The federal election campaign got off to an unofficial start here in Victoria with a rare appearance by Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, to re-announce one of 49 new conservation projects established across the country in the Trudeau Liberals’ pre-election budget.
The beautiful seaside vista of Cattle Point in Oak Bay was an appropriate choice to kick off the chaos and lunacy that will pass for debate about how Canada can continue to develop its energy resources while somehow leading the world into a carbon-free future.
It’s a good spot to watch the daily Alaska crude tankers wind their way past the San Juan Islands to the massive refinery complexes at Anacortes, Cherry Point and the Ferndale Industrial Zone, the Washington state terminus of the Trans Mountain oil pipeline for 65 years.
McKenna was greeted by a handful of members of our protest community, with the obligatory plastic orca and banners. An elderly fellow declared himself a representative of the previously unknown “Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island” and announced he was going to use plastic zap straps to take McKenna into “protective custody.” This was to protect her from more violent protesters because, according to his sign, she’s a “climate criminal.”
The old guy was led away by police after local media uncritically lapped up the exciting visuals. It’s not clear to me whether this spin-off from a British road-blocking protest group wants to eliminate carbon fuel use in 12 years, or three, or three months or whatever, but get used to this kind of nonsense around federal campaign events.
Green Party leader Elizabeth May recently declared that it’s four years to the tipping point for Canada. Not this October’s election but the one after that, some kind of magical transformation has to take place so Canada can eliminate its CO2 emissions, a shift that would be overtaken by China’s industrial expansion in a few weeks. This will be a key topic of the leaders’ debates in the days ahead, but I predict no one will mention the China part.
Meanwhile in the real world, the Trans Mountain expansion got the go-ahead to resume work last week, as promised by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Builders were given one month to hire workers, set up sites and get some pipe into the ground by early October to deliver the project Trudeau’s government bought in order to complete it.
That’s not all that will be rolling at election time. LNG Canada and its gas pipeline across northern B.C. are gearing up, and it will soon be joined by Woodfibre LNG, with a liquefied natural gas export facility near Squamish.
Woodfibre began buying key equipment after the Trudeau government exempted Asian LNG components from its steel tariffs. That was denounced by the United Steelworkers, which demands that someone create a parallel industry in North America.
According to the latest economic forecast by Central 1 Credit Union, these mega-projects, along with the ongoing Site C dam, the Pattullo Bridge replacement and the Broadway subway in Vancouver, are going to drive the B.C. economy in the years to come. The group representing credit unions in B.C. and Ontario calculates that interprovincial migration is going to jump from 3,400 people this year to 12,000 in 2020, as skilled workers migrate.
Add that to thousands of international immigrants to B.C. each year, and you get a clearer picture of our impact on the environment and its direction.
Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press Media. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org