On Offshore Drilling, Mines, and the Cynicism of John Rustad

I found this to be an interesting story, one that probably didn’t get the media exposure it should have.

The Morrison Mine is just northwest of Babine Lake, in the woods east of Smithers. There are already a couple of significant historical mines in the area, including the Granisle and Bell open-pit copper mines that are located on islands within Babine Lake. The Morrison project would have chased a porphyry deposit related to the one that was mined at Granisle. These deposit types are common for copper, and are always mined using open-pit techniques, as they are trace deposits where the concentration of ore is usually much less than 0.5% of the host rock. So large volumes of rock must be dug up, crushed and concentrated to make economic ore. In the case of many copper mines like the Highland Valley mine near Logan Lake in the southern interior, the copper part of the business is often run as a break-even business, and all the profits come from the trace gold, silver, platinum, and other more valuable minerals that are extracted as accessory to the main copper operation (indeed the Morrison deposit reports .2g of gold per tonne, and could have produced up to a million ounces of gold over its life).

Grand Isle and Bell mines, on Babine Lake.

However, the Morrison Mine will not be, at least not as per the current plan. The environmental impacts were deemed too significant by the BC Government, or the proposed mitigation of those impacts was seen as insufficient. The copper is still there, the deposit still economic, so I suspect Pacific Booker will revise and come up with a less-impactful way to extract the deposit, or will sell off the rights to someone who thinks they can make it work.

This is the second copper-porphyry copper deposit that has been denied a Provincial Environmental Review Certificate under the current Liberal Government, after Kemess North was denied in 2007. (Remember, the controversial Prosperity Mine project that was going to nuke Fish Lake received Provincial Approval, but was subsequently rejected by the Federal Government)

I honestly don’t know enough about the Morrison project to know if the rejection was a good thing or not. I give the benefit of the doubt to Terry Lake and presume that if the Government felt the impacts were such that they outweighed the benefits, then the rejection is a good thing. The copper isn’t going anywhere, and it will still be a valuable resource when someone figures out how to exploit it in a less impactful way.

What I do find interesting is how this story relates to my earlier post criticising the meme propagated by a local mining executive that “the NDP will Kill Mining in BC” if elected.

In discussion around that meme, the topic of Tatshenshini Park is always raised, as in the suggestion that it was the Harcourt-led NDP Government turning potential mine site into a park in 1993 put a deep chill on mining exploration that took the Liberal Government to cure. This ignores the impact of historic-low metal prices and the Bre-X scandal on speculative investment on mineral exploration. It also ignores the point that the United States Government was not going to approve the Mine and attached pipeline as suggested (creating a nasty Boundary Waters Treaty dispute), that the acid leachate management plan for the mine would have relied on non-existent technology, or that there were dozens of serious concerns about the mining plan from First Nations, the Canadian and US Salmon fishing industries, Environment Canada, the EPA, and the US National Parks Service.

Click here if you want to read a good run-down of the legal framework around Windy Craggy. The last paragraph is great, as they quote the President of the company that spent all the money planning and proposing the Windy Craggy mine, and the compensation that company received from the BC Government for their lost revenue:

“Geddes Resources president John Smrke stated that the settlement ‘sends out a very strong signal that, indeed, B.C. is open to mining.'”

Does that sound like someone who thinks the BC NDP Government was killing mining in BC?

But back to the present day. If the NDP was killing mining by shutting down 1 potential mine and compensating the exploration company, how are the BCLiberals supporting mining by shutting down two potential mines over the last 5 years?  Maybe that is why the BC Liberals have been pretty quiet about it, including the Babine Lake local MLA.

A story that DID get a little media this week was John Rustad, MLA, tweeting about the idea of opening up the west coast for oil exploration. Now I have poked at John Rustad a bit in the past, but I can’t help but feel his well-timed comments about offshore exploration outside of his riding will serve as a useful distraction.

Indeed, if you look at John Rustad’s webpage, you find no mention of Morrison Copper. Which is funny, as the mine is right smack-dab in the middle of John Rustad’s electoral riding, and John Rustad is a Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations, so you figure he would have an opinion on the scupper of a mine in his backyard.

At least as much as he has an opinion on offshore oil exploration, speaking as he is from his land-locked interior riding, 300km from the sea.

Doubling Down on Dumb Growth.

There was a meeting last week of the Province’s Cities: the Union of BC Municipalities annual conference. People who run cities get together to talk about innovations, ideas, problems, and solutions. Pretty much like any other “convention”, except that there is another aspect to the meeting. Cities also have the opportunity to communicate with the Provincial Government. This happens through closed-door meetings where Civic politicos or staff meet with Provincial Ministers and their staff to hash out issues of an intergovernmental nature; where the UBCM passes “resolutions” of their members to ask the Provincial Government to take action on some topic; and in the Provincial Government presenting speeches to the collected City folk, to tell them what great things the Province has in store for Municipalities.

This year, the Premier (whom I like to refer to as McSparklestm) gave the Keynote address, and as is typical, offered a number of baubles to Muni leaders to show that the Province cares about families cities.

For those of us living in the Metropola of Vancouva, there has been an awful lot of talk recently about the biggest challenge the region is facing: how to move people about. As the Biggest Bestest Bridge Ever is getting rolled out, our regional Transportation Authority is bleeding from the eyes. Such is the ongoing funding crisis at TransLink that they are cutting rationalizing bus service, hiring security guards to intimidate people away from overloaded night buses, scrapping plans to invest in expanded service, cutting their bike program, and will not even be able to drive buses over that shiny new bridge…

So I waited in a cat-like state of readiness anticipating that Premier was going to show a little leadership and give the Province’s biggest Cities the relief they have been waiting for – a new funding model for TransLink, a new Governance model for Translink, a new idea of some kind in regards to TransLink. Anything. Just deal with it.

However, the word “Transit” did not appear once in her Keynote Speech to the Province’s Municipal Leaders, just as the word Leadership rarely crosses her mind. Instead, she doubled-down on building up last century’s transportation infrastructure. She doubled-down on Bridges and Roads. She doubled-down on dumb.

How bad? Almost a billion dollars in road infrastructure spending, not including the $2 Billion or more that any eventual Deas/Massey Tunnel will cost. Not a penny for TransLink or transit anywhere in the Province. I’ve said this before, and I‘ll say it again: Dumb.

