Tuesday, August 31, 2010


BC Rail In-Depth Report - North to Alaska

By Patrick Brown
 Island Tides -  November 18, 2004

When CN bought BC Rail from the provincial government, they not only achieved a monopoly on rail freight traffic for most of the interior of British Columbia, but also sewed up the two major route possibilities for a future railroad to Alaska. Given CN’s ambitions for a railroad empire spanning all the North American Free Trade area, did they pay enough?

The CN purchase was announced on November 25, 2003 and completed on July 14, 2004.

On December 17, 2003, the BC Government released the final version of the ‘Fairness Report,’ written by the
consulting firm Charles River Associates (CRA) of Boston, Massachusetts.

According to the report: ‘…Province and its advisors designed and managed the
partnership process in a fair and impartial manner and ensured the best proposals were put forward for consideration. The
report concluded that the Province will receive fair value from CN for the opportunity to operate the freight railway.

The publication of CRA’s report, as ‘fairness consultant,’ was clearly intended to sell the deal to the public. With respect to the bidding process, CRA went into considerable detail in describing the procedure and what had occurred, and the reasons why certain shortcuts appeared to have been taken. The report also noted complaints from competing bidders, but said the process was fair.

With respect to the price, CRA justified it by a number of analyses, including a CIBC World Markets estimate of Total Enterprise Value (TEV), comparisons with prices paid for other railroads both in North America and abroad, and Discounted Cash Flow (DCF) analyses of projected income streams from BC Rail as it was presently constituted.

But as former Transportation Minister Judith Reid remarked at one point: ‘CN is looking at this from the viewpoint of North America.’ She was more right than she realized. CN was buying a key part of a long-term continental strategy, not just a railway with access to lumber, mining, and
petroleum customers.

Alaska Bound?
There are presently two railways in Alaska: The narrow-gauge White Pass and Yukon, from Skagway to Whitehorse, and the Alaska Railway, from Fairbanks to Anchorage.

CRA’s report made no mention of possible future Alaska links, despite the fact that the idea (first floated in 1860, has recently achieved significant momentum, as shown by the following quotes and events.

On December 11, 2000, US President Bill Clinton had signed the Rails to Resources Act of 2000:

‘The President is authorized and urged to enter into an agreement with the Government of Canada to establish an independent joint commission to study the feasibility and advisability of linking the rail system in Alaska to the nearest appropriate point on the North American
continental rail system.
‘There is authorized to be appropriated to any fund established for use by the Commission as described in subsection (a)(1) $6,000,000, to remain available until expended.’
A Transport Canada ‘Issues Paper’ of 16 March 2001 stated:
‘The US Congress has allotted $6 million to establish a bilateral commission to study the 2000 km rail link from Fort St John, BC to Fairbanks, Alaska. … The Yukon Government supports the rail project, and [Alaska] Senator Murkowski has met with Minister Collenette to discuss the project.’
The paper projected a link from the Alaska Railway near Fairbanks to Prince George or to Fort St James on BC Rail’s Dease Lake extension.

A Canadian Arctic Railway
(CAR) presentation to a Canadian Transportation Act review panel on March 26, 2001 in Whitehorse outlined a plan to develop a standard gauge railway throughout the Canadian Arctic. At the moment, CAR said, it is working on connecting Fairbanks with railheads in northern BC, which, said CAR, could be completed in 48 months. They claimed support from the Interhemispheric Bering Strait Tunnel and Railroad Group, US Federal Government, Russian Government, Alaskan State Government and Government of the Yukon Territory.
Representatives of mining companies, legislators from Alaska and from Canada’s Yukon Territory, and rail experts attended an international conference in Fairbanks on October 10-11, 2001. Yukon Parliament member Larry Bagnell was quoted in the Fairbanks News-Miner, ‘It’s a great long-term project. It’ll change the face of the world.’
Further talks were held recently in Juneau with Colin Kinsley, Mayor of Prince George; after talks with Yukon Premier Dennis Fentie, Prime Minister Paul Martin has reportedly agreed to provide Canadian funding for the joint commission study. Fentie, speaking in Calgary in January 2004, said that BC Rail is the logical connection at Fort Nelson.
The new opportunity for CN was also trumpeted in the BC Legislature on February 12 this year [2004]: ‘One of the consequences of this new rail partnership was heightened interest by the Yukon Territory and the state of Alaska in having CN link up with the Alaska state railway to provide a continuous link to the southern 48 states. …the key lesson for us is that by entering into the CN partnership we at least make possible, for the first time since the extension of BC Rail was terminated in the 1970s, that it again could be started north from Fort St James, Fort Nelson or both to open up the mineral and forest resources of the northern half of our great province’—G. Halsey-Brandt (Liberal/Richmond Centre). On February 17, R. Harris (Liberal/Skeena) echoed Halsey-Brandt: ‘… we now have a rail operator, in CN, that has the capacity to expand.’

Not Just a Branch Line
But CRA’s assessment of the railway’s worth was based almost completely on its present business rather than its future potential. It made the case that almost all of BC Rail’s customers sell their products outside the province. But according to the Fairness Report, the majority of 2002 BC Rail freight traffic (60%) remained on the BC Rail network; 37% was forwarded to other railroads, and only 3% of traffic originated on a different railroad and terminated on BC Rail. According to the report, BC Rail forwarded traffic went mainly to Ontario and California; Quebec and Washington; Alberta, Oregon, New Mexico, Illinois, and Texas. CRA, after an extensive analysis of specific destinations, concluded that despite CN’s domination of connections, BC Rail customers would still have competitive access to these varied markets.
However, CRA paid no attention to the importance of BC Rail to the long-term strategy of CN. CN is no longer just a
Canadian railway, but in its expansion into the United States, has clearly indicated its ambitions to connect all the seaboards of North America. The BC Rail network clearly points to a future connection with Alaska, and as such is of far greater strategic importance to CN than just as a branch railway.

Comparing Railway Purchases
CIBC World Markets, engaged earlier by the provincial government, had looked at a number of recent railway purchases and calculated the price that was paid for each.

1898: Railroading, Aliens, and
the Flexible Border
‘There will come a time when Alaska will be one of the
wealthiest possessions of the American domain.’ This was W M Sheffield, writing in Cosmopolitan in 1899. He wasn’t only referring to the gold fields, and he was writing in support of building a railroad to Alaska from the lower forty-eight. The White Pass and Yukon Railway was under construction, starting in 1898.
As the gold explorers turned east from Skagway into BC (Atlin) in the winter of 1898, the BC Parliament in Victoria passed the Alien Exclusion Act (Jan 1899), depriving Americans from holding or acquiring any claims in BC. (Contrast this with our welcome to US corporations today.)
‘The British Columbia mounted police have not been free from suspicion of maintaining a somewhat elastic border line that has been more than once stretched to include districts of great mineral wealth. Such a charge has, indeed, been definitely made by the miners driven from Atlin to the Porcupine claims.’ wrote Sheffield.
... as a function of various financial measures, including revenue, earnings, Total Enterprise Value (TEV)
calculated on the basis of market value of all shares, plus debt and less cash. This analysis was really from the perspective of an investment bank, and depended to some extent on the state of the stock markets.
CRA expanded this comparables analysis and also constructed an econometric model; it also developed a valuation of future expected cash flows, their present value adjusted for a range of known risk factors.
Railway purchases considered comparable included Freight Australia, Estonian Railways, and Mexico’s TFM (all privatizations), and Utah Railway Company, Emons Transportation, Illinois
Central, and Wisconsin Central. The latter two were both CN purchases. According to CRA, the normal purchase price for a railroad would be in the range of 1.5 to 1.75 times its annual gross revenues.
However, if the targeted railroad had strategic importance to the buyer, or a particularly good market position, this
multiplier could be increased.
Illinois Central (IC), said CRA, had particular value to CN because its mainline runs from Chicago to New Orleans and the United States coast of the Gulf of Mexico. To quote CRA: ‘… failing to buy could have excluded CN from being a major North American operator. Ultimately, the strategic nature of
the acquisition allowed CN to claim being one of the first North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) operations and clearly warranted a premium on the purchase price.’ CN paid $2.6 billion for IC, a multiplier of 2.7 times its revenues of a little less than $1 bn/yr. The premium paid for its strategic position would appear to have been about $1 billion.
The Wisconsin Central (WC) deal represented the purchase, according to CRA, of a reasonably profitable railway with a good ‘strategic fit’ with the combined CN/IC network, but not one of great strategic importance by itself. CN paid $1.2 billion for WC or 2.3 times its revenues of $548 million. This was an apparent premium of $500 million for
its ‘strategic fit’.

