Look in the mirror for the root of the division Nenshi.

 I was not a fan of Mayor Bronconnier by any means. One thing I did have to respect with Bronco though was his ability to lead council and keep a semblance of order within city hall. Leadership means getting people to work together and Bronconnier had that knack even if I think he tended to lead them to foolish decisions. The Mayor indeed is simply one vote in a council of many. The Mayor though is responsible for setting the tone of council and ensuring that discussion is reasoned and productive. It is a tough job and a vital one. A person has to be both a team player and a leader.

 Mayor Nenshi is quickly proving himself incapable of leading or playing with the team. While profoundly skilled at cutting ribbons and taking part in CBC specials, Nenshi has been an utter failure when it comes to keeping a degree of unity within Calgary City Council. The public spats and venom have been outstanding and I can’t even imagine what the tension is like behind closed doors.

Nenshi’s own swollen head is his biggest enemy. Nenshi’s excessive vanity is not simply a matter of opinion. He hardly tries to hide it when he literally declares himself the most popular politician in all of Canada.  

 Life has been something of a love-in for Nenshi since becoming Mayor. He was elected in a wave of almost reverential support by hipsters who still fawn over his every move. The CBC and Toronto latte-lapping crowd don’t even try to disguise their fawning over our Mayor. I guess it should not be shocking that it has gotten to Mr. Nenshi’s head more than a little.

 While enjoying the political rock-star lifestyle however, Mayor Nenshi has clearly been neglecting his job of actually running the city of Calgary. Is it surprising that council is running amuk when the mayor is up late at every possible social event where a camera may be available or is speaking to adoring crowds at CBC functions in Toronto rather than dealing with the grind of city management?

 Now Nenshi has recognized that our council is currently a mess. I guess that is a step in the right direction. Rather than looking to the top however, Nenshi has determined that our city councilors must have some mental health shortcomings and has contracted a psychologist to facilitate a meeting to try and work things out. I mean, a person must be crazy to dare disagree with King Nenshi right?

 In the same article linked above there are a couple quotes from Nenshi that tell the whole story as to why council is falling apart under Nenshi.

Mayor Nenshi in response to this issue:

 ” I would find it extraordinary if any member of council did not want to attend a meeting on how council can work together better.  But if members of council are interested in a dysfunctional group that is not working well together, it is absolutely their prerogative.”

 Good lord. One does not need to be a psychologist to see the problem here. You can almost hear Nenshi’s trademark condescending, grade one schoolteacher tone in the above statement.

 These are elected officials that you continue to talk down to like that Nenshi not little kids. If they appear to be acting like kids, it is due to them having lost respect for the one who is supposed to give them direction. Quit blaming council for your own shortcomings Nenshi and you may get somewhere in leading them.

 If Nenshi doesn’t have a serious change in attitude soon, we will see much more council division in the next year and a half. Perhaps the psychologist will recognize this and point it out as the Mayor certainly can’t see this.

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You have to earn your way to the big kids table.

Every election we see the same thing, the fringe parties and their exiguous but dedicated and vocal supporters begin making noise and demanding that their party be represented in the televised debates. It is understandable why these fringe groups want to participate. Many people remain undecided until the debate and use that broadcast as almost their sole means of making up their mind as they have an opportunity to see the leaders of the main parties demonstrate their ability (or lack of) to lead our province. It is because of this importance of the debates that a bar must be set though and we can’t have an important event like this cluttered with the leader of every tiny party in the province participating.

 In 2004 it was the Alberta Alliance (now Wildrose) that was protesting and making noise demanding that Randy Thorsteinson be included in the debate. They even had some people waving signs outside of a TV station but to no avail. The broadcasters had set the bar by saying that a party needed an elected member in the legislature in order to participate in the debate. The Alberta Alliance had Edmonton MLA Gary Masyk who had recently crossed the floor to join the Alberta Alliance. The powers that be decided this was not good enough as Masyk had not been elected under the banner of the Alberta Alliance.

The Alberta Alliance was running candidates in all 83 constituencies in that election as well. That still was not enough to sway the broadcasters and the debate was held with only the PC, NDP and Liberal leaders in that election. Fair enough.