The Premier announced they are going to start planning for a replacement of the Deas/Massey Tunnel, hoping to have it completed “in 10 years”. She has no plan, doesn’t know what to build, doesn’t know what it will cost, doesn’t know if it will be tolled, doesn’t know anything- but she announced that it is time to start the conversation (recognizing she won’t be arond long to complete the conversation). She want to start the planning.

Here, I’ll save her some time. You are not twinning or expanding the tunnel. It may seem cheap and easy to toss a third tube down adjacent to existing ones, but it would be anything but. The infrastructure used to make and install the tunnel is long gone (the basin built for the purpose now a BC Ferries works dock just west of the tunnel), and the design from 1958 would surely not pass 2012 seismic standards, and dropping a third tube without disturbing the existing ones or the armor rock on them would be difficult.
Further, the tunnel is currently a limiting factor on ships traversing the Fraser River. Ocean-going cargo ships are restricted in draft on the River now by the clearance at the tunnel. The Panamax Tankers envisioned for the Vancouver Airport Fuel Delivery Project could not reach their terminal unless they are less than 80% laden, and even then only at high tide. If the Federal Government are going to agree to any Deas Island crossing (and they will have to as per the Navigable Waters Protection Act), they will no doubt insist on a bridge to open up PortMetroVancouver to more flexible freight movement on the River. Any “upgrade” here will involve the removal of the Deas/Massey Tunnel, full stop.

There is also no chance of a bored tunnel (as the Canada Line takes under False Creek) working in this location. The geology there is loose river sediment at least 500m down – making it like tunnelling through jello: a geotechnical nightmare.

So it will be a bridge. If near the same location as the tunnel (as would be required to fit Highway 99, we are looking at a 800-m long main span, similar to the Pattullo Bridge, but built on technically challenging foundations due to the loose sediment. Any other location (to the east, as there is no way Richmond will be ploughing neighbourhoods to allow the bridge to move west) will mean a longer span and lesser connection to Highway 99.

But how big? The new bridge will need to be larger than the current 4 lanes to meet Premier McSparklestm 1950’s mindset that the “congestion problem” in Delta can be solved with new highway lanes. As the counter-flow system currently has three lanes with Rush Hour flow, a 6-lane bridge will also likely not be up to the task…. will 8 be enough?

For the sake of argument, let’s say the Deas/Massey Tunnel is replaced with a 8-lane bridge, just slightly ahead of the Premier’s 2022 deadline, to align with the Province’s and MetroVancouver’s growth predictions for 2021. Also presume that the current funding stranglehold doesn’t scupper TransLink’s planned 6-lane Pattullo replacement, the exponential growth of traffic lanes across the River is pretty clear:

Just between 2000 and 2021, the number of road lanes crossing the Fraser River within MetroVancouver would double from 18 to 36 with not a single increase in rail or transit capacity crossing the river in the same time.

The real economic choke point in the crossing of the Fraser is the 100-year old New Westminster Rail Bridge, with its single rail line being that flat purple line on the graph. TransLink forecasts big increases in Transit ridership across the River (well, it used to, it is unsure how the current funding crunch will impact these projections), but is currently operating the only two lanes of rapid transit (Skybridge is green line) at near capacity, will not have the money to even put buses on the World’s Widest Bridge, which will have 10 lanes, but not one of them dedicated to transit. Dumb.

This is the real story behind the TransLink “Funding Crisis”. $5Billion spent on roads and bridges in the last decade, and Billions more to come. All this while car use is declining, and our existing transit system is hopelessly overcrowdedThe last comprehensive study of Traffic at the Deas/Massey Tunnel demonstrated that traffic through the Tube declined more than 7% over the 5 years, while people taking transit over the same time went up over 8% in the same period. This is not about capacity issues- this is about entrenching the building of car-oriented neighbourhoods in Langley, Surrey and Delta. This is threatening our livable region strategy, it will continue to threaten ALR land and our airshed. We cannot possibly hope to reduce our Greenhouse Gas emissions, to become food or energy independent. 

The worst part of the Surrey Leader story? The Vice-Chair of TransLink (who happens to be Mayor of the City with the greatest proportion of car users in the region) calling it “a great announcement”, while the only quote from the NDP opposition seems to be critical that the tunnel can’t be replaced sooner. There is plenty of dumb to go around here.

Shoreline Cleanup – a good news story.

I noticed this blog has been full of bummers and whinging lately (“lately?”), so I wanted to give a shout-out to a good news story here in New West.

The Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup is an annual nation-wide event, where various volunteer groups adopt a stretch of shoreline near their homes and (as the name suggests) clean them up. There have been off-and-on shoreline cleanups in New West, mostly organized by Scouts or Businesses, but last year was the first NWEP-sponsored “public” clean-up. You didn’t need to belong to a club or a business, or even the NWEP:  it was just a drop-in on a Saturday. It was organized with remarkable fervour by NWEP member Karla Olson.

The stretch of shoreline chosen for cleanup was the recently-refurbished stretch of South Dyke Road between the Boundary Road and Derwent Way, in sunny Queensborough. The stretch of shore has a combination of multi-use paths, dock features, and walking trails that make the most of the waterfront, so keeping it clean seemed like a great community-building idea for the relatively new neighbourhoods in southern Queensborough.

Last year, there was a bit of a panic, as it seemed there wasn’t really all that much trash – so Karla was a little concerned her volunteers would make the effort to show up, and have little to do – so she added a small invasive plant pull at the same time. A patch of Japanese Knotweed was crowding out native plantings by one of seating areas, and a patch of English Ivy was threatening to choke out a Douglas Fir right on the waterfront. With some help from the City on New Westminster and a volunteer expert on invasive plant management (who happens to be married to the new Royal City Farmers Market Operations Manager), a plant pull and disposal was organized.

Turns out, litter is the kind of thing that surprises you once you start collecting it. Karla’s fear (optimism? ) was unrealized and the volunteers who showed up collected an ample amount of trash. They also took a real bite out of the Japanese Knotweed patch and the English Ivy climbing the tree. Karla’s organization skills came to the fore, the 30-odd volunteers had a great time, and made a difference in the local community.

This year, the Shoreline Cleanup is back for more on September 23rd. With more people using the waterfront trails, and lots of jetsam brought to shore by the high freshet this spring, the (now annual) event will probably see more trash this year than last. They are also hoping to see more volunteers as well – which is why the “Invasive Plant Pull” part of the program is expanded this year.

