Friday, April 20, 2018

Zakaria - America's "Deep State" Exists and Americans Should Be Grateful

America's "deep state" exists and Fareed Zakaria says Americans need look no further than people like Robert Mueller and James Comey to find it.
One of the oft-repeated criticisms of America is that it has too many lawyers. Maybe, but one of the country’s great strengths is its legal culture. As I’ve written before, Alexis de Tocqueville worried that without a class of patriotic and selfless aristocrats, the United States could fall prey to demagogues and populists. But he took comfort in the fact that, as he put it, American aristocracy can be found “at the bar or on the bench.” Tocqueville saw that lawyers, with their sense of civic duty, created a “form of public accountability that would help preserve the blessings of democracy without allowing its untrammeled vices.”

Comey’s memoir reveals that America does indeed have a deep state. It is one of law and lawyers. And we should be deeply grateful for it.
Before anyone jumps on Comey for the Clinton email fiasco, that's not what Zakaria is referring to. His focus is on Comey, as deputy Attorney General during the Bush era.
Many of the battles the Trump administration is having with the so-called deep state are reruns of battles from the Bush years. As Comey recounts in detail, after 9/11 the Bush administration put in place a surveillance program called “Stellar Wind” that Justice Department lawyers decided, on review, was illegal. Comey, who in March 2004 was deputy attorney general (and filling in for his boss, John D. Ashcroft, who was ill), refused to renew the program. 
White House Chief of Staff Andrew H. Card Jr. and White House counsel Alberto R. Gonzales decided to head to Ashcroft’s hospital room to pressure him to sign the reauthorization documents, over Comey’s objections. On learning of this, Comey raced to the hospital and asked then-FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to join him for moral support. It turned out Ashcroft didn’t need any prodding; he turned Card and Gonzales away. Mueller, who arrived a few minutes afterward, said to the bedridden attorney general, who was technically his boss, “In every man’s life there comes a time when the good Lord tests him. You passed your test tonight.” Comey writes that he felt like crying. “The law had held.” 
Round Two happened over torture. The Bush administration wanted to claim that its “enhanced interrogation techniques” were lawful. Comey believed they were not, as did the chief counsel at the Justice Department, Jack Goldsmith. So Comey pushed back as much as he could.

In all of these cases, the pressure from the White House was intense, including a stunning exchange that Comey recounts between himself and Bush. “I say what the law is for the executive branch,” Bush explained to his sub-Cabinet appointee. Comey responded, “You do, sir. But only I can say what the Justice Department can certify as lawful. And we can’t here. We have done our best, but as Martin Luther said, ‘Here I stand. I can do no other.’ ”
That, ladies and gentlemen, is the true Deep State. It is the Rule of Law and the men and women who practice and uphold it.
Comey and Mueller were subordinates who owed their jobs to Bush, but also that they were Republicans. Yet the two of them have consistently put their obligations to the law and the country above personal loyalty and partisan politics. 
This behavior may be a product of personal character, but it is also formed by legal training. The story is really not just about Mueller and Comey but about the lawyers in various parts of the government who believe that it is crucial for the country that the government operate within the law — even if the president wishes otherwise. Recall that when Trump wanted to fire Mueller last June, White House counsel Donald McGahn reportedly threatened to resign in protest.
Not all lawyers, by any means, are of that calibre but the best are. The rule of law frustrates and infuriates a good many politicians, Trump especially. Stephen Harper regularly lashed out when the rule of law, particularly Pierre Trudeau's Charter of Rights and Freedoms restrained his authoritarian excesses. Justin Trudeau was frustrated when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled in the Carter case that assisted dying is a right protected by the Charter.  All healthy liberal democracies have this same Deep State, the evolutionary successor to Runnymede. We should be grateful for that.

Missing Monbiot

George Monbiot rose to fame and acclaim as The Guardian's fearless enviro-scribe, eventually expanding into a broader societal punditry. This scribe would eagerly await Monbiot's next offering to see what condition or peril he would next illuminate. He always dished up plenty of food for thought.

He's been gone long enough that his absence is a bit grating. Prostate cancer. He's chosen the surgical remedy over radiation, a game of chance one way or the other. Odds aren't terrible but they're not great either.

The last entry on Monbiot's web page was a month ago. In it he did say that he would be out of action for several weeks. Nothing to do but wait and see and wish him all the best luck.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Yes, Justin, But What's in the "National Interest" of Our Children and Grandchildren?

Justin Trudeau's highly selective, incredibly narrow, utterly myopic and grossly self-serving definition of Canada's "national interest" is disturbing.

Canada didn't begin with us and it won't end with us either (if we're lucky). When Justin proclaims his bitumen pipeline is in the "national interest" he's not speaking for the nation, the Canada past and the Canada future. The interest he's parroting has very little to do with the nation, Canada. It has everything to do with a small circle of political fiefdoms and the powerful interests they serve.

The video in the previous post is from Alaska but it reflects today's Canada just as much. Watch it. The video demonstrates that "national interest" is not the bastardized span of an electoral cycle. It is a matter of generations. It's a matter of posterity. The national interest is a term devoid of meaning if it does not include the Canada we will bequeath to our children, our grandchildren, and their families in turn.

That's the national interest that this idiot's father understood, that Pierre Trudeau served so well when he implemented for us and for our children and grandchildren and generations beyond, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The constitutional bulwark that has already safeguarded our liberal democracy against the excesses of Harper and, at least once, the same democratic failure in Trudeau.

Stunning, Absolutely Stunning.

The next time someone tells you that pimping bitumen is in the "national interest," invite them to watch this. Then ask them - ask Trudeau, ask Notley - what's in the "national interest" of our grandchildren?

Play this magnificent video full screen, volume up. Then with climate change this rampant ask yourself why we're so bent on pimping bitumen.

GLACIER EXIT from Raphael Rogers on Vimeo.

Trump's Little Prince of Darkness Joins Legal Team

Rudolph Giuliani is joining Trump's legal team dealing with the Mueller investigation.

Curiously enough, I wrote a post on Rudi and his involvement with the Clinton email scandal two days ago.

It turns out Giuliani was also the subject of several references in James Comey's new book, "A Higher Loyalty."

In his interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Comey did say he was aware that Giuliani was on TV in 2016 predicting surprise developments from the FBI just before the November election. Giuliani’s comments suggested he was privy to the discovery of more Clinton emails on a laptop belonging to former Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), which the FBI got while investigating him on charges of sexting with a minor. 
“Yes, I saw that,” Comey said. “It’s part of what I ordered investigated.” 
At a Senate hearing last year, days before Comey was fired, he was also asked specifically about leaks to Giuliani. Comey was careful not to accuse Giuliani of anything and said it wasn’t clear whether people at the FBI were leaking to him. 
“I don’t know yet,” Comey told Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.). “But if I find out that people were leaking information about our investigations, whether it’s to reporters or to private parties, there will be severe consequences. … It’s a matter that I’m very, very interested in.”
It's reported that Giuliani's new role will be to advise Trump on ways he can bring the Mueller investigation to an early end.

Red Scare or Red Worry?

Is the government of China forcing Chinese students at foreign universities to set up Communist Party cells? According to an article in Foreign Policy that is happening on campuses in the United States and other nations.

In July 2017, a group of nine Chinese students and faculty from Huazhong University of Science and Technology participating in a summer program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) formed a Chinese Communist Party branch on the third floor of Hopkins Hall, a campus dormitory. 
The group held meetings to discuss party ideology, taking a group photo in front of a red flag emblazoned with a hammer and sickle, according to a July 2017 article and photos posted to the Huazhong University website. The students’ home institution had sent four teachers on the trip, directing them to set up the party cell to strengthen “ideological guidance” while the students were in the United States.

After the students’ arrival in Illinois, their home university asked the group to set up a temporary party branch and requested that the students hold a viewing party to watch the 19th party plenum in October, the major party planning conference held every five years.

The exchange students at UIUC were also asked to report on any potentially subversive opinions their classmates may have evinced while abroad, according to the student. 
“After we went back to China, we had one-on-one meetings with our teachers. We talked about ourselves and others performance abroad,” the student says. “We had to talk about whether other students had some anti-party thought.” 
Illinois is not alone. Party cells have appeared in California, Ohio, New York, Connecticut, North Dakota, and West Virginia. The cells appear to be part of a strategy, now expanded under Chinese President Xi Jinping, to extend direct party control globally and to insulate students and scholars abroad from the influence of “harmful ideology,” sometimes by asking members to report on each other’s behaviors and beliefs.
...The party isn’t shy about the purpose of these new branches. “The rising number of overseas party branches is a new phenomenon, showing the growing influence of the [Chinese Communist Party] and China,” according to a November 2017 report in the party-aligned Global Times newspaper. “Overseas party cells are also responsible for promoting party and government policies.”
...The party cells popping up on campuses across the United States aren’t the Communist Party’s only expansion abroad. The U.S.-based party branches are part of a growing network of cells located on campuses in Canada, Mexico, Chile, Australia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Portugal, Greece, South Korea, Thailand, and elsewhere.

