Thursday, April 28, 2016

How is three terms effecting the 16 NDP MLAs that have only been in opposition?

The NDP in BC has almost become a long term institutional official opposition in BC.   19 of the current NDP MLAs are now come to the end of their third term in opposition.  16 of these MLAs have never served in government

While the NDP has been in opposition since 2001, none of the three NDP MLAs that served at some point between 2001 and 2005 are in the legislature.   Three of current NDP MLAs served in th 1991-2001 NDP goverment - Sue Hammell, Mike Farnworth and Leonard Krog.   But there are 16 MLAs that have served in opposition for 11 years now

The 14 following MLAs entered legislature in the 2005 election:

  • Robin Austin
  • Harry Bains
  • Raj Chouhan
  • Katrine Conroy
  • Adian Dix
  • Rob Flemming
  • Scott Fraser
  • John Horgan
  • Carole James
  • Maurine Karagianis
  • Norm Macdonald
  • Bruce Ralston
  • Doug Routley
  • Nicholas Simons
  • Shane Simpson
  • Claire Trevena

John Horgan and Adrian Dix both held senior political jobs with the 1991 to 2001 NDP government.

Three terms is a long time to be waiting to be in government when you are in the official opposition.   As a continuous group in opposition in BC this is by far the largest ever seen.  This group of 16 MLAs is unprecedented in BC history.

In the last NDP dry spell of 1975 to 1991 only had one MLA served all the way through it, Emery Barnes but he had done a term in government in 1972-75.   The only MLA in that era that served as long in opposition as the current group of 16 was Gordon Hanson who was first elected in 1979.

So far none of these MLAs have stated they will be retiring which means all 16 MLAs could be re-elected next year.   One has to wonder how these MLAs maintain their motivation.   Could this large constant group of MLAs in opposition dose the fire in the belly of all the MLAs in Victoria?   Have they become an institutionalized old guard comfortable with opposition?    

It is probably not healthy for the NDP to have 46% of their caucus having served for so long in opposition.    Whatever the outcome of the 2017 election, the NDP needs to have a lot more new blood running in the election.  No matter how good these MLAs are it is likely time for most of them to retire.

Possible Outcomes of the 2017 BC Election

In order of who likely I think the result is

  • Liberal Majority - at the moment I think this is the most likely outcome but the election is a year away and many things can happen in that year.   At this point I would say it is Christy Clark's election to lose.
  • NDP Majority - I pay closer attention to politics than the vast majority of people in BC and I can not tell you what the NDP would do as government other than not be the BC Liberals, whatever that means.   The NDP is not making a strong case for why they should be government.   The party is not resonating with the public in any significant way at the moment.
  • NDP Minority - For there to be a realistic chance of a minority government the Greens need to win more seats and just a couple more, but at least five to ten.    Each seat the Greens, or anyone else, wins, the higher the probability of a minority.   Because there is a bigger overlap between Green and Liberals and Greens and the NDP, the better the Greens do the more seats the Liberals will lose.   If the Greens can win 6 to 12 seats, which is not impossible, they will have drained off enough support from the Liberals for the NDP to win a bunch of seats and could leave us in a minority government situation.  The odds of the Greens winning more than four is not high at this time but the election is still a year away..
  • Liberal Minority -  Highly unlikely because it would require a very specific set of events to all happen and if it did I would expect it to be very close to a majority.  The result would be something like 42 Liberals, 41 NDP, 3 Greens and 1 independent.
  • Anything else - What else could there be you ask?   A completely new populist party - unlikely because I do not see the popular groundswell for this and with only a year left till the election there is not enough time left..   The Greens win a minority by winning 30 seats while the Liberals and NDP each win about 28 or 29 seats.
A this time my ball park of the odds
  1. Liberal Majority 70.00%
  2. NDP Majority 25.00%
  3. NDP Minority 4.80%
  4. Liberal Minority 0.15%
  5. Anything Else - 0.05%

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Top 10 reasons the NDP wants to keep Mulcair