If you haven’t been involved in a plant pull before, here is the quick background. There are several species of plants considered “invasive” in BC- not just because they come from other continents, but because they are safe from their natural emnemies (predators, insects, weather) and without these controls, they can take off – even displacing the native plants and threaten the native habitats of plants, bugs, birds and other animals. Most are bought as ornamental plants, and go “feral” when someone throws yardwaste or plant pots into the woods – to “give the plants their freedom”.

A “Feral Potted Plant” found on South Syke Road during plant tagging.

During last week’s invasive tagging event, we found lots of morning glory , some wrapping itself around and choking out native snowberry plantings; a couple of Scotch Broom plants; resdiual English Ivy from last year’s pull; and English Holly, which is merry at Christmas, but invasive in the wild, displacing the similar but native Oregon Grape. All of these will be targeted during the plant pull part ofthe Shoreline Cleanup.

The Japanese Knotweed that was knocked back last year has started to come back, but now that it its weakened, the City can come back and do stem injection to kill off the remainders, before the roots undermine the dike. And then there is the Himalayan Blackberry, a nasty (but tasty!) invasive that has become so ubiquitous, that eradication seems a distant dream. It is also a mean, spikey plant that is probably best managed by people wearing thick clothing and safety glasses.

So if you want to help out for an hour or two, you can collect trash, or you can get a little bit more involved taking out some invasive plants – you might even learn a bit about what plants are native and which are invasive – once you can identify a few species, you start seeing them in other places. Most importantly, you can meet some people in the community interested in protecting the shoreline, and be part of a nation-wide campaign.

No pressure, no long-term commitment, just a family-friendly day helping out in the community.

It’s best if you sign up ahead of time, by clicking here. you can also just show up, but if you bring the kids or are under 19 yourself, you need a waiver signed by a Parent or Guardian, which you might want to get done ahead of time (you can get the waiver on the website, and bring it with you).

The shoreline is muddy at low tide, so you might want to wear boots or rugged footwear. Long sleeves and pants are a good idea for pulling invasives and for picking up trash (the City of New West will provide gloves for voulunteers – but you can bring your own), and there will be a few tools available, but feel free to bring your own clippers, loppers, garbage pickers, etc. Bring some water and snacks, as the event will probably go on for a couple of hours – just remember to pack out your wrappers!

The Event is on September 23 , starting at 9:30 AM. Folks will meet on South Dyke Road, near where Suzuki Street meets it – you should see the tents there, a couple of blocks east of Boundary Road, as far south-west in New Westminster as you can be!

He’s a Fletcher, but he’s no Fletch

I loved Fletch – the books and the movies. The books were darker and more cynical than the Chevy Chase vehicle, but I thought Chevy did his best work in the first Fletch. So please accept that my fandom may colour comparison of the investigative reporting skills of the fictional Irwin M. Fletcher with the hackneyed opinion making of BC’s own Tom Fletcher.

The columnist for Black Newspapers is predictably right-of-centre and comes from a free-enterprise-uber-alles all-government-are-clowns viewpoint. No problem with that, people have opinions, and I don’t expect everyone to agree (look at some of the crap I write – if you don’t disagree with me sometimes you just aren’t thinking!), but I’m a local blogger, he is a regionally syndicated Professional Journalist.

His recent column in the print version of the NewsLeader (and syndicated Province-wide) shows that he isn’t a very good one. I wanted to go through line-by-line and talk about the hundred types of wrong in this column (“Robert Redford!?”), but it just got too deep and too boring, even for me. So this long post is a few thousand words short of where it should be. You get what you pay for.

In this column, the estimable Mr. Fletcher attempts to fix some of the “ignorance” he has seen and heard in discussions questioning merits of Oil Pipelines. These misconceptions are being “exploited by some opponents”, and he wants to set the record straight.

Fact checking is an important part of the profession of Journalism, so we should thank him for his efforts.

Except that he gets pretty much everything from that point forward wrong. Not just the facts, but the part about being a professional Journalist.

Again, I don’t want to go through this line-by-line, but let’s take the major premise of the first half of his column – oil pollution ain’t so bad – and do a little fact-checking.

“A global study by the Smithsonian Institution in 1995 calculated the amount of oil making its way into oceans this way: Big tanker spills accounted for 37 million gallons a year, about five per cent of the total marine oil pollution identified.

“By far the largest source was oil runoff from land into drains, from oil changes, municipal and industrial wastes and other sources: 363 million gallons. Bilge cleaning and other routine ship maintenance added 137 million gallons, four times the tanker spill average.

“Air pollution from vehicles and industry deposited hydrocarbon particles equal to another 97 million gallons; natural seeps added 62 million gallons; offshore drilling discharges accounted for 15 million gallons.”

It’s nice that Fletcher gave us a reference, a global study by the Smithsonian Institution published in 1995 should be easy to find. It also tells us where he might have got the information from. Presuming Tom gets his “information” from the Internets, he might have picked it up from here or here. Or, even more likely, he got it directly from his buddies inside the BC Government.

Notably, that’s not where the actual data came from. The citation the BC Government provides does not link to any Global Study, as no such study was performed by the Smithsonian. Or anyone else in 1995 for that matter. The numbers come from a 1995 travelling science exhibit put together by the Smithsonian to teach about Ocean Ecology.

I’m not sure how many oil-industry spin cycles this dataset went through before Tom pulled it out and hung it on the line (and, problematically, neither does Tom), but hey, he’s a Professional Journalist – and it would have required a few more Google clicks to look for the original Smithsonian display text, and follow their citation

“National Research Council (2002) Oil in the Sea: Inputs, Fates and Effects. Washington, D.C: National Academy Press, May.”

Now we are getting somewhere. The National Research Council is a public research body, so the source of the data is available on-line, and we can assess the quality of the data (you know, Tom, like real reporters do). We find that there is no actual report that fits the above citation perfectly. There is a 2003 report by the NRC called “Oil in the Sea III: Inputs Fates and Effects”, which is pretty close:

“Oil in the Sea III: Inputs Fates and Effects, 2003”

It would be hard for a 1995 travelling science show to cite a 2003 paper, even with the Smithsonian’s money, so we need to go back to the older report “Oil in the Sea: Inputs Fates and Effects” done in 1985, which is also available here:

“Oil in the Sea: Inputs Fates and Effects” 1985

You can read the whole thing (it is interesting!) but maybe for the purposes of this post, just skip to the table on page 82, which lists estimates of Global input of hydrocarbons into the oceans. This looks good.

