Vancouver-Fairview MLA George Heyman takes cabinet oath as Minister of Environment and Climate Change, delivered by Lt. Gov. Judith Guichon at Government House, Victoria, July 18, 2017. (Don Craig/B.C. government)

B.C. unions, protesters move up

John Horgan government pleases labour, environmentalists

Who’s the biggest winner in the new NDP government, unions or environmentalists? Both!

Professional protesters are thrilled. Joe Foy of the Wilderness Committee allowed that he’s “over the moon” about NDP MLA George Heyman taking over the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change, as it has been rebranded.

Foy assured The Vancouver Sun that during his three terms as B.C. Government Employees’ Union president, Heyman “brought together a coalition of union representatives and environmental representatives and made the argument that it needn’t be jobs versus the environment.”

It’s too bad his party’s version of that argument fails. Putting unconstitutional roadblocks in front of a federal pipeline project offers only lost jobs, since replacement oil is abundant. Shutting down Site C, B.C.’s biggest clean energy project in 30 years, would hurt the environment and push thousands of people out of work.

These days it’s MoveUP, the BC Hydro office union, that has new clout. Two of its communications people moved up into top positions in Premier John Horgan’s office.

Horgan has turned green, and I don’t mean in a Hulk sort of way. He cries now. He drives a Prius. He loves small hydro projects, once derided by the NDP as “pirate power.”

Not long ago, lefty economists, the Wilderness Committee and COPE 378, as MoveUp used to be called, ran a bitter campaign against private hydro. Now let 100 power flowers bloom, all in the unionized monopoly model of BC Hydro. That’s been Horgan’s only real problem with independent power all along.

The first order of business when the legislature resumes after Labour Day is, once again, the election of a speaker. Officially, it’s a secret ballot vote, a privilege MLAs reserve for themselves that the NDP hopes to remove from employees in union certification votes.

B.C.’s new Labour Minister is Surrey-Newton MLA Harry Bains, who came to politics from a career with the Steelworkers-IWA Canada. NDP insiders call it “Steel,” an indication of the intimacy between the party and the international union that bankrolled its campaign staff.

Bains wants to replace the secret ballot in union certificationwith a “card check” that would allow union sign-ups in private. B.C. Green Party leader Andrew Weaver, a former union negotiator himself with the UVic faculty association, is opposed.

Vision Vancouver executive director Stepan Vdovine is doing a temporary stint in Victoria, on loan from Mayor Gregor Robertson’s city hall. Vdovine and his Visionistas played the 2015 leak of a freighter’s bunker fuel into English Bay as a planet-threatening event, and played the Vancouver media like a violin.

This forest fire season is already being framed as a preview of the Mad Max future that awaits if Canada’s oil isn’t kept in the ground and a global wealth shift is not immediately implemented, from your wallet.

Like San Francisco-based ForestEthics, Vancouver-based Wilderness Committee is trying to edge away from the played-out “war in the woods” routine. It has a “climate change campaigner” now, whose job is to join all the other groups arrayed against the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion.

Its latest anti-pipeline newsletter is a predictable jumble of U.S. protester fake news about the “tar sands,” mostly around the familiar claim that it’s the dirtiest, most carbon intensive oil in the world. This is received wisdom for every NDP and B.C. Green Party MLA I’ve heard from on the subject.

Actually, 13 oilfields in California have higher upstream greenhouse gas emissions than Alberta dilbit, as does Alaska North Slope crude, which has been tankered daily from Valdez past Victoria for 40 years.

Tom Fletcher is B.C. legislature reporter and columnist for Black Press. Email: Twitter: @tomfletcherbc

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