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.


Chinese State owned oil giant plans takeover of Canadian based Novus Energy.

Yes, another one bites the dust and while investors clink glasses of fine scotch as they watch the stock prices rise, I’m left wondering what this slow but steady advance of Chinese state takeovers in Canada will ultimately mean – not only for our country, but for our ability to control our own resources.

It appears I am not the only one left what the end game will be played out. This is a great read.


More recent news on Chinese interests in Canada : http://lailayuile.com/2013/08/28/petro-china-executives-face-corruption-probe/



*** check back in the next day or so for a more Translink revelations.

What’s it like working with Premier Christy Clark? “She’s a role model for the next generation…” ~ Rich Coleman, minister of everything.

Thankfully, I’ll never have to find out. However, Rich Coleman, minister of everything under the sun has, and actually likes working with Christy so much, he made this video on YouTube just to prove how much he likes working with her.

Hmm…  ok….is it just me, or does Rich Coleman look like he’s in an interrogation room? Did someone make him do this video? Is there a bomb under his chair ? Why does he look so nervous? Why is he blinking so much?

Hmm. let’s think back… we have Milfgate, the Boessenkool botched investigation,Christy’s spending,spending,spending, nonstop pandering ( In her heart, shes a Filipina) which has now been revealed as part of an elaborate plan to make some quick wins of the ethic communities…. and she’s a role model for the next generation ?

No wonder the poor man looks like a deer caught in headlights.

Now.. while you are chewing on that bit of gristle ( and there are more, and I refer to all of them as gristle because they are really, really hard to swallow )… I’m working on two items for you… a new blog for the Huffington Post BC on the leaked emails and Clarks reaction… and an item for a new venture I am working on.

Enjoy… or…laugh… or … run for the hills… take your pick.

(And I apologize for the lack of posts, I’ve been quite sick and only doing wee bits here and there. )

“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)

Commentary on Enbridge coming later tonight, but for now : More trouble for SNC Lavalin

SNC Lavalin is facing more problems today, as the World Bank temporarily bans one of it subsidiaries from bidding on any new contracts while it continues its investigation.

SNC-Lavalin Unit Debarred By World Bank

Of course, this is just another bad day for the engineering giant that has been the subject of an RCMP raid,several scandals as well as a class action lawsuit filed by investors earlier this year. For the full meal deal on all the problems of SNC, head over to this previous blog post:

“Moral hazard is when they take your money and then are not responsible for what they do with it.”~ Gordon Gekko

** update : Enbridge post will be up tomorrow am. Frankly, I was so angry I thought best to sleep on it before posting…

Surely this must be a violation of the Elections Act…

Forwarded Message —–
From: Kevin Falcon <k.falcon@bcliberals.com>
Sent: Wednesday, July 27, 2011 7:37:04 PM
Subject: Down to the wire


Down to the wire

Dear Friends:As we enter the final days before voting ends on the HST referendum I wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the status of our effort on the ‘NO’ side to keep the HST. Our efforts to engage with British Columbians and get their input into how to improve the HST are paying dividends. Since announcing the reduction of the HST to 10 per cent and ensure families come out ahead, we have closed the margins significantly and we are within reach of a slim victory. In fact, some polling suggests we are in a statistical tie when you factor in the margin of error. With a race as close as this has become, I am asking that each and every one of you commit to a final push in your riding to try and identify every last possible vote and move us across the goal posts to deliver a victory for British Columbians.It’s undeniable that implementing the HST has caused us some political pain but the fact remains we can, and will, get past this difficult issue and get back to what we should be focused on – building support for the only truly free enterprise party in BC and providing British Columbians with strong, effective governance and leadership. 

With a victory within our grasp, I am asking all of you to spend as much time as possible focused on getting the vote out in your community to ensure British Columbians are returning their ballots and marking them with a ‘NO’ to higher taxes and a 12 per cent PST plus GST.

Ballot packages must be received by Elections BC, a Service BC Centre, or an Elections BC Collection Centre before 4:30 pm, Friday, August 5, 2011.

British Columbians need this victory for a strong economic future. We are close and I’m convinced a final push by us all will be enough to secure the win and help get the province back on track.

Regards and good luck,

Hon. Kevin Falcon
Minister of Finance

Authorized By Jim Pipe, Financial Agent BC Liberal Party.

