“Money and corruption are ruining the land…”

“…crooked politicians betray the working man, pocketing the profits, treating us like sheep, and we’re tired of hearing promises that we know they’ll never keep.” ~ Ray Davies

Here on this site, we have revealed many breaking news stories of secret deals,evidence of corruption, collusion and a number of other shameful instances of how ‘money and corruption’ are ruining the land -our land here in British Columbia.

Sea to Sky Highway Shadow Tolls and the insidious relationship between the BC Liberals and long time, private partner Macquarie. The same partner that oddly, still managed to keep a position as advisor to the Port Mann project after a failed P3 bid, the terms of which remain secret to this day.

Canada Line construction and the ongoing, equally insidious relationship between SNC Lavalin and the BC Liberals.

Tercon vs British Columbia, a landmark case where the Ministry of Transportation and several high level government employees altered documents and hid details to purposely rig a bid and give a large contract to another ‘ preferred’ bidder.

You name it, there is not a P3 deal, nor a major transportation project that I have not examined,with confidential documents or hard sourced evidence, that does not give rise to an extensive list of questions about the governments ad hoc policies, and the lack of integrity in the bidding process. ( For newer readers, each can be read in detail, on the Best Of page up top)

Throughout these stories, there remained a dark undercurrent that repeats itself time and time again. In many stories, there are what I would consider clear indications of unethical and questionable behavior that lean towards collusion and influence of officials, both crimes in Canada under the competition bureau and of which I have previously written. Yet we see no investigations. Business continues as usual, from Gordon Campbell  onto yet an even more disastrous leader who has openly discussed her relationship with a powerful man who remains on the Board of Directors for SNC Lavelin – while the company has ongoing contracts and new bids outstanding.

This is how it works in British Columbia, with the BC Liberals.

This is the, in your face, we do what we want, way of doing business that everyone seems to have no problem with in the provincial government, that spans all ministries – none have been exempt from scandal or inference of preferred bidders. People like myself rely on close sources and data-mining to acquire evidence and documentation of contract and project details kept hidden from the public, since most FOI requests result in pages of useless redacted information.

Earlier this year, CBC did a brief story online, on a study conducted by the ministry of Public Safety into corruption in the construction industry in B.C. and in Quebec. The only real details given to the press on this report,which was not released, were that very few wanted to talk about the issue of  construction corruption in B.C. , and that the industry overall was at a medium to high risk of corruption.

Imagine that. So few of the people or organizations contacted wanted to talk about this issue of corruption in commercial construction – and by association of public sector projects, the government –  that it made it difficult to get a firm vision of what is going on. In fact, the report relied on many anonymous sources in some instances to get the information needed to make an assessment.In spite of this aura of reluctance and opposition to prying questions, the report did manage to uncover some revealing ways our public projects are at risk for corruption… and the way our government makes this possible.

The report in question was released informally to me recently following an FOI request, and confirms much of what I have reported here in many stories over the last few years. I recommend a read of the entire report, for the insight it offers into the problems facing large public projects here in B.C.

Here are some highlights:

