Journalism

Public wealth, private benefit

People who are not profiting – or expecting to profit – from corruption in British Columbia’s political arena, should understand. We all pay. We pay dearly and inescapably.

Tens of billions of dollars the Clark gang is gifting to private power producers and billions more paid and payable to foreign-owned gas producers might have provided for an effective court system, better public education, healthcare, small business support and other citizen priorities.

However, using public wealth to benefit the public runs contrary to the Liberal canon. While small and medium-sized enterprises are the major producers of jobs and economic activity, multinational resource companies are the major producers of political contributions.

And, having war chests stuffed with private treasure is an important part of any Liberal election campaign, even one that’s already benefiting from millions of tax dollars buying partisan government advertising.

Political duplicity and dishonesty is barely noticed by corporate media’s denizens of BC’s Legislative Press Gallery. Those folks are too busy searching for comforting perquisites, jobs for family or, in more than a few cases, entirely new careers. But, the Liberal miasma was noted by journalists at a newspaper that is indisputably among the world’s best.

wild-west

New York Times, January 2017:

VANCOUVER, British Columbia — As the premier of British Columbia, Christy Clark is on the public payroll, pulling down a salary of 195,000 Canadian dollars in taxpayer money. But if that were not enough, she also gets an annual stipend of up to 50,000 Canadian dollars — nearly $40,000 — from her party, financed by political contributions.

Personal enrichment from the handouts of wealthy donors, some of whom have paid tens of thousands of dollars to meet with her at private party fund-raisers? No conflict of interest here, according to a pair of rulings last year by the province’s conflict-of-interest commissioner — whose son works for Ms. Clark…

The relationship between Premier Clark and the province’s natural gas producers provides the best example of present Liberal order. Prior to his departure in 2011, Premier Gordon Campbell was pressured to grant relief to gas producers who had spent aggressively from 2007 through 2010 for gas exploration rights. Campbell didn’t bow to pressure so the industry sponsored Christy Clark, with long time gas executive Gwyn Morgan installed as her mentor. The benefit to gas producers of having friendly faces at the cabinet table is best revealed by this chart.

24-months-of-gas-rights

(Note: Gas rights sales in 2016 produced for the public $15 million, one-half of one percent of revenues in 2008 ($3 billion), even though the industry is today measurably larger. All numbers from government’s monthly reports of Crown Petroleum and Natural Gas Rights Public Tender, adjusted to 2016 dollars using Bank of Canada estimates.)


David P. Ball provided a follow-up piece for Metro quoting New York Times writer Dan Levin: Conflict of great interest: New York Times reporter stands by story on B.C. ‘Kafkaesque’ political donations.

Excerpts:

…I lived in China for seven-and-a-half years; in China or Russia this would just be called ‘corruption’ or ‘nepotism.’ But here, it’s just ‘legal.’ The idea that a Conflict of Interest Commissioner who’s never found anybody in violation of conflict of interest (rules) in all his many years, whose son works in the government he’s meant to rule on — it seems like a Kafkaesque dystopian nightmare of shady politics and conflict of interest…

I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m not Canadian, I’m not voting, I don’t live here, I don’t care. I just see this as a basic democracy issue…

There was no shoddy reporting. It was literally just based on facts … These ministers, deputy ministers and other officials in the government who are saying the story is ‘laughable’ and this isn’t an issue — they’re profiting from a system that would be seen as completely corrupt elsewhere in Canada.
I don’t want to be partisan here. The facts speak for themselves. I’m just laying the facts out. The only thing that’s ‘laughable’ is making jokes about this, because it’s really not funny.

[on Paul Fraser] …we’re talking about a walking, talking conflict of interest — who is the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. People’s heads explode seeing all these details put together…

16 replies »

  1. Younger readers might not be aware that, in 1958, Robert Summers, a minister of the B.C. government, was convicted of receiving improper financial benefits from the conduct of his office. In addition to a rug worth about $600, he got $6,500 in value. The courts sentenced Summers to five years in jail where he learned a new trade as a piano tuner.

    It is doubtful that Clark, Coleman or any Liberals will leave office with anything other than handsome pensions and seats in the board rooms of friendly corporations.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The value of Robert Sommers’ haul, in today’s dollars, was about $60,000. It is certain though that, while he was the person punished, he did not act alone. In addition, the people funding the bribery made millions through forest licenses that had huge value before a single tree was felled. So, as usual, the only real losers were the people of British Columbia.

