Sea to Sky highway retaining walls safety inspection reports released, raise more questions on quality of build and maintenance.

One of the advantages to blogging is the ability to follow up on stories as many times as one needs to get to the bottom of it. And as is becoming more common with stories involving the BC provincial government, it’s a matter of digging deeper,looking beyond the ministry media handler statements and sometimes going back and comparing them to new ones.

Such is the story of everything to do with the Sea to Sky highway, that lovely scenic drive and engineering marvel that takes one out to Squamish and Whistler. Not only scenic, its construction,cost and maintenance has been a source of many stories that give British Columbians a glimpse into how major projects are built and paid for.

Stories like the reason there why will never be a toll on that highway – at least until the current contractual obligations are paid out. The hidden shadow toll is based on vehicle usage counts and distance, and is included as a part of the total payment to the concessionaire ( the private partners the government must pay back every month for footing the bill of the construction) If you are a newer reader, you can find all those stories on my Best Of page, just over half way down :

Another story that has been just as compelling for me because of the potential implications of the research, revolves around the more than 200 retaining walls built along the Sea to Sky highway.

On April 30th, 2014 I broke the story that the Ministry of Transportation was investigating the condition of a series of retaining walls after photos were taken that showed gaps between blocks, seepage outside of drains, blocked drains, and walls that were wavy and in some cases bulging.

The ministry responded on  May 1st,2014, that they had done their own investigation and that the issues were all merely cosmetic in nature.

In November of 2014, it was discovered that Kiewit had inspected their own work as per a Ministry of Transportation Operation managers emails, who advised the ministry was reviewing what Kiewit had discovered.

It was then revealed – not by government but by a resident in the area of the repair – in April,2015 that two other retaining walls on the Sea to Sky highway that showed little to no visible defects, were undergoing extensive repair work.

Transportation minister Todd Stone was on the hot seat in the legislature looking nervous that week, but instead of answering any meaningful questions he tried to deny,deflect and discredit the opposition who were finally doing their job well.

Just days later it was revealed by yet another Ministry of Transportation manager that Kiewit, the builder of the highway, had used substandard materials.

Repairs have been ongoing this summer at the Pasco Road rebuild and at the CN rail overpass near Brandywine falls past Squamish, and in both cases the repairs are extensive in scope.  But why such extensive rebuilds?

An FOI  requested and released to someone in the media in August of this year, gives some insight into what went wrong on these two walls in particular. And the results are damning.

A letter dated June 17th,2014 from Hatch Mott McDonald to Sea to Sky highway builder Kiewit,  states that Kiewit flagged those two walls for internal review and testing, after an internal Kiewit audit showed the possibility that deformed wire was used in the walls instead of the contract standard wire. ( pg 98-106 below)

The safety inspection reports also show that despite the Ministries earlier claim in May 2014 that a full investigation had already been undertaken of the walls, the safety inspections were not conducted until October 2014, a full 5 months after I first broke the story.

The FOI package includes  just 12 inspection reports from 2013. In all, most walls were rated well, with several in the fair to poor range for particular components. All the issues identified by the photos posted here previously are noted, including erosion, drainage issues, water seeping between blocks, misaligned blocks, walls built of out line resulting in a wavy formation, bulges of compacted fill walls, a result of over compaction during construction.

Motion sensors also tracked movement on the walls reported here earlier for a period of time and no significant motion was detected.

However, questions remain as to how and why substandard material was used in the construction of the CN wall and the Pasco Road wall, and why it took until this point in time to address it.

Questions also remain as to why walls clearly built out of line and with defects were approved as acceptable for completion, considering the cost of building this highway. This is something I have never been able to get an answer on from the ministry of Transportation but is concerning to me for a couple of reasons.

  1. The highway is only  6 years old in some areas. To have so many issues that need maintenance and repair -some that are extensive- at such a young age indicates issues during construction that someone still signed off on. If things are popping up so quickly, and in at least a couple of cases are still not being addressed, what can we expect for the longevity of this highway?
  2. Kiewit is on half of the partnership with Flatiron that built the Port Mann Bridge, which also had very tight contractual deadlines, and also experienced significant issues during construction. The continual decline and eventual replacement of a brand new retaining wall on Lougheed Highway and the gantry collapse are just two. Kiewit has had a long history of issues in the US and elsewhere in Canada, which are detailed here.

With industry sources indicating there have already been incidents of spalling under the  new Port Mann ( falling concrete bits and pieces) and geotechnical issues with settlement.soft earth at both the north and south ends, one wonders if  BC’s great transportion projects will suffer the same crumbling fate as those in Montreal. 

Calls to the Ministry of Transportation made this morning, were not returned as of the time of this posting. I’m not surprised – I would have hard time explaining how an $800 million plus highway ended up like this too. ( and that doesn’t include the 25 years of PS payments either…)

Pasco Road retaining wall rebuild.
Pasco Road retaining wall rebuild.

IMG_20150819_142012 (2)

Forest fire prevention and mitigation in BC: At what point does inaction become negligence?