10) Official opposition is too much work, Mulcair made sure NDP MPs have a lighter work load
9) The NDP wants the hipster vote and Mulcair has a beard
8) If Mulcair is not NDP leader, who in the House of Commons will fight against the Liberal deficits?
7) The dead cat bounce, when they lose 1/2 their seats in 2019 they will hope for this again in 2023
6) Many of Canada's PMs have been white men from Quebec, Mulcair is the only viable one the NDP has
5) In 2015 the NDP did not lose, it was the public that made a mistake in how they voted, when they understand their error they will vote Mulcair in 2019 (there are people within the NDP seriously arguing this!)
4) If you do something and it goes horribly wrong, try it over and over again until it works
3) Mulcair signed a 10 year contract with no waivers and a no trade contract till 2022
2) There is no one in the NDP younger than 60 with skills or experience to lead the party.   An old white man is also the core to the NDP brand.
1) Having a popular and charismatic leader is unprincipled and the NDP will stick with Mulcair to prove that

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

2016 BC by-elections compared to the 2012 BC by-elections

On April 19th 2012 BC had two by-elections, Port Moody-Coquitlam and Chilliwack-Hope.  Both were held by the BC Liberals and in both cases the NDP won the seats.   The Greens did not run any candidates in the races but the BC Conservatives did and put a lot of effort into winning the Chilliwack-Hope by-election.

The BC Liberal melt-down was heralded by many (and yes by myself as well) as a sign of a government on the way out.   It was also an indication of how weak the Greens were and the rising strength of the BC Conservatives.   As it turned out, the by-election had no connection to the provincial election a year later.   The Liberals won a majority, the NDP lost both seats, the BC Conservatives melted away and the Greens won one seat, came very close in a second and pushed the BC Liberals into third place in two more.

Four years later and we have two by-elections, Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.   This time not only are the Greens running candidates, the Greens are actually putting effort into the campaigns.   The BC Conservatives have not nominated any candidates.   So far I have not heard anyone suggesting that the party that last held the seat is not going to win it again.

Is there anything the 2016 by-elections can tell us about the 2017 election?   Here is my take:
  • If the Liberals hold Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and come in second in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant I think they are well positioned to realistically win in 2017
  • The Greens deliberately did not run in 2012 for financial and resource reasons.   The BC Conservatives are not running candidates in 2016 because I do not think they could find anyone willing to run for them.   It says to me the BC Conservatives will be a non factor in the 2017 election unless something dramatic happens like a serious former MP were to take over the leadership.   
  • If the NDP can win the Coquitlam-Burke Mountain by-election it would say to me the party is better organized than I think or the mood of the public is much more anti-Christy than I am hearing.   It is what the NDP needs to get some momentum 
  • I think for the Greens a success would be breaking 20% in Vancouver-Mount Pleasant and 10% in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain.   A good result would be coming second in either seat, a very good result would be to come second in both of them, and a stelllar result would be to win either one.   Though I have trouble seeing Joey Keithley winning in Coquitlam-Burke Mountain and the NDP losing Vancouver-Mount Pleasant would be stunning.   The Liberals could not take it in 2001.
  • Interesting is that the BC Libertarians have managed to nominate a candidate in both seats.   I still do no think they will get much more than 1% to 2% of the vote.
We are 21 days till the by-election and they are getting almost no media whereas the 2012 by-elections were getting headline news.   No one seems to care and for that reason I think the results will not really matter.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Longest Possible Trip on Public Transit in BC

Over the last year there have been a number of new transit services that go from one transit system in BC to another which means you travel some significant distances.   I was curious to see how far you could travel with public transit.

Vancouver Island Long Distance Trips
On Southern Vancouver Island because the commuter service from the Duncan to Victoria you can travel from Swartz Bay as far as Ladysmith - 120 km - route #70 Greater Victoria Transit then #66, #6 and #35 of the Cowichan Valley Transit.

There is a 18 km gap between the Cowichan Valley Transit system and the Nanaimo Transit system, I had expected there to be a public bus from Ladysmith to Nanaimo.  I had thought there would be enough demand from south of Nanaimo to get to VIU to warrant a bus, but there is none.

There is also no connection between Nanaimo and Comox transit.   There is a 8 km gap between the last bus stop at Deep Bay and the last stop at Fanny Bay.  End to end the Nanaimo Transit system stretches for over 80 km.

There is a connection between the Comox transit system and the Campbell river one, but the total distance is only 80 km.

It is possible to take a bus from Coal Harbour south of Port Hardy to the Mount Cain ski hill near Woss which is 143 km.   This trip can not be done in one day and can only be done over two days and then only during the ski season.

Lower Mainland/Fraser Valley
It is possible to get from Horseshoe Bay to Harrison Hot Springs via #257, #019, Millennium Line,  #555, #66, #11.  It is a distance of a little more than 160 km.   The transit trip from Tsawwassen Ferry to Harrison is also just around 160 km.