AND the new photo showing the front of Mayor Dianne Watts car after her 2010 accident  in which many media reported she was hit by the other car…)

” Friends take care of Friends.” ~ Norman Farrell

Norman always has something thought provoking on his site, and often sees and finds something others may not. Case in point, the connections between Deputy Finance Minister Graham Whitmarsh and should have been soon to testify in the now defunct Basi-Virk trial…Gary Collins!!

Appears they share a common past with Harmony Airlines…..

Well, if that just doesn’t make you go …Hmmmm!

 Go read all about this, and more,at Northern Insights/Perceptivity

RossK has much more on this aspect up at his place right now…. apparently(courtesy of Sean Holman’s archives) the two men in question, have an even more coincidental relationship : Whitmarsh was ” relieved” of his duties at Harmony just one small day prior to Gary Collins resignation…. http://pacificgazette.blogspot.com/2010/10/one-day-de-harmonizing-of-gary-collins.html 

Go on, read it all !

 ( and perhaps go back and read these oldies, but goodies,for some insight into how this completely honest, open and transparent Premier handles his open, honest and completely transparent government…. )







Corruption is complete authority plus total monopoly, minus transparency.

corrupt [kuh-ruhpt]

–adjective 1. guilty of dishonest practices, as bribery; lacking integrity; crooked: a corrupt judge.

2. debased in character; depraved; perverted; wicked; evil: a corrupt society.

3. made inferior by errors or alterations, as a text.

4. infected; tainted.

5. decayed; putrid.


October 18th is already a date that is emblazoned in my mind, for personal reasons, yet in an odd quirk of serendipity, this year it was also the day everyone appeared, grandly dressed and ready to be surprised, to hear the allegedly shocking admission of guilt by the accused in the Basi-Virk trial.

I’ll be honest.When I read the email from a friend in the MSM yesterday morning, I was so momentarily taken aback by his words that goose-flesh covered my skin, which were immediately replaced by a feeling of intense heat. Enraged, I tossed my pen across the room.

While clearly we all knew this could happen, might happen, I hoped beyond hope that these two men would stand firm in their NOW,  apparently not-so-firm convictions of innocence,  and assist the public in revealing the truth of the depth of corruption within the BC Liberal government.

It was not to be. There would be no titillating revelations in courtroom 54, there would be no tanked careers, no embarrassing facts of evidence presented before the jury, and by nature, all of you.

The two defendants would appear to be  susceptible to whatever influences came before them to entice or dissuade.One wonders what it would take to change the minds of men who stood firm for 7 years, who defiantly claimed their innocence and repeatedly said they were only acting on the orders of other, higher officials. 7 years of work down the drain, bought and sold in a deal I suspect we will never be party to said details.

All said, I will not linger long on the tragic decision of  Basi and Virk, because in all truth I know much will be continually covered by BC Mary, the Queen of the Bloggers, Bill Tieleman, Ian Reid and Gazeteer, among others. In truth, Basi and Virk are relatively minor, somewhat inconsequential players in a grand game far more superior and powerful than them. There are far bigger fish to fry, and I am quite hungry from an extended absence from this blog. Like setting a night line to catch a ling cod, patience is a virtue, and I set my lines  within the MOT long ago, content to sit and tug occasionally to  see what appeared at the end. I suspect a feast will be in order shortly.

Contrary to what our Premier would say, the sale of BC Rail was riddled with corruption. Inflammatory statement, to be sure, but one I am confidant to stand behind, as are many others. We may not hear what evidence there is to prove this in a courtroom, but certainly now you will continue to read and see evidence presented online, in the courtroom of public opinion. The list of blogs to the left of my site will provide you with many links that will continue to bring this evidence into the public domain, because this story is far from over.

I am by, not an expert on this case and the sale of BC rail, but I have done a fair bit of digging and searching along with fellow bloggers and interested parties. I have read the entirety of Yvette Well’s notebooks, in fact, I still have the contents, in paper, to read with a short, neat glass of scotch at night. Quite damning, I would say, along with the countless emails and messages that show clearly others knew of the tainted bidding process.

But let us move on now, for there is much that the corrupt sale of BC Rail we can learn from, in fact, about corruption itself, and about corruption within the BC Liberal government. Indeed, from what I have seen, it is the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg, and only gives a glimpse to the depth of the rot within several ministries.

Here in Canada, Quebec generally comes first to mind when conversation about government corruption begins. True enough,Quebec – and Montreal in particular has been long fighting a seemingly losing battle against government corruption and  allegations of organized crime involvement in public projects. In speaking with a french friend of mine recently, he marvelled that in Quebec, nearly every Liberal candidate faced allegations of corruption in some manner –  yet was still elected!

