Wednesday, 9 May 2018

The Peculiar Case of Fort Nelson

Published: Fort Nelson Newspaper



Streeper gets his message out across the national airwaves and tells Canada what lobby groups are doing to this community

      The Premier of Saskatchewan, Scott Moe, when asked if he would turn off the spigot to stop its fuel reaching British Columbia said: "If Alberta is going to turn the taps off the next logical place to come for product is Saskatchewan. This pipeline should be built, it's a federal government decision. Our Nation was built on similar projects, which have strengthened and built Canada. If the province of BC can stop this project the question is: Do we still have a nation?'
      
     Roy Green, the popular radio host with his own show on Corus Radio Network and syndicated by Global News and described by The Hill newspaper as 'required listening for federal politicians', interviewed Mayor Bill Streeper and Vivian Krause, a researcher who has been exploring the distribution of US funding to First Nations and lobby groups. Krause was in Fort Nelson last week.
     The subject was dire: "Not a rig drilling, not a truck hauling, very little gas going out, houses owned by banks, the wage earner leaving their families to take up jobs in all parts of Canada. What kind of life is that?" Streeper asked. 
     "The Northern Rockies Municipality has reduced its budget for two years because people can't afford to pay the taxes and is now going to have to reduce services. Facilities will be open maybe six days a week at the Rec Centre. It's the worst I've seen in my 41 years here,"
      He said he would like to ask Premier John Horgan and BC Green Party MLA, Andrew Weaver, if they would give up using all petroleum products?"
      Streeper recalled a Site C protest when all the canoes on the Peace were made of plastic. Even solar panels are made of petroleum based material.
     Why are they coming down on Kinder Morgan?
      Streeper pointed out that 30 miles south of the BC/US border at a place called Cherry Point there is a refinery that produces 235,000 barrels a day of oil. That oil comes from Valdez Alaska down the West Coast. There's not one fisherman who has seen any of this oil leaking down Vancouver Island and it's been going on since 1971.
      "Something has to be done to wake up the people of British Columbia," to what is happening.
      Vivian Krause described her visit to Fort Nelson where her uncle, Bob Krause, lived. "It's a wonderful community up here, wide blue skies and the people are so friendly. It's surrounded by prosperous First Nations, we visited Prophet River with their gorgeous school, the people are wonderful. There's a place for everyone."
       Krause said what we're missing is the M-word monopoly. Building a pipeline is not just a construction project it's a real relationship, one of the most valuable in the world between the US and Canada.
       Politicians, starting with the prime minister, need to talk about our neighbours to the south having Canada over a barrel." With this arrangement we are losing $43 million per day."
       Prime minister Justin Trudeau and premiers Horgan and Notley have all expressed themselves as opposing pipelines, Krause said.
             Green asked Streeper what had happened to the promise to reopen the forest industry here. "No job has been created, no trees cut down." 
        Industrial real estate vacancy in the Northern Rockies is 60 to 62%. A very nice three bedroom home can be purchased for hundred thousand dollars.
          In the 1980s when the population was 6,000 the municipality was planning to expand to 10,000 and then 15,000. When the fracking was shut down expansion plans fizzled.
        This applies to BC, Alberta and Saskatchewan oil patches, but it is worse here because the gas in the huge Horn River, Liard and Cordova is 'dry gas'. Other communities have been able to develop gas with a high level of condensate, but they aren't back up to their 2006 levels because there is no outlet for LNG offshore and the US has its own supply of LNG that replaced conventional Canadian gas that was supplied to the US previously.
       Streeper said the gas fields surrounding Fort Nelson are world class and can sustain extraction levels for many, many years of supply for liquefied natural gas and they were to have been developed to supply the LNG industry. Pipelines are much safer than rail car shipments, he added, and don't clog the railway's infrastructure.
      Krause said the issue is one of leadership. Politicians are not about the environment, they know that the US has Canada over a barrel. They also know that groups such as the Dogwood Initiative BC, funded by Tides Canada and US based industry have full-time staff in ridings and that these politicians are helped to get elected by it.
      Krause revealed that the Executive Director of Digital Communications, Karl Hardin, has worked for the Dogwood Initiative for five years form  2010-2016 and now works for the Horgan NDP government. A recent job application posted on the Dogwood Initiate website is for a summer job for a canvasser, "Volunteer recruitment and assisting Dogwood's teams as they mobilize and organize to hold our governments to account and assist Dogwood's Youth Empowerment Program. It pays $15 per hour and is a Canada Summer Jobs Position. They work is to help its organizing network stop the Kinder Morgan pipeline and tanker project as well as help us strengthen the public call for a stronger, more accountable and transparent democracy.
     Krause said politicians elected at the municipal level benefit from this organization,such as the Get the Vote Out."
The Dogwood Initiative BC was formed in 1991. They got the provincial government to cut back and redistribute 10% of MacMillan Bloedel's logging tenures that were distributed to First Nations and local communities and used the softwood dispute to reallocate 20% of the logging tenures across BC. Commencing in 2001, they took on LNG.
     Dogwood worker with activists and First Nations in Telkwa, Cache Creek, Smithers, Princeton, Fernie, Iskut, Dease Lake, and throughout the Peace Region, and were able to shut down commercial coal bed methane everywhere in B.C. Next they were successful in getting the Northern Gateway Project cancelled and a tanker traffic ban down the west coast of Canada.
     Federally, she mentioned one of Justin Trudeau's senior staff, Gerald Butts who was involved with charities that are approved by Revenue Canada, but all they seem to do is pass money forward to other organizations intent upon the opposing Canada's energy industry.
     During Justin Trudeau's initial time as Liberal party leader, Butts advised on such decisions and issues as the legalizing of marijuana, the expulsion of the entire Liberal senate caucus, and Trudeau's position on the Northern Gateway pipeline.
     In 2008, Butts took over World Wildlife Federation Canada (WWF), a non-profit organization committed to conservation and sustainable development. During his time there, he said, "100 per cent sustainable, renewable energy is possible and economical by 2050 if we start the transition today."
     For many years Vivian Krause has tracked money transfers from Tides USA, to Tides Canada to support for lobby groups against Canada's oil industry. She calls it the 'demarketing' of Canadian industries.
    Political leadership is at fault, Krause called upon Andrew Sheer, leader of the opposition, to get involved.
    Both Mayor Bill Streeper and Vivian Krause were speaking from Fort Nelson to the Montreal-based talk show host in a broadcast syndicated across Canada by Global television.
    When asked by Green what he saw as  a future for Fort Nelson if the LNG didn't go ahead Streeper said it was a stop-over for those travelling to Alaska.
     The full interview with Mayor Streeper and Vivian Krause can be heard on the NRRM website.

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