“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)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Neil Hall:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpts of interest from that report:

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

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

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

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

If you aren’t outraged, you haven’t been paying attention – part II

A long time reader, Gordon, otherwise known as Canadianbud, left this comment yesterday on my recent post When the solution becomes part of the problem, and after reading it, I really felt it was worthy of a post itself.

 Having worked in the non-profit sector for a while in the early days of Campbell’s cuts to social services and related agencies, I have personally worked with many wonderful people like Gordon who faced multiple barriers in their lives that made regular fulltime employment hard to find, along with those who simply wanted the world to give them a free ride. 

This commentary speaks to both the growing frustration felt by those who have been intentionally marginalized by the Campbell/Clark governments, and to the outrage many of us feel by the growing gap between rich and poor.  That’s why I am here, to give a loud, angry – no, outraged voice for the people who might not have one. I don’t have a quick fix for you nor do I have a party label or a rigid ideology to go with that, but I sure as hell know that what’s going on in this province isn’t working, and hasn’t been for some time.

Maybe I can help change that, and so can each of you, if we keep revealing, keep discussing and keep fighting to right what is wrong in British Columbia.

Thank you Gordon.

I’m permanently disabled.
My total income from government disability (and all other sources) totaled (gross) $9,140 for 2011. (I get about $900/month now).
For 5 years after my first stroke (1997-2002) I struggled on $490/month ( $500 -$10/month to pay back damage deposits from having to move to rooming houses) selling off everything of value, before finally applying and getting my disability-1 for 7 years (I didn’t and don’t like to think of myself as permanently disabled, but I am).
Then Campbell came in 2001 and ripped everything up in the social system saying this would weed out the klingons and abusers of our system.
That’s when doctors started charging $50 for a basic form up to $200 for a disability form. Check it out for yourself.

So, after Campbell made it near impossible to get back on the system due to paperwork and costs, I went up Island to Nanaimo to work in an MSN call center.
You could NOT get welfare in Nanaimo at that time unless you had a rejection notice (FACT) from RMH (the people who owned the fully American call center in the Country Club Mall, totally SUBSIDIZED by our government in order to “promote jobs”). That in itself should have been illegal. But, understandable I guess in order to get complacent people on welfare actively job searching.
We weren’t considered human there, just expendable if we didn’t meet their (RMH’s) unreasonable (profit based) time quotas.
Sure enough, within the year my disability interfered enough to get me “medically released”.
I tried for work again in 2003 at the West Corporation (AT&T wireless call center out on Keating Xroad) but had a seizure and was put on medical leave, they then “terminated” me as an “abandonment of position” even though I had doctors notes and letters excusing me.

So, I’m the thief, the abuser, the klingon of the welfare tit eh?!
That’s the feeling and looks I get (my disabilities aren’t readily apparent, I don’t use a wheelchair for example) when mentioning my income.
The ignorance is maddening.
I get a few thousand a year, yet politicians and so called officials steal or waste millions every day/month, and people have the audacity to take the stance you have, to make unrealistic suggestions on how to live with a situation you absolutely have NO CLUE ABOUT, on an amount that is unlivable.
An MLA recently tried it for a month AND COULDN’T DO IT.
http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/01/18/british-columbia-mla-jagrup-brar-tries-living-on-welfare-for-a-month/ .
I’ve been doing it for almost 14 BLOODY YEARS. What do you think I have left? Barely my dignity.. and I can’t even afford that anymore.

AND, just as ONE example of where we really see abuse, Ida “CHOMP CHOMP” Chong spent over $6,000 in one year JUST FOR HER 1 MEAL PER DAY PERK (per diem) .
How much does she make a year? How much of her travel, food, lodging are covered by taxpayers and why? Now multiply that by every MLA and MP.
Don’t have the money for schools and such eh?!
Why is all this travel (including Clark’s jet-setting) when things can be done over a video-conference.. isn’t everything electronic these days anyways?

The people you see on Pandora street DO NOT REFLECT EVEN 1% of a percentage point the “type” of people receiving assistance, yet they are the first people you think of when the words “welfare recipient” are put out, and then all of a sudden everyone that’s on welfare is a scammer, etc.
I do see the abusers of the system, I hate it, they make the ones who need/depend on it look bad. But, I will not turn into a dicktator and tell people what or where they should be when I have no idea of who they are, or more importantly, where they’ve been or may be in life as a person.