      Here’s a 2013 article at The Tyee: The ‘Honest Bob’ Who Was Jailed for Bribery

      Liked by 2 people

      • Here is an interesting addition to that incident.

        This came out in conversation with a well-known and long-time resident of Salt Spring last year. It would not be prudent to reveal the identity….

        There is a place on North End Rd. Salt Spring Island called Cedar Beach Resort. Long before it became the CBR it was a group of privately owned properties.

        At the very same time of the Sommers incident the owner of the properties on SSI gave WAC Bennett one of the lakefront properties “because he was doing such a good job”

        This was never reported and no questions were asked.

        Like

  2. There seems to be a trend building in politics that helped Trump get elected.
    Be vague, nasty, lie and make the voters angry. Honesty, integrity and class no longer wins elections.
    BC residents are becoming so disenchanted that they won’t vote. That could be the only way the BC Liberals will win the next election.

    BC politicians once gave the perception of truth and honesty. Now, we have half truths, false news and old news that is rewritten.

    Examples of False News:

    More money will be spent on Education.
    BC has balanced budget.
    $100 million in Prosperity Fund
    Site C Dam is necessary for future electricity needs.
    Oil pipelines are good for the economy, creates jobs and will pay for future health care. Lowest taxes, need to hire foreign labour, fiscal management.

    I’m pleased to see that the New York Times newspaper has shown Christy Clark as she really is. She can be bought.

    So can the Print media that no longer holds the BC Liberals to account.

    Bottom line: If you want paid advertising or generous direct award contracts, you have to be friends with Christy Clark.
    Stephen Harper might offer some free advice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s very disheartening to see the rot and corruption in today’s Provincial govt. Their brazen arrogance is so obvious and the general public needs to feel it and express their outrage.

    I love to see a mini riot of protesters in Christy Clark’s face bring back 60s feeling at least the younger generation would seem alive .

  4. Left this over at RossK’s place:
    The exposé would seem to have little effect because, let’s face it, the principal actors in this tragedy have no shame. Opprobrium without retribution constitutes self-flagellation for the victims.

    Like

  5. This is the age of the great grift, where politicians are nothing more than mere puppets to big corporations and the citizens are seen as rubes, always ready to have their pockets picked.

    Like

  6. I wonder if Dan Levin knows about the $56 billion IPP – BC Hydro scam.

    Or the multi $million carbon offset scam.

    Or the BC Rail scam, or BC Ferries etc……..

    Like

    • I understand the New York Times knows much more than the issues mentioned in their article. They spent a fair bit of time researching material at non-corporate news sites including this one.

      Sadly, “personal enrichment from the handouts of wealthy donors” is not uncommon in modern states of the world and it’s a way of life in U.S. governments. What the New York Times found unusual in British Columbia was the conduct of politics without pretense of honesty or apparent twinges of conscience. More than anything though, what surprises is the flagrant mainstream media complicity. The fourth estate in B.C. merged with the second.

      The shameless statements of Conflict of Interest Commissioner Paul Fraser provide but one example of how Liberals have no concerns or worries about “opprobrium et scandalum.”

      Liked by 1 person

    • It seems a shame that we have to import our own resources from places like China and Trumpland, but when we have to import our own news from out of town it makes you wonder. What would it cost to import Dan Levin? We could likely keep him busy for a long while.

      Like

  7. It is not difficult to be on topic, but its bloody difficult to be civil! I’ve developed a sleep disorder that’s been attributed to stress emanating from Liberal activities over which I have no control. except voting in May!

    Like

  8. welcome to B.C. the most corrupt Province in Canada and most likely the most corrupt province/state in North America. that’s a lot of competition, because there is Alabama and Mississippi.

    The real problem here is the media doesn’t report this stuff and the NDP hasn’t brought much of this to the public’s attention either.

    The Americans have Turnip, We’ve got the photo op queen.

    Like

  9. file this under:
    Privatize profits & Socialize costs

    Underfunding for mine cleanups rises to more than $1.27 billion
    – by Gordon Hoekstra, Vancouver Sun
    http://vancouversun.com/business/local-business/underfunding-for-mine-cleanups-rises-to-more-than-1-27-billion

    The B.C. auditor general’s office declined to comment on the increase in the underfunded liability.

    “The auditor general doesn’t comment beyond what’s published in her reports,” spokeswoman Sara Van Steinburg said in an email.

    Like

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