Thursday, February 11, 2010
B.C. Rail finally kaput, says Michael Smyth. Dream on, Michael.
Now come the justifications, the rationalizations, the obfuscations ... leading up to the BC Rail trial on May 3 which might begin to tell us how a major public asset slipped out of public ownership and into private pockets. If there are journalists from other countries still enjoying a free press, please note ... please drill down ... please write about BC Rail which once belonged to the people of British Columbia who could guarantee its service to farflung towns, farms, villages, factories, mines, communities. But that didn't suit the real estate agenda in B.C. Like our farms and forests, BC Rail wasn't protected from the real estate developers.
Michael Smyth in today's column reflects some of the joy with which these drastic developments are viewed by the few whose hands are on the controls.
B.C. Rail finally kaput -- long after trains gone
Since sale to CN Rail seven years ago, $6.5 million spent on executive compensation
By Michael Smyth
The Province - February 11, 2010
B.C. Rail is finally, officially dead. But its legacy will live on for a while yet.
Unfortunately for the government, that legacy will live in court -- during the B.C. Rail corruption trial.
In an ironic twist to the B.C. Rail saga, the government announced Wednesday it will finally shut down the Crown corporation to save money -- on the very day a judge ordered the long-awaited corruption trial to start on May 3.
If you're surprised to hear that B.C. Rail even exists anymore, you're forgiven.
After all, the government sold its business operations to private-sector rival CN Rail seven years ago for $1 billion.
But, incredibly, B.C. Rail remained on the books as a Crown corporation, with a CEO making half-a-million dollars a year. Three other executives are pulling down more than $200,000 each.
Not bad for running a railroad with no trains. The government sold them all to CN!
How did the government justify this?
For one thing, B.C. Rail still owns a 40-kilometre spur line near Tsawwassen. It also still owns the tracks and rail bed, which are used by CN in a 990-year renewable lease.
The corporation also has real-estate holdings.
But critics have been saying for years that B.C. Rail's limited functions could be easily handled by the Transportation Ministry, and that there was no need for it to operate as a separate Crown corporation.
The government has finally agreed with that, but can you imagine how much taxpayers' money they could have saved if they had just shut down B.C. Rail years ago?
Imagine no more: The government has spent more than $191 million on B.C. Rail's operating expenses since selling its business functions to CN. That includes $6.5 million on executive compensation.
Now taxpayers will likely be on the hook for millions more in severance costs to those laid-off execs.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Anne MacKenzie set May 3 as the trial date for three former government insiders facing charges of fraud, breach-of-trust and money-laundering in the B.C. Rail deal.
That had the NDP Opposition smiling.
"The legislature will still be in session then," NDP house leader Mike Farnworth said with a grin.
Talk about ammunition for question period!
The bottom line: The Liberals better enjoy the Olympics. Things will be decidedly less festive when they party's over -- and court's in session.
firstname.lastname@example.org Blog: www.theprovince.com/secrets
- BC Mary.
I did read your blog earlier this morning, as I try to check it daily.
I found some irony in that the Campbell administration chose Shirley Bond as the minister responsible for the "press release", to which she willingly added her name, in this the latest move by government to deal with BCR. This is a minister that has blindly embraced the agenda of Gordon Campbell, in much the same manner that she had followed her former mentor, Doug Wall's prior to her entry into provincial politics in 2001. Commitments made in relation to BCR during the May campaign of 2001, were completely abandoned shortly thereafter, at the direction of Gordon Campbell, personally.
This is a minister who has willfuly and knowingly chosen to ignore the pleas of many of her constituents, placing personal ambition and expediency above the public interest. She is complicit in the Campbell administrations rejection of earlier commitments over several campaigns, to provide honesty, transparency and accountability in government. This is a story that continues to be written. With certainty, I can say, that the ending will not be a happy one!
" This is a story that continues to be written. With certainty, I can say, that the ending will not be a happy one!"
I just hope it is "not a happy one" for those who deserve an unhappy and ignoble ending to the so far continuing crime spree that has been perpetrated on the people of this province. So far it has been unhappy for us and justice.