How about not outsourcing all our jobs (see any “made in Canada” products on shelves lately?) and creating work here.
How about making jobs easier with technology rather than eliminating them completely so people have some job options, especially for people like me who are so bored, have capabilities and WANT TO WORK.
Instead, EVERY DAMN MONTH I worry myself sick (stress is a major trigger to my disability, fancy that) that there won’t be a cheque in the mail (as has happened many many many times) and I’ll have to go through all the BS it takes to get things straightened out in this red-tape govt.
That means missing many meals, adding late payment charges to my bills, and my eviction notice will have to wait.

I’m so mad, yet God bless those who do understand and have empathy. We will prevail. We will make things right. Just give us a chance.

When the solution becomes part of the problem

Lets talk about the new plan the Liberals have cooked up, that Kevin Falcon was talking about in Kamloops this week:

” The B.C. Liberal government is developing a program to move employable people on welfare to northern B.C., where they will be trained and housed.

B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon mentioned the program under development Tuesday during a budget-style speech to the Kamloops Chamber of Commerce.

While details are not yet available, Falcon said in an interview with reporters that government is developing a welfare-to-work program.

“We’re working across government to put together a package to find a way to fly them up to where work is, provide accommodation and training, if necessary, and put them into high-paying jobs.”

In his speech to the Chamber, Falcon said Dawson Creek’s mayor attended one of the Occupy protests in Vancouver last year, handing out business cards and encouraging people unhappy with their standard of living to move north.

Falcon said the program would target jobs in the northeast and northwest, both of which are experiencing high rates of growth, and resulting low unemployment.

“There’s huge opportunities and they don’t have the workforce to deal with it.”

Falcon said government officials are working with industry to come up with a program that will fill needs.

While there will be costs, Falcon said there will be offsetting savings from reduction in social assistance payments by government and additional income tax revenue from new workers”

Wow. I don’t even know where to begin with this one, the potential for disastrous consequences to many northern communities is something Falcon might not be thinking about.

While this gosh-darn amazing job plan of Christy’s made her subject of many jokes on twitter yesterday ( she actually went so far to take credit for jobs that she had nothing to do with like the opening of the Mackenzie mill in 2010, which is advertised on her Jobs Plan site), this new move has me shaking my head.

First,we already know that mines in BC have been allowed to hire overseas workers because, they claim, the lack of skilled workers here. While I find it extremely hard to believe this mine couldn’t find one single Canadian suitable to work there, it speaks to the need for skilled labour, extremely skilled labour such as welders,machinists,equipement operators. All trades which take extremely comprehensive training programs and education, as well as extended apprenticeship programs. Expensive programs that even young -and mature – men here have a hard time financing. Not something you can just learn at the drop of a hat.A lot of companies don’t want to hire newbies for safety reasons. And as you notice in the comments section of the Kamloops article, there are a host of other issues that will greet people forced to move to the north: exorbitant rents, lack of affordable housing and an extremely high cost of living in many booming industry towns. Earth to Falcon, earth to Falcon…. this from the man who tried to woo the “Forgotten North” by promising to open a second premiers office up there if he won the leadership…

I checked a few job search engines online to see what kind of jobs are out there and this link is a good example of what was found on other job search site, more often than not the same job listed over multiple sites: http://www.jobsearchonline.bc.ca/Job%20Search/jobpostings.htm

Sure, a few entry level jobs, but not a lot of jobs at all, nor are there many listed that are going to  pay a living wage high enough for someone to afford the rents up there- does the government intend to subsidize them, pay for vehicles since transit is not an option and many people on welfare can’t afford a car, or more likely up there, a truck?  Are they going to assist with higher food costs and higher utility bills from the longer, colder winter? Good grief. The list goes on.

