Who funds BC politics

Annual reports of the parties filed with Elections BC reveal that BC Liberals have consistently taken in substantially more political contributions than BC NDP. This is a seven year summary to 2015 (2016 reports are not yet posted).

Do as I say, not as I do

In 2014, BC’s government claimed public sector organizations would operate under principles that strengthen accountability, promote cost control, and ensure the corporations operate in the best interest of taxpayers. If you’ve read my work on BC Hydro, examined Bob Mackin’s frustrations with FOI or generally followed provincial politics, you would have known the claims were hollow from the start.

Now, three years later, the Auditor General confirms that assertion

We don’t see nothin’ wrong

In a May 2009 article, The Economist describes Vancouver as a distribution hub in a global drugs trade. It says gangs ship out cannabis, amphetamines and ecstasy made in BC, importing cocaine, heroin and guns, fighting over a business worth an estimated C$7 billion a year. “That they do so in broad daylight demonstrates the feckless response of the provincial government and police, despite reports dating back more than 30 years giving warning of the growth in organized crime. According to SFU criminologist Rob Gordon, the current effort at collaboration, led by the Mounties, is “riven with conflict.”

NFOI – no freedom of information

We’ve seen that organizations make political contributions directly and through lobbyists. We know they use subsidiaries, affiliates and nominees but EBC makes little effort to report connections. In a report by Corporate Mapping Project, Teck Resources seems to have contributed $1.5 million to BC Liberals. However, a more complete listing provides a much larger number: $2.8 million. Even that is incomplete. It is important to know the benefits flowing from Teck to the Liberal Party but we must keep in mind the benefits flowing to Teck. That company was reportedly responsible for $743 million of a $1.2 billion unfunded liability for mine cleanups.

Liberal estimates and guesstimates

A brisk building boom of hydropower mega-dams is underway from China to Brazil. Whether benefits of new dams will outweigh costs remains unresolved despite contentious debates. …We find overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams — excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environmental, and social costs. …The outside view suggests that in most countries large hydropower dams will be too costly in absolute terms and take too long to build to deliver a positive risk-adjusted return

Surprise is surprising – UPDATED

$101 billion in contractual obligations is breathtaking? What is really surprising is that Toronto Globe and Mail’s BC political reporter didn’t notice before February of 2017. On one hand, I applaud Ms. Hunter for daring to mention the subject now. On the other hand, I wonder why she previously avoided this huge issue and did not report it fully in her newspaper?

“Bullshit is everywhere”

For eight years now, I’ve been posting words on the Internet. I was influenced in the beginning by my first two grandsons, now pushing 11 years of age. I looked at these youngsters, and the ones that followed, and concluded that I owed a duty to agitate for a better world. I want all children to have best possible opportunities for education and opportunity, to live in a society that is fair and respectful to people and values the environmental riches of our land.

I’m happy to have been involved in this commitment but I hope the May election will be a turning point. It will be a time to decide whether or not the powerful self-interests of privileged people are insurmountable.

Assets up, production down

In the real world, if a company grew its assets by $18 billion (138%) but reduced its production by 8%, heads would roll. In Premier Clark’s La La Land, party favours roll instead. Good Liberal CEO Jessica McDonald is secure in her job, at least until until May 9.

Liespotting

BC Hydro will lose hundreds of million of dollars per year on Site C dam output, according to a Vancouver Sun article by economist Marvin Shaffer. Facing an installation cost double that of power from utility-scale solar or gas fired turbines, additional hydro-electricity is unneeded and unaffordable. However, in the face of an election, the board of BC Hydro, loaded with Liberal patronage appointees, is not about to correct its faulty course.

Pull down the veil of lies

BC Liberals released the 2017 Budget and Fiscal Plan. The government elected by promising a “DEBT-FREE BC” forecasts total provincial debt will grow $11 billion to a total of $78 billion in next three years. Under Christy Clark as Premier, provincial debt will have increased $33 billion, which was the total debt accumulated in the 130 years after British Columbia became Canada’s sixth province. That $78 billion does not include the debt portion of contractual obligations, which total $100 billion but are not mentioned anywhere in 149 pages of the Budget and Fiscal Plan. The PR strategy is to never admit these exist or have impact. This is egregious dishonesty.

Borrow-and-spend politics

The 10-year increase, 2006-2016, in contractual obligations was $67 billion, while the regular provincial debt rose by $31 billion. That’s almost $10 billion a year increase in financial commitments by a government that claims they are creating “debt-free BC.”

The Boren effect

If the liabilities owing producers were recorded routinely, provincial natural gas revenue would be less than zero in two of the last four years. In current dollars, BC’s gas income, including rights sales, declined by more than $2.5 billion, comparing 2016 to 2001. Of course, the volume of production was much higher in 2016.

Mumbling and fuzzifying

It cannot be taken for granted that PPPs are more efficient than public investment and government supply of services. One particular concern is that PPPs can be used mainly to bypass spending controls, and to move public investment off budget and debt off the government balance sheet, while the government still bears most of the risk involved and faces potentially large fiscal costs.

Breaking news broken

Government forecasts that four year natural gas royalties total, 2017 through 2020, may be $926 million but that doesn’t deduct any growth in production tax credits that industry is accruing but government is not recording. In the past four years, the liability to producers increased by $1,158 million. If the liability for unrecorded credits – amounts that can be deducted from future royalties – continues to grow at the rate of the past four years, BC will receive no net gas royalties, provided that a more honest government begins to record the liability. There is already $2+ billion owed to producers.