Privatizing public wealth

In July 2018, newly installed Premier Doug Ford announced that noted ex-con and former BC Premier Gordon Campbell would lead an “independent” inquiry into Ontario’s past spending and accounting practices.

Six weeks later, the commission delivered a short report that was obviously not written or much influenced by Gordon Campbell. It recommended approaches that Campbell was loath to implement when he presided at his own cabinet table.

For example, the commission expressed concern that government-backed debt resulted in intergenerational inequity by imposing costs on future generations.

Yet, in British Columbia, Campbell presided over unprecedented growth in direct public debt and quasi-debt that falls on future citizens.

For example, in its first 40 years, during a time of continuously growing demand, BC Hydro accumulated $17 billion worth of obligations, all backed by assets of the publicly owned utility that will remain operational for decades.

In Campbell’s tenure as Premier, 2001 to 2011, a time when demand growth disappeared, BC Hydro’s obligations passed $61 billion, a sum that rose to $85 billion by the time BC Liberals were ousted from office in 2017. Of that, BC Hydro will pay about $60 billion to independent power producers for electricity priced around 3x market value and the utility will gain zero equity in the generating assets created to deliver unneeded power.

Truly, Gordon Campbell had extraordinary expertise in imposing costs on future generations.

The Ontario Commission noted “a deterioration in the relationship between the government and the Auditor General over time.” Campbell waged war against four different AGs, the last being John Doyle who raised serious concerns about financial management, including that by management staff at the Legislature. Rather than eliminating faults, Liberals preferred to get rid of Doyle.

Another of the Commission’s findings was this:

One-time revenues or ongoing losses of income streams from the sale of assets like Hydro One impact the reported deficit and can compromise the usefulness of deficit figures as critical indicators of trends in the Province’s fiscal health.

Again, this pointed at an obfuscation technique that BC Liberal embraced under Campbell and his chosen successor. These politicians required crown corporations to use borrowed money to pay “dividends” to the province, thereby obscuring the true state of BC’s fiscal heath.

Under BC Liberals, sales of public assets were used to reduce deficits and to reward the party’s most generous donors. Last year Auditor General Carol Bellringer noted that 14 parcels of public land on Burke Mountain were sold for $45 million below appraised value to Wesbild, a company associated with major Liberal contributor Hassan Khosrowshahi.

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Categories: Campbell.Gordon

20 replies »

  1. My definition of a born politician? Anyone running for office bereft of a basic conscience. How can you tell? Consummate liars who retain their beaming smile and glad handing abilities..


  2. Great Blog piece on Gordon Campbell who is more than just an “ex-con”.
    He should be investigated, charged and put on trial…
    He could share a jail cell with President Park of South Korea who was jailed for taking bribes..
    Thanks again for your great reporting Norm..
    Much appreciated.


  3. .. that Campbell guy Doug Ford annointed .. his salary or commission is how much ? This the same gutless guy sold out BC Environmental Oversight to Stephen Harper’s federal Conservative Party ? Something about reducing red tape, habitat & species .. fitted well with Harper trashing inland & coastal marine protection.. That same Campbell went to London.. to see the Queen.. sweet job as Ensign or Royal Liaison.. or Potentate.. later dumped by Trudeau.. He glad handed BC to Christy Clark.. & she kept the big grift glowing.. Anybody truly document Rich Coleman through those decades ? Deserves a submerged monument in Lake Christy Clark Memorial Dam.. Great Moments in Nation Building.. likely to be overshadowed by virginal (saving it for th right cowgirl) Jason Kenney.. reknowned Environmental Guru.. Surgical Protocol PhD .. expert level Provincial Equalization laws designer.. He gonna seperate Alberta.. from The First Nations.. and the Rocky Mountains shall split in two like he is Moses parting the Red Sea.. though this edict.. will split Lake Louise down the middle.. Sentinel Pass, Larch Valley too.. and all Alberta currency accordingly..

