fbpx
Connect with us

Opinion

MORGAN: If the Government Won’t Protect Pipeline Construction, Citizens Will

Illegal blockages on the Trans Mountain line will be cleared whether by the state, or through citizen action. The choice is up to the authorities. Doing nothing is not an option.

mm

Published

on

The Trans Mountain pipeline expansion is the last major energy project standing in Western Canada.

The Northern Gateway, Energy East, and Mackenzie gas pipelines all succumbed to an unreasonable regulatory environment where the goalposts are constantly moved by an ideologically driven federal government.

Among L.N.G. projects, Pacific Northwest, Aurora, Prince Rupert and WCC have all been canceled. Only the half-built Kitimat L.N.G. remains standing, and it is under serious threat as Chevron has divested their investment in it, and the possibility of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline being completed in order to feed the project is in serious question due to years of illegal blockades hindering construction.

The Frontier oilsands mine project has now been shelved as Teck Resources has withdrawn its application after nearly a decade of fruitless efforts to get government approvals.

In total, we have seen nearly $150 billion in energy projects shelved in Canada in the last decade. Only the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion remains, and only because the federal government stepped in and bought the project while Kinder Morgan retreated from Canada’s unreasonable regulatory environment.

Both the Coastal Gaslink pipeline project and the Frontier oilsands mine followed all the rules. They danced to the government’s tune. Years passed by while billions were spent. Studies were done, licenses were gained, consultations were held and deals were made with every First Nation which could possibly be impacted by the project. Their efforts were for naught. The mythical “social license” never was gained and mob rule calls the shots in Canada. It is little wonder that Teck bailed out and it will only be a matter of time before the Coastal Gaslink project is permanently halted if we don’t see some definitive government action soon.

Since it is clear that playing by the rules is futile, and mob rule is the only way to get things done in Canada, it is time that we stopped playing by the rules.

Jason Kenney said it best when he described the national eruption of civil disobedience over the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline as a “dress rehearsal” for what will come once the Trans Mountain pipeline begins real construction in B.C.

Activists have been threatening to “warrior up” in order to stop T.M.X. and it is clear that they are not bluffing. The weather will be nicer and students will be off for the summer holidays soon. What better job for a student than to sit in an encampment for the summer in order to block pipeline construction, while being paid a few bucks through the Tides Foundation? Ideologues, left-anarchists and eco-extremists from all over North America will be converging on British Columbia in order to shut down this last major energy project.

Playing by the rules means waiting for the government to negotiate, fail and then attempt to enforce the law on people illegally hindering the pipeline project. That will mean that nothing will get done and the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will lose yet another construction season. Governments have proven themselves too callow to deal with illegal blockades where the protesters number in the dozens. There is no way they will find the strength of will to take on hundreds or possibly thousands of illegal blockaders.

If the only way to get things done is through mob rule, then it is incumbent on energy proponents to build a bigger mob. If the state will not enforce the law when illegal actions hinder T.M.X. construction, then citizens must step up and enforce the law. The silent majority can no longer afford to let the state capitulate to the radical minority.

It is clear that the state will only act against criminal protesters when they are absolutely forced to. When it came to rail blockades which lasted weeks, it was only when it became clear that Quebec was going to run out of propane before authorities finally began to act. Blockades on the T.M.X. will not hinder Quebec, so it will take something more in order to prompt an unwilling government to enforce the law. I can’t think of a better way to encourage state action on this than for there to be a large and organized contingent of people heading out to B.C. in order to ensure that the pipeline construction remains unhindered by illegal activists.

There are tens of thousands of unemployed and underemployed Westerners who will not be taking kindly to seeing the last hope for their industry being killed due to government inaction in light of illegal construction blockages. It won’t take too much to encourage many of them to take a weekend road trip this summer in order to express their feelings towards the activists who are blocking their ability to make a living.

Groups are already forming and coalescing in preparation for summer actions. We watched as a small group of people in Edmonton managed to take down an illegal rail blockade within hours, while the rest of Canada remained somehow paralyzed in fear of these small groups of activists. Every new blockade is being met with growing numbers of counterprotesters and it is prompting the state to clear the blockades. People are no longer content to wait for the government to solve this issue any longer.

