Monday, 16 May 2016

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast

The Highway Analogy to Global Issues

We have all experienced being caught in highway traffic jams that seem to go on for eternity. You just want to get out of this mess as fast as possible. And when you finally are able to floor the pedal there appears to be no apparent reason for the log jam.

Put the blame on slow drivers or reckless ones.
What is the real cause of traffic jams?

Get a hold of this.
You, me, we are the problem. We are the solution.

The solution is a simple one.
Don't drive faster than the vehicle ahead of you.
What kind of pansy do you think I am?
Here is the logic.

A fast car sends the wrong message to all traffic following behind. When the fast car has to hit the brakes to accommodate the real flow up ahead, all following traffic have to do the same thing and traffic throughput comes to a grinding halt. To correct the situation, all traffic must gradually pick up speed at the same rate. You must avoid stop and go driving otherwise you're going back to speed zero.

Think of it this way. You are the leader of the pack coming behind you. You have the vision of the traffic flow up ahead. Send the right message to others following you.

That, my friend, is the highway analog to real world issues such as environmental destruction, social inequity and economic slowdown.

You, me, we are the problem. Don't blame it on others. We are also the solution.

Think of it in another way. Suffering from work overload? Going from deadline to deadline, from crisis to crisis? Give yourself some space. You need elasticity. When traffic flow has elasticity it is able to cushion the occasional bumps. When there is slack in the traffic or workload, it is better able to handle extra load.

Don't go so fast. Slow down, give yourself extra space.
Relax, enjoy life, control your desire to get ahead of others and be more accommodating of the needs of others.

Hamilton 350 Blog

Thursday, 12 November 2015

TPP "Worse than we thought"

The following letter was published in the Hamilton Spectator on October 15, 2015, before the Canada Federal Elections on October 19th and before the full text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership was revealed to the public.

Of the many imporant issues being dabated on the election capaign trail,  the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trumps them all.

If the benefits of the TPP are so great for all of the twelve signing nations, why is it being negotiated in total secrecy behind closed doors? Do the citizens of all the nations not have the right to know what is being negotiated and compromised? Where is the openness and transparency? 

The TPP is a clear indication that the world is being ruled by corporate interests. There will be no democratic sovereign nations.  This trade agreement is not being negotiated by representatives of our democratically elected governments but by corporate lackeys for the benefit of corporations, their executives and beneficiaries.

The TPP opens the global market place for even more wanton consumerism and higher profits. The TPP gives foreign transnational corporations the right to plunder our resources, destroy the environment and enslave the population all for profit. The TPP is undemocratic, gives total power to transnational corporations over local governments and legislation and is an economic/resource/environmental race to the bottom.

Act of Climate Denial

Major climate action groups, including and the Sierra Club, were quick to point out that the text was notable as much for what it didn’t say as what for what it did. “The TPP is an act of climate denial,” said 350 policy director Jason Kowalski on Thursday. “While the text is full of handouts to the fossil fuel industry, it doesn’t mention the words climate change once.”

What it does do, however, is give “fossil fuel companies the extraordinary ability to sue local governments that try and keep fossil fuels in the ground,” Kowalski continued. “If a province puts a moratorium on fracking, corporations can sue; if a community tries to stop a coal mine, corporations can overrule them. In short, these rules undermine countries’ ability to do what scientists say is the single most important thing we can do to combat the climate crisis: keep fossil fuels in the ground.” [3]

Economic War declared against China

One noticeable analysis that is missing in all of the discussion is what could arguably be the must important intent behind the Trans-Pacific Partnership and that is the intentional lock out of China from the TPP negotiations.

TPP is the worst thing the Harper government did for Canada
And just this week, Jim Balsillie (former CEO of the company behind BlackBerry) said that the TPP is the “worst thing the Harper government ever did for Canada”. [5]

From the Council of Canadians

The TPP is priority one for new Minister of International Trade Chrystia Freeland. And right now she is welcoming “suggestions and ideas from all Canadians” on the massive deal. So we’re mobilizing the Council of Canadians community to share our concerns!

