Auditor General

Feeding frenzy has begun

When a kid, I lived with a marvellous black Lab. Usually a good-natured, well-behaved mutt, he discovered roast chicken unsupervised on the stove top. With no one around, temptation was irresistible and he made his move. I walked in and that chicken was on the floor, being devoured. Commands fell on deaf ears. In fact, he ate faster and growled angrily, turning in circles to shield the prize from expropriation. Dog knew the chance for real treasure might not come again so his aim was to maximize pleasures before opportunity ended.

I’m reminded of the dog story because a ravenous crew of BC Liberals is involved in a feeding frenzy, working to grab maximum treasure from public wealth and property in case opportunities end on May 14, a short 15 weeks from now.

We watched Rich Coleman and BCLC CEO Michael Graydon growling angrily when Surrey council took away one opportunity to enrich their friends at Gateway Casinos and Entertainment.

Last month, no one stopped Coleman from delivering $10 million a year of BCLC revenues to the horse racing industry. The month before Coleman gave Pacific Western Brewing Co., his generous financial contributors, an almost $10 million tax break.

We witnessed the recent incorporation of the Mountain Resort Municipality of Jumbo Glacier, a community with an appointed council of three Liberal friends and grizzly bears and mountain goats as residents. Council’s job: make land use and zoning decisions and increase the value of land without being accountable to a single voter.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives analyst Ben Parfitt writing in Sunday’s Province, Sneaky Liberals are planning a B.C. forest giveaway, says the government that will have appeared in the legislature only 19 of the 365 days preceding election 2013, plan to:

introduce a scant two-paragraph bill granting it powers to fundamentally alter the course of forestry in B.C.

…the bill would give the provincial cabinet powers to grant forest companies de facto private control over public forestlands without first having to notify or consult with the public.

Instead of companies enjoying rights to log set volumes of trees on public forestlands, companies would gain dramatically expanded powers to log trees on defined areas that in effect become their own semi-private fiefdoms.

…the provincial cabinet could grant forest companies the rights to roll over numerous volume-based forest licences into area-based Tree Farm Licences. TFLs bestow by far the most secure rights of access to publicly owned trees of any arrangement with the provincial government. The new legislation could massively expand their use, beyond the limited number now issued.

…giving what remains of our forests away is lunacy. A responsible government would delay implementing such contentious legislation and give the public time to digest the implications of such a move. Or the Opposition could signal now that should such a bill pass it would be immediately repealed upon a change in government.

Ben Parfitt, this time writing in The Tyee, comments about the secrecy surrounding new trade in carbon offsets:

In a month or so, BC Auditor General John Doyle is expected to release a report that will be highly critical of the Pacific Carbon Trust or PCT. The Auditor General’s report has been fueled, in part, by hard questions raised about the validity of the offsets.

Of course, there is ongoing political dupery and sweetheart deals associated with private power contracts and forest lands slated for development. Will Horter wrote Vancouver Island’s Great E & N Railway Land Grab for Watershed Sentinel. Note the involvement here again of BC’s Minister of Graft and Corruption:

…Rich Coleman’s decision to remove 70,000 acres of forestland from WFP’s TFLs in January of 2007 illustrates the continued erosion of a system with a scandalous history dating back over half a century. Since the BC Liberals were elected in 2001, forest ministers have selectively dismantled TFLs to create new windfalls for logging corporations friendly to their party. The latest scandal erupted with the announcement that WFP had put 6,300 acres of the former forestlands in the Sooke-Port Renfrew area up for sale. The listing of almost 5 kilometres of waterfront triggered outrage in the community.

In July, John Doyle, the recently appointed Auditor General, also condemned the deal. Using language seldom seen from a government appointee, Doyle concluded the BC government lacked “due regard for the public interest.” Doyle’s scathing report condemned the Ministry’s inadequate due diligence into WFP’s financial status, and highlighted suspicious trading patterns, unusual patterns of political donations and conflicts of interest…

The Vancouver Observer tells a story of efforts to log one of the last stands of ancient Douglas-firs on the coast. Heartwood: Forest Guardians of Cortes Island, by Daniel J. Pierce.

I wish my list were exhaustive. Unfortunately, it is not.

20 replies »

  1. I hope the legislation is ambiguous enough to reverse once these corrupt jerks are out of government. Otherwise I say put the bastards in jail if at all possible. What they have done to this province in just 12 years is unbelievable. How do they look themselves in the mirror?

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  2. Bring in the corruption police from the east, then throw all these lying, corrupt, thieves in jail. Clean up the justice system, and put them all on trial. It'll be worth the court time. Old, senile, men and women behind bars.
    This bunch has not looked after the “citizens of this province and their resources” as they are elected to do. They have only filled their pockets and those of their friends. Null and void every contract this corrupt bunch has signed in the past 12 years until a full forensic audit is done. That will be worth every tax dollar I pay, when I see these a$$holes behind bars. And the heads of the companies that played the game and rob us all – theft, behind bars as well. Or if they manage to flee off to their “tax havens” for good, freeze all their assets, personal and company, and those of their “families”.
    The time is coming for good to come to the citizens of this province.

