Thursday, June 26, 2008


BC Rail clientele ready and willing to pay $1,375 each to ride from Vancouver to Prince George in 2001

Did you know this?

BC Rail finds younger train market

Article Abstract:

BC Rail was pleasantly surprised to discover that people as young as 35 years old would pay $1,375 for a trip from Vancouver to Prince George aboard its latest train, the Whistler Northwind. The company estimates as many as 6,000 passengers will ride the train from May to September, with weekly departures from Vancouver and Prince George.

BC Rail spent as much as $12 million in promoting the new luxury train service, which it expects to recover within three years.


Lazarus, Eve
Publisher: Rogers Publishing Ltd.
Publication Name: Marketing Magazine
Subject: Business, international
ISSN: 1196-4650
Year: 2001
Railroads, Rail Transportation, BC Rail Ltd.

BC Mary should be on holiday. I'm weary and need a change of scene. That will happen soon. Meantime, I've been searching for specific information online and finding some very odd items as I go -- such as this one (above). If anyone can take time to verify or refute this, I'd certainly welcome the assistance. The URL as shown doesn't work for me, but ... maybe it will work for a clever Anon-O-mouse.

The specific information I'm actually looking for? The "5-year" clauses -- the CN promises which drop off the "agreement" at the 5-year anniversary -- what are they? In my view, this is extremely important to know, as July 14, 2008 marks anniversary No. 4. - BC Mary.


Hats off to our wonderful commentors ... like Lynx, who finds the Hansard items ... and Grumpy for the original statement:

Mary, you make a very good point about the significance of those "five-year clauses".

Last Fall, November 2007 on The Tyee the commentor, Grumpy, made this very interesting comment:

"I have heard an interesting rumour that CN wants to wash their hands of the BCR and sell it, at any price. The forest industry has dried up and the grades on the BCR are just too much for CNR managers.The rumour I hear is that the line from North Vancouver to Whistler may be abandoned; and the rest mothballed.

Now, if this were to happen, what would Campbell's reelection chances be? and waiting in the wings another bird of prey "Falcon" may get his wings clipped by the CNR/BCR fiasco.

The real problem facing the CNR is the BN/Santa Fe would like to have a line through Canada to connect to Alaska, so abandonment and/or moth balling is out of the question. You see if the CNR sell off rights-of-way along portions of the line it will be near impossible for a competing railway to operate.

Evidently 2009 may be the date when the CN/BCR deal really shows what was intended all along. Maybe this is why 'BC Railgate' is so important to delay, delay, delay!"

Hey, now there's an idea for those $100. green cheques, eh? Only halfway kidding ... what do you think of all this? - BC Mary.


Hi Mary,

I don’t know what’s going on, but I seem to be having trouble finding your site.

I have tried,

The legislature raids

Bc trial of basi-virk

Bc Mary

And all combinations of,

I cannot find your site and have been connecting to your site through bill T’s site for the last week or so. Before I would just punch in the legislature raids and your site would be the first in line. Something is very weird!
Hi mary,

My search engine is msm.
Mary, you make a very good point about the significance of those "five-year clauses". Last Fall, November 2007, on The Tyee the commentor, Grumpy, made this very interesting comment:

" I have heard an interesting rumour that CN wants to wash their hands of the BCR and sell it, at any price. The forest industry has dried up and the grades on the BCR are just too much for CNR managers.

The rumour I hear is that the line from North Vancouver to Whistler may be abandoned; and the rest mothballed.

Now, if this were to happen, what would Campbell's reelection chances be? and waiting in the wings another bird of prey "Falcon" may get his wings clipped by the CNR/BCR fiasco.

The real problem facing the CNR is the BN/Santa Fe would like to have a line through Canada to connect to Alaska, so abandonment and/or moth balling is out of the question. You see if the CNR sell off rights-of-way along portions of the line it will be near impossible for a competing railway to operate.