The greatest irony is the billions being spent on this spectacle and yet our primary health care and critical education systems will be competely gutted in the months ahead when the BC Liberal budget comes in. We really are lost in the wilderness, hopefully the Basi/Virk trial will light the fires of discontent. We sure need something.
Paul Nettleton, thanks alot for putting honesty and integrity before wealth.
How can any of the BC Liberals look in the mirror,Mary,I don`t know about getting BC Rail back,Basi n Virk are charged with offences if convicted are a slap on the wrist...
I don`t know about the dirt, regardless of how corrupt and rigged the deal was...
Gordon Campbell lied,the sale was rigged, the giveaway was set up while he was mayor of Vancouver....
I can see Gordon Campbell being stripped of his pension,charged with failing the public,caught lying again,but....
I don`t see anyway of getting it back until a change of Government and a government will to "re-buy" the Rail.
What I need out of this trial is to have a dozen campbell insiders exposed and embarrassed,as for Patrick Kinsella....
He needs to take the stand and say how many people were paying him to meddle in BC Rail..1 party...2 parties..or more.
Drinks and drives
Rips up contracts
Allow export of raw logs/jobs
Olympic spending overruns
And get this, impose a 1-2 Billion dollar sewage treatment scheme on the niave residents of greater victoria, in total absense of an environmental reason for doing so, and without a peer reviewed cost benefit analysis.
The man is an idiot. But we keep electing this idiot in time and again. The people of BC have spoken and the people of BC got what they deserved.
The alternative being Carol James and the NDP. Maybe if they dump Carol James things willed improve. I have long beleived that having James run the show was a dumb thing to do, just as would be not running your best candidate becuase of gender equity policies.
Yup, its more important for me to be represented by a woman, no matter how incompetant, than a man, no matter how savy.
Either way, here is my take on the so-called "alternative:"
Its more those who DONT vote that made the difference last and prior elections. Having said that, yes, that would likely mean NDP goverments, and with NDP govt comes this:
2 costly add-ons and amendments to contracts, to appease the union
3 raw log exports,
4 a less efficient and less modern ferry system,
5 secondary sewage treatment, needed or not,
6 higher taxes, more not less deficit spending, and get this,
7 NO olympics, but CAROL JAMES.
Can you look in the mirror and honestly say you would rather have Carol James in power, no Olympics, and higher taxes to fund more useless and inefficent public services and infrastructure?
Maybe. For the sale of BC Rail, I do not beleive would ever be contempated in an NDP mind-set.
Take your pick next election.
Please take careful note of the foregoing comment.
I would describe it as electioneering.
Must I remind everybody on a daily basis that this blog is NOT about partisan election campaigns? In fact, Yr Humble Editor has been utterly poisoned by the obvious uselessness of partisan political viewpoints which, reduced to their essence, mean that citizens waste their efforts in shouting
"ME GOOD, YOU BAD!"
Cut it out, I tell you!
This blog is about BC Rail and how such a priceless public asset slid into private pockets.
And one more thing: the BCRail trial (Basi Virk) is finally coming up on May 3 ... and I swear, I never saw so much gloom. Oh, it's gonna fail. Oh, it's never gonna happen. Oh, Oh, Oh.
So I say: Cheer up, things go better when you CHEER UP! and push on.
Are you mad, and I don't mean angry, I mean deranged?
The only thing you say that makes any sense is the effect that those who didn't vote might have on an election if the MAJORITY who chose to stay home went to the polls.
But then you become a tape loop of bad-NDP - good LIEberal (formerly SoCrud) talking points. Then you have the sheer gall to post a seven point list of horrors that basically describes what has been going on for the last eight years and imply that is what we have to fear from the dreaded NDP.
1. Lies (virtually every word that crosses ScamBull's lips, and Richy, and Kevin and Shirley and Colin......etc.
2. Costly add-ons....etc. - like riduculous Pirate Power contracts to buy power for two and three times its value? Like salaries to guys for running a railroad with no trains - the only thing the LIBerals don't give away the store for is to "appease the union," they appease the greed of their cronies and themselves
3. Raw log exports - the NDP could hardly increase the amount of these without exporting logs from Washington and Oregon as well.