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  3. Rich Coleman is a dirty ex-cop on the take – makes me want to wash my hands every time I hear his name. Keep his dirty dealings out in the open where the general public can really see what he's made of….we should do a pictures of him with a red line through his face and a caption of “no pizzo” and place them everywhere!

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  4. I should have prefaced the above comment with:

    re your last line: I wish my list were exhaustive. Unfortunately, it is not.

    fyi: Laila Yuile's working on one, and inviting suggestions.

    Norman, the frenzied dog could not be a more perfect analogy to the desparate actions of this rapacious lot.

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  5. I just finished listening to Bill Good's show…sheesh a half hr of pimping for the libs the caller that Bill spoke to at 8:57 am today Im sure it was the same voice that Bill allowed thro his lines on the day he spoke to Dix, that caller was down right scary, his comment was Scary and big surprise same guy phones again and says he loves attack ads
    no surprise there
    seems nw loves attack ads as well seeing as how they play them so much
    nw's idea of holding the libs feet to the fire is more like candle light and wine and soft music
    Meanwhile billions more public dollars are heading out the back door of the province, what's left to govern ? if they haven't sold off every crown asset we once owned,
    I feel ill at what is too come in the next few weeks in regards as what we can expect over the airwaves, the hatred coming from CC supporters are a new breed of mean, i just keep turning them off
    It would be refreshing to say the least if the big media here in this province STOOD FOR SOMETHING, not just a place to dump dollars for scabby adverts

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  6. Norm: It was the same Rich Coleman that gave private liquor stores a 30 million dollar “assistance” package of loot so they could compete with the provinces Liquor Distribution Branch for liquor sales. Who knows how much that 30 million has ballooned to now? These people are beyond outrageous. I agree with one of the previous posters: The NDP needs to step up and publicly state they are giving the Libs notice that anything they do between now and the election will be subject to intense scrutiny and reversed if it does not give adequate protection to the citizens of BC.

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  7. But the scavenging of the public wealth has already occurred. $52 billion for un-needed IPP power, for example. The problem is how to repair and reverse the damage done.

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  8. Read Paul Willcox' account of life in Honduras (Jan. 28/13). Seems they're only slightly ahead of Christy Clarke's road to degradation.
    Should we be concerned? Freakin right we should!!
    John's Aghast!

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  9. I understand the official opposition is studying how the needed inquiries can be conducted in public without exposing taxpayers to tens of million in lawyer fees. We have now a quite perfect system for malfeasance. Imagine if the banks had to pay the defence costs of bank robbers.

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  10. Norm:
    Your black Lab was not the only thieving carnivore back then. Myrtle Point had one as well. One summer evening in the late 50s, while we were sitting on the front porch digesting a roast beef dinner, he entered through our open back door and made off with the remains that were cooling on the counter.

    Anyway, back to the topic.
    The Ben Parfitt article should be required reading for every citizen of this great Province. It reinforces my concern that this crowd will undertake one final massive round of pillaging before the door closes on them in May. I am sending a link to everyone I know, hoping they will read it and pleading that they dog every NDP candidate for a commitment of reversal on any such legislation.

    Thank you so much for your tireless efforts to save us from ourselves.

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  11. Yes, we are all upset at the looting of this province by the BC Liberal crooks, well documented here and in other blogs such as that posted by Alex Tsakumis. All of this theft will profit the Libs supporters and eventually many of the BC Liberal MLAs, as they are appointed to corporate boards, given insider information and all the rest of that sorry litany of underhanded corruption.
    But, if anyone thinks that an NDP government will reverse these moves should they be elected, or operate in a different manner you are in for serious disappointment. The NDP has not shown that they have the guts to stand up to the corporate masters of this province. Way back when, we remember the drunkeness cconviction of Gordon Campbell. Did the NDP have the backbone to use this to show the voters what a disgrace he was and is? No, and had they done so we might have been spared such outrages as the IPPs, the giveway of the Sooke forestlands and so on.

    This new set of ads by the NDP, all positive and touchy feely are about to be swamped by the attack ads coming from Jim Shepherd, Phil Hockstein and their cohorts. Will the NDP fight back? Of course not, not with Carol James the lead person who seems to be in charge of it all.

    Yes, there will be much huffing and puffing and shaking of wattles, but in the end nothing will be done, nothing will be reversed and just a new bunch of puppets will sit in Victoria to do the bidding of the Chamber of Commerce, the Independent Contractors, the truck loggers and all the rest of that bunch of crooks.

    As the man said, ” follow the money”. Sorry, Norm. As much as I respect your work and basically agree with your sentiments, that's the way it is.

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  12. I hope you're wrong. I believe the NDP has a number of principled people in senior ranks who don't intend to merely change places with Liberals and exchange NDP friends for Liberal friends, while taxpayers continue to be screwed. There will be times though when they'll decide that moving on positively is preferred to settling old scores with the like of Hochstein, Winter, Shepard, et al.