“There were at least 21 fires that started in British Columbia on Sunday. There were 36 Saturday. There were 32 Friday. There are 178 burning right now.

A haze blankets the majority of people in B.C., as winds bring smoke from fires in Pemberton to people in Vancouver and Victoria. The Metro Vancouver Air Quality Health Index went to 10+, or “Very High Risk” on Sunday night.

READ MORE: Air quality advisory issued for Metro Vancouver and Sunshine Coast

And undoubtedly, there will be more fires to come in the days and weeks ahead…”


Our forests, our lives

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The vast and varied forests of British Columbia, are without question one of our greatest resources. In its heyday, the forest industry in our province provided a revenue source that sustained entire communities through logging, sawmills and pulpmills. In fact most of my family and friends up north have worked in the forestry industry via one or another of these sectors.


The impact of the massive pine beetle kill was sizable,but once most of the salvaged ( and marketable) wood was harvested, sawmills began to close in many areas. It was also discovered back in 2012 that our forests had been badly mismanaged – the Forest Practices Board concurred with forester Anthony Britneff’s assessment that cut forests had not been satisfactorily restocked via tree-planting. What do these two things have in connection?

It takes a long time to re-grow a logged area to a size that can be harvested again -and this didn’t take into account the often unchecked logging that takes place on privately owned land. Between the vast amounts of beetle kill in BC and the failure to replant trees to a level and standard we needed to, every single remaining forest in our province becomes that much more valuable/

The need for protection of our forests for either wood harvest or simply as a wild habitat for our animals, becomes clear.

The amazing stands of douglas fir  and majestic ceders or redwoods are magnets for those who call nature their church,who find solace and reverence in forests thick and tall. Those trees provide much needed stability along lakes and streams, preventing run-off that makes clear water silty, clogging gills of fish and aquatic wildlife.The need for conservation, is clear.

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Wildfire prevention and mitigation

Every time a forest fire is ignited, at best we lose valuable forest, at worst, we lose homes, and at times, lives. The costs to both communities and the province, is often staggering. So it makes sense that in a province with vast tracts of forest that in many areas merge with homes and communities, prevention efforts and mitigation is absolutely essential.

For more than a decade, the location and methods used to build forest communities was a massive concern- ” How BC was built to burn” ran in the Tyee in 2004, identifying major issues and safety concerns of many BC communities like Barriere and Whistler.

Of great interest in this article, is the Filmon Firestorm Report of 2003. I’ve linked to it separately here, because the link in the Tyee article is no longer working.“>

Pages 69 through 76 contain 41 recommendations based on his findings -some the province was advised to implement immediately, some would take time, but all were to be treated with urgency. While I can determine fire departments acted on the recommendations under their jurisdictions, I cannot determine if the province has completed their response.

His final thoughts included the following:

We believe that governments have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to implement risk reduction policies and legislation while the devastation of Firestorm 2003 is fresh in the public’s mind and the costs and consequences of various choices are well understood.

Another area of clear consensus was that concentration of resources and effort on issues that anticipate, prevent and prepare for disasters is a better investment than on expenditures made in coping with disasters. Consequently, we have made many recommendations to invest in preparedness, education and training.

There was also a firm recognition that many subdivisions in the interface were not designed to mitigate wildfire risks, nor were the dwellings constructed to reduce wildfire hazards.

We believe that local governments and individual homeowners have recognized the risks and are now prepared to follow the best information available to correct for past inaction. We believe they will accept strong direction and leadership on this issue.

The topic of fuel load reduction through prescribed burns is perhaps the best example of a strong consensus on what formerly had been a very controversial and divisive debate. Simply put, almost everyone who gave advice to the Review Team agreed that it was better to accept short-term inconvenience and irritation in favour of long-term reduction in hazard and cost.

Filmon was correct. We have had a trend of hotter,longer dryer fire seasons.  And with some predicting the current drought like conditions will continue through the next winter and into 2016, it’s reason for immediate review to see how many of these recommendations were implemented with urgency as Filmon dictated.

What’s happened since the report was issued? 

Despite this report, concerns were raised yet again in 2011 on what it would take to keep BC forest communities safe.

And sadly, just last week Robert Gray revealed a startling fact in this Times Columnist column:

Knowing that wildfires have an even greater economic impact on annual provincial and local government budgets than originally estimated should compel the province to invest more in proactive wildfire-hazard mitigation. Unfortunately, that has not been the case.

In 2014, the province didn’t invest any money in wildfire-hazard mitigation through investment in the Union of B.C. Municipalities Strategic Wildfire Prevention Program Initiative. It did, however, invest over $70 million in flood mitigation.

Since 2002, the province has invested over $2 billion in earthquake mitigation. In the 11 years since the 2003 fire season and the release of the Filmon Report, the province has invested only $100 million in wildfire-hazard mitigation, yet the cost of suppression alone over that same period has been $2.2 billion. Investments in hazard mitigation are only a fraction of the total amount being spent on fighting fires plus the damage caused by those fires — a pattern that runs counter to sensible cost-benefit risk-management practices.

