Monday, 26 September 2011

MANITOBA ELECTION: STILL UNDECIDED?

I don't blame you. Choosing between the parties in this provincial election is like choosing between a light grey Chevy Malibu and a dark grey Chevy Malibu. If only a bright red Dodge Challenger SRT8 was available...

So far in this election, the boldest idea has come from the Green Party: free bus fare. The second boldest idea has come from the Liberals: relax Sunday shopping laws. Both the Greens and the Liberals are holding back on the excessive spending promises, meanwhile the NDP and PC parties are dropping money bags from helicopters. Unfortunately, neither the Liberals or Greens have a chance in this election. John Gerrard may get re-elected as the Liberal's only seat, meanwhile Green Party leader James Beddome is an underdog in Wolseley and no other Green candidate even has a shot.

The realistic discussion pertains to the NDP and the PCs, but when you look at the two main parties from a high level they look pretty much the same:

CRIME
NDP: more cops on the street
PC: more cops on the street

HEALTH CARE
NDP: more doctors and nurses
PC: more doctors and nurses

ECONOMY
NDP: won't balance the budget
PC: won't balance the budget

TAXES
NDP: minor tax credits with no significant tax reform
PC: minor tax credits with no significant tax reform

EVERYTHING ELSE
NDP: spend lots of money
PC: spend lots of money

Rather than campaigning on ideas, the NDP is campaigning on things the PCs might do, and the PCs are campaigning on things the NDP failed to do. The only difference is the NDP has a track record, and the PCs do not. Whether you think that track record is good or bad may be your deciding factor in voting, but if you're looking for something to tip the balance, this should be it:

BIPOLE III

I haven't blogged about Bipole III 2,587,398 times because I think it's just that interesting. I've written about it because it's an irreversible and extremely costly decision, and also because I have a very low tolerance for idiotic behaviour. The NDP government has routinely addressed problems by throwing money at them rather than making any sort of difficult decision, and this is the most extreme example of that, except in this case there is more at stake than just money.

Let's just cover the main aspects:

COST: The west route will cost about $1 billion more. That's "billion" with a "B". This is if we build additional capacity with Keeyask and Conawapa. If we scrap our export plans because they turn out to be too high-risk or may result in losses for Manitoba Hydro, then the East side route will not require converters, saving us an additional $2 billion, for a total of $3 billion savings.

FOREST: The argument is that the last piece of "pristine" boreal forest east of Lake Winnipeg need to be protected. A) the forest east of Lake Winnipeg is not pristine. There are mines and communities and roads and other things. B) Even if it were "pristine", there are thousands of square KMs of pristine forest elsewhere, from Labrador to the Northwest Territories, in the vast Boreal forest. C) Even if it were the last piece of pristine forest in Canada, the government has already promised to damage it even more than a HVDC line would by zigzagging a new road right through it. D) There are scarce aspen parklands to the west of the lakes. I don't know to what extent the preferred route impacts them, but I know it was a concern in the routing study. E) The west side route plows through as much forest as the east side route. In terms of the quantity of lumber produced, it's a saw-off. (haha, get it? "saw off". Anyways ...)

LINE LOSSES: The amount of electricity burned off in transmission depends on the how close to capacity the lines are running, but whatever the amount, it will be much greater for the west side lines. The cost in lost exports will be in the tens of millions of dollars each year. These lost exports have another cost too: pollution. The wasted 'clean' hydro energy will not displace 'dirty' fossil fuel energy in the US, resulting in thousands of tonnes of additional green-house gas pollution each year. How green is that?

CARIBOU: Yes, there is a threatened caribou herd on the east side of the lake. Based on the 2005 Caribou survey, there are also four or so caribou herds that might be impacted by the west-side line, at least three of which are threatened. Furthermore, these herds have less territory to maneuver than the east-side herd, who's territory extends right into Northern Ontario.

UNESCO: A) A UNESCO official is on record as saying that the east side route will not preclude UNESCO designation. B) the government hasn't even applied for UNESCO designation. C) the east side line would only graze one corner of the proposed UNESCO site, and D) In what way is a UNESCO designation worth $1 billion anyhow?

LAND USE: Aside from forest, there is agricultural land to consider, and to this point, the west side route involves huge compromises. Land owners will need to be compensated; route adjustments will probably be required to avoid owners who refuse to be bought out (since Hydro will not expropriate), further increasing the cost; aerial spraying will be difficult or impossible to do safely along the route, impacting farm productivity; etc ...

