Accountability

Actions inconsistent with innocence

Written in April 2010, this has been one of the most popular reads on In-Sights. It deals with many issues that remain in play long after.  Did Premier Gordon Campbell restore any faith by his October 27, 2010 speech? Not with anyone who has been paying attention. (A few minor changes are made to the original article.)


During its years in power, BC Liberals remade British Columbia. While the provincial economy grew, the fortunes of ordinary people declined, for the first extended period ever. Beneficiaries of change had demanded redistribution of wealth to the disadvantage of all but a few. The end result was not incidental or accidental.

For success, the Liberals needed heroes and villains. That required a massive long-term campaign, involving information and disinformation. It was organized more easily than most citizens would expect and paid for by the public purse.

Corporate media cooperated by carrying messages. With ownership by sympathetic plutocrats, these dependable friends gained from taxpayer paid advertising campaigns. Liberals brought together major elements of the information enterprise by centralization of government communications. With considerable funding, hundreds of servants loyal to the Party shaped and filtered messages.

Think tank Fraser Institute, with financing from Canada’s wealthiest – particularly  investors in the energy and private medicine sectors – spends over a million dollars a month on its campaign against the public sector. Neoliberals aiming to defund government, resource companies that abhor royalties and regulations, investors lobbying for privatized healthcare and large tax avoiders develop Fraser Institute philosophies.

villainMessage making began even before the 2001 election. Creating villains was the first act. A few old guard NDP opponents, Stupich and Williams for example, come to mind as easy targets. Destroying Harcourt and Clark took longer because they were essentially good people, as lives after politics demonstrated. Glen Clark flourished as a senior executive with the Jim Pattison Group and people do not survive in that empire if they are dull or corrupt. Truth did not stop media from portraying Clark as a cheat because a friend helped him make home improvements.

A Liberal friendly RCMP officer even arranged for Global TV news cameras to be present for a search of Premier Clark’s east Vancouver home. It may be significant that the officer in charge of the investigation once said, “Smear campaigns are our specialty” and Campbell had invited him to stand as a Liberal candidate and talked of the possibility of him joining Cabinet.

Media did not show the man that his neighbors knew, the father of a young family who stood easily in a crowd of fellow parents watching kids play minor hockey. Ultimately, a Supreme Court Judge tossed the politically motivated charges but Glen Clark’s political career was over.

Labor unions were equally important targets. British Columbia prosperity had been based on its good union wage economy. Communities, including Powell River where I did high school, lived happily, largely in middle class egalitarianism. We joked that every house seemed to have two boats in the driveway.

For decades, provincially controlled resource companies and unions survived despite times of creative tension. The working classes were empowered, unlike the ever earlier times when company towns exercised central control of jobs, housing, merchandising and every other life element. Workers could be summarily discharged and run out of town – and they were – for offending a manager or being suspected of leftist sympathy.

Liberals targeted education, healthcare, roads and ferry services – main enterprises of government – for intensive mistreatment. Part of the strategy was to attack the status of employees, accuse them of radicalism, inefficiency and greed. The object of human resource policy was not good labour relations; it was to create divides and disruptions. Old contracts were revoked by legislation, new ones imposed and reimposed after courts declared the first moves unconstitutional. Privatization was the aim, even if the incoming contractors were disreputable dodgers headquartered in havens far removed from regulators and tax authorities.

Liberal political operatives spread through the public service, replacing professional managers with agents of the Politburo. Our fine paramedic service has been, and still is, subject to intensive disrespect only because it is a public service. Loyal soldier Lee Doney was there to ensure that disruption went according to plan.

Aluminum ferries were taken out of service to shame the previous NDP administration. Ships that could have been made serviceable were given to Liberal supporters for even less than scrap value. After keeping them on public display in the Washington Group’s North Vancouver harbor, the company sold the ships for service to the UAE, for an undisclosed price with a gain known to be substantial. Of course, the public that paid to build these ships gets no disposal detail.

A long history of inexpensive clean power was targeted for destruction. Premier WAC Bennett said that low cost power would be a foundation for job development as long as it was used at home, not exported south to run factories in the USA. Gordon Campbell turned that policy on its head. Now, BC Hydro is obliged to purchase high cost interruptible power so they can dump it in the export market at one third of its cost.