It’s true no one can point a finger at any politician for this weather, or the drought we are experiencing. Nor can you lay blame for the rampant stupidity that leads to so many fire starts across the province.

But when reports commissioned by the government, make recommendation to the government to prevent similar situations in the future-a dire warning by any standard of commensense- are not fully implemented or funded, who takes the responsibility?


Who is in charge of legislating forest policy, forest management, removing fuel loads that feed fires?  The province of BC is.

In April of 2014, a full decade after the Filmon report was commissioned, Glen Sanders- a former firefighter and fire chief, took a look at the lessons learned- or not- by government and found the results lacking.

“I am dubious about the lessons learned by government, however, and many of the missteps identified in the Filmon Report will be repeated when the next firestorm strikes.

A wise person once said, “The worst mistake a person can make is to think that those in charge actually know what they are doing.” 

In a recent post, I reflected on how hindsight is only 20/20 if one applies the lessons learned to future actions and decisions. 

And if fire and forestry experts are concerned, I’m also concerned the government did not learn an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Did the government ensure every single one of the recommendations they were responsible for completing in Filmons report were undertaken? I don’t have that answer yet.

I hope we don’t have to wait for yet another firestorm report, to find out.

* For up-to date positions and details of reported wild fires in British Columbia, see this link:

* Air quality reports/advisories can be found here:

In an update to this post that received thousands of views in the last few days, Coulson has reportedly signed a new contract with the province of BC.

The Mars Bombers will be back in service as early as Thursday.

And further to this, the contract will be under and existing helicopter contract with Coulson.

( Some media outlets reporting the ministry is still in talks- check your local news to see what develops)

Things that make you go “Hmmmmm…”; Or who is gauging support for former premier Gordon Campbell in Vancouver telephone polling?

It’s interesting what pops up out of the blue sometimes.

For example,Thursday morning I posted a story about Harper visiting Annacis  Island to facebook. That post prompted the memory of a friend living in Vancouver, who left a comment that she had just received a call from a company conducting polling. (It’s been a hectic week so I’m just catching up now)

The poll was political in nature,initially asking what she thought of the Stephen Harper government, which isn’t surprising considering some are speculating an early federal election is in the offing.

However,what was more interesting is that she was also asked to respond to a list of names- this is paraphrased from her memory:

I will name 5 people, and you are to tell me if you find them trustworthy” 
Campbell takes oath

Most of the names she did not recognize, but one definitely stood out : former BC premier,Gordon Campbell.

She said that she did not find him trustworthy,and it left a bad taste in her mouth.

The call came from 604-681-0381, which belongs to NRG Research Group, which of course, has done work with the federal government, and the Prime Ministers office:


Which of course led to much speculation,and horror by some online that we may indeed see his return to the political scene back home here in Canada, instead of racking up the bills in London… as Canada’s High Commissioner to the United Kingdom.

Is a senate appointment in the offing? Perhaps a run for MP?

If you’ve received a similar call, I’d be very curious to see what other names are being tossed out there, so drop me a line via the contact page! And a good tip is to keep a pad of paper and a pen by your phone to jot down the questions you are being asked.

Third and final installment of Playing with the Dragon series coming next week.

At long last, the final installment of  the Playing with the Dragon series is nearly done, effectively creating a trilogy. It is perhaps, the most incendiary of the three posts, and for good reason-it speaks to the reach of the Chinese government in a Canadian arena where it should have no access whatsoever.

As a primer to provide background and context for readers unfamiliar with the series, I am re-posting the prior installments leading up to the new post.

Originally posted here:

Playing with the Dragon:  Who is looking after Canadian interests while China outwits our governments?

“We cannot enter into alliances until we know the designs of our neighbours.” ~ Sun Tzu

It should come as no surprise to anyone, that the script of a 6th century general and military strategist has been converted into a business playbook. Yes, Sun Tzu 孫子, author of The Art of War, was indeed a brilliant strategist and in this day when war is a business and business is war, his words are referred to by many for guidance.

Canadians would do well to take heed, and find a copy to read. Not only will it offer you a deeper understanding of the strategies used by many corporations, it will also help you to understand why the Chinese government is so interested in investing in Canada, if not only for our natural resources.

Indeed,as many news reports show, China seems to have decided – after several years of little to no investment – that Canada is one again a good place to invest. Therein lies the heart of this post.

Are all these new Chinese corporate or state investments and ownership good for Canada ?

Or has China simply played the part of the sleeping dragon for another reason, waiting for our government to become willing again to allow such open and easy access to our resources, our technology and our proximity to the United States? What is the real motive for China’s increasing interest in Canada ?

Although I have followed foreign investment interest in British Columbia for some time, via the Macquarie group in particular, it was Richard Fadden’s remarks in 2011 that really sparked my interest in the potential for foreign influence over domestic governments.

Fadden took an incredible amount of flack from then premier Gordon Campbell, along with several provincial MLA’s and municipal politicians after remarking that in B.C., CSIS was investigating foreign influence over several politicians/ government employees.