It is possible to take public transit from Princeton to Sorrento for a distance about about 320 km, Though is not possible to make the trip on one day.   The bus from Princeton only runs Monday, Wednesday and Friday.   The bus between Summerland and Peachland only operates on Mondays.   You can only get from Enderby to Salmon Arm on Wednesdays.

For daily service you can only get from Peachland to Enderby which is just around 120 km

West Creston to Kimberly is possible for a distance of 145 km but this is only possible once a week

You can get from Argenta to Edgewood for a distance of 335 km but it would take a couple of weeks to accomplish this trip.   The longest regular trip possible trip is from Balfour to Rossland for a distance of 125 km

You can get from Telkwa to Kispiox by transit for a distance of just over 100 km

Quesnel Transit offers service to both Wells and Nazko for a distance of 190 km but the Nazko bus is on on Wednesdays and the Wells bus on Thursdays

List of Longest Possible trips
  • Longest possible at all: Argenta to Edgewood for 335 km but it would take over ten days to accomplish.  this is also the longest distance possible on a single transit service,   This trip is via Nelson so much longer than it needs to be 
  • Longest possible trip that is reasonably direct:  Princeton to Sorrento 320 km but would take 10 days to complete 
  • Longest possible with daily service with ferries includ3ed: Ladysmth to Harrison Hot Springs (not counting the distance of the ferry) 280 km.   I am not certain this could be done in one day
  • Longest daily service only on public transit - either Horseshoe Bay or Tsawwassen ferry terminals to Harrison Hot Springs.  Both trips take about five hours
If there were no gaps on Vancouver Island, a trip of over 300 km would be possible on the east coast of Vancouver Island

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

BC is down to Eight Major Metal Mines

I have been expecting to see a lot more new metal mines to open in BC over the last 10 years, but we have only seen two entirely new deposits developed and the re-opening of two old ones with new mines

I am focusing here on metal mines and not on coal mines.   This is mainly because I have spent years doing work that relates to metal mining exploration on a regular basis and know the landscape much better.

These are the current operating major metal mines in BC:
  • Copper Mountain near Princeton - the current mine is the latest iteration of the copper mine in the area.   No mining happened from mid 1996 till the second half of 2012.  Mine is expected to last till 2029
  • Gibraltar near Williams Lake - a copper and molybdenum mine
  • Highland Valley Copper near Logan Lake - a very large copper mine that has been in operation since 1963 and is expected to last till 2027
  • Huckleberry south of Houston - a copper, gold and silver mine.  Owned by Imperial Metals,  Expected to close in 2022
  • Mount Milligan -  A copper gold mine near Fort St James and Mackenzie - The newest metal mine in BC and expected to operate till 2036
  • Mount Polley -  A copper gold mine west of Williams Lake.  The mine re-opened this summer after the disastrous events of 2014.  Owned by Imperial Metals amd expected to operate till 2025.
  • New Afton near Kamloops - A copper gold mine.  The mine operated till the early 1990s and reopened in 2012.  It is expected to operate till 2024
  • Red Chris - This is a new Imperial Metals copper gold mine that opened in the middle of this year.  Expected to operate till 2043
There are a number of very small scale metal mines that are or have operated in the last few years.  Most of them have been little more than large scale exploration sampling:
Blackdome, Bonaza Ledge, Bralorne, QR, Treasure Mountain, Yellow Giant

In the past the government did not mention these small scale  mines in their reports but it has done so in recent years.

All eight major metal mines have copper as their primary resource and this becomes a problem if the price of copper continues to fall.  The current price of $2.08 USD/lb is low enough that the some of the mines are going to get dangerously close to losing money.   Red Chris needs a price of $2,20 USD/lb to make money.   The only upside is that all the costs in Canadian dollars are cheaper now.