 Now we come to the latest vocal complainants; the Alberta Party. While their presence on twitter is notable due to them having a handful of prolific posters in their ranks, their impact or even recognition among the Alberta electorate is simply insignificant. The fringe Alberta Party barely registers 1% in Alberta polls, has no member elected under their banner in the legislature, will be lucky to nominate even 30 candidates in the election and as far as can be seen is totally broke. Why on earth should their leader be allowed to take up 20% of the time at the very important debate?

 The Alberta Party scored a tiny coup when embittered former Liberal MLA Dave Taylor broke his promise to sit as an independent and crossed the floor to join them. Taylor never got over the Liberal Party’s rejection of him when he ran for the leadership and joining the Alberta Party was his final way of giving the finger to the party that got him elected in the first place. It must be noted, Taylor does not have the gumption or courage to actually run under the Alberta Party banner. He will be taking off with his severance package as soon as the writ drops presumably to try and find another job in broadcasting. At least Masyk was willing to run for the Alberta Alliance after he crossed the floor.

 It is pretty clearly established which parties are worth broadcasting to the province in a debate in the coming election. The PCs, Liberals, NDP and Wildrose parties all have members sitting in the legislature that were elected under their own party banner. They are all polling well above the statistical margin of error (no other parties are) and all are clearly in positions to be winning some seats at the least. Aside from the Liberals, all of them will be running significant numbers of candidates in the election. It will be important and interesting to see the leaders of these parties debate. That will not happen if every crackpot leader from the rest of the fringe parties takes part however.

A party can work it’s way from fringe status. What the Alberta Party supporters appear to overlook is that to do so takes years of very hard work. Paul Hinman was tireless as the leader of the Alberta Alliance party as well as many key supporters within the party. With countless meetings across the province, many policy revisions, news events and releases, recruitment of new and strong people and a receptive attitude to mergers and compromise, the party broke free from it’s fringe status and is the contender that we call the Wildrose today.

 Essentially what I am saying to the parties at the fringe is if we could do it (get mainstream sized support), you can do it. Until then though, you simply don’t rank a seat at the debates.

 Social media does provide for alternatives though. A community hall could be booked and a cage match debate could be held with the leaders of the Social Credit, Communist, Alberta, Evergreen and Separation parties that all want seats in the main debate. This circus could be live streamed and archived on YouTube. It could provide some welcome comic relief in what will doubtless be generally a serious election.

 The word that springs to mind when I see fanatical fringe party supporters demanding things is “entitlement”. Face it guys, private broadcasters owe you nothing nor should they. Quit complaining and put your nose to the grindstone. Complaining will never break you free from fringe status but hard work might.

 
 
 
 

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Why do politicians lie to us? Because we ask them to.

 

 I was out at some doors yesterday for a local candidate. People were very receptive and I do think that an atmosphere for change is finally building in Alberta. Still, at a few doors I hit some of those cynical types who boldly stated the old dodges “They are all the same” and “They are all liars”. Personally I think that most of these people use this as a simplistic excuse to avoid the personal responsibility of actually paying attention to politics and casting a ballot every few years. Politicians are not all the same nor are all of them liars. Still though, there is a grain of truth to those statements which allows people to hide behind them.

 The problem is twofold; politicians are prone to breaking promises because we ask them to make unreasonable promises and we reward them by re-electing them after they have broken promises.

People are prone to voting for whoever blows the most sunshine up their collective arses

I learned the above lesson in the first candidates forum I ever participated in. It was the 2001 election and in Canmore there were a few hundred people gathered at the Howard Johnson so see what we all had to say.

 Now as I said, it was my first forum so I was a little nervous and most unwisely chose to calm my nerves through having a few beers in the lounge before the forum. Consuming a diuretic like beer before having to sit for a few hours in front of a crowd is never a good idea but the foolishness of that idea escaped me that night.

 Getting towards the later part of the forum, I am getting increasingly uncomfortable due to excess bladder pressure and the hours of fluffy and predictable non-answers to questions from other candidates were getting on my nerves. My version of political Tourette’s syndrome was building and I was ready to go off. I was running in a fringe position in that election and was under no illusion that I was in a position to win the seat. That does bestow a certain kind of freedom that the other candidates did not have.

 The question to all candidates that set me off was “How much would you raise minimum wage in order to fight poverty in Alberta?” Such a shallow and loaded question in itself ticked me off and the predictable answers from the other candidates drove me right over the edge.

