Saturday, December 15, 2007

 

Hansard reveals concerns during ...

BCR PRIVATIZATION BID PROCESS
Hansard, Nov. 19, 2003

J. MacPhail: Today we learn that the Canadian Pacific Railway has pulled its bid for B.C. Rail, casting a cloud over the whole process. We've also learned that the only other non–CN bidder, Omnitrax, has expressed concerns about the fairness of the process to the Premier. A report into that process released earlier this week identifies two leaks from B.C. Rail. In one case, data were sent to a party that should not have had access to it.

Can the Premier tell this House what was leaked and to whom?

Hon. J. Reid: Indeed, we've worked very hard on a process that is fair and equitable and have worked very diligently with the proponents. The fairness adviser's report…. The fairness adviser is Charles Rivers Associates, which is a very reputable firm, and that firm has stated that the process established and implemented by the province, the evaluation committee and its advisers was fair and impartial. The information they investigated within this — because they were concerned about being absolutely concise and drilling down and making sure that they could bring forward those conclusions — was not substantive and was not harmful to the process.

Mr. Speaker: Leader of the Opposition has a supplementary question.

J. MacPhail: Well, the minister didn't answer my question, and certainly the Premier didn't rise to answer my question.

Let me tell what the report says. The report on the process, an interim report where the minister admits the person still has to talk to the proponents, says only that the lawyers verified that the leak was retrieved and destroyed by those who had access to it. It doesn't say what was leaked and to whom it was leaked. From the start this process has been called into question by bidders, by B.C. Rail customers and by British Columbians who depend on the line.

Now, can the Premier provide assurances that the process was fair when his own minister won't come clean on the details of this leak? If the leak was to one proponent, were the other proponents advised immediately, or did the government simply think this matter could be swept under the carpet? To the Premier: were the other proponents told what was leaked, and who received the information?

Hon. J. Reid: The whole purpose of the fairness adviser's report is to investigate the concerns the member has said, not to perpetuate those concerns. The fairness adviser's report investigated those concerns, and the conclusion that was arrived at was that the process was not compromised and that everyone involved was treated fairly and equitably.

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please. Order, please, hon. members. The Leader of the Opposition has a further supplementary.

J. MacPhail: In fact, that's not what the report says. It's not what the report says on the second leak at all. In fact, what it says is…. I'll read it: "In the second case, we have been informed that the error was quickly identified. We have documented statements from the attorneys involved verifying that the data were retrieved or destroyed by those who had access to it."

It doesn't say who had access to it or whether they then distributed all that leaked information to all the proponents. So unless the Premier has a giant magnet, some kind of secret memory-erasing device, asking for the information back and destroying it does not fix the problem. Two of the major bidders for B.C. Rail are now saying the whole process was unfair. They say that CN has already been given the go-ahead, despite the minister's repeated denials. The Premier needs to face reality. The deal stinks….

Interjections.

Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

J. MacPhail: The little support it had is vanishing by the hour. Will he at least stand up and give the House assurance that the second leak wasn't to CN Rail?

Hon. J. Reid: The whole purpose of the fairness adviser's report is to make sure that all three proponents were treated fairly, were treated equitably and received the same information at the same time. It was verified by the fairness adviser that, indeed, that was the case. There is no need to be able to repeat problems or concerns. What's important is the conclusion. It was investigated, and the conclusion was that it was fair to all the proponents.

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Four people (that I know of) have been searching for a copy of the final report -- Charles Rivers Associates Fairness Evaluation Report. It appears to have been removed from the Internet and from government web-sites. If anyone knows where/how it can be seen, please comment? Thanks.

And special thanks to "Lynx" who found this information in Hansard. - BC Mary.

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Lynx added: in regards to:

"We have documented statements from the attorneys involved verifying that the data were retrieved or destroyed by those who had access to it."

Then those attorneys would know "who" had access to it and who destroyed it? Shouldn't they be subpoenaed?

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Comments:
You have to wonder how all of this would have turned out if it hadn't been Campbell's plan all along to 'sell' BCRail to CN. When the bid process went sideways the thing should have been shelved – it was the only ethical thing to do...why didn’t that happen?

This 'fairness' stuff has all the characteristics of a new paint job to cover up a multitude of sins because long before the raid on the Legislature the Campbell government knew exactly what it should have done...but of course, that wasn't what Gordon wanted, and so the deal went ahead. And you can be sure, in my view, that there are things in those documents that would embarrass Gordon Campbell as much as they must be embarrassing George Copley as he fights an eleventh hour battle against opening them up to the public – something his political masters promised from day one – remember?

In the end, I suspect all the threads lead back to the Premier's office - it's just a question of whether or not the judge will allow the process to follow them up.

We know Canwest isn't interested - God help the province if someone else doesn't do the necessary work.
 
GW --

More on what the paint job did NOT cover coming at my place soon.

RossK

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