The question to be asked then, is Quebec  really so unique? Is it truly possible that it is the only government  that has been infiltrated, manipulated by organized crime?

For one to think that Quebec is the only province to face such scandal or that it is unique in its rampant government corruption, is foolhardy. Funny enough, this statement brings us right back to the Basi- Virk trial, which initially began with an investigation into organised crime that had allegedly infiltrated the legislature. A statement, that seen in archived video last night on the news, was quickly recanted shortly after it was made. ( reminds me of the swift handling of the  CSIS allegations of Chinese control on BC politicians made earlier this year)

” Nope, not true, certainly not. We did not mean to infer this, blah, blah, PR crisis mode , blah, blah ”

Remarkable, is it not, that such important officers and officials could possibly make such unequivocal statements, on television no less, and then try saying it was an error…

No, I can unequivocably state that no longer does Quebec hold the sole reign on corruption… but I  do think it is safe to say that they simply have more journalists,editors and publishers willing to explore and expose it. Rarely have I read an article on the topic here in BC,  and if there is one bit of necessary writing that I could direct anyone to, it would be this Macleans article titled:

How B.C. became a world crime superpower – Forget forestry or fishing. B.C.’s big, multi-billion-dollar growth industry is crime. And business is booming…

Written by  Jason Kirby and Nancy Mcdonald in 2008, it is a 6 page, detailed look at organized crime in BC, and why the province has become such a player in what used to be an eastern provincial industry. Quotes:

According to police, 40 per cent of all murders in the Lower Mainland are now tied to organized crime. For Vancouver’s law-abiding citizens, the increasingly brazen public executions near schools and in posh neighbourhoods have gotten too close for comfort…

But the carnage on the streets is only the most obvious sign organized crime has infiltrated everyday life…

Things get far murkier once you start to examine the fuzzy line between B.C.’s criminal and legitimate economies. One car dealer in Vancouver told the National Post a few years ago that a quarter of his business involved selling luxury cars for cash to those involved in the drug trade…

… number of factors help explain why B.C. has become such a hotbed of criminal activity. The U.S. border is just minutes from Metro Vancouver, offering ready access to that market. And the province’s ports are among the busiest in the world. Last year the RCMP told the Senate committee on national security and defence that Indo-Canadian and Asian gangs, as well as the Hells Angels, were very active at the Port of Vancouver. Due to limited resources police warned they could only tackle 30 per cent of the criminal activity taking place on the docks. When a new deepwater port opened last year in Prince Rupert, business leaders cheered because it would shave days off the trip between Asia and the eastern U.S. So did the criminals.

B.C. hasn’t grasped publicly the size and the effect the Pacific Gateway program is going to have on B.C. and North America,” says Kiloh. “The projections about the depth of crime that’s going to come just from that are absolutely staggering.” ( highlighted by myself)

…As organized crime flexes its muscles in the province, many fear the inevitable outcome will be corruption on a massive scale. “There has to be people on the take across the spectrum,” says Robert Gordon, head of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. “From time to time you see little signals.”

“There’s been no indication Canadian police have been compromised or that politicians or judges have been bought, but it’s hard to imagine these kinds of flows of money without that happening,” says Stephen Easton, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University.

My point exactly. BC  has long been the arrival and departure point for a variety of evils we may rather forget exist in this world. Most of it does has little to do with you or I, unless you happen to find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And right now, you may be wondering what this has to do with corruption in government, so let me explain.

In Italy, it is no secret that organized crime finds its way into public projects. Several years ago, Italian police laid charges with respect to allegations of  organized crime to win a bid on a large P3 bridge project over the Strait of Messina. Had it been successful, it likely would have been the largest money-laundering effort in some time. And interestingly enough, there was a direct Canadian connection.

In Quebec, organized crime has dogged the construction industry for years. In fact, Ottawa has just commissioned the first comprehensive study of the problem, despite active protest from provincial and municipal politicians alike.

The federal government has quietly commissioned a study of a Canadian construction industry mired by allegations of political cronyism and infiltration by organized crime.

The move comes after the federal and Quebec governments as well as Montreal’s administration were sideswiped over the past year by stories alleging impropriety in the industry


It also comes after a year in which politicians at all levels have steadfastly stonewalled demands for a public inquiry.