EXPORTS: The argument that an east side line will somehow risk exports to the US is laughable. Environmental groups can't stop the US from buying every drop of oil sands petroleum that we can give them. On what grounds could they prevent the US from buying clean power? There are parties who are associated with power producers in the US who want the exports blocked because Hydro is a competitor, but they don't give a shit what side of the lake the route goes down. Honestly. It's preposterous. In fact, this Hydro report suggests that export sales could be compromised by the west side route, because it can't supply reliable power.

RELIABILITY: The west side route would be much less reliable because A) it is in an area of the province that is more prone to tornados and other weather-related disasters, and B) it's a longer route and therefore has more potential to be damaged.

ENERGY SECURITY: Should the Interlake lines go down, the west route would NOT be able to support our energy commitments, whereas the east-side route could carry the load.

TECHNICAL: Lastly, there are other technical aspects of the Bipole line that I can't begin to explain because I don't understand them, but what I understand is this: Hydro engineers prefer the east route. In fact, the east route is not just preferable ... it is the only route that makes sense from a technical perspective. In addition, the west route could require us to build another bipole line 25 years sooner. (source)


In the televised debate, Greg Selinger berated Hugh McFadyen for his "reckless" plan to move the bipole line to the east side. Only Greg would call accepting the advice of engineers, reducing pollution, protecting our energy security and saving $1 billion reckless. The venom and conviction with which Greg lied about the east side route was almost shocking. This isn't a matter of opinion. This isn't a case where each side has equivalent pros and cons that have to be weighed. This is a case where the east side route is superior in every tangible respect, and the costs of going the other way are enormous and long-lasting.

So if there is one issue in this election that should turn your vote, make it this one.

*edit*
here are a couple of other related blogs
stumbling
TTNTBS
dobbin
ice & grain with a good post

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I am convinced that the unions are the one lobbying for the longer, less efficient and wasteful west side route. After all, don't they just love anything inefficient and wasteful?

Riverman said...

You beat me to it Anon. This is the only reason I can figure why they are doing this, a transfer of funds from the treasury to the unions.

Anonymous said...

FYI.
Greens have 4 more ridings they are doing very well in. signs != votes.

Anonymous said...

Can you provide citation proving UNESCO is not designating East side as a world heritage site? Bcuz that's all I ever hear on the news. If it is a world heritage site; you cannot put a dollar value on preserving that.

bgilchrist said...

It's a two year process to move from tentative list through nomination to designation.

Right now the area is on the tentative list. An area must be on the tentative list before it can be nominated. There are 9 Canadian locations on the tentative list. They have all been on the list since 2004.

Even being on the tentative list dos not guarantee an area will even be nominated for designation ( that's up to the Country's committee). Canada has only had 2 areas designated as World Heritage sites since 2000.

And while the protection of an area is noted as an important criteria, it's NOT a selection criteria.

bgilchrist said...

Sorry, that should read *minimum two year process*

cherenkov said...

Anon #1 & River: I thought it was just to avoid any discussions with the first nations on the east side, but who knows... could be a union thing.

Anon #2: I don't know about that ...

Anon #3: see Brian's answer, and also for reference: http://bit.ly/oRv9FW

Brian: thx

Old Chum said...

Good Write and when do you run.

cherenkov said...

Chum: I can't run until a massive solar flare wipes out all history of me on the internet.

Rod Rouge said...

Some little-known accessories on the big red machine may excite you more, sir. For instance:

a. radically changing the voting system
b. radically changing how we spend money, not how much we spend.
c. amping up oversight and accountability.

The Lib's could grab more seats if the above coool changes (and Dr. G) gain the blogoshpere's favour. I believe this. With enough red seats, a minority is possible, and the Lib's could bring some real (good) changes to the province.

Just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

Bipole 3 is a non issue to the majority of voters. Bipole 3 is a non issue to the majority of NDP voters. BiPole 3 will be built by the NDP

The PC's better have a leadership review, they need one to figure out what they are.

The people with money in this province know where more of it is and more importantly, going to come from. ( oh, they don't give a shit about BiPole 3 either )The NDP have fed them well.

The people who don't vote, well, they won't vote no matter what.


( and no mention of BRT LRT imagine )

cherenkov said...

@red: totally bithcin' platform dood! You need a new leader though, sorry to say. Jon's nice but ... it just isn't gonna happen if even you do have the best ideas.

@anon #4: you're probably right.

Rod Rouge said...

@cherenkov: Sigh, I know man. What Liberal could possibly contend with Greg and Hugh anyway, though, right? Seriously, a social worker? Who could rise above that, 'cept maybe a lawyer....

Its not fair the other parties have such fab leaders. So not fair. Its another sign of the broken election system... you know?

 
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