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In-Sights: Careless or captured? (A 2009 repeat)

When you read or listen to resource industry advocates, especially ones masquerading as objective political pundits, compare their concerns in 2009 about burning natural gas to generate peak-demand electricity to their current attitudes toward burning natural gas to liquefy natural gas. The following was first published at Northern Insight on August 4, 2009.

Despite deep cynicism about those backing Gordon Campbell’s Liberals, I’ve long held respect for the writing of Vaughn Palmer. My reservoir of appreciation seems now to have run dry. He has been bright, skilled and articulate, usually worth reading throughout 35 years with the Vancouver Sun.

Now, I don’t know. Is he distracted, overburdened, grown careless or captured by his subjects? What can explain Palmer’s early reporting about the British Columbia Utilities Commission decision on BC Hydro’s 2008 Long Term Acquisition Plan.

July 31, on his regular Vancouver radio outing, he led with this:

“I think it means the BC Utilities Commission is out of touch. You know, they said, “We’re not persuaded we need all this new green power because you’ve got the Burrard Thermal Plant sitting out there in Port Moody and it could run full time and take care of your power needs for many years.” Which, is completely out of touch. … the Utility Commission’s belief that the Burrard Thermal is the answer to any of the province’s power needs for the future just ignores its impact on air quality among other things.”

That is not merely weak reporting of the Commission’s determination. It is a reprehensible misstatement that totally fails to reflect the actual decision. I can think of only two possibilities. One is that Palmer had not read the report but relied on someone’s corrupt précis. The other is that he intentionally misled the audience for some purpose.

Sidekick Keith Baldrey, also of Canwest Global, contributed:

“And, that’s why I don’t understand why a number of environmental groups who are applauding this decision have remained silent on the fact that Burrard Thermal is to be relied on at an increasing rate because it produces dirty energy. That’s a contradictory and hypocritical position and a number of people haven’t really squared themselves with that.”

No Keith, the BC Utilities Commission simply didn’t say that.

Palmer subsequently shifted his attack, all but accusing the BCUC of joining forces with uninformed racists:

“You know, that bit about the First Nations – I mean think about this for a minute – if we go out and get public opinion on First Nations, one of the first things you hear from people is, “You know, they always want a handout from the government, they’re always taking government money.” You know, here you got a bunch of First Nations in British Columbia – some of the best led native bands in the province – gone out and they’ve found private partners to develop their own resources on their own traditional territory and the big provincial government regulator has slammed the door on their face. I mean, it’s no wonder that they’re feeling frustrated.”

Baldrey added:

“. . . these independent power projects have as economic partners First Nations groups. These are a huge economic development tool for impoverished First Nations and Vaughn and I were reading this morning, from the Sechelt Indian Band, a letter they’ve written the BC Utilities Commission accusing them of essentially, and I quote, “This appears to us to be nothing less than regulated racism.” So you’ve got First Nations now very much up in arms. With the stroke of a pen, the Utilities Commission has kiboshed what they saw as the number one tool to lift a lot of their people out of fairly extensive poverty and I don’t know if the Utilities Commission thought this through properly.”

I was interested to note that at 9am July 31, Baldrey and Palmer knew the contents of the Sechelt Band’s letter and were even armed with the pointed quote claiming “regulated racism.” Yet that letter was still warm from printing, being dated only one day before, July 30. I wonder how it came to be reviewed so promptly and publicly by the Victoria based journalists.

Was the Public Affairs Bureau (PAB) or the Independent Power Producers Association of BC (IPPBC) helping Chief Garry Feschuk and the shishalh First Nation circulate the letter? Were the flacks also providing pre-digested interpretations of the BCUC decision to certain journalists?

Palmer went on to provide a bit of accurate detail, saying the BCUC decision did not reject green power, private power or run of the river facilities and that, primarily, BC Hydro had to rework the scheduling of projects. Mind you, he ignored the BCUC determination that BC Hydro had been either inaccurate or dishonest in its power needs forecasting. That should have been news. At best, Palmer had part of the story correct but his headline material was worse than sloppy.

