A government built on lies,obfuscation and obstruction,is nothing to be proud of.

Newer readers often wonder why I feel so strongly the BC Liberals need to go, when I am not a partisan member of any political party. The reason is clear if you read many of the stories on my Best Of page – most of them focus on the many deceptions and blatant lies the government has tried to pass off as truth.

Even in the face of confidential internal documents and compelling evidence that contradicts the governments claims, I’ve had communications staff boldly deny, deflect and well… just outright lie to me in writing, emails ( which I am sure were immediately triple deleted) and on the phone.

Combine that tendency for government deception with their regressive policy and taxation, and toss in a premier who would rather campaign,pose for photo-ops and crack jokes more than govern… and you get a list of more than a hundred reasons the Liberals have to go that has carried through two premiers.. No worries – any new government will get the same scrutiny and the NDP in opposition here in BC already have felt that.

But for now, we focus on our current government in power, because they are the ones who drive the boat. And this current triple  delete email scandal just stinks to high heaven,

First of all, if you haven’t read the entire report, you need to do so. There is far more contained within these pages than fully reported on. In fact while the focus has largely been on George Gretes,the ministerial assistant who allegedly lied under oath and whose case has been referred to the RCMP, there are two more issues within the report that have largely been skimmed over by many in the press.

From Page 5 of that report:

Amrik Virk FOI

Amrik Virk was the minister of Advanced Education, during the time period of that request, but was shuffled to the Ministry of Technology, Innovation and Citizens’ Services on December 18, 2014, following revelations that he was actually aware of the secret bonuses give to new executives in the Kwantlen pay scandal.

Interestingly enough, just days before Amrik Virk was shuffled to his new post,this government guide for staff on email deletion, was revised.


Here’s a close up on that:


Clearly, it was an issue. And this guide is really a bit ridiculous looking in from the perspective of someone wanting to do an FOI, because in my view, provides many outs that make deleting emails that can be very informative,acceptable! And you’ll note nowhere does it address triple deleting emails.

How Amrik Virk still has his post, is beyond me.As a former RCMP officer he knows very well how the spirit of the law is just as important as the law itself. And yet even with all these scandals through two ministries, he stands, fumbling through justifications and apologies.

The other issue which happens to be an ongoing one in the premiers office, is the lack of emails – period.


Premier NoRecords cough, I mean Clark, has a long and very serious history of non-documentation during her time as premier, one that also clearly indicates the culture of non-compliance stems directly from the executive office.

It wasn’t so long ago that shockwaves reverberated around coporate and government offices across the country, after it was discovered that there was no written record of an investigation into the inappropriate actions of a former Clark advisor. 

And let us not forget Ethnic-gate, in which political staffers used private emails to circumvent FOI rules.

But I digress- there are so many examples of where the BC government, it’s ministers and staff have circumvented or avoided FOI rules and shown a clear disregard for the spirit of a transparent and open government. I could go on forever but Integrity BC has posted numerous examples on their public facebook page recently,along with other pertinent info.

At the heart of the matter is a refusal for the BC government to include the duty to document in its own legislation. In fact the government has completely ignored Privacy Commissioner Denhams repeated calls to have a legislated duty to document. 

Foremost among my recommendations is the provision for a legislated “duty to document” key government actions and decisions in Bill 5. This was the main recommendation from my July, 2014 special report into the current state of government archiving in British Columbia, as well as my March, 2013 investigation into the increase in no responsive records replies by the provincial government in response to general access to information requests. It is only when key government actions and decisions are documented that access to information regimes and public archives can be truly effective. It remains my view that a duty to document should be included in the Government Information Act

On three separate occasions since 2013,the premier who promised the most open and accountable government,has ignored the commissioners very important recommendation.  Why?

And why, instead of making the duty to document part of the current legislation, did the government instead remove the penalties associated with the improper handling of government documents? 

This bill will do nothing to stop the spread of this cancer on government transparency.

On top of that, the Depression era law replaces, the Document Disposal Act, at least provides for the possibility that someone who gets rid of government records improperly will face justice. Violating the Document Disposal Act could result in charges under the provincial Offences Act.

Bill 5 specifically removes the application of the Offences Act, so there will be no chance of anybody in government facing legal consequences for improper actions dealing with government documents.

This is quite a contrast to the government ‘s actions in the Ministry of Health data breach case, where they called the RCMP about the potential misuse of government information. We hope the government will be able to explain this difference as the bill is debated.

It’s something I’ve written about several times, here, here and most recently, here.

A government that doesn’t document investigations into inappropriate behavior, doesn’t use email in the premiers office, speaks in person to avoid FOI’s and triple deletes emails so no one can ever recover them. And the really ridiculous thing is, it is so damn easy to prevent all of this – if you really wanted to.

But they don’t. And in my opinion, heads should roll. This has been going on since BC Rail days when backup tapes of all the emails for Gordon Campbell and the ministers were erased. Oops. 

This government is out of control and unaccountable. And people have died because of it. For the premier to repeatedly  claim a lack of knowledge to any of the incidents involving her office and those closest to her,can only mean one of two things: either she is incompetent, or complicit.

It’s not something to be proud of and I urge those in the Liberal government with integrity to speak up and stand up against this.Because it’s just a matter of time before more people are going to speak out. Some already have.