Based on this analysis, CRA concluded that CN’s offer for BC Rail of $750
million, or 2.6 times its present revenues of $293 million, was fair. But neither
IC nor WC, both mature railroads, would appear to have the potential for geographical expansion that BC Rail has.
Thus CN’s purchase of BC Rail’s freight operations, and its perpetual lease on the BC Railway Company’s railbed to Fort
Nelson and Dease Lake, effectively block all other railways’access to Alaska. This strategic advantage does not appear to
have been valued adequately in CRA’s comparative analysis.
CN could afford it. Its profit for the most recent years has ranged between $800 million and $1 billion US.

Tax Credits: No Comment
CRA’s Fairness Report did not comment on the $250 million CN paid for tax credits from BC Rail’s accumulated
operating losses (NOLs), saying that the actual value of these credits against Canadian corporate taxes to any given
bidder would depend on the bidder’s Canadian tax position.
Similarly, CRA made no attempt to value the tax benefits which a new owner might receive from BC Rail’s $1.2
billion in Undepreciated Capital Costs (UCCs). Clearly, however, these tax benefits would be of greater value to
bidders with significant Canadian operations (CN, Canadian Pacific) rather than US bidders (Burlington Northern Santa Fe, Omnitrax).
If CN is unable to use the NOL tax credits due to rulings by the Canada Revenue Agency, the provincial government
must refund the $250 million. This agreement appears to have been redacted (blacked out) from the published contracts, but BC government budget documents say: ‘BCRC and the Province have
provided commercial indemnities to CN with respect to the purchase of the subsidiary and partnership, including
indemnities related to tax attributes. BCRC and the Province, based on independent legal advice, believe there is a very low risk these indemnities will be called upon.’

© Island Tides Publishing Ltd.This article may be reproduced with this attribution, in its entirety, with notification to Island Tides Publishing Ltd.
This article was published (November 18, 2004) in ‘Island Tides’. 

‘Island Tides’ is an independent, regional newspaper distributing17,500 print copies throughout the Gulf Islands and the Canadian Strait of Georgia from Victoria to Campbell River to Howe Sound.
Island Tides, 

Box 55, Pender Island, BC, Canada. Phone: 250-629-3660. Fax: 250-629-3838.
Email: islandtides@islandtides.com. 



BC Rail Political Corruption Trial: back in BC Supreme Court (Vancouver) in less than 2 weeks

With Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie presiding, Case No. 23299 is expected to return to Courtroom 54 in BC Supreme Court, Vancouver, on September 13, 2010. Open to the public, of course.

The excellent Defence lawyer, Kevin McCullough, has finished cross-examining Martyn Brown, whose astonishing performance consisted of remembering almost nothing of his 9 years as the premier's Chief of Staff. It was remarkable that he escaped being cited for contempt of court, in my opinion.

Up next ... gee, I forget. Isn't that how the BC Rail issue is supposed to play out? Never mind, I'll find the name before I sign off on this posting.

While searching for the name of the next witness, I saw this ... about the "forgetting". I re-post it here, with some editing: 

BC Mary comment: This is the 1,600th item posted on this blog during the 4 years it has been reaching the public. 

Back in May 2006, many people had begun to realize that too much information about the sale of BC Rail was being withheld. One excellent blog (Pacific Gazette) was already on the case. But 3 more people jumped in, circa May 2006, when the beginning of a trial was announced. "House of Infamy" was first to deal specifically with events arising from the police raid on the offices of the BC Legislature, then "Free Columbians", and then my blog, "The Legislature Raids".

In those olden times, we called these troubles "The Basi-Virk Trial". But it was Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett herself who began to call it "The BC Rail Trial" and then the National Post newspaper added my favourite: "The BC Rail Political Corruption Trial".  It's all referring to the same trial: Case #23299 in BC Supreme Court, now in summer recess [stifled laughter here].

Case #23299 refers specifically to the three Campbell Government employees accused in the tainted sale of BC Rail. Case #23299 is Her Majesty the Queen versus Udhe Singh (Dave) Basi, Bobby Singh Virk, and Aneal Singh Basi. But after these years of questions and search, most of us see the trial as the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial.

As BC Mary, I've had open differences with the mainstream news media in British Columbia. In my view, Big Media has  failed shamefully to provide the basis for an informed society. Fresh from making  exaggerated claims against a former premier as well as a former Opposition Leader, Big Media on the West Coast plunged into a contrary attempt to shield an enormous suspected wrongdoing lest it reflect poorly upon their poster boy, Gordon Campbell.

Big Media on the West Coast has failed to make even an adequate report on the most significant trial ever held in British Columbia (excepting, possibly, the trial of Robert Sommers, one of W.A.C. Bennett's earliest Ministers of Lands and Forests, also for corruption of public assets). 

The West Coast media has displayed a shocking preference for keeping its citizens in a tizzy about sports, Hollywood celebrities, and a certain notorious Pig Farmer ... while seeming to shield us from knowing almost anything about the events which sent 32 uniformed Police sergeants into the BC Legislature, armed with Search Warrants, one Christmas holiday morning in 2003.

Wouldn't you think that the nation's leaders would have rallied around us, with reassurance? Wouldn't you think that a responsible media would've hounded those leaders for reassurance?

But no. Big Media on the West Coast -- it was CanWest then -- displayed an appalling apathy rarely seen in ANY news media ... 

Who can forget BC's premier ... and then Canada's prime minister ... with their pathetic "I know nothing ..." responses to the legitimate questions of an alarmed electorate? Then, as now, the citizens simply and decently wanted to know "Has Organized Crime entered into the corridors of power, and into our governing offices?"  Was that too much to ask? Apparently so.

I've had a specific spat with Ms Lucinda Chodan, Editor-in-Chief of Victoria Times Colonist. One bleak day, I learned that a CanWest reporter had attended one of the Basi-Virk pre-trial sessions but nothing whatever had appeared in the CanWest news media. I e.mailed Ms Chodan "is it too much to ask ...?"  and her reply was "when there's news, we'll print it". Wow. Now that's a quotable quote ... and those historic words are caught and preserved, for posterity, here on The Legislature Raids.  As well as on The Tyee [http://thetyee.ca/News/2007/04/24/MediaScam/]

Well, credit where credit is due: This editorial (copied below) may be Lucinda's writing or influenced by Lucinda. Whatever. The words are important. Big Media is finally realizing that they'd better admit to a few questionable things. 

I'd just like to say "Thank you. But what the heck took you so long?"

Times Colonist -- July 9, 2010

The halting progress of the B.C. Rail corruption case is an indictment of our justice system.

The B.C. Supreme Court trial adjourned this week for an 11-week summer break. "Enjoy yourselves," Justice Anne MacKenzie advised the jurors.

It's unlikely the three defendants -- or anyone else involved with this eight-year-old investigation -- will find it easy to enjoy themselves as the case drags on.

The long summer break follows the first eight weeks of the trial of Dave Basi and Bob Virk on charges of breach of trust, fraud and accepting bribes to help one of the bidders for B.C. Rail, and of Aneal Basi on money-laundering charges. In that time, only one witness has testified. Weeks have been taken up with legal arguments, with the jury excluded.

What about? We can't tell you. MacKenzie issued a sweeping publication ban on anything said in court in the absence of the jury.

The purpose is understandable. Coverage of the legal arguments -- which are not evidence -- could influence jurors. The primary consideration must be a fair trial for the accused.

But the public has a right to know what is going on in the courtroom, what is causing the delays and why the legal issues weren't settled in advance.

MacKenzie could help inform the public by providing information, in the jury's presence, on the general nature of the issues.

This case began with a corruption investigation in 2002. It made headlines in December 2003, when police armed with search warrants carted boxes from legislature. A year later, the charges were laid and the trial was scheduled for June 2006.

But the prosecution's delays in disclosing evidence to the defence and various pre-trial legal arguments stalled the proceedings for four years, until this May. Even then the trial was expected to take up to eight weeks. Now it is predicted to last 10 months, although based on progress so far it is hard to be confident in that estimate.

We have no idea who to blame for halting progress and many delays.

But the delays are unfair to the accused and those named in search warrants and other documents, who have spent more than eight years under a cloud.

They are unfair, and costly, to the public, which is waiting to learn whether corruption tainted the government's sale of B.C. Rail. They reduce the chance of a fair trial, as witnesses' memories fade.

And they reinforce the public perception that our criminal justice system is not working.

