Sunday, September 13, 2009


BC Rail: What does it mean to be railroaded?

v. rail·road·ed, rail·road·ing, rail·roads
1. To transport by railroad.
2. To supply (an area) with railroads. or obstruction
3. Informal
a. To rush or push (something) through quickly in order to prevent careful consideration and possible criticism: railroad a special-interest bill through Congress.
b. To convict (an accused person) without a fair trial or on trumped-up charges.

Nobody can say that the people of BC were railroaded when they lost their previous ownership of BC Rail. Can they?

For the biggest privatization deal in Canadian history, it was rushed. Yes, it was rushed. But by comparison, the trial involving alleged fraud and corruption in the BCR-CN deal is so slow, molasses runs uphill in January no slower than the hearings will drag on again tomorrow in the BC Rail case. Which gives us time to look at BCRail history.

HERE for a brief history of how BC Rail developed. [Special thanks to North Van's Grumps for finding and sharing this site.] I like this part:

... By 1915, the line was opened from Squamish 176 miles (283 km) north to Chasm. The railway was starting to run out of money - in 1915 it failed to make an interest payment on its bonds, obliging the provincial government to make good on the bond guarantee.

In the 1916 provincial election campaign, the Liberal Party alleged that some of the money advanced to the railway had instead gone into Conservative Party campaign funds. In the election, the Conservatives, which had won every seat in the Legislature in the 1912 election, lost to the Liberals.

The Liberals then took Foley, Welch & Stewart to court to recover $5 million of allegedly unaccounted funds.

In early 1918, the railway's backers agreed to pay the government $1.1 million and turn the railway over to the government.

A hard-won railway. So: Why have we allowed another BC government to turn this railway back into private ownership? The 2004 "sale" of BC Rail was large enough, and significant enough in the economic life of the province, that there should at least have been a referendum on the question of whether to sell, or whether to preserve and protect.

On July 14, 2009, responsibility fell upon the shoulders of the Opposition to re-visit the deal signed 5 years earlier. We ought to have demanded to see the full BCR-CN deal(s) at that time. Serious improvements (possibly even re-possession) might have been realized. But neither the Campbell government nor the Opposition took that opportunity.

I think somebody did get railroaded ... in the full meaning and fullest impact of the dictionary's transitive verb:

3a. To rush or push (something) through quickly in order to prevent careful consideration and possible criticism ...

Anticipated but not confirmed until tomorrow morning's court listings are published after 6:30 AM (use links in left column, directions in masthead above):

Basi, Virk, Basi pre-trial hearings continue on September 14, 2009 beginning at 9:30 AM in BC Supreme Court, 800 Smyth Street, Vancouver. Open to the public. Reports from Citizen Journalists are especially welcome on this blog. - BC Mary.


1. (noun) railway, railroad, railroad line, railway line, railway system
line that is the commercial organization responsible for operating a system of transportation for trains that pull passengers or freight
Synonyms: railway line, railway, line, railroad track, railway system, railroad line, rail line, railroad

2. (verb) railroad track, railroad, railway
a line of track providing a runway for wheels
Synonyms: railway, railroad line, railroad, railway system, railway line, railroad track

3. (verb) dragoon, sandbag, railroad
compel by coercion, threats, or crude means
Synonyms: stun, railroad, dragoon, sandbag

4. (verb) railroad
supply with railroad lines
Synonyms: dragoon, sandbag

5. (verb) railroad
transport by railroad
Synonyms: dragoon, sandbag

SANDBAGGED... now isn't that the word that YW uses in her notes regarding CN Rail holding out on the deal?
Mary, you missed 3b. If Basi, Virk and Basi's lawyers win their argument, that they were only following orders from you-know-who-and-then-some, then it means the charges against them were trumped-up. But we already know 3b applies, as given the length and torturousness of the proceedings so far, this is not a fair trial. Not for the public anyway, but really not for them either; it's a show trial, when it should be their (former) superiors who are taking the heat.
And one item the history of the railway's founding never got to, and not quite relevant to the point I guess, but in March 1932 a train went off the Gibbs Creek Trestle, at 14 Mile out of Lillooet on the same grade, though much farther down, as the recent Moran disaster. It was one of the world's largest trestles in its time, that spot is now gravel/rip-rap fill; I think the Deep Creek Trestle, up by Quesnel somewhere, was the world's highest for a long time but I think maybe in volume Gibbs Creek was bigger.

Anyway here's some shots:

And on if you go to the Specialty Cars there's a pic of a bunch of guys in top hats in the old observation car, which was the inaugural run to Lillooet (or wherever) in 1915....

Those photos of the old Gibbs Creek Trestle are stunning ...

imagine those trainmen!

These are the elements of BC history which truly make the BCR ours.

Thanks very, very much.

looks like an urgent personal message from Britain's BBC to Gordo:

70% 'back rail renationalisation'

Most people are in favour of returning the railways to public ownership, with just 23% supporting privatisation, according to a poll.
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