I’m thinking this job plan has another motive, one a bit longer term than solving any current gosh darn amazing jobs plan issue. I suspect this is a push to start creating a pool of workers for Site C and for the expected 80,000 jobs to be created by fracking over the next 25 years, as detailed on this very informative website, The North Peace Economic Development Commission. http://npedc.ca/key-opportunities 

In fact, BC Hydro has already begun advertising  business and job opportunities for this phase of Site C development and planning… again showing the sham both federal and provincial governments place on the environmental and public consultation process. http://www.bchydro.com/energy_in_bc/projects/site_c/business_opportunities.html

I agree wholeheartedly that BC needs to move to get people working in living wage jobs and get them off welfare, but even the first glimpse at this news from Falcon is so easily torn apart by the reality and cost of doing it. And I have yet to really touch the social cost of a failed initiative, in communities where many people have already gone to try and live, lured by talk of big jobs, big money… only to end up forced back south by the reality of boomtowns that need highly skilled and educated labour forces, not the average jack or jill.

What are your thoughts on this new plan?

Government credit card purchases show everything but fiscal discipline.

Government ministers,certain employees,and subcontractors, are given purchase cards to make “authorized purchases”: purchases made on behalf of the province, for the benefit of the province.  These aren’t my words, but ones from their own policy.

The rules are quite clear- no personal purchases allowed – and recipients must sign an agreement stating they understand and agree to the terms and conditions of the policy manual.

However, while finance minister Kevin Falcon claims fiscal discipline, the public accounts of purchase card spending by the government, shows anything but discipline.

In fact, in the 726 pages of accounting for the various government offices and ministries, there are so many examples of what I would consider questionable purchases, that I have to ask, who actually checks to see if cardholders are adhering to the rules?

Total  purchase card spending for the year ended March 31st 2011 ? A whopping $47,353,802.86 * click to see full size image

 First, it is worthwhile to see which offices and ministries have incurred the greatest value of purchases.The biggest spender, shockingly, is Children and Family Development, followed by Forests, Land and Natural Resources, then Transportation and Infrastructure.

While it is clear that a majority of the purchases would clearly be justified to even the outside observer – again,made on behalf of the province, for the benefit of the province, there are plenty of examples of purchases that I think require further examination, and explanation.

Here are just a few small examples of what I am talking about:

Lululemon: $1900.12 total purchases over all departments, comprised of many smaller purchases. Please explain how Lululemon benefits the province. Please.

 The Body Shop: $256.24

The Wine Barrel: $199.02 – yes, this is a wine shop.

BC Liquor store: $3,039.42 – made up in many smaller purchases all over this fine province and across all ministries and offices…

Edgemont Liquor Shoppe: $242.45

Cascadia Liquor: $90.50

Bear Paw Den Quilting: $300.00 – remember, for the benefit of the province…lol

Estate Wine Shop: $7,029.44 ( I didn’t get a bottle, did you?)

Marquis Wine Cellers: $ 1590.00

I could go on… there are spa visits, barbershop visits, golf equipment, books, clothing purchases….. But you can look for yourself, here, at this link. http://www.llbc.leg.bc.ca/public/pubdocs/bcdocs/348389/2010_11/purchcard.pdf

Remember, PDF documents have a search function so you can even search for specific items.

There is no money, they tell us, we must make hard choices, they moan.

Fiscal discipline, indeed.

“An ounce of practice is worth more than tons of preaching.”
~Mahatma Gandhi

“We only have this much money…”

Why is the BC government paying over $63 million dollars a year to the private partners of the Sea to Sky highway?

Could it be, that just might have something to do with the cost of the shadow tolls on the highway for the year ending March 31st, 2011?   Hmmm?

Can the Liberals answer that question for us please?

My very good friend at Blog Borg Collective, who is one of the best data miners I have met and worked with in my entire career, discovered the handsome payout to the Sea to Sky Highway Investment limited partnership in the provinces Open Information system,and wow, did that ever get my attention.

 Even more so because that P3 deal has already been flipped by one of the partners who clearly made everything invested and more, thanks to everyone driving that highway….

As he states in this fabulous blog post :

“…Colin Hansen constantly stood up in the Legislature and crowed about how the Sea to Sky Highway was only going to cost taxpayers $600 million, and then in this Fiscal Year Ended March 31, 2011 the public gets nailed with a $63 MILLION dollar bill, AND we will get nailed $63 Million dollars every year, for the next Twenty-Five years, until the total cost ……


 Laila Yuile last year gave us the heads up on the Shadow Toll on the Sea to Sky Highway. Now we know its costing us over $63 million per year. The Road Counters embedded in the road are not visible to British Columbians, but every other highway is……. and now we know why

Well I think you can do the math on that. And considering the William R. Bennett Bridge and the Kicking Horse pass have the same shadow toll deals on the financing with their private partners… you decide if the taxpayers achieved value for cost.