BC Liberals pat themselves on the back over SFPR ‘highway’ opening a year late and $464 million over budget

I’ll give the BC Liberals this: they sure know how to crank out a photo-op and they know how to spin a deuce into silk and make it look like they invented it.

Case in point, the grand opening the of much heralded… and criticized… South Fraser Perimeter Road -aka Highway 17 ( the old highway 17 is renamed 17A).

Spin, rinse, repeat.

Yes indeed all the politicians came out to glad hand and pat backs, including Rich Coleman, Peter Fassbender, Barinder Rasode, Todd Stone, Nina Grewal and Kerry-Lynne Findlay.

Remarkably enough, they even managed to tie this project that is over a year late in completion, to Christy Clarks biggest failure to date, the BC Jobs Plan:

“Completing the SFPR was a key goal in the province’s Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy, which supports the ‘The BC Jobs Plan’ to expand markets for B.C. products and strengthen infrastructure to get goods to market, ensuring B.C is North America’s gateway for Asia-Pacific trade.

The SFPR will generate economic and business opportunities and lead to 7,000 long-term jobs in Delta and Surrey through improved industrial development opportunities along the corridor.”

But what is more ridiculous than claiming that the South Fraser Perimeter Road will lead to 7,000 jobs ( how the Liberals get these numbers no one really knows) , is this this little gem on the press release:


On-time and On-budget?

Some of you will have caught this… and will be laughing, scoffing or otherwise shaking your head in disbelief, but for those of you not privy to the joke, the punchline is “ SFPR opens on-time and on-budget.” This is a Liberal patented tag-line, and is a complete fabrication. They count on very few reporters knowing the full history of this project that was plagued with problems from day 1.

In July  of 2008 when the project was announced and the Requests for Qualifications went out,the press release with it stated construction would start in 2009 and completion was 2012.

In early 2009, the short list of consortiums were issued the Request for Proposals and again, the completion date was stated as 2012.

However, something went wrong between April 2009 and May 2o10, the date of the next press release that announced who the successful bidder was: not only had a major change had been made in the corporate makeup of the winning bidder, but the completion date had suddenly been delayed for an entire year, with no explanation given!


BC Liberal Claim number 1 -South Fraser Perimeter Road on time?  False.

Let’s talk budget now.

In 2006, the  construction budget in future dollars for the SFPR was estimated at approx.  $700 million dollars.

However, rising costs of land expropriations drove that cost far higher ( a very disgusting but routine story in itself when it comes to Ministry of Transportation projects, see my end links for how the MOT conducts its land deals…), and the Liberals announced that an additional ‘contingency’ was set for $300,000. ( what budget doesn’t include a contingency, I don’t know..but that’s how the Libs work)

In fact, in August of 2010, it was announced that the ministry had increased the budget by $37 million found in savings to other capital projects… never saying where those savings had come from: http://lailayuile.com/2010/08/13/south-fraser-perimeter-road-moves-ahead-as-revised-fraser-transportation-group-signs-agreement-with-ministry-of-transportation/

*Total cost of construction upon announcement: $700-800 million dollars (  it depends on which press release you look at- it changes)

*Total cost being heralded by politicians today? $1.26 billion dollars. ( this figure also varies depending on past press reports)

*Total actual cost overruns according to my calculations ?  approx. $264 million – or around a 40-45% increase

BC Liberal Claim number 2- South Fraser Perimeter Road on Budget? False

What else the BC Liberals press release didn’t tell the public

Beyond the fallacy that this project was on time and on budget, the press release failed to mention a number of other items. The project was plagued by controversy from the beginning:

-Even losing bidders win, when it comes to the BC Government… who hands out million dollar stipends to losing bidders to compensate them for their time and expense. SFPR included. http://lailayuile.com/2010/05/24/when-is-a-losing-bidder-not-a-losing-bidder-when-it-involves-bidding-on-a-ministry-of-transportation-project/

-Despite the fact it was pushed as a nonstop freeway route where trucks did not have to stop and idle, and despite the massive cost overruns, the project was still downgraded significantly from a highway with no stops, to a highway with lighted intersections… intersections that would not only result in congestion on opening day ( hence the Saturday before Christmas opening), but intersections that will result in safety issues as well. http://www.deltachamber.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/SFPR-interchanges-case.pdf

Now, not only will trucks to the port have to stop and idle, they will be mingling with cars and minvans since the province is now pushing this route as  not only the only free alternative to the tolled Port Mann bridge, but a fast way to the ferries. Unfortunately a lack of clear signage has already resulted in lost motorists, prior to the opening.

– Nor will the Liberals tell you about the Railgate connection to all of it…which is huge. It is not something that has been talked about other than a side story, but is very significant of itself.



– And they certainly left out about how absolutely vital the SFPR is to the shadow plan to industrialize and build homes on the ALR land south of the Fraser…which might explain all the smiley faces in the photo above. This is a must read.


No… the BC Liberals won’t tell you any of that in their feel good, lets all hold hands and sing Kumbaya together press opp. They don’t want you to know they are going to have to rebuild all those intersection a few years from now, and that they could have saved taxpayers a ton of money by doing it now. They don’t want you to know that the safety of the road was questioned before it was completed, as linked to above.

