Highly regarded writer Will McMartin uses a fine brush to paint a picture of Kevin Falcon’s duplicity. The result is another part in The Tyee series on leadership candidates Do not miss it. This is from part 2, beginning with a quote from Falcon:
“One of the things I’m most proud of is the fact that we’re actually investing in transportation the way our grandparents used to — that is, we’re paying as we go,” he said in the legislature on Feb. 16, 2004, just three weeks after being named minister of transportation.
“We’re not doing it the old NDP way where you borrow money you don’t have and you have your grandchildren paying the costs. We’re doing it pay as you go.”
A wonderful sentiment. Imagine: British Columbians today can spend billions of dollars on roads, bridges, tunnels, ferries and public transit, and pay for it out of current revenues — without leaving a burdensome debt for future generations! Golly.
Except, Falcon didn’t have a clue of what he was talking about. . .
Laila Yuile offers further evidence with a piece about Falcon adding billions to transportation debt and billions more in contractual obligations.
I see Kevin Falcon and Christy Clark as Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee. Neither one feels obliged to tell the truth. Both simply assure that the same ruinous policies of Gordon Campbell will continue. And, if you think that George Abbot offers something different, remember that when the lobbying duo of Patrick Kinsella and Mark Jiles leave the Progessive Group offices, Kinsella heads to Clark’s camp and Jiles to Abbot’s campaign office. The key influence peddlers have got all the bases covered in the BC Liberal game.
This week Pot reproaches kettle for looking black, again was a reminder that the very people saying public services are no longer affordable are filling their own pockets with money extracted from taxpayers. Sometimes it is taken through no-bid contracts and sometimes through secret payments as in shadow tolls. Other times through arrangements hidden within complex business deals where private companies use vast capital investment resources of public agencies such as the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCIMC) and the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB).
Gwyn Morgan, Chairman of SNC-Lavalin, convinced Christy Clark that healthcare expenditures must be cut because taxpayers cannot sustain present service levels. Similarly, neighborhood and village schools must close because it is more efficient to transport school children elsewhere. And, our BC Hydro rates must escalate so the utility can pay companies like General Electric for private power generated by public rivers that BC Hydro must purchase but may or may not need. We must cut healthcare, but raise medical fees, so that we can eliminate corporate incomes taxes and pay “exploration” tax credits to locate gas already found. Social services are not affordable because business gets back $2 billion a year it used to pay in provincial sales tax. Ferry fares must go up, again, so that taxpayers can pay shadow tolls for skiers driving to Whistler on the Sea to Sky Highway.
Morgan does not want money wasted on healthcare and other things because his company SNC-Lavalin relies on taxpayers to pay for something else. Their profits. The company has already geared up to participate in the wonderful world of Public-Private Partnerships. This is the new style of business, what Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz calls ersatz capitalism, in which losses are socialized and profits privatized.
For example, SNC-Lavalin built and operates the Bennett Bridge in Kelowna. For that it is paid amounts, including shadow tolls, that are hidden from public disclosure. Its financing source is also not disclosed but this is the kind of long term infrastructure project in which pension funds invest. Pension funds such as the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, which administer $80 billion in various equities issued by companies like SNC-Lavalin.
We have created a situation where public funds can be invested with private companies who then invest the funds in public projects. This is called economic efficiency. Or, it is called a boondoggle, aimed at creating private fortunes from public funds, with almost no audit trail.