We cannot though accuse all professional journalists of faulty or inadequate reporting. Mark Hume at the Globe and Mail had no difficulty understanding the entire BCUC decision and writing conclusions based on the Commission’s actual findings. He said:

“The commission’s ruling made it clear, however, that there is no energy crisis – and that when there are energy shortfalls, such as during droughts or the period of peak demand in December, BC Hydro has a solid backup system in the Burrard Generating Station, an old, mostly idle plant fueled by natural gas.

“The commission is not saying we should run the Burrard plant, or that Burrard is a better source of energy than clean resources,” said economist Marvin Shaffer. What the commission determined is that Burrard is valuable as a backup facility, and that in that role it has the capacity of at least 5,000 gigawatt hours, not the 3,000 GWh estimated by BC Hydro.

“By refusing to accept the lower capacity, the commission called into question the need for BC Hydro to purchase backup power from IPPs.

“Had the British Columbia Utilities Commission not intervened, B.C. would have been damming its wild and scenic rivers, not in a noble fight against global warming, but in order to run air conditioners in California.”

Contrast that analysis to the one by Keith Baldrey:

“Yes, they (BCUC) just said go and use Burrard Thermal.”

One does not need to be a sophisticated media analyst to conclude that Canwest Global’s Palmer and Baldrey reported on the BCUC in a manner that is entirely below the standard set by Mark Hume. The Globe and Mail faces the same financial challenges as every newspaper publisher but in the western bureau, they employ and deploy high quality staff, particularly in comparison to the competition.

. . . → Read More: In-Sights: Careless or captured? (A 2009 repeat)

In-Sights: Some business is very private

The eastern media had much to say recently about conflicted journalists. On the west coast, even CKNW’s Sean Leslie, a newsman who knows the subject, weighed in on Even Solomon’s difficulties at the CBC. Vancouver Sun columnist Pete McMartin, with blithe hypocrisy, wrote that in view of the controversy arising from Mansbridge’s and Murphy’s: “speaking . . . → Read More: In-Sights: Some business is very private

In-Sights: Enablers of misconduct, "if it is done here"

The current FIFA scandal illustrates a human behaviour that allows criminal behaviour to succeed. By nature, people tend to ignore the misconduct of others if preventing or revealing it extracts a higher price than ignoring it. Undoubtedly, insiders and observers were aware of high-level corruption at the international football organization. However, most FIFA Congress members . . . → Read More: In-Sights: Enablers of misconduct, "if it is done here"

Cowichan Conversations: Charlie Smith’s Memo to Keith Baldrey: Democracy is Already Imperilled

Richard Hughes-Just another Political Blogger

MSM legislative Global TV guy Keith Baldrey is a master on Twitter. He is not without a developed sense of distortion, as is clear in this provocative deviation from reality highlighted in Charlie Smith’s memo below.

In truth, the blogosphere is multi dimensional in its coverage, much of . . . → Read More: Cowichan Conversations: Charlie Smith’s Memo to Keith Baldrey: Democracy is Already Imperilled

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Careless or captured?

When you read or listen to resource industry advocates, especially ones masquerading as objective political pundits, compare their concerns in 2009 about burning natural gas to generate peak-demand electricity to their current support for burning natural gas to liquefy natural gas. The following was first published at Northern Insight on August 4, 2009.

Despite deep . . . → Read More: Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Careless or captured?

Northern Insight: This week’s Liberal direction: lower LNG expectations

Friday, The Common Sense Canadian — a site that usually provides worthwhile journalism — posted an article written by Keith Baldrey for Glacier Media, publisher of numerous community recyclables. Not surprisingly, anyone reading the Global News reporter’s account needs the rest of the story.

Here is part of Baldrey’s item, “…Clark is arguing that the . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: This week’s Liberal direction: lower LNG expectations

Northern Insight: Good questions

Not a nincompoop blogger, RossK at The Gazetteer mentioned difficulties faced by Bob Mackin, the province’s preeminent investigative journalist, when Bob digs, and pays, for information the government does not want us to know.