Whenever we play by the rules, we lose; so we have nothing to lose when we toss out the rulebook.

The Trans Mountain pipeline is where the line will be drawn in the sand. Westerners are not going to stand by and let a complacent state let a minority of activists kill this final, critical project. To let this project die would be to admit that we have given up on our energy industry and are content to let foreign powers supply Canada’s energy needs. That is simply unacceptable and the West won’t let this happen without a fight.

Illegal blockages on the Trans Mountain line will be cleared whether by the state, or through citizen action. The choice is up to the authorities. Doing nothing is not an option.

I see a number of trips to BC in my future.

Cory Morgan is a Columnist for the Western Standard

Opinion

MORGAN: Supply management is bad policy in good times. It’s terrible policy in bad times.

We can immediately reduce the food bills for all Canadians simply by ending our supply management system.

mm

Published

on

My wife grew up on a small farm near Rockyford, Alberta. Her father had a small dairy operation with a dozen cows. Cream would be separated from the produced milk and sold. Remaining milk would be used to feed the household and supplement livestock feed. There would still be a large amount of milk remaining every day as the family could only consume so much. That milk would be poured into a nearby ditch. 

Why would a farm family with limited income pour away a product which other families have to pay dearly to purchase? 

They had to. It is was, and still is the law. The family farm only had a government-issued quota to sell cream. It would have been illegal for my wife’s father to sell a single drop of milk. 

Welcome to Canada’s supply management system. 

As the world enters an unprecedented economic downturn due to the COVID-19 pandemic, governments are going to have to find ways to reduce the cost of living for struggling families. Canada’s Soviet-style supply management system on dairy and poultry products adds nearly $600 per year to the average family’s grocery bill in order to benefit a small number of producers, primarily in Quebec. It is time to examine why we are punishing consumers with this terrible system. 

The government controls the number of producers and the amount of product they may produce through a rigid quota system. If a farmer is found to have 301 chickens on their farm without having a state-issued quota for them, the farmer can be charged. The same applies to turkeys, geese, eggs and dairy products. 

It is not an exaggeration to compare this system to that of the former Soviet Union. This is exactly how the USSR managed their agriculture, with predictable results. 

Currently, Canada’s dairy farmers are pouring milk down the drain as the Coronavirus shutdown has decimated demand for dairy products, and it is illegal for them to drop their prices in order to adapt to the change in demand. Families are literally rationed in how much expensive milk they may purchase right now, while producers are not allowed to sell them more.

Just ask any senior citizen of Ukrainian descent how well a centralized food supply management system served them in the 1930s. Governments manage pretty much everything poorly. Food is one of the areas where we least need their intervention. 

A diverse local food production system with a myriad of producers throughout the nation is the best way that consumers can avoid price and supply shocks due to global market incidents. It is impossible for producers to diversify their production under the current supply-managed system. 

When dairy supply management began in 1971, there were approximately 145,000 dairy farms in Canada. Today there are less than 10,000 and it is dropping as large operations continue to buy up limited quotas and push their competitors out of business. The average dairy farmer has a net worth of over $5 million. It’s pretty easy to prosper when the government literally makes it illegal for people to compete with you. 

In shedding our archaic supply management system, we would give agricultural producers a means to diversify their outputs while solidifying a more localized food supply. It would provide opportunities for increased local employment on these farms and competition will spurn innovation which would lead to entirely new value-added products for agricultural producers to sell. 

Dairy and poultry cartels jealously protect their monopoly through aggressive and effective lobbying of federal politicians. It was embarrassing to watch Andrew Scheer groveling to the dairy cartels as he was obligated to due to their propping up his leadership bid for the Conservative Party of Canada. The cartels have their hooks deeply embedded into the flesh of politicians in every (major) federal party and it is going to take a strong public call for an end to supply management in order to break these politicians loose. 