4.a less efficient....ferry system - haven't you noticed, Gordo and Hahn the Hun already been there and done that, but they ain't done yet
5. not informed on this, though sewage treatment is generally a good thing - unless you like thinning the herd - which in the case of BC voters may be the answer.
6. higher taxes...etc. - Have you heard about the carbon tax, the HST, increased MSP premiums etc. etc. and oh yeah 495mil max deficits ballooning to two or three billion - and wait until the party's over and the real bills come in. We are on the verge of becoming the California of Canada in more than shape, location and climate and kookiness - we will join them in being a provincial/state jurisdiction with a nation sized deficit and staring bankruptcy in the face - thanks to those business managers in Victoria (real estate developers, scam artists and ponzi scheme operators, otherwise known as the BC liaRs).
7. NO olmpics.....? the games themselves were a bi-partisan effort, originally sought by Glen Clark and gang - the way they have been developed and the way the money has been spent is a Gordo Goof entirely!
Perhaps you should use your brain, assuming you have one, before you use your keyboard. Who cares how many Shack whatevertons we have?
Recall the first election,family pets were signed up to be registered to vote!?!
NDP, won only 2 seats?
I don't think campbell got voted back a second time,
I think he/they bought 72 seats...
Yes honestly. There is NO COMPARISON. This government is, and has been, the worst provincial government in this province since, at least the middle of the last century.
We have witnessed a sell-off and giveaway of resources; a repudiation of the positive developments of the past and a purblindness toward the growing problems of the present - not to mention a complete derogation of the duty of the government to plan for and consider the future.
Whatever anyone might think of the NDP, there is no earthly way the last 10 years would have been as disastrous as they have been under any NDP administration - no matter who led that government.
TO suggest otherwise is simply idle posturing and political bullshit.
Like the manufactured nonsense of a fascist celebration which includes American newsmen and the embarrassingly incompetent Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger in its midst - this province has become an incredibly bad joke.
CKDA...What town are you from? Let us know where you are located and I promise to find out where all the "Addiction services,AA meetings,Mental services" etc etc etc...Are located...
There are organizations who can help you your mental problems...or are you in training to become a PAB?
If you are in training,may I suggest Alex Tsakumas`s site,because BC Mary`s site is....
"Ground zero for Facts,Liberal corruption,the premier in a adulterous affair with his staff"
Jim King: Arnold's coming? the Republican version of Gerry Brown? Interesting, no doubt hanging out with the Gretzky's.... I've not been up with the latest VIP/celeb list....I'll be curious to see the VIP box at the hockey final, especially if it boils down to Canada vs. Russia. Medvedev's in town, and it ain't for the biathlon.....will it be all nine Premiers (excepting Williams) sitting around Harper, all hoping to bask in the euphoria of a gold medal? Shameless electioneering, but that's what these Games are designed to be....and the public really are stupid enough to vote for Campbell just based on any feelgood memories of these Games....but just imagine the scale of the hockey riot if Canada loses the final....will the ISU be able to contain that?? it won't be pretty if they have to.....
What got me on the "Canada is starting to believe" commercial that's running right now is the outright admission that, well, we haven't been believing. The other was that there's only one A-list star in that commercial (Donald Sutherland) and he's not even from BC. Where are Hayden Christiansen, Kristin Kreuk, Ryan Reynolds and all the other A-listers from our export-market star mill? I suspect Michael Buble will be in the opening ceremony; but not Neil Young. Rick Mercer, but no Jim Carrey. Michael J. Fox, but not Pamela Anderson (I'm a bit disappointed in MJ Fox for dancing so blithely with the BC establishment in his promos...)....but it raises the question - for all the major talent that's come out of BC, how many are gonna come home to "celebrate being British Columbia" etc. etc. I think maybe most have more good taste than to allow themselves to be political shills.....
No doubt a lot of the usual cast of local stars will be at various events - e.g. Michael Shanks (who's from Kamloops), maybe with Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping in tow, and Jim Byrnes for good measure. But I suspect most of the A-list in town will be Americans or Aussies who are oblivious to the local polity; most of teh younger A-list from BC don 't have the career inertia to allow them to survive any political association/exposure - while heavyweights like Neil Young and Joni Mitchell and, maybe, Nelly Furtado - know enough to stay away.