Quebec and Montreal have been saddled with allegations of intimidation, bid-rigging, inflated contracts, construction cartels and organized crime involvement.

Interestingly enough, the article also mentions the RCMP probe into a $9 million government renovation project involving a bankrupt construction firm and a Tory organizer – in Ottawa!

Clearly, not even our nations capital is immune from corruption, but again, is it plausible to think that our British Columbian Liberal administration have been completely immune to insidious influences? I’m not saying conclusively that organized crime or foreign influence is involved in any BC public projects, but what I am saying is that why is no one looking at what is going on here in BC?

After all, corruption comes in many forms, and not just in terms of the presence of organized crime.

There can be collusion and conspiracy,  or bid-rigging, construction cartels, and  corporate nepotism which is basically a form of favouritism to one particular company based on personal friendship or business relationships.

And please don’t forget the exchange of  large political donations for contracts, which technically is hard to prove in a court of law without precise supporting documentation and evidence, but happens frequently nonetheless. Buying influence through donations is no less corrupt than anything else, although it seems to be a completely acceptable practice, although often denied as  merely ” coincidental “.

The construction industry  in B.C. is replete with massive,public projects undertaken since the Liberals came into power, many of which I have scrutinized in detail following allegations made to myself of ongoing  ” irregular bidding practices “, both of which would appear to be supported by my research into cases in which the MOT has been involved.

However, since the ministries involved fight disclosure of bid-related information tooth and nail, no one has yet  been able to delve into the fine details of some of the most dubious projects, such as the Port Mann bridge. 

Information that is released on Freedom of information requests is often heavily redacted and provides little if any understanding, and this is alarming for several reasons. Until the public at large knows the details of what happened, why it happened, and the terms of the agreement, how can we be assured of any accountability for our tax dollars?

Secrecy and lack of transparency in government are two cornerstones that pave the way for corruption to sprout and blossom, as evidenced in the landmark case of Tercon vs. British Columbia and MOT.  This important case I uncovered  and wrote about extensively earlier this year, is quite indicative to how the province does business – corruptly, and in this case, fraudulently and with rife deception.

Rogue civil servants indeed – ha! In the case of Tercon, the key players went onto long and lucrative careers within the BC government and the private sector –  the reaping the benefits of obtaining government contracts in what I believe are classic examples of corporate nepotism within the BC Liberal government.  If you have not, you must read the above link and the backgrounders, which demonstrates exactly how those ” rogue civil servants”  get their start.

Another aspect of how the BC Liberals like to demonstrate their lack of regard for transparency ( one of those cornerstones of corruption)  is how they have increasing taken such an interest in public-private partnerships (P3’s), even in an economy where  using the P3 model has delivered higher costs and additional risks, such as the Port Mann Bridge fiasco.

Last year, a damning report was released that confirmed the legitimate concerns surrounding the P3 model preferred and endorsed by Campbell  and his team of Liberals,for BC’s largest projects:

VANCOUVER-In a report released today, B.C.’s most respected forensic accountant, Ron Parks, along with his colleague Rosanne Terhart, find that public private partnerships (P3s) are costly for taxpayers.

They also find a consistent pro-privatization bias in the way that the B.C. government (through Partnerships BC) compares costs when assessing major projects. On top of this, the B.C. government is routinely denying access to critical information, which limits the public’s ability to know that its interests are protected on P3 projects.

Parks and Terhart evaluated four P3 projects: the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre, the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement, the Academic Ambulatory Care Centre (Diamond Centre) and the Canada Line. Based on this review, they find that developing the projects as P3s is more expensive than if they were done publicly.

In the case of the Diamond Centre – they report that the actual nominal cost of a P3 was more than double that of a publicly procured project.

Secretive, biased and expensive. Pretty strong words when used in reference to the way a government who claims to be open and transparent is doing business, and extremely relevant to keep in mind when watching Premier Campbell smugly maligning Basi and Virk on TV and in print as rogue civil servants who acted on their own.

