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Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Facts About BC Water

As appeared in the Chilliwack Today Online News

Categorized | Rafe Mair

Columns: The Facts About BC Water

By Rafe Mair. There will likely be an election this Fall so that Premier Clark can take advantage of the honeymoon the mainstream media is giving her. There will be the usual issues – health, education, social services, and economic well being and so on.
Liberals will be saying that they saved the province from the NDP financial follies which neatly ignores the fact that the NDP left a big enough surplus for Campbell to give away nearly $1 ½ BILLION in tax cuts to the better off.
Colin Hansen
This was done on the Fraser Institute/Milton Friedman hoary chestnut that if you give taxes back to the well-off the money will trickle down to the poor. This was lampooned by the great economist, who was Canadian, incidentally, John Kenneth Galbraith who used what he called “the less than elegant metaphor that if one feeds the horse enough oats, some will pass through to the road for the sparrows.” There is an issue before us we must, as conscientious citizens, address — the consequences of the government Energy Plan will bankrupt our great family jewel, BC Hydro, and destroy our rivers, to produce power we can’t use.
This is being done by giving huge offshore corporations like General Electric, whose largest shareholder is the multi billionaire, Warren Buffett, a literal license to steal our rivers and the power they produce! Indeed, with the General Electric’s Toba Inlet project, the Federal government gave the company a large grant!
You can see BC government strategy by simply “Googling” “Colin Hansen private power” and this is what the then 2nd most powerful person has to say
Colin Hansen- “BC is a net importer of electricity …”
Fact – this is demonstrably false as the records of the National Energy Board and Statscan demonstrate.
Hansen “BC [must] develop its own source of needed electricity . .. and the independent power projects (IPPs) are the best source of that”
Fact – this is demonstrably false. Even if we did need more energy,(and we don’t) because private power companies produce during the “run off” when BC hydro has plenty of energy it has no need for this extra power.
Hansen ..,”where we can encourage small companies”
Fact – demonstrably false, unless Hansen considers General Electric, Ledcor and the Dupont family “small”.
The companies involved are huge offshore corporations that literally steal billions of dollars from us as they force Hydro to buy what they don’t need and desecrating the environment as they do it..
Hansen – “to build small scale hydroelectric projects that are run of the river, and what that means is, instead of having a big reservoir, a big dam that backs water up, and creates a great big lake, these are run of the river, so the river continues to flow at its normal but we capture some of the energy in the form of hydroelectric power from this”.
Fact … this is an outrageous falsehood.
All these rivers are damned or diverted, often using long tunnels, and leave only traces of the original river in the river bed where the diverted water otherwise would have gone.
Hansen … “it is only .03% of the rivers in BC that could sustain any kind of hydroelectric activity, are being used for these independent power projects”.
Fact – again, demonstrably false. In fact it’s double that amount but this is a numbers game; the fact is that up to 900 river systems, and the ecologies they support. are at risk..;
Hansen … “it’s being widely supported by many of the leading environmentalists, because it’s clean and sustainable. it’s also being supported by First Nations …”
Fact – Nonsense! Most First Nations oppose these projects as do a vast majority of independent environmentalists. For some of these experts go to The Common Sense website at
Here is the salient fact that should have all British Columbians enraged – BC Hydro, our crown jewel, if in the private sector, thanks to the Liberal government would be bankrupt.
Hydro has been forced by the government to give secret sweetheart deals to private companies on a “take or pay” basis which, because Hydro doesn’t need the power, has two choices – export the power at one half or less what they paid for it or use it at 12 times what it costs them to make the same energy themselves.
When we look at our options in the next election, surely we must remember that if the Liberal government is returned, BC Hydro, its cheap power, and annual dividend to the province, will be gone forever, and we will be shipping our power, our profits of that power, and our environment out of province to huge offshore corporations.
The question is simple –
Will it be during our watch that our power company, our cheap power, our money and our environment will be literally shipped down the river to the profit of others?

Protect Canada’s water as a public resource: NDP

Protect Canada’s water as a public resource: NDP

AbitibiBowater NAFTA deal has effectively privatized Canada’s water resources

OTTAWA – The Harper Conservative’s decision to compensate AbitibiBowater last summer, whether it was intentional or not, has effectively privatized Canada’s water resources under NAFTA. Without immediate action, New Democrat International Trade Critic Peter Julian fears that this will open the way for bulk water exports from Canada.
“The $130 million record compensation to AbitibiBowater also covers water rights that have not been subject to compensation before,” said Julian. “AbitibiBowater’s NAFTA challenge was weak and the Conservatives rushed to compensate unnecessary. Now it looks like through either incompetence or design they have opened up one of Canada’s most important recourses to export. This needs to be stopped.”
To ensure bulk water exports are stopped, Julian has submitted a motion to the International Trade Committee that would exclude water from NAFTA’s provisions that will be debated and voted on Tuesday March 22, which corresponds to International World Water Day.
“The Conservative government has brought us into dangerous territory”, said Julian. “Now any corporate CEO can challenge a denial of water rights or water permits on the grounds of a potential negative impact on corporate profits. This issue should be receiving much more attention.”
Earlier this month, Julian forced Parliamentary hearings into the Abitibi Bowater compensation at the International Trade Committee. Expert witnesses confirmed the precedent setting nature of the $130 million settlement for water rights, after Abitibi Bowater reneged on agreements that have been made with the provincial government of Newfoundland-Labrador.
In the last few days, hundreds of e-mails and letters have flowed to the Government of Canada from activists across the country concerned about the nature of the Abitibi-Bowater payment and the precedents it sets for future compensation for water rights.

Abbotsford NDP Candidate David Murray with Ed Broadbent at Halifax convention
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