Also notice the text around the report about the meanings of each of the inputs, you really need to spend a few minutes putting this study into context. Then look at the similar table in the 2003 report I linked to above (the table is on page 69) – and note the long discussion about how far off the 1985 estimates were, and for what reasons. I put together this handy table so you can compare the numbers Tom chose to hinge his entire argument on, with actual data from which he allegedly got his numbers.

“Fletcher” are the numbers Tom regurgitated uncritically
“1985” are the best estimates from the 1983 report, converted from million tonnes to kilotonnes.
“2003” are the “best estimates” for global inputs from that report.

It doesn’t matter that the figures are in different units (Millions of Gallons versus kilotonnes), because his argument hinges on comparisons of oil spills with other inputs, so I decided not to do the conversions so I won’t be accused of misquoting the tables or cookingthe books. You can still compare the three sets of numbers on piecharts:

You can see there are three very different datasets. Which do you have the most faith in? The most recent study that built on the older study while acknowledging the flaws, or the random numbers presented by well-meaning science educators in 1995 from an flawed at-that-time 10-year old study? Which set of numbers did Tom run with? If you were a Professional Journalist, which would you use in order to address “misconceptions” that are creeping in to the Pipeline debate?

You may ask “So what? Who cares if his data is shit?”

I would say that even if it weren’t built on crappy data – his argument is flawed! The data is almost 30 years old, so the “oil runoff from land into drains” in the 1985 report included industrial waste runoff – primarily from petrochemical industries – and other waste streams from operations that are clearly not done by “you and me”. These are coming from things like oil terminals and refineries similar to the one his boss wants to build. I’m not sure how making statements like “Bilge cleaning and other routine ship maintenance added 137 million gallons, four times the tanker spill average” is supposed to endear us to having a tanker terminal on BC’s Northwest coast – why worry about a spill if bilge cleaning will cause more oil pollution!?!

This is also built on the premise that a little bit of oil spilled into a thousand small streams will have the same impact as millions of litres of oil spilled into one estuary. This is simply false. The impact of a single spill event can be catastrophic, and the minuscule amount of hydrocarbons in street run-off is less than optimal, but is generally metabolized and dissipated on the ocean before it can have harmful effects on the ecosystem.

I’m not minimizing the problem – Municipal runoff is generally bad stuff with trace levels of metals and hydrocarbons – but through significant changes since that 1985 report (oil and oil filter recycling programs, oil-water separator systems in storm drains, AirCare and similar emissions testing programs that remove unburned hydrocarbons from exhaust, standardization of dry-clean-up methods in the automotive repair industry, Laws regulating the handling and disposal of dry-cleaning solvents, etc. etc.) the situation in 2012 is way better than it was. I digress.

Admittedly, this is not an Investigative Journalism piece- it is an opinion column. So maybe I expect too much of a Professional Journalist writing an opinion piece to spend 5 minutes on Google to see if his data is correct (because that is how long it took me to collect the data above and demonstrate that his data is crap).

I fear somewhat that it is the data being used in a technical memorandum prepared by the BC Government, but that’s an entire other blog post.

I am going to give Fletcher the benefit of Hanlons Razor, and assume he is an incompetent and lazy journalist, and not intentionally using crappy data because it better makes the point of his “opinion”. Incompetent or lying, it hardly makes a difference, I’m not sure why Fletcher’s opinion is something anyone would find worth reading.

PS: By the way, “Cambridge Energy Research Associates” is not associated with Cambridge: the university or any of the universities based in Cambridge, Mass. It is the “energy market consulting” wing of the publicly traded industry publishing corporation “Information Handling Services”, or “IHS Inc”. It doesn’t take long on their website to see who butters their toast. And the study to which he refers “Oil Sands, Greenhouse Gases, and European Supply: Getting the Numbers Right” does not actually agree with the numbers Tom provides in his column. Those numbers are actually from page 6 of a recent Shell Oil pamphlet talking about how great Bitumen Sands are, which in turn cites the CERA… Yep, he did it again.

Hanlon’s Razor is looking pretty dull these days.

Apparently, Pipelines have two ends.

We are still a full human gestation from a Provincial Election, but the campaign season is in full swing. The BCLiberals are dropping hints of more landmines they are going to leave for the NDP to deal with next year, the cracks are starting to show in the spackle that is the BC Conservative Party, and the NDP seem to have decided it is time to stop watching Premier McSparkles(tm) bail water onto her own sinking ship, and are starting to speak up on specific topics.

At least the BCliberals are getting over their six months of mock outrage that Adrian Dix had not provided a campaign platform for them to critique, fully a year before the election. It wasn’t fair, they whinged, for him to criticize us and not give us anything with which to criticize him back. This seems a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the Opposition, as there’s no compelling reason for the NDP to offer a platform if they are not the Government, have no power to implement their mandate, and are not even going to the voters asking to be made Government. If the Premier wants to see the NDP platform, then she is free to drop the writ.

However, sometimes the opposition has to strike when the iron is hot, and the iron is very, very hot around the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline right now. The Federal Conservatives keep bouncing between unabashed support and calling for careful scientific review (while concurrently laying off the very scientists who would do that review), the Premier of Alberta sees any pipeline anywhere as her Constitutional Right, and the Premier of BC is rattling something she must think are sabres: trying to look tough, pragmatic and “leaderish” around the issue.

It was a good time, apparently, for Adrian Dix to make his alternate viewpoint on the Pipeline clear.

So John Rustad (who?) responded with vigour. According to Google, the pipeline runs through his backyard, and he is one of the few BCLiberal MLAs who has confirmed he will return to contest his seat in May, so I guess he is a logical voice for the Government on this issue, I just wish his criticism contained more logic. You can read his statement here, and it is an incredible pile of wrong. Either Rustad is unfamiliar with the BC Environmental Assessment Act that he is talking about, or he is purposely misleading people about what it means. Hanlon’s Razor suggests the former, so let’s stick to that.

The BC Environmental Assessment process is not a “unilateral” hearing, nor would the Premier’s expressed opinion about the project mean the project could be “killed” by applying a Provincial Process. In contrast, since the recent Federal omnibus budget bill C-38, the Federal Environmental Assessment process is much less informed by science, as the Prime Minister’s Office or the Minister of Raping and Pillaging can now override any recommendation coming out of the review; including the recommendation of the specific Ministry running the scientific review or the scientists providing the data. The BC EA process does not include any such provision. Simply put, the BC EA process is now the much less political, more science-based process cmpared to the “sham process” (to borrow Rustad’s words) the Federal Government has created.