  • Investigators found that the most vulnerable aspect of the commercial construction process, including public projects, was the procurement process ( bid process) and project management. Sources indicated officials responsible for procurement were often uninformed about the cost of construction project costs and the lack of accountability and transparency in the bidding process across Canada was noted.
  • Investigators found many factors that contributed to an environment where bribery and fraud flourished and were nearly impossible to detect,including the large scale of public projects,the uniqueness and complexity of projects,the concealment of some items of work by others, the lack of transparency in the industry and the extent of government involvement.
  • Situations that facilitate the formation of construction cartels and bribery, included the size of the project. Some projects like dams, power plants and highways that are extremely large in nature and costly,making it easier to hide bribes and over inflated  claims. It was also noted these larger projects often have a limited number of bidders, and those bidders are often well known to public officials and other bidders, again facilitating bribes and cartels.
  • Lack of transparency – costs are often kept secret even when public money is being spent. Commercial confidentiality takes precedent over public interest, and publication of financial information and routine inspection of books and records which could uncover irregularities or prevent them, does not take place. ( in the case of the Sea to Sky highway project, companies participating in the project had to sign confidentiality agreements preventing them from talking about their involvement in the project in some cases, for up to 7 years, as you can read in the Sea to Sky shadow toll series on the Best Of page at the top of my site – Laila)
  • The extent of government involvement- There is significant government involvement in public projects. Even private sector projects require government approval at different levels. the power wielded by government officials in every stage of the construction process,when combined with the structural and financial complexity of these projects, makes it quite easy for unscrupulous government officials to extract large bribes from those undertaking the projects.
  • The impact of corruption in projects goes beyond bribes and fraud, to poor-quality construction and low funding for maintenance. Because much of the infrastructure is hidden behind concrete or brick, builders can cut costs, bribe inspectors to approve sub-standard construction leading to poor quality construction.  ( In Quebec, years of this kind of construction on public infrastructure is creating a problem for the province, with crumbling bridges and overpasses that need extensive rehabilitation. Will we see the same thing happen here in British Columbia with some of our major transportation and infrastructure projects? Certainly many projects have already shown evidence of substandard quality, via the expansion joints on the William R Bennett bridge in Kelowna, and the ever collapsing retaining wall on Lougheed, part of the Port Mann project. – Laila)
  • Sources in British Columbia indicated that government officials responsible for the procurement process ( tender and bidding process) lack the required experience in relation to the commercial construction process. Many who did have the experience retired or moved onto the private sector. Government officials often failed to follow their own procurement policies. ( I have explored this in detail on a previous post, where a source revealed to me that often, the officials in charge of a project will rely on employees of a bidding company for direction, via hiring them as a consultant in the process. Fairness reviewers deemed with examining the bid process for fairness, are often seen as being in a perceived conflict via work with the government on other projects- Laila)

It is simply not acceptable, nor is it in the publics interest, to allow often incompetent, and more often unethical business practices to continue within the B.C. government. It absolutely must stop.

In 2010, in following final ruling of the decade long Tercon vs. British Columbia court case, I said the following:

“.. What is needed is a full and independent inquiry into the actions of the government then, and now, to reveal the truth of what is going on in that portfolio. If the government intends to stand by its claim of administering an honest and open government with integrity, let it start with the Basi-Virk trial upon our doorstep, and end with the Tercon Judgement. The integrity of the entire bidding process, the future of local industry in our province, and what little faith we may have remaining in our elected officials, depends on it.”

 That was 2010. As we know, the Basi-Virk trial was shut down faster than a bear trap snaps its victim, and while Vaughn Palmer picked up the Tercon story, the government denied and ignored any lingering questions.

Two years later, we find ourselves with a premier who campaigned on bringing open government to the people and then quickly revealed herself as being more secretive than Campbell ever was. A premier who mandates transparency and accountability to ensure tax dollars are being spent wisely to give British Columbians a better quality of life… but applies that mandate selectively, targeting her foes and protecting her friends.

I say now, that this report bolsters and supports my repeated calls for a full investigation  and public inquiry into the public procurement process within all ministries of the government of British Columbia, and the sooner the better.

To do anything other, is to condone corruption within government by our elected officials -a concept which should have never been tolerable in the first place.

Public Safety Construction Corruption Report PDF format ( I will be happy to email you a copy of this report upon request)

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18 Responses to “Money and corruption are ruining the land…”

  1. Nora says:

    “Two years later, we find ourselves with a premier who campaigned on bringing open government to the people and then …
    I say now, that this report bolsters and supports my repeated calls for a full investigation and public inquiry into the public procurement process within all ministries of the government of British Columbia, and the sooner the better.”

    I respect the effort you have made to bring many issues to the attention of the public but I disagree with your suggestion for remedy. The reason is that it will not produce the necessary and desired results.