As BC Mary would say: ” Move along folks, nothing to see here, no, nothing at all..”

Hats off to NVG for this stunning find! Brava.

(  if you want to read more about those shadow tolls, head on up to the Best Of page above and scroll down to read the entire series, or click on the link above to read Mark Humes take on the entire debacle. )

“Official truths are often powerful illusions” ~ John Pilger

” Hi Laila…Remember the Principle of Parsimony, aka Occam’s Razor that says: “simpler explanations are, other things being equal, generally better than more complex ones.”  The illusion of a fixed price contract is great optics even though its an illusion.  As you quite rightly point out there are escape clauses in the agreement that do in fact provide for modifications to the price.  However, builders do build in as much room as possible in their fixed price bids to cover minor price fluctuations and minor delays.  The downfall for these big projects though is that non-expert political masters interfere with the design and order changes along the way.  That was the case with the fast ferries, and with BC Place roof and with the Port Mann.  This interference triggers the modification to the original terms and conditions.   But politically speaking, ‘they’ trumpet the fixed price nature of the contract – even though the “Fixed” nature of the price is tenuous to say the least.  Just look at the history of the stadium roof! “~ unnamed source

John Pilger is a renowned investigative journalist and documentary film-maker whose work is very provocative. He has well-known for meticulously picking apart and revealing  the well crafted illusions that several governments have worked hard to pass as “official truths” – a description so befitting to our situation here in British Columbia.

There have been many official truths promoted by the governing BC Liberals over the last 10 years, and many illusions revealed as well.

Official truths like there is no toll on the Sea to Sky highway, when in fact there is- a shadow toll. ( you can read the full series on my Best Of page above- there are shadow tolls on several large projects in BC we must pay for years to come – ALL of us.)

Official truths like the HST wasn’t on our radar, when it fact is was and had been for some time. And that plays into todays story with the Port Mann as well,believe it or not.

Official truths like ” We must not go back to those dark, horrible days of when the NDP ran this province into the ground.” Again… not so true when you look at the numbers.

Official truths like the Port Mann bridge is a fixed price contract where the builder takes all the risk, when – as my source confirms above -there are in fact many allowances built into the agreement for changes in cost, design and circumstance. Indeed, this contract has the potential to be another BC Place stadium roof!

 Also concerning, is reference within the Statement of Financial Information, to multiple indemnities given by Transportation Investment Corporation( to be referred to as TIC from this point) under the design build contract with Kiewiet/Flatiron, as well as other agreements and contracts. TIC is the crown corporation in charge of the Port Mann/Highway 1 project. (click on the image to see full size)

It is the many clauses in the contract between TIC  and Kiewit/Flatiron that have me strongly questioning the governments repeated assertions that this project is on budget….and should have the opposition calling for an immediate reveal of any resulting changes in cost and design to date.

Recently back in the news because of a gantry collapse that dropped a massive, pre-fab  concrete portion of the new bridge deck into the Fraser River, I once again wondered how the builder could continually absorb these kind of costs on such a massive project that has experienced ongoing challenges since the beginning, even factoring in contingencies for rising supply costs etc. 

 The gantry is custom made, specifically for this project and the damage sustained was not insignificant to those who know the equipment. The pre-fab concrete portion may potentially be unusable and there are questions to what, if any structural damage the bridge deck under construction sustained as a result of the impact of the gantry collapse. Not to mention the very real potential for a delay, all of which adds up to $$$$.

Max Logan, current PR man for the project and TIC, immediately stated to the press this is a fixed price contract, no cost to the province. But is that really the case? I immediately went back to the disc I received after a lengthy FOI process from Transportation Investment Corporation that contained a redacted copy of the Port Mann design build agreement, the interface agreement and over 30 additional schedules and references that is now also available on the project site.

What I found is evidence that there is more than enough room for the cost of this bridge to rise, thanks to a few artfully crafted clauses and schedules within the design build contract.

This is the 1209 page document, in PDF format: http://www.pmh1project.com/About%20the%20Project/PMH1DBAgreementRedacted.pdf

These clauses and schedules  allow for several different kinds of changes in compensation and cost, and can be triggered by a number of events and circumstances.