    BC can scalp Alberta.. yet Alberta (Kenney) believes Alberta can buy off BC – if only the price of diluted bitumin .. well, uh.. ‘soared’.. like a dodo drone. Fully 96% or more of Canada’s TOTAL Energy Reserves are not ‘oil’ but granular bitumen.. & mainly must be steamed now – not scraped.. from the Tar Sands deposits.. Yes yes.. LNG is just the solution.. even ‘more ethical’ to louts like Ezra, Kenney & Scheer.. ho hum.. ‘Pollution Is Ethical Nation Building’ fertilizer.. ‘Growing The Economy’ evermore.. evermore.. quoth the Raven.. nevermore

    The Great Divide Jason Kenney full flip morman 660y skate toegrab..


  4. Just asking? Is there any update on the investigations of sexual assault allegations by our beloved ex-Premier while stationed in London? Also doesn’t Campbell have another cushy job investigating one of those mega-hydro dam’s cost’s. When that report comes out then somebody should ask if there’s a parallel with Site-C.


  5. It never ceases to amaze and disgust me how many times one sees these political animals scratching each other’s back and picking fleas off each other using the public trust and treasury.

    However, Mr. Campbell will not be completing his work on the dam inquiry in Manitoba, due to the sexual assault allegations in England. No word yet on developments there.

    It’s too bad in a way, as it would have been fun to see him twist himself into a pretzel trying to issue a report that didn’t hoist him on his own petard vis-à-vis his role in the political decisions that kneecapped BC Hydro. This excerpt from a news article set the table:

    “Manitoba Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont scoffed at the idea of reviewing whether Hydro decisions had been politicized, saying that issue has already been identified several times and the practice continues under the current government.
    ‘We are going to be paying Gordon Campbell $2.5 million for something I can tell the premier for free,’ he said.
    ‘Stop politicizing Hydro. Appoint a board that is reasonably independent that has experts on it and start to undo the things the NDP were doing.’
    Lamont says Manitoba’s auditor general, the Public Utilities Board and external consultants paid by Hydro have examined both Bipole III and Keeyask.”

    BTW, did you know that Mr. Campbell has a well-earned law degree? He was presented with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Thompson Rivers University by none other than Chancellor Wally Oppal. I wonder if those two ever crossed paths before?


  6. el gordo ran a party named the B.C. Lieberals, but he was more Conservative than Liberal. He was hired as Dogie’s “advisor” and then given this job. Its some fun, but really all he was hired to do was slam Kathleen Wynn’s years in office. He continued to work for Ontario, but his gigs with two other provinces were ended when the sexual assault allegations were publicised. That ought not to have been a surprise to many in this province. there were some articles in Frank Magazine, back in the day about el gordo’s “social life”.

    Always wanted to see el gordo come back in hand cuffs. If he ever is, I’ll have to go to London first. He’s just a sick old man, who, in my opinion, was always trying to compensate for what he lacked.


    • Careful e.a.f. ‘Old’ is someone 10 years older than you, and I have a couple of years on el gordo. Since you keep up to speed on things political, do you know what happened to Nancy? I heard Gordon settled down in Ontario. With Laura?
      If there really were a God, Gordon would be in jail now!


      • I’m old. May think I’m still 38 to 42, but I know I’m old. The body is old, the brain, well is still thinking I can jump off of things which will put me in the hospital

        Norm isn’t old. Harvey Overfeld isn’t old, with a name like John Aghast, you’re not old, Jimmy Pattison isn’t old, Jimmy Carter isn’t old. Its just our bodies have been around for awhile.