Busting Trudeau's Bitumen Bullshit. The "National Interest" Scam.

It's time for the Great Prevaricator to show Canadians this massive Asian market eagerly awaiting Alberta bitumen.  Tyee contributor, Mitchell Anderson, says it's pretty much non-existent.

Canadians have been repeatedly told the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion will open up lucrative new overseas markets for unprocessed bitumen. This is nonsense. 
Tankers loaded with crude from the existing pipeline have been leaving Vancouver for years and virtually all of these shipments have been bound for refineries in the U.S. Several of these plants are just across the border in Washington State and also receive Alberta crude through a connection from the Trans Mountain pipeline to Puget Sound. 
Unprocessed Canadian resources are then upgraded at some of the most profitable refining margins in the world and sold back to local captured markets at a steep markup. Is this the national interest that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau Trudeau speaks so urgently of? 
The Port of Vancouver recently posted their cargo statistics for 2017, shedding more light on the enduring myth of eager Asian markets for Alberta bitumen. 
In 2017, 1,767,672 tonnes of crude petroleum were shipped from Vancouver, with 1,767,592 bound for the U.S. - or 99.99 percent. The remaining 80 tonnes were exported to China with an approximate market value of less than $40,000. If Asian markets will bring higher prices, why aren’t companies shipping crude to them now? It seems Asia is unlikely to bring billions in prosperity to Albertans anytime soon. 
Equally illuminating was the inbound cargo figures from the United States. Last year the U.S. shipped back about half the export crude tonnage in form of refined oil products, including 456,816 tonnes of aviation fuel, 374,980 tonnes of gasoline and 85,143 tonnes of diesel. Based on current market prices, these products had a pre-tax value of over $1 billion. 
In comparison, crude exports to the U.S. of 1,767,672 tonnes or 13 million barrels were worth about $600 million, meaning that imported refined petroleum was worth some three times as much per tonne. 
This Canadian resource myopia is a windfall for the five refineries across the border in Washington State, particularly the two owned by Shell and BP tooled up to refine discounted Alberta bitumen and connected to the existing Trans Mountain pipeline that crosses the border at Sumas. Over half of Trans Mountain shipments in 2017 went directly to these U.S. facilities, with additional marine shipments by tanker from Vancouver.
...How badly is Canada missing out by not refining our own oil? The oil industry has a colourful term called the crack spread to describe the profit margin for refineries between buying crude and selling refined products. 
Washington refineries buying Alberta bitumen have some of the largest profit margins in the world - up to $45 US per barrel in 2013. Not surprisingly, Vancouver also has some of the highest retail gasoline prices in North America. 
Little wonder some interests are so keen on seeing the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion. According to a recent market research paper bluntly titled Pacific Northwest Refineries: Cheap Crude and a Captive Market “Both Shell and BP were in a strong position to benefit from bargain-priced heavy Canadian crude that the other refiners cannot process in significant quantities due to lack of investment in coking units… If the Trans Mountain pipeline is expanded in 2019 it will provide considerable opportunity to upgrade or expand Puget Sound refineries.” 
Using the more conservative crack spread of $24 per barrel in 2016, Trans Mountain will create massive potential profits for west coast refiners. With an eventual capacity of 890,000 barrels per day, U.S. refineries could pocket $7.8 billion US per year adding value to Canadian crude that our prime minister seems eager to export unprocessed.

Alberta's Rank Stupidity

It's not just Alberta's dreary record of "pissing it all away" whenever they get an oil boom, although Wild Rose profligacy is legendary, (that's why they can't have nice things, they're wastrels who can't handle money) they're also astonishingly stupid in not refining the crud on site in Alberta and selling the end goods directly to the Canadian market - the very thing B.C. premier Jim Horgan has suggested.
Alberta Premier Rachel Notley’s government has recently suggested it might buy the Trans Mountain pipeline outright to further scale up raw bitumen exports. This is starkly at odds with an announcement earlier this year that the government planned to provide $1 billion in grants and loans to build new upgraders in the province. Or Notley’s campaign promise in 2016 to create more refinery jobs in the province “instead of exporting them to Texas.”

Meanwhile U.S. corporations have invested $185 billion in refinery infrastructure while Alberta attracted only $4 billion. The province just saw the first new refinery opened since 1984 in spite of a chorus of local naysayers who derided the project for years. 
B.C. has only two remaining refineries, one of which is located in Burnaby just beside the Kinder Morgan terminal. Unionized workers at this plant strongly oppose the Trans Mountain expansion on the grounds it will divert badly needed feedstock to U.S. competitors. The Burnaby refinery has a capacity of only 55,000 barrels per day compared to the combined capacity of 630,000 barrels just across the border. Three other former refineries in Burrard Inlet have closed, apparently due to Trans Mountain’s impact on B.C. refining margins. The union has argued in the past that Kinder Morgan’s approach favours U.S. refineries.
The enduring myth of Asian markets still seems a useful talking point, judging by how often Canadians hear it in the media. Yet when not badgering the public, the Alberta oil industry is quite candid about sending unprocessed Alberta crude and bitumen to California instead of China. Perhaps that is why so much Canadian effort went into undermining California’s low carbon fuel standards. 
Instead of putting our coast at risk shipping profits to the U.S., why aren’t we expanding local refining capacity? Why are Alberta and Ottawa hell bent on pushing through a pipeline possibly costing billions in public money to export unprocessed Canadian resources? 
Consider that non-consensual crack spread next time you bend over to fill up for $1.50 per litre.
But wait, there's more. Check out DeSmogBlog's post on "The Myth of The Asian Market for Alberta's Oil."

Here are two brief excerpts that should make you question Trudeau and Notley's honesty (hint, honesty has no currency to that pair, they're liars):

Canadian producers already have the ability to ship their heavy oil to Asia via the existing 300,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline — but they’re not using it. 
“Virtually no exports go to any markets other than the U.S.,” economist Robyn Allan told DeSmog Canada. “The entire narrative perpetrated by Prime Minister Trudeau and Alberta Premier Notley is fabricated.”
And then there's a former partner from Trudeau's favoured accountancy, KPMG:
There’s no appetite in Asia for heavy oil,” said Eoin Finn, former partner at KPMG, in an interview with DeSmog Canada. “They don’t have the refineries to refine it. And the world is swimming in light sweet crude that’s cheaper and easier to refine, and altogether more plentiful.”

Trudeau's Silver Haired Moron's Plan - Pour Gasoline on the Fires.

Oh great. Trudeau's cabinet jester, that idiot Carr, is at it again. You know, that Manitoba moron who mused about calling in the army to sweep away British Columbia First Nations and environmentalists who might stand in the way of this government's pet fetish, the Trans Mountain pipeline.

“We think that federal jurisdiction is clear; we’re looking at legislation to see how we can enhance that,” federal Natural Resources Minister Jim Carr said in an interview on Wednesday.

Kinder Morgan stated on Wednesday that the Trans Mountain project “is now facing unquantifiable risk” because of B.C.’s position, and court challenges that have not yet been concluded.

In an effort to blunt the impact of B.C.’s reference to the courts, Ottawa is preparing legislation that would not only declare federal jurisdiction over the project, but give it added clout to enforce it. Mr. Carr said the government has not yet decided the exact nature of the legislation. 
“We assert the federal jurisdiction that has been asserted by us before and it also has been commented upon by courts in Canada including the Supreme Court,” Mr. Carr said. 
B.C. Premier John Horgan told reporters he will await details of the federal bill before responding, but warned that Ottawa is not picking a fight solely with his government. 
“I know other provinces, particularly Quebec, will be acutely interested in the federal government trampling on provincial rights − while we are trying to establish those rights,” Mr. Horgan said in Victoria.
Bingo. Constitutional crisis. Score one for that sketchy pipeline company from Texas and the Ottawa government in their service.

Bruce Ryder, a law professor at York University’s Osgoode Hall, said Ottawa can use the law to signal that it will not allow provinces or municipalities to frustrate the pipeline construction. 
Mr. Ryder said B.C. could challenge the legislation in court, creating more uncertainty. He added, however, that solid case law backs federal authority. 
“It won’t be popular in Quebec,” Mr. Ryder said. “It’s a rather heavy-handed assertion of the primacy of federal jurisdiction because it cuts against the idea of co-operative federalism and frustrates the expression of democracy at the provincial and municipal level.”
The problem with Carr's approach is that people push back when they feel unjustly pressured. There are people in my province who intend to push back, force the government to show its willingness to resort to violence and then respond in kind.

