as referenced, and $17 billion and $16 billion in the following two years. There is little use projecting beyond three years given all the variables at play.

You would think the Government would at least propose a plan toward a balanced budget. No luck!

And there seems to be little real concern about the uncertain NAFTA talks. I would have thought the government would have put this front and centre in the budget and outlined in detail its position and concerns. 

Similiarlily, the recent U.S. tax reform is likely to have serious repercussions on Canada's competitiveness and hence ability to attract investment. Jack Mintz of the University of Calgary has written about this recently, pointing out in detail the advantages now existing in the U.S. compared to Canada regarding taxes. Even before the U.S. tax reform we were behind the U.S. in competitiveness according to the World Economic Forum (the latest for this year has Canada 14th and US second) and our ability to adapt and use new technology is behind almost all the OECD countries according to studies by the World Bank. I have referenced both these points in detail on this website. But there is little concern in this budget about any of that. One would have thought that given these obvious problems some moves to reform the tax system would have been outlined. 

It is obvious now, to even the most casual observer, that this Federal Government has as its main interest deficit spending, believing that Government knows best and can achieve economic success using this model, oblivious to the mountains of evidence to the contrary.

Horgan blinked on the Kinder Morgan pipeline dispute

By Brian Peckford

0222 - Premier John Horgan did the only think left to do without a full capitulation by referring the matter to the courts. The pipeline wrangle was getting out of hand. The wine industry was hurting and Horgan needs to keep negotiating the sale of electricity to Alberta. And he was becoming the laughing stock of Canada. 

Provinces cannot control interprovincial matters like pipelines. Otherwise we don’t have a country but a bunch of principalities. And the Constitution is clear, Section 91(2)(10)(12) covering trade and commerce in the country, sea coast and inland fisheries and navigation and shipping, all federal jurisdiction. And the environment is a shared matter. Hence, it’s not like there was some ambiguity on this file. Additionally, public consultation had occurred and environmental review was conducted.

So refer it to the courts.

Some would say it was all planned and that this is just the next step. I doubt it. He likely misjudged the Alberta reaction and that there was an immediate thing Alberta could do that would hurt – the wine industry.

But the Premier had to show his supporters that had done all he could. He knows and his advisors know that a court win is nigh impossible.

And so the spat is over. But Horgan has taken a hit; not with his supporters but with independents and soft Liberals. And BC lost friends in the rest of Canada both for the act itself of trying to delay and ultimately kill an interprovincial pipeline but also, and perhaps more, because of the hypocrisy of it all as every day BC ships its gas through pipelines across two Provinces and four US States.

The anatomy of a budget surplus B.C. style

Brian Peckford

0222 - Balanced Budgets? You and I would say a balanced budget is one where expenditures and revenue are equal.

The Federal Government agrees with us. But the Provinces? They got tricky!

And no doubt you wondered how a budget here in B.C. can be balanced, as announced, if the net debt goes up every year, like what has happened in the last several years. How is that possible?

Well, here is what happened : B.C. obviously said why not take capital expenditures of Ministries out of how we calculate deficit/surplus each year.

And in February 2009 that is just what the B.C. Government did through the Financial Statutes (Deficit Authorization and Debt Elimination) Amendments Act. I doubt whether it made the news at the time.

So, it is a lot easier to brag about a ‘balanced' budget or a surplus if hundreds of millions of dollars, yea billions of dollars of capital expenditures in the Ministries are not counted in determining deficit or surplus, even though it is expenditures.

This new budget 2018 brags of $219-million, $281-million and $284-million surpluses over the three-year period starting this year 2018/19.

And they don’t even say "surpluses on operating account" rather just "surplus", (Page one of Budget Backgrounder) .

And its Legal because of the the 2009 Amendment. So even Moody’s, the credit rating agency, uses the word surplus.