Federal Liberals have even begun musing about extending supply management to other agricultural sectors, citing the present crisis as their excuse. The Tories would have few legs to stand on in opposing its expansion into other sectors, since they so vigorously support its mandatory application in dairy and poultry. 

New Zealand and Australia used to have supply management systems like ours. They shed those systems and producers prospered despite the fear-mongering of their local cartels. Our agricultural producers will flourish with the constraints of supply management lifted as well. 

We are entering difficult times as a nation. We need to examine every possible way to help citizens recover from the economic shock of the COVID-19 pandemic shutdown. Food is a need and it must be kept as affordable as possible for citizens. We can immediately reduce the food bills for all Canadians simply by ending our supply management system. The only question we should be asking ourselves is why we haven’t done this already.

Cory Morgan is a columnist for the Western Standard

Continue Reading

Opinion

QUESNEL: Northern B.C. Should Leverage the Buffalo Declaration

Alternatively, rocking the political boat with talk of redrawing provincial boundaries could be enough to finally awaken the British Columbia government to the seriousness of northern alienation in their province.

mm

Published

on

Talks about Western independence and the release of the well-timed Buffalo Declaration should be leveraged by marginalized northern regions in the West to place their issues front and centre in the national conversation.

Within the wider discourse of Western alienation exists the reality of northern alienation that has existed for quite a while without finding an appropriate vehicle. For example, northern British Columbia has long felt marginalized within British Columbia politics and ignored by provincial politicians. After all, only about seven percent of B.C.’s population resides in the northern half. 

The province tends to prioritize the southern half of the province when it makes large infrastructure investments. Despite automation and changing technologies, the northern B.C. economy is still largely dominated by resource industries. Forestry, mining, and the energy sector still serve as a backbone for the rural northern economy, despite economic diversification efforts on the part of northern rural municipalities.

In terms of economic structure and attitude, northern B.C. residents are more like northern Albertans. People in Kitimat feel alienated from the latte-drinking urbanites in B.C.’s capital city of Victoria. Granted, however, that the  B.C. Premier has stood up for major projects that would benefit the north, such as the Coastal GasLink project. However, this doesn’t change a basic alienation that the north feels from the core of political power in the province. 

A similar situation has occurred in northwestern Ontario where large communities such as Kenora have felt ongoing neglect from a distant and unresponsive government in Queen’s Park and have seriously discussed joining Manitoba. Many felt that on issues such as the forest economy and on healthcare, Ontario seriously neglected them. At one point, a disgruntled community in southwestern Manitoba wanted to join Saskatchewan. 

This might be the perfect time for northern British Columbians to raise the stakes in the discussion by raising the “S” word. The real possibility of separation might be what the out-of-touch B.C. provincial government needs to prioritize northern concerns. 

In November of last year, the Frontier Centre for Public Policy released a major policy paper that discussed redrawing the provincial boundaries of Alberta and Saskatchewan to provide tidewater access to both provinces. 

Residents of Northern B.C. – both from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities – should consider and perhaps leverage such proposals, such as joining Alberta. First Nations in northern British Columba might have more success in forwarding their issues of self-government and nation-to-nation dialogue, especially with the focus on reconciliation.  

If residents of northern B.C. entertained the possibility of joining Alberta, Alberta would need to extend an offer to northern British Columbia residents explaining the benefits of joining Alberta. Northern B.C. would need to inform the Alberta government of the problems they are facing which propelled them to leave British Columbia. Alberta could then address those problems and offer residents of Northern B.C. a better deal. 

During the Quebec secession crisis, there were some Quebec Indigenous leaders who did not reject the sovereigntist cause completely, instead, asking the leaders of the Quebec sovereignty movement what they would offer them. Being pragmatic, they realized that if they could not stop or fight the secession vote, they would settle for a better deal from a sovereign Quebec government than the one they had with a united Canada. Both Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities in northern B.C. should adopt a similar attitude and posture. 

A very attractive element of northern B.C. joining Alberta would be the promise of permanent coastal access for Alberta’s energy sector, which would greatly benefit many communities and First Nations of northern B.C. 