Evidently 2009 maybe the date when the CN/BCR deal really shows what was intended all along.

Maybe this is why 'BC Railgate' is so important to delay, delay, delay!"
Yikes, another mystery!

It might be the server -- or bloggerworld -- having a fit.

Or it might be that I was working on the web-site.

I hate to think of people bumping into obstacles when they try to visit. I'll try asking Kootcoot to see if he understands this.

I hope you'll keep trying.

Hi Mary

I just tried your site by using the aress bar. It works. So I went to Bill T's the Kootcoots' then Ross K's and finally mine. They all direct me to your blog. And I have been lookin up information for the last 3 hours on google. All the sites that were connected to yours were working. So I don't know what the problem would be.
By the way, speaking of Passenger service have you seen this?
Me, too, Gary E. I tried from other sites and had no problem accessing my blog.

So I'm inclined to think it was just bad luck that Anon 4:16 was trying to access TLR at the same time that I had it tied up, posting a new story.

Thanks for checking.

watchingfromnextdoor says;
Observing as a railfan, the BNSF/CN (read Illinois Central) plan looks very probable.It would do them no good to have a short cut to the Lower Mainland owned by anyone else. Grades be damned.Just because people from Montreal and Chatanooga dont know what to do with a hill doesn't mean the people of BC couldn't cause them some grief of they got BCR back in one peice.
Hi Mary, while searcing I also came across this. I don't remember seeing it anywhere before.

Nine, Number Three May 2004

All Aboard: 30 Points West and North to Disaster
Bob Smith

1 BC Rail sold to C.N. Rail for $1Billion.

2 $750 M of this is for the right to operate freight operations for 60 years and options for an additional 930 years on B.C. owned rails and rights of way and for ownership of the BC Rail company itself and its name and trademarks.

3 Of this total amount, $250 M will go to acquire for CN tax credits on the accumulated (for tax purposes, losses, capital expenditures, and deductible expenditures over 70 years) of BC Rail worth an estimated $2 Billion or more. The credit may be as much as $250 M. There is a qualifier: If the federal tax department agrees that BC Rail’s tax debt credit (useless for a crown corporation which pays no taxes) can be transferred to CN then BC gets the $ Billion from CN, if not BC gets $750 million plus what amount CN is able to get from the federal tax department. There is no certainty that Canada will agree to accept directly in lost future income tax, $250 Million of BC’s indirect debt, payable by a corporation which now does not pay income taxes at all as a transfer to one that does pay taxes.

4 BC to pay off all the current $500 M B.C. Rail debt from the money CN Pays BC.

5 BC will pay $17.2 million for part of the Prince Rupert terminal facility.

6 BC will pay $15 million into a First Nations Trust, not necessarily divided equitably between the 20 Bands through whose reserves BC Rail track runs. The trustees of this fund are to be mostly Native people appointed by the Liberals.

7 BC will pay $4 million for airport improvements in Prince George.

8 BC will pay $135 million into a Northern Developments Initiative.

9 BC will pay $1 million for terminal and runway improvements in Prince George.

10 BC will pay $50 million into a general trust to support economic development across Northern BC.

11 BC Rail rolling stock is estimated to be worth $600 million which CN gets as part of deal.

12 At the time of sale, BC Rail had about $1.2 BILLION worth of undepreciated capital assets, much of this in industrial land which does not depreciate, on it’s tax books.

13 BC Rail had operating losses over its approximately seventy years of existence that can be carried forward for tax deductions. This value was about $800 M. This may result in a tax credit against CN Rail’s present and future earnings of about $250 M. This is entirely contained in # 3 above.

14 The firm hired to access fairness was explicitly disallowed any capacity to assess the real value of tax shelters as part of sale. It was not allowed to determine if CN or BC got value for its contribution.

15 The firm hired to assess the “fairness” of the sale had to rely solely on what the government said about it’s own transactions and it was given a strictly limited framework in which to assess the “fairness” of the bidding process. Both other bidders for BC Rail have claimed publicly that the process was unfair.