 The NDP promised a massive increase to minimum wage which would end all poverty in Alberta. The Liberal promised a moderate increase to minimum wage to end all poverty in Alberta. The PC promised to strike a committee to see how much we would need to raise minimum wage to end all poverty in Alberta.

 Finally it was my turn to answer. I began my statement by bluntly pointing out that raising minimum wage to fight poverty was about as stupid as printing money to pay off the debt. Well the intake of breath before utter silence in the room was evident. I then continued to rant and point out that simplistic, band-aid solutions will do nothing to ease a complex problem such as poverty. I said something along the lines of people perpetuating poverty through supporting placebo fixes such as minimum wage increases while ignoring the tougher realities that need to be faced if poverty is to be addressed.

 Well, needless to say I didn’t exactly win the room. What was most striking after the forum though was when I spoke to people one on one in the room (after a much needed washroom break). Many people fully agreed with me but said in hushed tones “you just can’t say that if you are running in an election.” Why the hell not? Through stating what I considered to be a hard reality I had committed an apparent form of blasphemy at the forum. I had burst the shallow trend of platitudes and rainbows with a cold wash of reality.

 I didn’t try to be all things to all people as the rest of the candidates did and many were appalled. People said things such as “I appreciate your honesty, but could never vote for you”. In that case folks, you don’t really appreciate honesty at all. I understand that there were many reasons why I was not elected that year aside from my lack of restraint when speaking. Still, I was shocked and annoyed how people saw sugarcoated answers to be the only acceptable ones out there.

 This attitude of dodging unpleasant answers and issues though is what leads more and more politicians to promise the world during campaigns whether they can deliver it or not.

 Sadly, a platform based on massive spending  increases along with debt reduction, along with tax reduction, along with an elimination of poverty, along with 100% highly paid employment, along with better tasting drinking water in rural areas is simply not feasible. Despite the complete fantasy nature of the above statement, that really is how many campaigns sound and it is what people are often drawn to voting for.

 When you elect politicians based on unreasonable mandates, don’t express shock when the promises are broken. When the electorate is prepared to vote for politicians with realistic mandates, we will see a reduction in broken promises.

 The other factor that encourages politicians to lie is our willingness to keep re-electing proven liars. Incumbents are practicing learned behavior here folks. They lie their faces off in order to win their seats, they break their promises after winning and then we as an electorate reward the behavior by forgiving them and falling for their lies yet again in the next election.

 Alison Redford blatantly and repeatedly lied in order to win the leadership of the Progressive Conservatives and on some pretty darned big promises. It is clear that Redford is willing to say anything to get elected and it is clear that she will not hesitate to go back on her word once elected. Despite this, Redford still leads the polls in Alberta. So many people claim that they are tired of politicians lying yet they refuse to stop supporting the liars.

 If we want to reduce the broken promises and lies of politicians, the first step is to toss out the incumbent liars. Some will say “the next ones will just lie too”. Perhaps that is true. In that case, toss them out in their butts after 4 years. If the next politician lies, toss that one out too. It may take 8 years, but if the electorate makes it clear that lying politicians tend to only retain their seats for four years we will see a big change in the attitude and behavior of politicians of all stripes.

 Is that just a dream though? The electorate needs to stop blaming the politicians and needs to look at itself. In the end, we who vote still hold the ultimate power should we choose to use it. I think that if and when times become hard enough that people will finally engage. I still hold hope that we do not have to crash to get there first.

 The PCs have been in power for 40 years. The lies told and promises broken over four decades are countless. Despite that we keep putting them back in power. Who is at fault here then?

Let’s hope that we see this trend end in a few months. I am a sour grouchy man at times, but I still have an element of optimism in me.

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A couple places to cut spending.

 

Whenever it comes to spending cuts, supporters of big government like to try and act as if spending on core services will have to be decimated. Nenshi loves doing that in Calgary when people complain of tax hikes. He likes to ask if people don’t want their streets plowed or if people want policing cuts.  There are hundreds of other areas of spending that we could reduce or simply do without altogether. Some of these are some pretty big ticket items on the national and provincial fronts.  

