Drilling for offshore public support

The provincial government has awarded Shaw Communications Inc. a $77,000 contract to produce and air two televised town hall meetings on the impact of offshore oil and gas development. The meetings, focusing on environmental and community issues, will be hosted by Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer, produced by Shaw staffer Kim Wildfong and taped this weekend in Port Hardy. But, according to Offshore Oil and Gas Team communications director Steve Simons, those meetings won't be broadcast until after the federal election because the government doesn't "want to stir the pot." Mr. Simons also says the province is taking a hands-off approach to the project.

Former CHEK TV legislative reporter Robin Adair, a government relations consultant with WCG International Consultants Ltd. and Victoria Chamber of Commerce vice-president, was subcontracted by Shaw to find and schedule panelists for the show along with Ian Jessop. Mr. Jessop was communications director for the provincial Liberal caucus while they were in opposition.

Environmental town hall meeting participants will include University of Victoria earth and ocean sciences professor Michael Whiticar, Living Oceans Society executive director Jennifer Lash and Scotia Fundy Mobile Gear Fisherman's Assocation executive director Brian Giroux. The community issues meeting will feature Port Hardy mayor Harry Mose, oil industry consultant Mark Shrimpton and Tsimshian Nation fisheries and aquatic resources director Teresz Ryan.


So, if Mr. Adair is already a government public relations consultant and he is being subcontracted by Shaw to stack the panel for the government while being paid with govt' money awarded to Shaw, is this an example of P3 cubed?

According to Les Leyne, writer for the Times Colonist, there is no moratorium on off shore oil and gas development to be maintained or lifted, June 16. According to Mr. Leyne, David Anderson lobbied the government to not allow the drilling in the early 70s. There has never been any formal moratorium.

The public hearings, in my opinion, have simply been a pre-election public relations dance - performed at taxpayers expense - to make the Liberal Party look like good guys who care what the voters and residents of British Columbia think.

Now that they have postponed the Port Hardy
broadcast so as "not to stir the pot," I am even more convinced that the intent is to go ahead with oil and gas development regardless of what the voters and the residents of British Columbia want, which will contribute to even more people feeling that politicians lie and that the public should not bother to vote.

Last night, at the long and difficult Sooke all candidates meeting, I was happy to have a chance to remind the voters that a lot of money has been spent in the riding to encourage eco-tourism. People have renovated their homes at great expense for bed and breakfast and other start-up ventures that are dependent on clean pristine beaches including the camp ground that the Pacheedhat rely on for some greatly needed revenue.

I asked the voters to imagine their shores covered in oil slick like the beaches of Galacia, Spain and to think twice about accepting the idea of gas taxes returned to cities and municipailites for the purpose of paying for imfrastructure.

I warned it will simply ligitimize the use of fossil fuels and subsequently the development of off shore oil and gas.

The link the Liberals, Conservatives and NDP are making to connect gas taxes and infrastructure repair is meaningless, since the funds for the repair to infrastructure of the communities need not be labelled in any particular way but can come from any and all portions of the revenue streams. That is what a government does with the tax payers money it pays for the upkeep of its communities.

Anyone can see, and the astute voters of Sooke could certainly see,that the only reason for any party to create an unnecessary link between gas taxes and municipal infrastructure is to craft a situation where municipailites feel that the health of their infrastructure is dependent on the health of the oil industry rather than on the health of the economy as a whole. This clearly destroys the credibility of the "Green" rhetoric of the NDP.

All three parties, the Liberals, the Conservatives and the New Democratics appear to have the intention of moulding public opinion to accept an expansion of the oil and gas industry in Canada including off shore.

Still sceptical? Haida Gwaii are fighting for their title right to a 200 mile off shore limit with the government of Canada. They have said they do not approve of off shore oil and gas development because the technology is too risky. Such an interesting and expensive court case being pursued in the Supreme Court of British Columbia
is no where on the radar screen. Why?

see www.firstnationsdrum.com

Leave a comment

Copyright © 2004 - Public Eye Mediaworks. Reproductions of any portion of this Website are permitted only with the expressed permission of Public Eye Mediaworks.
Canadian Web Hosting graciously provided by dotcanuck Web Services. Layout and graphics courtesy of Art Department Design.