Here, let me pick one of his paragraphs apart:

“By prejudging the project and the federal environmental review process, the NDP have sent a dangerous message to investors. The NDP are, in essence, saying future resource development should be determined by popular opinion – not scientific review. This begs the question, what other resource projects would they try to halt prior to diligent review processes?”

It is clear that the Federal Government (who are running the current EA) have pre-judged the process; is Mr. Rustad assuming the Feds can run a fair, scientific process despite the bias they have already expressed, the specific language in new Federal EA Act that provides political override of the scientific conclusion of the EA process, and the ongoing gutting of the very scientific jobs that would provide the understanding of the environmental impacts – yet (breath) – the Province under Dix can’t, where there is no legislated ability to subvert the Provincial process? Read the BC EA legislation, does that look like the aforementioned “public opinion” poll? Not at all.

Aren’t the Federal Government and the Government of Alberta saying that all resource development should be approved, regardless of the present or future environmental impacts? what does that say to resource industries hoping to set up shop in BC? Come, pollute our streams, as long as we get a few jobs or royalties as crumbs, not need to assess the cost-benefit!

Finally, could someone in the BC Liberals communication department, the people writing these speeches for Rustad and other announcements, look up what the expression “begging the question” means? Or is it being used ironically here, as he is rather begging the question (in the logical fallacy sense)…

If Rustad had bothered to read Adrian Dix’s actual statement, he might have taken the hint and actually read (or had his communications staff read) the cited parts of the BC Environmental Assessment Act and the changed Canadian Envrionmental Assessment Act before he commented on it. The “new” Federal Act is no longer independent, science-based, or accountable, and therefore no longer in the same spirit as the Federal Act that was part of the 2010 Environmental Assessment Equivalency Agreement (which brought he two acts into harmony). If BC wants to have a legitimate Environmental Assessment of the Enbridge pipeline, it will have to hold its own.

The approach outline by Dix is clear, and completely within the spirit and the letter of the Act while representing BCs interests before the interests of Enbridge, unlike the silly approach proffered so far by the BC Government. Rustad trots out BC’s strange “five minimum requirements” approach for any proposed “heavy oil” projects in BC (that term poorly defined, but clearly not including liquified natural gas or refined oil products) to receive “potential” provincial support, although not outright approval. If the remarkable glut of weasel words in the preamble is not enough to reassure you, just review what those 5 conditions are, the 5-headed hydra of Premier McSparkles’(tm) “principled” position:

1. Successful completion of the environmental review process. This “condition” is actually required by Federal Law, and no-one is expecting the pipeline to go forward without this approval – which raises (but doesn’t beg) the question of just what the hell the Premier thought we have been talking about for the last 2 years!?

2. World-leading marine oil spill response, prevention and recovery systems for B.C.’s coastline and ocean to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines and shipments; A completely nonsensical and unmeasurable requirement. What does “World-Leading” mean? Does every aspect need to be better than everyone else’s? Or just a cumulative? Does she require an insurance scheme and on-board navigation systems more comprehensive than International Law? Would any tanker company agree to that? Why? Who will measure, if it was even measurable?

3. World-leading practices for land oil spill prevention, response and recovery systems to manage and mitigate the risks and costs of heavy oil pipelines; Again, completely unmeasurable. A standard that is not measurable is not standard at all (see the recent Auditor General’s report on the BC Environmental Assessment Office, and assuring conditions are attainable and measurable with rational metrics). Perhaps we can have a spill-response Olympics, to prove our systems are better than those in Azerbaijan and Zaire…

4. Legal requirements regarding Aboriginal and treaty rights are addressed, and First Nations are provided with the opportunities, information and resources necessary to participate in and benefit from a heavy-oil project; OH, Ok, we are making compliance with the CONSTITUTION a condition of approval? Wow, that’s bold. Why again is no-one taking this person seriously?

5. British Columbia receives a fair share of the fiscal and economic benefits of a proposed heavy oil project that reflects the level, degree and nature of the risk borne by the province, the environment and taxpayers. Translate: show me the money. Here is the heart of the “principled stand”. Act tough, hold out for more cash, a mob-style security shakedown.

The BCLiberal approach to the Enbridge Pipeline has been confused, self-contradictory, tone-deaf, a day late and a dollar short. It has lacked in both vision and in understanding of law, from Provincial and Federal EA statutes to the Constitution Act of 1982. It has been an embarrassment for the Premier, and she has, in turn, has been and embarrassment to the Province.In contrast, Adrian Dix has make a clear, definitive statement, citing the specific existing legislation he would invoke, and how he would invoke it. The BC Liberal response is to have some junior MLA ridicule him, avoiding any points of fact, or any specific flaw in his statement, just suggesting he might be “scary” to Enbridge.

Suddenly, the NDP are looking like a Government, the BCLiberals are looking like a desperate opposition.

Signs of Protest

I was driving along Highway 3 this past weekend, along one of my favourite roads. I have driven and cycled this road more than a hundred of times in my life, the 600km from my first Home to my adopted Home. It seems I know every curve, every hill, every summit (can name them off the top of my head, and picture each clearly: Allison, Sunday, Richter, Anarchist, Phoenix, Paulson), every place where the Police hand out tickets.

One of the spectacular stretches for a geologist is west of Richter Pass, as you drop into the wide, flat Similkameen Valley, bounded by the vertical wall of the Catherdal Range of the Okanagan Mountains. The valley floor has a classic underfit meandering river flanked by the shallow drapes of alluvial fans leading up to much steeper scree slopes of colluvium. Traditional ranching and hay fields on the slopes are increasingly being turned over to viniculture, while the orchards of Keremeos continue to pound out unreasonably good cherries, apples, and stone fruit.

Aside from the human uses, these grasslands represent a rare ecosystem in British Columbia: A sagebrush desert. With rapid development up the mountains in the adjacent Okanagan Valley, these ecosystems are under a lot of pressure. To call it a desert makes it sound, well, deserted, but this area has the highest concentration of threatened or endangered species of any similar-sized region in Canada; at least 23 different listed species, from Pacific rattlesnakes to Flammulated owls, and one-third of the red-listed species in the Province. Protection is spotty, development is encroaching, and the ecosystem is threatened.