 In the 21st century, we have utterly no need whatsoever for a State Broadcaster. The CBC was initially formed to help bring information and communication across a very vast country. Broadcasting infrastructure such as local studios and towers did not yet exist and the CBC indeed helped unify the nation in bringing all of that together. Those days however are long gone. Satellite technology ensures that people have access to information whether through radio, television or internet in every corner of the country. While working in the arctic, I never saw a house without a satellite dish. Cellular coverage is available on the ice-roads on the Beafort Sea. 
 

 Our State Broadcaster is completely obsolete yet it is costing Canadians $1.2 billion per year. If privatized, I am sure that the infrastructure of the CBC  would be worth at least a few billion when sold as well. That money could be dedicated to the national debt thus reducing interest charges thus allowing for more spending on core services. I am sure that most provinces would be happy to dedicate another $100+ million per year to their health expenditures even if indeed it does mean that we will see fewer reruns of Anne of Green Gables and Little Mosque on the Prairie.

 Another behemoth of spending that we really don’t require is bilingualism. Let’s face it, aside from Quebec, New Brunswick and to a much lesser degree Ontario, French speakers are in such a tiny minority that it is a joke to really consider the rest of the provinces to be bilingual. Unilingual French speakers are an even smaller minority within a minority. The amount we are spending on this microscopic segment of the population however is not small at all.

 A recent study has found bilingualism to be costing $2.4 billion per year in Canada.

Now perhaps a case can be made for enforced bilingual services in some of our Eastern provinces but lets look here in Alberta (the other Western provinces are similar).

 In Alberta, 1.9% of our province consider French to be their mother tongue. Only .05% are considered to be unilingual French speakers. Think about that folks because it really is only the unilingual ones we need to be concerned with here when it comes to providing French services. In provincial bilingual spending alone, we spend $2027 per year per unilingual French speaker. With federal spending on top of that the cost becomes much higher.

 That sure is a lot of money to spend to ensure that a tiny minority can read the back of a cereal box in their preferred language.

 What is the long-term goal for this spending anyway? Is it expected that we will have a large population fluent in both official languages in Alberta? If that is the case, it has been a terrible failure. French is not growing in popular use in Alberta no matter how much we spend on it.

 Is it really that impossible to model spending based on actual need?

 When will we allow common sense to creep into spending decisions? We are seeing countries all around the world going broke because they thought that they could tax, borrow and spend themselves into prosperity. Those countries are now being forced into considering some almost crippling austerity measures to make up for their past overspending. We are in an envious position in that we have not hit that debt/spending wall yet. We need to get rational about what we spend on and how much.

 Where are our priorities? In virtually every poll health and education are the top two concerns voiced by Albertans. Why then are we running short on the aforementioned items while spending billions on luxury programs such as the CBC and bilingualism that only service tiny minorities?

 Think to yourself, will your life change radically for the worse if the CBC were privatized? Would Alberta suffer a crippling cultural blow if we no longer spent millions upon millions to accommodate a convenience for .05% of our population?

 With more time and research people can find all sorts of areas where spending can be cut without any measurable effect on our core services. We need to remember that when elected officials try to play that bait and switch method in defending the hyper-expenditure increases being made by big government.

 We can still maintain a high standard of health and education provision while not raising taxes or overall government expenditures. We have a great deal of spending cuts to make on items that we don’t need however.

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What is with the prohibitionists these days?

What we have been seeing is a trend of incremental prohibitionism. The Progressive Conservative government has been constantly bringing in intrusive business legislation and taxing the hell out of anything they see as sinful. It is clear who the social conservatives are in Alberta and anybody pointing fingers at the Wildrose Party is way off base.

I wrote on Redford’s prohibitionism here.

I covered Redford’s nanny state social engineering here.

Redford has shown that she has embraced a mandate to engineer our actions in what she has determined to be “for our own good”, and she will not hesitate to step on some rights to do it. This has now had the consequence of emboldening others who would like to see big government legislate our personal actions even further.

Police Chief Rick Hanson is speaking out hoping that government raises the drinking age.

5 young Calgarians have died in the last year from illegal ecstasy overdoses and Chief Hanson wants police to chase first year university students who may dare have a beer!

 Get your head out of your ass Hanson. You complain about lack of police resources every budget year yet you want to have officers running around charging 18 year olds for drinking? Your police can’t be that strapped if these are your priorities. Take care of the youth dying from illegal drug use before you come back to us to try and broaden the age of prohibition.