        When el gordo got the gig in London, Nancy, his “wife” went with him. He usually trotted her out when it was election time. At one point as I recall she was a school principle in Vancouver and then on the Sunshine Coast. After the gig in London, I don’t know where she went. Perhaps back to the sunshine coast. . Where ever she is, lets hope she has peace.

        ah the lovely Lara. When el gordo got his London gig, she dropped out of the picture. there were some very unflattering articles on the internet regarding her and what some considered her profession. Don’t know where she is and haven’t actually looked. She was an attractive young woman, who as I understand it, had…

        Frank Magazine at one time or another did “report” on the “exploits” of el gordo, so the sexual assault charges were of no surprise to me, and of course having lived in Vancouver, while he was mayor, etc. there were rumours enough. Rumours being rumours, may not have been true, but my take on things has always been, where there is smoke there is fire. Its not like other politicians had as much written about them on the “subject” of their personal lives. I do recall Vic Toews, of Harper government fame had more than a few articles written about him and his “social” life, in particular, his adventures in Winnipeg. How harper could have made him a judge is beyond me. Wonder if Vic is still up to his old tricks, but then his children no longer need babysitters.

        One article which Frank Magazine wrote about el gordo’s exploits, well knew the other party, so my coffee went out my mouth and nose, got up off the floor, phoned a friend, who tutted, how awful, wonder if he will live through that……..

        Ah, if there were a God, made the decision a god did not exist when I was approx. 9 yrs old. As one mentor in my misspent youth once said to me, “who promised you justice?”. My mother on the other hand, was of the opinion, things come back to haunt you. Can recall her comments on some who died of cancer, “after what they did to others, they deserve it. Felt sorry for their families, but them, not so much.

        will “life” catch up to el gordo? don’t know but I intent to live long enough to find out. just curious. that man caused more pain and misery in this province than any premier in the modern era with the exception of Christy Clark. These two were useful tools of the financial/corporate 1%ers. They have served their purpose, but continue to toil for their masters at some level or another. Trump isn’t the only human who does what in my opinion is, “monstrous things”. Child abuse takes many forms and subjecting children to disgusting lives of poverty is child abuse

        Oh, dear, I did rant on, Norn, feel free to delete this as off topic.


        • e.a.f. Old is a state of mind. When you were a teenager, your parents were ‘old’, perhaps in their forties? As I said, ‘old’ is someone ten years older than yourself. Trouble is, I’m having problems finding that someone. Many don’t have the consideration to wait until I’m gone before passing on.
          As for god (gawd?) you’ll notice that I said “IF there was a God, Gordon would be in jail now!”, which more or less adds credence to the decision you made as a 9 year old. Gordon isn’t in jail.
          Perhaps some of his cohorts will relish the memories of his/their exploits but I would rather depart this mortal coil with a clear conscience and reputation. Gawd bless!


  7. Gordon Campbell was a con artist, a slick Willie, a most dubious charlatan.

    All he did was sell BC’s assets to politcal friends and insiders at fire sale price, neutering the provinces ability to plan for future transportation needs, plan for future energy needs and plan for the future, period.

    He has enslaved future generations so Liberal friends and insiders made quick profits.

    Example: The Canada Line a faux P-3 project (faux because the SNC Lavalin consortium winning the P-3 contract would not and did not assume risk, the hall mark of a P-3 project) has a maximum capacity of around 9,000 pphpd because the station platforms are only 40m long (half the length of the Expo and millennium Lines) and can operate only 41m long 2 car trains.

    Effectively, the Canada Line has 3,500 pphpd less capacity than Toronto streetcars on the Danforth route in Toronto in the late 40’s and early 50’s!

    Cost to increase capacity to match the Expo and millennium lines $1.5 billion to $2 billion!

    Thus the Canada line light metro has less capacity than a modern tram or LRT and costing at least ten (5) times more to build than a tram or LRT! This is an example of Campbell’s doing business.


    • I recall Campbell scurrying for cover during the three approval votes and the Cambie merchants controversy, asserting the province had no responsibility for the Canada Line (nee RAV Line) as it was a TransLink project.

      On opening day however, guess who was front and center in the photo-op window of the first car out, wearing the biggest feces-eating grin since little Jack Horner pulled out a plum?