They just want you to drive on the damn road so they have enough road count numbers to justify the construction of the items they chose not to do as costs escalated. They just want to share the momentary joy of having completed one portion of the plan to remove much of the ALR south of the Fraser, to share the momentary joy of getting truck to the port before the expanded Panama Canal takes a portion of our shipping container traffic away.

Fiscal responsibility went out the window long ago. Don’t be surprised when the traffic jams start being reported on the news every day… this new road/aka highway was destined to be a dud before it even opened.

Merry Christmas Todd. I know it’s not the mess you created, but you certainly stepped into it.


Have the BC Liberals provided dictionaries with a new example of attempted bribery or bribery itself ?



1. Something, such as money or a favor, offered or given to a person in a position of trust to influence that person’s views or conduct.
2. Something serving to influence or persuade.

v.  bribed, brib·ing, bribes


“The NDP hammered BC Liberal rookie multiculturalism minister Teresa Wat and finance minister Mike de Jong in Question Period on July 15 over an alleged bribery attempt that was uncovered in the nearly 8,000 pages of Quick Wins scandal documents.
A heavily censored Sept. 18, 2012 email originating from multiculturalism communications director Brian Bonney says:

“Have Harry Bloy meet with her and explain how doing anything would damage the Premier and the party. Have him say how he will try to find her work and get her back involved… Assess her response and advise… Have Brian (Bonney) meet with her and do the same… Assess her response and advise… If need be, offer x dollars per month to do non public work up to election (developing her database of potential supporters).”

The identity of the disgruntled staffer is not evident, but speculation is already underway.

I’m awaiting the breathless denials of any knowledge of any of this from Premier Christy Clark…


Friends helping friends: The story of how the BC Liberal – SNC Lavalin connection persists with Christy Clark.

Click on the photo below to see Gwyn Morgans person contributions to the BC Liberals and Christy Clark.

Gwyn Morgan

Now…. let’s go back and read this story, detailing some of the conflicts behind the proposed Victoria LRT line, SNC and Clark.

The BC Liberal – SNC Lavalin connection: Moral hazard is when they take your money and then are not responsible for what they do with it.

And yes…. no surprise here… SNC gets the new skytrain line project:

SNC Lavalin awarded Evergreen Line rapid transit project in Metro Vancouver

Former SNC head Pierre Duhaime formally charged with fraud.  ( yes that would be the very same Pierre whose indignant quotes regarding the corruption report in Quebec are included in the first link above)

In a related story, the revelations and allegations keep piling up in Quebec’s Charbonneau inquiry into corruption in the construction industry there : an engineering firm confirmed today that it engaged in  “inappropriate conduct” in the financing of political parties in Quebec and the awarding of municipal contracts as outlined in recent allegations to the province’s corruption inquiry. http://www.montrealgazette.com/business/Charbonneau+allegations+Genivar+confirms+inappropriate/7948176/story.html

One can only wonder if there is a politician in British Columbia who is ready to take on similar and ongoing allegations relating to bidding “irregularities” for both provincial and municipal contracts in our fine province, several of which I’ve written about here on this site.

When companies bidding on contracts:

  • wine and dine politicians and senior staff members;
  •  engage in the excessive financing of political parties and candidates;
  • advise and mentor politicians while holding active contracts;
  • provide access to entertainment, go on personal vacations with and otherwise provide gains to provincial and municipal politicians that would, without a doubt, be considered a conflict of interest or influence peddling….

… then we have entered the realm of corruption.

It has been revealed in the ongoing corruption inquiry in Quebec that Habs tickets were the currency of choice for companies eager to corrupt city and provincial officials and staff. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/montreal/story/2013/02/10/habs-ticket-corruption-inquiry.html?cmp=rss

Hmm…anybody sweating yet?

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.

My repeated calls for a full investigation into the government bidding process within all ministries of the government of B.C. ( and certain municipalities) have gone unheeded or acknowledged by any party in British Columbia, even when bolstered with a federal report indicating a lack of accountability, experience and transparency in the process.

To do anything less, is to condone corruption within government by our elected officials, by those deemed with the power to stop it.

Weekend roundup for your reading pleasure!

With this stunning and somewhat rare West Coast Sunshine, we should all be outside enjoying the weather before it returns to nasty rain again!  However, I know a lot of people down with flu and colds now, and so I’ve compiled a few items of interest I found that I think you might want to check out!

1) Katherine Blaze Carlsons column in the National Post: ” Long Before Milf Interview, Christy’frickin’ Clark laughed her way through Questions on Her Looks andstunnedchristy Nudity In This Radio Chat ”    

Well, it’s about time you got on board, Katherine, but better late than never! The CFOX appearance was just part of the argument behind my December 27th post here and on the Huffington Post BC, but a crucial one, because as I wrote then, and stand by now, it set the standard for what was acceptable topic of conversation with the premier on that kind of station.  Don’t forget, you heard it here first, linked to within the comments section below the first post.  By the way, the earth opened up and nearly swallowed me live on Friday when I arrived home to an onslaught of messages about Bill Good.. gasp.. agreeing with my points in an earlier interview with Mike Smyth. Cue up the Audio Vault for 9 am Friday the 11th to hear firsthand.

2) Why is Christy Clark deleting messages of concern from movie industry workers, from her Facebook page?

