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

Snow prayers answered as Manning Park ski hill opens Friday

Ski hill will be open seven days a week starting Dec. 14, and cross-country trails as well

Fleeing driver picks fight with Chilliwack police dog, loses

Good dog ‘Griff’ also locates large quantity of what police believe to be crystal meth in Abbotsford

UPDATE: Heavy rainfall, strong winds in forecast for Lower Mainland

Heavy rains, snow expected till Friday morning

DFO confirms that investigation of fish habitat destruction in the Fraser River is underway

Conservation and Protection reps ordered Herrling and Carey Island owners to take corrective action

Hope rescue crew remove man pinned in semi-truck on Highway 3

Tuesday night rescue was swift, with the man removed safely from the truck within an hour and a half

Omar Khadr wants changes to bail conditions

‘My life is held in suspension’, says the former Guantanamo Bay detainee

Sissons scores OT winner as Predators beat Canucks 4-3

VIDEO: Vancouver battles back to earn single point in Nashville

Lions announce seven members of coaching staff not coming back for 2019

The operational moves come two days after the Lions announced DeVone Claybrooks as the team’s new head coach

$12K awarded to atheist family who oppose Christmas, Hanukkah in B.C. classroom

Gary Mangel,May Yasue said holidays, Remembrance Day and Valentine’s Day not appropriate in preschool

Coach accused of sexual assault says apology letter was misinterpreted

Dave Brubaker has pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault and one count of invitation to sexual touching

Give the gift of nature this holiday season

Please don’t be mad, but I bought you a moose

Aboriginal poet faces backlash for calling out NHL-themed totem poles

Rebecca Thomas says she received backlash for asking a drugstore chain to remove NHL merchandise

No plans yet for free WiFi on BC Transit buses

BC Transit says they are monitoring the roll-out of free WiFi on Translink vehicles

Some Kotex tampons recalled in Canada and U.S.

In some cases, tampon users sought medical attention “to remove tampon pieces left in the body.”

Most Read