Coupled with Trudeau's earlier threats and Notley's unbridled aggression, what Carr seems to have in mind is nothing if not inflammatory.

In Carr, Trudeau has a real hammerhead, just the guy to blunder Canada and British Columbia into something Trudeau may regret. If they do want to kill off cooperative federalism, if they want to diminish the constitutional powers of provinces then they're making a powerful case for British Columbians (and Quebeckers) to reclaim control over their own destinies.

As my central Canadian friend, Peter Lowry, put it the other day:
"There is a strange irony that Pierre Trudeau did so much to help pull Canada’s confederation together. It is his son who has the nerve to call himself an environmentalist who thinks he can ignore the concerns of those who care. The bad economic choices of Alberta politicians are hardly the stuff of a confident and consensual confederation."
Justin Trudeau inherited a legendary Canadian name. He was never man enough to grow into it.

Where a Little "Job Churn" Might Be a Good Idea

It's all about job security. Who can forget when Cap'n Comfortable, Trudeau's quite wealthy finance minister, that Morneau guy, told Canadians they would have to accept future of "job churn," hopping from one uncertain and short term job to another, like a polar bear leaping from one shrinking ice floe to another. Both, by the way, conjure dystopian outcomes.

It would have been nicer if Morneau had accounted some government initiative to bolster job security in the private sector, perhaps giving useful employers a bit of a tax break coupled with an extra tax or two for gig market employers, something anyway, instead of telling Canada's young people, "That's your future. You're fucked. Sucks to be you. Now, go away, I have Higher Purpose People who deserve my time."

The fact is job churn might, in rare cases, be helpful. I have one example in mind: Canadian journalism.

As our corporate media cartel arose, newsrooms across the country were gutted. Why pay people in each province to write an editorial when you can pay one person toiling at some Hamilton strip mall to write that editorial. And, sure enough, owners and editors began sacking redundant journalists and columnists with abandon. The problem is their approach. They did it from the bottom up. They slaughtered the ranks of the newbies and left the tired old hacks to pump up the same old stale bromides on and on and on.

The tired old hacks, and we all know them, got into lifeboat survival mode. More and more they began writing garbage that sounded like it was dictated from the boardroom, not the newsroom. They also wrote in an old man's voice, predictable stuff. Who wants to pay for that? Apparently, damn few.

Coyne, Gunter, Ivison and, yeah, Walkom too. Let's not forget Rex Murphy either. They're all old hacks. When they write about the future they haven't got any skin in the game. What do they care? They're not out to shake up anybody. They just want that next paycheque, maybe some juicy speaking fees along the way, and that cushy pension at the end of the road.

A lot of us seem comfortable with those borderline geriatrics. They're more or less of our own vintage. They tend to see things from our advanced perspective. They're like an old boot. Too much like an old boot. They're like the old guy on the porch in his rocker yelling at the future to get the fuck off his lawn.

I suspect they're a major factor in the national myopia. When you read their stuff you're not hearing the voice of 20 and 30 year old Canadians, our youth, who face a considerably more daunting future than these atrophied hacks ever knew or ever will.

Canadian journalism would be better if only we had some means to phase out these geezers to make way for new - and, yes, better - voices.  Put the geezer generation out to pasture. 20 years and out. That's still time for them to scrounge up another career, perhaps as an honest hack, a PR guy. That's not that far a reach from what some of them have already become only without the illusion of editorial integrity.

Canada is at a point where we need a much better informed electorate. We've had decades of corporate-friendly messaging masquerading as news and corporate-friendly opinion writing. Those corporations can look after themselves.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

What We Need to See For Starters

Tankers, safe? No.

Even double hulled ships can founder in many ways. Their hulls can still be pierced by rocky projections, especially if they're battered against those rocks repeatedly in stormy seas. They can lose steerage. It does happen. They can suffer engine failure at a critical moment. Fires always pose a problem given that tankers are full of stuff intended to burn.

Now, a government that goes to some lengths to assure anxious citizens that an armada of heavily laden, clumsy supertankers can safely navigate the Strait of Georgia needs to tell those citizens, in detail, real detail, what happens when things go wrong. What happens if one of their tankers is broken on the rocks in a storm? What happens if there's a collision with another ship? What happens if the ship experiences a major fire? What happens if that tanker sinks?

The Georgia Strait, the passage these tankers will ply, has a maximum depth of 447 metres or a little over 1,665 feet. The mean depth is only 515 feet.

So, what do you do if you have a dilbit laden tanker broken in two lying on its side in 1,665 feet of water that's ripped by tides and currents? How do you make that safe? Have you got anything capable of handling a task that massive at those depths? If so, what? What if it's only at the mean, 515 feet. How do you make that safe? What have you got capable of handling that Herculean challenge? Nothing? That's what I thought.

What happens if those currents carry that dilbit out onto the seabed? How far will it go after a month, after three months, after a year?

We know that the marine food chain begins at the seabed. How much contamination will dilbit or just bitumen cause to the marine food chain? For how long? Decades, generations, essentially forever? How long does it take for the heavy metals and the carcinogens to leach out? How do those deadly elements enter the food chain? How do they work their way up the food chain through bioconcentration? How long before it reaches the salmon, the orca and the humpbacks? What havoc will it wreak on the seals and sea lions, the porpoise and dolphins? What about the Dungeness crab and the giant Pacific octopus, the sidestripe and the spot prawns, the squid? What will it do to our oyster beds, our mussels and our scallops? Will it turn the main prey fish, the herring and the sardines, into toxic time bombs for those many species which, without them, cannot survive? Will it take weeks, months, a year? How long will it continue to contaminate the marine ecosystem, one of the richest in the world? Decades, generations, essentially forever?

Trudeau, McKenna, Garneau, that idiot Carr, they all ought to have verifiable answers (they have lied, a lot. they cannot be taken at their word) to each and every one of these questions. They ought to have those answers at their fingertips. They ought to have it published and a leaflet delivered to every home in the area.

What's their plan if this enters the human food chain? Are they planning on closing off the Strait, perhaps the Salish Sea, to the public, to boaters and sport fishermen? Are they going to tell the fishing boat owners and their crews, the sport fishing guides, the whale watching operators, to start flipping burgers and selling fries? What's the plan for those people?

We know that Dame Cathy has approved the use of Corexit as an oil spill dispersant. It's the same toxic garbage that was used on both the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon disasters. It doesn't really disperse oil. It merely sinks it to the bottom. Research from the Gulf of Mexico revealed that Corexit makes oil some 52 times more toxic. However it does get oil out of sight  and out of sight is, supposely, out of mind. Just approving the use of Corexit is an admission, what lawyers call a declaration against interest. It is an admission that they haven't got a hope of cleaning up a dilbit spill.

How are you going to make this right with anybody, everybody affected? Who's going to put up the money? Notley? She's broke. Trudeau? Fat chance. He's the last guy anybody should trust. He breaks his word as easily and often as ordinary folks break wind only they're a good deal less noxious.

What about our First Nations? We celebrate them when they recreate the voyages of their ancestors in their majestic and massive cedar canoes. As far as they're concerned the Salish Sea is their ancestral waters. What are you going to do if you ruin that for them? How can you conceivably make that right? How do you place a price tag on someone's ancient birthright?

What about the precautionary principle, Justin? It's the law of the land, the law of Canada. Its purpose is to protect ordinary Canadians, their homes and their livelihoods, from reckless dumbasses like Trudeau and Notley and Kinder Morgan and the bitumen barons who can't answer these questions. The onus is on them to prove that this can be done safely.

As far as can be told, Justin imagines the precautionary principle may be the law of Canada, just not coastal British Columbia. We are apparently beyond the protection of that law as far as Trudeau is concerned. He and his minions and the corporations they serve aren't too keen on answering these fundamental questions because they all know, full well, what that would mean to their infernal pipeline.

Fuck that.


Update: I realize this is an angry post. Perhaps it should be tempered with a touch of levity. Here for your amusement is Justin Trudeau's mandate letter to Enviromin Cathy McKenna. Let the hilarity ensue.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Hot? No, Cool.

Heating is a major contributor to modern energy consumption. We like to keep our homes, workplaces and business we attend nice and comfortable. That takes a lot of energy.

Only we're in a warming world, one that has a long way to go yet. This means we're going to need a lot of cooling: refrigeration and air conditioning to handle the heat. It's not estimated that, by mid-century, we'll be using more energy for cooling than for heating.

