Presentation On the Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion – Ministerial Panel – Aug. 10, 2016 – Burnaby, BC

Gene McGuckin

[Editor's note:  Following is one of the many great presentations made to the Ministerial Panel in Burnaby on August 9, 10, and 11.  In general the presentations were intelligent, very well researched, and presented with great passion. I was there for most of the day on Wednesday and most of the afternoon/evening on Thursday and I heard no presentations that supported the expansion but many that agreed with Gene that the panel was a sham!]

Presentation – Ministerial Panel – Aug. 10, 2016 – Burnaby, BC

by Gene McGuckin, member of Burnaby Residents Opposing Kinder
Morgan Expansion

In the various stages of “assessing” the Kinder Morgan expansion project, we have all learned much about the dangers of pipeline leaks, tanker spills, toxic gas releases, and mountainside tank farm fire and explosion.

And, of course, if by some enchantment we escape all these other threats, we WILL suffer from the boost this project will unarguably give to the already accelerating, world-wrecking on-rush of climate change.

Yet there is a public pretense that Ottawa is ignorant of how important all that is, that government needs us to tell it to them again—and again. That we must present this information and the fears and hopes it engenders as part of a “democratic” assessment, as part of a balancing between competing legitimate interests.

The government’s public stance of deliberate ignorance, coupled with its bafflegab and promotion of pseudo-democracy, is a stimulus to tragedies ranging from horrific to unfathomable.

But if we are to deal effectively with this feigned ignorance, we must first understand what the real situation is. Mayor Corrigan yesterday suggested that it is hard not to see the work of this panel – like that of its predecessor, the NEB – as being “all for show.” I would be less polite than the mayor and charge that this ministerial panel’s pretense at democracy is a calculated government attempt to dupe Canadian citizens.

In support of that charge, I will quote Jim Carr, the Minister of Natural Resources. On the day he announced this panel in the House of Commons an opposition member challenged the government on their failed campaign promise to re-start the “flawed” NEB process from scratch and also on their “new, add-on process, little more than a smokescreen.”

Minister Carr replied,

“Mr. Speaker, we have the pleasure today to announce the appointment of three very distinguished western Canadians who will spend the next number of months consulting with people up and down the Kinder Morgan line, both in indigenous and in non-indigenous communities, because we knew, Mr. Speaker, that the process that has been used so far resulted in no pipelines being built to tidewater in ten years. So we then took the decision that changing the process, to invite people in, to show that it has credibility, will give us a better chance. And that’s it!”

The minister’s “better chance” clearly referred to building a pipeline to tidewater, not to hearing people’s legitimate concerns and objections, not to responding to those concerns, certainly not to balancing interests. No. A better chance to build a pipeline to tidewater. The minister’s own words.

In our worldwide race against climate change, humanity’s victory grows less likely by the day. Some scientists maintain we’ve already lost, that irreversible tipping points have been breached. Whether this is true or only almost true, shouldn’t we be spending our time more productively than going through charades like this so-called review process?

Panel members were clearly not co-designers of the government’s calculated duplicity in launching this add-on process, this smokescreen. But unfortunately, you are its public face. I urge each of you, in true service to the public interest, to withdraw from this process.

Desperately needed as quickly as possible is a planned transition to a post-carbon energy system—provincially, nationally, globally. The under-construction Canadian Climate Plan, whose public consultation process has been even more of a joke than the one we are witnessing here today, cannot fill the bill of what’s needed. Without doubt, in deference to the corporate power dominating our political system, that plan will bet on outracing eco-destruction with a bit of government regulation, some fiscal tinkering with incentives and disincentives, and—primarily—reliance on market mechanisms to radically change consumption patterns and produce eleventh-hour technological miracles.

This is the bet of lottery addicts, not of responsible political and social leaders.

The rational bet would be to rapidly reduce fossil fuel extraction, transport, and incineration through planned government investment and action, rooted in comprehensive public education and commensurate development of alternative energy systems.

This will not be easy. It will be complex and involve hardships that must be shared fairly. It will require a widespread rebirth of social solidarity and a cooperative ethic. But it has a better chance of success than the stumbling, blind, groping, and fraudulent processes we are involved in here.

And we have some historical examples that give us hope. Professor Hackett yesterday recalled that, prior to the Second World War, allied governments in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere unbelievably quickly retooled their economies, government mechanisms, and corporate priorities to facilitate military preparations.

In some ways, even more impressive was the electrification of the vast, rural farmlands in the US. In the early 1930’s fewer than 10 per cent of rural buildings had electricity. In the late ‘50s the figure was 97 per cent. With government guidance and commitment of huge fiscal, educational, infrastructural resources, this transformation was not based on private, profit-driven corporations.

The task before us, if we would not fail, is to re-appropriate these and similar experiences and improve on them.


Thank you.