There's been a bit of a showdown in east van just now and the torch had to revise its route from Hastings street...for a few blocks.
I'm kind of pulling for a USA or Czech final against Russia in hockey - and you're right about the ubiquitous Donald Sutherland.
Haven't seen him in a movie for ages - but then why would he bother - he can make more shillings shilling with his mellifluous voice.
BTW, I think I did hear Ryan Reynolds pumping someone or something rings related the other day...Oh, and by the way, don't believe the stories about huge crowds out to see the torch relay - it's BS...the crowds, such as they are, are mainly school kids with their teachers (non-voting age), parents, friends and families of the torch bearers.
There have been many rumours that these sled runs are too steep, too fast and too dangerous.
Don't be surprised if he's not the only casuality - some members of the Canadian team were not running the full course in practice for precisely the reasons mentioned above....
Under no circumstances would Carol James be anything other than useless. Just as she has proven to be as leader of the Opposition, if thats what you want to call then.
Thanks for listening to, CKDA!
Obviously I disagree.
Gordon Campbell and his band of yes men and women are less than useless; as Paul Nettleton, (who knows these clueless buggers better than any of us), has attested just above us here in this comments thread, none of them care a fig for their commitments, keeping their promises or responding to the real needs of the community.
Whatever Carole James is or isn't, she is a person of her word: truthful, honest and hardworking. She also has character (not that that would be important to you apparently) and is not - as Campbell so clearly is - a bought and paid for actor for others.
As to leading the opposition, if you really KNEW anything about how the Campbell government has castrated the effectiveness of the Legislature you'd know even your above comment is absolutely ridiculous.
Furthermore, it was me who made the comment about in response to your provocation. Try to get at least SOMETHING right, okay?
Any Canadian who isn't disgusted by Campbell's fawning over the Terminator ought to be. Campbell is just now ruling over the same kind of destruction that ARNOLD and his right wing allies have visited upon what was once the wealthiest state in the union.
And, no thanks necessary, I'll be sure to pay you no attention whatsoever the next time I see your 'name' on a blog.
Do you actually have one, a name I mean?
So go ahead, ignore me. See if I care. I dont. And while James may be true to her word, hard working, she is working hard on things that no one should or does give a wit about, such as raising minimum wage, whilst Campbell sells off all the assets and gets away with it becuase James has her head down, working hard.
FYI, minimum wage jobs are mostly entry level positions, often filled by part-timers, students, immigrants, 1st timers, or those too clued out to know how to climb the ladder. Raising minimun wages will cause business to either provide fewer entry level postions, or go under.
Thats a bad thing.
But there are many lousy paying jobs that could stand a bump in pay, if only to attract better, more committed workers.
Take for example the disaprety in a Hospital. TimHortons in the lobby pays $9.00 starting wage at the General Hospital in my town, while the food services and cleaning staff get $8.50.
What would you rather do, clean up puke and chit for $8.50, or pour coffee for $9?? So of course those who take the harder jobs are less likely to stay once they clue in, and/or are a lower quality of worker.
Of course before Campbell privatised the food services and cleaning staff jobs, those wages were far far higher, and carried a pension to boot. Arguably, there was far less risk of catching a bug in the hospital then than it is now, a filthy pig-sty.
Campbell must go. And I agree, I would rather have the NDP, but just not James. If Sahota throws his hat in the ring, I will vote NDP.
Thanks for listening to CKDA!
noun, plural -ties. lack of similarity or equality; inequality; difference: a disparity in age; disparity in rank.
Thanks for tuning in, CKDA!
You send in a word like disaprety for a posting ... a word which couldn't be figure out
and you think I'm correcting your spelling?
Thank you for providing definitions of Option #2.
So "disaprety" was a typo, I guess. And you know what a typo is, don't you Steve?
Would ANYONE in the NDP ever stoop so low? shhhh! ... i would bet yes...!
Looking for your thoughts, thanks for tuning in, CKDA!!
You're closer than you realize. Think of a movie ... a famous line from a famous old movie.
And you're right in the thick of it when it comes to knowing who throws soft-balls at whom in Victoria.
So don't waste time: tell us what you know about BC Rail and the raids on the Legislature, OK?