This Day In Snookland…Maybe Mr. Mackin Should Take Out A Membership

In comments, reader Lew wonders about the experiences of other . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Good questions

Northern Insight: Broken trust

After shifting his focus in recent months, Alex Tsakumis is blogging again and getting ready to launch yourshow.ca as a 3-hour a day webcast on politics, media and other current affairs. A segment of AGT’s Thursday post caught my eye. He described a moment in the recent Legislative session when Minister of Children and . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Broken trust

Northern Insight: A weapon to change the world

“Those who educate children well are more to be honoured than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.” ― Aristotle

This week the BC Teachers’ Federation and the BC Government are in Supreme Court, duelling over a number of education issues, including class sizes . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: A weapon to change the world

Northern Insight: Sanctimonious, who me?

RossK at The Gazetteer notes one particular whine of one practitioner in the corporate media,

Sanctimonious was an interesting choice of word by this guy but it better fits a message he sent to me last month. (The definition relates to hypocritical righteousness.)

My response is pictured below. The second part quoted from the code . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Sanctimonious, who me?

Northern Insight: No free lunches… ever

Update April 9:

I heard that CKNW’s Bill Good responded on his April 5 morning show to selected critics, people he declined to identify other than through reference to hated bloggers. For a number of days, I tried to listen to the station’s audio vault but the file for 8am to 9am was . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: No free lunches… ever

Northern Insight: No sense of decency

In Liberals’ memo shows party’s delusion, Keith Baldrey takes aim at the government crowd and fires a cruise missile through the target. Actions of these minor league partisans suggest Joseph Welch’s famous lament applies to the BC Liberal Party: “Have… . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: No sense of decency

Northern Insight: Friends caring for friends

Bill Good mounted a defence of Christy Clark today following release of David Basi’s accusations that Premier Christy Clark was very much involved in the corrupt sale of BC Rail and was leaking confidential information to fixers involved in the deal.

Good was joined by Keith Baldrey who wondered even “if it is a story.”

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Friends caring for friends

Northern Insight: Fact free radio

Friday morning on BC Liberal radio, one of the trio assured us that BC Ferries has been cutting administration costs and its overheads had little or nothing to do with financial problems.

Shall we test the accuracy of the comment?

Combined passenger and vehicle traffic in 2012 is down by 4.4% over 2010. According to . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Fact free radio

Northern Insight: Not a story to be ignored, after all

The following conversation between the three voices of NW’s Trailing Edge from the Ledge was first reported at Northern Insight in October 2009.

Today, the boys got to say what they really think about the blog world:

Keith:

“Vaughn called them nut cases in the past . . .”

Vaughn:

“Nincompoops ranting in . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Not a story to be ignored, after all

Northern Insight: See what happens when you split the vote

On today’s Trailing Edge from the Ledge, BC Liberal press officer Sean Leslie disclosed strategy to be followed after the party’s candidate, federal Conservative wonk Laurie Throness, fails to win the once friendly riding of Chilliwack-Hope.

“If the NDP actually pulls a win out there because the Conservatives and the Liberals are split, then . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: See what happens when you split the vote

Northern Insight: Wingnut alert!

REPLAY: First published Oct 22, 2010, this small piece, with minor updates, remains apropos.

BC Liberals Keith “Fore!” Baldrey and Bill “That’s an old story” Good, with Mr. “I’ve Seen No Evidence” Palmer, said on Corus Radio that bloggers are anonymous “wingnuts” writing “things they don’t know.”

I might be a wingnut but I’m not . . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Wingnut alert!

Northern Insight: Trailing edge from the Ledge

A reader commenting in the preceding article about corporate journalism left this statement:

“A means must be found to reign in the illegality and criminal activity in BC’s provincial government.”

I believe that exposing unvarnished truth is the single most important thing. The co-opted mainstream media must be forced to change or be made irrelevant.

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Trailing edge from the Ledge

Northern Insights / Perceptivity: Toothless media accommodates political fraud

In 2006, Rafe Mair wrote News Media, Defanged for The Tyee. It included the headline:

“Politicians, not too long ago, feared the press.”

Of course misreants particularly feared Rafe Mair during his post-politician days. Rafe had been a successful lawyer and a capable cabinet minister in Bill Bennett’s coalition and service on both sides of . . . → Read More: Northern Insights / Perceptivity: Toothless media accommodates political fraud