Good friend and BC actor, Adrian Hough mentioned to me recently that Christy Clarks team had deleted dozens of message from her Facebook page, from members of the film and movie industry in BC… read on my friends!

The  countless messages  from both actors and actresses, and film/movie industry workers were left on her Facebook page in response to the news that the BC government could not make a case for any added emphasis in the BC Jobs Plan for film, television or video game industries.

Bob Mackin has the story : http://www.timescolonist.com/film-tv-gaming-left-out-of-bc-jobs-plan-1.44327

Interesting… Clark claims to have an open government that wants to communicate with the people, she states again and again she would rather talk to people than sit in the legislature… but when people want to talk to her… she ( her team) deletes their comments from her Facebook page?  Not exactly indicative of a leader who wants to hear from the people, if you ask me!

Luckily, one smart cookie took screen shots and posted them for posterity :http://www.ninja12.com/cc/

moneyNow, to me, the only reason she, or her staff would delete them all – and they were all civil – was so that no one else in the province saw the disappointment of a major industry being left out in the cold.  I find this compelling, because there is definite pressure on other sectors that have traditionally brought in revenue to provincial coffers, so why wouldn’t the government be interested in promoting and expanding that? And what will the impact be for BC film industry workers?  I asked Adrian for his take on this, and this is what he had to say:

BC actor Adrian Hough with Christian Slater” The film industry  has contributed something in the realm of 2 billion dollars to the province or more, but has been losing production like crazy, as well as talent to the East…which means that someone like me, who makes a living on frequent roles in production, Vancouver based, will have less opportunity.  Crews are being hit the hardest however.

I love living in BC, but if production leaves here, I might also be forced to.  My kids are here. I love BC.  The mountains, the ocean, the fresh air.  I like the community I have developed in the industry, and in my adopted hometown of Nanaimo. 

Making a living from the arts is possible, and most performers, and film people are incredibly generous with their skills, and selves, and work unreasonable hours.  The stories we tell are seen all over the world, as well as at home.. I think it does something good to people to be able to look at a film or television series,  and see someplace or someone they know.  Or recognize as their own. 

As far as economics go, talent and skills and stories are a totally renewable and unending (and therefore sustainable) resource.   ( my emphasis there-ly.)

But we have to remain competitive with Ontario and Quebec and the Maritimes and as for the ‘money people’, ( I have spoken to quite a few of them) they say that if they can take a show somewhere else, and save money in production, they will.  And it is happening.”

Talk about shortsighted leadership. Times are changing and so must we as we work towards a shift from a resource based economy to other economic engines.  Adrian makes a very compelling argument for fostering growth in an industry that, in an entertainment hungry society, could very well contribute more to our economy than it does now.

But hey, I’m just a writer/blogger/columnist… what do I know?  : )

**Note, I just noticed Bob Mackin has the same story poste, albeit an hour earlier, and has embedded a link to the site above on his blog- check it out here – credit where credit is due!!! http://2010goldrush.blogspot.ca/2013/01/film-folks-furious-premier-photo-op.html

3)  Andrew Nikiforuk, of whom I am a very big fan of, has a must read series on fracking over at the Tyee. In the series, he “takes a look at four very big claims the industry uses to reassure the public”  that fracking is A-ok for the environment, people and our future. A must read if you share the same concerns over fracking in BC as I do.


4) Last but not least, Rob Shaw of the Time Colonist has a story out this weekend very relevent to the payoff payout of Basi-Virk legal fees..… of which I’m not unfamiliar with…. which lends even more credence (not that it is needed) to the theory that this was a deal made to keep them in silence, and prevent a trial from revealing the truth to the public. The timing is very interesting.. in particular because of Auditor General John Doyles strong attempts to get at the truth behind this deal… oh wait… arent the Liberals trying to fire him?…. hmmmm.


Of course, whether you are a reader  in the lower mainland, the UK, or in Europe, don’t forget to check back tomorrow night for a sneak peak at  my upcoming column in Mondays edition of 24 hours Vancouver, The Duel, with Kathryn Marshall!

“British Columbians deserve easy to understand financial reporting,with a clean opinion, from their government” ~ Auditor General John Doyle

On November 6th, 2012, the Select Standing Committee on Public Accounts met to discuss the  Audit Plan submitted by the office of the Auditor General, who as we now know, is the  current target of dismissal by the BC Liberals.

The questions and answers quite frankly, are quite onerous to read, but clearly, there are many on this committee who have issues with both his offices direct oversight and his offices intention to rectify how the government reports its financials. Of note is the fact that Doyle wanted to continue direct oversight over the Legislative Assembly Management Committee… the same committee who issued an ad looking for a new auditor general… and continued direct oversight over Transportation Investment Corporation, the crown corp overseeing the Port Mann Bridge/Hwy 1 project. The liberals did not enjoy his pointed references to their less than standard accounting…. again.

Take a look  at this discussion http://www.leg.bc.ca/cmt/39thparl/session-4/pac/hansard/P21106a.htm

And at the Auditors proposed Audit plan for the coming years (pdf format)…..

Audit Coverage plan

Most damning, is this report from December 2012 that highlighted a few recommendations his office  made to the government…. and they have still yet to rectify:

audit observations

” …Goverment chose  accounting standards and presentation methods that reduce volatility in reported income. …. means it is easier to meet balanced budget targets.”

