Misinformation, disinformation, contempt for truth

In-Sights reader Hugh asked my opinion of a Tom Fletcher article. In it, the former head of the Legislative Press Gallery belittles the analyst who correctly estimated that  consumer losses from BC Hydro’s private power acquisitions are costing billions of dollars.

The Liberal ally and right-wing advocate complains BC’s NDP Government is moving away from previous energy policies. He said the decision to return part of the money Liberals had extracted from BC Hydro was political interference, aimed at moderating rate increases. Of course, he wasn’t one who complained about the utility’s past practice of transferring borrowed money to the province as “dividends.”

Fletcher states independent power producers (IPPs) are associated with a cleaner, greener tomorrow. He didn’t say the wallets of ratepayers are being cleaned and private power companies are the ones getting the green.

Ken Davidson, author of ZAPPED, is described by Fletcher as a “former NDP finance executive.” In fact, Davidson was a respected official of the Finance Ministry, He was at one time director of program evaluation and later, director of the Treasury Board. Staff of that body includes more than a dozen apolitical financial analysts. Davidson was one of those.

No doubt Fletcher would have been happier if a reliable KPMG partner like Gary Webster had written the report.

Fletcher repeats words of private power lobbyists, stating the Davidson report uses inaccurate market pricing. Yet, the Northwest Power and Conservation Council supports Davidson. It follows and forecasts annual Mid-Columbia electric power prices. NPCC calculates current wholesale rates are about one-third of the average price BC Hydro now pays IPPs. The Council expects Mid-C prices in 2035 will be about half of the average unit value BC’s private power producers receive in 2019.

This was reader Hugh’s comment to me about Fletcher’s article in Black Press:

I find this reporter quite slanted, and proud to be so. I think 1/2 of his article is slanted dialogue meant to annoy people.

It’s too hard for him to just be a reporter educating people.

What do you say to his retort that the report used only spot prices on power/costs of the IPP’s , amongst other claims…

My response:

If he were a bit hungry, Tom Fletcher seems the kind of person who might snatch food from a starving child.

Might makes right, of course.

Thinking typical, in my opinion, of far-right clowns who believe there should be no rules governing the economy and that individuals are entitled to keep any material wealth they accumulate, regardless of the means employed.

Right-wing libertarians generally believe there is no public interest and natural resources should not belong to citizens collectively. Only individuals and unregulated markets matter and owners’ rights to property of all sorts should be untrammelled.

If you are poor or disabled, that is your bad luck and you deserved it.

Ayn Rand wrote that happiness was the moral purpose of life; that you owed almost no duty to any other. The Russian/American author is a hero to many callous libertarians.

Fletcher proudly claims he is a libertarian and he seems to admire anyone who converts public assets to private. Meanwhile, he’s happy to work from the Press Gallery office and eat in the Legislative dining room, both subsidized by taxpayers. Afterall, happiness and comfort is the purpose of life.

As to market prices, Fletcher will obfuscate to protect those he favours but price information published by the US Energy Information Administration confirms, as Davidson reported, that BC has been paying IPPs far more than market value.

In my view the ZAPPED report is conservative in estimating losses to citizens of BC. 

Categories: Journalism

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13 replies »

  1. “If one doesn’t read a newspaper, he is uninformed. If one does read a newspaper, he is misinformed. Mark Twain. Maybe Tom Fletcher should be given The Mark Twain Misinformation Award?

    Liked by 2 people

  2. ” the Tom Fletcher article. In it, the former head of the Legislative Press Gallery belittles…..”


    My, my how unusual.
    A Legislative “reporter” denigrating anyone critical of the govt. with verifiable facts the MSM were either too lazy or too intimidated to publish.

    Be still my beating heart.

    Not to worry folks.
    If the plummeting viewership and subscription rates are any indication….
    Our grandchildren will be asking,
    “What was the Main Stream Media?”
    As you smile while replacing a yellowed Vancouver Sun broadsheet page lining the bottom of a birdcage with The Province page from your recycling stack in the garage……

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Tom Fletcher is right up there with Keith Baldrey for BC Liberal propaganda writers. To put it another way… if either Campbell Clark or Wilkinson came to a sudden stop… Tom and Keith would have smashed noses incapable of surgical repair.