Capital Expenditures For Ministries, on page 50 of the Government’s Fiscal Plan, shows the amount that has to be borrowed after taking into account internal financing, Federal Contributions, Private contributions (P3 Deals). The numbers are are $2,547 Billion, $2,351 Billion, and $2,649 Billion.

So———-

B.C. has more than $2-billion deficits each year over the next three years if you did not have the 2009 Amendment and followed the Federal Government methods.

Furthermore, common sense tells us all that if you spend more that you take in – presto! You have a deficit! Legislative manipulation cannot change that.

Rather than $200-million dollar surpluses, then , you have billion-dollar deficits. 

PS: Some might say that I did not subtract Forecast Allowance or the operating "Surplus". But I am using the number the Government is providing for "direct borrowing". I assume they know how much they are borrowing.

THE BUDGET – $4-billion increase In debt this year

Brian Peckford

0220 - The word is out and it is as expected, our province is to spend more on just about everything and rack up $4-billion of new debt in one year. 

It is not that anyone is against better services, more hospitals, schools, teachers, affordable housing, child care, etc and an elimination of Health premiums by 2020. It is whether this is being responsible with the people’s money. 

And a $12-billion increased debt is forecast over three years. That’s what the government itself says on page 56 of the 157-page Budget and Fiscal Plan Document – from $65 billion to $77 billion by 2020/21.

So how to pay for this? Well as noted above, more borrowing given the debt is increasing. 

And then there are taxes :

The Foreign Buyers tax is to increase and cover more areas including the Regional District of Nanaimo, Fraser Valley, The Capital Regional District and The Regional District of Central Okanagan. 

The property transfer tax is to increase.

Then there is a new speculation tax that is to be introduced to tax residential property owners who do not pay income tax in BC and those who leave their homes vacant. This tax will apply in Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Capital and Nanaimo Regional Districts and the cities of Kelowna and West Kelowna. 

A new employers heath tax, its level depends on amount of an employer's payroll and reaches a rate of 1.95% .

Increase school taxes on properties over $3 million. 

Luxury Tax increased on cars more than $125,000

Tobacco tax increase 

The employer health tax is the one with great revenue potential. The Government predicts in the document that it could be $795 million this coming year and more than $2 billion next year. 

Carbon tax increases from $35 per tonne this year to $50 in 2021.

So we will have to see over the next few  days how this is received. 

I suspect the one area that the business community will find most objectionable is the Employer Health Tax. This on top of increased carbon tax and an already heavy regulatory burden. Additionally, one would hope that business would also be concerned about the increased debt being incurred. 

No doubt the average person with the many increases in all forms of social services will find this budget in a favourable light. 

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

 

READER COMMENT

New tax hikes that target businesses, foreign buyers, housing speculators and expensive homes. 

Business (small business) is once again the donkey getting a new tail from a new government. How many NDP MLAs and ministers own or operate a small business? Not many, judging by this.

Foreign buyers (Asians) are a mere slice of the new property market in BC. Easy, low hanging fruit and mostly unjust. Where are the proper penalties for fraudsters an white collar criminals who are from here?  

Speculators (homeowners) are only bad guys when the market's going up. Going down, they're suckers. Emotional, reactionary planning tarring all home buyers with the same brush. 

Expensive homes and luxury cars? Whose home is NOT expensive in this market? As for 'luxury' cars, why aren't we rewarded for buying common sense cars, instead of dinged for buying limos? 

Verdict? Dumb shortsighted and reactionary budget. Sounds like a GOP budget, not NDP. Disappointing provincial leadership...again!

John Harris, Nanaimo

 

Throne Speech 2018 — A dud and insulting

Brian Peckford

A Throne Speech marks a new session of a Legislature. It is a useful document in that it outlines the ideas and plans of the Government. And hopefully it inspires. It is not meant to be overly specific but to paint with a broad brush the philosophy and direction the Government intends to take.