BC Mary can't help saying one more thing: if the Times Colonist (or any media) is so gosh-darned concerned about these matters, let's see them apply to the court for a lifting of that draconian Publication Ban imposed by Madam Justice MacKenzie.  Or demand it, in an editorial. Excluding, of course, the bit about the Secret Witness. Nobody's trying to derail the trial proceedings. I'd simply say that the citizens of British Columbia are feeling a great need to be treated with due respect.

As I understand the situation: 

* nobody -- neither Crown Prosecution team nor the Defence team -- asked for a publication ban

* The judge did not explain why she felt the ban was necessary

* in fact, MacKenzie did not provide a formal, written ruling on the matter of a publication ban, such as who it's supposed to protect

* little, if any, consideration has been given to what everyone seems to suggest  is the sacred duty to provide open courtrooms and free-flowing information in a democratic society. So who speaks for the citizens, in the matter of the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial?

The BC Rail Political Corruption Trial resumes on September 13, 2010. According to Vancouver Sun, the next witness will be Allan Wallace of CIBC World Markets.
Wallace was part of the financial advisory team when the Campbell government decided to privatize BC Rail in 2003.

The trial jury has heard an allegation from the defence that CIBC's financial advisor contract was worth millions but was never put out for public tender, which broke a campaign promise by the BC Liberal government of Gordon Campbell.

The trial has heard no evidence to substantiate the defence allegation.

Read more HERE


With thanks to E.M. 

Comment by Ray Blessin: Allan Wallace/CIBC have contributed $144,000 to the Gordon Campbell "Liberals" since 2005


Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Railroading north to Alaska

Noted in passing: train enthusiasts discuss the possibilities ...

Trains.com Forums »
TRAINS Magazine Forums »
General Discussion »
RR To Alaska

The place to discuss railroad industry trends, information about freight railroads, train watching, comments on recent trips ... 
... lets start serious discussion on the railroad to Alaska.  The Alaska Railroad is going to build an approximate 80 mile extension from North Pole Alaska ( the city, not the top of the world) to Delta.

Their web page shows topo maps with proposed routes.  They just let the contract for the first section which includes the Tanana river bridge. I was recently in Delta and cannot see much to justify a rail line to there other than potential mining which can be a big load factor.  Hopefully they are thinking ahead to the Canadian connection.  From Delta to the Canadian border is about 200 miles.

The British Canadian government, which owned BC Rail prior to selling to CN was using the rail line as a development tool for BC.  They had graded the line to Dease Lake but a change in government and the down turn of the economy caused the rail line to be dropped before rail was laid.  It would not be a major project to lay the rail on the graded ROW.  By highway it is about 600 miles from the Canadian border to Dease Lake.  The highway is a more circutious route and the rail alignment could possibly be shortened to about 500 miles.


Joined on 04-25-2005
Nanaimo BC Canada
Posts 4,117
Re: RR To Alaska

The British Columbia government, which owned BC Rail prior to selling to CN was using the rail line as a development tool for BC.  They had graded the line to Dease Lake but a change in government and the down turn of the economy caused the rail line to be dropped before rail was laid.  It would not be a major project to lay the rail on the graded ROW.  By highway it is about 600 miles from the Canadian border to Dease Lake.  The highway is a more circutious route and the rail alignment could possibly be shortened to about 500 miles.

Ottawa was subsidizing construction of the line, and they are the ones who pulled the plug. The Dease Lake line was in sevice as far as the Minaret logging camp, but the loggers and the Pine Beetles have taken care of the trees, and it will be some time before they grow back. If a line was built through Canada to Alaska it would be from Fort Nelson, through Watson Lake, and would pass by Whitehorse well to the north. That would put it within range of the Selwyn lead zinc deposit.



Dale:  Thanks for sharing those links. Both are very interesting and particularly the part about the Howard Pass Project: http://www.selwynresources.com/en/selwyn_howards_pass.cfm  ( link from the selwyn linked article).

   In another thread we had a pretty involved discussion about the potential for exploration in the B.C. and NWT areas. RWM made the statement that "minerals wanted to get to the sea". It would seem that the closest Ports would be in Canada and potentially a longer run to Alaska.  Very little has been mentioned referencing the various distances involved.

   The link about the former BCR line  to Minaret being approx 300 miles and another 300(?), [yet to be laid] up to Deese Lake. would surely put an Alaska Connection closer than it ever has been before. The distances mentioned by ccltrains  helps to visualize the distances, and with the start of the ARRC line to Delta Jct puts the link another eighty miles further to a possibility.

    Zinc and Lead also have been found with quantities of gold and silver within the same deposits. That coupled with coal deposits could conceivably kick off a railroad building effort and help populate some of that vast area. CN's Yard and terminal at Fort Nelson would also seem to add another option to the equation ...

Makes for interesting speculation.

It's only 2 weeks and 5 days until the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial returns to BC Supreme Courtroom #54 in Vancouver. 



BC Rail ... BC Hydro ... BC Ferries ...

BC Mary comment: One of the very best international newspapers -- available at our fingertips for free -- is published daily on Salt Spring Island. Today Salt Spring News provides a shocking explanation for why there's a recall of U.S. salmonella-tainted eggs: 380 million eggs, distributed under 10 different brands in 17 different states, all from a single producer -- Iowa-based Wright County Farms. And lots more. 

Longtime readers will remember hearing me say, many times, that when we can open the files on what happened to BC Rail, we'll begin to understand exactly what went wrong with BC Hydro, BC Ferries, and all other public assets devalued, degraded, or given away since 2001. 

So here's Editor Jim Scott's insight into what's been happening in B.C. provincial affairs ...

Monday, August 23, 2010
Regional News

Civil rights—incomplete argument from an angry eye on British Columbia

Has he finally 'come undun'? By all rules of decency the Campbell government must resign.

BC Ferries, BC Hydro, BC Rail are very visible victims of Gordon Campbell's ideological commitment. But they are just the most visible signs of the almost total deconstruction of the province of British Columbia. The overwhelming majority of British Columbians have suffered, some far worse than others.

On July 20, 1871 British Columbia became a province of the dominion of Canada. That is 139 years. It will take that long to get back to where we were before Gordon Campbell began implementing his corporate master's battle plan—if we ever will. In those countries his masters have sent us to war with, people like Gordon Campbell are done away with - all but the most powerful bullies, thieves and liars are not tolerated in most places.

Economist calculates BC Hydro on path to ruin

Rafe Mair
The Common Sense Canadian
August 23, 2010

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Erik Andersen is a former Transport Canada economist with a long and interesting pedigree of examining the affairs of business and government. He has done a report for The Common Sense Canadian -- I am a co-founder and regular contributor -- on the state of BC Hydro.

The picture he paints is of a once rock solid Crown corporation placed on the road to fiscal ruin by the Campbell government. Andersen was asked to examine BC Hydro's fiscal situation, especially in light of the contracts they have been forced by the Campbell government to enter with Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

Andersen's report, entitled "Sinister Financial Vectors at BC Hydro," examines a number of "vectors" which "give information and direction and the magnitude of a changing position." Five such vectors, concludes Andersen, indicate the financial position of BC Hydro is headed dangerously downward. Those vectors are: ...

"As the evidence of need for more electricity is not apparent, the aggressive borrowing/investing/contracting with IPPs is clearly wrong."

In the same report Andersen describes, "BC Hydro borrowing/spending (on IPPs)" as "irresponsible of Hydro's Board and management as it has increased the risk of financial insolvency." ... There it is -- ruined rivers and their ecosystems for power we don't need and can't use. Power profits going to IPP-investor entities beyond B.C., including Warren Buffett and General Electric. And an iconic crown corporation, BC Hydro, hurtling towards bankruptcy, all thanks to Gordon Campbell and his hard right fiscal philosophy. ...

Dare we hope blowback is developing?


Tuesday, August 24, 2010


Almost 1,000 miles of BC Rail


Overheard, in passing ...


Canadian Railroads. BC Rail: End of track, Fort Nelson BC

Date: 08/20/10 08:47
End of track, Fort Nelson BC
Author: eminence_grise

The farthest north that BC Rail reached was Fort Nelson BC, 978 miles from North Vancouver. To put that in perspective, that is the same distance as Vancouver to Winnipeg on the CP or CN, or Vancouver to San Francisco.

Built in 1971 north from Fort St.John, much of this line is remote from the parallel Alaska Highway.

On the day I visited in 1994, all was quiet around the yard at Fort Nelson. The furthest north point of BCR track was marked by a pair of "End of Track 100 Feet" signs and some survey tape.

Beyond that there is a wide valley. Visible across the valley is the wide swath through the trees marking the route of the Alaska Highway. Between Fort St.John and Fort Nelson BC on the highway is the now abandoned "Suicide Hill" which involved a very steep grade with tight curves to climb out of a river valley.

