Horgan, John

Megaprojects: over budget, over time, over and over again – UPDATED

BREAKING — 1:31 p.m. PT, June 28, 2022: 

B.C. Premier John Horgan will be stepping down from office before the next provincial election. The two-term NDP premier made the announcement in Vancouver on Tuesday.

CBC News

The article below the separator line was published here on May 16. A few reliable sources had told me that John Horgan’s political career would soon be ending. The decision seems mostly related to the Premier’s health but there is also a growing divide between party leadership and BC NDP members who did not join to support a centre-right movement.

The open secret of impending change has now been revealed to all.

Rumours suggest BCNDP insiders are manoeuvring to choose John Horgan’s successor.

In May, CTV reported:

The NDP premier recently completed treatment for his second bout with cancer, and last month tested positive for COVID-19.

“I have to confess, my energy has been flagging,” Horgan, 62, told CTV News in an interview Wednesday.

Clues to John Horgan’s replacement are found by paying attention to the frequency of names attached to government-friendly announcements. Current frontrunners are David Eby and Ravi Kahlon, with the latter apparently preferred by Horgan’s immediate circle. Both prospects are about 20 years younger than British Columbia’s ailing Premier.

John Horgan will leave with a record of maintaining popularity despite difficult times. Horgan has been good at charming casual followers into believing he reflects their own aspirations. His Irish ancestors gave him a gift of eloquence and persuasiveness. Unfortunately, they neglected to include sincerity, a quality needed to sustain admiration over time.

John Horgan’s five years as Premier will cap a 30-year career in provincial politics. While current opinion polls show satisfaction with his leadership, history will discount the blarney and examine the achievements.

We will forget the NDP’s superficial and performative acknowledgments of the need to fight climate change and Horgan’s talk about respecting Indigenous rights and unceded traditional territories. We will remember the BC NDP government approved and financed abusive attacks on First Nations people who hindered construction of a pipeline to transport fossil fuels across their lands.

We will remember that Premier John Horgan quickly abandoned his pre-election promises to secure a fair share of natural resource values for the public, to reform fossil fuel subsidies, and to be guided by science and environmental protections when regulating fracking and methane emissions from production, transport and processing of natural gas.

We will remember PowerBC, a potent and practical program discarded after Horgan sat in the Premier’s chair. It was “designed to reduce electricity demand, generate new energy responsibly and sustainably, and create lasting good jobs in energy efficiency and generation.”

We will remember John Horgan’s NDP promised to strengthen Freedom of Information legislation and enhance public accountability, and then acted to limit access to government records and to reduce what has been called “the hallmark of modern democratic governance.” 

We will remember that BCNDP promised in 2017 to eliminate partisan advertising paid for by taxpayers, and afterward embraced its extensive use.

We will remember that while citizens were troubled by COVID-19 effects, unaffordable housing, visible poverty, inadequate healthcare, deadly street drugs, destruction of ancient forests, declining viability of agriculture, rampant inflation and other problems, John Horgan rushed out a commitment for an unshaped but hugely expensive new provincial museum.

I surmise John Horgan sees the museum as a crowning jewel and decided that ready or not, an announcement had to be made before his departure.

The not yet designed museum was promised a provincial investment of $789 million. Observers wonder how the NDP selected a very specific sum that is 20x the Alberta government’s commitment to rebuild Calgary’s Glenbow Museum. The Victoria project is a concept so early in development that not a single architectural rendering accompanied the announcement. A legitimate construction budget does not exist.

We can wonder if this is just one more example in a worldwide trend of careless politicians deciding to spend more and more on ever bigger projects.

Renowned expert Bent Flyvbjerg defined an iron law for such schemes:

Megaprojects: over budget, over time, over and over again.

John Horgan and his colleagues are sacrificing the future of our children and grandchildren. In addition to being de facto climate change deniers, their love of megaprojects is taking provincial debt totals to frightening levels. The interest rate risks faced by the BC government are immense now and growing rapidly.

Source: BC Ministry of Finance

Instead of effectively serving the long term common good, John Horgan’s government is profligate, growing the financial burden on future generations. That will be remembered by history.

Categories: Horgan, John, NDP BC

10 replies »

  1. What choice do we really have? The BC Liberals are far worse. I vote Green now except when I feel that I need to vote strategically, but it makes no difference.


