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Delta council refuses to show Gillis video

March 13, 2011

Anyone who’s been following renewable energy issues in B.C. over the past few years will be familiar with videos made by Rafe Mair’s sidekick Damien Gillis.  In fact, there are many out there who would argue that Mair’s misinformed bombast in the print realm is only exceeded by Gillis’s equally misinformed bombast in the video realm.

Well it seems that Gillis has been throwing a bit of a tantrum over Delta city council’s refusal to show one of his videos at a public hearing.

According to an article in the Delta Optimist by Sandor Gyarmati, the first five minutes of a 13-minute Gillis video was shown during the first evening of the Tsawwassen Area Plan public hearing on Tuesday, March 1st (the time span normally allotted to speakers at Delta public hearings).

But as Gyarmati reports, on the next night of the hearing, Mayor Lois Jackson read a statement indicating that council had received legal advice from their municipal solicitor, Greg Vanstone, who said the remainder of Gillis’s video should not be viewed by council “due to potentially defamatory or inaccurate statements.”

The written statement that Mayor Jackson read out went on to state: “I would request that anyone who wishes to display another video immediately provide a copy to Mr. (George) Harvie so that it may be reviewed by our solicitor to ensure that it is appropriate for display.” 

Based on what we’ve read, Gillis doesn’t appear to be taking the rejection very well.  He’s basically opted to light his hair on fire and claim that his “credibility” has been impugned by Delta Council.  He reportedly wants “an apology.” 

Having watched several of Gillis’s over-the-top, one-sided videos over the years, we think solicitor Greg Vanstone’s warning to Delta council is probably very sound; a warning that could easily apply to other Gillis productions. 

Take, for example, Gillis”s over-the-top video “Power Play” aimed at independent green energy producers.  This “classic” Gillis production features the long-discredited hystrionic claim that hundreds of B.C. rivers are being given away or stolen for run-of-river projects, and without any regard for the environment or environmental regulations. 

The “500 rivers” claim is, of course, not even remotely true: Run-of-river projects typically require more than 50 approvals, permits, licenses and reviews from 14 or more government agencies. 

Moreover, most run-of-river project proposals never make it past the initial investigative stages due to insurmountable environmental issues.

Gillis’s video smear on independent green energy producers (taken straight from the COPE 378 playbook) also features the highly dishonest claim that BC Hydro can produce electricity for a fraction of the cost that an independent producer can; the implication of this claim being that the public is getting ripped off by private sector profiteers when BC Hydro could somehow be supplying “public” electricity at a way lower cost.  

But like most of the other misleading, one-sided claims in Gillis’s video, this claim, too, is not even remotely accurate or truthful.

As we pointed out in our posting last Monday, the cost comparison Gillis is making in his “Power Play” video is an apples-to-oranges comparison between newly built electricity generating infrastructure (which is what most independent projects are) and aging BC Hydro mega dams  built and paid for decades ago.

The only meaningful, accurate and fair cost comparison is to compare new-to-new.  And on that basis the cost of electricity from new independent green energy projects and newly-built and newly-refurbished BC Hydro projects is going to be very similar (and a whole lot more than the paltry $7.19 per megawatt-hour BC Hydro production cost cited in a recent Vancouver Province editorial).

And let’s not forget about the impact that BC Hydro’s recently announced $6 billion infrastructure regeneration plan is going to have on the production costs at the province’s aging mega dams.

So, while Gillis may believe that Delta council has “impugned his credibility” by refusing to play his video at their public hearing, based on our experience with Gillis’s videos in the past, Delta’s municipal solicitor appears to have hit the nail on the head in  issuing cautionary advice to Delta’s mayor and council.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 13, 2011 5:39 pm

    What a faceless, cowardly article, -the writer dishes out a whole bunch of slander and then is too chickenshit to put a name to it!

    First time I’ve checked out this site, and even the “About” tab gives no information as to who this organization is comprised of. No doubt a bunch of big industry shills and Gordon Campbell sycophants.

    If someone had nothing better to do and wanted to do some very boring research, no doubt they’d find some sort of Kock-brothers financier paying a person to put out this crap. Clearly, nobody reads the site anyway, -not a single comment, and no doubt this one will get the boot as well.

    • March 16, 2011 8:44 pm

      Hi Ingmar:

      Thanks for your comment. There is a link on the “About” page of this blog that takes you to our BCCGE website for more information. We thought this would be clear enough for people, but your point is well taken and we will endeavour to beef up that page. We’re all volunteers so there’s only so much we can do.

      Here’s a link to the page you are probably looking for: http://www.greenenergybc.ca/about_us.html

      As for your claim of “slander”: We very definitely disagree. For starters, in order for something to be slanderous it has to be untrue. You may not like what we have to say, but we endeavour to be factual and truthful.

      As for our blog stats: You might be surprised. We have a lot of followers who are very busy but want to stay abreast of green energy issues. This blog is just one of the ways in which we try to accomplish this. We always welcome comments, but the absence of comments should not be taken as evidence of an absense of readers or an absence of interest in green energy.

      Thanks again for your comment.

  2. robert permalink
    March 14, 2011 10:43 am

    Wow, you totally missed the point in all this didn’t you. Whatever you may think of the video’s made by Gillis or anyone else, you need to give your heads a shake about what the real issue is here. It’s about censorship, pure and simple. Why does anything that puts into the public venue and presented before our elected representatives need to be vetted by public servant. Have our politicians become so coddled and protected by the unelected that they need to be protected from hearing what the great unwashed have to say.
    What if the roles were reversed here. What would be said on this website if all of a sudden politicians were told they couldn’t consider anything that you say or write could be seen by them because it could be libelous or misleading. The outrage would great and deservedly so.

    Seems to me that the point here is not about the film or the subject it’s about free speech in any form and how it has been stifled. I’d say you should put the shoe on the other foot and see how you’d feel if it was your efforts to make information available that you think is important for our elected officials and the public to hear or see. Ignore the subject matter, think about the principle here and I think you’ll change your mind.

    • March 16, 2011 9:02 pm

      Hi Robert:

      Free speech is definitely a right, but that freedom should be used responsibly. Spreading information that is inaccurate is, in our view, not responsible.

      We can’t speak directly to the material presented in Delta other than from what was reported in a general way in the Delta Optimist.

      But we do have a lot of in depth knowledge of Damien Gillis’s videos related to renewable energy and the misinformation they contain, and we were therefore struck by the parallel to our own experience.

      Thanks for taking the time to engage us in discussion.

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