Good Sunday Morning – March 31

Good Sunday Morning!! And for practicing Christians the best of the best Good Sunday mornings! And not for the chocolate. Hallelujah! He is Risen! To which we sing out He is Risen indeed! 

I know the vast majority of readers of this little letter do not want religion on a Sunday morning, so forgive me! I am off to church on Galiano Island to the teeny little St. Margaret’s of Scotland Church perched among the daffodils. I have been blessed with my first days off for months and am loving every minute. By Tuesday I will be in Winnipeg where I am pretty sure flowers are not yet in bloom.

What is in full flower across the country is nonsense. The so-called “Axe the Tax” debate is grounded in inanity. The Liberals basically took the Green platform on Carbon Fee and Dividend in designing their “backstop tax” for any province that did not design its own pricing system. Carbon F and D was successfully launched to be Green policy by a grassroots movement called Citizens’ Climate Lobby. The basic concept of pollution pricing is to remedy pollution as a problem of market failure. If you accept the idea that the “market” is almost magical and promotes rational behaviour–which I don’t–then the failure to put a price on pollution needs to be fixed. The current carbon tax debate is wrong-footed in many ways, starting from a fundamental failure to explain it. We started with a patchwork of different systems from different provinces. Ontario and Quebec, for example, opted for getting a price on pollution through a regional trading system including the huge economy of California, while in BC we had an elegant and nearly perfect carbon tax system brought in in 2008 by Gordon Campbell with every BC resident getting cuts on provincial income tax offset by the tax. It was exactly revenue neutral. Ironically it was the BC NDP under Carole James who ran the whole 2009 BC NDP campaign chanting “Axe the Tax.” Let’s hope Pierre Poilievre finds voters in the next federal election to be as smart as BC voters in 2009. As I once said to Stephane Dion so long ago, “I don’t mind if you steal Green Party policy, but please could you explain it properly?”

The BC NDP under John Horgan came in and made the BC pricing system messier and less effective by deciding to keep some of the tax for the provincial treasury. Of course, the BC NDP have in common with federal Liberals the habit of saying one thing and doing another. For the BC NDP, the gross hypocrisy is in promoting fracking and LNG. For federal Liberals it is fake solutions like Carbon Capture and Storage and worse, buying the Kinder Morgan pipeline and committing to building the entirely new pipeline erroneously called the “expansion.”

Underlying all this was Horgan’s big fat lie that he would “use every tool in the toolbox” to stop TMX. But when in fall 2018 the Federal Court ruled the pipeline permits had been issued illegally, the BC NDP forgot to open the toolbox. We begged BC Environment Minister George Heyman to order a provincial environmental assessment before allowing any provincial permits. Back when Christy Clark was premier, she had done a deal with former PM Stephen Harper to skip any provincial environmental review of the Kinder Morgan pipeline and allow just the one, under Harper’s new and eviscerated process in his spring 2012 omnibus budget bill. All to say that the TMX pipeline, now owned and operated by all of us as unwilling owners, has never had any proper environmental review. Much less has the $34 billion of federal funds to build the project ever had a published cost benefit analysis.

This week I tried to get some media notice of the inanity of how mainstream media reports on the pipeline. I contacted the CBC to argue that their morning news headline that the TMX pipeline would soon be filled with “oil” should be corrected, since its intended product is not oil but “diluted bitumen.” Dr. Tim Takaro, the valiant professor from SFU who was a tree-sitter in protest, also tried to draw their attention to some of the holes in the logic, not to mention holes in the pipeline. He sent the following email to the CBC:

“I’m just a simple public health doctor, but why would you partially fill a pipeline with highly toxic diluted bitumen when there’s 2.4 km missing from the line and the leak detection system won’t be operational for another year? Isn’t it the first months of operation when the system integrity is most at risk? Is this what you get when the regulator (GoC) and the owner (GoC) are in conflict? This public and planetary health risk is preventable. If there ever was a doubt, now we know: we live in a petrostate.”

Tim K. Takaro, MD, MPH, MS. 

Professor Emeritus, Faculty of Health Sciences                           

Simon Fraser University 

And then there is the huge threat about which almost no one speaks any more. If we allow the pipeline to be built, it will put pressure on the oil sands to produce more bitumen, with the fairy tale theory that somehow Canada’s economy will get more money per barrel opening up markets in Asia (all a bunch of hooey as Robyn Allen has demonstrated time and again) but with the very real threat of a spill of dilbit which cannot be cleaned up.

At least that concern found voice this week through the Victoria Buzz which I have cut and pasted below, so rare is any skeptical coverage of the pipeline. Mainstream media is too busy parroting Danielle Smith and Justin Trudeau who appear to agree on only one thing–the TMX pipeline is a Good Thing and will be working any day now…

“Last week, Alberta Premier Danielle Smith announced that the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion would finally be getting filled with its first crude oil to be shipped to and eventually exported from BC by Canada Day. 