Should the Alaska and BC rail networks ever connect, the line to Fort Nelson is considered the more likely candidate than the incomplete "Dease Lake Extension" to the west.

Date: 08/20/10 09:58
Re: End of track, Fort Nelson BC
Author: BobE

"That'll do"......interesting that there's no bumper at the end of track. Guess they must not have had much cause to get that close.


[ Reply To This Message ] [ Quote ]
Date: 08/20/10 12:50
Re: End of track, Fort Nelson BC
Author: tomstp

From the looks of the end of track you could have another "suicide hill". The only time I was around BCR was in 1996. Very friendly crews and railroad as a whole. Hated to see that come to an end.

[ Reply To This Message ] [ Quote ]
Date: 08/20/10 12:57
Re: End of track, Fort Nelson BC
Author: TCnR

Any action up there these days?

[ Reply To This Message ] [ Quote ]
Date: 08/20/10 14:03
Re: End of track, Fort Nelson BC
Author: CANUCK

Is the world's largest chopstick factory still there?
Many years ago (in the late '80s) while living in Vancouver I was a member of the West Coast Railway Association and was a volunteer tour guide on their one week tour of the BC Rail System. I remember well the chopstick factory and how, at the time, it was BC Rail's largest inter-modal customer. By the way, that was a great way to see Beautiful BC.

Brian (in California now!)

[ Reply To This Message ] [ Quote ]
Date: 08/20/10 14:44
Re: End of track, Fort Nelson BC
Author: TCnR

Is the world's largest chopstick factory still

Googled and found this PR statement from Forrex including a quick mention of chopsticks related to Aspen trees:


BC Mary comment:  Wouldn't it be strange if model railroaders end up as the guardians of important aspects of the history of BC Rail, when other sources fail?                   . 

Centre-beam flat-cars are the subject of significant clauses in the BCRail-CN deal signed over 6 years ago -- remember that important deal which has never been fully revealed to the public? E.g., did CN ever buy the centre-beam flat-cars which were stipulated as part of the agreed price? It's only a rumour, but it's been said that CN didn't honour that commitment which -- if legal agreements mean anything at all -- is a default which could be a deal-breaker. In my view, we should have taken these things seriously at the stipulated 5th anniversary (July 14, 2009) ...  

This excerpt provides a good example of things like centre-beam flat-cars which we should never forget:


Remember this?

BC pleased cross-border rail service can expand

from the Office of the Premier

For Immediate Release
July 3, 2009
Office of the Premier
Intergovernmental Relations Secretariat

VICTORIA – The federal government’s announcement that it will help the expansion of US Amtrak passenger rail service to British Columbia is an important step towards helping boost cross-border travel and tourism, Minister of State for Intergovernmental Relations Naomi Yamamoto said today.

 “The decision to move ahead for a trial seven-month period including the 2010 Winter Olympics is welcome,” said Yamamoto. “The Province is also hopeful that the popularity of this expanded service will keep it on the rails long past March 2010 ...” etc.



On a happier footnote ... the Royal Hudson Steam Train ... what it's been  doing in the old BC Rail Shops in North Vancouver ... and how's about the CN's "F-off mentality"? 

Sorry about the music, though. You'd think they'd use Gordon Lightfoot's "Canadian Railroad Trilogy", wouldn't you?  However, there are some delicious sights and sounds on the accompanying YouTube if you click HERE


Only 14 more days until September 13 when the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial gets under way again in BC Supreme Courtroom 54, Vancouver. Open to the public, of course.


Monday, August 23, 2010


BC RAIL POLICE ... and BC Rail Dease Lake line to Minaret developments

We need these! Check it out HERE. Picture yourself walking into Courtroom 54 on September 13, 2010, as our designated officer at the next session of the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial.



Fortune Minerals announces railway development strategy for Mount Klappan metallurgical coal project

Rail haulage strategy to Prince Rupert economically attractive

Issued Capital: 97,314,407

LONDON, ON, Aug. 23 /CNW/ - Fortune Minerals Limited (TSX-FT) ("Fortune" or the "Company") is pleased to announce that it has developed a new commercially competitive railway transportation option for haulage of anthracite metallurgical coal products from the Company's Mount Klappan project in northwest British Columbia to the port of Prince Rupert. This new development strategy is based on existing infrastructure and provides a much simpler transportation solution that would allow the Company to rapidly capitalize on the world class resource potential of Mount Klappan and participate in the growing global shortage of high quality metallurgical coals. The railway strategy would also provide access to the Ridley Coal Terminal in Prince Rupert that can load full "Capesize" bulk vessels, making this the preferred point of export for most of the Company's potential customers in the overseas steel industry.

The new railway development strategy is based on quotes that were recently received from the Canadian National Railway Company ("CN"), which operates on the former BC Rail Dease Lake Line to Minaret, 150 km south of Mount Klappan. The roadbed for this railway right-of-way north from Minaret to Mount Klappan and has already been largely constructed and provides an existing transportation corridor that can be upgraded for rail or truck haulage of coal from the mine to Minaret.

Fortune will be required to invest significant capital to upgrade the railway right-of-way as well as make improvements to the CN Rail Dease Lake Line to accommodate 127 car unit trains with 95 tonne car loads and efficient rail speeds. However, this railway development option eliminates a similar amount of capital that would otherwise have been required for truck haulage of coal to Stewart. These savings include elimination of the 100 km access road between the mine and Highway 37, elimination or reduction in the size of the off-site truck fleet, and it also avoids the substantial investment that would have been required to upgrade the bulk terminal facilities in Stewart. Use of the existing infrastructure under the railway option will also reduce the environmental footprint for the development, eliminates concerns for truck and port congestion in Stewart, reduces overall project risk, and provides for more rapid project execution and construction.

Fortune has already engaged Deloitte & Touche Corporate Finance Canada Inc. ("Deloitte") as the Company's financial advisor to pursue strategic alternatives for the advancement of Mount Klappan (see Fortune news release, dated June 30, 2010). Deloitte is assisting Fortune by identifying potential strategic partners for the project and evaluating potential transactions ...


Read more HERE.



Update from Progressive Railroading.com HERE.


Sunday, August 22, 2010


Daily passenger trains from Seattle to Vancouver could double


From the Vancouver Province

By zweisystem

Good news for rail travel in the Pacific North West.
Despite critics, it seems Amtrak’s Cascades passenger rail service is very popular and they are wanting to add two more returns. The [B.C.] provincial government must be embarrassed as our jet setting Premier has not shown any interest in passenger rail service, in fact detest rail altogether, as he single handedly sold BC Rail to his political cronies, without public debate and without any thought to the future.

An improved Vancouver to Seattle/Portland/Eugene Oregon passenger service will see upgrades to the BN & SF trackage in BC, including fencing the White Rock waterfront route to permit higher speeds, more double tracking and high speed switches and put pressure on the provincial and federal government to replace the century old, single track and decidedly rickety Fraser River Rail bridge, with a modern multi track structure. Read more HERE.

Noted in passing:

Models are shown here of the 60-ft. boxcars which were commonly used on BC Rail ...




News media as an essential arm of a democratic society

BC Mary comment: Sometimes, even my most loyal readers complain when I  publish items which (they say) are unrelated to the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial. Well ... this next item will probably bring a grumble or two, but (as usual),  I believe that the following posting is something that some readers will appreciate seeing.

Toronto Star is Canada's best newspaper and the following report "from both sides of the fence" is an example of why it is held in high esteem. It's telling us (from every angle) what went wrong in Toronto during the G20 conference when the world was watching on TV. 

To my mind, this article shows responsible journalism going to considerable effort to expand and improve public understanding. So far as I can see, it shows no political bias.

If, in British Columbia, this style of in-depth reporting came to us routinely ... it could provide access to events which are important in our lives. This kind of reporting in the B.C. news media would undoubtedly create better informed citizens than we're seeing now, under publication bans, the drag-butt delays of a show trial, or a public inquiry. 

If only we had had such a news media in B.C. when police raided the B.C. legislature offices in December 2003!

This Toronto Star article is probably the best report we'll ever see, on the topic of what went wrong at the G20 Summit Riots (2010). It is an example of good journalism understanding their honourable duty to inform the public. It offers a unique insight (from both sides of the fence) into police workings as well. 



Anatomy of the G20: the story from both sides of the fence

by Jesse McLean and Jennifer Yang
Toronto Star - August 20, 2010

... Sunday brought the grand total of arrests over the weekend to 1,105 — believed by some to be the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Most people were released without charge and numerous allegations have since emerged of police brutality, arbitrary detentions and trampled civil rights.