… British Columbians deserve easy-to-understand financial reporting, with a clean opinion, from their government. “

And after years of Doyle telling the same sad story of how the Liberals have their own method of rigging the books to create an illusion that works best for them….. you tell me why the Liberals might not want him around any more.

The definition… of desperation.



 “John Doyle, the tough Auditor-general who has taken the B.C. Liberal government to task on everything from access to documents related to the Basi-Virk political corruption case to B.C. Hydro’s highly controversial use of deferral accounts, appears to have been denied in his bid for a second term.

On Saturday, a legislative committee charged with deciding if Doyle’s five-year term should be renewed, ran a series of newspaper advertisements seeking a new candidate for the job, a clear sign they have decided to find a new Auditor-general for B.C.

The committee gave applicants until January 25 to apply.

Members of the five-person bipartisan committee are bound to secrecy, but New Democratic Party caucus chair Shane Simpson pointed the finger directly at the B.C. Liberals.

“We’re very disappointed. We think it was petty and vindictive on the part of the Liberals,” he said in an interview, adding he strongly believes it was the committee’s Liberal members who were responsible for the decision.

Simpson said he cannot speak to the two NDP members of the committee — Bruce Ralston and Kathy Corrigan – about what happened, but said the two were “well aware” the NDP caucus strongly supported Doyle’s reappointment.

He added the advertisements are a clear sign the committee has rejected reappointment and has moved on to an external search.

“I don’t know specifically what they did but I expect they represented our caucus’ interests,” he said, adding it would have taken a unanimous vote for the committee to re-appoint Doyle.”

The top post of 2012 on LailaYuile.com: “How money and corruption are ruining the land.” originally posted June 19th, 2012

Corruption in government has been on many readers minds this year, backed up by this story, first posted here back in June, which received a whopping number of unique views, catching the attention of readers and governments alike, around the world.

As a precursor to coming stories, I urge you to read this post, and the report, and think about the less sensational side of corruption, the side we don’t often see.

And think about, why most people in B.C. who were approached during the investigation leading to this report…. refused to even talk about it.

“Money and corruption are ruining the land…”

Posted on June 19, 2012by

“…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, I 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, Christy Clark, who has openly discussed her relationship with a powerful man who remained on the Board of Directors for SNC Lavelin – while the company has ongoing contracts and new bids outstanding.

Surprised? Shocked?… Why ?

This is how it works in British Columbia, not unlike how it works in Quebec. We just seem to have perfected the ability to fly under that radar.

This is the preferred way of doing business that most bureacrats with the provincial government, have no problem with…. and one 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. , despite the fact that the construction industry overall, was at a medium to high risk of corruption in this province.

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 exactly 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 by the federal government 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)

Iain Hunter asks: “Why can’t people take a joke? Why can’t people take Christy Clark” .. well, let me spell it out for you.

In todays Times Columnist, Iain Hunter waxes on about the bum rap given to the still unelected Christy Clark by the media, women… and everyone else in B.C.

Hunter bemoans the fact that when a politician is in trouble.. anything and everything they do works against them. Go on, read and weep. Wah Wah. Cry for me Argentina. Suck it up, buttercup and hang on for the ride, which isn’t pretty.

Here’s the deal Hunter – let me give you a little insight into why political chameleon Clark can’t even risk making a wee joke, nor do any of us care to tolerate her any longer.

She is as fake as the Gucci handbags sold for $29.95 at flea markets all over Metro Vancouver. And like those handbags, while they look really good at first, when you put them to the test they fall apart like an old sock.

Most of us know that while she is a provincial liberal, she is also a federal liberal. So sucking up to the big man Harper with a Timmys in hand watching hockey with a finger in her dimple.. well.. it doesn’t even ring remotely sincere, or real.

Taking a trip down memory lane.. she resigned from the legislature before the BC Rail debacle hit the proverbial fan, stating she wanted time to spend with Hamish, dear child, and her family… and then shortly afterwards ran for mayor of Vancouver, unsuccessfully.

Despite the overwhelming evidence that the need to care for her child and family was the reason she left politics was false,she worked with her federal liberal wunderbar ex- hubbie  Mark at Burrard Communications until Kinsella allegedly bagged her a spot at CKNW.

Yes indeed, that kept her in the spotlight alright, until she set her sights back on larger fish… forget the people of BC, she had ambitions…Campbell went down in flames, she ran against the Falconater  for BC liberal leadership and won.. .and since then, the rest is an example of the worst political marketing strategy in history.

She’s a Filipina in her heart… ( I doubt she even knows what tocino or longaniza is, both staples to Filipino friends I love) … a south asian at Vaisakhi in traditional garb, a concerned citizen of BC, sweeping broken glass in a suit, low-cut top and high heels photo op following the Vancouver riots, ( does she know how a broom works? ) a conservative at the traditionally fed con fundraiser Beans and Jeans… and a wanna be pride participant when goaded.… dare I go on?

Honestly, if the Rover discovered aliens on Mars, I think at this point, Christy would be up there shaking hands and handing out cards with her name on them.

