Before being elected government in 2001, BC Liberals promised to appoint an independent inquiry into the “mismanagement of BC Ferries.” That promise, like many others made by Gordon Campbell, fell by the wayside. The primary reason was that the claim of mismanagement was myth not reality. The corporation had been less than perfect but not as portrayed by political theatre playing in British Columbia around the turn of the century.
The NDP government’s commitment to aluminum ferry construction might have worked had it been executed more skillfully. British Columbia had a successful record of large ferry construction and the government hoped to advance specialization in a new class of vessel that, in the day, seemed to offer real advantages. (The U.S. Navy currently has a $37 billion aluminum fast-ship building program.)
Whether or not unforeseen problems that emerged could have been resolved will never be known. Failure of the program became too important to Liberal strategists who still use it after a dozen years to paint NDP as foolish spendthrifts, incapable of providing fiscal competence that is second nature to supporters of private enterprise.
However, the record demonstrates that under its current structure, BC Ferries has been a debacle. The government’s termination of David Hahn as CEO will not resolve the problems, those result from an inept board and confused political vision.
This item from the 2004 Annual Report show what citizens of the province were told to expect when the marine transportation service was restructured:
“On April 2, 2003, BC Ferries became an independent company. On that day, a 43-year-old organization was given a new beginning. We now have a clear vision to become a world-class marine transportation system, one that is both highly customer-focused and financially viable. During our first year, we have made big strides towards our vision. We’ve built on our strengths and we’ve created new business opportunities. And we’re excited about the future…”
The ferry corporation’s most recent fiscal year ended March 31. Vehicle traffic was down 3.5% and the number of passengers down almost as much. Despite declining traffic, BC Ferries executives have moved into spacious new offices in Victoria. That a company with a shrinking commitment to service needed fancy new head office digs is not a subject that MSM journalists have bothered to explore, which is interesting considering the coverage they gave to the PacifiCats in pre-Liberal days.
Northern Insights has many articles on BC Ferries and you can find them HERE. A few graphs illustrate the unhappy situation of BC Ferries.
Categories: BC Ferries