The politics of LNG: why Justin Trudeau and John Horgan could be putting their careers on the line today
Every time I hear the broadcast media report that rising greenhouse gas emissions "contribute to climate change", I wonder how much longer this euphemistic language will continue.
At what point are CBC's Stephen Quinn or Global's Chris Gailus going to consistently declare that rising greenhouse gas levels lengthen B.C.'s forest fire season, just as a matter of course when reporting on this issue?
When are CKNW's Simi Sara or Breakfast Television's Riaz Meghji going to connect increasing flooding in B.C. to rising greenhouse gas emissions every time this topic comes up in one of their broadcasts?
Why doesn't Vancouver's Mi-Jung Lee more frequently link the words "greenhouse gases" to catastrophic horrors, like the hurricanes and typhoons that blasted the U.S. east coast and southern China last month? Coverage of these crises was mostly devoid of any talk of climate change.
There's one local broadcaster who's making these connections on a frequent basis: CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe. But her meterologist peers who do weather reports on other stations won't wade into this area with anywhere near the same vigour.
It's obvious to much of the public, and particularly younger voters, that rising greenhouse gas emissions are deadly.
In about a decade, at current rates, the planet will be 1.5 degrees Celsius warmer on average than it was during the period just before the Industrial Revolution. The global death toll from climate change alone has been estimated at 400,000 per year.
This is the backdrop for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Premier John Horgan announcing today that a $40-billion liquefied-natural-gas terminal and pipeline project will go ahead near Kitimat.
It will bring an increase of up to nine million megatonnes in annual B.C. greenhouse gas emissions after factoring in all the fracked natural gas that will be required to be shipped to the facility.
In 2015, B.C. produced 63.3 million tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions. So you can see why this worries B.C. Green Leader Andrew Weaver, who entered politics to try to drive down the number.
This one plant and related infrastructure could jack up overall provincial emissions by well over 10 percent.
Many people voted for Trudeau's federal Liberals and Horgan's NDP because they felt that those two parties would offer an alternative to their right-wing predecessors, who favoured ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions.
But at the end of the day, what have we gotten? Trudeau's used the might of his government to buy a pipeline company. He backs LNG production.
Horgan's NDP regime is proceeding with the $10.7-billion Site C dam, which will help fuel more production of greenhouse gas emissions. And he's gone to Asia to try to flog B.C. LNG, despite his government's stated objective of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
It's easy to see how a significant number of voters are feeling betrayed by these developments. And some might not even have to wait for the next federal or provincial election to make their voices heard.
In the Vancouver civic election, there's a strong team of Green candidates who don't share the vision of Horgan and Trudeau when it comes to promoting the development of more fossil fuels. And Coalition of Progressive Electors council candidates are also climate keeners. One of them, Jean Swanson, even went to jail for her beliefs.
One Vancouver mayoral candidate, Shauna Sylvester, has devoted much of her adult life to promoting awareness about climate change and advancing actions to address the problem.
There's also a Green slate in Burnaby.
For those who are truly sick of the NDP's record in addressing climate change, this presents a quick and convenient way to demonstrate how they feel.
It would send a powerful message to Horgan if his civic friends were punished. They include Vancouver mayoral candidate Kennedy Stewart, Burnaby mayor Derek Corrigan, and Coun. Craig Keating in the City of North Vancouver. Keating is president of the B.C. NDP.
They may be three of the greener New Democrats in B.C., but they've also been wholehearted Horgan boosters for many years. That should be enough to give municipal voters reason to pause in the ballot box.
It's increasingly clear to climate voters in B.C. that the NDP does not treat the atmosphere with the respect it deserves.
We need mayors and councillors across the Lower Mainland who will stand up to the climate fools who head our national and provincial governments.
Horgan is B.C. Liberal Lite, just as Trudeau is Stephen Harper Lite on this file.
Looking further out to the 2019 federal election, environmentally minded voters should be focusing on punishing Liberal MPs in ridings with lots of greenish voters.
Those include Vancouver Granville, which is represented by Justice Minister Jody Wiilson-Raybould, and Vancouver Quadra, which is held by Joyce Murray.
Vancouver Centre's Hedy Fry and North Vancouver Jonathan Wilkinson should also pay a high political price for Trudeau's desire to maintain Harper's objective of turning Canada into a fossil-fuel superpower.
Voters from West Van to Deep Cove to North Burnaby can all rise up and declare "no" to what they're getting from Trudeau next year.
No doubt, the media in central Canada will be cheering Trudeau and Horgan for their announcement today. These politicians can expect to be praised in the country's national newspapers and on its national TV networks.
They'll take from this that they're doing the right thing for Canada. They'll smile to themselves and think, "Oh, I'm not going to worry about those cranky climate voters."
But collectively, British Columbians have always been more sensitive to climate issues than those living in other provinces with the exception of Quebec.
We've lived through the floods, the fires, and the atmospheric rivers that cause mudslides and death. Our precious Fraser River salmon stocks are in jeopardy in part because of rising water temperatures.
We could soon lose our southern resident orcas. That's what's at stake with status quo politicians.
This month's B.C. municipal elections will offer an early indication whether voters are in the mood for "real change", as Trudeau likes to say. Particularly in the Lower Mainland and Greater Victoria, where there's no shortage of exceptionally green candidates.