    Somehow, we have to convince the public to vote in power only those people who will work toward direct democracy. When we have such a government and the necessary legislation to facilitate direct democracy, only then can an open investigation and/or inquiry be undertaken. Consequences for unlawful actions can be enforced. The outcome of the entire process will be binding on government, law enforcement, and the courts.

    If we won’t do it now, we better learn to love what we’ve been getting and accept the reality that we will get more of the same.

  2. Laila says:

    I agree with you to a point – certainly the missing womens inquiry is an example of where that method fails sorely. However, until I see ample evidence people in large numbers are willing to look in another direction, we must work within the parameters we have already in place. I have always thought the reason large scaled demonstrations and movements have not been sustainable in Canada is because the larger portion of the population is more conservative and middle of the road than many realize. I get it, you get it, but still it takes some blatant kind of horrible evidence to turn many people around, despite ample proof all around us already. There is a lack of inspiring leadership overall, that appeals to a wide spectrum of citizens.

    There is some legislation in place in instances like this, this report – and my work- has demonstrated that those who work within often ignore their own policy. In BC, we do not take corruption seriously and it has been seriously underestimated, in my opinion,how deeply it really runs. I still stand by my call for a sweeping investigation into the white-collar crime and other forms of criminal influence in public projects, with sweeping changes to the accountability of public spending. These people work for us, we do not work for them. Many in the Ministry of Transportation have gone onto lucrative careers with the very companies that are now bidding in that ministry.

  3. cherylb says:

    What would stop this kind of thing is the clear understanding that if caught, you WILL go to jail….we must insist that the next government enshrine this in legislation….and preferably, retroactively…..

    • Laila says:

      Agreed.Look at Quebec.At least there is some attempt to enforce and stop this activity… here… not so much. And for the senior officials in the ministry to turn their cheek when confronted with this kind of evidence,is appalling. There are so many court cases in various stages, in various ministries, from this kind of jerk around process where government employees have crossed lines with bids and because no one talks about it ( those that do get blacklisted in the industry) it continues. What is an ethical company or person to do? Go to the media and state so and so bribed so and so, or gave them a weekend at a resort on the coast, or seasons tickets, or shares in a company, in exchange for preferred bidder status… and then never get another bid on another government project? Squealers dont get jobs, which is one reason why no one likes to talk about it.

  4. Pete says:

    Wow! Timing is great on this post,with the new Gangs and guns thing Bond announced today, did she mean the gang of Liberals or what? Will they be policing their own misdeeds or will the RCMP step up and do their jobs here? That tercon case is unreal,first time seeing that for me, have to shake my head to read a couple those guys went onto SNC.Business as usual.

    • Laila says:

      Thank you. The Tercon case was precedent setting and has been written on fairly extensively with the impact the ruling has on how this business works. And as we all know, public servents heading over to the more lucrative private sector is nothing new. Companies purposely recruit those who can assist them working the government channels.

  5. Dan Schubart says:

    I had a charged e-mail from my stepson about this:
    http://www2.canada.com/components/print.aspx?id=d8343691-71c8-4e4a-9874-554a6e2631e2&sponsor=

    My first thought was Delta Port. Here is a project that was sprung on us without any sort of consultation by a group of unelected “representatives” who are more than willing to spend our money to write contracts that will benefit friends of the current federal and provincial régimes and do enormous damage to Vancouver Island as well as perpetuate a system of environmental and social degradation that fits so well with the pipeline and tanker fans in Victoria and Ottawa. This is a wet dream for crooked developers, but where are the supporting documents?

    This is relatively small potatoes, but it shows that the corruption goes right to the roots.

    Just the latest foray into pillage-for-profit with a healthy helping of dishonesty and greed to ensure that there will be nothing left by the time these people are escorted out of the halls of power and little hope that there will be any price to pay for the perpetrators.

    It’s hard to focus on engaging in constructive change when these idiots are using our time and resources to tear it down faster than anyone can rebuild it.