With this in mind, the (Liberal) Federal Government signed a memorandum of understanding with the (Liberal) Provincial Government in 2003, to do the appropriate feasibility studies towards developing a National Park or National Reserve Lands (the first in the Okanagan). The MOU includes the statement:

“On February 11, 2003, the Government of British Columbia announced in its Speech from the Throne its interest in exploring the potential for establishing a new National Park Reserve in the Okanagan area, and its “Heartlands Economic Strategy” by which economic development plans will open up new opportunities for tourism, resort development and recreation, among other things, in the Province of British Columbia”
Sounds good; a Park plan which will balance out economic growth in an area of intense tourist interest and very unique geography and ecology (currently unprotected by any National Parks), to provide recreation opportunities while limiting impacts. In a region full of seasonal hotels, campsites, fruit stands, and tourists, who could possibly oppose?

People who like to shoot things and burn hydrocarbons for entertainment. That’s who.

A local “No National Park” movement began, led by a small but determined group of hunters and ATV enthusiasts out of Oliver, BC, who were offended that their chosen recreation activities may be even slightly encroached upon in the name of protecting ecological lands or endangered species.

Long story short, after 9 years of consultation, the Province caved. With her characteristic ability to solve problems, bring people together, and provide leadership you can believe in, our Premier was unable to voice support for a Park that had broad local and First Nations support, with backing from a broad range of people and groups across the country. Apparently recreational lead-shooters and gasoline-burners have a lot of voice in one of the last remaining BCLiberal strongholds in the Province. The Federal Conservative Government, citing a lack of interest on the part of the BC Liberals announced this spring that they would no longer explore the Park. Even while they announce a big park up North that will apparently feature spectacular mining expanses.

The fight may be over (or not…), but the signs are still up all through the Similkameen Valley. To me, this entire story has been about a 9-year sign war played out across the Cawston countryside. That small, organized group did a good job plastering Highway 3 with red-on-white signs, stating “No National Park”, confusing the hell out of thousands of RVs from Alberta and Germans in rental cars every year. Really, it does not present the most inviting message to passing drivers: “Wer ist gegen einen Nationalpark?!?”

It has only been the last year or so that a counter-protest sign campaign has started, using much more positive, if derivative, imagery:

And even some more creative approaches:

And now, with the entire thing in limbo, maybe the time was right for the ultimate modern slacktivist movement:

Now there is a protest I can believe in.


Westminster Pier Park – Open at last

a very belated post on the Grand Opening of the Pier Park

Yep, we got rained on, but we still had a great time.

And really, it was apropos. No matter how much you plan, no matter how much contingency you build in to any project – be it a major brownfield remediation and construction project or a grand opening party – you cannot control all variables, sometimes you need to make your best plans, and be prepared to make lemonade if lemons arrive.
I have talked at length about the Pier Park, and have offered lots of semi-informed opinions about how the remediation for the project progressed; most, unfortunately, in response to even-less-informed discussion in the local media about what a brownfield remediation is.

Even I was surprised to learn about some of the challenges faced by the environmental engineers working on the site. Back in late April, I was able to tour the not-yet-completed site with some of those engineers as tour guides, as part of a tour organized by the Environmental Managers Association of BC.

Environmental Professionals at work. Don’t try this at home, kids.

We all know the New Westminster waterfront is historic, and has a rich industrial and commercial history, gong back further than pretty much anywhere else in BC. For heritage buffs or park programming planners, that is great. For engineers trying to clean up an abandoned contaminated site, that sounds like a whole pile of headaches, wrapped in pitfalls, and dipped in a deep pool of budget-straining hassles.

A couple of interesting stories about the New West waterfront especially stood out in my mind, and gave me headaches of empathy. Most have to do with the challenge of how people used to use the waterfront in the days when diesel was sold for five cents a gallon (think about it, how careful would you be spilling something that costs less than tap water?)

We all know the story of New Westminster’s great fire of 1898. Not many of us know that at the time of the great fire, the waterfront was somewhere just north of the current Front Street. The rest of the land between there and the river is mixed landfill material, and the first layer was the bulldozed debris of the great fire. Pushing twisted metal and scorched wood debris into the river seemed to make sense at the time.

Of course, society went through a pretty libertarian phase with the industrial revolution and the development of the colonies, and we never imagined we could cause harm to something as big as the environment. The river, although it was the source of much of our water and food, was also seen as a great place to let nature take away our trash. (“The ocean is the planet’s liver”, a good buddy of mine says, explaining why he won’t eat seafood). A good example of this is the piles of metal turnings found under the old pier.

Apparently, there was once a machine shop on the pier, and machine shops turn out a lot of metal shavings (back before it was cost-efficient to recycle them), most of them immersed in cutting fluids. At the time, it made perfect sense to cut a hole in the floor of the pier and let those shavings fall into the river. Until they accumulated up to the level of the pier. Then you cover the hole and cut another one a few meters over (well, back then, a few yards or furlongs or cubits over, I suppose), and start again.

In 2012, those piles of metals shavings immersed in hydrocarbons are called “contamination”, up to the point where they could be considered hazardous waste. Just removing them from the river sediments is a technical challenge, as you must first stabilize them or isolate them, so they do not spread around in the river sediments as you are cleaning them up, all the while working in water with a 3 knot current, and avoiding fisheries windows so your work does not impact migrating salmon.

The Cities where I have seen Wilco Play: Champaign, Illinois; Las Vegas, Nevada;
Vancouver, BC; and (this upcoming September) San Franciso, California.
Love me some Wilco.

Ten there is the infamous “Toxic Blob”. This is a small plume of chlorinated solvents (essentially drycleaning fluid and related compounds) that was discovered at depth along one edge of the property. The source of the contamination was not on the Park property, but some of it was migrating with groundwater under the property, and in order for the Park to receive a clean bill of environmental health (called a “certificate of compliance”) from the Ministry of Environment, that blob had to be stopped. Problem being it was 22m below the surface, and those cleaning up the park had no access to the source area, as it wasn’t on the Park land.

The only practical option available is to install a barrier wall to stop the flow, but how do you install a waterproof wall 22m below the surface while trains are rolling by a few meters over on one side, and piles are being driven for soil stabilization a few meters to the other side? Digging up the ground to that depth would require some serious shoring up the rails to hold laden trains up, stopping nearby soil stabilization work, and pumping out a whole lot of groundwater. The first creates a lot of risk, the second puts the rest of the pier park project off schedule and threatens the tight deadline required to get under the federal funding window, the third requires you do something with all that potentially-contaminated groundwater without violating the fisheries act or waste management act. Digging was not an option.