Oh yes. She does indeed make jokes about kicking all the men out at all female events, something many women find repugnant because it calls to sexism of a different sort. Go women, men suck has no place in 2011 and I am hardly the only one who thinks that.  Epic fail for Clark. Epic. More so than calling out her old colleagues and fans at CKNW at that same Beans and Jeans fundraiser… wow.. do you feel loved, appreciated? Get over it – you were nada but a stepping stone on the way to the premiers chair she has currently chained herself to like none before her.

Reality check Ms.Clark. Men aren’t all bad, but fakes – regardless of sex – are incredibly damaging to all politicians, indeed. And Clark is one of the biggest fakes, most obvious chameleons to grace B.C. in a very, very long time.

Please, I beg you Ms. Clark, give us an election on time. Give us a loyal conservative to hate, a dedicated socialist, an intrepid commie or even a weed smoking pot party candidate to examine.  At the very least, we can respect their honesty in their political leaning and presentation – unlike yourself.

As for Clark? She stands for anything and everything and is apparently loyal to nothing but her own blind ambition and power. The continued announcements of her caucus who won’t be running again support this statement. They don’t believe in her either.

I beg you, Iain Hunter, prove me wrong.


(photo from : http://lailayuile.com/2011/10/25/tuesday-morning-funny-photo/ )

Back by popular demand: Falcon’s follies ~ Gateway,SFPR and the Railgate connection.

Indeed, with the revelations brought forward by Vicky Huntington and other dedicated researchers on the ALR land being optioned in Delta...there has been increasing attention around several older posts of mine.

You can find them all here under the BEST OF page, under the Falcon’s Follies series… which leads into another series about Shadow tolls on the Sea to Sky highway- something mayors in metro Van ( and Christy Clark!) seem to still be clueless about as they whine about nary a toll being paid on that highway to the elite’s playground.

But as I work on the new post about foreign interests in Canada and our increasing loss of sovereignty… please enjoy some of Kevin Falcon’s follies ~ Gateway,SFPR and the Railgate connection. Originally posted February 6th, 2011.

It was a very sunny day in September 2006, when Premier Gordon Campbell arrived for the grand opening of Simon Fraser University’s Surrey campus, smack dab in the heart of Whalley. Despite the demands of his busy schedule, Campbell did make time to sit with local reporter, Tom Zytaruk… and what a revealing interview it was, indeed.

Campbell, in town to open the SFU campus on Friday, said his government is concentrating on building up this side of the river to reduce the need for commuting to Vancouver.

” It’s building a critical mass of urban commercial cultural activities here.” he said. ” There is a perception that everyone is going from here( Surrey) to there ( Vancouver). This is a perception founded in 1982. In reality, people are coming from there to here.”

The massive Gateway  project aimed at improving the transportation of goods on this side of the Fraser through initiatives like the South Fraser Perimeter Road, says Campbell, isn’t progressing fast enough.

” I’d like it faster,” he said. ” We need to move on it. We’re further behind this year than we were last year. Every year that we wait generates additional costs,additional negative impacts.”

Of particular importance in the above excerpt is that Campbell talks about his governments concentrated efforts to build up development south of the Fraser, and the Gateway project-South Fraser Perimeter Road, in the same breath.

Why this is so important? I’ll tell you.

 Instead of winding down B.C. Rail as was the agenda of government at the time of the “sale”,former Minister of Transportation, Kevin Falcon, went on to give B.C. Rail a new mandate to develop Gateway access to B.C. ports for container rail traffic. Largely unknown to most of the general public until media reports of testimony last year in the Basi-Virk trial addressed the new mandate, what was a revelation to many, was in fact part of what many believe was part of the concentrated effort to  assist in building up development south of the Fraser River.

The  mandate and agenda presented in  the 2005-2007 service plan for BC rail appears as it was intended : the rail line and it’s subsidiaries would dispose of the bulk of its holdings over a period of time, slowing winding down. http://www.bcrco.com/2005serveplan.pdf

After all, as the government continues to contend, BC rail was laden with debt, a massive burden to the province.

However, the 2007-2009 service plans indicates clearly Falcon’s change of mandate which orders BC rail to get in line and assist the Asia-Pacific Gateway strategy – a must read if there ever was one. In fact, the service plan states the new mandate was introduced early in 2006, which happens  also to be when former transportation minister Kevin Falcon and premier Campbell released the Gateway program information report. 

It wasn’t until McCullough had Brian Kenning, a former BC rail board member,on the stand in the Basi- Virk trial last fall, that the  majority of the general public first heard about that change of mandate outlined above -the following from an article by Keith Fraser :

The details came out during the third day of cross-examination of former B.C. Rail board member Brian Kenning.

In 2008, five years after the Crown corporation had been largely sold off, a number of B.C. Rail executives flew to other key ports, including Hong Kong and Dubai, said Kenning, who sat on the evaluation committee for the sale of B.C. Rail and headed the audit committee.

“So B.C. Rail, in 2008, a company with [few employees], you’re saying it’s necessary for them to go on airline travel to the Far East, have I got that right?” asked defence lawyer Kevin McCullough.

“No, you haven’t got that right,” said Kenning. “What I’m saying is that we had a new mandate from the government that required us to carry out our job,” said Kenning. “We made the decision that trips to other, key, world-class ports would be helpful to us in carrying out what was a new duty tasked to us by the minister of transportation and the premier’s office.”

McCullough pressed Kenning on why B.C. Rail, which only had a small rail line at Roberts Bank and no trains by this point, would agree to such an expenditure.