Oddly enough, this revelation was considered a racial swipe at the entire Chinese community in B.C.,as if every immigrant were suddenly tarred by the actions of a few associated with foreign governments. In fact, Fadden did not single out China as the only foreign country of influence, and it was clear that this was not a racial issue, but a government influence issue.

This is the full Fadden interview, with reference to his now infamous speech. Please watch in its’ entirety, for a pre-cursor to what comes next.

There you have it.

If anything, I think Fadden was trying to warn Canadians, British Columbians, to wake up and smell the coffee.

Look what has happened in our country – look what may be happening now.

Of course, he became the object of many B.C. politicians wrath and ire for his statements, had to do some damage control, but again, most assumed he was referring specifically to Chinese influence, and perhaps he was, but the interview does not reflect that.

You have to have some background understanding of espionage threats in Canada- most of which are vastly under the radar of average Canadians, but I think he wanted to let those know who might be too friendly with foreign governments, that CSIS was watching.

Others have looked at the American influence on BC politicians, and while I do agree that is occurring, there has been much discussion and attention in the past to China.

That is why, it was with great interest this article popped up on my alerts recently: China trying to politically infiltrate NZ and Australia.

Not because it involved China, but because the article details an alleged leaked intelligence briefing for Australian law enforcement agencies that boldly refers to the Sidewinder Report… a report many assert was killed, debunked and shredded directly because of political pressure.

In fact, in the comments section below this very brief preview of the article online, someone tries very hard to negate the reference and again, debunk Sidewinder as conspiracy, even over ten years after the fact.

When you consider that an ex-envoy who defected from the Chinese consulate in Australia came to Canada with evidence of a Chinese spying program in Australia, stating the Chinese used the same methods in western countries to exert political influence over sensitive issues… this alleged leaked intelligence brief takes on a new significance for Canadians.

Here is that brief preview, the full article is available only with a subscription:

“A leaked intelligence briefing for Australian law enforcement agencies suggests China may have already deeply penetrated Australian and New Zealand political and business circles for espionage purposes.

The document, reprinted in the new Investigate magazine out this week, says the pattern of Chinese “investment” in Australia and New Zealand is following exactly the same lines as it did in Canada, where intelligence agencies discovered Chinese government agents posing as rich investment migrants had bribed and corrupted Canadian politicians and officials.

“Few of you will have heard about the “Sidewinder Report”,” states the briefing paper published in Investigate.

“Allowing it was tabled over a decade ago, after which money, influence and corruption were all brought to bear to have copies shredded, that isn’t surprising. Fortunately a single digital copy survived, so we can still analyze/learn from this in-depth and rather alarming study, which is a very good example of Asian/Triad/Organized crime/long term planning.

“I personally believe a similar scenario exists/is being established in the likes of NZ and Australia, where similar immigration policies are in force. For this reason, I want to give you a detailed breakdown of the report, and you can perhaps reach your own conclusions.

“The report was commissioned in the mid 1990′s codenamed “Sidewinder” and was a joint effort prepared by Canada’s Secret Intelligence Service and the National Security Division of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Its mandate was to look at Chinese Triad involvement and integration into Canadian Financial and Governmental sectors.

“The report clearly found that over a period of time many Chinese triads, agents of the Chinese Secret Intelligence Service, and Hong Kong tycoons, had firmly established themselves in Canada and had acquired Canadian nationality.”

The document states that Western governments have relied on official Chinese agencies to “vet” prospective immigrants to Canada, the US, Australia, UK and New Zealand, because local law enforcement has no way of independently verifying the identity or history of migrants.

That’s allowed China to slip its own agents into Western nations under the guise of immigration vetting.

“Canadian and Chinese consular staff were selling visas to members of the Chinese mafia and China’s intelligence service, prices were as high as $100,000 per visa,” says the leaked report.

In return for being approved to live and do business in the West, the migrants were given orders on how they could repay the favour to Chinese intelligence.

“They were instructed to make donations and get involved with political parties. Children studied hard and were directed at Government positions, many becoming well established in the ranks of the Immigration dept.  [Name withheld] was Minister of [Portfolio withheld] during the 90′s. He forged close links which China. “Somehow” he and his cronies are now all millionaires.

“By the year 2000, Chinese people affiliated to Triads owned one-third of downtown Vancouver. China invested over one billion dollars in 2001 to buy Canadian businesses in strategic areas and is also a large stockholder in Canada’s Imperial Bank.  It controls 15 corporations in the country’s technology sector.   By 2002, over 200 Canadian Companies were under the direct control of China’s International Trust & Investment Corporation (CITIC).

“CITIC (Pacific) has many links to major Australian and NZ businesses. The Pengxin Group currently bidding to buy Crafar farms in New Zealand are linked to CITIC. CITIC operates directly under the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA). It is also the world’s largest private operator of container terminals, having lucrative stakes in 17 ports in Europe alone.”

The full report is in the latest Investigate magazine, but its publication coincides with reports this week that Australian intelligence has vetoed the involvement of communications giant Huawei in Australia’s broadband network, for fears it will help China spy on Australia.

Huawei has already been given approval to take part in New Zealand’s broadband rollout.