Here’s what you can ask Prime Minister Trudeau and Trade Minister Freeland to do:
  1. Ask the Parliamentary Budget Officer to conduct a comprehensive and independent analysis of the TPP text. Among other things, the analysis must assess the deal’s impact on human rights, health, employment, environment and democracy.
  2. Hold public hearings in each province and territory across Canada as well as separate and meaningful consultation with First Nations and Indigenous communities. No agreement can be ratified without full consent.
  3. Protect any progress made in Paris at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP21) from the investor-state dispute settlement provisions (ISDS) in the TPP. Furthermore, ISDS must be excised from the TPP.

Further reading:

[1] Now that we can see the TPP text, we know why it's been secret, Pete Dolack, Systemic Disorder

[2] TPP ignores "global warming" and allows "murder" of labor union organizers, Eric Zuesse, Global Research 

[3] TPP 'Worse than we thought' - A total corporate power grab nightmare, Deirdre Fulton, Common Dreams, Global Research 

[4] Secret TPP text unveiled: It's worse than we thought, Public Citizen, Global Research

[5] Sign the petition - Tell Prime Minister Harper to reject the TPP - Sum of

[6] Send a letter to the new Prime Minister now - Council of Canadians

Hamilton 350 Blog

Sunday, 8 November 2015

Hamilton area seniors risk arrest in Climate Welcome sit-in

Hamilton Area Seniors Risking Arrest in Climate Welcome Sit-in 
Local residents joining hundreds in Ottawa to demand
Justin Trudeau take bold action at UN climate summit
Several Hamilton area residents are in Ottawa this weekend for what could be the largest act of climate civil disobedience in Canadian history. Every day from November 5-8, First Nations and Metis Indigenous people will lead a march to the residence of newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, where participants will stage a sit-in to demand that commit to a freeze in tar sands expansion and begin the transition to a justice-based, clean energy economy.
Retired teacher and Environment Hamilton supporter Richard Reble explained why he’s risking arrest at the Climate Welcome: “There are some things that are worth sacrificing for and action on climate change is one of them. By risking jail I am showing how seriously I take the need for drastic action now on reducing our greenhouse gas emissions. Climate change is the most serious problem that life on Earth has faced.”
Reble has led hikes for the Bruce Trail Conservancy for 25 years and also volunteers at a local hospice. He currently lives in Grimbsy. Other Hamilton area seniors joining him in the trek to Ottawa are David Bennett (71) of Mount Hope and Dave Johnson (74) of Dundas, both active with the Hamilton 350 Committee.
“I believe that the success or failure of any efforts to address global warming and climate change will be driven by a grass roots lead reaction of the people,” says Johnson. “Only mass opinion and demand for effective action will produce the level of political action required both in Canada and around the world.”
‘Welcome Gifts’ are being delivered to the Prime Minister for every day of the action to show the moral, economic, scientific and Indigenous rights reasons for freezing tar sands expansion. The gifts include scientific reports and broken treaties, millions of anti-pipeline and anti-tar sands petition signatures, and solar panels to incorporate into the renovations of 24 Sussex Drive.
“There are less than 40 days until the Paris climate talks, and it’s past time that Canada was on the right side of history when it comes to climate change, and certainly in its relationship with First Nations Peoples” said Clayton Thomas-Muller, ‘Stop it at the Source’ campaigner with the global climate change campaign “We think Justin Trudeau can step up and lead on this, but to do it he needs to take bold, ambitious action. Scientists say that 85% of tar sands reserves must stay in the ground to keep within the 2°C limit for a safe climate. The world is currently on track for 6 degrees of warming by the end of the century.”
The actions come less than a month before Justin Trudeau is scheduled to appear at the UN summit on climate change in Paris, France that opens on November 30. A “Hamilton2Paris” rally is taking place at Hamilton City Hall at 3 pm on Sunday, November 29 to allow local residents to express their concerns about climate change.
Hamilton 350 Blog