      • Gordon Campbell and his sidekick, then TransLink Chair, Ken Dobel, tossed Alstom and Siemens from the bidding process because they dared to plan to use modern light rail vehicles, instead of heavy-rail EMU’s or then called ART (Expo and Millennium Lines and erroneously called SkyTrain) because they felt it would give a better chance for affordable expansion, than light-metro.

        After talking to the Siemens chaps, using heavy-rail EMU’s (as is used on the Canada Line) would have been unprofessional.

        The Liberal (Gordon Campbell) diktat was that no LRT was to be used, nor any mention of LRT in the planning process.

        In the end the SNC Lavalin/ROTEM consortium won the bid, over the SNC Lavalin/Bombardier consortium, which the bidding process was later called a “Charade” by judge Pittfield in the Susan Heyes lawsuit.

        As i said before, the Canada line is the only heavy-rail metro in the world, build with less capacity than a simple streetcar and internationally is considered a classic transit “White Elephant”.


  8. BC Rail cold case should be warmed up again with an inquiry. Seems the big fish got away thanks to Campbell’s dirty pals of the Attorney Generals office who corrupted and perverted justice, shut down the case, then came out with a well spun explanation [LIE] to the public about why it was stopped. Hey, wasn’t it de Jong who actually announced the lie to the public.


    • It was Deputy Attorney General Loukidelis who provided a public statement on October 20, 2010 purporting to explain who did what. Attorney General de Jong then spent the next several months trying to get the story straight and never succeeded.

      Interestingly, in January of 2011 in the midst of a leadership campaign and after having had several months to get his ducks in order he still made a public statement on CKNW about who was responsible (which contradicted what his deputy had told the public) and then was forced to backtrack the very next day and issue a statement “correcting” his previous version.

      Mr. de Jong gave me the impression that he either was so totally incompetent he hadn’t the faintest clue what had transpired, or was he was lying.

      I will never forgive John Horgan and the NDP for letting this stain on the administration of justice stand. They aren’t incompetent and they aren’t lying. They simply made the choice to ignore law-breaking by the very government officials who the public expects to hold law-breakers to account.

      Uneven application of the law is a sure recipe for destruction of the public trust.


      • I sent a letter to Attorney General, David Eby asking for a Judicial inquiry with TransLink, due to many dubious and untrue statement made by TransLink and the mayors Council on Transit about light rail and the $5 billion in rail projects.

        Translink caught wind of a possible inquiry and changed their claim that Broadway was the busiest transit corridor in Canada and north America, to “it was Translink’s busiest bus route.”

        Eby’s reply was that TransLink could do and say anything it wanted as he had no jurisdiction over them (and here i thought fraud was a offense in BC and Canada) and that they can do as they please.

        TransLink is now again claiming that Broadway is the busiest transit corridor in North America as well as a score of other false claims half truths and full fledged lies.

        I have “0” confidence with the NDP with any legal or moral matter.


        • Evil eye, get a grip. they are giving their opinion and its called freedom of speech. it maybe shady, but really deciding to have 0 confidence in the NDP with any legal or moral matter, is a bit over the top. Have cup of tea or a shot of scotch. You want the B.C. LIeberals back? You do remember them don’t you, with the lack of health care, lack of doctors, lack of funding for schools, etc.

          It is true Eby does not have jurisdictional power over Translink, only if they commit a crime. they haven’t done anything legally wrong that is worth spending money on. Tit may be ethically or morally wrong, but that’s a long way from legally wrong. Eby knows that, you not so much..