And important to keep in mind when thinking of the large, most often international corporations that are getting our public works projects.  If one digs a little deeper, one often finds information like this :

German contractor Hochtief A.G., ranked the world’s largest contractor based on revenue outside its home country, is considering a Sept. 16 buyout offer from Madrid-based construction giant Grupo ACS. The Spanish firm, which is Hochtief’s largest shareholder with a nearly 30% stake, has offered $72.70 per share for the remaining shares, valued at $3.5 billion. Hochtief owns two U.S. contractors, Turner Construction Co., New York City, and Flatiron Construction Corp., Longmont, Colo. ACS acquired 25.1% of Hochtief for $1.65 billion in 2007. ACS, which also owns Spanish contractor Dragados, has acquired U.S. contractors Schiavone Construction, John Picone and Pulice

( Again, I am certainly not saying organized crime is involved with ACS or the SFPR, however it is interesting, if nothing else, to note even the most remote connections of two companies that makes up part of the Fraser Transportation Group.  )

I believe we have a come to a point in British Columbia, where the general public is finally, genuinely aware of the implications of electing officials without due care and regard.  Of the  further implications of turning a blind eye in acceptance without asking questions and demanding answers. In the long run, I doubt they will draw any distinction between the various types or level of corruption, because it is what we have come to expect from public officials and politicians and we have allowed it to continue for so long.

In my opinion, corruption is corruption no matter how you serve it up, and it is the continued and marked absence of appropriate and assured accountability that is at the root of a majority of the scandals and allegations confronted by the BC liberals.  It would appear to be, that the more powerful one in within this administration, the less accountable they are required to be , and premier Campbell sets the standard by far.

As long as the government  fails to create and adhere to an accountability model that really works, as long as they police themselves with no regard to public transparency, we will have corruption to various degrees, at all levels of government.

What is particularly disturbing to me, is that the Campbell government has repeatedly and actively sought to block fact-finding inquiries made by those wishing to uncover and reveal the abuses of power that have occurred in the 10 years of Campbell’s ‘Golden Decade’  – as we just witnessed by Campbell’s refusal to initiate a public inquiry into the BC Rail sale. ( I often wonder if Campbell calls it the Golden decade because so many of his colleagues and friends lined their pockets immensely while he has ruled the province!)

Sadly, corruption is as human as the desire for love. There will be no remedy to any of it unless someone consistently and forcefully challenges both the cynicism of the public, and systematic degradation of our political process and justice system.  Governance for the purpose of  illegitimate and illicit power and dominance is as reprehensible as the ideology that begets it – a lesson every political party in this province would do well to take to heart if they want to win over an electorate whose political cynicism is at an all time high.

” The accomplice to the crime of CORRUPTION is frequently our own indifference.”

Bess Myerson

( Now, if you want to read something really, really corrupt, head over to Creekside, where Alison has the details on the gag order Basi and Virk had to sign in order to get that multi-million dollar legal costs reprieve from the government….. http://creekside1.blogspot.com/2010/10/bc-rail-trial-6m-buys-whole-lot-of.html  If that isn’t a pay-off of the most corrupt kind,I don’t know what is )

Breaking news this early Wednesday AM : CBC reports that CSIS has indications that cabinet ministers in two provinces under the influence of foreign countries , and some BC Liberal ministers may be under suspicion – Premier Gordon Campbell declines comment.

Wow. There are some advantages to waking up prior to 5 am, and this would be one of them- seeing the news ticker on the CBC site toss a headline about political governments in Canada being under the influence of the foreign countries, in particular China.

In fact, CBC has already contacted Premier Gordon Campbell for comment on this story, and he refused. As of yet, CBC seems to be the only local news on this developing story, and the timing cold not be more interesting as the Chinese president arrives in Canada for a visit. Here is an excerpt from the written story :

Some politicians under foreign sway: CSIS

Last Updated: Wednesday, June 23, 2010 | 12:45 AM ET Comments648Recommend387

CBC News

“There are several municipal politicians in British Columbia and in at least two provinces there are ministers of the Crown who we think are under at least the general influence of a foreign government.”

Richard Fadden, director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, in an exclusive interview with the CBC. (CBC)Canada’s spy agency suspects that cabinet ministers in two provinces are under the control of foreign governments, CBC News has learned.

Several members of B.C. municipal governments are also under suspicion, Richard Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told CBC News in an exclusive interview.

“We’re in fact a bit worried in a couple of provinces that we have an indication that there’s some political figures who have developed quite an attachment to foreign countries,” Fadden said.

“The individual becomes in a position to make decisions that affect the country or the province or a municipality. All of a sudden, decisions aren’t taken on the basis of the public good but on the basis of another country’s preoccupations.”

He said the politicians and public servants see it as a long-standing relationship and have no idea they are being used.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/politics/story/2010/06/22/spying-csis.html#ixzz0rgC13T00

There is also a video link to the interview with CSIS on the right hand side bar of  the CBC page this story occurs on.