 As I saw pointed out in other comments, 18 year olds can enlist in the army and die for our country. 18 year olds can vote in elections and 18 year olds can work and pay full taxes. 18 year olds can marry. The age of majority is 18. Get over it and let them drink.

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OMG! OMG! We’re surrounded!!!

The hyped hysteria from the anti-progress crowd who oppose the Gateway Pipeline project has been hitting a fever pitch as hyperbole and utter fabrications are being spread about pipelines.

One would think that this was the first major oil pipeline ever built. I do understand however that your average person really has little to do with oilfield and pipelines and that is understandable. It does make people impressionable however and it is time for a reality check.

To begin with, there are over 825,000 km of existing oil and gas pipelines in Canada.

More excellent information on Canada’s pipelines and their safety record can be found here.

 

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If we want to go further into buried utilities and add small natural gas service lines, water lines, sewage lines and such the number goes into the millions of kilometers. They are around us all the time everywhere you go even if you do not notice it.

Have you ever noticed that pretty much every city seems to have long narrow parkways that are often used for bikepaths, dog parks and golf courses? Ever wonder why such oddly shaped parks were designed? Well, more often than not those parks are actually right-of-ways for large pipelines. While it is indeed perfectly safe to have a large high pressure pipeline go through a city, we can’t build houses and such right on top of them so the land is often used for parks. Have we heard of any massive blowouts? Cities destroyed by leaking oil?

With the millions of kilometers of pipelines throughout North America it is pretty easy to cherry pick some incidents of leakage to try and paint all pipelines as being unsafe. For the few kilometers of pipeline that spring leaks every year, one should keep in mind the millions of kilometers of pipeline that do not. That is not to say that it is acceptable to have pipelines leaking but the scope and scale of things has to be kept in mind. We are very good at moving products through pipes and we are getting better all the time. Companies are heavily fined for pipeline breaches and they lose product. Rest assured companies that own buried utilities have utterly no incentive to have them leaking.

Next I am going to point out something utterly shocking.

 We have had a crude oil pipeline running from Alberta to the West coast for almost 60 years!!!!

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The Trans Mountain Pipeline has traversed the Rocky Mountains since shortly after World War II and the world has not come to an end. Well over 200,000 barrels per day of crude has been flowing through some very sensitive regions of the mountains without an environmental catastrophe and that pipeline is old. Newer ones are much safer. Demand is far outstripping the capacity of that pipeline today.

How has this large pipeline snuck under the radar for so many for so long?

Well to begin with, it’s buried. I am being serious here. Many people are under the misimpression that these pipelines are above ground. That myth has been happily fed by people in opposition to development as surface pipes paint an ugly and intrusive picture. Again, with most people not spending time in the oilfield, their impressions are formed on the pictures that media put out.

Below is a picture that accompanied an article about the Keystone Pipeline in FFWD magazine a little while ago.

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Isn’t that perfect? A nice pristine mountain background broken by an unsightly and intrusive surface pipeline. Never mind that the picture has utterly no relation to either the Keystone or Gateway pipelines which will be buried. It gives nice negative optics to be reinforced. May as well use pictures of sewage pipes spewing into oceans. It is just as relevant.

In my job I have to occasionally pop out to locate buried utilities. As can be seen in the picture below not only am I cold and wearing a safety vest that is ill fitting, I am holding an electronic locating wand. That is because pipelines buried in isolated areas are actually quite difficult to find so I have to begin at the wellhead as I did below and locate the pipe from there.

 

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Below are the stakes I placed to indicate the location of the line. As can be seen, one would never even know it is there had I not marked it. That is the case with most pipelines and is much of the reason that so many people do not realize just how much pipeline infrastructure they are surrounded by every day. The dead trees are due to a forest fire a few years ago by the way. It had no impact on the pipe and as can be seen the natural regrowth is coming along very well. Some anti-progress types like to wrongly imply that a forest that has been cut or burned is gone forever. Trees grow back.

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Modern pipelines are buried following very strict quality and environmental standards. Riparian buffers are observed. Bores are used to bypass water bodies without threatening the water itself. Sensitive areas are avoided and construction is timed to avoid migratory wildlife.

Pipelines are a reality of life and they have been moving oil and gas in North America since the turn of the century. They are nothing new and they really do not cause much harm despite the hysteria of opponents of development.