The chairman of Huawei was formerly a senior official in the Chinese state intelligence agency, and its founder was formerly a solder in the People’s Liberation Army.

Huawei denies any involvement in espionage, but this week its links with US corporates were also cut over similar fears.”

How interesting, that an intelligence document alleged to have been leaked from an overseas source trusted enough to publish it, would mention Sidewinder after all these years.

Sidewinder, for those of you who may have not have heard of the scandal, was a controversial report worked on and put together by a group of RCMP and CSIS officials in the late 1990′s, that was ultimately suppressed, denied as conjecture and theory rather than fact by the SIRC – the Security Intelligence Review committee – the government agency that oversees CSIS.

All copies and supporting materials were ordered destroyed, however several copies were leaked to various media outlets, as well as  several writers across Canada. A full accounting of the scandal can be found here

From Operation Sidewinder – there are many, many other media reports, this is the most concise, comprehensive article:

“It was Sidewinder that sounded the first alarm bells that China is one of the greatest ongoing threats to Canada’s national security and Canadian industry.

But even after Sidewinder was side swiped by former Prime Minister Jean Chretien, intelligence proves that there is no doubt that an active Chinese Intelligence Service has been able to gain influence on vital sectors of the Canadian economy, including real estate, high technology and security. The bottom line is that this unprecedented influence gave China ongoing access to economic, political and some military intelligence in Canada.

Operation Sidewinder met with a fate that silenced ringing alarm bells. Officially entitled Chinese Intelligence Services and Triads Financial Links in Canada, it was buried. Following orders from persons unknown, CSIS watered down Sidewinder’s worrisome conclusions and replaced it with a revised document called, Echo.

CSIS officials maintain that they buried Sidewinder because it relied on nothing more than conspiracy theories—even though heralded the news in August 2003 that some 3,500 Chinese spy companies had been identified operating in Canada and the United States.

While CSIS claimed that conspiracy caused them to go mum, other intelligence sources are saying that political pressure forced CSIS to abandon the Sidewinder report.

Prominent among Sidewinder’s case studies was The Chinese, state-owned China International Trust Investment Company (CITIC), which already has a subsidiary up and running in Canada. CITIC has spent about $500 million to buy a Canadian pulp mill, a petrochemical company, vast real estate and hotels. At the time of the Sidewinder report. CITIC already had connections with one large Canadian corporation.

Add to that portfolio, the Alberta oil sands, ownership of which is currently being contemplated by a state-owned Chinese company and a Toronto-based mine company, Noranda Mines–a deal worth more than $7 billion.


Conspiracy theories were tossed out the window when U.S. Congressman Dana Rohrabacher revealed that the U.S. Bureau of Export Affairs, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and the Rand Corporation had identified Li Ka-Shing and Hutchison Whampoa (Li’s primary business) as financing or serving as a conduit for Communist China’s military in order for them to acquire sensitive technologies and other equipment.”

To read what remains of the SideWinder report, you can access it in PDF format here:

At this point, I will mention that two men were, with calculated dedication, targeted with respect to their careers and reputations because of what they knew about SideWinder and because they would not drop it.

Cpl Robert Read, was fired from the RCMP for a ‘lack of loyalty to the government’, after a long legal battle. You can read about his battles, here:

Brian McAdam, a former Canadian diplomat, had his career toppled after discovering the sale of Canadian Visas and government connections to organized crime. You can read his story here:

Read those stories and you can see why I find it so interesting that an alleged leaked intelligence briefing, reported overseas, would candidly refer Sidewinder with clear respect for the information.

In my opinion, it bears re-examination of the past to learn for our future. And yet our government still denies all of the SideWinder report as conspiracy theory, even after ex-CSIS head Jim Judd had declared China the number one concern for espionage in Canada and that the agency spent half its counter espionage budget on dealing with China.

It is no wonder foreign governments mock Canada as the country bumpkin cousin.

Here is a telling( even the cached version is no longer available following the posting of this article)  2011 report from Embassy Magazine, Canada’s foreign policy newspaper, titled : Are Chinese spies getting an easy ride?    It is an absolute eye-opener,  and I recommend you read the entire story, however here is an excerpt:

“Since 2008, there have been at least 57 defendants in US federal prosecutions involving Chinese espionage or efforts to pass classified information, technology or trade secrets to operatives in China, according to a May 7 Associated Press report.

Armed with legal tools, and a sense of urgency fuelled by reports to US Congress citing a paramount risk to American technological superiority, the FBI enthusiastically goes after spies in their midst. One US judge, in the 2010 case of a former B-2 bomber engineer convicted of sending cruise missile technology to the Chinese, said he wanted to send a signal to China to “stop sending your spies here.”

But in Canada, several individuals with expertise in the field argue that a mix of federal agency infighting, insufficient legal frameworks, difficulties with prosecuting espionage cases, and fear of upsetting ongoing investigations has resulted in Canadabeing unable to bring any spies to court in the last few years.

They also say Canada’s “new era” of business-friendly relations with China, recently highlighted by Foreign Minister John Baird’s trip, has led to a hesitation by government to pursue legal action against spies.

