Black Press chairman David Black receives his honorary degree from the University of Victoria.

Media mogul David Black receives honorary degree from UVic

Black, the owner of Black Press newspaper group, urges graduating students to 'show up' and to 'surround yourself with bright people'.

Chancellor (Murray Farmer), President (Jamie Cassels), Graduating Scholars, to whom I offer my congratulations, faculty, family and friends…

Today is a great day for me. The doctorate is a wonderful honour from a University I have watched grow and flourish into a world-ranked institution. It is also embarrassing because I don’t feel my work is completed yet. Nevertheless, I would like to pass on to the graduating class some lessons I have learned thus far in my career in the hopes they may be of some use.

My story is not complex. I received an Engineering degree from UBC and an MBA from Ivey in London. In 1975, I started my own business by buying a small weekly newspaper in Williams Lake. Over the years with the help of a terrific wife, a father who mentored me, and the hard work of a great many employees, we have grown to 200 publications with revenues of half a billion dollars.

I had no plan in 1975 to grow the business like this. My only thought was to publish the best paper I could. I worked long hours because we were in debt and we had a growing family. Over time, I came to be an expert in every phase of the business.  Because of that I fell in love with publishing.

My first career lesson for you then, is just show up. If you are like I was at your age, you have no idea what career will appeal to you. You don’t have to know. Just dive into something. Work hard. The more skill you develop the more you will enjoy the work. You will know when or if it is time to move on to something else.

I mentioned my wife and father and what a help they were to me. My second piece of advice is to surround yourself with bright people, both as workmates and friends.  Listen to them and help them in return.

With my four children on our companies’ Boards of Directors and an excellent management team in place I thought, now that I am over 65, I would be easing back somewhat, enjoying more sailing, and babysitting grandchildren.  My only real career regret was that I hadn’t had a chance to practice any engineering.

It’s funny how life unfolds. Instead, over the last two years I have embarked on one of the biggest engineering projects in Canada’s history and I am working harder than ever. When not working on Black Press I am consumed by trying to build a B.C. oil refinery, pipeline and tanker fleet at a total cost of $32 billion. So my third career message for you is that you cannot know your future. By all means, plan. But don’t assume things will go as expected.

I will tell you a little about the refinery project because it leads to my final and most important piece of advice. The project is called Kitimat Clean. The refinery will convert Alberta’s bitumen to gasoline and diesel, products which float and evaporate if there is a spill at sea. Bitumen acts differently. If it is spilled off our coast it will sink and we won’t be able to recover it. It will also blanket the intertidal zone and we won’t be able to remove it. The damage could last for hundreds of years. I got into this project to help ensure this doesn’t happen.

A world-scale refinery has other great advantages for us all: it will create 10,000 new permanent jobs in B.C. and it will generate billions of dollars of new taxes annually for government coffers.

My children and I are concerned about the environment like most of you are, so we decided to spend an extra $3 billion to build the refinery with new Canadian technology, cutting CO2 emissions by five million tonnes per year. This is equivalent to avoiding the annual emissions of 1.2 million cars. The refinery will be so clean it will more than compensate for the extra CO2 emissions in the oilsands.

Clearly we need to ratchet down our use of fossil fuels. But that does not influence whether to build a refinery in Canada. Asia needs more refined fuel every year. If we don’t build the refinery in Canada, it will be built in Asia. By shipping our bitumen to Asia for refining, we not only put the ocean at risk and lose the enormous value-add benefits, the planet will end up with twice the CO2 emissions.

Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons our big oil companies are not interested in a new Canadian refinery. The president of one of our largest oil companies told me that he agrees it is viable to refine bitumen in Canada, and that it is nation-building at its best, but that no oil company in Alberta will do it. In fact, some oppose it.

So it came down to this. If I thought it important enough, I would have to spearhead it. That is what I am doing. I hope by setting high standards we can show the way forward for responsible management of Canada’s bitumen from an economic and an environmental point of view.

My final message to you today is simple. When your big challenge or opportunity arises, do the same. Do it better. When you know something is wrong, step up. Take a risk. Challenge tradition and fight vested interests. Use your education, experience and networks in a positive way to benefit yourself and your family of course, but whenever you can, always try to improve the the world around you as well. The satisfaction that gives you will fulfill you.

Go to it graduates and best wishes for the future.

 

 

Just Posted

World Class Hiking Trail For The North Island?

The idea is getting some serious attention.

Provincial grants help communities map, meet housing needs

The next intake for funding is open until Nov. 29, 2019.

North Island Rising: Can the future of the North Island be managed?

Can growth be managed and if so, is now the time to start figuring things out?

Less than a month to go until the Mount Waddington Fall Fair!

The committee is hoping for a record number of exhibits this year

Port McNeill CCCU presents cheque to Port McNeill Hospital Society executive

The cheque was from the June 21 fundraiser BBQ that Ward and her Grandmother Lou organized together

VIDEO: Langley Ribfest met with protesters

Groups that oppose the event for various reasons plan to be on site each of the three days.

‘I’m just absolutely disgusted’: Husband furious after B.C. Mountie’s killer gets day parole

Kenneth Fenton was sentenced to prison after he fatally struck Const. Sarah Beckett’s cruiser

Helicopter-riding dog Mr. Bentley now featured on cans of new B.C.-made beer

Partial proceeds from every pack go to Children’s Wish

PHOTOS: Weapons seized at Portland right-wing rally, counterprotests

Not all who gathered Saturday were with right-wing groups or antifa

Sea-to-Sky Gondola in B.C. likely out of commission until 2020

Sea to Sky Gondola carries between 1,500 and 3,000 people every day during the summer season

It’s snow joke: Up to 30 cm of snow expected to fall in northeastern B.C.

Alaska Highway, Fort Nelson to be hit with August snowstorm, according to Environment Canada

Ferries employees participating in Denman Island cleanup for plastic-shedding ferry

The cleanup comes a few weeks after one organized by residents of the Island

Discussion on grief and loss between Stephen Colbert, Anderson Cooper goes viral

The exchange includes emotional question from Cooper, and outlook on grief as a child

Toronto activist calling on federal parties to nominate more black candidates

Fewer than 20 black Canadians have been nominated so far, including some Liberal MPs seeking re-election

Most Read