Energy use for air conditioning, refrigeration and other cooling appliances will jump 90% on 2017 levels, experts estimated, posing a challenge for energy grids and efforts to curb climate change.
The University of Birmingham said the rise would come even with conservative estimates of how much demand for cooling was likely to increase in China, India and hotter countries. 
“Cooling just really isn’t part of the big debate. And yet we lose 200m tonnes of food each year because of a lack of cooling. That has massive repercussions,” said Toby Peters, a professor in power and cold economy, working at the university, who is also part of the Birmingham Energy Institute.

The institute will host the first ever conference on “clean cold” on Wednesday, exploring how to tackle the problem and boost the 0.2% of energy R&D budgets spend on cooling.
Even Britain is in store for an air-conditioning makeover.
The biggest energy demand for cooling comes from air conditioning to keep people comfortable, but it is also essential for stopping food from going to waste and protecting medicines. 
While air conditioning in UK homes is a rarity today, Peters said it was a question of when, not if, the technology became normal for householders.
...If the world’s future appetite for cooling is provided by the current fossil fuel-heavy energy mix, carbon emissions will rise 2.5 gigatonnes by 2050. Global emissions from energy were 35 gigatonnes last year.
To meet the growth in cooling without pushing up emissions would take almost all the new solar power expected to be installed by mid-century, Peters calculated. 
He said: “Yes, we need to look at more efficient cooling technologies and greening electricity, but when you see the size of the demand we have to be much more radical in our thinking and start to invest in [tackling] this.”

What Comey Left Out

Former FBI director, James Comey, has been getting well deserved comeuppance from the American left for not taking responsibility for the Hillary email fiasco, late campaign, that may have cost her the White House. The standard complaint is that Comey was playing Republican politics when he announced the email investigation while not disclosing the investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. How do you rationalize the two?

Here's my guess. Comey was trapped by agents at the FBI's New York field office who were cooperating with Trump campaign ally and former New York mayor, Rudi Giuliani.

Giuliani was all over the Hillary email scandal. One night I saw a clip of Giuliani appearing on CNN. He was grinning like the Cheshire Cat when he let slip some details of the New York FBI investigation into Clinton. At the time I wondered how Giuliani could possibly have access to that information? FBI investigations are not open for inspection to outsiders. Before long it seemed to dawn on Giuliani that he had just put himself and his FBI collaborators in a terrible spot and he desperately but unconvincingly tried to back peddle.

In the days and weeks that followed, reports came out about some rogue agents in the New York field office who were determined to get Hillary and hints that Giuliani might have been orchestrating their efforts.

Did those New York guys have something on Comey? Who knows? Did he announce the Clinton email investigations to head them off at some pass? Is he to be believed when he claims he kept silent about the Trump campaign investigation into Russian ties because he assumed Hillary would win in November?

One thing I've been hoping for is that Mueller will, at some point, find the evidence needed to indict Giuliani. Perhaps that's too much to hope for.

"Here I Stand" - The Late Rafe Mair on an Independent British Columbia. He Saw This Coming, a Lot of Us Did.

Lawyer, Social Credit cabinet minister, columnist, broadcaster: Rafe Mair was one of those legendary firebrands British Columbia occasionally produces. Mair died in early October, 2017, seven months after he had penned a call for British Columbia to leave Canada.

His words never rang truer than now when we're getting browbeaten and strong armed by our federal government and threatened by the malignancy on our eastern frontier, Alberta. Mair had them both foremost in his mind when he wrote this.
I find I no longer come close to sharing the values Canada now stands for – I’m not talking about opinions but a philosophy of life, a set of basic values. 
As a core value, I value the environment above the desire of bankers and developers to make money and bought and paid for politicians to support them. I accept the need for societal sustenance but do not accept plunder in the name of progress. 
The flashpoint is the Trudeau supported revival of the Alberta Tar Sands and the Prime Minister compelling BC to sacrifice both principle and its environment to the transport and sale of Tar Sands product to places that will be under no constraints as to its use. I believe Canada must accept responsibility for safeguarding water, land and air in places it exports products and services. I cannot be loyal ro a country that has no such values.
...I have long felt more British Columbian than Canadian. When BC Minister for constitutional affairs working on amending the BNA Act to become the Constitution, I observed the perpetual second class treatment of BC and saw how no one cared that the Senate was an ongoing, deliberate putdown of my province, observed its woeful lack of representation on federal boards and commissions, lack of BC prime ministers and utter absence oF BC Governors-General, the disgraceful Prussian arrogant treatment of BC’s fishery by the federal government, the unthinking and uncaring expectation that in the 1970 FLQ crisis that it was fine to put BC, which wasn’t involved under martial law (no one would surely suggest that a murder and a kidnapping in BC by BC separatists, would have resulted in Ontario and Quebec being placed on martial law). The put downs seemed endless and started early. 
My generation grew up learning that Canadian explorers were Cartier and Champlain, Indians were Iroquois, Algonquin and Huron, and some limey, Sir Isaac Brock was a Canadian hero. I learned about Captains Cook and Vancouver, Quadra and Russian settlements in British History in a private school and about Simon Fraser and David Thompson at UBC. I didn’t read a decent history of BC until from Dr. Walter Sage and Dr. Margaret Ormsby in secohd year UBC and the real history of the land of my birth until I was nearly 70 and interviewed Dr. Jean Barman on her classic, The West Beyond The West. I doubt one in 100 kids of my vintage could name the first BC premier or the rich Victoria merchants, without a suggestion of public support, who sold us out to Ottawa for a mess of potage and a railway to help Ontario grab our resources cheap.
...The real reason I want BC out is a question of principles, or values, if you prefer. I’m not talking about political issues but basic tenets of belief.
The Meech Lake/Charlottetown Accords disclosed a basic gap between the Central Canadian elite – the people the late Denny Boyd called “Higher Purpose Persons (HPPs)”, who know best, – and those ignorant idiots in BC who refused to accept special powers for one province. 
After Elijah Harper killed Meech Lake, BC said next time it won’t be the premiers deciding but the people in referendum and thus it was that The Charlottetown referendum was held and 67.9% of British Columbians said “we’ve had enough of your patronizing crap – get stuffed!” 
Then Justin Trudeau decided, cross my heart, hope to die, to give Canadians a better voting system. To do it democratically, we’ll hold cozy neighbourhood meetings around the Country, then the House of Commons will meet, and the Liberal Party will cram through a reformed First Past The Post with a preferential ballot and presto! by an amazing coincidence, The Liberals will have its way and should carry Central Canada forevermore.
HPPs said there mustn’t be a referendum because, er, the people can’t understand these complicared issues and remember what happened when they voted on Charlottetown! In fact the HPPs were right for the wrong reason. Trudeau understood it was a Liberal Party Permanent Election formula he was after and wasn’t going to let those troublemakers in BC spoil it all for the elite, the HPPS as they did with Charlottetown in 1992. It was safer to break your word and lay low.