Tuesday, 15 September 2015

Canada must reclaim its role as a world leader

In the mid-1940s, Canada was a principal founder of the United Nations and a Canadian drafted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, Canada has built an exceptional international reputation with its commitment to multilateral approaches and solutions to international conflicts.
In 1957, the role of Lester Pearson, then minister of external affairs, earned him the Nobel Peace Prize for developing a solution to end the Suez Canal crisis by proposing a peacekeeping force, the famous Blue Berets. In 1965, Prime Minister Pearson named me as his parliamentary secretary and appointed me to his cabinet two years later.
Under Mr. Pearson’s leadership, Canada called for the end of the bombing of North Vietnam to allow for negotiations to end the conflict. Although armed conflicts are sometimes unavoidable, Canada has traditionally sided with countries that sought peaceful solutions. If, however, there were a NATO or UN mandate for military intervention, as was the case in Iraq in 1990 and a few years later in the former Yugoslavia, Canada always stepped up to meet its international military responsibilities and obligations.
Under Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada pursued independent foreign policy. In 1970, his government established diplomatic relations with China, ahead of the United States. Canada also blazed its own trail, as Mr. Trudeau was among the first to support the struggle of Nelson Mandela against apartheid in South Africa.
Progressive Conservative Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Joe Clark, his foreign affairs minister, took the lead in the struggle against apartheid and the movement to free Mr. Mandela. On this point, Mr. Mulroney was not afraid to stand up to Margaret Thatcher and our close ally, Britain. He rightly saw that they were wrong.
Canada has managed to assert repeatedly both its independence and its commitment to international institutions such as the UN and NATO in international relations.
Working within this framework led Canada, during my mandate, to play leading roles on issues such as the Ottawa Treaty, an international convention on the ban of anti-personnel mines, and the establishment of the International Criminal Court. In this same spirit, we also signed the Kyoto Protocol on climate change.
In 2003, to the dismay of our American and British allies, we refused to go to war in Iraq because the UN refused its consent to what is now universally acknowledged as a big mistake. Canada was noticed and respected for this decision.
However, since then something has happened to Canada’s international reputation. I fear it has been altered and damaged for a long time. In 2010, for the first time, Canada’s bid for a seat on the Security Council of the United Nations was defeated. The next year we sent our planes to bomb Libya, and we are now participating militarily in Iraq and Syria.
After the campaign in Libya – which we now know had disastrous consequences in the region – the Harper government trumpeted Canada’s bombing role with a flyover above Parliament Hill to celebrate our “victory.” This is a ritual normally characteristic of conquering and warlike countries.
Today, with great sadness and shame, I am watching Mr. Harper’s cold-hearted reaction to the tragedy of refugees from Syria and Iraq. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has stepped up to the plate, and the world looks upon the generosity of her country with admiration. The same goes for Norway, Sweden and Finland, which have welcomed refugees and do not erect roadblocks to taking them in. Instead they get rid of roadblocks. But not Mr. Harper. He has shamed Canada in the eyes of Canadians and of the international community.
In my travels around the globe, I am regularly asked: What has happened to Canada? What has happened to the advanced, peace-seeking, progressive country Canada once was? What has happened to the country that was a model for peace and stability in a tumultuous world? These questions evoke great sadness in me.
I am sad to see that in fewer than 10 years, the Harper government has tarnished almost 60 years of Canada’s reputation as a builder of peace and progress. During all these years, government leaders, whether Liberal or Progressive Conservative, have sought to understand, engage and influence their international peers, including those with whom they disagreed. They did not try to embarrass or give other countries lessons in good behaviour. Rather, they patiently sought to convince others of the universal values that make our global community a better and safer place to live.
Of course, peaceful dialogue does not always work. War is sometimes unavoidable. But solutions should come from the world community working together – not from a handful of countries acting outside international institutions to which they belong.
Canadians will soon choose their next government. When considering the role of Canada on the world stage, I hope they will choose a government in line with our great tradition of peace-building, initiated by Mr. Pearson and promoted by all of his successors until the arrival of the Harper administration.
Let’s take back our place in the world.
Jean Chr├ętien
Jean Chr├ętien is a former Liberal prime minister of Canada (1993-2003)

Monday, 7 September 2015

Linda McQuaig is right: Fossil fuels should stay in the ground

Background: NDP candidate Linda McQuaig's comment on oilsands stirs up hornet's nest

The Highlander
Thursday, September 3, 2015, Issue 201

Dear editor, 

Toronto Centre NDP candidate Linda McQuaig’s reiteration of climate scientists’ call to leave most of the bitumen in the Alberta Tar Sands in the ground in order to meet greenhouse gas (GHG) emission reduction targets deserves honest discussion and debate in this election campaign. It does not deserve the empty rhetoric and partisan gamesmanship we’ve seen to date.