Historic warnings

The lack of Chinese espionage prosecutions presents an odd situation for a Conservative government that burst into power carrying ominous messages about Chinese espionage in Canada, and that has recently been hit by a major hacking incident that was traced back to the Chinese embassy.

In 2006, then-foreign minister Peter MacKay told CTV the government was “concerned” that Chinese spies were stealing industrial trade secrets, and said it was something he would raise with the Chinese government.

For years, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service have assessed the threat posed by Chinese organized crime and intelligence services on Canadians. There were reports in 2005 suggesting that there were as many as 1,000 Chinese economic spies operating in Canada, for example.

And despite earlier efforts to downplay the threat, CSIS has been trying in the last few years to alert the public. In 2007, CSIS director Jim Judd told a Senate committee that China “pretty much” ranked as the top country sending agents to Canada, with “close” to 50 per cent of all agents in the country.

Most memorably, in June 2010, CSIS director Richard Fadden told the CBC that municipal officials and provincial Cabinet ministers from two provinces were under the influence of foreign governments, and hinted that the Chinese government was one of the culprits.

Chinese-Canadian groups criticized him for inciting needless widespread suspicion, and he subsequently backed off his comments. Yet in another speech, he said that the recent explosion of Canadian technological prowess in the areas of agriculture, aerospace, biotechnology, mining and other sectors makes it a prime target for economic espionage from countries like China. And CSIS’s report to Parliament in June made some similar comments.

This year, the Treasury Board, Department of Finance and Defence Research and Development Canada computers, as well as the computer system of the House of Commons, were hacked and sensitive government information was stolen. Reports said the attack was traceable to the Chinese Embassy as well as computers in Beijing, but the Chinese government denied involvement. “

It brings me back to my headline: Exactly who is looking after Canadian interests while China seemingly outwits our governments?  Is anyone? Who is watching the watchers?

Considering the past and current BC Liberal agenda seems nearly at times entirely dependent on investment and trade with China and other asian countries, who is making sure the political decisions being made are right for British Columbia, and Canada as a whole? Yes, we as a country, and here in B.C. as a province, are banking on trade with China as an economic force to keep the economy strong, but is this happening with our eyes wide shut? I’m not saying bring it all to a grinding halt, I’m saying we as Canadians need to be asking our politicians some serious questions here.

I’m not the only person questioning our politicians motives and agendas, by far.

In this recent Edmonton Journal article, the direct link is made to a large majority of Chinese state control of the Enbridge Pipeline project ( 2014 update, cached version of this article is no longer available either) :

“More recently, the Chinese have turned their attention to securing control of the pipeline infrastructure that would take Canadian bitumen to refineries in China.

Perhaps you thought the Northern Gateway pipeline was solely a project of Canadian pipe-line company Enbridge Inc. Think again.

Enbridge offered a limited group of investors the right to equity ownership in the project in return for financing the National Energy Board regulatory approval process and predevelopment of the project. For $10 million each, these funding participants receive preferred access and toll rates as shippers on the pipeline.

Only six of the funding participants have identified themselves. This means there might be four others, or, perhaps some of the six participants hold more than one partnership right. The six companies are Sinopec, MEG Energy Corp., Nexen Inc., Cenovus Energy, Suncor Energy Marketing Inc., and Total E&P Canada.

With these funding partners, almost all roads lead to Chinese state control.”


All of this raises serious questions about the Harper government’s decision to champion a “rip-it-and-ship-it” export strategy over a value-added strategy for Canadian resources.

It’s not a surprise, nor is it inappropriate, for the Chinese to look after Chinese national interests. That’s why they want the Northern Gateway pipeline.

But the resources in question are not owned by the Chinese or the Americans. They’re not owned by oil companies. They’re owned by the citizens of Canada.

Who, we ask, is looking after the Canadian interest?”

Terry Glavin, goes even further in his recent column in the Ottawa Citizen, (***yet another error 404 in 2014, but here is another for you: ) examining the seeming about-face Harper has taken with respect to policies, regulations and the Northern Gateway project.

His column is an absolute must read from beginning to end, to understand the flips and flops the Conservatives have taken on this, but here is an excerpt:

“Sinopec had barely settled into its director’s chair at Syncrude’s board table when it revealed that it was partnering on Enbridge Inc.’s proposed $6-billion pipeline from the oilsands to awaiting supertankers at Kitimat on the B.C. coast.

Checkmate. Well, that’s odd, you might say. Isn’t this the same pipeline that Harper and Industry Minister Oliver are now calling a project that is vital to Canada’s national interests? Anyone can see how it’s in Beijing’s interests. But Canada’s?

It all depends on what you mean when you talk like that.

Way back in the 1980s, the Security Intelligence Review Committee was urging amendments to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act to spell out what Canadians mean when we talk about foreign-power connivings that are “detrimental” to Canada’s national interests. “It is almost wholly subjective: no criteria are provided to offer any standard for determining what is ‘detrimental’,” a SIRC report once pointed out.