16 CN is not required to give any accounting of the BC Rail line’s costs, profits or benefits to anyone, ever.
It is a public company and must report general operating results to its shareholders. It does not have to report any specifics about parts of its operations.

17 BC Government to be partly responsible for the cost of a 7% rate reduction promised to major BC Rail customers. There is no promise to small customers.

18 Approximately half of BC Rail employees are to be laid off, including almost all maintenance workers in Squamish and Prince George. The work will be done at existing CN Rail shops in Winnipeg and elsewhere by existing CN staff. 60% of BC Rail’s head office staff are to go too. CN has made no promise to keep any of the BC Rail workers. CN will acquire and operate a wheel refurbishing shop in Prince George. Transfer of workers’ seniority, if any, seems unclear at best.

19 BC Rail has a debt now because it was required by the Bennett Governments to absorb the whole cost of the spur lines to the North-East coal mines, now abandoned. Previous construction on the BC Rail was charged to Provincial General Revenue in most cases like the Dease Lake Extension, now about half unfinished and/or abandoned. BC Rail has been paying these off ever since, in full, and on time, from BC Rail’s before-net earnings.

20 The projects in #5-10 will be paid for from the amount of money above that required to pay off the BC Rail debt and only after the debt has been paid. That could be years.

21 BC can sell any BC Rail land to CN at any time and CN must take it for $1.00. This is intended to force CN to accept responsibility for any environmental damage. BC can sell any BC Rail lands to CN, at any price CN agrees to pay, at any time. This includes specifically the tracks and the land under them.

22 CN may increase freight rates on the line as it sees fit but not until just after the 2009 election. There is no limit or formula to determine the amount of the rates after that, other than an appeal to the Federal Competition Review Board or Parliament. CN may abandon rail lines (stop using them) but again, not until just after the 2009 election.

23 CN and BC Rail’s current industrial shippers are currently in dispute about whether the base freight cost today should be stated in US dollars (CN is US owned and is primarily a US carrier) or Canadian. If US, the promised 7% reduction has already largely been achieved at little additional cost to CN or BC. The freight bill has usually been charged in Canadian dollars by BC Rail but not always.

24 CN has its own debt of several $ Billion from some operating losses and the acquisition of other railroads in the US. When Canada sold CN, Canada paid the banks which had held the CN debt all the accumulated debt of CN and its predecessor railroads since 1910, before CN was sold.

25 The sale contract runs to more than 1500 pages.

26 CN is to provide a number of new railcars to work on BC Rail tracks but gets to sell current BC Rail cars to partly offset the cost.

27 If BC wants to buy BC Rail back there is no provision in the agreement to set a price in advance. BC will have to pay what CN wants to get at that time. It is never required to sell at all. The price will be unlimited.

28 The Magna Carta (The English speaking world’s longest standing contract) has only been in effect for 789 years. Technically, a series of 60 year renewals is legal. A single 990 year lease would not be valid, even between corporations which, unlike the rest of us, never die. The CPR negotiated 999 year leases on rail track in the 1880s when such long terms were legal. CN and its predecessors may have done the same before WW 1. These extensions commit BC and CN Rail until June of the year 2994.

29 At current rates of interest and earnings at BC Rail and without allowance for major staff reductions and other economies of scale, CN should have recovered its purchase price in a decade. Making allowance for these lay-offs and savings, CN could be in the black on this in about seven years. ($250 Million from income tax, BC Rail currently makes about $100 Million a year, staff cost cut by at least a third, other less quantifiable savings from running single unified company under only federal railroad regulations.)

30 Passenger service is not included in the agreement but it would have to be organized to not disrupt CN Freight movements. CN will own the running rights on the BC Rail tracks and will not have to allow any passenger rail use.