The need and demand for energy is a fact of life as well. The oilsands are not going away and they are not going to be shut down. The product from the oilsands will be transported to market one way or another. Pipelines are by far the safest means of carrying that product.

If we do not use pipelines, product will continue to be moved with tanker trucks or trains as pictured below.

 

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Basic

 

There are real concerns and issues that need to be heard regarding the Northern Gateway pipeline. Unfortunately those legitimate concerns are being drowned out by groups who are determined to derail all forms of progress with any means possible. These people will not stick to facts in their crusade against energy and they are harming an important process.

Lets face the reality that we will be moving oil products through pipelines and try to stick to a realistic goal of trying to move product  as safely as possible. That means we need to stick to the facts.

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Guilty until proven innocent.

 

One would think that our elected officials would understand the profound importance of the process of legal defense when it comes to application of the laws. In a mad rush of misguided nanny state prohibitionism, provincial legislatures have illegalized what is technically legal through lowering alcohol limits below the .08 standard that is set in criminal law. Not only does this move target a category of drivers that statistically do not cause many accidents, this move deprives people of the legal rights of defense that are provided in other criminal matters.

 Due to driving and apparently the possession of money not being entrenched rights within Canada, provincial legislation allows people to be punished through the removal of their drivers licenses and through fines without any form of defence in a proper court. If a person relies on their vehicle for work they may find themselves unemployed. If a person relies on a vehicle to visit family they may find themselves isolated. If a person relies on money to pay the bills, they may face collectors if they can’t afford the fines levied without any means of defence before a judge.

 The simplistic may say: “So what? If it saves one life…….”. Well that is nothing short of idiotic. Following that logic we have to ban motor vehicles altogether as it can be proven that it would save thousands of lives. Again as well, statistics show that the number of accidents caused by people with .05-.079 blood alcohol in their system are virtually insignificant. The vast majority of drunk driving accidents are caused by people who are well over the .08% limit. There really is a good reason why the law sets the limit there.

 Other fools may say, well if we simply don’t drink at all we have nothing to fear. Well for one, drinking is legal and why should we not allow ourselves to responsibly indulge in it simply because our provincial politicians want to bypass legal defence procedures? 

 For another thing, as has been proven a person who is totally sober can have their personal rights completely violated and their lives turned upside down though this method of “trial by roadside”.

 Abused at the side of the road and punished without trial, Margaret MacDonald had to get her blood tested on her own at a local hospital where it was proven that she was not drunk. This did not stop the punishment of course. Ms. MacDonald still had a three month driving suspension and $500 fine with no means to defend herself in court. Even if some time down the road it is determined that MacDonald was innocent, it is not like a driving suspension can be taken back.

 How many other innocent people have been charged and punished but may not have had the foresight to go to a hospital to have an immediate blood test to try and prove their innocence? How many others have been convicted at the roadside but perhaps were given a faulty test or had other circumstances that showed they were indeed sober? Having no legal means to investigate or defend as we do in criminal law it is impossible to tell now.

 Lets not beat around the bush people. These laws are being put into place by neo-prohibitionists who simply do not want to see people drinking in any circumstance and they are not afraid to violate individual rights in their means to end drinking. Stats show there was no need for these laws and common sense says that we need proper means of defense.

Think of it this way, you may be better off being totally plastered and blowing .12% rather than blowing .06% which is legal but punishable. At least the plastered drunkard has a means of defense in court.

The encroachment of personal rights and the bypassing of common sense systems of legal defense is not a small thing. We need to stand up for ourselves and toss out these nanny-staters. If we continue to tolerate their abuse of our rights, there is no end to what they will come up with.

 You could be next.

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Using the process to kill progress.

During the Joint Review Panel hearings for the Mackenzie pipeline environmental activists learned that they could delay and bind up the process through taking advantage of the open hearings process. Time was dedicated at the hearings for people concerned with the pipeline to speak and ask questions and the registration process was simple to encourage locals to come to the hearings. Unfortunately, few locals managed to get those spots as they were crowded out by activists from all over the nation who flooded the applications and bogged the entire progress.