The definitions in the CSIS Act still don’t clearly define what “detrimental” means, but unlike Investment Canada, CSIS has muddled through and is properly content to couple Canada’s “national security” with “the security and economic welfare of Canada.” Until late last year, Harper himself was happy to use language just like that whenever he returned to his solemn vow to keep Alberta’s oilsands jobs and investment opportunities in Canada, and not ship bitumen offshore to countries with haywire environmental rules like China. It was a Conservative party pledge in 2006 and 2008 and 2010.

But the rules had got hollowed out, and after Sinopec’s checkmate at the Syncrude table, everything went sideways.

Now, Harper is insisting it’s Enbridge’s Sinopec-backed bitumen-export project that is in Canada’s national interests. It’s positively vital to Canada’s interests and furthermore, it’s something we must all rally around because Canada’s very future depends on it…”

Glavin ends his column with this passage:

“Sinopec has managed to get away with being Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s most reliable sanctions busting ally. It succeeded as the protector of the genocidaire Omar al-Bashir’s regime in Khartoum. It’s still getting away with being the guarantor of the mass murderer Bashar al-Assad’s bottomless bank account in Damascus.

And Sinopec is Canada’s new best friend. We are all sitting ducks.”

Defenceless indeed, when Harper seems to be more than eager to push this pipeline though, gut regulations and allow transactions and buyouts that give the Chinese government tremendous leverage over our land, resources and yes, our governments.

And to be honest, I still don’t know who exactly is looking after Canadians interests – if anyone – while China continues to make strategic acquisitions and takeovers. Our governments seem to be only giving constant applause as they do.

( Also worthy of a read are the comments under the original post )

Vaughn Palmer: On mega-projects, not much balance in B.C. Liberal claims of ‘on budget’

I was happy to see Vaughn Palmers column today, because his readership far exceeds mine and this story really needs to be read by all British Columbians. He also gives a tip of the hat to a December 21st blog post I did right before Christmas when the SFPR opened, to which I’ve already thanked him for.  It’s a good read, as he takes a look at how the BC Liberals claims of on budget often mean anything but.

Here is an excerpt:

“VICTORIA — When the provincial and federal governments cut the ribbon on the new $1.264-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road just before Christmas, the accompanying press release declared “SFPR opens on time and on budget.”

It was neither, according to earlier press releases from those same two governments.

Jan. 12, 2009. Prime Minister Stephen Harper and then-premier Gordon Campbell met at Fraser Surrey Docks to announce the official start of construction on a 40-kilometre, four-lane highway linking Deltaport and Tsawwassen with the Trans-Canada at the Port Mann Bridge.

The accompanying press release described it as “the $1-billion South Fraser Perimeter Road project.” In calling for bids to build the road, the provincial government had earlier announced: “Construction will begin in 2009 with completion in 2012.”

On that basis, it strikes me that it would be more accurate to say that the road was opened a year late and almost $300 million over-budget. But regular readers of this space will be familiar with the more flexible approach that the B.C. Liberals have taken toward the concept of being on time and on budget….”

Read the rest of Vaughn’s column, here:

And here is my blog post from Dec 21st – note the right before Christmas, under the radar grand opening. And Christy while Christy was no where in sight on this one, a host of other local and provincial politicians cashed in on the photo op…..


*Also coming soon:  the story of the intentional closure of New Jersey bridge lanes to create an intentional gridlock is one that’s very interesting to me, for several reasons… and the clue is right in this link…

I’ll have more on that once I pull out some information that was passed onto me by a trusted source last fall.

SNC Lavalin takes further ( damage control ?) action, replaces Gwyn Morgan and 3 directors.

Stunning news this morning in the business world.

Gwyn Morgan, chairman of the board of SNC Lavalin, will be stepping down following the 2013 AGM in May :

In addition, three more directors will be replaced : David Goldman, Pierre H. Lessard and Edythe A. Marcoux.

This comes following  recent revelations and allegations during Quebec’s anti-corruption Charbonneau Commission that SNC Lavalin executives financed political parties and activities in exchange for contracts.

Gwyn Morgan has maintained a long relationship with the BC Liberal government via his positions with EnCana and SNC Lavalin.

A history touched on in this older article from the Financial Post:

 Back in the fall of 2003, Gwyn Morgan was the chief executive of Encana Corp. when he phoned the Liberal premier of British Columbia with news that a big cheque was on its way.

The government of Gordon Campbell had just implemented major reforms to encourage oil and gas investment, providing Calgary-based Encana with the right political foundation to make a huge bet on Cutbank Ridge, the natural gas shale play that eventually grew into one of North America’s largest.

“Mr. Premier, you are going to have some $400-million more in your treasury tomorrow than yesterday,” the founder of Encana recalls telling the politician after the company revealed itself as the main buyer in one of the richest oil and gas rights auctions in the province’s history.

“You and your government can take this as an endorsement of your policies,” Mr. Morgan said.

And of course, billions more slid in after that.


Mr. Morgan is just as committed to nurturing a pro-business environment in the province.