The purpose of this agreement by the BC Government was to get BC out of the railway business. For CN it is a huge windfall and gives CN monopoly control of all the railways in BC except for a very limited amount along the right of way of the CPR from Banff to Kamloops to Vancouver.

The value of having control of a railway to the resources of the Interior of BC, the skilled jobs involved, railway competition, value for the taxpayers as well as for the citizens, and any future passenger, tourism or other options was deliberately set at zero by the Liberal Cabinet. The net benefit to BC and its people is neutral at best, horribly negative at worst. The facts that CN was such a huge contributor to the federal and provincial Liberal Parties, that CN Rail is mostly American and does not use the term “Canadian” in describing itself, and that the RCMP are still investigating whether vital information was leaked to CN Rail but not to the competing bidders will be footnotes that increase public resentment.

Once done, this deal can never be undone. Ideology, in the guise of reducing Government operations to the bare essentials, will have triumphed over the BC dream of controlling our own future economic development.
This corporate economic control of all resources and business opportunities leaves a really sour taste in ones mouth. Globally we see this happening more frequently than ever. The American corporation being so predatory and powerfull, gets no reaction out of us complacent Canucks when they come taking. The same shite in Saudi Arabia got them Osama Bin Laden. The Tibetan monks lashed out at the Chinese ruling class for the same reason.

What will it take Mary for Canadians to not roll over and take this crap??
Anon-O-Mouse 8:46 asks: "What will it take ... for Canadians to not roll over and take this crap??"

Maybe you anticipated that BC Mary would be saying "I don't know, friend ..." but the fact is, I've known since
28 December 2003.

For me, it took a police raid on the Legislative building. No such event had ever occurred anywhere else in Canada. Not even once. I just couldn't get over the shocking reality of that image. Still haven't. I mean, when the rot is so bad that police see no choice but to act fearlessly and fast, the implications are monumental.

Even so, it also took RCMP Sgt John Ward explaining why nobody should have been surprised by that historic decision. Victoria Police, headed by Chief Constable Paul Battershill, had done a 20-month investigation which had led them into the Legislature; their investigation also implicated one of their own men who was charged and convicted. That's hardball.

But it didn't stop there. Sgt Ward said that within the previous 2 years, Organized Crime had reached critical mass, had crept into every level of society. Remember that? Every level of society in the province we love.

You think people are complacent, friend? I don't. I can't blame them for believing what they read in their news media.

If you recall reading the earliest news reports, you can clearly see the shock, anxiety, and fear for something much greater than ourselves. Even Vancouver Sun covered its entire front page with those "27 QUESTIONS" about the raid.

We were united and we weren't complacent because we clearly saw that the province, our system of governance, our industrial and economic lifelines were at risk of corruption.

I'm sure I reacted no differently from most other British Columbians ... except for the fact that I couldn't let go.

At that time, right after the raid, you could see what it takes for Canadians to fight back. If only we had stayed the course.

But in my view, the corrupted elements got to work -- some of them creating adversaries, but most of them saying "Ain't nuthin' to see here, folks, so just keep movin' along, thank you ..."

CanWest is not the enemy. But CanWest is not the public's defender, either. And that's where British Columbia's fate will be decided ... in the biased, self-serving pages of the CanWest media.

Every time they tell us that everything is all right, they betray us. Every time we ask a good question and they call us "Conspiracy Theorists", they are acting as our enemies.

But every time we make clear to CanWest that we're mad as hell and aren't going to take it any longer, we've taken a step in the right direction, in my view.

Either we change CanWest's approach by demanding that they begin reporting ALL the news, ALL the time ... or we establish and support alternate sources of news. Those, in my view, are two viable options.

It may not sound dramatic or decisive enough, but water dripping on stone, eh?

But Anon 8:46, I'm very glad you're thinking about that question.

Hi Mary,

My apologies, I was not clear on the subject of can the public engage your site.

If the public wanted to know more about this subject, (the reason for your site Mary) then the public would presumably type in words like these.

