Saturday, July 25, 2009
BC's Biggest Political Scandal
By Gabriel Yiu
Chinese in Vancouver - July 24, 2009
From this lengthy article, an interesting excerpt:
Is the $1B sale of BC Rail a government-business collusion?
Even if we overlook the hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of tax write-off benefit for CN Rail’s purchasing of BC Rail, it is a real bargain when we compare its purchase price with the building costs of other public railway networks:
BC Rail – over 3,000 km of railway network covering the continent and Vancouver Island - $1 billion
Skytrain Millennium Line – 16 km. $1.2 billion
Skytrain Evergreen Line – 11 km. $1.4 billion
Skytrain UBC extension – 12 km. $2.8 billion
Canada Line – 19 km. $1.9 billion
$7.3 Billion / 58km = $126,000,000 per km. (Skytrain, a money loser)
$1 Billion / 3000km = $333,000 per km. (BC Rail, a money maker)
$126,000,000 / $333,000 means
Skytrain costs 378 times more per km than BC Rail was sold for!
It's too bad that the Premier didn't offer to sell the railway to the BC Rail employees. They were already running the business and making a tidy profit. At least if he had sold it to them the profits would have stayed in BC.
I note that Clark quit her MLA position on Sept. 17,2004 to "spend time with her son", yet she announced her bid for Vancouver mayor on Aug. 31, 2005 - less than one year later! What a flip-flopper!
Thanks. And you've just reminded me -- I think the BCRail employees did make an offer ...
I'll try again to find that story.
And it is not just CN that has benefitted from the give away (which looks even worse if you factor in the apparent hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks received by CN)....
It's the fine folks who do 'business' with CN that have benefitted also.
Funny thing is, turns out that some of those same folks have donated big bucks to the province's CEO as well.
And the kicker, some also seem to make sure that it all stays in the families.
What the heck am I talking about?
Well, here's an interesting passage I had up at my place awhile ago that was first published in The Tyee way back in 2005:
"The Great Canadian Railtour Company, which also operates Rocky Mountaineer Vacations, was awarded a contract by Canadian National last year to provide passenger rail services along a line from North Vancouver to Whistler.
Canadian Railtour founder Peter Armstrong has donated more than $60,000 to the Liberals, both personally and through his companies, since 2002 according to reports filed with Elections BC.
Armstrong’s former employees include the premier’s son, Nicholas Campbell, as well as CN chairman David McLean’s son, Sacha McLean, according to a recent book by Paul Grescoe, entitled, “Trip of a Lifetime: The Making of the Rocky Mountaineer." The book details Armstrong’s longstanding battle with VIA Rail.
Armstrong’s competitor for the passenger service bid raised questions about the selection process in an interview with Terminal City. “We put in a bid, we were told a lot of things that never happened, and we were told by certain people we had the best bid,�? said Whistler Railtours CEO John Haibeck. “In my opinion we got screwed.".
The important thing to remember here, of course, is who used to own that wee bit of track from North Van to Whistler BEFORE CN took possession and made the deal with Mr. Armstrong's company.....
For anybody who wants further background, you might like to have a look at the discussion in the comments to this very important, much more recent, post of Mary's here.
I leave it some enterprising, eagle-eyed campaign donation watcher (NVG perhaps?!) to find out if, and how much, Mr. Armstrong and/or Mr. Armstrong's companies donated to Mr. Campbell and/or the BC Liberal Party in the most recent election cycle.
It's hard for many people to wrap their heads around numbers when they're thrown around in a casual manner, and few know that better than the "managers" now in office - but when there's something to truly compare them to, it brings the message home!
This was an excellent article Mary, kudos to you for finding and sharing it!
I just copied this paragraph from National Post and sent it to Leonard Krog, who thinks he's doing such a fine job on the Basi-Virk file.
I'm just a tad fed up with Mr Krog but more about that at some later date. For the moment, I found it telling that even National Post (for cryin' out loud) thought he, as Opposition critic for this file, did a lousy job in the May 2009 provincial election:
High drama, heavy odour from B.C. e-mail scandal
Posted: July 21, 2009
by NP Editor
Full Comment Canadian politics
The Basi-Virk scandal just won’t go away, although it does tend to go into hibernation once in a while. Like it did during the recent May election, when the NDP inexplicably gave Gordon Campbell a free ride on the questions. In fact the only party to really challenge the government was the one without any chance of winning: The B.C. Conservative party. But because they didn’t get very much press, and because the NDP chose not to join the Conservatives in grilling the government, the election came and went without changing the status quo.
Huh. Some Opposition. It's a wierd day in the West when even the National Post thinks they didn't try hard enough to win the last election.
Yep, this mess just keeps getting bigger and Nastier and SMELLIER. No matter what deal it is, everyone connected with BC Liberals deals seems to be less than an arm's length away. From railroads to bridges to communications to night-time whispers. One big cluster ----, or circle ----. Call it what you want, it is all too schmoozie and sloppy to me.
When the fight over the last chair in the game of musical chairs finally comes to an end; I think it is going to be pretty ugly. There are some pretty big players with low moral standards in the game. Perhaps BC will make some international Jersy-style headlines.
Perhaps there is one righteous cop, one righteous "mad as hell...not going to take it anymore" journalist and one righteous copy editor who could blow this whole thing wide open before somebody can put a lid on it. I don't understand how the lid stays on this drama; there are just too many worms crawling all over one-another.
Like you said, Skook, Wally looked relieved when he lost. For the last 6-8 months he was in office, he looked like this whole thing was making him sick. Perhaps there is something he can do to relieve his conscience. I wonder what he is doing right now?