That’s one of the reasons he said he got involved in B.C. politics, supporting Christy Clark’s bid to succeed Mr. Campbell as the province’s premier, which she won in February. An expert on business, finance and energy, Mr. Morgan then served on Ms. Clark’s transition team and remains engaged, although he said his role is not official at this point.


The point is that we see the damage that was done by the NDP for so long, and you can spend decades building wonderful structure of some sort, but you could tear it down very quickly. The province is still recovering from those things, even though it’s 10 years later. So, first and foremost, I felt that Christy had the best chance of keeping the province from going socialist in the next election.”

The relationship with Ms. Clark allowed Mr. Morgan to continue to help shape public policy at a time the province has never been so crucial to the Canadian energy sector, which needs to build new infrastructure through B.C. to reach new customers in Asia.

Read the rest of this insightful article here:

First, in my opinion, Gwyn Morgan has had no business assisting in shaping or influencing public policy in BC at all, nor advising our premier in any form while having active contracts and pursuing new ones via SNC Lavalin or EnCana.

As a keen observer of the Charbonneau Commission, which one can watch live if you can speak French, it is my opinion this latest move is designed to deflect any further examination of the companies activities beyond the jurisdiction of Quebec, as it has already been stated that the Commission can not act outside the province.

While corporate and personal donations of large amounts to political parties are not illegal in BC – they should be in my opinion- it is not unreasonable to ask if the same ‘favours’ are expected from those donors here, as were expected in Quebec.

In Quebec’s commission, it was revealed that not only executives were donating, but also spouses in order to fly under the radar of laws limiting political contributions.  ie, ‘We fund you, you give us preferred contracts.’

As I have chronicled on this site many times,most recently in this post when EnCana’s name popped up yet again with relation to the Pacific Carbon Trust, the relationship of Gwyn Morgan with the BC liberals is via EnCana and SNC Lavalin, is one worthy of examination – and I have examined it well, here :

And here, the continuing relationship of Gwyn Morgan, SNC Lavalin and the new premier, Christy Clark :

And even here, examining the activities of SNC Lavalin, and the persistent denials of any unethical activities by their company by former SNC head Pierre Duhaime, who has now been formally charged with fraud.

Interestingly enough,it was in that last post that former SNC head Pierre Duhaime revealed his hand for the world to see:

 Last year, in what I considered an odd reaction, the head of SNC, Pierre Duhaime, reacted publicly to a report on corruption and organized crime in Quebec’s construction industry, even stating that while the allegations were troubling, they did not warrant a public inquiry…

“Duhaime didn’t want to question the author’s credibility, but said most of the information came from anonymous sources.He said the measures taken by the Quebec government were sufficient to counter corruption.

He insisted the system of collusion described in the report does not affect SNC-Lavalin (TSX:SNC) which has “zero tolerance” for ethical misdeeds. Duhaime acknowledged, however, that SNC-Lavalin is currently investigating allegations of corruption concerning a project in Bangladesh. The RCMP recently conducted a search of SNC offices in Ontario in connection with this matter.”

A clear cut case of  ‘He doth protest too much.’  Considering the allegations from Quebec in recent weeks, it is no wonder he didn’t want a public inquiry.

The question now is, will the departure of Gwyn Morgan and the three directors quell further examination of the companies vested interests in projects across Canada?

Or will it prompt more, particularly here in British Columbia where Morgan is on the record of being involved in both shaping and influencing pubic policy,and financially supporting the Liberal government and Christy Clark personally to further achieve the business environment both SNC Lavalin and EnCana profit from.

Time again to re-visit the top post of 2012 here on, which contains a copy of the Public Safety report on Corruption in Construction that also examinations  the likelihood of corruption within the BC’s construction and infrastructure industry….

Read it again if you need a reminder, and ask yourself why so few people questioned and contacted in BC wanted to talk about the issue at all :

“Money and corruption are ruining the land…”

This week’s column for 24Hrs Vancouver: Cutting services to most vulnerable a typical Liberal tactic

Winner of the last duel on the value of the Canadian Senate was Laila Yuile with 64%.

This week’s topic:

Is the recent B.C. budget really a Liberal budget — or an NDP-style one?

Premier Christy Clark — who still hasn’t been elected to that title by voters — may have taken a couple of ideas from the opposition in the 2013 budget, but those tax hikes hardly make this an NDP-style budget.

This budget is in keeping with the BC Liberals’ playbook of reducing costs on the backs of those least able to afford it, a skill honed under a decade of Gordon Campbell’s leadership….

Read the rest of this column, and vote for the winner of this week’s Duel at:

Or if you prefer flipping pages, you can read todays E-edition online here :

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 most open, accountable and democratic government in Canada.” ~ Promise #9 2001 BC Liberal Vision

Last year, Norman Farrell located a full copy of the 2001 BC Liberal campaign platform – at the library of the University of Laval, in Quebec.

Since Ms. Clark served as Deputy Premier from 2001 to 2005 – very much in awe of Gordon Campbell I have heard -I thought it might be very helpful to remind her of the promises that she was very much a part of then. Take a look at the vision she supported as one of the Gordon Campbell Liberals in 2001…. and where we are now.

Does anyone else see the irony in this?