In which the writer proposes:

Splitting conventional wisdoms and inspecting for rot.
Wrestling with the status quo.
Weighing environmental and economic absurdities.
Disentangling metaphors.

Friday 6 April 2018


B.C Government Professional Reliance Review:  Our Submission

The Provincial Government recently requested public input on the question of “Professional Reliance.”
We provided a response and published it together with a response by Dr Brian Horejsi of Speak Up For Wildlife Foundation.                         See the full submissions:                here
In our view Professional Reliance has been increasingly used to off-load Governments oversight of public resources and has resulted in a handover of resources to proponents and those developing or exploiting resources, effectively enabling industry to dictate conditions affecting public resources.
While Government has defended the PR model, together with so-called “Results Based” oversight, some of the more egregious examples of failure of the model, Shawnigan Lake,Mount Polley, will continue to demonstrate the problems inherent in the model.
The model also distances the public from engagement with processes having an effect on public assets, enables proponents to limit information provided, based (for example) on spurious claims of withholding “proprietary” information, and enables proponents to effectively control public input or concerns. The latter being the transfer of responsibility of public hearings to proponents while Government removes itself from the process.
While the myth that PR can effectively represent the public interest is propagated by Government and proponents. It is the opinion of this writer:

that professionals employed by or contracted by proponents have an inherent conflict of  interest and that to a greater or lesser degree can be expected to prioritize the interests of  their employer/agency, over the public interest.
Given the expectations of proponents, their ability to dictate Terms of Reference, devote or withhold resources or information and their ability to control and edit information, an essential bias in  favor of the proponent’s interests is inevitable. When you add the weight of  the control proponents have over the future advancement, re-employment prospects of the professionals involved, some degree of bias is a natural, predictable and inevitable outcome.
What checks and balances are in place to counter such bias? Increasingly, nothing effective, but a disingenuous claim by Government that critics of PR should take their case to the Professionals Regulatory Bodies. (See BC Auditor report and concerns re Mount Polley where Government replied to the criticisms by suggesting that, “concern about over reliance on qualified professionals is a criticism of professional body’s ability to regulate their professions.”)

Government is suggesting that it is the responsibility of professional bodies to maintain some mythical level of objectivity that will maintain the public interest, while being well aware that regulation within professions is a moveable attempt to mostly control the ways in which professionals should avoid "stepping on each other". This has resulted in various efforts by professions to silence, punish or remove members who have "in their professional actions" taken issue with another professional. So much for expectations of objectivity.
Extract from Dr Brian Horejsis’s comments:
Each and every corporation, company, commercial entity, individual and/or association that
is engaged  in the use of or exploitation of public “resources”, (land, water, forests, wildlife, fish and birds) must be subject to scrutiny and regulatory oversight by an accountable, structured, disciplined and supervised Public Service Ministry.”
If any reader thinks the Forest Practices Board (FPB) could presently fill that role, we add Dr Horejsi’s  comment on the FPB as follows:
The Forest Practices Board of today is an offshoot of the Professional Reliance revolution. It was born to provide technical analysis of the consequences of Public Service and Ministry
behavior but was designed deliberately to be neutered of regulatory authority.
While it produces report upon report of Ministry failures and land user misconduct, it
remains but a pimple on the chin of the Ministry of FLNRO, and continues dutifully to have no material bearing on the actions of commercial and corporate land users.”
We would note that a former Chair of the FPB has proposed that the FPB should be the entity to do the oversight in a variety of areas. Other recent public comment has proposed that the FPB should provide oversight of Oil and Gas production.
In our opinion the FPB as presently structured does not and can not provide meaningful oversight for the reasons noted above by Dr Horejsi (highlights by us) and we have a number of personal experiences that confirm those concerns.
It is unlikely that some “restructuring” of the FPB would result in the necessary regulatory oversight needed.
We propose a completely new structure.

To read the full submissions        here


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