First, if the province makes a material change to the design, supplies- whatever- that will cost more than estimated by contract purposes, the builder can be compensated for this by the terms of the contract.

As confirmed by my source at the beginning,the contract does indeed hold the builder liable for the cost of minor changes and costs -this is part of the ‘fixed-price’ nature of the contract the politicians like to remind us of every time something happens. 

However, what they don’t tell us about is that if the cost increase in supply, construction or design is found to be above a set, predetermined amount, the builder can apply for compensation as long he can show that all attempts were made to mitigate that increase and maximize savings.

For example, let’s imagine  that the local source for gravel that was initially chosen to supply the Port Mann construction of the bridge because of it’s location, is lost and the builder now has to truck it in from Chilliwack rather than Langley. Clearly,as the cost of that material is going to be higher than estimated due to increased trucking distance, the builder looks to several sources but none are as close as the original. Although the builder attempted to mitigate this occurrence, the increase is unavoidable.

 If that increase in cost can be shown to be far above and beyond what was estimated for contract purposes as a ‘minor change’, this triggers the approval of a change in cost and subsequent payments to the builder. 

In laymen terms, although the builder is prudent in making sure his fixed price has room for minor changes and ensuing costs, he still covers his financial ass via these escape and condition clauses in the contract – what smart business person wouldn’t, in particular in a time of global economic instability.

The interface agreement, ( schedule 18)  which is the  supplementary agreement that binds all parties in this massive venture, states that the constructor is bound by Part 7 (page 52) and Schedule 11 of the design build contract, both of which cover the above conditions, as well as Part 8(pg 54) and section 4.10, Mitigation by Constructor.(pg. 21)

It’s all there in the contract,it’s been there all this time, and while Falcon, Campbell and all the PR people in between have often lauded, ” It’s a fixed-price contract!”,they’ve been handily patting themselves on the back the entire time.Now you  might understand that statement from a very knowledgable source even better:

“The illusion of a fixed price contract is great optics even though its an illusion.  As you quite rightly point out there are escape clauses in the agreement that do in fact provide for modifications to the price.  However, builders do build in as much room as possible in their fixed price bids to cover minor price fluctuations and minor delays.  The downfall for these big projects though is that non-expert political masters interfere with the design and order changes along the way.  That was the case with the fast ferries, and with BC Place roof and with the Port Mann.  This interference triggers the modification to the original terms and conditions.   But politically speaking, ‘they’ trumpet the fixed price nature of the contract – even though the “Fixed” nature of the price is tenuous to say the least.  Just look at the history of the stadium roof! ” ( this was also a fixed-price contract)

It is nothing but an illusion to take the heat off the province and give the talking heads a standard three word line to fend off the press. 

Retaining wall fails?  ” Fixed price contract!”

Skyrocketing supply and material costs? “Fixed-price contract!”

Geotechnical problems on the north end approach? ” Fixed-price contract!”

Sure Kevin….

I will state clearly, that it is in the builders best interest to make sure the costs are kept as low as possible to maximize their profit, but there lies the inherent danger with a fixed price contract. Strict cost-cutting measures by the builder can, and do, dangerously impact quality of construction and safety as they race to meet stringent construction deadlines and  the lucrative performance bonuses that come with them.

(Can anyone say “The failed retaining wall on Lougheed that did not meet provincial building standards” ? ) Which brings us to the current gantry collapse and possibility of delay in the project.

A provision of the design build contract with Kiewit/Flatiron General Partnership requires the payment of an early completion bonus if the tolling operations commence prior to December 1, 2012. How much is that bonus, and how hard would Kiewit push to reach that deadline?

There are more gems among the documents available, including the estimated cost for demolishing the old Port Mann once the new bridge is complete.

As recently as two weeks ago, Max Logan, PR man for the project, was still telling the press that the province had not assigned a dollar figure for the demolition.

I’m happy to let Metro Vancouver mayors know that as of March 2011, the province had a contractual obligation to Kiewit/Flatiron to decommission the old bridge in the amount of $39 million dollars. The old bridge will not be saved without a tremendous amount of expense, because the contract would also have a termination clause if the province bowed out at any point, and Kiewit would walk away laughing. ( click on image to view in full)

So, the question is, what, or whom, do we believe- and why? The page from TIC’s financial information statement is clear that number is a contractual obligation, yet Max Logan is telling the press, not once, but at least twice, that no number has been alloted for demolition yet.