    There might be 20 or more public inquiries that could be commissioned but they'll focus on BC Rail and BC Hydro, perhaps BC Ferries, as payback for a dozen years of fast ferry lies. The big change, and the cheapest, will be to remove the freedom from FOI enjoyed by private companies and societies owned or funded by public agencies. Adrian Dix's government could let journalists do the real work. All government has to do is open all the files, waive search and document fees and wait for the revelations that will emerge.

    Every crooked untendered sweetheart deal would be exposed.

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  13. A formal corruption commission must be established in this province, immeadiatly after the election. The new government must implement a formal review of all transactions and negotiations involving the dealings, this current government has been involved in.
    Methods of prosecution must be developed in order to fast track the process, so that further malfeasance by any serving party or government if you will, cannot hide behind the courts, while they continue to rip off the public
    The use of proceeds of crime legislation must be used liberally (pardon the pun), to prevent public resources being disposed of to friends of any government.

    Those caught or involved in any malfeasance or conspiracy to commit same involving public assets, must face prosecution, and be penalized appropriately, for their criminal behavior.

    The use of public funds to advertise political information of any kind within six months of an election.

    These people currently using any and all forms of negative advertising, should advised that the crtc regulations apply to them as well. Those ads contravening those regulations should be pulled.

    the Con game is over

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  14. Rich Coleman's gift to WFP is a case in point: undoing these deals, though plainly not in the public interest, is not going to be easy.

    WFP appears to benefit greatly by Coleman's gift, not the least of which being absolved from repaying the discounted land tax it had been enjoying while its land was kept in forest productivity. The discount, intended as incentive to prevent erosion of the forest land base, also prescribes a disincentive to convert forest land to another use–the payback of the discounted tax. Yet WFP can still plead that they were only doing what the minister said was OK. Though Coleman was shifted to another portfolio soon after the deal came to light (in the form of hundreds of subdivision applications to a totally surprised Regional District) it hardly looked like opprobrium for incompetence. Further, when the gobsmacked RD tried to ameliorate tax and servicing problems created by the out-of -the-blue fiat by passing minimum parcel size bylaws, cabinet overruled them, leaving them with a planning and servicing nightmare. The gift looked a lot like a personal favour when Timberwest wanted, but didn't get, as good for some of their own mid-Island forest lands which they announced by way of land “donation” to VIHA's proposed 3P regional hospital on the condition a larger chunk adjacent would be similarly released from forest productivity on the same terms as WFP got. The government shit-canned the whole hospital proposal, probably to avoid reawakening the still-fresh WFP deal. Still, it would be difficult to prove WFP didn't bargain in good faith for the deal, even though both it and the minister look like they knew exactly what they were doing.

    In my view, the government would absolve all forest land holders in the E&N Land Grant of the terms of the forest land tax discount—the part where it has to be paid back when the land is converted to another use. But that's small potatoes compared to long term, compulsory power purchase agreements (IPPs) which, expensive (several times what Hydro can generate itself) and untimely (only during spring snowmelt ) will eventually bankrupt the venerable public power producer. Like the WFP gift, the IPP contracts have been condemned by the AG. But in the same way, IPPs can make the case that the government said it was OK and that they would probably sue should any subsequent government rescind the money-losing contracts.

    These and many other questionable deals between BC Liberals and their insider buddies are gonna be tough to undo even though the profiteering motive and opportunities are obvious and the damage to the public weal plain.
    At the very least they need to be exposed by public inquiry.

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  15. Again, the first and easiest thing is to open nearly all files to public review. Post documents online and let the citizen journalists deconstruct these shady deals. Files that cannot be made public should be given to a strengthened Auditor General office for detailed review.

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  16. The province will move applications for natural resource projects online beginning next month, which Clark says will make the system faster and more responsive.

    Clark also announced $7 million to speed up the permitting process for water, land and mining exploration projects.

    “…to speed up…”

    This corrupt bunch just keeps giving and giving and giving don't they? But not for the good of the “citizens” of this province that's for sure.
    Election coming, and this corrupt bunch continue to sell us out and off.

    How about speed up looking after our seniors, children, and taxpayers who are going further and further in the hole to subsidize the corporate welfare of the friends of Christy and Co.?

    Hey Christy and Co., how about speed up your exit? Now that would make sense.

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  17. I agree with you Norm. The FOI act must be modified to prevent, its use as a sheild for those who seek to hide details of potentially corrupt or criminal acts. Furthermore, all dealings of this current government, must be reviewed by the incoming administration, in order to determine whether they are in the public, albeit the taxpayers interest. This type of malfeasance is found in third world countries, and at least up to now, not in Canada.

    What has changed? Time we all got involved in bringing this nonsense, to an end. Its our province and country. This bunch of corrupt politicians, are the poster crowd for what's wrong in this province.
    Their time in office is done, but they still have much to answer for, in the courts and to the taxpayer.

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