“As a board member, did you not think that was absurd?” he said.

“No, it wasn’t absurd,” said Kenning. “I think it makes perfect sense, given what the government asked us to do.”

From Neil Hall:

After BC Rail was sold, Kenning recalled, the plan was to wind down the company after it sold up to $300 million of its real estate holdings, which was expected to take two years.

But he said the transportation minister at the time, Kevin Falcon, gave BC Rail an additional mandate, asking it to develop “gateway access” to ports, so executives flew to Dubai and Hong Kong for discussions with officials.

McCullough asked Kenning if he thought it was absurd that BC Rail, which was by then a small company with no trains, would send executives abroad.

Kenning said the government told the company to look at other ports with high container traffic, and that’s why executives were sent overseas

To be certain, Gateway has always been former transportation minister Kevin Falcon’s baby, as was the SFPR. It is well-known and documented  that Falcon was the driving force to make a concept that had been around for years, a reality,  and in particular he has always been vehement in his defence of the South Fraser Perimeter Road( SFPR). The rationale used to support the project always revolved around the movement of trucks carrying goods and cargo to and from Deltaport.  But to some who knew, BC rails new mandate to support the Gateway initiative and port development through the Roberts Bank Corridor was seemingly at odds with the reasoning to wind it down as a debt-ridden burden to the province.

Of course, the  key to BC rails new mandate revolved around the rail line to Deltaport-more commonly known as the Roberts Bank Spur line, which was alleged to have been offered to Omnitrax as a consolation prize in exchange for not dropping out of the already tainted bidding process for BC Rail.

Lawyers Michael Bolton for David Basi and Kevin McCullough for Bob Virk have repeatedly argued in court that their clients’ political superiors ordered the consolation prize be given to OmniTRAX.

The RCMP told B.C. Liberal Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon that the separate privatization process for the port subdivision had to be cancelled because it had been compromised by leaks of confidential government information.

(The article  is a must read, even more relevent now in the entire railgate affair than ever)

Of course, the line was never sold, and there was a very good reason why not. Had Omnitrax actually obtained ownership of that line, the Asia-Pacific Gateway initiative may not have transpired the way it did.

Likely realising the gem before him, former transportation minister Kevin Falcon thus changed the mandate of BC rail, which effectively halted the wind-down as previously planned. Additional staff were even required to facilitate the new activities and goals of BC Rail to support Deltaport and the gateway initiative.

In January of 2007, whispers of BC rail attempting to purchase land were making waves in North Delta coffee shops. Shortly thereafter, it hit the pages of the Delta Optimist that BC rail was making plans for a new rail yard at Roberts Bank. Although the company only owned an option to purchase a 250 foot strip along the rail line, landowners told the paper BC rail came to them asking to purchase large parcels. BC Rail claimed the landowners came to them.

In August, 2007, B.C. Rail applied to the Agricultural Land Commission for permission to purchase, subdivide, and build an expanded right-of-way along the Deltaport rail line on 52 acres of active farmland.  The expanded right-of-way required the subdivision of nine properties in the Agricultural Land Reserve.

The Application (#0-37610) was NOT for exclusions but the right to subdivide farmland and build within the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Instead of purchasing just the 52 acres as approved, to date B.C. Rail has spent over 15 million taxpayer dollars to purchase over 150 acres of prime Delta farmland in the Agricultural Land Reserve.  Instead of buying portions of properties, B.C. Rail has purchased large parcels between Deltaport and a service road to the south.

These properties were originally crown properties of the Roberts Bank Backup Lands that were expropriated by the province in 1968 and 1969 for port development. Subsequently they were sold back to the farmers between 8 and 10 years ago for very reasonable prices.

The rationale given for the expanded right-of-way has always been the planned future Terminal 2 at Roberts Bank. The plans east of Highway 17 are to accommodate the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

What makes all of this so interesting is that these acres and acres of farmland properties BC Rail has purchased, border  a good portion of the land that was removed from the Agricultural Land Reserve under the Tsawwassen First Nation treaty. The Tsawwassen First Nation received approximately 207 hectares (511 acres) from the ALR as part of the deal.

Some of the that land is going to be industrial development,right beside the BC rail lands. following link shows the TFN is open for business: http://www.tsawwassenfirstnation.com/TEDC_Open_for_Business_Brochure.pdf

” TEDC also issued a Request for Expressions of Interest to find a qualified partner for development of the first 100 acres of TFN Industrial Lands.On the commercial side, TEDC entered into a Letter of Intent to develop a 100 acre commercial site (on the north side of Highway 17) with Property Development Group (PDG). PDG is an experienced shopping centre developer that has developed projects on other First Nation lands.TFN was also featured in a provincial government initiative to connect foreign investment with business opportunities in BC. “

Something tells me, that we need to go back to that interview with Campbell from 2006, where he stated his government was concentrating on building urban commercial centers south of the Fraser River…

When you consider that the SFPR began as a dedicated highway complete with interchanges to move container trucks to and from the port and it has ended up being nothing more than just another road, and a highly questionable one at that, you have to wonder why Falcon pushed so hard for this project during his time as transportation minister. Certainly,there have proven to be more than a few flaws with the project that Falcon and the Liberals never counted on, and  have had to compensate  for.