Sub-surface walls can be built without digging by driving sheet piles. this is just like driving regular piles, but with interlocking sheets of thick steel plate: Horribly expensive interlocking sheets of steel plate when they are 25m long. This is also a time-consuming process, and with all of that unknown fill material down below, not guaranteed to be feasible. Sheet pile is often like the unstoppable force vs. the impenetrable surface problem.

Sheet piles used for shoring in another location on the Fraser River

A better solution was found in an innovative approach involving jet grout. Essentially, they drilled a line of holes, and put a device down each hole that shot concrete grout out the sides of borehole. Given enough holes and a powerful enough jet to bridge the gap between holes, an entire impermeable concrete/grout wall can be injected. There were still some significant technical challenges with assuring the holes remained aligned all the way down (drill holes tend to deviate over 22m!) which were solved using an innovative down-hole GPS system. Inject the wall, install a couple of monitoring wells to make sure the groundwater (and chlorinated solvents) are not leaking through, and Bobs Yer Uncle. Best part was that it could be done while the rest of the work on the Park was being completed.

That is the most remarkable part of this project, actually. Besides the technical challenges, it was simply not possible to do it in the “normal” Brownfields way. That would be: investigate first, complete remediation, then plan and construct above the cleaned-up site. Because the Federal portion of the money came with a tight deadline to completion, there was simply no time to wait for the preliminary and remediation work to be done before the soil stabilization and deck refurbishment work had to start. So the remediation work was ongoing during pile driving and pier construction: Two or three teams working independently on the same site. To use a sports analogy, it would be like having a baseball game and a football game happening simultaneously on the same field, while someone is mowing the grass: An organizational nightmare.

And how much work? According the (publically available) remediation reports, 6,500 tonnes of contaminated soils and 3,000 tonnes of contaminated sediments were removed from the site. At least 100 tonnes of that was contaminated enough to be considered “hazardous waste”, requiring special handling and disposal measures.
I cannot count the number of times on the April tour when the tour group, comprised of professional peers of the project management team, cursed under their breath or shook their heads slowly side-to-side, expressing amazement about the complexity of this project.
Suited up and suitably impresssed Environmental Professionals.
There is a reason this project won awards from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Urban Institute. It is not the great amenities above the deck, it is more about the remediation challenges, the engineering efforts and the project management success story under the deck: the part you will never see, and the part that made what seems a simple park project cost $25 Million to construct. Of course, it was those challenges that made the $16 Million from senior governments available for the project, yet it was the tough conditions set by the senior government agencies and the tight deadline attached to that funding that made it so challenging. Tom Waits: The large print giveth, the small print taketh away.
That is a part many of the park critics failed to acknowledge when talking about the Park: this was a horribly contaminated site; an industrial wasteland abandoned many years ago by the (mostly) private enterprises who contaminated it. Money invested to build this amenity was contributed by all three levels of government, and was spent to clean it up, so the contamination would no longer pose a threat the human health or the environment. It wasn’t free, but it was a good idea, and worth doing. Where there was toxic groundwater, soil, and sediments, there is now a cleaned-up site, and a beautiful public amenity.
It was a bold project, and the results are spectacular. Judging by the crowds I have seen at the park over the last two weeks, I have to say a lot of people agree with the results, even if they will never know about all the work that took place below their feet to make it happen.

Even the Grand Opening was well attended and cheery – despite the pouring rain.

The Air Care Landmine

I work in Richmond, but do most of my actual living in New Westminster, so I am reluctant to get too involved in the politics on the downstream end of Lulu Island.

However, when I read a recent Editorial Piece in the Richmond Review (sister paper to our own NewsLeader and the Peace Arch News, where there is a electronic version available), I had to react. I wrote a longer piece on AirCare way back when the current public relations campaign to get rid of it started up, as part of a longer rant about the myopic old-school viewpoint of one Harvey Enchin.

Long and short, AirCare is a successful program that is cost-effective and will be until at least 2020. The only argument against it is that it is inconvenient – in that once every two years, less than 50% of drivers have to take 15 minutes out of their day and pay $45 to demonstrate that their car has an operating emissions control system. Boo freaking hoo.

So here was my response letter to the Richmond Review Editor.

I recognize the Editorial section is where opinions are expressed, but isn’t journalistic opinion supposed to rest on a foundation of fact?

In your editorial, you make statements that sound like fact, such as “Air Care hasn’t really been necessary for some time” or “There simply aren’t enough older vehicles on the road to make the expensive and bureaucratic program necessary”, or “random enforcement is best”, but indicate what these opinions are based upon. As a multi-agency program review of AirCare completed less than two years ago concluded the system was effective, efficient, and would continue to provide measureable air-quality benefits to the region until at least 2020, it seems the facts available are the opposite of your assertions.

When you characterise AirCare as “nothing more than a cash-grab from the government”, it is at odds with the fact AirCare is self-supporting, uses no tax dollars to operate, and transfers no money to its lead agency (TransLink). Compare that to the “random enforcement” strategy you propose, which will require taxpayer-funded officers to issue tickets, enforceable through the taxpayer-funded courts, to collect fines that will go to General Revenue.

Cancelling AirCare is a bad decision based not on good policy, but election-time pandering, because protecting our airshed is “inconvenient” to a portion of the population. I am, of course, editorializing; but I would love to see some facts to change my mind.

The fact that AirCare will not be cancelled until 2014, and that the proposed commercial vehicle “replacement program” has not been described in any detail suggest to me this is, in fact, a landmine being dropped by the BC Liberals. It has a bit of curb appeal, might get them a few votes, but in reality, it just puts the winner of the next election in a difficult situation. They will need to dismantle the system (which will be costly, and result in worsening air quality) or try to keep it running against public outcry (because the current government has poisoned the well, despite AirCare being good policy). This is, in many ways, no different than the recently announced limit to BC Hydro rate increases that bypassed the Utilities Commission.

What other landmines lie in waiting before we get to May, 2013?

Sapperton Day(s)

I had a great Sapperton Day(s), again this year.

This has become my favourite one-day festival in the City, not the least because it is the only festival with guaranteed Penny Farthing appearances.

