Monday, May 12, 2008


"This partnership is a $1Billion investment." What does that mean?

Does this sound right?

This is Premier Gordon Campbell's announcement at the time the deal was signed with Canadian National Railway. At this time, I would much appreciate if people would re-read it carefully and tell me if you believe that BCRail was sold and, if so, for how much and on what terms. What exactly is an "Investment Partnership" anyway? What does it mean, that it "moves forward"? - BC Mary.

For Immediate Release


Nov. 25, 2003

[From] Office of the Premier
Ministry of Transportation


VICTORIA – The Province announced it has selected CN as the successful proponent for a new BC Rail Investment Partnership that will generate $1 billion in investment for B.C., help to revitalize the BC Rail system and create opportunities for economic development and job creation in the North.

“This partnership is a $1-billion investment in the future of B.C.,” said Premier Gordon Campbell. “It will provide lower rates, faster service, new transportation infrastructure, new jobs and new resources for economic development in the North.

“Northern communities, shippers, and resource industries have made clear that BC Rail is failing them. This partnership directly addresses the needs that mayors and shippers told us must be met. By providing better service, an expanded Port of Prince Rupert and significant new community investments for Prince George and the North, the partnership will be a major new source of economic development for our entire province.”

Investing in the BC Rail System:

The addition of 600 new rail cars to the fleet, an average rate reduction of seven per cent for interline shippers, and 30 per cent faster transit times from Prince George to Vancouver will all benefit shippers. The partnership will provide access to a seamless, integrated North American rail network, including the introduction of a “Chicago Express” in the first quarter of 2004 that will transport freight from Prince George to Chicago two days faster. This will reduce costs for shippers, improve their competitiveness, generate stronger demand for B.C. products, and foster more secure jobs in the forest sector.


For balance, here's an editorial from Prince George Free Press 15 months later:

Discussing rail sale 'betrayal'

By Sage Birchwater
Prince George Free Press - Apr 08 2005

Northern media commentator Ben Meisner, and Prince George businessman Ron East are kicking off a series of town hall meetings to discuss the sale of BC Rail and its impact on communities in the BC Interior. Their first stop is in Williams Lake, Monday, April 11, at 7 p.m. in the city hall council chambers.

East, a founding member and spokesperson of the Committee to Save BC Rail, has been a long time critic of the BC Liberals' "broken promise" to not privatize BC Rail.

"The sale of BC Rail was a betrayal of rail dependent communities," he says. "The provincial government ignored the interests of 30,000 northerners who signed a petition against the sale, over 100 small business owners who publicly opposed the sale, and the 13 city councils who called on the Campbell government to keep its promise."

Meisner says local communities have been abandoned. "We've been left with no passenger rail service and today industrial shippers and our local economy are suffering."

Since the sale of BC Rail to CN Rail, Interior shippers are left with fewer rail cars to export manufactured goods, primarily pulp and lumber.

In an interview with the Tribune this week, Meisner said the sale of BC Rail is akin to selling the house to pay for the paving of the driveway. And he's hopping mad.

"It's important for people to know what happened. We got sold a bill of goods. I think it's a travesty." Meisner says the purpose for the town hall meetings is to create political pressure.

"I was the guy who launched the fight against Kemano II, and I was right. Now nobody has jobs in Kitimat. There's going to be a repeat performance with CN."

Meisner predicts that once the railbed is paved between Vancouver and Whistler for the 2010 Olympics, the rail line will never get reopened. "Everything in the Cariboo will get hauled north to Prince George."

He says if the rail link is ever built to Alaska, it will follow the Alaskan Highway to Fort St. John, then head south through Alberta.

"It won't come through Williams Lake. Politically we need to make people aware of that. People were hoodwinked. The B.C. government didn't hold CN's feet to the fire."
Meisner insists there may still be some options for the province to get out of the lease with CN, which he says has no guarantee for the people of Williams Lake.

"You got $15 million out of the deal. What's that worth? You've already lost one of your trains that used to pass through the city. It's been diverted through Tete Jaune down the CN line to Vancouver." He says if the people don't squeal, the provincial government will continue to roll over communities and sell off our assets.

Asked if he and East are just a couple of disgruntled NDP hacks, Meisner says, "Heck no." He says he was asked to run for the Liberals in the last election and East was the campaign manager for Prince George MLA Pat Bell, the Minister of State for Mining.

Meisner wanted to know if the MLAs representing the Cariboo supported the sale of BC Rail.

"The local MLAs shouldn't get away with making a brain-dead decision without being made accountable. The railway was built for a reason, to support Interior communities with the benefits automatically flowing to the people who owned it. Why change that?"

Ironically, he says, one of the main problems the sale to CN Rail was supposed to fix is still unresolved. "There's a shortage of rail cars and nobody wants to talk about it. The big mills received tax concessions to support the BC Rail sale, so they're not saying anything."

At earlier meetings, these two men provided additional information:

"... A contract based on fraud is not valid," he said. Meisner blasted the deal, and denied the argument BC Rail was losing money, as the Liberals have suggested.

"That, pardon my vulgarity, is bull----," he said. "In its last year, it made $98 million (in profit)."

He also questioned who knew about the re-emergence of coal mining in Tumbler Ridge, leading to the shipments of coal by rail, and more business for the railroad.

"Who knew the deal was on its way?" he asked. "Did CN know it and keep quiet, or is the B.C. government that stupid? I think it's a bit of both."

He also suggested parts of the rail system would be shut down in coming years.

East told the audience they were shareholders in Crown corporations, and Meisner went further, telling them "unless you stand up and be counted, you're no more than dust in the wind."

The meeting, moderated by city councillor and pulp mill engineer Brian Skakun, followed two similar meetings in Williams Lake and Quesnel earlier this week.

There's more at:

Noted in passing:

Business in Vancouver - 16 May 2008
Excerpt: CN railcar shortage

... There is simply not enough train track or port capacity in Australia to accommodate coal delivery.

“It’s a problem we don’t have here in Canada. Here we have the rail and port capacity, but our problem is the availability of rolling stock. In the case of Peace River Coal, a shortage of CN rolling stock was overcome by PRC leasing two aluminum train sets,” said Slater. - Hillsborough Resources Limited


Okay, it sounds right, but if only I could remember the name of the woman who stood at the Vancouver Board of Trade podium while reading from her apple laptop. The nice thing about the laptop was that it included graphics which were projected onto the screen which showed, in one example, the downside to the BC Liberals PPP spending spree.

The bottom line was that Only governments can get the lowest rate of interest on huge amounts of money... why has the bc liberals gone outside to the private sector to borrow money, at high interest rates, to then have the money repaid over a long period of time eg. something akin to a forty year mortgage rather than the traditional twenty five year mortgage.

In other words what she was suggesting is that today we will have our mammoth projects built but over time we will have a greater and greater debt loaded onto our smaller and smaller debt ridden with Carbon
Mary, if you've got enough nerve, call up Mike Morton, who probably wrote the press release. He left the Premier's office in Dec. and is now Exec. Dir. of the BC Liberal party. If you can act like a clueless person just wondering...maybe he will talk and explain para 1 to you. He certainly left the Premier's office suddenly. I think he'd been in his employ for 14 years. Good luck.
Mary, read Jim Sinclair's opinion column in the Sun today. Freedom of speech seems to be threatened & then what will we all do. Take up knitting?
Post a Comment

<< Home