BC rail scandel, legislature raids, basi-virk trial, and if they are aware of your site, BC Mary, or a combination of some or all of them.

What I’m saying here is that by typing these words in does not bring the public to your site. However everyone else that has written about the subject does appear. (I.e. I punched in BC Mary and found a lot of sites that talk about BC Mary, but could not find your site) and I tried a combination of the words above and scrolled through a few hundred per search and did not find your site. I punched in…BC trial of basi-virk blog spot and finally found your site. It may be my computer or server, but if not, then if I have had problems finding your site and I know what I’m looking for, then Joe public would maybe never find it. Like I have said earlier, up until about a week ago I just typed in “the legislature raids” and your site popped up in the first slot.

The reason for bringing this up is that it may be very hard to have new readers get involved if they can’t find you. And yes this is very strange and I’m hoping others will try the same Joe public way of finding this subject, to see if they have the same problems. Us, the people that are familiar with your site know were to find you Mary but will the public?

Just a heads up…. ODD?
watchingfromnextdoor says.
I put the following link in my favorites on Microsoft IE to access your site Mary. It has never failed to work.
As I said before, as a newcomer to this topic, I don't, ...... correction, I didn't have the time to wade through all of BC Mary's archived posts on the BC Legislature Raid, however, as of last night I found this link: VancouverIAM.
Hi Mary
I visit your site several times everyday. I do not post any comments but read everything. Your site in my favorites and I have no problem finding you,but like anon 11:10 I find it damn near impossible to find your site from a computer that does not have your site set up.

I google ("the legislature raids" and BC Mary) and get 20 hits, none yours.
When I visit friends and tell them about what you are doing I go to their computer and try to find your site (can never remember and cannot find it. I go to something like Bill Tieleman and then link to you.
I am not an internet professional but you should have someone look at your site setup and make certain that all searches find your site.

You are doing a great service to the people of BC and everyone should know you exist.\

Baxman & others,

Thanks immensely for the help, feedback, kind words and encouragements.

I've asked Kootcoot for advice about the access problems you've had.

I'm going to be away for a long weekend, so will hope to have some answers by Wed.

Thanks again.

And Happy July 1 to everybody!

Here's what Kootcoot told me about my access problems:

His friend Tom (programmer extraordinaire) says:

The question: How can I come up first on Google?

Mention your subject at the top of the page.

Continue to mention the subject throughout the page. You've probably already done that, if your page really does have a subject.

If your web site is the authority on a particular subject, then search engines will do their best to put you at the top of the list when someone searches for that subject. After all, that's what makes search engines useful.

Go to and give it your web site address. Wait a couple of months.

My god in heaven, at the top of my page it says THE LEGISLATURE RAIDS ... what could be more clear??

Well, BC Mary trudged over to and gave it my web site address.

From there, I managed to understand and fulfill about 3 or 4 more questions.

Then it wanted me to get "verified". I tried everything including standing on my head, and nothing got verified.

I am now waiting for Kootcoot to say more.

Any thoughts?

Meantime, I found this interesting person (Prof. Ron Deibert, who runs the Citizen Lab at the Munk Centre, University of Toronto) who is seriously into these matters.

One of Deibert's Ph.D. students is working on the "blocking" aspects of the Internet ... much more commonplace than I would ever have guessed. And it doesn't seem altogether impossible that certain people -- or a certain group -- might want to block some of BC Mary's postings. Does it?

I found a lot of interesting stuff by googling "Ron Deibert + Munk Centre" ... and this is the URL for the specific work of his student:

So you want to know all about the Legislative Raid and you want to do it via BC Mary's blog.

Well, typically one could do a search on Google where we are given two options when we type in "BC Mary", but because Cst. Andrew Thomas Cowan hasn't laid any charges against BC Mary's real name, not much comes up.

However typing in "David Basi", even though he is innocent until proven otherwise, now that's a totally different kettle of fish.