As usual, there were lots of kids activities, lots of Food Truck options, a kick-ass Pancake breakfast with Real Maple syrup and free-range pork sausages, numerous community and volunteer groups, a few giveaways, random entertainment, and the music was loud and really well defended:

I did a tour of Cap’s “Bicycle Museum”. I’ve been going to Cap’s since I bought a Diamond Back Arrival from them in 1987, but I have never seen their remarkable collection of bikes, some dating back to before the Penny-Farthing era. It is amazing, as a bike geek, to see how the same simple engineering problems were solved in so many different ways, based on the best technology of the day. It is well worth the $2 admission to walk through that collection. Maybe we can get them museum space at the new MUCF?

Sapperton Day(s) also gives you a chance to see some of the new businesses in Sapperton. Last year’s big surprise was the great pulled pork at the Graze Market/The Ranch BBQ, this year it was the Pad Thai at the new Thai restaurant just up the Street, named (if I remember correctly) Thai New West.

For the second year in a row, the Sushi Restaurant right across the street from my booth remained closed for Sapperton Day(s); a strange business decision to make when 10,000 people would be walking by the front of the restaurant that day…

I spent most of the day at the NWEP booth, talking transportation with people from across the City, and across the region. I noticed a difference at this event compared to the dozens of previous events where the NWEP went to talk policy stuff: almost universal agreement.

Previously, we have been out helping the City promote the Clean Green bins, or collecting ideas for the Master Transportation Plan, or promoting backyard composting, we are introducing people to the ideas for the first time. This means you have to try to keep their attention while trying to get enough info across that they will care to learn more before wandering next door for lemonade.

And the Lemonade at the Sapperton Day(s) was great. It was a lemonade kind of day.

This time, where the main topic was the Pattullo Bridge (note it was our main topic, the TransLink Booth at Sapperton Day(s) was paradoxically bereft of any information on the Pattullo expansion plans…), it seemed most people in New Westminster knew something was going on and just wanted to know more. They were engaged in the topic before we even started talking. The first question I asked people as they wandered by was “what do you think about the Pattullo Bridge”, and the conversation flowed easily from there.

The most common question I got from New Westminster residents is “what can we do about it?”

That’s not to say everybody had the same opinion. There were a few people who had better ideas to spend more money (on tunnels, cable cars, jetpacks) to “solve our traffic problems once and forever”, but most recognized that more lanes into New West means more cars in to New West means more traffic to deal with. Oh, there was also a long, circular and soul-crushing discussion with our local Libertarian Torch-bearer who kept saying that “you people rely on violent coercion to tell people how to live”, without explaining how voting was an act of violence or who, exactly, “you people” were.

But no-one was without an opinion on it, and that is the good thing. All we need to do is channel all of those opinions into the upcoming TransLink Open Houses, on June 23. It hadn’t been announced by Sapperton Day(s), but our main advise to people was to keep your eye on the local media and on the TransLink website, and show up at the next Public consultation.

Thanks especially go to HUB for lending us the tent: we thought it might be rainy but in the end it just reduced sunburn. We also gave away a tonne of pocket-sized folding bike maps for New Westminster and neighbouring communities, and promoted the upcoming HUB Streetwise safe cycling course in New West on the 16th.

I suppose it will appeal to folks like James Crosty and Ted Eddy, who wouldn’t be caught dead at the Pier Park Grand Opening.

Elizabeth May on Bill C-38

I didn’t “Go Black” today for two reasons:

1: most days on this blog, I am pretty quiet, so a break from my regular irregular blogging wouldn’t really be noticed, even by my Mom.

2: The technical challenge of “going black” seems daunting for an internet putz like me.

I cannot add anything to the discussion of Bill C-38 that hasn’t already been said. When you have Andrew Coyne and David Suzuki on the same side of an argument, you can be pretty clear something special is going on. So allow me to engage in a bit of hyperbole.

I’m not currently a member of the Green Party, and I did not vote for the Green Party last election. There are times the Green Party has pissed me off, there are other times I thought they were an important voice that needed to be heard. I still think they have the most rational economic plan of any Canadian political party, but never before did I actually think the Green Party could save Canada. Until today.

Elizabeth May stood up in the House of Commons today on a Point of Order. Her speech is nothing short of spectacular. A model for parliamentary behavior, delivered from the very back corner of the house, up in the cheap seats. Our New Westminster MPs have been outspoken and effective in this debate, and We should be proud of them, but it is Elizabeth May who looks to be shifting the conversation.

Everyone who cares about the Environment, who cares about Democracy or the future of the Country needs to read this speech, in its entirety. It is long, but so is our parliamentary tradition. Regardless of what you feel about Elizabeth May or the Green Party; you need to read this. It is a perfectly crafted, well referenced, and clear argument for just how far off the rails this Parliament currently is.

Here is a link to the speech in its entirety: Take the 10 minutes it will take to read it though. It is the least you can do for Democracy. As enticement, here is my extract from her summary

I recall the words of the late journalist, a great Canadian, James Travers. We were both on CBC Sunday Edition in the spring of 2009, discussing the threats to our institutions. He commented that we really no longer have democracy in Canada. He said (and I am paraphrasing) “you can visit Ottawa and what you’ll see is a democracy theme park. The buildings are still there. You can tour Parliament, but you will no longer see democracy.”

I refuse to accept that such is the case. I acknowledge that democracy is not a permanent state of existence. It can be won, as in Arab Spring. And it can be lost. It can be lost through violence; it can be lost through neglect. It does not survive without the constant application of checks on abuse of power. It needs openness. Those things done by stealth invariably breed an unhealthy loss of respect in our democratic institutions. Sunlight is a great antiseptic. The myriad, unrelated pieces of legislation under cover of C-38, should, to respect Westminster Parliamentary democracy, be brought out of the shadows, and be tabled separately, and studied on their own merit. To allow C-38 to masquerade as a legitimate omnibus bill will bring our institutions into greater disrepute.

We, as Parliamentarians, must be the bulwark against abuse of power, even in a majority government. Our only shield is our traditions, the Standing Rules, precedent and respect for the same. Our only hope is in a fair judge. I turn to you, Mr. Speaker, without fear or favour, sine timore aut favore, to rule fairly and protect Westminster Parliamentary democracy, to restore public faith in our institutions, and to order Bill C-38, a bill imperfect in form and shape, to be withdrawn pursuant to our Standing Rules.

Reading this speech, understanding what it says, what it means, looking up and reading the references provided, that is my alternative to “going black”. To me it is much more satisfying to read and learn and talk and engage. That is our duty as unelected citizens, and it is the only defense Democracy has.