***** UPDATED JUNE 26TH, 3 PM.
It has been brought to our attention that perhaps the actual date that may be used for the purposes of activating any clause could be as early as July 2nd, 2009.
Here is some info on the 5 year clause, dating back to 2004 :
“ Government has refused to reveal details of the contract until the bureau has completed its review. But a copy leaked on the weekend showed that the government has the power to force CN to buy for $1 any B.C. Rail line land it chooses to abandon. CN is prohibited from abandoning any routes during the first five years of the deal, however.
Premier Gordon Campbell said this clause was put in place solely to protect taxpayers and prevent CN from potentially offloading expensive environmental cleanup costs onto the government. CN would be compelled to buy such land and perform the cleanup itself if this was the case, the government said. Campbell said that the agreement with CN makes the company responsible for maintaining all the tracks, railbeds and land on which the railway operates and that the $1 land-sale option simply provides extra protection for taxpayers.
– Times Colonist (Victoria), Page A04, 21-Apr-2004 B.C. Rail deal has just one more trestle to cross By Jeff Rud
While in this quote the premier seems to have such noble thoughts at hand, let me point out that this clause would have the potential of handing over millions – if not billions- of dollars of land from North Vancouver to Squamish to CN for the ridiculous sum of $1.00.
Property with future development potential along some of the hottest waterfront areas around that in the end – even after cleanup of toxic soil etc- would stand to net the owner some massive profits. Puts an entirely different perspective on that $1.00 offload, doesn’t it?
There have also been rumblings for some time now, that the sales agreement in the privatization deal between BC Rail and CN, contains a clause that allows the province of BC to take back possession of the railway if CN has failed to honour all terms of the agreement.
To my knowledge, the speculation surrounding the repossession clause has not been confirmed by anyone- not the media, not the premier nor the two companies in question – however, it also has not been denied. A sizeable portion of the released documents were redacted- meaning portions were blacked out .
The only place I have seen it written publically is within the postings on The Legislature Raids, and in the comments section following those posts.
Of course, there is a very simple method of determining if this is truth or if it is simply mere speculation – The premier must confirm or deny it. To date this has not occurred. And why not? This was a government entity that was sold. Do the people of this province not have the right to ask to see what kind of a deal this was?
Why is it that I have a feeling this won’t happen without some legal wrangling?
A reader of The Legislature Raids, sent the following letter to BC Mary, which was to be printed as a letter to the editor of her local paper:
” Dear Mr. Editor:
I am writing this in the hope that it may help unlock the logjam surrounding documents, emails, phone calls and other forms of communication regarding the sale of BC Rail. This has been going on for far too long now, it is costing the taxpayers of this Province hundreds of millions of dollars in lawyer’s fees alone. It has to stop.
One has to wonder why the government has done everything in their power to keep the sales documents from public view, it is after all the sale of public property, and we do have a RIGHT to know what has been/is being done to us, and in our name. This “sale” took place nearly 5 years ago, and we still don’t know what the sale entails?! Perhaps the government is waiting for a specific occurrence, before making just how much taxpayers have lost in this deal, apparent.
July 14, 2009 is the critical date. The date when one of two things may happen:
1. CN Rail will take possession of all BC Rail waterfront lands from North Van to Squamish for the princely sum of $1.00. Yes, you read that right, a dollar. What are those lands REALLY worth? Why would the Premier even consider something like that, and still call himself a businessman?
2. There is a rumour about that date that will be extraordinarily easy for the Premier to disprove by producing all documents relating to the sale…this is the date of possible repossession of BC Rail by the taxpayers of BC. Once this date passes, there is absolutely nothing taxpayers can do about the largest giveaway this Province has ever seen.
It is time for mainstream news media to begin digging and printing what they know. Newspapers across this Province have forgotten who they’re ultimately designed to serve, the people. You’re our eyes and ears in the legislature at the very least. Collectively you are failing us; above all, you’re failing yourselves. “
I agree wholeheartedly.
Until such time that these rumours can be confirmed or determined as false, readers of the wonderfully detailed blog, The Legislature Raids, have asked that Leonard Krog and the NDP file an injunction to stop the transfer of any more assets from BC Rail to CN, until the legality of what has already transpired can be determined, as she urges all others concerned about the sale of BC Rail to follow suit.
Leonard Krog, critic for the attorney-general:
e.mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Carole James, leader of the Opposition:
e.mail address: email@example.com
BC Mary has also contacted the premier on this matter with the following email :
Dear Mr Campbell:
email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
On July 14, 2004, your government signed agreements selling BC Rail to CN.
Those documents have been kept secret. This is not right. The BC Rail Revitalization Agreement and the BC Rail Privatization Agreement must be opened to the public before the crucial 5th anniversary.
Time is of the essence because rumours say:
* that the 5th anniversary of the signing activates a clause providing a one-time-only opportunity open to the people of BC to repossess their publicly-owned railway if CN has failed to honour all terms of the agreement,
* that the 5th anniversary of the signing activates a clause granting CN ownership of BCRail lands for the sum of $1.
There may be other clauses of grave concern.
It is wrong to prevent the public – who are the previous owners of Canada’s 3rd largest railway – from seeing the documents and playing a responsible role as citizens of a democratic society. You must open the documents to public scrutiny without further delay.
The Legislature Raids
I would suggest to anyone who has been following the BC Rail saga, and to anyone shocked, angered and disturbed by the soon the infamous deleted emails, that they voice their concerns vocally to their local MLA, to Carol James, to Leonard Krog and to the Premier.
If the dubious sale, the resulting investigation and the seemingly never-ending pre-trial Basi-Virk hearings do not give the public enough reason to call for am independent review of this government’s ethics and practices, I don’t know what would. Premier Gordon Campbell has promised British Columbians a transparent government, one that values accountability and ethical decision making, but I’ve yet to see any of that demonstrated in actual practice.
BC Mary has suggested that July 14th be deemed ” BC Rail Day” , and I second that motion. It is time that the people of BC were heard. We have been far too quiet for far too long about this government. It is time to speak your minds and demand answers.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate this interest would be to organize a rally on the steps of the courthouse on that day to commemorate the anniversary of the day BC Rail was sold.