Fraser Institute, the taxpayer supported voice of Canada’s billionaires and multimillionaires, uses the Vancouver Sun to raise a question, “Will a Horgan-led government keep the NDP’s election promise to balance the budget, and if so, how?” We provide answers.
The structure of the Canadian Entitlement makes it an extremely valuable commodity in the utility industry. Electricity is more valuable when it is virtually guaranteed to be available, or “reliable,” and when its delivery can be shifted to times of high demand, or “flexible.” The Canadian Entitlement offers both of these attributes. British Columbia’s sale of 4,540 GWh of electricity brings in about $120 million a year, which is 2.64¢ per Kwh. We didn’t need that power because, with ever-increasing purchases from independent power producers (IPPs), the province had surplus electricity. In the last reported quarter, December 2016, BC Hydro paid an average of 9.14¢ a KWh to IPPs. Had BC replaced IPP power with the Canadian Entitlement, at 9.14¢/KWh, it would have saved $295 million in 2016.
The prospect of lost power and influence has financial elites gathering money to conduct unprecedented misinformation campaigns. They will be assisted by a dependent corporate media that has grown too close and comfortable with the few people making political policy in our province. For example, as I’ve pointed out repeatedly, resource industries gained billions through subsidies and tax reductions and they are willing to spend heavily to maintain those benefits. In the transition period, it will be important for citizens to ensure that all points of view are heard and evaluated, not just the views of special interests.
The 2009 BC Liberal platform makes broad promises and one of them provides the title for this piece. Their platform offers this additional reassurance:
“. . . expenditures, backed up by a detailed business plan for every ministry. But our record shows that we have the competent team and credible plan to get it right.” Does that give you confidence tax dollars will be managed prudently? Perhaps we should examine BC Liberal announcements for one ongoing mega-project, BC Place Stadium.
BC Hydro’s own statistics prove the utility has no good business reasons to be building Site C. Domestic customers use the same volumes of electricity today as a dozen years ago and rapidly rising prices will ensure further conservation moderates consumer demand. BC Liberals argue the new dam should be built, not because it is needed, but because it is providing jobs. That, of course, fails to account for financial damage to commercial and industrial enterprises hit with rapidly rising electricity rates. The competitive advantage of low cost electricity once enjoyed by BC employers has been squandered.
Is the BC Liberal Party involved in racketeering, extorting cash from corporations in return for protection from legal and financial sanctions? That the question can reasonably be asked demonstrates the urgency of prohibiting major payments to political parties by groups doing business with government or subject to regulation by public authorities.
The first part of this article was written in November 2009 and the addendum was added April 2016 and subsequently updated. I repeat this item because it demonstrates that, while applying austerity to the province’s most needy citizens, the Clark/Campbell Liberals have treated a favoured few quite differently.
BC Hydro and their consultants have not moved up the learning curve despite being wrong year after year for more than 12 years and sadly the BCUC has let them ride on this way. The consequence of being deliberately wrong for 12/15 years is the condition we now have. Residential and small business rates up +70% with no increase in demand. We also have new contractual debts of plus $60 billion to IPPs…
Harry Swain, a former federal deputy minister, was Chair of the federal and provincial Site C Joint Review Panel. He has strong views about the project and about financial reports issued by BC Hydro. On June 8, Dr. Swain appeared on CFAX with Pamela McCall (audio is linked below). In most jurisdiction, the allegation of “accounting chicanery” at a multi-billion dollar crown corporation, made by a highly respected professional, would draw attention of corporate media’s political pundits. However, this is British Columbia and BC Liberals and business friends have put great effort into buying media silence.
Citizens should be astonished by Richard McCandless’ statement that BC Hydro’s “net income is almost fully insulated from the vagaries of actual revenue and expenditures.” Indeed, the utility books revenues not received or owing to it and treats incurred expenses as if they are assets.
