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.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Map of the five proposed natural gas pipelines in northern BC

533 days till the next BC election

When we were this far out from the 2013 BC election the NDP was 11 to 19 percentage points ahead of the BC Liberals.   In general Christy Clark was an unpopular leader of an unpopular and tired government.   This was a government lacking in direction and losing a lot of support on the right.

Fast forward four years into the future and the political landscape in BC is nothing like last time.   There have been very few polls but Insights West did release one recently and it shows the NDP at 39% versus the Liberals at 34%.   There is clearly no serious dislike of the BC Liberals in BC at this time.   The BC Liberals are not in the same sort of position that the federal Conservatives.

The BC Liberals do not look like the tired government that they were in 2011/12.   They have some problems but few things that are bad enough to sink a government.   There is no "quick wins" sort of stuff lately.

The NDP just had their convention, not that anyone outside of a small group of nerds noticed.    This convention should have been the one where the NDP showed people what their core policies were.   This is the convention where John Horgan should have given a barnstormer speech.   This is when the core activists should have been all energized for the next election.

I do not think the BC NDP has really ever accepted they lost the 2013 election due to fundamental problems with the party.    Adrian Dix was a bad choice as a leader, still having him in the caucus is bad for 2017 but if he runs again the BC Liberals will have a field day with it.   The NDP is supposed to be the government in waiting but I have no idea what their policies are on most issues

Here is the list of the core issues the BC NDP is highlighting on their webpage:

Nothing on poverty, nothing on economic development, nothing on First Nations, nothing on lands and resources, nothing on the environment and I could go.

In 2013 the NDP ran in the election as if they had won and did not need to do anything and just sit on their lead.    It did not work for Adrian Dix and it really did not work for Thomas Mulcair.

The redistribution of the electoral boundaries this time have lead to fewer changes than normally.   There is a new seat in Surrey and a new one in Richmond.   Based on the 2013 election the Liberals would have won the Richmond seat and would have marginally won the new Surrey seat.   This really does not help the NDP much.

What is also not good for the NDP is that Green party support is clearly concentrated on Vancouver Island, especially southern Vancouver Island.  The Insights West poll had the Greens at 25% on the Island and the NDP at 37%.   In the latest federal election the Green party managed to get more votes than the NDP in the three Victoria area ridings.   It is realistic for the BC Green party to win three or four seats in Greater Victoria in the 2017 election.   The only thing that would offset this is that the Greens will likely bleed off enough BC Liberal support to allow the NDP to win Comox Valley and Parksville Qualicum.

What would benefit the NDP would be a strong BC Conservative party.   In November 2011 the BC Conservatives were very much on the rise but through the inability of the leader John Cummins to work with others the party fell apart before the provincial election.   Since the 2013 election the BC Conservatives have elected a new leader but the party is not nearly as active as it has been in the past.   I do not see the BC Conservatives threatening to win any seats.
At this point I do not see the BC Liberals losing the next election unless there is something dramatic political mistake that happens on their part.

Monday, November 23, 2015

For the last seven years we have had at least on women premier in office in Canada

We currently have three women as premiers in Canada - Christy Clark in BC, Kathleen Wynne in Ontario and Rachel Notley in Alberta.  Since the selection of Eva Aariak to be premier of Nunavut on November 14th 2008 we have always had at least one woman premier in Canada.   This is 2566 consecutive days.   Of the 12 women that have been first ministers,  seven of them have served in office since 2008

Here is how they all stack up by time in office - underlined means currently in office, bold means won at least one election.

  1. Eva Aariak         Nunavut 1827 days
  2. Christy Clark      BC      1715 days
  3. Nellie Cournoyea   NWT     1469 days
  4. Catherine Callbeck PEI     1353 days
  5. Kathy Dunderdale   NF      1148 days
  6. Kathleen Wynne     Ontario 1016 days
  7. Alison Redford     Alberta  898 days
  8. Pat Duncan         Yukon    884 days
  9. Pauline Marois     Quebec   581 days
  10. Rita Johnson       BC       217 days
  11. Rachel Notley      Alberta  183 days
  12. Kim Campbell       Federal  132 days

Next March Christy Clark will become the longest serving female first minister in Canadian history.

Each time I have looked at this I have considered how many person days each first minister has governed for - this is time in office multiplied by population governed.    I think that in many ways it is a better measure of the relative impact of women in politics.    As you can see Kathleen Wynne tops the list when you calculated it this way.

The number is person days governed

  1. Kathleen Wynne     Ont 13,057,000,000 Lib
  2. Christy Clark      BC   7,546,000,000 Lib
  3. Pauline Marois     Que  4,582,000,000 PQ
  4. Kim Campbell       Fed  3,786,000,000 PC
  5. Alison Redford     Ab   3,273,000,000 PC
  6. Rita Johnson       BC     715,500,000 Socred
  7. Rachel Notley      Ab     667,000,000 NDP
  8. Kathy Dunderdale   NL     590,700,000 PC
  9. Catherine Callbeck PEI    149,000,000 Lib
  10. Nellie Cournoyea   NWT     92,000,000 na
  11. Eva Aariak         Nu      58,300,000 na
  12. Pat Duncan         Yk      24,800,000 Lib

What is also interesting is that four of the women did significantly better than expected in their elections - that being Alison Redford, Christy Clark, Kathleen Wynne and Rachel Notley.

On the other hand two women were forced out of the office of premier in an atypical manner early on in their first term as elected premier.  

I also looked at this on:
January 22nd 2015
October 1st 2013
February 25th 2013
 January 2nd 2013
June 14th 2011