Alternatively, rocking the political boat with talk of redrawing provincial boundaries could be enough to finally awaken the British Columbia government to the seriousness of northern alienation in their province. This could finally force the province to adopt a serious plan for the north, that includes investment in necessary infrastructure.  

Mayors in northern B.C. communities should be able to get the premier on the phone and receive attention on pressing matters. Industries such as forestry, mining, and energy should receive as much attention as issues that concern Metro Vancouver and among suburbanites in the Lower Mainland. 

Raising the spectre of redrawn borders might just be enough to force the province to deal with its Northern Alienation problems.

Continue Reading

Opinion

LETTER-ANGLIN: Buying KXL pipeline shares opens it up more legal troubles

Now that the UCP has blindly jumped into this project as the primary investor and guarantor of the XL pipeline, they may have doomed the project.

mm

Published

on

RE: Alberta government will spend $1.5 billion in KXL pipeline to kickstart construction

The absurdity of Alberta investing $1.1 billion in the [Keystone] XL pipeline and guaranteeing another $7 billion + in loans is nuts! TC Energy claims they will buy back Alberta’s equity interest after the pipeline is in service. However, no one has provided any specific details how that buy-back would occur. The announcement should set off alarm bells across Alberta. In the UCP announcement, Kenney claims construction will begin as early as April 1, 2020. This is absolutely not true! The latest court challenge that TC Energy inflicted upon itself has yet to make its way to the Court of Appeals. There are many more court challenges to come, and most all of these challenges are self-inflicted by TransCanada’s previous efforts to circumvent environmental laws. To be clear, there was nothing wrong with TC Energy’s strategy to prolong the project in the courts. They had every right to take that risk. Now come Kenney and the UCP!

By signing this agreement, Kenney and the UCP downloaded the project’s liability onto the Alberta taxpayers. If the project succeeds, TC Energy shareholders profit. If the project fails, Alberta’s taxpayers take the loss. Stated another way, Alberta practices capitalism in times of growth, and socialism in times of economic contraction, but only for the select few. Without getting into the weeds of the legalities, courts routinely disregard the separate legal personality of a corporate entity when a corporation is completely dominated and controlled by another (used as a shield) for an improper purpose. Whether it can proved or not, a logical argument can now be made accusing the Alberta government of hiding behind a corporate shield (improper purpose) to advance a pipeline project for its benefit in the United States. The insanity of thinking a foreign government – Alberta’s UCP – could through their proxy, TC Energy, expropriate or take by eminent domain private property in the United States for a pipeline to benefit Alberta is a constitutional sitcom that is too far-fetched to contemplate. Didn’t anyone in the UCP government even think to consult with a U.S. corporate and/or a U.S. constitutional lawyer before signing this agreement? 

It is very likely, the first court cases to be filed will seek to pierce the corporate shield, and this may take years by way of state action in each of the states affected by this pipeline. Forget any environmental court challenges, which there are many. It will be seven years before the first “property rights” challenge reaches the U.S. Supreme Court. By signing this agreement, Kenney and the UCP opened a constitutional can of worms for opponents to challenge this pipeline. Politically, I can say with significant confidence there will be no Republican or Democratic politician in Nebraska, Montana, or the Dakotas that will support the expropriation of its citizen’s private property for the benefit of Alberta. Now that the UCP has blindly jumped into this project as the primary investor and guarantor of the XL pipeline, they may have doomed the project. If this agreement is reported correctly, TC Energy will receive a $1.1 billion cash injection, and should they default on their debts, Albertans are stuck with the bill. Is this what TC Energy intended all along?

The irony has not escaped me. For the last four years, Trump’s leadership – or lack thereof – has divided Republicans and Democrats like never before. With the stroke of a pen, Kenney and the UCP’s agreement with TC Energy may just well unite them. You just can’t write this stuff!

Joe Anglin is the former Wildrose MLA for Rimby-Rocky Mountain House-Sundre

Continue Reading

Trending

Copyright © Western Standard owned by Wildrose Media Corp.