Closed and might re-open
  • Endako -  A molybdenum near Fraser Lake.  This one should really concern people because through good and bad times the mine kept producing.  As far as I know this is the first time Endako has shut down since in opened in 1965. It has been closed for a year now.
  • Myra Falls in Strathcona Park -  A lead silver mine that closed in 2015 though there is still a small staff on site maintaining the mine.  The mine had been in operation since the 1960s
Possible Mines (though honestly other than Ajax and Brucejacl, I think they are all not going anywhere at the moment)
  • Ajax - a former copper mine very close to Kamloops owned by KGHM International.   There is significant community opposition and low prices for copper, both of which could put this project into limbo
  • Aley -  a niobium project owned by Taseko Mines but nothing seems to be happening with it at the moment
  • Blackwater - a New Gold Inc project that has seen few updates to the website in 2015
  • Brucejack - A gold silver project near Stewart that has been approved for construction and they seem to have raised the money needed for the project this fall.   Construction start in 2016?
  • Dome Mountain - there has been significant work done to build the mine but it has not opened
  • Harper Creek - a copper gold project owned by YellowHead Mining
  • Kemess Underground - the Kemess (north) proposed mine is one of the few projects refused an environmental certificate.  It is currently owned by AuRico
  • Kitsault - a molybdenum project.   The mine operated for 18 months in the early 1980s.  Given that Endako has shut due to prices, it is hard to see how this much more remote mine would open.   The mine needs to get $6.73 USD/lb for molybdenum just to cover operational costs, the current price is $4.90 USD/lb.
  • KSM - A copper gold project in the North West.  The BC environmental assessment certificate was issued July 29th 2014.  The federal government approved it on December 10th 2014.  It is unclear when construction might start.  Low prices for copper may delay this project because it located in a remote enough area to make capital construction more expensive.
  • Ruddock Creek - lead zine mine project owned by Imperial Metals
Major Projects in Limbo
  • Galore Creek - owned by NovaGold and been in limbo for years now
  • Kutcho Creek - a smaller scale mine 100 kilometers west of Dease Lake.  It has been in the BC Environmental Assessment Process since 2005.
  • New Prosperity - this would be a major copper gold mine but without getting agreement for the First Nations and a new federal environmental assessment it is not going anywhere
  • Tulsequah Chief - in the 1990s there was a strong push to build this mine, but not it has been in limbo for years
Major mines that have closed in the last 30 years
  • Beaverdell - closed 1992
  • Brenda - closed 1990
  • Carolin mine - 1984
  • Equity Silve - closed 1994
  • Eskay Creek - closed 2008
  • Golden Bear - closed 2001
  • Goldstream mine near Revelstoke - closed 1996
  • Granduc - closed 1984
  • Island Copper  - closed 1996
  • Scottie Gold Mine - 1984
  • Shasta-Baker - closed 1991
  • Silvana - closed 1993
  • Snip - closed 1999
  • Sullivan - closed 2001

Friday, November 27, 2015

How many of the proposed pipelines in BC will actually be built?

Right now in BC we have a huge number of proposed new pipelines.   At the moment there are two oil pipelines and five natural gas pipelines proposed.

Northern Gateway
Kinder Morgan twining  

Natural Gas (and the associated LNG projects)
Coastal GasLink Pipeline (LNG Canada)
Pacific Northern Gas Transmission Pipeline Expansion
Pacific Trail Pipeline (Kitimat LNG)
Prince Rupert Gas Transmission (Pacific Northwest LNG)
Westcoast Connector Gas Transmission (Prince Rupert LNG)

These pipelines represent about $30 to $40 billion in capital investment but I do not think the economics of oil and gas will not be favourable enough to warrant them being constructed.   An average capital spending in BC of around $3 to $4 billion a year for the next ten years.

The price of oil was relatively high from the middle of 2005 through to the middle of 2014 but has seen a significant fall in price in the last year.  The ten year long high price has lead to a lot of new oil supply coming onto the market while at the same time the high price has pushed people to move away from using oil.   The combination of the two has created a fall in the price, one that I do not think is going to change because other forms of renewable energy are getting more and more competitive.

At the same time natural gas has seen a dramatic fall over the last eight years because global supply has risen much faster than demand.   Couple this with the expansion of LNG in the world and the price for natural gas is falling everywhere.  The current price ($7 USD/MMBtu) for LNG is the lowest we have seen for some time.   The cost to make LNG in will be about $10 CDN/MMBtu.   Right now if LNG were being exported from BC the exporter would be losing a lot of money on each Btu they exported.

Pipelines are a long term investment.  Before construction starts the company building the pipeline needs to know there will be a decades long demand for the pipeline.    Right now there is not quite enough pipeline capacity for the tar sands oil production.  When it comes to natural gas pipelines, none of them make any sense unless there is a certainty that someone is going to go ahead with an LNG plant on the north coast.   At this point I do not expect to see any LNG producer to make a firm decision on building a north coast plant in the next 18 months.