The truth is there’s a huge gap between what climate scientists are saying about our growing climate crisis and what our political leadership, including the NDP, is proposing to do about it. McQuaig should be congratulated, not reined in, vilified or ridiculed, for having the courage to raise the climate change implications of continued fossil fuel development. Tar Sands supporters seem to think we can continue to pump ever larger quantities of earth-warming chemicals into the atmosphere without any ecological consequences whatsoever. They are about to find out nature bats last. 

The stakes involved are not simply the economic impact of ending our fossil fuel dependency on Tar Sands corporations and workers, the people and Government of Alberta, but something much, much higher than that: the entire climate system within which human civilization has flourished for the last 10,000 years or so. 

Do we as a country have the capacity to rise above short-term economic and political self-interest to play a significant role in ending the fossil fuel dependency which has caused the carbon dioxide (CO2) concentration in our atmosphere to rise to over 400ppm? The signing of the UN Framework Agreement on Climate Change in 1992 was supposed to reduce the levels of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. Instead they’ve risen to the highest levels in over three million years. 

This creates a huge and growing risk of runaway and irreversible change to Earth’s climate system. Nothing less than the future of life on this planet hangs in the balance if we fail to stop denying we’re in a greenhouse gas-induced climate crisis and start acting accordingly. 

James Hansen, one of the world’s preeminent climate scientists, puts it this way in written testimony in support of a recent civil suit filed by young people against the U.S. Government for failure to protect their right to a life-sustaining climate: “It is now clear, as the relevant scientific community has established for some time, that continued high CO2 emissions from fossil fuel burning will further disrupt Earth’s climate system, and that, in turn, will impose profound and mounting risks of ecological, economic and social collapse. 

"In my view, our government’s actions and inactions that cause or contribute to those emissions violate the fundamental rights of Sophie, other Youth, and future generations. Those violated rights include the right to life, the right to liberty, the right to property, the right to equal protection under the law, the right to government protection of public trust resources, and the right to retain a fighting chance to preserve a habitable climate system. 

“Our government’s persistent permitting and underwriting of fossil fuel projects serves now to further disrupt the favourable climate system that to date enabled human civilization to develop. In order to preserve a viable climate system, our use of fossil fuels must be phased out as rapidly as is feasible. Only government can ensure this will be done. Instead, our government seeks approval for permitting of fossil fuel projects that would slam shut the narrowing window of opportunity to stabilize climate and ensure a hospitable climate and planet for young people and future generations. These projects only allow our government to shirk its duty. Our government’s permitting of additional, new, or renewed fossil fuel projects is entirely antithetical to its fundamental responsibility to our children and their posterity. Their fundamental rights now hang in the balance.”* 

Of course, Hansen’s comments apply with equal force to the Canadian government. With so much at stake we need to demand concrete science-based proposals for real action on climate change from our politicians during this election campaign. They need to stop pretending that business as usual, with its incessant demand for economic growth, is sustainable on a finite planet with a finite atmosphere. They need to get on with figuring out how we can transition off fossil fuels as fast as our combined human ingenuity can get us there. 

Politicians of all political stripes claim they have the best interests of both the current and future generations at heart. They should prove it by initiating an adult conversation during this campaign about the climate crisis and how we’re going to survive it. 

* Paragraphs 7 and 85 From James E. Hansen, written testimony in the matter Xiuhtezcatl Tonatiuh M. et al. v. the United States of America et al., United States District Court, District of Oregon, filed August, 11, 2015 in New York City, New York. Hansen’s entire written testimony can be found at this website:  http://www.columbia. edu/~jeh1/mailings/2015/20150812_FINAL_ HANSEN_DEC_FOR_US_DISTRICT_ OREGON_9PM.pdf.

Terry Moore 
VP Environment Haliburton, 
Climate Reality Haliburton

Reprinted with permission

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Economist Robyn Allan withdraws from NEB review

Robyn Allan has withdrawn as an intervenor in the federal government’s review of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline and oil tanker expansion project, detailing her reasons for quitting in a scathing letter to the National Energy Board.
Allan is former President and CEO of the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, was Vice-President Finance for Parklane Ventures Ltd., and Senior Economist for B.C. Central Credit Union.
Here is the full text of her letter to the secretary of the NEB:

Robyn Allan
9294 Emerald Drive
Whistler BC
Sherri Young
National Energy Board
517 10th Ave SW
Calgary Alberta
May 19, 2015 

Dear Ms. Young,

I am withdrawing as an expert intervenor from the National Energy Board review of the Trans Mountain Expansion Project. After dedicating professional expertise for more than a year, pro bono and in good faith, I have concluded that withdrawal is the only course of action. Continued participation endorses a broken system and enables the pretence of due process where none exists.