  4. Tom Fletcher is the prime reason I no longer bother reading any Black Press paper Between his rabid support for the BCLiberal party and contempt for any opinion even if from internationally respected scientists is different than his own, I decided he and the rest of Black Press were not interested in a free and open presentation of the facts

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This quote is from a Vancouver Sun article dated Aug. 20, 2011:

    “(Former) BC Hydro president Dave Cobb has told his staff that he expects Victoria to soon abandon its current energy self-sufficiency policy, a move that would free Hydro from buying hundreds of millions of dollars worth of electricity that it doesn’t need from independent power producers.”

    This article has been removed from the internet but I have the hard copy.

    Dave Cobb’s departure from BC Hydro was announced 3 months later on Oct. 19, 2011. He was head of BC Hydro for 16 months.


  6. Norm says of Fletcher:

    “The Liberal ally and right-wing advocate complains BC’s NDP Government is moving away from previous energy policies.”

    But former BC Liberal Energy Minister Bennett says of the NDP government:

    “I don’t think that they’ve made enormous changes to the direction the ministry already had,” he said. “I’m actually impressed with the fact that there is obviously a commitment in the premier’s office that obviously flows into the minister’s office and the ministry generally that supports natural resource development both on the mining side and on the energy side. I was pleasantly surprised, I guess.”

    It’s ironic that the government is adopting policies it criticized while in Opposition, but it would be much worse if they undid the former government’s work, Bennett said. “There are very good people in that ministry and they’ve obviously been listened to.”

    Guess Fletch didn’t get the memo.


    • The changes are subtle. Too subtle in my opinion

      But, the Horgan Government has changed seven of ten on the board of directors. Each of the new appointees appear to be reasonably qualified but I think the board makeup still fars fall short of desirable. As at other public agencies, the people selected are from a pool of millionaires and multi-millionaires. Business operations are well represented by people who understand what large enterprises need and want.

      Who represents the low-income ratepayers struggling to keep the lights burning? No one at BC Hydro.

      Who represent small business operators? No one at BC Hydro.

      What kind of representation of first Nations on the Board? I think none.

      Who represents citizens of British Columbia’s small town and rural areas? None, since all Directors appear to live in Metro Vancouver.

      While Irene Lanzinger, former President of the BC Federation of Labour, is now on the board, I think one director with a thorough knowledge of trade unions is inadequate. Excellent companies operate with attention to good labour relations. Those can be helped by including workers’ representatives as directors.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What would it cost for the government to pay the penalties for breaking all of the IPP contracts? Would it be less than what we as ratepayers will be forced to pay in order to get BC Hydro back in line?


    • We don’t know what cancellation penalties would result from cancellation. Someone who worked at BC Hydro told me she thought the contracts were made so that, if IPPs failed to meet their rather easy targets of power delivery, they would be given significant opportunity to correct defects. In practice, the contracts could only be broken by paying out all capital costs and present value of projected profits that would be earned during the entire term.

      Since the costs were largely fixed at time of installation and prices paid by BC Hydro escalate annually, the pain of buyouts would be prohibitive.

      More or less unbreakable contracts made it very easy for initial promoters to cash out large profits. That what attracted Liberal insiders. They didn’t expect to profit from long term operations. A quick flip and healthy capital gains were the objective. It was a driving force in the private power policy.


  8. To bad it can’t be proven that these were favours done for these corporations by el gordo. Then it might be argued it was criminal activity. IF nothing else, if that is the best the B.C. LieberCons can do when it comes to doing business, they all ought to resign in disgrace. The idea has always been buy low and sell high if you’re going to make a profit in business. Of course in this case, it was for the benefit of a very few and their companies are being paid way too much. Just would be ever so nice to find some or some one where the true could be put out there.
    In my opinion, they ought to simply break the contracts, change in government, good buy. Its not in the best interests of the government or tax payers of the province. Don’t like it, see you in court. In the end, it may be cheaper, given the length of those contracts.


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