(Sorry Mary, off topic, but had to comment.)
In fact, all of that kind of dinosaur thinking should have gone out of use anywhere but in Pee Wee's brain - the vacuum where Campbell ought to have a heart and within a certain group of knuckle-draggers called tea-baggers in the USA.
Time to wake up and realize exactly how deep the mess Campbell and the BC Liberals have mired this province in.
Suggesting any of this is the fault of the NDP and whoever leads them is simply blowing smoke.
I say VOTE CAMPBELL soup OUT of our hostipals.
Thank YOU for listening to CKDA!
Enough already with the jolly banter ... this blog is about BC RAIL, OK?
And please take advantage of the PREVIEW button which enables typos to be corrected before comments are shown in public. Otherwise, tell us: what is a hostipal? (It sounds like fun.)
As for King James and is socialistic lies that raising costs (wages) on small business somehow increase employment opportunities for staff, he may get away with feedng that BS to to U VIC Arts, Ocean Science, Womans and Aboriginal Studies Programs, but not the Economics or Commerce Degree Programs, becuase it just aint true.
Now as for the wages paid to the food services and cleaning staff at hospitals, that is a tragedy. Not only has the employer (the hospital) lost control of the staff, becuase they are now employees of COMPASS, but the quality of work has tanked and the hospitals are filthier and more hazerdous places to be than ever before due to staff turn over, and poor quality work. Pay peanuts, hire monkeys.
THos jobs should be well paying jobs with pensions.
Thank you for listening to CKDA!!
What in the world are "socialistic lies"?
Are they the same as -- or different from -- capitalistic lies?
Repeat: Mary's Rule is: Partisan Politics never solved anything!
and this is a non-partisan blog where IDEAS are welcome but knee-jerk propaganda is considered downright stupid.
I'll try to be polite. But first, it's JAMES King and not the other way around.
Second, take the time to actually check the other provinces in Canada where the minimum wage is higher and observe the fact that they are in as good or better financial shape than BC is right now.
There is nothing socialistic about paying working people a living wage to do any work and the suggestion that it is, or that it has anything to with socialism is simply absurd.
As I observed earlier, if you want to have a reasonable discussion about anything, you're going about it the wrong way. Your anecdotal observation about a particular small businessman or woman who can only compete by paying labour less than a working wage says more about the incompetence of the businessman than it does about either the competitiveness of the industry or the humane values of treating all citizens with the respect they deserve as important members of the economy.
I'm entirely sanguine about losing those kinds of businesses and, frankly, the sooner the better.
Even that fervent Reich Wingnut Henry Ford realized that by paying his workers double the going rate at the time he would not only promote employee loyalty, thus contributing to product quality, but create a pool of CONSUMERS for his product. People making minimum wage don't create much demand for anything other than the bare necessities (good for landlords) and a bit of food.
As to our bad new radio station CKDA and:
"FYI, minimum wage jobs are mostly entry level positions, often filled by part-timers, students, immigrants, 1st timers, or those too clued out to know how to climb the ladder. Raising minimun wages will cause business to either provide fewer entry level postions, or go under."
Your ignorance is showing as 1st timers don't even get BC's handsome minimum wage but qualify for the Campbell introduced SUB-MINIMUM especially for new entrants to the work force. They have to "climb the ladder" to get UP to minimum wage.
And as to your chiding of Mr. King about the superiority of "Economics or Commerce Degree Programs," I guess you mean the kind of schools that produced the geniuses whose greed recently brought the world to the brink of economic collapse - and apparently still haven't learned a thing other than how to "socialize" themselves. Reich Wingnuts motto is "Privatize Profit, Socialize Risk."
Economics is a voo-doo science that can be manipulated to support whatever is benefiting the elite/corporate rich at the time. It is all about "exploiting" opportunities without even considering the true costs environmentally, socially or in terms of health. Hence the primacy these days of the "Shock Doctrine."
You can be sure that the health authorities aren't making much in the way of savings by contracting out so much cleaning and maintenance. The important thing to the LIEberals is that the money is going to their cronies rather than the people actually doing the work. After all, workers and unions are greedy bastards, not infused with the milk of human kindness like any corporation you can name.