BC still gains from low cost “heritage” generation sites but imagine if private companies had built the Peace and Columbia River dams in the sixties. The utility charges would quadruple today’s electricity prices.

Even worse, BC Hydro must pay prices to private producers that are unrelated to market conditions and guarantee risk-free inflation protected profits to the sellers for decades to come. Even if power is not needed, BC Hydro must pay private producers, even when no power is delivered. The scheme is even better for privates than the earlier intention, which was privatization. Under the system that went forward, all  of the risks are carried by taxpayers but profits flow to the independent operators. This is planned fraud, shielded from public view by government imposed secrecy. The beneficiaries are common to other frauds involving the public purse.

Commuters in the working class suburbs of Pitt Meadows and Langley pay tolls to cross the Fraser River while luxury SUVs head for the ski slopes of Whistler on the $1.2 billion untolled highway. By the way, if you want evidence that Postmedia newspapers are message carriers for the Liberal government, examine this puffery in the Vancouver Sun. (Writer’s note: Laila Yuile discovered that taxpayers are paying shadow tolls to to the Sea to Sky Highway private operator (S2S Transportation Group) for all vehicles driving the roadway.)

 

One attitude of citizens that BC Liberal governance has reinforced beyond all reasonable levels is distrust. It is the confident expectation that another individual’s motives, intentions and behaviors are sinister and harmful to one’s own interests. Regular readers know that I have written about how one hand cleans another when plutocrats do the washing.

We have accumulated so much indirect and circumstantial evidence of corruption that, despite frenetic efforts of Liberal defenders, a reasonable person can draw only one conclusion. The facts are not merely consistent with guilt but inconsistent with innocence.

22 replies »

  1. Norm, this is the most eloquent summary of what has been going on around these parts leading upto and since the coup d'etat against justice that has been perpetrated on the citizens of BC that I have run across in a long, long time, if not ever. I will be posting a post about this post over at the House, insisting, well strongly recommending, that folks come on over and read this in its entirity.

    thank you

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  2. Thanks for that comment. The title conveys a message that we have to carry to others, everywhere. Campbell is merely a tool for this province; there are others like him in every jurisdiction. This is not a conspiracy; it is the outcome of the human instinct to act in self interest. The richest and powerful 1% can afford to buy tools to act on their behalf. The rest of us are left shouting into the wind, but we have numbers on our side.

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  3. Great analysis. As we watch how cozy we have become with highly subsid…err….incentived natural gas producers and wind farmers, who show no regard for BC jobs after they squeeze great deals out of the government, we need to take back control of at least who gets the jobs. The outflow of income taxes in the Northeast has never been higher and will be the death knell of many BC based businesses.

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  4. The sad part is that ordinary citizens pay the cost of their own oppression. It is not Campbell and friends paying for PAB. Taxpayers pay for that propaganda arm.

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  5. cfvua – You get it. Even in the midst of a budget breakdown, the Liberals decreased royalties and increased tax credits, allegedly to increase exploration activity. In fact the reductions were to make the already identified gas more profitable as it was produced.

    If you have been following the ProPublica series (many linked here at Northern Insights) on modern gas drilling and fracking, you know that citizens of the northeast will be left with something dangerous to life. When the gas has been sucked dry, grounds will be poisoned by unknown toxic chemicals, pumped into the ground under pressure to cause the release of natural gas.

    Despite new dangerous production methods, self-regulation is fine with Liberals. Don't the citizens of the northeast realize the dangers? Sure, short term jobs are nice but what happens to your children and grandchildren when the groundwater is toxic?

    I don't advocate or accept bombs hidden in the night as a way of protest. It is our words that should be explosive as we spread them around the province.

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  6. Well done Norm – eloquently well written.

    I think the general public at large, are only just starting to realize the harm the the Campbell regime is doing to British Columbiia. Most people are too busy earning a living to pay too much attention to what is happening in the political circus the Victoria has become – so you writing is most desperately needed.

    It is indeed a sad time for British Columbia – which is saddled with a premier that is dishonest, a drunk (no evidence yet to the contrary), lacks integrity, cannot be trusted and, it seems, has little concern for what is in the best interests for british Columbia. This poor excuse for a man is interested in only what is good for Gordon Campbell and his party stooges and gives nary a thought ofr the province.