Grab a coin, which way should the search for the "grr-rail" begin:

"Google Search" or

"I'm Feeling Lucky"

"Google Search" won't give you one hit in the first ten (unless you look within the first hit), but using "I'm Feeling Lucky", like in Damn Lucky, BC Mary's expose blog gets her top billing to the left (Bill Tieleman to the right) at Prime Time Crime
The very high quality comments being left at The Legislature Raids are becoming a phenomenon in their own right ... and it's a challenge to know how to thank you for your knowledge and effort.

You'd smile, I think, to see the Dances of Joy and High Fives happening behind the cyber-scenes here at TLR. Very special thanks to all, for being so helpful.

It breathes life into the old saying that "the people are sovereign". We are indeed sovereign when we come to grips with the BCRail Case -- which is about us and our province -- and when the people we're paying to do it, are failing.

As for Internet searches, our loyal friend Kootcoot has offered to write a short expose on how best to access blogs. To which I said, OH YES, puh-leese do.

But it got me thinking. How did I ever land up in a corner where I need to know the mysterious minds of Internet providers? Y'know what? It was sheer accident: All I said was ...

It was a moment on The Tyee -- back when The Tyee was a lively, engaging force. The topic was Basi & Virk and something was going off the rails in the BCRail Case.

Hands were being wrung and hair ripped out. "We're doomed, we'll never know the truth ..." was the theme.

At which point, the person who knew the LEAST about web-sites (that would be me) said, "We can't just lie down and die. We gotta do SOMEthing! We could at least start up a web-site of our own."

Suddenly the group took fire. I recall there was Lynx, Coyote, G West, Bailey, Kootcoot ... about a dozen regular contributors. They took up the idea with enthusiasm.

Koot went first with a web-site and it's still running as House of Infamy. Coyote came next but tragedy struck his family when his daughter collapsed and died, and we haven't heard so much from him since then.

At first, I tried contributing to Koot's blog but we each speak with a very different voice, so I thought we'd do best with parallel blogs. I still think so.

And it's good to remember that I never could've functioned as a blogger had it not been for two important things.

1) Type in a Google question "How to start a blog?" and it's all ridiculously easy to get into, and to start up, at the basic level -- and that's a truly wonderful thing.

2) There have been times when I couldn't have overcome certain technical difficulties without Koot's help. I remember one roadblock where I couldn't get into my own blog at all (already I forget why). He could but I couldn't. And so I had to tell Koot what I wanted done -- he did it for me -- and gradually we got TLR back on track again.

Right now, some commentors have found that it isn't so easy for new visitors to access TLR and, although I'd like to have more visitors, I just don't know how to deal with a Google probem. I did try. So, once again, I asked Koot.

Whenever you see a photo illustrating a story on The Legislature Raids, it's either a sheer accident (Julie Couillard) or ... it's because I asked Koot to install it (BC Rail, map of proposed revision of North America as we know it, the elephant in BC Supreme Court).

Fact is, some of us don't care much about the details. In the past, I never asked how my typewriter worked, how my car ran, I only asked that when I needed them to work, they did. So I thank Koot for his patience as well as his geekiness.

I still think that the person who designs a dead-simple, cheap computer with NO bells, whistles or stumbling blocks, will make a well-deserved fortune (or an honoured place in heaven). Computers don't have to be this complicated.

So I hope that Kootcoot, and/or some of our amazingly clever contributors can figure this out because, truth to tell, I'm not even getting all the background searches on the real meat of this blog done. And that's what's important.

I want to know more about the amazing Professor Ron Deibert.

I want to know more about those 5-year clauses in the BCRail Agreement.

I want to check out Jas Sekhon. Savik Sadhu. Jasmohan Bains.

Yes, I think we even want to know more about George MacIntosh, thank you, Anonymous.

Thank you ALL, for helping us understand the BCRail Case.

Post a Comment

<< Home