...I am an environmentalist. When we lose our environment, be it the extinction of a species we’ve never heard of, a valley sustained by its fauna, flora and water or a run of herring it is a huge tragedy. That list, as you know, is endless. Reading reports from Paul Watson and the Sea Shepherd breaks the heart. 
Does that mean that I oppose all industry and development? 
That’s a pretty silly question. We have to work, eat and survive. But to the Canada exemplified by Trudeau, development, without more than cynical word service for the values I care about, trumps everything. Bear in mind throughout the balance of what I have to say that the Precautionary Principle is the law of Canada
Definition – The precautionary principle (or precautionary approach) to risk management states that if an action or policy has a suspected risk of causing harm to the public, or to the environment, in the absence of scientific consensus (that the action or policy is not harmful), the burden of proof that it is not harmful falls on those taking that action
Start with fish farms. Recently disease spreading from farms to wild salmon was scientifically demonstrated yet another time. The evidence of assaults on our wild salmon by sea lice from fish farms and disease from farmed fish, not to mention damage to other sea life and to the ocean floor, has piled up for 15+ years, is overwhelming yet, in as few words as possible, what was Fisheries Minister and DFO answer to the plethora of evidence generally and to the latest report? “BC, GO FUCK YOURSELVES!” 
Forgive my language but when I look at the work Alexandra Morton has done, the long underfunded battle of First Nations, the impact of this fascist government on commercial fishermen and, yes, sports fishermen, going back to Confederation that’s the only way I can translate the Federal Government’s attitude of sacrificing our precious resources to a large Norwegian despoiler of nature.. 
Does this offend your basic set of values? It certainly does mine! 
...The Alberta Tar Sands, the world’s biggest natural polluter, produces a tar like substance artificially liquefied, which if spilled, especially on water, is virtually impossible to clean up as it usually sinks too quickly to be dealt with, a spill defined as minor into the Kalamazoo River, in Michigan, in 2010, has not yet been cleaned up and probably never will be. The federal government has approved the Kinder Morgan pipeline to bring this from the Tar Sands through BC to Burrard Inlet (Vancouver Harbour) them taken by tankers across the Salish Sea, through or near the Gulf Islands through the Straits of Juan de Fuca to the Ocean. 
The company claims this will “only” add 400 tankers a year but as the Duke of Wellington said to a man on a London street who hailed him ‘Mr. Robinson, I believe’, “Sir, If you believe that, you’ll believe anything!” 
Spills are inevitable. So are tanker collisions and serious ones. Great damage will be done to our precious sea life, lives will be lost. And for what? 
Does this offend your basic set of values? It certainly does mine! 
A final word. Many things make up a nation but in my view shared values outrank all the rest combined. These aren’t political quarrels I have with Canada, though I have lots of them. No, these are fundamental values I can’t live without and Justin Trudeau can’t live with. None of these values destroy industry but put it, and what we are deeply committed to in British Columbia, on a level playing field where he who would impact the very essence of our homeland has the onus of proving he will do no harm or none which we whose home it is will not accept
British Columbia, my home, has been pushed around the 85+ years I have lived, worked, served, loved and, yes, loafed in her. To be called a bad Canadian because I want to protect her wild life and their habitat and don’t want to assist uncaring capitalists and their captive governments to spread ruin here and elsewhere has finally become too much
I hope you understand but that’s irrelevant, “Here I stand. I cannot do otherwise.”

I somehow think those words are destined to live on. Eventually, maybe not this year, perhaps not next but, eventually, we're going to get out of this empty shell of a country where choice comes in meaningless options of Harper or Ignatieff, Trudeau or Scheer, pale suits stuffed with wet cardboard. We cannot solve the challenges of this century with leaders of their meagre calibre.

Who Knows What We Might Learn?

Alberta's outgoing premier, Rachel Notley, will table legislation permitting that province to put British Columbians under some bizarre form of petro-siege. There's sheer malevolence to it, Notley's words make that unquestionable.

Victoria says British Columbia will go to court (funny how Ottawa and Alberta aren't keen on airing these difficult legal questions in courts) to lift the siege. Notley says they've got a legal opinion that their law's a winner.

The way I see it, this is a no-win for Notley and her dutiful man/boy Trudeau and no-lose for British Columbia. Here's my thinking.

If one province in our Confederation can legally lay siege to another (I think you can see where this is going) then this rotten notion of nationhood is meaningless, a farce. That would leave British Columbia no choice but to take control of its borders, especially the one that divides us from our friends to the south. America, in case you haven't heard, is flush with gas, cheap gas, and they're looking for new markets. Cut off, under petro-siege, British Columbia would have no choice but to declare independence/sovereignty and establish some form of customs union with Uncle Samuel.

Let's go to court. Let's see what we can learn about how we're supposed to deal with rednecks and punks from Ottawa. It's time to explore our options, what's best for British Columbia. As for independence, history shows that always begins with a dream, a dream of getting out from underneath something that you can no longer abide.

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Huge Breakthrough

It was an accident. Scientists were studying a plastic-eating bacterium found at a waste dump in Japan. They wanted to know what it was, how it worked, what it evolved from.

After running a few tests the team discovered they had inadvertently made the molecule far more effective at consuming plastic bottles.
“What actually turned out was we improved the enzyme, which was a bit of a shock,” said Prof John McGeehan, at the University of Portsmouth, UK, who led the research. “It’s great and a real finding.”

The mutant enzyme takes a few days to start breaking down the plastic – far faster than the centuries it takes in the oceans. But the researchers are optimistic this can be speeded up even further and become a viable large-scale process. 
“What we are hoping to do is use this enzyme to turn this plastic back into its original components, so we can literally recycle it back to plastic,” said McGeehan. “It means we won’t need to dig up any more oil and, fundamentally, it should reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.”
“It is a modest improvement – 20% better – but that is not the point,” said McGeehan. “It’s incredible because it tells us that the enzyme is not yet optimised. It gives us scope to use all the technology used in other enzyme development for years and years and make a super-fast enzyme.”

It's Called "Enmity"

There are plenty of synonyms for "enmity" but somehow never quite enough. Here are some: hostility, animosity, antagonism, friction, antipathy, animus, acrimony, bitterness, rancor, resentment, aversion, ill feeling, bad feeling, ill will, bad blood, hatred, hate, loathing, odium; malice, spite, spitefulness, venom, malevolence.

It can be a powerfully destructive thing when a leader sows enmity among a group of his people, pitting them against their countrymen or their government. That is very much what Trudeau has done with his arrogant, "my way or the highway" proclamation that the Trans Mountain pipeline is going through, regardless of the opposition of the province affected.

There are a lot of us who are dead set against it. There are a lot of others, however, who may be indifferent to it, even somewhat in support of it, who he will also alienate by his highhanded arrogance. Nobody enjoys feeling subjugated. There aren't very many who will welcome British Columbia being pushed around, especially by forces thousands of miles distant.

Of course it's one thing to reap enmity by promising to push someone else around. The doing of the thing increases that enmity greatly, perhaps exponentially. The fight ends only when the opposition gives up and Trudeau will have to throw a lot more lifelong law-abiding citizens in jail and with each one that enmity will build.

All Junior can do from here on in is to make an already bad situation much worse.

Just Keep Pushing. Just a Little More, Justin.

Justin Trudeau erased any residual hope that he's more than a punk yesterday when, following a bizarre meeting with premiers Notley and Horgan, he announced that Ottawa will be using all of its financial and legislative powers to drive through the Trans-Mountain pipeline, British Columbia be damned.

I found Trudeau's bullying remarks infuriating but also just a tiny bit welcome because he's pushing us that much closer to the confederational breaking point. Dave Climenhaga recognized the blowback that may await Canada from Trudeau's clumsy, arrogant heavy-handedness when he wrote:

While we are not in a constitutional crisis now, any attempt to bypass the constitution to speed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline will likely result in one.
If that happens, I dare say, it will strengthen separatist sentiment in Quebec and possibly create it in British Columbia, and not without good reason. Long term, as has already been argued here, it may also provide a precedent for some future federal government to interfere in Alberta’s affairs in ways we do not much like.
If this is Trudeau's idea of the national interest, I have no interest in being part of his nation.  If his national interest extends to steamrollering the people of British Columbia and subjecting our territory and especially our coastal waters to the real possibility of irreparable environmental catastrophe, I have no interest in being part of that nation, the second-class part.

In today's Tyee, renowned energy scribe, Andrew Nikiforuk, writes of Canada's "destructive descent into petro-politics" and how Trudeau's pipeline brings Trumplandia to this sorry country. Trudeau may have put a gun to our heads but it's pointed at Canada's head too.
Canadians have long lived on the assumption that we’re decent people and that the political dysfunction unravelling the United States could never happen here.

But the ugly rhetoric pouring forth from Alberta, the media and federal politicians on Kinder Morgan’s calculated suspension of work on the Trans Mountain pipeline shows that both petro and retro politics have consumed much of the nation. 
The siren call of oil exports has also revealed our political class can be as swayed by lies, propaganda and extortion as any U.S. Republican. 
The scale of Canada’s petro-inspired nastiness, which is probably startling Europeans and American observers alike, requires a few illustrations. 
...Let’s start with Alberta’s belligerence. Petroleum is the devil’s excrement and dominates the province’s law and economy. 
Oil, the world’s most volatile and faithless commodity, hasn’t been kind to the province. It once provided the Alberta state with 30 per cent of its revenue and an excuse to lower taxes to win votes. Since 2015 lower oil prices combined with embarrassingly low royalties have dropped that revenue share to a painful eight per cent.  
Notley is now counting on anticipated revenue from an unbuilt pipeline to balance the province’s budget within the next five years. How’s that for living beyond your means? 
Oil, a political homogenizer, has constructed an Alberta First mentality as arrogant and thuggish as Russia’s petro-fuelled nationalism.

Alberta's Real Predicament, the Unmentionable reality.
...Alberta’s current predicament, the overproduction of bitumen, has long been foretold. 
A 2007 Bitumen Price Review warned Alberta’s government about “large dramatic price drops and recoveries” for bitumen. “Essentially there is a lack of adequate market access due to increasing production levels.” 
Because bitumen isn’t being refined into higher value goods such as gasoline, the government is “absorbing a higher share of price risk” due to price volatility, the review noted. 
The solutions — all rejected by the nation’s elites — include higher royalty rates, shutting in production or refining more bitumen at home. The Koch brothers, by the way, could give Alberta a few lessons on how to make a killing on “garbage crude” by upgrading and refining the stuff. 
Notley, a classic petro politician, now represents the resource and resource developers instead of her citizens. Her government, which could introduce a sales tax but won’t, has no plan for the over-production crisis other than blaming B.C.