The review is not conducted on a level playing field. The Panel is not an impartial referee. The game is rigged; its outcome pre-determined by a captured regulator. The NEB’s integrity has been compromised. Its actions put the health and safety of the Canadian economy, society and environment in harm’s way.

The NEB has unconscionably betrayed Canadians through a restricted scope of issues, violated the rules of procedural fairness and natural justice, and biased its decision-making in favour of Kinder Morgan. These are discussed below:

1. Restricted Scope of Issues

(a) Review is not of the Pipeline System
Once expanded, the Trans Mountain system will consist of two pipelines, related storage facilities and a three-berth marine terminal at Westridge dock. The cumulative impact and risk of this entire system is of concern to the public, but not to the NEB. The Panel has excluded from its assessment the impact and risk of the sixty year old legacy line, existing terminals and storage tanks—these are outside the scope of its review.

What the NEB is considering is the impact of the “Project” which only includes the incremental, new, facilities. It is treating the expansion as if it is not part of a larger, and much more vulnerable system, but as if it is being constructed on a stand-alone basis.

It is a well-known aspect of prudent risk analysis that aggregate risk—the risk of the entire system everywhere along that system—is the relevant scope, not a self-serving limitation that restricts the scope of the review to half the system’s potential transport capacity, much less than half the system’s aggregate risk, and less than half its potential negative consequence.

This dangerous limitation in scope is how Kinder Morgan successfully argued that its existing Emergency Management Plan (EMP) documents are not relevant to the Boards consideration of the ProjectTrans Mountain notes that although BC considers the EMP documents for the existing system to be relevant for the Board in considering this Application, the Board itself has never taken that position.[i]

The Panel agrees, “the EMP (Emergency Management Plan) documents relate to the existing facilities that are not the subject of the present Project applicationWhether Trans Mountain is meeting its obligations with respect to its EMP for the existing facilities is a matter for the Board to consider outside of the hearing for this Project. The safe operation of the existing Line 1 facilities under current operating conditions is out of scope for this hearing.[ii]

At the Northern Gateway proceedings the Panel relied on similar polluted logic to conclude that the Kalamazoo oil spill was irrelevant to informing the Board of the risk, and cost, Enbridge’s project posed to the Canadian public interest.[iii]

(b) Review Restricted to Applied-for Capacity not Designed Capacity
The new pipeline is designed to carry 780,000 barrels a day of oil (for total system capacity of over 1.1 million barrels a day), but the Panel is restricting its review to the applied-for capacity of 540,000 barrels a day.[iv]

When Kinder Morgan comes forward to request NEB approval to increase throughput to designed capacity it will not fall within the definition of a designated project under the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act 2012. An NEB Act section 52 review will not be required. The impact of an almost fifty percent increase in capacity on Line 2, including the marine traffic it triggers, will never undergo proper scrutiny.

(c) Review Excludes Socio-economic and Environmental Effects of Bitumen Exploitation, Upstream and Downstream Activities
On April 2, 2014, the Board released its List of Issues. Intervenors were offered no opportunity to comment. The Panel excluded economic, environmental and social impact activities that are of significant concern to Canadians. In particular, the Board does not intend to consider the environmental and socio-economic effects associated with upstream activities, the development of the oil sands, or the downstream use of the oil transported by the pipeline.[v]

This means the Board will not consider:

(i) greenhouse gas emissions from the production of diluted bitumen shipped down the pipeline and from its use in foreign markets;

(ii) environmental impacts of tanker traffic beyond a 12 nautical mile territorial sea limit;

(iii) risks and costs of climate change;

(iv) crowding out of economic activity and the erosion of quality of life in British Columbia as English Bay and Burrard Inlet become oil tanker parking lots for Alberta’s heavy oil;

(v) the opportunity cost to the Canadian economy when raw bitumen is exported to foreign markets for upgrading and refining at the expense of value added, job creation, and economic wealth generation in Alberta; and

(vi) the cost to the Canadian economy of a condensate import dependency. Roughly one of every three barrels intended for Trans Mountain’s expansion consists of imported condensate from the US, much of it brought into Canada on Kinder Morgan Cochin. The expansion is pitched to Canadians as a Made-in-Canada heavy oil export strategy when it is in no small part a US condensate export strategy, making its way to foreign markets via Trans Mountain pipeline and our marine waterways.