BC’s Minister of Energy said in mid October that the $7.9 billion budget for Site C had been examined by top international experts and was assuredly “reliable.” Two months later, Premier Clark revealed the dam budget had jumped to $8.5 billion. Days passed and when project approval was announced, the budget had jumped to $8.775 billion. Once again, the British Columbia Liberals demonstrate practiced mendacity. They are consistent though since mega-projects of the past five years typically doubled between first announcement and completion but were invariably pronounced to be on-time and on-budget. The mantra will be used again…
In a 2104 Supreme Court decision, there is a REQUIREMENT that all contracts, to be valid, can only be agreed upon if all parties are acting in Good Faith. Justice Thomas Cromwell wrote “In my view, it is time to take two incremental steps in order to make the common law less unsettled and piecemeal, more coherent and more just. The first step is to acknowledge that good faith contractual performance is a general organizing principle of the common law of contract which underpins and informs the various rules in which the common law, in various situations and types of relationships, recognizes obligations of good faith contractual performance. The second is to recognize, as a further manifestation of this organizing principle of good faith, that there is a common law duty which applies to all contracts to act honestly in the performance of contractual obligations.”
Politically connected individuals took advantage of citizens’ desire for clean, renewable energy and the Liberals wrote contracts with “lucky firms” that bore no relationship to market prices and guaranteed massive private profits and ensured all financial risks were carried by the public. The contracts in British Columbia last as long as sixty years and involve prices that are now as much as 5x market value. In addition, the contracts have annual inflation escalators.
The mismanagement of BC Hydro is a financial scandal unprecedented in BC’s history. Unfortunately, the corporate media refuses to report these facts. Their loyalty is to not to citizens and taxpayers but to the vested interests that have hands firmly in our pockets.
One of the brighter contributors on my Twitter feed is Reema Faris. She is a PHD candidate at SFU, a former West Vancouver school trustee and member of a family that has long given extraordinary support to the arts in Canada. Reema’s social media contributions are invariably astute, logical and worthy of attention. With permission, here are threads she published in response to insubstantial punditry found in Postmedia’s Vancouver pages.
Following British Columbia’s May 9 general election, a political bloc with the majority of votes and a majority of elected members is ready to form government. But, the defeated Premier declines to resign, as she should, and as she must. By hanging on after defeat, Christy Clark disrespects voters and disregards the parliamentary system that governs us.
It was inevitable. Hearing today that Christy Clark’s time as BC Premier is at an end doesn’t surprise. Looking at the substantive issues, it was the only logical outcome. Fifty-seven percent of voters chose the NDP or the BC Greens. Green and NDP positions on important issues show much common ground. Working together makes sense and in recognizing that policies matter above all, John Horgan and Andrew Weaver pass the first test.
Richard McCandless, a retired high-level civil servant, is not a partisan for any political group but, for some years, he has been lobbying for more effective governance of British Columbia. In one […]
There is one comparison that should be remembered by BC voters. It is this: In fiscal year 2001, British Columbia took in $1,249,000,000 in natural gas royalties. According to the Bank of […]
Christy Clark’s Liberals have gone all in with identifying “persuadable voters” and knowing all there is to know about each person’s voting impulses. This is not old fashioned door knocking and coffee-party campaigning. It doesn’t rely on volunteers. Instead, the highly paid operators work quietly in the shadows “to find tiny slivers of influence that can tip an election.” This is expensive political manipulation, far beyond capabilities of the NDP, a party largely dependent on financial contributions from individual members. But, this suits win-at-any-cost principles of Liberals. It also explains why the Legislature has barely functioned in the past year. Liberal cabinet ministers and MLAs were too busy fundraising to waste time governing. I’m a political wonk and the Liberal’s anti-democratic initiatives and corrupt practices are enough to turn me away from that party, permanently. In addition to being deceitful, Clark’s government has proven itself incompetent, which is not surprising when management positions in the province’s enterprises and service agencies have been sold to Liberal Party contributors.