The global economic meltdown, for one – the fallout of which is still greatly evident in reduced container traffic through our ports, thus negating the crux of the rationale behind the SFPR. The reason why the project has been downgraded several times (possibly at great risk to drivers, with a major interchange reduced to a light controlled intersection at one crucial juncture ) we have been told is because  current and projected traffic volumes did not merit the build.

Some analysts have been saying all along that Deltaport container traffic is unlikely to ever reach the levels it once was considering the Panama Canal expansion opens only one year after the SFPR –  greatly reducing the likelihood Asia will continue to offload goods here on the west coast. With the expanded canal able to accommodate super-cargo carriers, shippers can make the more cost-effective choice of delivering goods directly to the eastern coast of the USA and Canada via the canal, rather than stopping here and then trucking or sending cargo via rail across the country.

And then let us not forget the very profitable bounty of curious land deals that have been occurring since 2005 along the current route of the SFPR – some long before specific details were known to the general public and even prior to the completion of the environmental assessments.( to be detailed in a future installment)

Add it all up and it appears there are grand plans underway to develop and industrialize hundreds of acres of lands south of Deltaport way, and the BC Rail  spur line and subsequent land aquisitions are central to it.

A note of interest at this point, is that Colliers international did a report on the real estate benefits of the SFPR, even before the project included this southern portion. From that report:

 ”Colliers carried out a two phase study with reports provided in November 1999 and January 2000.  Phase I forecast the type, magnitude and rate of land development without and with SFPR.  Key findings and conclusions were:

 SFPR catchment area of South Westminster, Bridgeview, Port Mann and Fraser Heights has approximately 900 acres of vacant industrial land of which 50% is serviced.

 Without the SFPR, it is forecast that approximately 200 acres would be developed for industrial purposes by 2021.  With SFPR all 900 acres would be developed by 2021.  The incremental 700 acres of industrial development can be attributed to enhanced accessibility due to SFPR.

Colliers conclude that this increase in demand would be reallocation from within Greater Vancouver.”

Both Gateway and the SFPR have been instrumental in allowing both government and developers  relatively unfettered access to one of the last great undeveloped tracts of land yet untouched because it sits in the agricultural land reserve -all through a series of land deals,swaps and treaties no one anticipated before it was too late.

Some say Gateway and the South Fraser Perimeter Road are two of former transportation minister Kevin Falcon’s biggest follies. Considering the number of land titles I hold in my hand from deals related to these projects, I would say they have potential to rival the land deals along the Sea to Sky highway.

Either way, I’d say perhaps Omnitrax really did  lose out on the most expensive consolation prize in history… and former transportation minister-now- liberal-leadership-hopeful Kevin Falcon has more questions to answer, since he was behind the mandate that turned BC rail into a tool for land development in Gateway.

*** BC Rail went onto a long term agreement with Kinder Morgan as a result of issuing this request back in 2006. http://www.bcrco.com/operating.pdf

***On April 1st, 2010, BCRC was brought back into government under the BC Transportation Financing Authority,and it’s reporting will be combined with the BCTFA, as reported in the 2009 report, which is good reading.  http://www.bcrco.com/2009report.pdf

Excerpts of interest from that report:

-During 2009, the Company met all its specific mandated objectives and continued to work toward its mandate of acquiring and holding railway corridors and strategic port lands and making related infrastructure investments to support the Pacific Gateway initiative.

– BCRC’s primary mandate is to support and facilitate the British Columbia Ports Strategy (“BC Ports Strategy”) and Pacific Gateway Strategy, by providing consulting advice, acquiring and holding railway corridor and strategic port lands, and making related infrastructure investments for the Province. – acquisition and retention by BCR Properties Ltd. of key lands which support port terminal operations. BCRC, through its subsidiary BCR Properties Ltd., has also retained ownership of port-related lands,

-On April 1 2010, 100% ownership was transferred to the BC Transportation Financing Authority (“BCTFA”). From this date onwards, information reported in the BCRC Annual Report will be consolidated into the BCTFA, resulting in this being the last annual report for BCRC.
– BCRC is principally a holding company with its commercial and business activities conducted through its operating subsidiaryBCR Properties Ltd. (“BCR Properties”). This wholly owned subsidiary operates the Port Subdivision, the 24-mile railway line connecting three major railways (CN Rail, Canadian Pacific Railway, and BNSF Railway) with the port terminals at Roberts Bank. Although it does not operate its own trains on this railway line, BCR Properties maintains the track and manages all train operations, recovering its costs from the three user railways based on their respective share of traffic over the line. BCR Properties also manages the Company’s non-railway real estate portfolio. This includes retention and management of the strategic port-related lands including lands associated with Vancouver Wharves and Squamish Terminals operations.

– Benefit to the Public   The main benefit to the public of BCRC’s operations comes from its role in helping to implement the Shareholder’s BC Ports Strategy and Pacific Gateway Strategy. These strategies will add billions of dollars of economic output and more than 30,000 jobs in British Columbia by 2020 by expanding and increasing the efficiency of the province’s transportation infrastructure. While increasing the province’s capacity to serve export markets, it will also directly benefit British Columbians by improving movement of people and goods, facilitating economic growth, increasing transportation choices and enhancing connections to designated population growth areas. *****