The Board received Notices of Motion from the City of Vancouver and Parents from Cameron Elementary School in Burnaby requesting expansion of the List of Issues. Ten Intervenors supported the motions, including the Intervenor Robyn Allan.

The Board argued that,Oil sands projects, including expansions, have and continue to be subject to provincial environmental assessment or combined provincial and federal assessment. This supports the conclusion that the CEAA 2012 does not require the Board to include in its environmental assessment activities that have been so assessed.[vi]

The Board provides false assurances. The Board has accepted Kinder Morgan’s supply forecasts in Volume 2 of its Application. These forecasts include production volumes from some projects that have not received regulatory approval, therefore it is not possible that the environmental costs of these projects have been considered. The NEB attempts to lull Canadians into the delusion that they have.

The Board also argues that it is mindful that the environmental and socio-economic effects of petroleum exploration and production activities in Canada are assessed in other federal and provincial processes that involve those conducting those activities, and that the end use of oil is managed by the jurisdiction within which that use occurs.[vii] This spurious reasoning is nonsense since subsection 52 (2) of the NEB Act grants the Board authority to determine what is relevant to it in fulfilling its mandate.[viii]

The duplicity of the Board becomes glaringly apparent when its reasons to exclude upstream activities, oil sands extraction, and downstream use are viewed in light of the Board’s decision on marine transport issues. The Board has no authority with respect to marine shipping, navigation, safety and spill prevention and yet, the Board included the potential environmental and socio-economic effects of marine shipping activities that would result from the proposed project, including the potential effects of accidents or malfunctions that may occur.[ix]

(d) Review Restricts Marine Shipping Activities Assessment to 12 Nautical Miles
Strangely, the Panel has limited the assessment of marine shipping activities to 12 nautical miles, as if somehow environmental impact and spill threat cease beyond this limit.[x] The Board is deluding us with this territorial limit. The environmental threats from oil tankers must be evaluated throughout the entire marine vessel trip. For example, Canada is a signatory to the North American Emissions Control Area (ECA)[xi] requirements, which assist in reducing air pollution from ships, but the boundary extends to only 200 nautical miles. Once past this point, tankers shift to much dirtier, and more environmentally challenging fuel sources, most notably Bunker C—the same oil that spilled recently in English Bay.

If the Board is purporting to assess the potential environmental and socio-economic effects of marine shipping activities then the full atmospheric and spill threat of oil tankers transiting to and from Westridge must be included, not just the incremental tanker traffic within an arbitrary limit of 12 nautical miles.

2. Compromised Principles of Procedural Fairness and Natural Justice 
Much has been written about the Panel’s unprecedented exclusion of cross examination and how this undermines the integrity of the review process. The Intervenor, Robyn Allan, formally requested that it be re-introduced into the hearing schedule.[xii] Numerous Intervenors sent in letters of support. The Board rejected the request siding with Kinder Morgan, the beneficiary of the Board’s decision.

The Board assured participants that two rounds of written requests would be sufficient to test the evidence. The Board’s assurances are without merit. The first round of information requests resulted in Intervenors formally petitioning the Board to compel Kinder Morgan to answer thousands of questions, but the Board granted only 5% of them. In the second round, the Board compelled Kinder Morgan to answer less than 3%. Separate Information Requests, required because of late TERMPOL and Seismic reports, have experienced similar, unsatisfactory, responses from the Board.

The absence of oral cross has turned this public hearing into a farce, and the written information request process into an exercise in futility.