I also located this link: http://thechronicleherald.ca/Front/9016949.html that details more:

VICTORIA — National security experts are questioning the timing of a stunning allegation by the head of Canada’s spy agency that several Canadian politicians, including two provincial cabinet ministers, are under the control of foreign governments.

Richard Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told CBC News Tuesday night that CSIS and the Privy Council Office are discussing the best way to inform those provinces.

Wesley Wark, a national security expert at the University of Toronto, was puzzled by CSIS rush to inform the public before contacting the jurisdictions involved.

“This puts CSIS dangerously out front in what could become a serious and damaging political issue,” Wark told The Canadian Press in an email early Wednesday.

“It’s not the business of CSIS to finger politicians it believes are threats to national security.”

Fadden declined to name the two cabinet ministers or their provinces, but he said a number of public servants in British Columbia are also under suspicion.

He said those politicians have not hidden their association with the foreign governments. But there have recently been indications that they are shifting their public policies because of the involvement with that particular country.

A veteran B.C. political scientist called the allegations against several B.C politicians “very serious” and said Canadians should be concerned.

“Given the source, there’s a certain amount of legitimacy attached to the suggestion,” said University of Victoria Prof. Norman Ruff.

“It suggests that public policy in this province isn’t necessarily being conducted in the best interests of British Columbians,” said Ruff.

“There are influences on public policy in British Columbia both on the local and provincial level which aren’t solely in the interests of British Columbians.”


Meanwhile, officials in British Columbia were caught off guard by the allegations that some among them could have a foreign government’s interests at heart.

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell’s office said the premier would not be available for comment.

Municipal officials in Victoria and Vancouver appeared surprised at Fadden’s statement and declined to comment.

Now, while the story did not name names, if one were to contemplate such allegations,  and contemplate which foreign country seems to hold a ton of political clout, China is definitely the first name that springs to mind . The BC Liberals have pursued a long relationship with the Chinese government, one that has always spoken to me of ulterior motive, when it appears China benefits far more than those workers here in BC.

We have long been exporting raw logs to China, even as more and more sawmills here in BC have closed, leaving workers unemployed and penniless.

Hell, the  BC government even has a webpage dedicated to the their Asia Pacific Intiative, part of which is the building of the South Fraser Perimeter Road to facilitate the movement of goods being imported and exported into BC. You can read all of that here: http://www.gov.bc.ca/fortherecord/asia/as_economy.html?src=/economy/as_economy.html

The premier has travelled to China  very frequently in the past few years on trade missions, as has forestry minister, Pat Bell – as this google search will detail : http://www.google.ca/#hl=en&q=pat+bell+to+china&aq=f&aqi=g10&aql=&oq=&gs_rfai=&fp=35789763958bd7d8

Just saying. Should be fun to watch where this one goes, but perhaps it might be the beginning of the end, of our gradual sell-off of BC assets to foreign stakeholders.

Let me leave you  to think about what this shocking story means for all of us. And if you really want to see how far off into left field Gordon Campbell and his closest ministers  are when it comes to what British Columbians want and need, watch this, their latest attempt at…  hmmm. Ahh ? Oh bother, I don’t even know what they are attempting on this one.  Just watch it and shake your head like I did.

Give it up Campbell. We just don’t care to hear anything you have to say any more.

*****Updated 1:23 pm .

Gordon Campbell has come out swinging at CSIS for the comments made during a CBC interview: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Gordon+Campbell+slams+CSIS+director+over+foreign+infiltration+allegations/3191469/story.html

This can only be good, I say, either way – at least we might get some answers as to how this information was arrived at and who CSIS may or may not be investigating.


” Just the tip of the iceberg…” : Why Railgate and the Basi-Virk trial are about so much more than just Basi and Virk.

* * * * *
Facts are technically accurate statements
made by the mouth or penned by the hand.
Truth is a larger statement, a holistic statement.
Truth is not just factually accurate
, but also utterly honest.
Truth is the whole statement of one’s total being:
a unified expression of word, deed, motive,
and emotion—all of which are True.
* * * * *

If there is one thing I can say with absolute certainty, it is that in addition to the facts surrounding the events leading up to the sale of BC rail and the allegations made involving Dave Basi and Bob Virk, we will hear plenty of truth regarding the shameless manner in which government business has been, and continues to be conducted in British Columbia.