The Two Faces of Jon Horgan.
Let’s now deal with the “leftist” and “dangerous” government of Premier John Horgan. According to Alberta’s media, Horgan has challenged the rule of law and defied the Constitution by seeking advice on bitumen spills and supporting an entirely legitimate and ordinary challenge to a pipeline in the courts. 
But Horgan, a practitioner of retro politics, is no climate change leader, fossil fuel hater or Constitution breaker. Like the previous BC Liberal government, Horgan believes taxpayers should subsidize LNG projects with generous tax breaks and continue industrializing northeastern B.C. with a record amount of hydraulic fracturing. Nor does Horgan apparently care if LNG exports make provincial climate targets impossible to achieve. 
...Horgan’s opposition to the Kinder Morgan project hinges on his party’s minority status. He remains in power as long as the Green Party keeps him there, and the Greens don’t think uneconomic pipelines are a good way to fight climate change
Horgan also knows that he can’t win the next election if he alienates voters in half a dozen NDP-held ridings along the pipeline route in the Lower Mainland by becoming a pipeline cheerleader.

The Floundering Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has painted himself into a black corner of his own making. 
As a consequence the Janus-faced former drama teacher now lectures the great classroom of Canada that the project must go ahead because Canada can only fight climate change by building pipelines. 
If we took Trudeau at his word and applied his morality to everyday life, we’d all smoke more to end lung cancer, eat more to end obesity and drink more to end alcoholism. 
It is a convenient morality for a drama teacher who doesn’t know what drama he is in.
Trudeau’s wacky defence of Kinder Morgan can be traced to a backroom dealmade with Notley on addressing climate change. She promised to consider supporting a national climate plan, but only if Trudeau gave her a pipeline — a kind of carbon tit for tat. 
To secure that deal Trudeau had to break another promise he made to British Columbians. During the election campaign he said the NEB hearings on the pipeline expansion, a process fraught with scandal and bias, would be redone.

...Trudeau won the federal election, in part, by promising to address these travesties. He didn’t. 
As a result nearly 300 anti-pipeline protesters have been arrested to date. Thousands more are prepared to defend the citizens of Burnaby, orcas, property values, truth, freedom, water and salmon. First Nations are leading this fight and another Oka is in the making. 
Trudeau’s cozy relationship with the authoritarian Chinese government has made his pipeline corner smaller. 
Han Jun, China’s vice-minister of financial and economic affairs, said in 2016 that the worlds second-largest economy would sign a free trade agreement with Canada — but only if Canada built a pipeline to the West Coast.

The Constant Bullshit about National Unity.
Meanwhile a U.S. company, the bastard child of Enron, has become a symbol of the national interest. 
That version of the national interest is tied to a big lie still being repeated by politicians of all stripes. They falsely claim that the pipeline will secure higher prices for bitumen in Asian markets. 
A recent story in Reuters sets the record straight on this falsehood. 
The global market sets discounts and premiums on types of oil based on quality. Mexican Maya crude — a product as junky as heavy bitumen — sold at a $6.15 discount to customers on the U.S. Gulf Coast, and a $9.40 discount to customers in Asia.

Trudeau and the Trump Factor.
In the end Canada’s crazy petro politics read like a global morality tale. 
We know that we cannot continue to extract fossil fuels, spend and consume without bringing ruin to our children and civilization as we now live it. 
We know that we must conserve and save and pursue another course. 
Yet oil, a commodity that invites aggression like a Russian drunk, knows no limits or borders. 
Besotted by oil, lies and political ambition, the nation’s political class has collectively turned into a snarling pack of Donald Trumps.

Do You Feel Lucky? Well, Do Ya Punk?

Trudeau is playing with fire and the Liberal rank and file had better ask themselves if they're okay with that. Do they think this high-handed, man/boy prime minister is doing anything to bolster national unity? Better yet, do they think his Liberal government can win a second term?

As a Green Party member, I am delighted that our small, grossly under-represented party, has had so much influence in this pipeline at both the provincial and the national levels. Imagine what we could do if only we had electoral reform?

Good Morning Fellow Pipeline Owners

Word is that Justin is packing up the federal chequebook and heading to Texas to buy himself - and the rest of us - a lovely pipeline. This way he takes Kinder Morgan off the hook and places the risks of a collapse of bitumen markets and the cost of that infernal pipeline squarely in your lap.  Do ya feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?

Now I suppose that'll be money Trudeau could have spent on other things such as education, advancement of equality or rehabilitating our essential infrastructure without which there'll be no economy but, no, it'll be a pipeline. For coastal British Columbians it brings to mind Orwell's idea, "If you want a vision of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever."

Maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree but a few do rot real fast.

This should be enough to get the prime minister a head table seat at the Calgary Petroleum Club. He'll be up to his tits in the oil business, a player. And once the federal government becomes an integral part of the bitumen industry, once it has skin in the game, I'm sure it will have no effect whatsoever on the government's sacred duty as defender of Canada's environment.

Submit. You Will Submit.

In many parts of our country, a lot of Canadians still fawn over Justin Trudeau, still see him as a delightful alternative to that other guy, Harper.

In my part of the country we see him somewhat differently. To us he's just infuriatingly like Harper.

He says he's not out to "punish" British Columbians. Oh thank you my Lord for not putting us on the wheel.

However he has vowed to steamroller us and subjugate the people of British Columbia to the will of some other province and an incredibly sketchy Texas pipeline company. Gee, thanks master.

Only it seems Trudeau doesn't have the moral or legal high ground this time. A few days ago I posted about Jack Woodward, a guy who spent a quarter century litigating a constitutional case that ended with his First Nations client's aboriginal title to 1,900 sq. km. of British Columbia being upheld. While Woodward isn't involved in the pipeline fracas he's convinced that Trudeau and Notley will lose if they try to extinguish BC's constitutionally protected jurisdiction.

Now, a UBC law professor, is backing up Jack Woodward's assessment. Trudeau is on constitutional thin ice. Like any schoolyard bully, Trudeau is all fury and wind.
An environmental expert in B.C. says Ottawa may not have sole jurisdiction to push through approval of the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, despite the prime minister's vow Sunday that the project will proceed. 
Jocelyn Stacey, an environmental law professor at the University of British Columbia, said there are jurisdictional questions when it comes to the environment, and the possible effects an expanded pipeline might bring.

"The environment is shared jurisdiction between the federal government, the provincial government and local governments," Stacey said.
"Those efforts have been made in the past to simply dismiss and override the concerns of British Columbians, and certainly the concerns of Indigenous peoples," said Phillip. 
"And those stories have always ended badly, and I think the same will apply." 
Phillip praised Premier John Horgan for standing up for British Columbians while trying to protect the environment.
But Trudeau is a bully with backup. Today he threatened both legislative and financial action, perhaps transfer penalties, university support, who knows? Which means that, once again (will it ever stop?) the Dauphin was lying when he vowed that he's not out to punish British Columbians.

I do think that Trudeau is closer to pushing British Columbians over the edge on confederation than he imagines. He's going to punish us for defending our land and our coast. Twist the thumbscrews on our government and on us. That will make us feel a lot more "Canadian," won't it? These things sometimes begin with a spark.

Meanwhile, David Climenhaga of the blog, Alberta Politics, puts paid to Trudeau and Notley's ravings and offers a subtle warning. He dismisses the nonsense about a constitutional crisis.

Well, all’s fair in love and politics – and the oil business, obviously – but the claim this is a constitutional crisis is simply … politics. 
It will only become a constitutional crisis if someone tries to force the issue according to an accelerated schedule by, say, inappropriate and unnecessary use of the Emergencies Act or some other potentially unconstitutional means, as has been both advocated and speculated.
Note that the only people calling for this approach support the position taken by the Alberta and federal governments, an apparent elite consensus in those two jurisdictions that includes the conservative opposition parties in both
Quebec’s recent opposition to shoving Kinder Morgan’s pipeline up B.C.’s nose, which has a roused such hysterical condemnation in conservative circles here in Alberta, is entirely consistent with the position on such issues taken by that province since Confederation – and the same as the position historically taken by Alberta. So no one should be astonished by this, or offended. 
While we are not in a constitutional crisis now, any attempt to bypass the constitution to speed expansion of the Trans Mountain Pipeline will likely result in one
If that happens, I dare say, it will strengthen separatist sentiment in Quebec and possibly create it in British Columbia, and not without good reason. Long term, as has already been argued here, it may also provide a precedent for some future federal government to interfere in Alberta’s affairs in ways we do not much like. 
In the short term, one would think, that would create more uncertainty for Kinder Morgan, not less. 
Que sera, sera, but if there is a constitutional crisis, it needs to be made perfectly clear to all who actually provoked it.