For two centuries past, the policy of the Anglo-American system of evidence has been to regard the necessity of testing by cross-examination as a vital feature of the law. The belief that no safeguard for testing the value of human statements is comparable to that furnished by cross-examination, and the conviction that no statement (unless by special exception) should be used as testimony until it has been probed and sublimated by that test, has found increasing strength in lengthening the experience.[xiii]

The Board was advised by the Department of Justice that the absence of oral cross is a failure of the process pointing out that beyond any doubt cross examination is the greatest legal engine ever invented for the discovery of truth.[xiv]

The Board claims to be an independent regulatory tribunal guided by the principles of natural justice and procedural fairness. It is a court of record and has a duty to act fairly. The NEB has failed in upholding these responsibilities.

3. Biased Decision Making

One of the fundamental features of our market system is that the risk borne by shareholders is balanced against the financial reward they expect to receive. This risk-reward trade-off sends appropriate market signals and supports a more efficient and effective allocation of capital.

In an unprecedented decision—the Firm 50 decision—the NEB violated this important principle by allowing Kinder Morgan to amass $136 million to pay for the pre-development costs related to the Trans Mountain expansion project. This fund was not accumulated through shareholder, at risk, capital, but through a pre-approved surcharge on shipper tolls.[xv] Ultimately, this cost is borne by the Canadian economy and public through foregone tax revenue and—as Kinder Morgan told the NEB during the Firm 50 Hearing—higher oil prices.[xvi] In contrast, there is no risk to Kinder Morgan’s shareholders for the pre-development phase of its project.

Not only did the NEB undermine the market system by granting Kinder Morgan a fund to push through its project, it has knowingly stacked the deck in favour of the Proponent. The NEB did not ensure concomitant financial resources would be available to Intervenors during these same NEB proceedings.

The NEB socialized project approval costs onto the backs of Canadians while it knows the project’s vast financial returns—some $850 million a year—will be privatized into the pockets of Kinder Morgan’s US based investors.[xvii] When the Intervenor, Robyn Allan, requested the Board compel Kinder Morgan to reconcile inconsistencies between the economic benefits claims in its application against what it has told its shareholders in Texas—that it intends to siphon away close to a billion a year from the Canadian economy while paying almost no Canadian corporate taxes—astonishingly, the Board concluded this is outside the scope of its review.

By its actions it is clear the Board has no intention of considering the economic impact and financial viability of this application but for accepting Kinder Morgan’s bogus case in Volume 2. Refusing to compel Kinder Morgan to answer questions, the Board allows Kinder Morgan to pretend benefits exist where they do not. When Intervenors submit evidence on the economic issues the Board will give it little, if any, weight; it has already ruled meaningful critique is outside the scope of issues. This is a travesty.

The Board’s unfair approach is also reflected in its determination that the application was complete when it was not. This is most clearly illustrated by Kinder Morgan’s uncertainty over its route and the Board’s accommodation of Kinder Morgan’s lack of preparation inside the review process.

Although aware of the Panel’s violation of the public trust, Peter Watson, NEB Chair and CEO has not sought to rectify the broken process. The entire National Energy Board is perpetrating a fraud on the Canadian public.

Withdrawing as an expert intervenor is not only a form of formal protest against the broken system, it is also a reasoned decision considered in light of efficiency and effectiveness. Protection of our democracy and market economy is best undertaken outside the industry contrived, and controlled, NEB failed system.

The NEB is not a national energy board; it is a parochial board steeped in Calgary petro culture, run by corporate interests.

Industry bias began in the 1990s when the NEB moved from Ottawa to Calgary, leaving two-thirds of its staff behind and requiring permanent Board members to live in proximity to Calgary. Regulatory capture continued as the Federal Government and Board adopted the practice of offering Board and staff positions to people with energy industry backgrounds, at the expense of establishing a diversification of interests.

The Board abandoned prudent and sound economic and financial analysis when these led to decisions recommending projects be rejected because costs outweighed benefits. Rather than continuing to rely on Cost-Benefit analysis as a sound analytical approach, the NEB rejected it in favour of Input-Output analysis; a flawed and misleading substitute that presents impacts as if they are benefits and ignores known and reasonable costs.

The Board is charged with environmental assessment without appropriately skilled and experienced staff to undertake it. The Board does not have the expertise, or will, to understand complex corporate structures designed to minimize corporate taxes, siphon vast financial wealth out of the country, and leave Canadians holding the bag when major or catastrophic events happen.

I withdraw from this process in defence of the market system and a sound economy. I withdraw from this process in defence of sustainable economic progress that promotes resource development rather than resource exploitation.