 The environmentalists did not care about local input from people who actually could have been impacted by the project. The activists cared only about shutting down all development at any cost and through any means. The Joint Review Panel went years over their allotted time in the hearings. By the time the findings for the seemingly endless hearings were released (the pipeline was approved), costs had escalated so much and the economy had dropped by so much that it simply was no longer feasible to break ground on the pipeline. Poverty and unemployment are rampant in the Mackenzie Delta region as many Inuvialuit people had trained to work in what was supposed to be a growing energy sector that the environmentalists had essentially shut down. The eco-radicals really don’t care about the human fallout in their cult-like opposition to all forms of progress.

 Credit has to be given to the environmentalist radicals, they learned from the experience. Now anti-progress groups have expanded outside of Canada’s borders and have flooded the entire process with 4,500 applications from people from all over the world to speak against the project.

 Again, clearly the environmentalists do not care whatsoever if local people who truly may be impacted by this project get to speak and be heard. The eco-crowd is pushing all rational discussion to the side as they abuse the entire process at the cost of it’s very legitimacy.

 It has now been found that environmentalist groups had been signing up people as interveners without their consent or knowledge.

 In a religious sort of fervor, the opponents of the project set aside all ethics and honesty as they will utilize any means to try and halt the entire process. These people are not rational nor are they principled. These people have no interest in discussion or study of the issues nor are they interested in any form of compromise. The opponents of the Northern Gateway pipeline are primarily extremists who want nothing less than a complete shutdown of Alberta’s oilsands. They have failed to stop the oilsands directly so now they are trying to block all means to sell the product. I wish the environmentalist set would one day realize that their welfare cheques are heavily funded through taxes paid by oilfield workers.

 Yesterday I saw an interview with a crackpot representing the Sierra Club who took offense to having been called a radical. He then went on a rant directly comparing those who use fossil fuels to people addicted to heroin. Sorry pal, you are the complete and perfect picture of a radical. Get over it.

 While the anti-progress groups have learned from past hearings, it appears that the regulatory bodies have not. There has only been one day of hearings so far and it is clear that the process will be a long and expensive waste of time if we have to give 10 minutes of speaking time to 4500 extremists who have filled out an online form. The process needs to be completely revamped so that the foreign extremists are filtered out while people with legitimate concerns are still able to address the panel.

 From the statements coming from the Prime Minister and our Environment Minister it is pretty clear that the government sees how a well meaning process has been hijacked by the extreme and they are not impressed. It is too bad that Sheila Leggett (panel chair) could not see this obvious flaw in the process. I expect and hope that the federal government intervenes and gets this project back on the rails as clearly the panel is not capable of it.

 The extreme will always be with us and they have a right to speak. We need to stop catering to them every time they begin wailing however. These groups oppose every possible form of energy generation on simple principle. They are not rational and will never add anything of worth to realistic processes.

 We have a growing population and a global market. Until a perpetual motion machine or something is invented, conventional energy development is nothing less than a necessity and we have to stop letting radical extremists hinder reasonable developments.

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I wish the environmentalist set would look at the real offenders.

The small Metis community of Conklin Alberta made headlines around the continent a couple years ago when twelve black bears had to be shot at their local garbage dump. Outrage was expressed by many towards Sustainable Resources and the officers who had to do the cull. The officers can’t be blamed in this circumstance. When bears have been spoiled by humans, there is no rehabilitation and relocation for them. Black bears will travel hundreds of kilometers to find new human created sources of food once spoiled and they will be increasingly dangerous and irritable once that trip is completed.

The bottom line is that a ready food source was made available to the bears for years due to irresponsible waste management in an area highly populated with bears. To be honest, I don’t know who’s responsibility the garbage dump is but the past (and current) management of the facility is completely unacceptable and will be leading to more bear shootings soon. The municipality is Wood Buffalo and the village is Conklin. I imagine that among those two entities one is responsible for waste management.

Below is a picture of black bears eating at the Conklin dump a couple years ago. Following that picture are pictures that I took of the “improved” Conklin garbage facility a few days ago.

Clearly international embarrassment has not been enough of a motivator for this community to solve it’s garbage problem.

 Bears at Conklin dump pre-2009

bears

Open unprotected bins at Conklin dump January 2012

 Conklin dump

Below are pictures of the garbage I found that animals had dragged from the dumpsters into the nearby trees.

bushjunkb bushjunka

 The bush surrounding the dump area is nothing short of disgusting. Garbage is strewn for acres as entire bags have clearly been pulled from the open dumpsters and dragged into the trees by animals for consumption. Ravens then spread the smaller pieces even wider.