Police had about 5,400 officers working 12-hour shifts in Toronto — part of the 19,000 deployed overall for the G8 in Huntsville and the G20 —[in Toronto] yet, a mob using black bloc tactics still managed to elude the security force and catalyze a shift in police tactics literally overnight.

Many questions linger in the wake of the summit: Who was giving the orders? Why did police fail to stop the black bloc from running amok? And why, in the aftermath of the mob, did so many non-violent protesters feel as if they were treated like criminals?

Some answers will be uncovered by the inquiries and lawsuits that have been launched since the summit. Ontario’s ombudsmen is also investigating the Public Works Protection Act, a controversial regulation amended in June to give police added powers of arrest near the security fence.

But many answers will be found buried in the weekend itself, beginning Friday, June 25 — one day before the broken windows, the burned cars, the brief but consequential explosion of violence.

On Friday, the prospect of a riotous mob was still just a hypothetical scenario for security planners. And police had yet to lose control of their city ....

Read more HERE.



Friday, August 20, 2010


When BC Supreme Court trials are resolved by other means

BC Mary comment: It seemed to begin with the Supreme Court of Canada  releasing some evidence which had been withheld from the Pickton trial. 

After the trial, and after an appeal, the public was allowed to see and hear some Pickton evidence. It wasn't just odds and ends, it was Pickton himself on video describing how many women he had killed, etc.,  which undoubtedly could have swiftly brought that trial to a guilty verdict. But that evidence was withheld. And the trial went on. And on.

What would the Basi Virk jury be thinking, I wondered, as they recently learned via the media that verdicts in BC Supreme Court may be reached without juries even knowing?

Gary Mason has written an excellent column about this ... and I can't help hearing echoes of the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial all the way through what he says about the process. (Not the evidence, but the process of privately agreeing on a verdict.) 

See Gary's full column HERE. 



The Mounties got their man, and the taxpayers paid

By Gary Mason
The Globe and Mail - July 21, 2010  

The trial of Allen Dalstrom versus the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. had been under way in B.C. Supreme Court for only a few days when lawyers representing both sides approached Madam Justice Catherine Wedge asking for a temporary adjournment.

It was granted. And although no one knew it then, a wrongful-dismissal case that threatened to level serious allegations of misconduct against high-ranking RCMP members would never resume.

The Globe and Mail has now learned that $2-million of B.C. taxpayers’ money was used to quietly end the affair in September, 2008. The secret arrangement was hatched on the courthouse steps during a break in the proceedings. Lawyers for the Crown approached Kevin Woodall, Mr. Dalstrom’s lawyer, saying it was not in the public interest for the trial to go ahead ...

Today, few who played a part in the story are willing to talk about the events that destroyed the career of one of Canada’s most accomplished gang investigators.

Gary's report is well worth reading at this time, with the BC Rail Political Corruption Trial scheduled to resume on September 13, 2010.

For background information on how police investigated Pickton charges:

Leaked Pickton report: Scathing document details how police failures led to 'tragedy ... that could have been averted'.

By Lindsey Kines and Les Leyne
Times Colonist - August 20, 2010

Read this report HERE.


... [Vancouver Deputy Chief of Police Doug] LePard pulls no punches against his own department -- particularly senior managers of the day -- for failing to recognize sooner that a serial killer was preying on the city's sex trade workers.

The reluctance to commit to the serial killer theory meant that front-line investigators and managers never got the resources they needed to handle such a difficult case, LePard concludes in the report. The draft copy, obtained by the Times Colonist yesterday, is titled Missing Women Investigation Review and labelled "privileged -- prepared in contemplation of civil litigation."

The members of Vancouver's Missing Women Review Team "performed in what could fairly be described as a heroic manner in the face of great adversity," LePard writes. But it's clear from the report that they were often working with one hand tied behind their backs ...



Thursday, August 19, 2010


By-laws Amending the Canadian Judicial Council Inquiries and Investigations By-laws

BC Mary comment: Thanks to E.M. for finding this announcement from the Supreme Court of Canada. 

New Law August 7 2010

By-laws Amending the Canadian Judicial Council Inquiries and Investigations By-laws

Statutory authority

Judges Act

Sponsoring agency

Canadian Judicial Council


Notice is hereby given that the Canadian Judicial Council, pursuant to subsection 61(3) of the Judges Act (see footnote a), proposes to make the annexed By-laws Amending the Canadian Judicial Council Inquiries and Investigations By-laws.

Interested persons may make representations concerning the proposed By-laws within 30 days after the date of publication of this notice. All such representations must cite the Canada Gazette, Part I, and the date of publication of this notice, and be addressed to Norman Sabourin, Executive Director and Senior General Counsel, Canadian Judicial Council, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0W8 (fax: 613-288-1575; email: nsabourin@judicom.gc.ca).

Ottawa, July 19, 2010

Chief Justice of Canada
Canadian Judicial Council

Whats this all about????


1. The Canadian Judicial Council Inquiries and Investigations By-laws (see footnote 1) are amended by adding the following after section 1:


1.1 (1) The Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee who considers a complaint or allegation made in respect of a judge of a superior court may, if they determine that the matter warrants further consideration, constitute a Review Panel to decide whether an Inquiry Committee shall be constituted under subsection 63(3) of the Act.

(2) The Review Panel shall consist of three or five judges, the majority of whom shall be members of the Council, designated by the Chairperson or Vice-Chairperson of the Judicial Conduct Committee.

(3) The Review Panel may decide that an Inquiry Committee shall be constituted only in a case where the matter might be serious enough to warrant removal of a judge.

(4) If the Review Panel decides to constitute an Inquiry Committee, it shall send its decision to the Minister without delay, together with a notice inviting the Minister to designate members of the bar of a province to that committee in accordance with subsection 63(3) of the Act.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010


A report on legalized theft: BC Rail, BC Ferries, and BC Hydro

A tip of the tuque to Rafe Mair, an old Socred who recognizes certain public values, as he explains in ... A report on legalized theft ... published on his blog August 17th, 2010.

On Rafe's website you will find a report on BC Hydro by economist Erik Andersen, Sinister financial vectors at BC Hydro, and it should shock all British Columbians. 

Rafe says: I must add that I feel vindicated since I’ve been saying these things for 2 ½ years based on inferred evidence fortified by the lack of rebuttal by BC Hydro, the private power interests or the Campbell government.

The situation Gordon “Pinocchio” Campbell has got us in is all but impossible to believe, but he’s done it.

Let me quickly lay out why we have a publicly owned power company.

Back in the late 50s and early 60s then Premier W.A.C. Bennett made three decisions – he decided that Black Ball Ferries, being privately owned, would never serve any communities unless it was profitable; he decided the same thing for the old PGE railway; and he held that BC needed an abundance of cheap power for both industry and the general public so he nationalized BC Railway in 1961. Thus we had BC Ferries, BC Rail, and BC Hydro and Power Authority.

The power didn’t come cheap either fiscally or environmentally as huge dams were built of the Peace and Columbia Rivers, however Bennett had got the job done and we had an abundance of cheap power. In fact we British Columbians owned what many felt was the best power company in the world.

Enter Gordon Campbell and his energy policy of 2002. What he did was simple and it was breathtaking. So much so that many British Columbians are only now waking up to what has happened:

1.   All new power was to come from private companies and except for upgrading their facilities and Site “C” should they wish to develop that, BC HYDRO was denied the right to create new power.

2.   We were told by the government that these projects would be “run-of-river”, namely that the river would be undisturbed.

3.   We were informed that these would all be small “mom and pop” operations.

4.   We were told that BC was a net importer of energy and that these Independent Power Producers would ensure that we would be self sufficient by 2016.

For the past 2 ½ years Damien Gillis and I, along with Joe Foy and Gwen Barlee of the Wilderness Committee have been speaking around the province telling people the truth. namely, that these plants were hugely intrusive and destructive of the rivers and their ecosystems, that the companies were huge, such as Ledcor and General Electric, that BC was not short of energy and need never be if we made some modest changes to our policy and that this independent power, because it can only be generated during the run-off, was of no use to BC Hydro since at that time their reservoirs were full and they needed no help.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, we slowly but surely learned what the deals were that Hydro was forced by the Campbell government to make with these IPP’s. And we could not believe what we learned.

To put it shortly and bluntly, Hydro was forced to buy power, on a “take or pay” basis, at double or more what they could get on the export market! If that wasn’t bad enough, HYDRO would be forced to export private power because, as explained above, it was surplus to their needs.

Erik Andersen was only known to The Common Sense Canadian through blogs he did and I was on his mailing list. We have a list of contributors, which you can find on our website at www.thecanadian.org, numbering about 25. These men and women from all walks of life and of every political stripe are asked to do a column for us from time to time for which they aren’t paid a dime.

