I’ve been examining audited financial statements of two favourite public enterprises: BC Hydro and PAVCO. I completed preliminary examination but a paucity of meaningful data makes that a difficult task for an outsider. I’ll write more about these subjects in weeks that follow.
After assuming leadership of BC Liberals, Christy Clark promised voters “enhanced stewardship of assets” but she has been no better than Gordon Campbell. Instead, she has managed a decline in stewardship as looters fill their pockets with a quickening pace. They know that voters will soon end the trickery.
Auditor General John Doyle reported the province’s deficit is understated and he criticized P3 projects, lax IT controls, uncontrolled spending and improper accounting of Legislature expenses. He also reported that BC Liberals have lost track of British Columbia’s forest resource and are failing to protect the future of provincial forests. He says they have not defined objectives and cannot ensure that management practices are effective.
In response, BC Liberals heap disdain on Auditor General Doyle and force him to seek Supreme Court orders to gain access to hidden documents.
Hiding documents from public view is one strategy to subvert open and accountable government. The most recent annual report of BC Hydro is 100 pages long, most of it expensive puffery of zero importance to analysts. One single paragraph provides news that should shock every taxpayer and consumer of electricity. That paragraph reports BC Hydro’s commitment for long-term energy purchase agreements had grown to $55.6 BILLION, as of last March.
In the first eight years of Liberal rule, BC Hydro’s energy purchase commitment averaged $13.6 billion. Since then it has quadrupled and if the rate of growth continues, the total will exceed $100 billion in little more than two years from now.
Remember that I said document hiding is one method enabling misinformation. Were you and I to seek details of the huge sums that BC Hydro owes to private power producers, we would get nowhere. The details are hidden by claims that disclosure would harm private business interests. Well, no one can argue with that statement. If the truth were known, we’d have to build new courthouses and new prisons.
Another method of subverting the public interest is to issue an avalanche of information – so much material that meaningful data is lost in drifts of useless and tedious bumf. The private power industry knows how to play that game, a fact proven by 18,000 pages of material put on display at a recent open house allegedly held to inform the public about the Narrows Inlet projects near Sechelt. These add more unneeded private power to the public utility system. Remember Hydro CEO Dave Cobb stating,
“If it doesn’t change, it would be hundreds of millions of dollars per year that we would be spending of our ratepayers’ money with no value in return.”
I wrote this a year ago in BC Hydro – ultimate comfort station for pretend capitalists, a rant warning of the extent of financial misconduct that is crushing BC Hydro:
“Providers of private power generation face no marketing, revenue or cost risks. They will have no unsold product, no price uncertainty and no selling costs. BC Hydro has become the ultimate comfort station for pretend capitalists.
“Something happened with the Campbell government a few years ago. The Premier, his associates and beneficiaries simply lost the ability to constrain their own greed. Philosophically, many Liberal supporters agreed with privatization but they expected it would happen honestly. Instead, the public assets of British Columbia were treated like those of the former Soviet republics.
“BCR’s railway assets went into hands of the Premier’s friends but its fabulous land bank was eased into private hands almost without notice. Because the carried value for land on BCR books was far below its market value, the extent of the fourberie was not apparent. The corruption of this dishonest privatization may yet bring down the Campbell/Clark government but, in comparative terms, BC Hydro is even more egregious.”