There indeed is no longer an open landfill at the Conklin dump. They have put up a partial fence and a warning sign about bears along with the open, unsupervised bins packed with domestic waste.

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The sign goes into detail on the small print about how people should not approach or feed bears. The fence stretches about 30 meters to either side of the gate and stops. It is meant to keep people out of the dump area after hours. The fence is not meant as any form of animal deterrent. There really has been no deterrent measures put in place at the dump.

The Conklin dump is providing a virtual buffet for animals and it is doubtless that more animals will become spoiled and will die as a result. Foxes, coyotes and wolves are being harmed by this mess too.

I was fortunate enough to grow up in Banff Alberta. I remember well as a kid in the late seventies and early eighties tourists being directed to hit certain parts of town on garbage day to see black bears and people were directed to the dump out by Lake Minnewanka to see grizzly bears. Part of the summer routine was often to clean up the garbage out back before school as the coyotes and bears had gotten into it.

Banff got it’s wakeup call in the early 80s when a grizzly terrorized the town for weeks with five people mauled and one killed in a series of attacks before the bear was located and destroyed. I hated that period as a kid as we loved playing in the bush but understandably our parents kept us all well within the townsite until the bear had been killed.

After that tragic happening, Banff transformed quickly into a town that did not feed the bears. Home collection of garbage ended as bear proof bins were placed around town. Open landfills ended with transfer stations where domestic garbage was taken to a bear proofed site for disposal.

 If a town of 5000 (with 15,000 tourists) in the mountains can responsibly manage their garbage in the 1980s, why the hell can’t an oil-rich community of a few hundred do the same in 2012??

It only takes a short trip through google to see how many communities in areas with bears have learned to keep bears from their dumps in cost effective ways. There are many solutions out there if a community wants to seek them. Conklin apparently is not interested in seeking a solution unfortunately.

Now where is the outcry from our environmental crusaders on this? Well they are busy yelping at the big bad oil industry whether justifiably or not.

I am currently in a camp in the Conklin area. The energy industry is very careful to mitigate wildlife impact in every possible way while working. Garbage containment is actually one of our easiest areas to deal with. Our industry rarely gets credit for it’s responsible and ethical environmental practices unfortunately.

Throughout our camp we have bear proof garbage cans for spot disposal of small amounts of garbage. These are the exact same bins that are present in Banff.

bins

Larger volumes of waste go to a compactor to be trucked out to a proper landfill.

compactor

 There are about 750 people in my camp. There is not so much as a french fry left out for wildlife to get at. Is it too much to ask a town of a few hundred to do the same?

Where is the outcry on towns and their shoddy waste practices? It is lost among those loudly and wrongly targeting the oilfield. Rest assured if we (oilfield) behaved like the town of Conklin in our practices, our operation would be quickly shut down and we would be heavily fined.

I strongly suggest that people concerned about wild animal welfare contact provincial authorities and demand that they crack down on towns with irresponsible waste practices. Put down your signs protesting the oilsands for a minute and try to make some realistic and worthwhile change come about. We sure heard loudly from groups when some ducks died.

Lets hope my next series of pictures does not involve shots of dead black bears.

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Busy days.

I have just been swamped in the field lately. Have some new pics and posts coming but have not had time to do them. It is good to see the Alberta field recovering from the Progressive Conservative’s assault on it a few years ago. It has been awhile since I have worked in Alberta.

 To substitute for my lack of updates, I will post a link to a great blog post that breaks down and exposes the utterly ridiculous levels that anti-energy sorts will go to in cooking their statistics. The assumptions taken by this “Center for Global Development” group in their “study” are nothing less than ridiculous.

 Environmental groups, labor groups and other left-wing groups have really taken to spawning countless “think tank” type organizations that regularly release this trash data. They love cloaking them in harmless sorts of names such as this “Center for Global Development” and “Policy Alternatives”. Lazy media members often take data from groups such as this at face value and it is unfortunate considering how far from reality these groups and their cooked statistics often are.  

 I appreciate that Andrew Leach took the time to debunk that garbage so effectively. I strongly recommend that you read the posting linked below and keep it in mind when seeing other reports from the anti-progress set as they try to fabricate a case against development.

Canadian crude oil production to increase 3300% by 2100

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