Erik Andersen did a blog or two which dealt with the issues we’re involved with and we asked him to become one of our contributors and he kindly consented. Erik has been an economist for many years and his resume is fascinating.

On his own, Erik did a blog dealing with many of the points I have above and we asked him if he could flesh that out and give us a report we could circulate.

What Erik was able to do, because of his expertise, was to find the numbers that justified the position we had been taking for the past 2 ½ years – and then some.

I urge you to read this report and send it to friends. What we have here is theft – legalized theft of out rivers, their ecologies and our power. Not only is our power, and the profit traditionally given to the government by BC HYDRO, being sent out of the Province ... we are paying private companies to do it! We get nothing for this, nothing except the same taxes the government would get from a grocery store.

I’m not a young man anymore – in fact I’ve seen many governments come and go and have been part of one.

Never in my life have I seen such outrageous acts as this. It’s made all the more shameful by the government MLA’s doing and saying nothing as their province is ravished.

Read Erik Andersen’s report and weep at the outrages inflicted and still being inflicted on British Columbia by this evil government


Monday, August 16, 2010


The BC Rail Scandal and The New Lawlessness. Could it be ... ?


By Robin Mathews
August 16, 2010
There is a whole other way to see the failure to act (of the Attorney General of B.C., of the Stephen Owen “Review” of the Special Prosecutor appointment system, of the top B.C. Supreme Court judges, and the presiding judge – Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie) on the wrongful appointment of William Berardino as Special Prosecutor in matters concerning the corrupt transfer of BC Rail from public ownership to a huge U.S. private corporation, the CNR… and the present Basi, Virk, and Basi criminal trial….

That way of seeing involves the larger, global picture. It means looking at the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter in the same way as the huge, almost unpunished, Enron energy fraud (2001).  Looking in the same way as with the gigantic, unpunished ‘prime mortgage’ [credit derivatives, credit default swaps, etc.] international financial meltdown of 2008.  It involves the same way of seeing as our view of the unpunished (and now allegedly covered-up) BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico – and here at home, the on-going Alberta Tar Sands (and Athabaska river) disaster … the unpunished Enbridge pipeline disasters … and more.

It is to place the Basi, Virk, and Basi case into the perspective of “The New Lawlessness”.

The New Lawlessness  (subscribed to, I allege, by Gordon Campbell, Stephen Harper, and Ed Stelmach in Canada) is nothing more than a seamless alliance between governments and huge private corporations to elude law – where corporate interests are pursuing unregulated pollution, cheapest exploitation of resources, get-rich-quick manufacture of fraudulent securities, dubious ownership transfers, sales of non-existent commodities – or, in fact, any action or design that previously would be (and now should be) criminal in private corporate behaviour intended to enrich Corporation ‘principals’ at the expense of the public.

Accompanying those developments is the increased use of “policing” forces to protect “democratic” leaders from their own people [G20 in Toronto, for instance].

What are the accused in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case accused of – fundamentally?  They are accused of breaking an oath of confidentiality.  That includes, especially, confidentiality in all the matters dealing with the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to CNR - which was engaged in by top government and private Corporation officers, I believe.

The job of the accused was to be completely loyal to a highly sophisticated betrayal of the people of British Columbia.  They were sworn – I argue – to uphold “The New Lawlessness”, not to uphold the law.

Their alleged crime was not primarily against lawfulness as we know it. It was not primarily against the people of B.C. and Canada.  Their alleged crime – it would seem – was to betray their corrupt masters and – in doing so – to give away the fact that “The New Lawlessness” is in operation.

After the alleged breach of confidentiality [the alleged “breach of trust”], the matters of bribery and money laundering [in the case] followed.

Why – the question has come up again and again – why would the top people allegedly corruptly transferring BC Rail to the CNR go after three order-in Council appointees for, allegedly, cutting out a piece of profit for themselves as part of the whole dirty deal?

Why would those top people take the risk of exposing their own gigantic, shady sleight-of-hand to remove BC Rail from the ownership of the people of British Columbia?

Why were the three accused the only accused in the huge, highly dubious (even, I believe, criminal) transaction?

Because – the answer may be - the three accused men were, allegedly, double-crossing “the bosses” and were allegedly taking “The New Lawlessness” in the most natural direction.  They were not primarily - reasonable Canadians may believe - violating the trust of the people of British Columbia and Canada.  They were not primarily violating the trust of elected representatives in a democratic society.  No.  They were violating – it may be argued – a sordid (and perhaps criminal) pact entered into by top government officials and top private Corporate actors.

The three accused had to be stopped in their tracks and taught an enduring lesson.

Could it be that something went wrong?  Could it be that the improper appointment of William Berardino as Special Prosecutor was not simply a dumb mistake of “the Club” – shutting its eyes and appointing one of ‘the boys’ without wrong intention?

Could it be that “the Club” purposefully appointed Mr. Berardino to shield its members and never thought William Berardino’s qualifications would be examined?

Could it be that “the Club” never expected a Defence team that would see through “the fix” that was in to transfer (improperly) BC Rail to CNR, and that Defence would attempt to expose a major criminality in the transfer?

Could it be that the dogged persistence of the Defence had to be dealt with?

Could it be that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett (first judge on the case) was ‘allowing Defence too much room’  - and had to be removed, pushed upstairs to the Appeals Court?

Could it be that the case needed a judge ‘more understanding’ that the case is a simple one, concerning only three allegedly bad boys, allegedly engaging in breach of trust, bribery, and money laundering?

Could it be that the steam-roller of “the New Lawlessness” is being driven over Basi, Virk, and Basi and their three Defence lawyers?

Could it be that the extraordinary determination of the presiding judge to enforce the draconian ‘publication ban’ is not at all extraordinary  - but a necessity to keep the role of Gordon Campbell and his associates in the BC Rail Scandal as contained as possible?

Could it be that she was promoted to Associate Chief Justice (after being appointed to the Basi, Virk, and Basi case) to give force to her in-court rulings? Was her promotion a natural elevation as a result of her unfailing judicial excellence?

Could it be that her plain refusal to deal with the wrongful appointment of William Berardino as Special Prosecutor is of the same character?  Is Mr. Berardino key to the scenario that three bad (brown) boys in a little private corner, seeking private gain, allegedly set to work to betray trust in an operation otherwise spotless, white, and upright?

That, it would seem, is the story ‘the Club’ tells.  The Attorney General of B.C. refuses to deal with the wrongful appointment of Mr. Berardino.  So do the top judges of the B.C. Supreme Court.  So did Stephen Owen, appointed to “review” the whole process of Special Prosecutor appointments (reporting on July 8, 2010).  So does the presiding judge on the Basi, Virk, and Basi case.  So does the Mainstream Press and Media – resolutely.

And so – finally – does the Canadian Judicial Council.

The Canadian Judicial Council - to which I complained  (May 17) of Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie’s refusal to recognize an obligation in the matter of the (wrongful) appointment of William Berardino – replied (Aug 6).  Its finding is “that if Mr. Berardino’s appointment in the matter of R. v. Basi, Virk & Basi violates any legislation, as you have alleged (and Chief Justice Wittmann expresses no opinion in this regard), this is not a matter of judicial conduct and does not fall within the Council’s mandate to review.”

TAKE NOTE: the Attorney General, Michael de Jong, refuses to reply to my request that he address the wrongful appointment of William Berardino; the top B.C. Supreme Court judges refuse to answer my letter (Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie included) asking that they address the wrongful appointment.

The Mainstream Press and Media refuse to address the wrongful appointment.  The Honourable Neil C. Wittmann, Chief Justice of the Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta, answering for the CJC REFUSES TO ADDRESS THE WRONGFUL APPOINTMENT.

To show the faultless purity of the Canadian Judicial Council, the letter from the Council says: “Because your complaint involves a member of the Council, an additional step has been followed in accordance with the Complaints Procedures.  Your complaint, and its proposed disposition by Chief Justice Wittman, have been reviewed by an outside counsel, namely Mr. Jacques J.M. Shore of the law firm of Gowling Lafleur Henderson LLP.  After a careful review of this matter, Mr. Shore has indicated his complete agreement with Chief Justice Wittman’s decision about your complaint, as well as with the reasons contained within this letter.”

In my respectful opinion the Canadian Judicial Council (a club within “the Club’) – like all the others – absolutely refuses to address the fact of Mr. Berardino’s wrongful appointment and the fact that it invalidates the trial in which he is acting as Special (Crown) Prosecutor, and the fact that the presiding judge cannot with impunity know that and close her eyes to it.

But Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie does know it, and she is closing her eyes to it … with the blessing, now, of the Canadian Judicial Council (of which she is, it just happens – a member).

The situation is so ridiculous it has to exist for a reason. I suggest it could not exist in a society under the rule of law.  But what about a society under the rule of “The New Lawlessness”?

Could it be …?


Friday, August 13, 2010


Indo-Canadian stars shine, flicker, and fade


BC Mary comment: An unusual political commentary from the Indo-Canadian point of view, which readers might find interesting.  Written by Manpreet Grewal, special to Vancouver Sun, published August 11, 2010.


The Indo-Canadian community keeps sacrificing its lambs at the political altar. Politics is a popular sport in democratic India, and the participants span the whole class, caste, educational, rural and urban spectrum. In traditional Indian villages, people are actively involved in electing their sarpanches (head of the local government); the election mania continues on to state and federal levels. They have continued this enthusiasm in Canada.

While it is commendable that as an immigrant and an ethno-cultural group, Indo-Canadians have become active participants in Canadian political life, it is critical that they understand politics is not everyone's cup of tea. Many assume that anyone doing well in any field should and will somehow end up in politics to reach the epitome of their career -- and if they are not going to end up there, they had better be close to the ones who are already there.

Relationships with politicians are seen as a mark of respect, importance and clout among peers. Such relationships have become an ingrained part of many aspects of our mass culture where private and community events feature photo ops and rubbing shoulders with politicians.

Needless to say, many of our successful members become attracted to or are cajoled into the arena. They are like moths drawn to the light of politics, but, unfortunately, many have been led to an early demise.

Wally Oppal was one such star. He enjoyed immense credibility and clout as a judge and set many precedents for the participation of the Indo-Canadian community in mainstream Canadian society. Oppal was appointed to the County Court of B.C. in 1981 and to the Supreme Court of B.C. in 1985. In 2003, he was the first Indo-Canadian appointed to the B.C. Court of Appeal. He was a man of immense stature within our community.

At the peak of his legal career, he decided to enter politics. Some were saddened because they could see the inevitability of his path. Politics would eventually chip away at the credibility he had built through his brilliance and hard work. He would encounter pitfalls. He was victorious as a B.C. Liberal in the riding of Vancouver-Fraserview and appointed attorney-general in 2005.

Few would argue, though, that he was as revered on the benches of the legislature as he was at the Supreme Court. In the 2009 election, he gave up his riding to Kash Heed and lost by 32 votes in his new riding of Delta South.

That brings us to Heed, another fallen hero facing challenges in his resurrection. Before entering politics, he was gaining immense popularity as a Vancouver police officer. He pioneered initiatives aimed at crime reduction and prevention as well as greater community and police engagement. He was a superintendent with the VPD and went on to become the first Indo-Canadian police chief in Canada, heading the West Vancouver force.

His appointment was a moment of pride for the community, but, alas, he couldn't resist the lure of politics. He was elected in the 2009 provincial election and became the minister of public safety and solicitor-general.

On April 9, he resigned in response to an RCMP investigation involving alleged violations of the B.C. Elections Act by his campaign staff. A special prosecutor exonerated Heed of involvement and he quickly returned to cabinet on May 4 -- only to resign 24 hours later because the special prosecutor himself came under a cloud.

Then there are the stories of his ambitious political aide, Barinder Sall, and others whose aspirations have landed them in a mess. Bob Virk and Dave Basi, on trial for corruption in the BC Rail case, have tasted the glory and suffered the fall. Whether some of these men took one for their leader, the team or the party, or just made gross errors in judgment, they are a loss to the galaxy of our stars.

Some of us are proud of our many successful politicians, but we're also happy to be dazzled by many other stars that happily twinkle away without being dragged down by the gravitational pull of politics.

Manpreet Grewal is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010


Somethings Happening Here,
................What it is Ain't Exactly Clear!


 Click on Image to enlarge and make readable

Thanks to a tip from Citizen Journalist 54, who seems to perform more journalism and reporting in his spare time than all the drones, flacks and fiction writers of the erstwhile AssPerson Empire do in their so-called "professional" capacities, we know that there were court appearances for Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi regarding the BC Rail Corruption case on August 6, the sixty-fifth anniversary of Hiroshima. Mary is temporarily  off-line (briefly this time, we hope)  so  I received  a message this morning that  said in part:

I have been able to do some research and found out that the BC Rail trial had a hearing on Friday, August 6, 2010 at the Vancouver Supreme Court! Something happened and we need to know what! 

......... it is important to notify her readers and to ask why the MSM didn't mention it even if they could not report on it. I hope to uncover more...

.......very strange that only Virk and Aneal Basi are mentioned but I don't want to speculate as we know how accuratethese court listings are:
It is far too late to learn whether or not this was listed on the daily docket/schedule for August 6, as those notices aren't published until it is too late to get to court from much east of Langley (and often they are posted after the session has begun), and they disappear in 24 hours or less. To see the completed appearances for the previous five days one will need to go here within the nextg  24 hours or so, though the relevant entries are reproduced above.

Meanwhile  the  LameStream  is content to  focus on the lurid revelations  from the pig farm or show ass-kisser Gordo following King Stephen around as King Stephen shows that his government has money to incarcerate sea mammals as well as those nasty humans committing all this "unreported" crime.  The PsuedoCons always can find the money to lock 'em up - be they people or creatures of the sea.

Saturday, August 07, 2010


BC Rail news: Fyshing with Martyn Brown!

Another gem! don't miss the astonishing revalation of the "facts" surrounding Paul Taylor and ... well, click HERE.

Well done, Ian Reid! Wowww!!


Friday, August 06, 2010


BC Rail: The story of the Great Train Robbery

If you look at only one YouTube for the rest of your life, this is the one.

In a 5-part lecture, Peter Ewart tells the inside story of why BC Rail was so important to the province of British Columbia, how its enemies carefully ambushed this public asset and transferred it into private ownership, and how a tremendous provincial protest movement was developed.

And that protest movement is still there.

I highly recommend this lecture for two reasons:

* Peter Ewart explains the detailed plan of protest which was put into action as soon as the danger was realized;

* Peter Ewart makes it very clear that there are principled citizens who still believe that the 990-year lease (sale) to CN can be -- and must be -- cancelled.

Have a listen to Peter Ewart's report. There's quite a lot to this. My eyes  popped with astonishment as Peter began Part 4 with the detailed description of how they built the protest. This video is a tremendous gift to those who wonder what we can do, and how we can do it.

I'll try to find out where the video was filmed, and what those signs mean.

So the venue was SURREY, B.C., and the date was June 26, 2010, Peter said, when I asked, Robin Matthews and myself, said Peter, were invited by the CPC(ML) branch in Vancouver and Wake Up Discussion Society to speak at a meeting in Surrey on June 26 on the issue of BC Rail ...  as Charles Boylan, the MC of the "Wake Up with Co-op" radio show, knew I had been involved in the struggle from previous Co-op radio interviews he had with me, and he also knows Robin. 

Both Robin, who as you know is an independent journalist following the BC Rail Trial,  and I delivered a speech there; there was a lot of discussion afterwards.

BC Mary comment: Robin did mention a lively Co-Op Radio interview, so I hope somebody was filming Robin, as well, and that we may hear him lecturing, too. 

Many thanks, Peter. 



'Super-C' ferry design problems surface

By Patrick Brown and Hayden Chambers
Island Tides - December 11, 2008 

Noise and fuel consumption problems with BC Ferries’ new German-built ‘Super-C’ ferries appear to stem from basic design decisions, particularly with respect to propellers and hull form.

A technical paper authored by senior members of the design team, Stefan Krüger of the Hamburg University of Technology, and Heike Billerbeck and Tobias Haack of shipbuilders Flensburger Schiffbau Gesellschaft outlines a design process that utilized a combination of model testing and computer methods to create the world’s largest double-ended passenger ferries.

While Flensburger has considerable experience with Ro-Ro (Roll-on, Roll-off) ships, they have all been single-ended
designs; their website lists no previous experience with double-ended ferries. According to the design team: ‘Some of the design requirements put forward by BCF had been very hard to
fulfill in the final concept. Most challenging was the demand for
extremely low fuel consumption, low wake wash, and very good steering performance that had to be combined with the requirement for a diesel electric power plant. Furthermore, the operational profile of the vessel required a very short
acceleration time of the vessel from zero up to full design speed, which is quite high with 21 knots.’