    It is interesting that this premier recently made a great effort to win over the First Nations people with cash settlements and new treaties, only later to be accused of trying to influence decisions on construction projects etc. Plans for Alberta Tar Sands oil to be shipped out of Prince Rupert, through a pipeline to be built on First Nations land, shipped in oil tankers using inland waterways – First Nation waterways. Now ROR projects that intrude into Coastal Protective Forest areas (Spirit Bear territory and world heritage site) and ruin wild salmon spawning grounds – where is the DFO and DOE ???

    Anything that can be done to hasten the demise of Herr Campbell will go a long way to helping British Columbia, to at least, try to recover from this corporate onslaught.

    Thanks for your writing – please keep doing it.

    workforfun

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  7. Thanks all for the comments here. Remember though that blogs work a bit like chain letters. I can write opinions here where the weekly audience is a few thousands, in good weeks. Global TV News can ignore stories or present false reports about how wonderful private healthcare would be and their weekly cumulative audience is over a million

    The disinformation campaign is so loud that we can only compete if readers help share the messages. Send the links to blogs you rate well to everyone in your contact list. I don't mean this site in particular, link to anything that you believe your acquaintance should read.

    If those links are passed around in a chain, the words will be spread like water through a broken dam.

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  8. Norman, we do spread the word. It is not always reflected in your numbers here, because alot of these subjects are discussed over morning coffee with people who don't have time to read.

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  9. Norman:

    I'm going to circulate this on a lively ListServ I belong to … many thanks for wrapping the big topic up this way.

    Here's a thought. A commenter at my place provided advance notice of celebrations in Vancouver on Friday & Saturday — April 23 & 24 — of the 100th anniversary of British Columbia's Court of Appeal. Chief Justice Beverly McLaughlin is the keynote speaker. Lots of focus on The Law … the Judiciary … and if you ask me … on whether Justice is Being Seen To Be Done in B.C. A few more details at my place.

    There's a call for sidewalk pickets with placards … a tactic which always catches the attention of newsmen.

    God knows, we must do something that's visible … positive … and compelling enough to force Canada's judges to ask themselves if things are actually out of control in BC.

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  10. Here's that announcement:

    To all who are interested in the BC judicial system.

    On April 23 and 24, 2010 in Vancouver, the legal establishment will gather to celebrate the:

    100th ANNIVERSARY OF THE
    BRITISH COLUMBIA COURT OF APPEAL
    JUDGES’ AND LAWYERS’ BCCA CENTENARY
    CONFERENCE PROGRAM

    Venue: MORRIS J. WOSK CENTRE FOR DIALOGUE

    I suggest that as many of us who can, attend. And for others who may not be able to afford or be allowed, to attend, that they organize an “information session” outside with placards displaying key concerns regarding BC's justice system.

    The conference’s CENTENARY GALA DINNER will be held Friday, April 23, 2010 from 6 pm to 10 pm at The Westin Bayshore. It's sold out because the Keynote Speaker is Chief Justice of the Canadian Supreme Court, Beverley McLachlin. Chief Justice McLachlin may be very interested in the issues that concerned citizens have about BC's justice system. I envision “information placards” surrounding the transparent walls of The Bayshore. How illuminating it would be!

    Some of the topics in the regular conference include:
    * Effect of Disruptive Technologies and Social Developments on the Legal System
    * Evolving Challenges for Courts in Democracies
    * Confidence in the Justice System in British Columbia
    * Media and Public Perceptions of the Judiciary

    One of the conference speakers is Prof. Judith Resnick. If that's Judy Resnick, then we might see some interesting sparks fly!

    This might be one fine opportunity, and the timing couldn't be better.

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  11. “Even worse, BC Hydro intends to allow private producers to sell their own non-firm-power as firm-power…”

    Norman, I don't quite get what you're saying in this paragraph.

    Can you clarify?

    Thanks

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  12. Thank you Norman for this articulate and telling expose of Gordon Campbell's Machiavellian plot to seize government for the enrichment of a few plutocrat supporters. More people should have taken notice when Gordon Wilson exclaimed that the B.C. Liberal Party was being hijacked by a “pernicious cabal of malcontents.”

    What Campbell fails to realise is that Machiavelli wrote “Il Principe” as a satire on tyrannical political leadership; anyone foolish enough to follow the directions in this political handbook would eventually face political disaster. (Let us hope Campbell's disaster arrives sooner rather than later). We can hardly afford even a few more years of financial mismanagement and political corruption by the renowned developer of the Georgian Court Hotel.