” Wait!”,  some may cry: ” That is an inflammatory statement, based on conjecture and speculation!”    To which I would reply:  ” Maybe… or maybe not. ” 

In the time I have been researching and investigating the activities of the BC Liberals, I have encountered both facts, and a far greater truth that might surprise the most jaded among us all…and may I say, it is one that would call for a full inquiry into the business activities of the BC Liberals in every ministry.

Let’s talk about icebergs for a moment. 90% of the icebergs that appear off of Newfoundland’s coast originate in Greenland, and it takes nearly 2 to 3 years for them to travel the roughly 1800 km journey to that location. As most of you know,  the ice we see above the surface of the ocean is ” just the tip of the iceberg” – nearly 7/8th’s of  the total mass of that berg lies below the surface… That being said, even the most mammoth bergs melt quickly upon reaching the relatively warmer waters of the Atlantic Ocean and its powerful currents.

Remarkable, isn’t it? When we look at an iceberg, what we see, no matter how large and magnificent it is, is a mere 1/8th of what lies beneath the ocean… waiting to be discovered.

This fact is why I can’t help but refer to the Basi-Virk trial as being only the tip of the proverbial iceberg! There is so much more below the surface  of  this series of events that is indicative of a much larger mass of corruption below the surface of government that most of you see! I laugh when I read opinion editorials that denounce the defense strategy of making this trial about Gordon Campbell, or about the Liberals at large, rather than only Basi and Virk, because I truly believe that even only the facts will prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that these two men acted on their own accord, without the instructions of those in the highest echelon of the government.

That, my friends, is my truth, and the one that keeps me inspired in continually digging to find the facts that will end this Liberal charade forever.

Facts like the ones revealed in the Tercon case I’ve blogged about many times.

Facts like Ministry of  Transportation officials in that case, who knowingly colluded to deceive and hide the true nature of a winning bid, as to not invite the anger of the bidders who lost.

Facts like the completely unpredictable and irregular manner the government conducts the entire public project bidding process in general. Rules are created and changed at the whim of those charged with overseeing the process.

 Facts  like the government cares more about cabinet confidentiality than it does cooperating and caring for children and families in need, and those  charged with ensuring that process occurs properly.

Facts like the government will ask and pay for people to pretend to be supporters of a contentious issue, going as far as hiring mock supporters for a fish farm protest, or posing as callers on a well-known radio show…

Need I go on? I think not. Those of us who work to reveal both the facts and the truth about Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals mockery of democracy know full well how deep the rot goes, and yet, there is more.

This trial is  also about the manner of which our provincial  justice and policing systems operates – rather defectively, at times, I might say. Prosecutors being appointed who donated to the Liberal Party of BC.  Court Listings not being posted so those lowly of all observers, THE PUBLIC, are virtually left clueless as to when and if any proceedings are scheduled. A court press accreditation panel that is composed of working press members, several of which work for a media conglomerate known for its government advertising revenue.

Again, I could go on, but I won’t. It will be argued that this trial is not about any of the above, but in the end, it is, and it will be the misfortune of Gordon Campbell that the press has suddenly jumped on what promises to be the sensational, controversial trial we have all known it would be. Kevin McCullough has been somewhat reviled for bringing the HST into the courtroom, but I say, why not? Shows a pattern of deception within the government that has become as inherent as submitting padded expense accounting, or rewarding losing bidders  with millions of dollars that make even being a losing bidder, a lucrative process.  I cheer Kevin McCullough  and his team on, not so silently at times, and for me it is a rarity to cheer a criminal defence lawyer at all. I have seen him at work, and he is passionately dedicated to his clients, to the facts… and  to revealing the truth. 

And I would be remiss to mention to criminal angle this all started with, so many years ago :

And in this case, I predict he will become the hero to many British Columbians if he plays the right cards, because as we all know, this trial is just the tip of the iceberg. 

 ( I originally planned to be cover the trial as much as possible, however with my current commitments that is not possible. I will be in session as frequently as I can, but I also realise that this is the opportune time to concentrate on other stories that are much in line with the allegations surrounding the BC Rail sale and the activities of the MOT in general, while the press is hot on BC government and before the summer break.

I appreciate your patience during this time.)






http://lailayuile.wordpress.com/2010/02/11/bits-and-bites-thursday-february-11th2010/ ( how does what is going on in Quebec, relate to BC? More to come on that in weeks to come)