The specifications included:
• 370 vehicles, 1500 day passengers on 2 car decks,
• Dimensions and deck strake compatible with all mainland terminals,
• 21 knot service speed, 20 knots without one prime mover, 18 knots without two prime movers (prime movers are diesel
engines; Super-C ferries have four),
• Double-ended configuration based on C- Class experience,
• Diesel electric propulsion,
•High lift rudders for optimum docking performance,
• Fast acceleration to service speed, and
• Significant turning rate >90 Deg/minute.
BC Ferries’ specifications were based on the actual performance of the existing C-Class double-ended ferries, which were designed and built in BC between 1976 and 1981, and which are still giving satisfactory service.

The first of these, the Queen of Coquitlam, cost $20 million to construct in 1976. The three Super C’s were built under a
$334 million design/build contract with Flensburger, with a total budget, including import duty, of $542million. (Of course,
one must allow for thirty years of inflation.)

‘These requirements lead to an unconventional propulsion
concept with bow and stern CPP–Propellers (Controllable
Pitch) which are operated in constant rpm mode where the bow propeller feathers with the trailing edge (propeller blades are
like airplane wings; this means that the propeller blades are turned around so the trailing edge is forward). This propulsion
concept is embedded into a completely new hull form that was developed on the basis of numerical flow simulations,’
continued the designers.

The original C-class vessels were equipped with two controllable pitch propellers (each somewhat smaller than on
the new vessels) and rudders at each end, and displaced about 6500 tonnes and were 457ft long. They were, when they were
built, the world’s largest double-ended ferries, but later lost their title to Washington State Ferries’ Jumbo MkII design,
which are 460ft long. The Super-C’s are 524ft long, and displace a little over 10,000 tonnes; close in size to the BC-built Spirits, which are 549 ft long and displace 11,600 tonnes.

But the new vessels have nearly the same carrying capacity —vehicles and passengers—as the original C-class vessels, so direct comparisons are valid.

Fuel Consumption Higher

BC Ferries’ officials have claimed that the Super-C’s are 30%
more fuel efficient than the original C-class, but so far experience has not borne that out. In fact, running on Route 2
(Nanaimo–Horseshoe Bay), the Coastal Renaissance averaged 8,416 litres per round trip, but the Queen of Oak Bay averaged 6,491 litres per round trip (figures from BC Ferries’ own fuel
consumption records).
It is not surprising that BCF has chosen to substitute the older vessel for the newer one on this run for four days of the week. And use the Coastal Celebration, on the Swartz Bay–

Noise and Erosion at the Terminals

It wasn’t long after the Coastal Renaissance started running out of Nanaimo that local residents complained of the noise when the vessel was in the terminal, even to the point where some complained that the vibration was causing structural damage to residences. A ‘carpet of foam’ was reported from Horseshoe Bay when the vessel was loading and unloading there. And some erosion underneath a berth (leading to
collapse of some of the concrete infrastructure) at Tsawwassen
apparently occurred after the Coastal Inspiration, on the Duke
Point run, had been docking there for some time.

A Single Large Propeller at Each End

The Super-C’s have a single large propeller and a single large rudder at each end, unlike all the other BC Ferries that cross the Strait of Georgia, which have twin screws and twin rudders.

It is an accepted maxim in ship design that the larger the propeller, the more efficient it will be. To quote the designers:
‘Based on themaximum draft of 5.75m, a propeller diameter as large as reasonably possible was selected, which resulted in a 5 metre propeller diameter.’ (Visit the Island Tides to See drawing.)

So each four-bladed controllable pitch propeller is 16.4ft in diameter, operating at a constant speed of 130rpm, whether the
ship is docked or moving. The speed and direction of the vessel is controlled by the direction of rotation of the propellers, and
by the pitch, or angle of the blades. The pitch varies from positive, when acting as the stern propeller driving the vessel forward, to negative, when acting as
the forward propeller set, with blades trailing edge first, to minimize drag. When the vessel is stationary in a berth, the
pitch of the forward propeller is set near zero, but both propellers continue to rotate at 130rpm.

Propellers Close to Surface

Drawings indicate that the lowest point of each propeller is in fact 5.75m below the loaded waterline, which means that the
highest point is .75m below the loaded waterline. But, unloaded and in its berth, the draft of the ship is about 5.2m (see photo in Island Tides article), and so the tips of the rotating propellers are a mere 0.2m (8 inches) below the water’s surface. And the speed of thepropeller tips is 51.5 ft/revolution, or 76mph.

A propeller tip traveling at 76mph only 8 inches below the water’s surface might very well create disturbance and noise
from cavitation, described by the designers as ‘air drawing’. (As the propeller tip travels at speed just under the water surface, it will cause waves, possibly breaking waves, which will enable air
to be drawn down from the surface). This is not, of course, a problem when the vessel is fully loaded and at speed, because the propellers are amply covered, not only because of the load, but also by the bow and stern waves induced by the hull shape.

Test for cavitation were carried out on a scale model at the Hamburg Ship Model Basin: ‘If the stern wave height and the
dynamic sinkage at the A.P. (aft propeller) were taken into account, the dynamic immersion of the propeller was large
enough to fully absorb all required power without any hint on air drawing … During all tests, there was no indication of air
drawing. To check for the influence of air drawing on the station keeping, additional bollard pull tests were performed.
These tests showed that without stern wave, some slight air drawing could be noted.’ (A bollard pull test means that the
ship is held stationary but the propellers are run at full thrust.)

Tests at Maximum Draft

It seems probable that the scale model used assumed maximum draft (5.75m). However, the designers were aware
that the vessel would spend part of its time unloaded and in a berth: ‘… the operational profile of BCF required a significant Engineering drawing of one end of a Super C-Class. The propeller height and loaded waterline are shown.
One of the rudders of the Coastal Celebration. The vessel is berthed, unloaded, and the propellers are stationary. Note the draft markings. (See Island Tides for original illustrations.) The amount of time where both propellers were idling in harbor during loading/unloading, resulting in an off-design condition that had to be regarded for the propeller design with respect to erosive cavitation. This condition was considered a problem as
the propellers were always operated in the constant  rpm mode.’

BC Ferries have stated that when the ship is fully loaded, the disturbance resulting from the rotating propellers is reduced. A
couple of weeks ago, to enable this theory to be tested, eighteen fully loaded gravel trucks were driven onto the deck of one of
the ferries while it was tied up. BCF have not yet announced the result of this experiment.

Operating the Super-C’s

There seems no doubt that ‘driving’ a Super-C is different from any other BC Ferry. To reduce wake, the hull shape has a wide, flat bottom, different from the V-shaped bottom of the original
C-class vessels. There is no skeg (keel), leading to a different approach to steering.

From the designers’ report: ‘Course
keeping ability is a problem for this type of ship due to the unfavorable main dimensions (with respect to maneuvering)
combined with the double-end ferry restrictions. There are only a few ways to influence the hull yawing moment due to the fact that both the fore and aft body are the same. Furthermore, the bow rudder is problematic because it decreases course stability drastically even if fixed at the neutral rudder angle.’

In fact, concern with this was so great that BCF required the designers to guarantee that the new vessels could be safely
steered through Active Pass in adverse tide and weather conditions. (A number of years ago, the C-Class Queen of Alberni ran aground in Active Pass, resulting in damage to trucks and cars and the death of one racehorse.)

The designers met this challenge by setting up a model of Active Pass on a Danish nautical training simulator. The ship’s characteristics used were drawn from the extensive mathematical models which, together with tank testing, had
been developed during the design process.

GreaterWeight = Heavier Fuel Consumption

The Super-C’s are some 70% heavier than the original C-Classvessels. They have more decks and are more heavily built;
possibly the structural need to absorb the energy emanating from two very large propellers constantly rotating and located
at the very ends of the vessel may be a factor. But this weight, together with the need for new ‘driving’ techniques, may well be a major influence in higher fuel consumption.

BC Ferries President David
Hahn has suggested that the fuel
economy of the new ferries may well improve as crews become
more experienced at operating them. This remark seems to have met with some scepticism among the crews, but time will
tell. But the fact remains that the new vessels are bigger and heavier, but do the same job as the older ones, albeit with more amenities.

And whether fundamental design decisions—hull shape and
propellers—were sound, remains to be seen.

Special thanks to Patrick Brown, Hayden Chambers, and Island Tides for generous permission to re-post this informative article.  

© Island Tides Publishing Ltd.This article may be reproduced with this attribution, in its entirety, with notification to Island Tides Publishing Ltd.
‘This article was published (December 11, 2008) in ‘Island Tides’. ‘Island Tides’ is an independent, regional newspaper distributing 17,500 print copies throughout the Gulf Islands and the Canadian Strait of Georgia from Victoria to Campbell River to Howe Sound.
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