This particular 2018 throne speech hardly inspires. It repeats many of the words and phrases of the recent past as it talks of affordability and working for people. It is hardly an inspiring document in that it highlights on everything that more spending is the answer, more Government involvement in everything. 

If this is your idea of the future then you are a happy camper. 

It highlights affordability, housing, child care, economic opportunity, services to people (health, education, public safety, infrastructure, and mental Health), and climate and the environment .

So the document is somewhere between a Throne Speech, as it is historically known, and just a statement of plans — a mundane, plodding document. Really a high school level statement. 

What is most surprising, astounding really, is that it mentions nothing about the Kinder Morgan controversy which is being debated everywhere in Canada. No argument by the Government on what was the basis for taking action which attempts to delay/block a constitutionally-valid project of carrying oil to coastal B.C. from Alberta. Wow! How neat is that? Well really not that neat – it is an insult to all of us in Canada that a provincial government would so snub the Canadian electorate in such a significant way through a major document like the Throne Speech. It is through such a forum that such a major issue should be articulated. 

And the economy? Well, a New Innovation Commissioner and a New Emerging Economy Task Force. Now that’s jobs for you. Our store house of natural gas? Not a word! Mining? Not a word! Being Competitive, not a word! Just Living in the bubble!

Next comes the Budget and the numbers – how to pay for all this spending – will be interesting!

Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Horgan needs to get off his high horse on Trans Mountain

By Brian Peckford

We have ourselves an out-and -out Provincial trade war, thanks to John Horgan and the BC NDP. 

Surely Mr. Horgan and his Cabinet knew that Alberta couldn’t take the ongoing actions by the BC NDP Government to stop the approved Kinder Morgan pipeline lying down. Especially given that all our Junior PM has done so far is talk – drama teacher that he is. 
 
Talk is over on this file and Premier Notley has come out firing: no more wine (worth $17 million annually to BC wineries) to be sold in Alberta and talks on buying electricity (worth up to $500 million annually) from B,C, have been halted.
 
While no wants to see an all-out trade war between Provinces, what was Notley to do? With the United Conservative Party at her heels and her economy still largely dependent on oil and gas development and sales she had to counter a blatantly unconstitutional action by B.C.
 
I mean Horgan and his ministers can talk all they like about the environment and a made-in-B.C. this or that but we live in a country, a federation, where there is a  sharing of powers  – and in this case, the Trans Mountain Kinder Morgan pipeline comes under federal jurisdiction not pProvincial jurisdiction. Otherwise we don’t have a country if inter-provincial movement of goods is up to provincial whim. This project has gone through an environmental review and extensive technical and public review. 
 
B.C. is acting like it can make the rules even on the interprovincial movement of goods usurping Ottawa’s legitimate role. 
 
It cannot. 
 
B.C. should remember it is receiving $6.6 billion cash from the Federal Government this year, not to mention many other Federal activities in the Province. I remember in the 1990s when B.C. received equalization it was a have-not Province. It could happen again.
 
It is sad what happens when you get a little money – one gets a little foggy and forgets from whence one came. 
 
Get off your high horse BC and start acting like a mature member of the federation, not like a sulky spoiled child.
 
Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Wilkinson – Probably the best of the lot

By Brian Peckford

0205 - Andrew Wilkinson emerged after the fifth ballot to be the new leader of the Liberal Party of BC. 
 
Perhaps this is the best on offer. 
 
Many of the others were so tainted with Christy Clarke and the the past thaty hey were eliminated early in the balloting. Not that Wilkinson is new by any stretch. But he does project a newer, fresher image than the rest. 
 
One cannot deny Mr. Wilkinson his academic credentials —they are impressive. Whether he also has the political smarts to accompany this resume is yet to be seen although being an MLA and now winning the leadership must count for something.  
 
I am happy to see that he has already taken on the Government over their silly and counter productive Kinder Morgan position. And also that  he opposes the proportional representation proposed by the NDP and the Greens.These parties only favour this since they think they will gain an advantage as a result. Furthermore, who needs a European style electoral process of endless delay and procrastination. Look at Germany, still trying to form a Government months after the election.
 