    As a matter of interest, Madame Justice Elizabeth Bennett was the B.C. Supreme Court judge who acquitted Premier Glen Clark in the ill-founded breach-of-trust case. Is it mere coincidence that the same Madame Justice Bennett was given an untimely promotion to the B.C. Court of Appeal just as the “BC Railgate”/Basi Virk caper was heading to trial? Talk about political manipulation of the judiciary. (This matter alone would provide days of discussions at the upcoming justice conference – messing with the independence of the judiciary, destroying potential evidence [government documents and e-mails related to the outrageous “999 year lease” of BC Rail to CN] etc…..).

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  13. The message in the paragraph about firm and non-firm power may be garbled, but it's not a simple scheme.

    If private company X generates power by wind or river flow, the amount of electricity made is dependent on the wind blowing or the water flowing. Given uncertainty, the company cannot guarantee to a potential customer that its power is non-interruptible. That electricity therefore has lesser value to the customer who wants power whenever needed.

    If, instead, BC Hydro is required to lend any generation shortfall that private company X encounters due to adverse conditions, X will never lack for power. It could therefore commit uninterrupted electricity to its customer and, with that attribute, receive a much higher price in the sales contract.

    During particular seasons, the wind or river generated power will be in surplus (winter storms or spring melt) and Company X can deliver that excess to BC Hydro to replace the power borrowed previously.

    In the first stage of this scam, BC Hydro was being required to buy all private power produced at fixed high prices. BCH would be left to sell for whatever the market produced. Then the artists realized that they could earn more doing the trading themselves as long as they had a solution to shortages and an outlet for surplus power. For that reason, many experienced traders (10 as of February) left Powerex, BC Hydro's marketing subsidiary, and are establishing a new energy trading office in Vancouver for Morgan Stanley of New York.

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  14. Thanks.

    But my understanding was that all IPP power is being sold only to BC Hydro. Which then hopes to export any surplus for a profit.

    I was not aware that IPPs were planning to export without going through BC Hydro, if that's what you are suggesting.

    Are you saying that IPPs in BC are planning to purchase BC Hydro firming capability, in order to make their power more profitable for export outside of BCH?

    It's interesting that BC Hydro is announcing additions to the Mica dam in the near future, partly to back up variable IPP power:

    http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Mica+biggest+generator/2786918/story.html

    cheers

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  15. Information sent me says this arrangement is in the works now but, of course, no public announcement has been made. In the long run, expecting private power generation to grow sufficiently, private export marketing is preferred by Campbell's people. This has been very profitable for BC Hydro over many years and those profits intrigue the new players. As Liberals are doing elsewhere, they prefer to privatize profit opportunities.

    The fact that Powerex already has lost numerous traders to the private sector is a confirmed factor that supports this scenario. The experienced traders earned handsomely with Powerex and you can bet they didn't jump from a comfortable spot into the midst of uncertainty.

    Liberals are being pressured to act because their backers see an end in site for this administration. However, they may need to moderate movement on remaining plans because of poor public support for the Liberals and a ticking clock to the next election.

    While the election is theoretically three years away, the politicians who are staying need time to prepare with Campbell no longer at the helm. That means there is only two years left of the current gravy train, less if backbenchers defect.

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  16. It saddens my heart to think of the devastation wrought upon this province by Gordon Campbell . Run-of-the-river projects, fish farms, sell off of BC Hydro and BC Rail. $6 million payout of legal bill for Basi/Virk yet cut backs in legal aid for the poor.
    BC has highest rate of child poverty in Canada – yet he boasts about lowering tax rate another by 15%. Meaningless drivel for the low-income wage earner; but a substantial increase for high-income earners (at the expense of all taxpayers – it's our money he's rebating).

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  17. Shortly after the Liberals were first elected, a group of senior managers received an introductory talk by Premier Campbell. Along with the fluff was a clear statement that you were either politically with the Liberals or you would be shown the door.

    Several months later it became clear that my ambitions of an ADM position were dead – why? Because as part of a group that concluded there was no business case to privatize IT services, we were doomed. Shortly after I took early retirement the figures became clear – that privatization had actually ended up costing more and provided fewer services.

    If only I had made the pact with the devil(s)!

    Like

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