I received an online survey yesterday. It began with the issue of whether realtors should ever be allowed to represent both sides. Boring.

Then it moved on to the Trans Mountain pipeline. They wanted your opinion on Trans Mountain, Trudeau, Notley and Horgan. They wanted your opinion on dilbit and various other ways that resource could be used.

There were a lot of questions. In them midst of them, seemingly out of nowhere, up popped a question about whether you might ever resort to civil disobedience against the pipeline? What a loaded question. Can you imagine if you said "yes"? How long would it take for some iteration of AggregateIQ to have that and your detailed profile on the desk of some security agency? I don't think they've invented the offence of attempted conspiracy, the really invasive, mind-control stuff, but the reality is with online data analysis coupled with this essential emission,

Saturday, April 14, 2018

You're Right, Justin. Delusional, but Right.

The prime minister has spoken. Justin Trudeau proclaimed that his pipeline fetish isn't about "punishing" British Columbia. The man/boy prime minister is utterly, indisputably right. It isn't about punishing British Columbia. However the Dauphin's "my way or the highway" approach to the Trans Mountain pipeline is all about steamrollering British Columbia in order to imperil British Columbia - all, in his mind perhaps, with the best of intentions. Then again, maybe even he doesn't believe it.

Trudeau has made up so much nonsense, broken so many promises, told so many whopping lies about this pipeline that he may not even be able to tell fact from fantasy any more.

He's invented non-existent "science" that shows his pipeline and supertanker flotilla can cross British Columbia and transit its coastal waters safely. This science that he's shown no one. The science that Environment Canada and the Royal Society of Canada say hasn't been done. Until he produces this supposed science he can't complain if his claim is treated as just another one of his self-serving falsehoods.

He's propped himself up with findings of the National Energy Board that he himself earlier rebuked as corrupt, untrustworthy, in the pocket of the energy industry.

Our Stephen Harper "Mini-Me" has fed Canadians a plate of steaming horseshit about constitutional powers that he dare not take to court to enforce.

He's not out to punish British Columbia but he sure as hell is out to subdue it, to subjugate it, to sweep aside the province's own legitimate constitutional powers that stand between him and his ability to imperil the province and force on it the very real risk of catastrophic, irreparable harm. And, to Trudeau, all of that is within the "national interest."

At Last, An Ally. Merci, Quebec.

Let's hit bully boy Justin where it hurts, in his home province of Quebec, where the government has come out swinging in support of British Columbia. The first and, to date, only province that has rallied to our side.
Quebec politicians are speaking out against Ottawa's intention to override British Columbia in its opposition to the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline extension, and are calling for more collaboration with provincial governments when it comes to environmental legislation.
In an open letter published today in La Presse, Jean-Marc Fournier, the Quebec minister responsible for Canadian relations, called on the federal government to acknowledge and work with provincial legislation with regards to projects that touch both provincial and federal jurisdiction. 
"The recent assertions of federal representatives regarding the Trans Mountain pipeline, which refer to an exclusive application of federal rules, are detrimental to a proper resolution of this issue and raise concerns for the future," he wrote.
"Not a Good Sign for Federalism"
...Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard said Thursday that the federal government's plans to go ahead with the pipeline are "not a good sign for federalism."

"At the end of the day it's about people, citizens living on the land," Couillard said. "Why don't we work together and exercise our full jurisdiction?"
Trudeau's Hollow Constitutional Claims or Blowing Smoke Up Canadians' Backsides.
One federal official, Finance Minister Bill Morneau, said Friday that Ottawa is "resolved to move forward on the project." 
"We have the federal tools to do that. We will be, of course, discussing how to do that with the project proponent," Morneau said. 
Fournier said these types of claims encourage those running these projects to ignore provincial environmental rules enacted on behalf of citizens interested or affected by projects that could have environmental consequences.
DeSmogBlog's Emma Gilchrist did an insightful interview with veteran Ottawa constitutional lawyer, Jack Woodward, who, back in 1981, put pen to paper and drafted the constitutional provision enshrining aboriginal rights.
In the ensuing 37 years, Woodward has come to know a thing or two about Canada’s constitution. For one, he fought the Tsilhqot’in Nation’s title case for a quarter century, resulting in the landmark Supreme Court ruling that the nation holds title to about 1,900 square kilometres of its traditional territory in B.C. 
So when Woodward hears pundits and politicians bandying around the phrase “unconstitutional,” his ears perk up. 
“The government of Alberta will not — we cannot — let this unconstitutional attack on jobs and working people stand,” Alberta Premier Rachel Notley said after the B.C. government announced its intention to limit the transport of diluted bitumen through the province in January. 
She’s completely wrong about that,” Woodward told DeSmog Canada. “And if she was right, she could go to court. But she knows she’s not right, so that’s why she’s using that word as if it is a political tool rather than a legal tool … That’s a superficial and incorrect view of how the Canadian constitution works.” 
...Beyond Indigenous rights, landmark rulings such as the Tsilhqot’in decision have emphasized something called “co-operative federalism.” 
“The modern trend of federalism is that nobody has the upper hand — and everyone has to work it out,” Woodward said. 
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statements on the Trans Mountain pipeline also seem ignorant of that reality. 
“Look, we're in a federation,” Trudeau has said. “We're going to get that pipeline built.” 
But Canada’s constitution governs by the principle that you err on the side of allowing two different laws to exist if at all possible, Woodward says. 
“So it’s true that Canada could authorize a pipeline, but it’s also true that B.C. could probably govern safety aspects of that pipeline within B.C. including regulation of hazardous products, such as diluted bitumen,” Woodward said.
Woodward's insights make Justin Trudeau's arrogance and bullying almost painfully transparent.

It may be 2,400 miles as the crow flies between Victoria and Quebec City but it's never felt closer.

All that Fuel Just Sitting There Waiting to Burn

It was so much easier when you could think of the Arctic as white, covered in a crisp layer of snow and ice. Today you have to think green as in vast tracts of ice-free ocean and exposed tundra and permafrost.

The tundra, largely frozen peat, is thawing and drying out. Peat is what people used for centuries to heat their homes.

There are a lot of peat bogs in the Lower Mainland, the largest being the Burns Bog. Every now and then part of it will catch fire and firefighters have a hell of a time putting it out. It takes days - if they're lucky.

Here's a riddle. What do you call a large peat bog on fire where there's no firefighters? You call it Greenland. Here's a satellite photo of a peat wildfire in Greenland last summer.

So, as you can imagine, such a fire releases loads of CO2 into the atmosphere but that's not the only problem. A potentially bigger problem is the soot carried on the winds, black carbon that lands to coat the Greenland ice cap.

Now you probably realize that white reflects the heat of the sun. That's why those Saudi princes are all cloaked in white from head to toe. Dark stuff, especially black stuff, absorbs that solar heat. That's as true for you in a heatwave as it is for ice that gets coated in soot, black carbon.  From Scientific American:
Scientists who studied the wildfire said that nearly a third of the soot landed on Greenland’s ice sheet. They warned that much bigger blazes could move through the icy island in the future, and the emissions from these fires could contribute to further melting of the already thinning ice sheet. 
“I think it’s a warning sign that something like this can happen on permafrost that was supposed to be melting at the end of the century,” rather than today, Andreas Stohl, a senior scientist at the Norwegian Institute for Air Research (NILU), told Live Science.
...Using a computer model to simulate how soot would have been carried in the atmosphere, the researchers estimated that about 7 tons of an aerosol called black carbon—30 percent of the total emissions from that fire—landed on the ice sheet.
This amount of carbon didn’t have much of an impact on the ice sheet’s overall albedo, or reflectivity, Stohl and Evangeliou said. The wildfire, while unprecedented in size for Greenland, was small in comparison to the wildfires that raged over mainland North America last year. (Record-breaking wildfires in British Columbia in 2017 burned more than 4,600 square miles, or 12,000 square kilometers, according to Canadian news magazine Maclean’s.) By sending giant smoke plumes into the atmosphere, the North American fires deposited much more carbon on the Greenland ice sheet than the Greenland wildfire, Evangeliou said. However, the Greenland fire was much more effective at dropping carbon onto the ice sheet, he explained.
...Perhaps more worrisome, these peat fires can burn underground and unnoticed for a long time. Stohl noted that smoldering peat fires in Indonesia can burn for years before they flare up again on the surface. 
“We cannot actually be sure that the fires (in Greenland) are out,” Stohl said.
Now, here's the thing. There are vast peatlands across the far north. Canada has about a third of the peat on the planet.  And a lot of that peat tends to be in places so sparsely populated as to be effectively unpopulated. Who you gonna call? No one, that's who.

