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Norm Farrell

Gwen and I raised three adult children in North Vancouver. Each lives in our community with seven grandchildren, 12 years and younger. I have worked in accounting and financial management and publish IN-SIGHTS.CA with news and commentary about public issuesv.

Questions asked

Available evidence demonstrates that, despite the province’s financial affairs being in good order, the NDP Government is satisfied to keep school teacher salaries close to the lowest paid of any Canadian province.

Politics outranks good policy

After banking large contributions from taxi owners, governing BC Liberals had declined to change provincial rules to allow ride hailing. They also failed to ensure adequate expansion of fleet sizes. Decades of government protection of the taxi industry resulted in value of a Vancouver taxi license being worth up to $1 million. Now in opposition, Wilkinson’s Liberals, supported by BC Greens, are keen to open the market to Uber and Lyft. In my view, the non-governing parties are mistaken. In most cases, facilitating the gig economy is not good public policy. Opening doors to Uber and Lyft means traffic congestion will worsen, transit use will lessen, large sums will flow to overseas tax havens, and government revenues will reduce…

Rubes with pockets to be picked

Salaries have risen dramatically for years at BCi, the province’s public pension funds manager. Current and future pension beneficiaries are treated as rubes with pockets to be picked. The amount paid the company’s CEO increased 430% since 2007. But others have done well too…

Unattractive risk

Every young person is taught that willingness to fail is empowering and roads to success are built atop failures. Such precepts are generally true but it is also accurate to say death-dealing disasters are usually reckless failures from which nothing good comes. Italian engineers were incautious when they chose to build a dam where the slopes of Monte Toc were unstable. Two thousand people died in the disaster that followed…

Open for business, at any price

Billions of dollars in the accounts of vested interests instead of the pockets of residents and SMEs. That’s will be the outcome after Clark Liberals and Horgan’s NDP greenlighted Site C, a $12 billion dam, which BC residential and SME consumers do not and will not need.

Same old, same old, part x

Political and power industry insiders dictated terms for the original IPP schemes but corporate inertia keeps them alive. BC NDP enjoyed the short-lasting attention paid Ken Davidson’s ZAPPED report since it highlighted BC Liberal incompetence or malfeasance. But, the expose was quickly put into storage. Business continues largely as before. It’s only the public’s money…

Natural gas is not a bridge fuel

Cornell University scientists, including Professors Robert Howarth and Anthony Ingraffea, have been credited with raising scientific and public awareness of fracking and its dangers. As a result, the fossil fuel industry has funded academics and PR groups to attack both the scientists and their science…

Taxes buy civilization

Neoliberalism has brought us extreme concentrations of wealth and power and a society governed by and for the rich. The Guardian reports America’s three wealthiest billionaires—Bezos, Gates and Buffett—have as much wealth as the bottom half of the US population combined. Funders—like the American Koch brothers and Fraser Institute directors who are connected collectively to around a trillion dollars in assets— do not want creative solutions to labour’s stagnant wages or growing inequality…

Denying the existential threat

Much of climate change denial is driven by money. The world’s ten largest fossil fuel companies are collectively worth trillions and their managers are not going away quietly. For years, they have invested heavily in assets that influence public opinion. These involve squads of online trolls and influencers paid to spread gospels of climate change denial. Acquiring control of corporate media output was another strategy. So-called think tanks conducted widespread skirmishes, including use of Fraser-Institute-style “learning resources” foisted on naive members of media and places of education, including students and faculty. Academics and scientists who don’t care about science have opportunities to pocket more than spare change…

Canada – TrumpLand north?

July 30, Stephen Colbert interviewed Jacob Soboroff and Katy Tur, presenters of American Swamp, a four-part docuseries on MSNBC about government corruption. They talk about politics in the USA but Canadians ought not to feel superior or complacent because our governments are constructed of the same timber.

“Because, if they do do something, they run the risk of angering a special interest or a big donor and those special interests or donors will spend money on getting them out of office. So, they sit there and twiddle their thumbs.”

Sacrificing the future

Norway made a choice to take a material share of oil and gas revenues and distribute the value of its non-renewable resources to citizens over multiple generations. Alberta, British Columbia and Saskatchewan chose to benefit whichever corporations happened to be involved when production of oil and gas took place…

Reward the wealthy, fail the needy

It is often said that we are unable to pay for healthcare (including dentistry and prescriptions) and other social programs. But, political leaders seldom say that business subsidies and corporate tax reductions are unaffordable. Why do the majority of Canadians tolerate a system that rewards the wealthy and fails to serve the needy?

Rhetoric subjugated reason

In British Columbia, the energy ministry is staffed by regulators who don’t believe in regulation. That is a BC Liberal philosophy sustained by NDP timidity because the Horgan Government is nervous about giving ammunition to opponents who accuse it of being anti-business, anti-development and anti-growth. As a result, cartelized, profit-seeking natural gas producers still exercise undue influence over the energy ministry…