Anyway, things should be interesting as we see this new liberal leadership play out and its ability to take on the NDP and The Greens. 
 
Brian Peckford is the former Conservative Premier of Newfoundand Ladbrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Back-door government by British Columbia NDP

By Brian Peckford

0130 - The B.C. NDP government seems like it knows no bounds when it comes to destabilizing the investment climate in the BC economy. If we can’t stop things through the front door we will just simply enter the back door. 
 
The latest move is to suddenly announce that they will restrict bitumen shipments to the Province, obviously from Alberta, until they do more environmental studies. The National  Energy Board has approved the Kinder Morgan project, which will carry bitumen. This latest move by  B.C. is another attempt to undermine this project and the laws and Constitution of this country.
 
Thankfully, NDP Premier Rachael Notley of Alberta is attacking this latest B.C. move saying:  "Rash actions like this send a message to the world that in B.C., and as a result also in Canada, the rules are not what they might seem and therefore jeopardize investment decisions in hundreds of thousands of jobs across a range of important industries.  ‘
 
She goes on to say: "This is about a relationship between lawmakers and the degree to which lawmakers understand their obligation to follow the law. Unfortunately, what we see here is a demonstration of a very inappropriate, destabilizing and thoughtless understanding of the law."
 
How environmentally hypocritical this Government is! It approved Site C Hydro project which floods hundreds of acres of land when greener alternatives were available and supports natural gas extraction that involves fracking, an alleged anti- environmental practice, and coal mining which has its own environmental issues. 
 
With a fractured Liberal Party, and the absence of leadership otherwise, the B.C. NDP feel free to ride roughshod over good provincial  relations and abiding by National Energy Board decisions. 
 
Brian Peckford is the former Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, living in Nanaimo, B.C.

Vancouver Island rail line dreams are a fantasy in the extreme

By Brian Peckford

0101 - The recent letter to The News Bulletin from Les Bowd of Lake Cowichan concerning how wonderful an improved rail line would be for Vancouver demands a response. The letter represents fantasy in the extreme. 
 
First , the author references Southern Ontario, the U.K., Europe and Vancouver to Seattle. In all four of these cases we are talking about millions of people, high density situations. Vancouver Island (less than one million), by contrast, is hundreds of thousands of people over 288 km of rail corridor and even more if one includes Campbell River as the author does. The rail corridor now stops at Courtenay. 
 
Second, he casually throws out figures of between $250 million to $400 million as the capital cost without any substantiation  for: an expanded line to Campbell River making the main line over 300 km, improved spur line from Port Alberni to Parksville, two new LRT lines to Victoria from the suburbs, and the overall upgrading necessary. 
 
Obviously, Mr. Bowd is unaware that there are figures available concerning the existing line. The Friends of Rails to Trails Vancouver Island website says the following: 
 
"In 2009 an IBI Consulting report estimated that $118 million was required to bring the tracks to safe conditions from Duncan to Victoria for passenger service (including freight if not loaded too heavily). The cost to bring the Duncan-to-Courtenay section to safe operation was quoted in 2009 $ at $103 million. This does not include $120 million to upgrade bridges and grade separations. ‘
 
Add up these three figures and the total is $341 million, in 2009 dollars. That would be over $400 million in today’s dollars.
 
So the author’s budget is gone before 29 new stations, upgrade to Port Alberni, extension to Campbell River and two new LRT lines and stations in metro Victoria. 
 
Oh, and no mention is made of: whether this is to be electric or fossil fuel powered or the level of the operational subsidy! And, of course, who is to finance it all? 
 
A section of Kipling’s poem ‘If ‘ comes to mind — "If You Can Dream and Not Make Dreams Your Master".
 
Brian Peckford is a former Premier of Newfoundland/Labrador, now living in Nanaimo, B.C.