When this happens, the coast of BC will look much different as there will be a massive surge in oil tankers coming through the Salish Sea, which could be detrimental to whale and wildlife populations. 

Despite this, a group of environmental advocates say that this announcement should be taken with a grain of salt. 

“While it is true that Trans Mountain has been filling some completed sections of the pipeline with oil, as part of the testing process that they must complete before going into operation, there are also still several pipeline segments where construction is not complete,” said Sven Biggs, Canadian Oil and Gas Program Director for

Issues that could slow operations

He says that most notably, a 2.5 km section called ‘Mountain 3’ near Hope, BC remains unfinished due to several drilling mistakes.

Initially, Trans Mountain tried to drill a 36 inch pipe, but had to go smaller due to their drilling difficulties. 

When crews tried drilling a 30 inch wide tunnel for the pipe, they ran into more problems when a section of the pipe broke off in the tunnel and got stuck, according to Biggs. 

It took several weeks to get the broken pipe out and a new section had to be custom ordered and shipped from Florida. 

In an interview with Financial Post regarding issues encountered in the Mountain 3 section, Trans Mountain’s Chief Financial and Strategy Officer Mark Maki said, “The next few weeks will be very important in terms of being able to enter service in the second quarter.” 

Biggs says he interpreted this as meaning that if the next attempt at pulling through the pipe goes poorly, they won’t make their planned start date. 

“Note that Maki also says that even if they keep to that schedule the pipeline won’t be operating at full capacity until sometime in 2025, and that he warns that there is likely to be more cost overruns beyond the current $34 billion price tag,” Biggs told Victoria Buzz.  

The initial estimate of how much the pipeline would cost was just over $5 billion, but the Government had to bail the project out and buy in at $4.8 billion in 2018 when delays and issues pushed the project way over budget. 

That was just the beginning of their budgetary problems, as six years later the cost is looking like it will be around seven times what it was supposed to be and it was initially supposed to be finished several years ago. 

Biggs says that in the last couple years, Trans Mountain has announced various predictions of a finish date, or when the pipeline would be going into operation, but missed all of them. 

“This is of course part of a much larger pattern of delays with this project which was originally projected to be completed in 2019,” he explained. 

Environmental implications around Vancouver Island

Biggs told Victoria Buzz that regardless of when it does become active, when this eventually happens residents of Victoria and southern Vancouver Island are going to see an influx of oil tankers.

“The route the tankers will take is through Boundary Pass and the Haro Strait before passing Victoria on their way to the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the open ocean,” said Biggs. 

According to, before the Trans Mountain Pipeline Expansion, tanker traffic ranged from 20 to 70 vessels coming and going annually with 50 being an approximate average. …

“Once the new pipeline is complete, that will jump to somewhere in the neighbourhood of 408 Aframax tankers a year which each have the capacity to carry 500,000 to 800,000 barrels of oil,” Biggs explained. 

“That works out to a little over a 700% increase in oil tanker traffic from this terminal.” 

… it would only take one accident to devastate the Salish Sea for generations to come.” 

The other main concern about the increase in traffic is the noise pollution which will impact all marine life, especially the endangered Southern resident killer whales. 

According to the World Wildlife Fund, an increase like this could drastically increase the amount of underwater noise. 

Whales and other animals in the impacted area will have their ability to communicate via echolocation affected, they’ll have impaired hearing, increased stress which could lead to harmful behavioural changes and a threatened food supply. 

For now, the environmentalists remain sceptical that the pipeline will be finished on time, but say they are concerned about what will happen to BC’s coast once it is complete.” 

Please remain vigilant to news coverage that omits mention of the fact the pipeline is not yet fully built, has not tested its leak detection system and even if it ever functions as a pipeline will present an unacceptable risk to our coast. In other words, do not give up trying to stop the pipeline.

Meanwhile, people ask me where I find hope. This week John received his renewed BC Farmer’s Identity Card. Yes, there is such a thing! The family business based in the Ashcroft farm, was started by his mom Jill Kidder decades ago as “Kidder Garden.” And when John moved there after his wife’s death to try to grow hops commercially, he changed the business to “KidderGarden- Hops and Herbs.”

To our great delight the BC Department of Agriculture confirmed John as a farmer: Kidder Garden “Hopes and Herbs.”

Aren’t I lucky? I married a man who grows HOPES! 

Happy Easter and please sign the petition to recognize Ecocide found below. Sponsored by Liberal MP Patrick Weiler it needs a lot more signatures and closes on May 7th!

Much love and thanks! Especially for all the notes and donations since my Green Party email asking for donations this week. If you did not get it and want to read it, let me know!



P.S. Please sign the Ecocide petition. We, the undersigned, citizens and residents of Canada, call upon the House of Commons in Parliament assembled to publicly declare its support for an international crime of ecocide.