    • Laila says:

      I would be interested to hear what your stepson had to say about this link Dan. I know the area well, and agree that there is a bottleneck there through town, however this has the proposed Raven Coal project all over it, which appears to have a lot of opposition against it judging from my last visit over a couple weeks ago. I have heard talk about Sinopecs interest in this and how it is all part of the grand plan for them with the Gateway pipeline to have the bitumen and coal ready to be picked up at coast level. All of the proposed Raven Coal would go to China, and I highly suspect that the companies involved would apply for foreign workers to be brought in as happened in Tumbler Ridge, because of the alleged lack of experienced miners, which means little employment for locals other than trickle down impact of workers buying power in the local economy. In many cases, these mines do not even use local supplies and have all their supplies and materials brought in from elsewhere so the impact is less on the local community than lauded during this approval and assessment stage.

      Everyone is looking to China to save and boost our economy,and I am not saying stop all trade with China, but do it wisely, cautiously and without compromising our national security, nor our evironmental sovereignty. The price we pay to sell them our Bitumen, our resources, is too high on many levels. Our provincial government has placed all their economic eggs in a Chinese basket as well, which is very troubling.

    • Laila says:

      Well that was a good read and a chuckle to, for the manner of presentation. P3’s have been my pet project and I stand with many who agree they can quickly swamp an inexperienced government who dallies in too many, too fast,as was beginning to happen here in B.C.- in my opinion, that is. When the companies who stand to make the obscene returns on their investments and stake in the P3 project are also the ones advising the government how to proceed via supplying “consultants” to whatever ministry is overseeing the P3, that is a red flag right there. And although here in BC we have Partnerships BC which is deemed with overseeing P3s and evaluating them ( which I have shown to be a joke and a questionable one at that) their calculations have been so skewed in favour of the projects it’s laughable. The government banks on the average Joe not understanding this and not being interested in checking it out.

      Well I am not the average Joe and there are some serious problems with this government.

  6. Jack says:

    So what you are saying is that there are a lot more BC Rail’s out there?

    • Laila says:

      Absolutely. Without a doubt. Look at Bob Mackins LDB story. Regardless of whether it is the sale of public asset, or bids on a public project, the same rules of fairness, and untainted bidding applies.Perhaps one day we shall see another raid on the Legislature.

  7. Julie says:

    Campbell’s theft and corrupt sale of the BCR, is the sleaziest crime, in the history of this nation. There was nothing fair nor honest, in that trial.

    The robo-call cheat election fraud, but, nobody did it? The omnibus C-38 bill dogs breakfast, that looks like it was written up by a lunatic? That is how senseless it is. Billions of our tax dollars, wasted and foolishly spent? Government lies, deceit, corruption, dirty tactics, dirty politics and cheating to win. In Canada, politicians are rewarded for their lies and corruption. The vile names politicians call Canadians. The environment being destroyed. The lack of democracy. Civil Rights and Liberties taken away. Those are only some of the reasons, our young people don’t vote. Their morale is really low, their anger and rage growing by the day. Their country doesn’t care about them. They are beginning, to not care about their country. Government corruption and greed is killing this land, and they know it.

    Harper merging Canada in with Communist China, will also destroy this country.. China hacking into other country’s secret files? China selling infected electronic components? Canada redirecting those infected components. Harper has made more enemies, by doing so. By permitting China to bring hordes of Chinese to work the tar sands and hordes building the Enbridge pipeline. I fail to see how the Enbridge pipeline and the dirty tankers from China, do anything for the BC people?

    Fadden of CSIS warned of China’s huge inroads into Canada. He is exactly right.

    The BC citizens know first hand how difficult it is, to get rid of corrupt, evil politicians. Harper is doing to Canada, what Campbell and the BC Liberals did to BC. By the time they get rid of Harper. Canada will be like BC is today, totally destroyed.

  8. Pingback: Port Mann Bridge builder Kiewit faces construction concerns in the U.S. | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

  9. Pingback: SNC Lavalin takes further damage control actions, replaces Gwyn Morgan and 3 directors. | No Strings Attached : Laila Yuile on politics and life in B.C.

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