That peaty tundra has provided an insulating blanket for the methane-rich permafrost beneath. Permafrost is mainly soil, sand and gravel held together by ice. Scientists recently found that permafrost contains far more methane than had been expected.

So we seem to be confronted by a convergence of forces at play on the cryosphere that may be unstoppable at this point. These include western forest fires and tundra fires, both releasing CO2 and black carbon to the atmosphere, plus thawing permafrost releasing long sequestered methane into the atmosphere.

As Andreas Stohl observed, this was expected to happen by the end of the century only that estimate was out by some 80 plus years. Our bad. We got it way wrong. Our pessimistic forecasts turned out to be wildly optimistic. Oopsie.

What can we do to stop it? No one seems to have a quick fix answer. Okay then, what can we do to make it even worse, far worse? That's easy. Let's just stick to what got this nightmare rolling, fossil fuel energy. Better yet, let's just push really high-carbon fossil fuels on the world markets, as much as we can, as fast as we can. We can even build bigger and better pipelines. And an armada of big, wallowing, fat ass oil tankers. They won't all get through but a lot of them won't sink. Yeah, that's the ticket. Oh wait, some guy in Ottawa has already thought of that. Damn.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Well, With the Week He's Had Who Wouldn't Want to Let Off a Little Steam?

The United States has launched missile strikes against government targets in Syria. This time Britain and France tossed in a few missiles of their own, brothers in arms sort of thing, I suppose.
Trump announced the strikes in an address to the nation Friday evening. “The purpose of our action tonight is to establish a strong deterrent,” he said, against the production and use of chemical weapons, describing the issue as vital to national security. Trump added that the United States is prepared “to sustain this response” until its aims are met.

Trump asked both Russia and Iran, backers of Assad, “what kind of nation wants to be associated” with mass murder and suggested that someday the United States might be able to “get along” with both if they change their policies.
Details of the attack are still sketchy at best. There's no word on any action by the Russians either. They had threatened to use their S-400 systems to shoot down incoming American missiles. Russia had also warned it would retaliate against US installations should its bases in Syria be targeted.

Trump's remarks indicate that the US and perhaps the French and British are preparing for a sustained air and missile campaign.

Horgan's Reasonable Overture

British Columbia premier, John Horgan, has an eminently reasonable solution to Justin Trudeau's and Rachel Notley's pipeline fetish - refine that cruddy bitumen here and sell it on the Canadian market.
"If they have disposable billions, I would suggest a better course of action would be to invest in refining capacity so that we Canadians can benefit from the jobs and we Canadians can benefit from this natural resource rather than sending it in raw form to another jurisdiction," Horgan told reporters Thursday. 
"I think it's a reasonable way forward and I would be absolutely delighted to participate." 
Federal Green Leader Elizabeth May has touted the same plan to avoid shipping more bitumen off the coast, and even suggested branding the gasoline “Fort Mac Strong.” 
“There’s not a Canadian that wouldn’t rather put Fort Mac Strong in their gas tank than buying from Venezuela and Khazakstan and Nigeria,” May said this week.

Horgan said he'll be raising the possibility during a Sunday meeting with Notley and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, but that he's been pushing the idea "for months" without success.
Hmm, that would certainly satisfy Trudeau's "national interest" obsession. What could be better and safer for Canada than to keep that bitumen at home, refine it into oil products on site and sell it to the Canadian market? Keep the value-added jobs here. Remove the crud, the heavy metals, the carcinogens and other toxins and put them safely back where they came from, deep underground in Athabasca.

Unless, of course, it's not the "national" interest Trudeau is really intent on serving.

There are more and more knowledgeable people beginning to doubt the Trudeau/Notley initiative. One reader of this blog yesterday referred me to a telling article in the National Observer that the Aframax tanker armada intended to ply the BC coast has already been rendered obsolete by another, far larger ship, bringing cheaper oil to Asia.
Two weeks ago, the first supertanker capable of holding two million barrels of oil departed for the first time from America’s newly upgraded—and only—terminal able to dock and load crude-carrying behemoths of this size. Bound for China, the inaugural run signals a major shift in global oil shipping patterns, economics, and the highly competitive oil refinery business. 
It is no accident that the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP), terminal was built deep in the Mississippi Delta. To the south, a 29-kilometre pipeline stretches across the shallow Gulf of Mexico coastal shelf, to a point deep enough to allow Very Large Crude Carriers (VLCCs) to unload or load their vast tonnages of oil. Just north of Port Fourchon, an underground complex of salt caverns and surface tanks stores both oil imports headed for U.S. refineries, and fast-increasing volumes of oil bound for export.

The LOOP terminal is a speculator’s venture on steroids. Built with private capital, it is North America’s first oil port dedicated to the planet’s largest crude tankers, handling bi-directional oil flows. It’s designed to thrive on fierce global fights over not just oil supply and demand, but the multi-billion dollar bets corporate oil traders and hedge funds place, hoping to buy low and sell high—now, or two or five years from now.
...That will likely prove fatal to Alberta’s plans to expand unrefined bitumen exports either by the proposed Trans Mountain pipeline to the British Columbia coast, or the proposed Keystone XL pipeline because: 
• Potential foreign refiners and customers will demand that future oil price, quality, shipping costs, and delivery speeds match those that LOOP can offer. 
• For marine safety reasons, the maximum oil tanker cargo allowed through B.C.’s Burrard Inlet is an Aframax class ship at 80 per cent capacity carrying 550,000 barrels, only about one-quarter the load of a VLCC. That means a refiner in Asia would need to book and pay for four tankers to ship the same amount as from the LOOP terminal, then wait longer for the full order to arrive. 
• The diluted bitumen Alberta wants to export has chemical and combustion properties that make it far inferior to the higher-quality oil LOOP has access to from U.S. formations in the Dakotas and Texas, or OPEC countries, or North Sea producers. Tar sands/oil sands bitumen can be upgraded and refined, but that adds significant costs and requires dedicated facilities.
This dovetails rather neatly with Andrew Nikiforuk and others' suspicions that Kinder Morgan knows the Trans-Mountain will be an economic fiasco and the ex-Enron boys are trying to stampede Notley and Trudeau into financing the pipeline or else set up Kinder-Morgan to line its pockets with a huge and specious NAFTA claim for damages.

Nikiforuk, unquestionably the most knowledgeable journalist when it comes to the Athabasca Tar Sands, believes Trudeau and Notley are being played for suckers.

Kinder Morgan prefers bluster and blackmail instead of the reality that the project was never a sound venture because it was about privatizing gains and socializing costs. 
Economist Robyn Allan has repeatedly argued that Kinder Morgan is no ordinary company and the Trans Mountain expansion project has been uneconomic since day one. 
She told The Tyee that “Kinder Morgan is looking for an exit strategy, but it likely includes a need to demonize Ottawa in order to set the stage for a suit under NAFTA.” 
The drama begins with the biased workings of the National Energy Board, which refused to look at downstream and upstream climate impacts of the project and even failed to scrutinize its commercial viability during public hearings. 
The best evidence from experts shows that Kinder Morgan, the Canadian government and Notley have misrepresented the pipeline’s illusory benefits. 
A pipeline to the coast will not raise bitumen prices, because all global markets discount junk crude due to its poor quality.
I can understand Notley. She's worried about keeping her job and for good reason. To be less than rabid on Trans-Mountain would be the conclusive end of her premiership.

Trudeau, however, that's a different story. Sure he's terrified of getting hammered by Scheer if he backs down and Kinder-Morgan's blackmail has him soiling his dainties. He's also a patsy. He's not that bright, not nearly in the same league as the people playing him. That's evident when he clumsily regurgitates the same ridiculous talking points about bitumen paving the way for our Green future and the nonsense about "national interest" and how his government has "done the science" when even Environment Canada and the Royal Society of Canada say it has not been done. It's the equivalent of the kid sheepishly telling teacher that the dog ate his homework.

Now, doesn't Horgan's proposal sound pretty good?

h/t Deacon Jester


DeSmogBlog has an excellent expert legal analysis on how Trudeau and Notley have grossly overplayed their constitutional case and will be unable to sweep an unruly British Columbia out of their way.