The fight to protect the Canadian public interest must be conducted in an open and transparent forum, where those who desire to participate, have a right and opportunity to do so.

The fight to protect the Canadian public interest must include those issues that fully represent the Canadian public interest, not limit them—as the Panel has done—to a definition serving industry. We are being conned by the very agency entrusted to protect us. This must stop. The health and welfare of our economic, social and environmental systems are at stake.


Robyn Allan

Kinder Morgan
Peter Watson, Chair and CEO, NEB

[i] Kinder Morgan Response to the Province of BC Motion December 5, 2014, page 5, Letter
[ii] NEB Ruling No. 31, September 24, 2014, page 4, Ruling
[iii] Vancouver Sun, NEB Review Panel Violated Public Trust, January 9, 2014, Robyn Allan, Article
[iv] Kinder Morgan Pipeline Expansion Designed to Carry Much More Oil, The Tyee, May 28, 2014, Robyn Allan, Article In contrast, the NEB approved the $5.4 billion capital budget that includes costs for the designed capacity and incorporated these into approved tolls to be charged to shippers.
[v] NEB Hearing Order OH-001-2014, Appendix A—List of Issues, page 18, Hearing Order
[vi] NEB Ruling No. 25, page 3, Ruling
[vii] Ibid., page 6.
[viii] Ibid., page 6.
[ix] NEB Hearing Order, List of Issues #5, op. cit. The Board provided a follow-up to Issue #5 on September 10, 2013 titled Filing Requirements Related to the Potential Environmental and Socio-Economic Effects of Increased Marine Shipping Activities, Attachment 1
[x] NEB Letter September 10, 2013, Attachment, Ibid, page 1. 12 nautical miles translates into 22.2 km from the low water mark of the coast.
[xi] Canada Implements North American ECA Requirements, May 10, 2013. Article
[xii] Notice of Motion, Robyn Allan, April 14, 2014, Motion
[xiii] Wigmore on Evidence (Chadbourne Rev. 1974) vol 5, p.32, para 1367.
[xiv] Attorney General of Canada, June 27, 2014, page 5, para 16. Written Response
[xv] The National Energy Board Guaranteed Kinder Morgan a Fund to Push Pipeline Expansion Through Regulatory Review, June 17, 2014, Robyn Allan, Report
[xvi] Application for Firm Service to Westridge Marine Terminal, RH-2-2011,Reasons for Decision, page 13.
[xvii] Ian Anderson, Kinder Morgan Inc. Transcript Part IV Toll Hearing Evidence, January 30, 2013, page 3.

Reprinted with permission

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Sad Story of Target Workers is all too familiar

The story is always the same. Target store employees, steel workers, bank staff are all dispensable so the wealthy corporate owners can get even richer.
Just before Christmas, it was Scotia Bank slashing 1,500 jobs so it can make more than its current $2 billion a year in profits. And Hamilton workers have been dumped on the streets for decades as big corporations shifted production to low-wage countries like China.
CBC has revealed that the severance package for the Target CEO is bigger than the combined compensation for the chain’s 17,600 Canadian employees.
It’s outrageous but hardly even surprising that Oxfam now reports that by the end of this year the richest one per cent will have more wealth than all the other 99 per cent of us put together. We have an economic system that benefits a tiny handful while squeezing pretty much everyone else – and it just gets worse.
It’s also not surprising that nothing serious is being done about climate change and other environmental degradation both locally and globally because that might cut into the obscene profits of the oil companies.
What’s good for the big corporations is bad for the rest of us. This is particularly obvious when jobs are sacrificed for corporate profits, and when the environment and climate are trashed to extract and transport more oil, gas and coal.
We’re seeing it right now in Hamilton as the railways carry more oil tankers through the city, and Enbridge increases oil flows by 25 per cent in its 40-year old Line 9 pipe. The same scenario is playing out in northern Ontario where TransCanada wants to convert an aging gas pipeline to carry tar sands oil from Alberta to the Atlantic Ocean. The rewards all go to the corporate side; and the risks all get dumped on us.
Where’s the breaking point? We might be able to negotiate with large corporations, but we can’t change the laws of nature.
As Naomi Klein points out, the climate crisis changes everything and forces us to fight together for real change.
Hamilton 350 Blog