          Back in the day, an individual took then Premier Glen Clark to court of failing to deliver on some sort of promise. Can’t remember what it was all about, but I do remember laughing when the Judge through it out of court. In this life you learn to pick and choose your battles, because they cost money.

          there is no law against “lying” as we understand it to day. Translink is a corporation and its going to do what they think is best for themselves and their friends. Now if you don’t like what they are doing, do something useful, like getting involved with groups who want to stop it. Writing to newspapers in other parts of the province helps, they see all this money being spend in the lower mainland, while they don’t get so much. Let those politicians exert some pressure. Some times its as easy as writing letters to the editors of various newspapers, you don’t need to go with the Sun and Province. Many people go on Face Book to espouse their philosophy. But taking it out on the NDP, get a grip.

          There are a lot of players who want that Broadway Line and not all of them are in b.c. its a land god rush if that line comes on live. this started with the B.C. Lieberals and as I recall when it was first “floated” all sorts of properties changed hands. Now they want their money’s worth. This line will open up the entire west side to re zoning and high density development, which is what the developers want. Sometimes in this life you have to make a deal with the devil. In this case it maybe the Broadway line and the NDP stay in office for another term and we get a few more hospitals, doctors, health care professionals, etc. Now if you don’t want that, for sure have a wack at the NDP. if you think the Greens can do better, give your head a shake. The B.C. Greens don’t have the experience to run this province. They’re good to have a round to keep things balanced, but it will be some years before they’re ready for prime time and after Green Weaver has left. He, in my opinion, is just a B.C. Lieberal in a shabby professor suit, for image.

          The City of Vancouver has to change. You can not keep it a subdivision for the wealthy. if you do, it will die. there are cities in the U.S.A. WHO ARE doing interesting things on densification, with such things as re zoning the city for 3 story buildings, for 3 homes. Increases density without having huge towers every where. Some houses, old school remain, others go. If a city does not change, it will die.

          I’m in agreement with you, other things can be done for transportation along Broadway, but if not now, it will happen. the population in 50 yrs will double in the city. It needs to move or it will look like some places in Asia. Just the cost of grid lock. Some years ago I saw a study from N.Y.C. about their grid lock and they lost several billion a year in productivity. The City of Vancouver ought to have done something back in the 1980s and didn’t. now we have to look 50 to 100 yrs down the road.


      • John’s Aghast’s Aghast, obviously if your twice Aghast, its troubling, however, there are two different sets of laws and two different countries and two different sets of situations. In Epstein’s case the law was violated because the prosecuters did not notify the victims of “the deal”. There is a lot of other ‘stuff’ which goes along with that, but the deal with Epstein was illegal so it opens a whole can of worms. Now as to el gordo. in my opinion, he’s a creep, and a whole lot of other things, but if it were actually illegal that will be a whole other thing and as much as I hate to say it, it would be very difficult to prove he did anything illegal, in my opinion he did a lot of unethical and immoral things, but illegal……..he skated on the line and kept going. lets not forget the people of this province were complicit in all of this, they kept the B.C. Lieberals in office for ;16 yrs and barely got rid of them in the last election. ,


      • You see, the NDP are as bad as the Liberals and here is the dilemma, who to vote for in the next election.

        If a politician or politcal party lies, then their credibility disappears. Site C is a good example.

        The NDP, via Glen Clark and Joy McPhail got into bed with SNC Lavalin and bombardier with the Millennium Line and as far as I can see, the NDP are still in bed with SNC Lavalin and Bombardier. I find this most disturbing, especially with today’s politic and I find that many in the NDP are very nervous about it.

        As an aside, as for transit it is a far more important subject that many give credit to. If anyone is serious about going “Green” then one must have both an attractive and affordable transit alternative to the car. Our present light-metro system is neither, thus any politician wanting more of the same is not “Green” at all.

        For $5 billion and change, we are getting a 5.7 km subway under Broadway and the Expo line extended to Fleetwood and no more; both not taking a car off the road. For the same amount of money, one can design a user friendly transit alternative for Metro Vancouver, that would be an attractive alternative to the car.

        The NDP, true their arrogance is squandering money on what will be photo-ops to try to win the next election and nothing more. They have had a chance, but have been found greatly wanting.


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