Monday, October 01, 2012

David Suzuki keynote speaker to Independent Power Producers - will he invite backlash?

Why was David Suzuki, the noted environmentalist and TV celebrity, having lunch at Bistro Pastis in Kitsilano with Paul Kariya, the head of the Independent Power Producers' organization now known as "Clean Energy BC", on Friday September 28?

David Suzuki
That's what I wondered and the answer wasn't hard to find - Suzuki is - rather astonishingly - the keynote speaker at Clean Energy BC's high priced "Generate 2012" conference October 27-30.

While IPPs have been roundly denounced by many environmental organizations as damaging to the environment despite claims of being "green" by the private companies that run them, Suzuki has been mostly absent from that debate.

The issue has been controversial within the environmental movement, with some arguing that IPPs are a good option - Tzeporah Berman created a group called "Power Up" to promote such projects - while others, most notably the Wilderness Committee, opposing them strongly over the degradation that has resulted to BC rivers, streams and waterways and the lack of local control over their construction. 

Without pre-judging what Suzuki will tell the IPP companies, his mere presence adds legitimacy to their cause - now under significant pressure as the Christy Clark BC Liberal government loses the fascination with IPPs that ex-Premier Gordon Campbell had.

Under Campbell's administration IPPs were given almost sole responsibility for new power generation, with publicly-owned BC Hydro prohibited from any new projects. 

That "liquid goldrush" made millions for IPP owners, who signed lucrative long-term contracts with BC Hydro to provide electricity at rates up to dozens of times more expensive than the Crown corporation's own hydroelectric dam system.

BC is now on the hook for over $50 billion in electricity contracts with IPPs!

Suzuki has been a lightning rod for the federal Conservative government - to the extent that he announced his departure from the group he co-founded - the David Suzuki Foundation - after attacks on its funding and charitable status.  

And Berman recently left Greenpeace for similar reasons.

Perhaps that's why in Suzuki's conversation with Kariya the words "fundraising" and "Tzeporah Berman" came up.

Certainly those attending the $1,075 per member/$1,275 non-member conference price have some money in their pockets.

I might ask him but given his past behaviour towards me, that's unlikely to be productive!


Some comments to me and on Facebook have suggested I wait to see what David Suzuki says to the Clean Energy BC conference before making judgement.  I have two responses: 

1) Suzuki is almost surely being paid a big fee for speaking - and even if not, he won't be there to denounce their bad habits, because:

2) You can tell where this is going from Tweets from the David Suzuki Foundation's Ian Bruce - their "climate change and clean energy Team Lead":

Ian Bruce on Twitter:

"Wanna know the most under reported story on BC's economy? (1/3)

BC's clean energy sector now employs 9000 people /w avg salary of $77k (2/3)

BC cleantech sales increased a whopping 48% between 2008 & 2010. Awesome! (3/3)"

Looks like a "clean sweep" on what Suzuki will tell the IPP crowd.



Unknown said...

Bill you have asked a good question. I await the answer.

Anonymous said...

Independent power companies have been good to Dr. Suzuki's foundation. Consider these linkages:

Plutonic Power, prominent funder of the BC Liberals ( became Alterra Power Corp. through a recent merger.

The Executive Chairman of Alterra, Ross J. Beaty, is the largest shareholder (26.21%), with most of those shares (100 of 122 million) held "in trust for the Sitka Foundation, a registered Canadian charity founded to advance environmental initiatives", according to the April 11, 2012 "Management Information Circular".

The Foundation's web site ( lists five current projects, one of which is "a new partnership with the David Suzuki Foundation". Although a specific dollar amount is not given, the DSF lists Sitka as one of six top donors (more than $1 million) in its 2009-10 annual report.

Jeff Barkley said...

I completely lost any respect for David Suzuki when this first came up and he backed Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals over the so-called carbon tax and the private power initiative. They have virtually bankrupted this province with the IPP's and are taxing the heck out of people with the carbon tax, which generates billions of dollars that then go straight to tax cuts for corporations that create massive pollution.

We are basically subsidizing the dirty industries while we are lead to believe we are helping by paying the tax. The whole thing is so disingenuous that it makes me sick.

Also, before any of his supporters try to say he just doesn't understand...well, I just don't think he is that stupid. He knows full well what these contracts mean to BC taxpayers and the environment.

Anonymous said...

"Oh. David Suzuki."

A real comedian that Jessica.

milt w said...

Suzuki is like the Jerry Falwell of eco evangelists.He last fell afew pegs when he wanted money to save the moss.
He only opens his mouth when there is a dollar to be stuffed into it.

His last cause lost me totally,not that I have ever been a fan of a person who filies every where or uses a smog producing bus entourage to screech about save the environment. He appears as serious as Fat AL Gore and his multi million dollar mansions and boats that do all to save energy.

e.a.f. said...

I notice they didn't invite Rafe Mair & he would have most likely gone & done the speach for free. Mind you, his speech might be a tad different from the one Suzuki is giving.

It doesn/t matter what people are making right now. As you pointed out this little run of the river thing is costing this province about $50B. Well we could do better just to give those employees the salary & tell them to stay home & still have money left over & rivers which hadn't been destroyed.

The run of the river projects were just a way, in my opinion, to give money from the taxpayers of B.C. to the friends of el gordo. They are fixed for life, we are screwed for life. We will have to pay higher electricity rates, have to send money from B.C. to these companies, have ruined our rivers, endangered our fish stocks.

Susuki has outlived his principals & should simply move on to his next project. If you are on board with the IPPs, you aren't much of an enviornmentalist, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

David Suzuki should have stuck to science and stayed out of politics. He's a traitor and a sellout to the environmental movement. I'm with Jeff. He lost any respect I had for him when he sided with the Libs last election.

DPL said...

But he is rushing off to the bank with a large amount of cash . Dangle money in front of some people and only the good ones won't bite.

Anonymous said...

It's about time we start to name the Green capitalists amongst us. The confusion surrounding them and the illegitimate stealing of votes they do not deserve, from people who really care. The last election was won by Campbell thanks to Suzuki, Berman and Weaver and the Green party. The Green party loved the smart metres originally, but flip-flopped.

Suzuki, will you retire to oblivion already, the environment can't wait any longer.