  2. Frightening debt chart Norm.

    Not disclosed are “contractual obligations” that now exceed $100 billion. This might be more attention getting if expressed in per capita values as the rate of total increase is faster than population increases. Also the composition of the current and future BC populations features a growing number of people over 65 years of age. In my community we went from 37.5 % over 65 in 2016 to close to 44.3 % in 2021. People in retirement can only pay rising taxation amounts and inflation increases by selling assets if they have any. For those without assets to sell they become the homeless.


  3. remember how a recent capital bridge budget went?

    NDP legacy of debt?

    why not just adjust whats inside museum contents?


  4. Folks, the Evil Eye, keeps the eye on transit projects and what the NDP have allowed to happen is frightening.

    The now under construction 5.8 km Millennium Line extension (via the Broadway subway is now said to surpass $3 billion, yet will next to useless unless another $5 to $6 billion is spent, sending it to UBC.

    That means a total of $8 to $9 billion!

    The 16 km, $3.95 billion Expo Line extension to Langley has stalled, due to it being $1 billion short of funding, but just recently, TransLink alluded to the fact that the total cost maybe around $4.95 billion, due to engineering issues crossing the Serpentine Valley.

    That leaves the project $2 billion unfunded!

    The folks at Rail for the Valley sent a letter to Attorney General David Eby for a “A Renewed Call For Judicial Inquiry on TransLink and the Mayor’s Council on Transit”


    Bur Eby has remained mute, still championing the Broadway subway.

    As well the Expo line desperately needs a $3 billion mid life rehab; the government has prom iced a $5 billion plus rapid transit connection to the North Shore and the Canada Line needs a $2 billion rehab just to increase capacity.

    That is a minimum of $20 billion needed for the the current rapid transit system with not much extensions to the line. and everyone else thought Site C was the big money drain.

    The Fast Ferry debacle was $500 million, the up and coming SkyTrain fiasco will be in excess of $20 billion! The NDP just love big mega projects.


  5. The previous BC Liberal govt brought the total BC provincial debt from about $34 billion in 2001 to roughly $65 billion in 2017.

    Govt looks at the debt to GDP ratio, rather than the total debt amount.

    The debt is growing, but as long as GDP grows every year, the debt/GDP ratio remains stable.

    As long as we have infinite growth everything will be ok. I guess.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Spending our way out of debt, at least until the interest rates that Norm mentioned get back up to where they were in the 80’s, or even stay as low as 15% for a while. I know there are people out there making the sign of the cross at me, The federal reserve says that interest rates are going to go up until inflation is back under control. At $16,000,000,000 construction cost, the proposed Site C dam will require us to pay out $2,400,000,000/annum just in interest.

    If it were to go to $20,000,000,000 and interest rates stay up there on average for the 70 year amortization period that Hydro is proposing, we would be responsible for $210,000,000,000 or 210 Billion dollars in interest. We would be responsible. For the irresponsibility of two decades of government.


    • Building questionable dams and subways will add to GDP, thus maintaining the all-important debt/GDP ratio, as the debt level continues to grow.


  7. Yes the ratio is important for politicians but if the Government uses secret contracts , as they have done, then they get what they want, money being spent while contracts are not debt.


  8. I am at a loss to explain or understand what politicians are thinking these days. For at least two decades I have asked our federal Finance Ministers to direct the Canada Pension Board be more cautious with investing our money. The record is zero for Erik and all wins for the politically connected. The recent two year reports, by the independent auditor, are very instructive.

    In terms of gains made by the CPP Fund, the year over year change 21/22 was + 8%.

    In terms of LIABILITIES the year over year increase was + 45%, from $105 billion to $148 billion.

    The change in LIABILITIES, the CPP Fund is mirrored by the Canadian debt to GDP ratio which is running at between 112 % and 125 %, depending on source.

    The next part may help the reader understand why our troubles could be worse than we want to imagine.
    Secrecy is where the financial economy has travelled . Over a decade ago Campbell made all IPP power producers secret so the public has no idea what sovereignty has been delt away to folks from away. In the case of the CPP IB, they have traveled the same path, increasing “PRIVATE EQUITY” investments from $105 billion in 21 to $139 billion in 22; +32%.
    This type of investment is not valued by independent “market” action but determined behind closed doors , reflecting personal politics.
    Don’t think the pension money investments by the CPP IB are a one off, all pension managers club together as their means of self-protection.
    Spending and borrowing more than one earns has always ended in insolvency for the individual , a country/province doing the same has to mean loss of sovereignty.

    Any suggestions welcome.


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