 Did he get left out of the loop or is the cost of that dollar value of the contract going to be different as well and deflection is his game?

The chart above also reveals the total contractual obligation to Kiewit/Flatiron for the Port Mann bridge new construction to be $1.27 billion dollars. This is significant because in a recent article with the Journal of Commerce criticizing the decision to build an entirely new bridge rather than twin the old one, the province would not reveal specific costs for the new bridge, instead giving a roundabout number of $820 millon.

Again, the province is not forthcoming with specifics, sticking to the fixed-price contract line. ( the link in this segment is a must read angle)

The Port Mann project has been steeped in controversy from it’s humble beginnings as a plan to twin the existing bridge at a cost of $1.5 billion which seemed to be both prudent and economical.

Suddenly, taxpayers are told the province is going to build an entirely new bridge, at the cost of $3.3 billion, in a P3 deal with the private partners shouldering the risk. Of course, the private partners were long time Liberal friends, Macquarie and Kiewit of Sea to Sky highway fame, of whom I have written extensively.Turns out the bidders felt the cost of upgrading the old bridge was cost prohibitive and building an entirely new bridge would be a better deal for taxpayers… ( ??)

But then,Falcon announced that the province was going to fund one third of the project, and soon after when the world economy was so unstable that even Macquarie, the Liberals best offshore advisors, could not secure finace terms that suited Partnerships BC, the P3 deal was called off.

 Falcon, who had earlier announced the P3 model was best for this project and taxpayers, then turned tail and announced that a traditional design build contract was best for taxpayers and the government was paying for the whole project via a fixed price contract…With Kiewit/Flatiron as builders and Macquarie being kept on as ‘financial advisors’.

The design build contract was never put back out to tender, a move decried by many in the industry as unfair and irregular.

Yes indeed… its a good thing, people, Falcon assured us, in the best interests of taxpayers and the best value for our money…

Again, sure Kevin. Time for a full reveal and disclosure on this project, and the actual costs to date. I suspect there is a lot more to be discovered on this project,some of which we may not know until the bridge is done.

 And before I forget, it was also somewhat ironic, as the government currently stalls the demise of the HST, to find that there are specific sections in this contract – signed in March of 2009 – specifically on how a change in the PST law and the GST law will impact the contract…( page 90 & 91) Clearly, although we have long known the Liberals lied about the HST all along, the contract shows Falcon and Campbell were in the loop at that early date.

“Truth:  Outlawed by governments everywhere.” ~ John Gilmore.

” Never underestimate the predictability of stupidity” or… “How the BC liberals are now overspending to fix the corrections crisis they created.”

                                                                          The BC Liberals: Same crap, same people, different motives

Indeed, one should never underestimate the predictability of stupidity, in particular when it comes to politicians and government – case in point, the BC Liberals…As you heard here first, Christy Clark made the announcement yesterday that the Osoyoos Indian Band has been selected as the party who wins the opportunity to host a new prison here in Beautiful B.C.

Yes, the bells and whistles rang as the Queen of ” Gosh Darn, I am just so amazed to present this opportunity”  heralded the new (P3, no less) prison plan that she says will bring greater public safety, lots of jobs and all sorts of other wonderful feel good benefits.

Fair enough, Christy. Questionable at best Attorney General Shirley Bond even had the balls to toot the governments own horn on how this particular project is the first part of the Gosh Darn amazing Liberals phase 2 of the super amazing corrections capital plan !!  Yes, the Liberals have been making “record investments”  in the corrections system here in BC .Three other capital projects have already been completed or are now underway as part of Phase 1 of the Province’s corrections capital plan:

  • 20 new cells at Prince George Regional Correctional Centre (completed).
  • 104 new cells at Alouette Correctional Centre for Women (nearing completion).
  • 216 new cells at Surrey Pretrial Services Centre (site preparation began in January 2012).

Ahhhhh… smell the fresh air… the winter jasmine… the super amazing BS spin that only the BC Liberals spinmasters can concoct- and Olson on your side is leading the pack for them. Sad, he really is no longer, “on your side.” ( But I digress)

Rest assured, we do need more corrections facilities in BC, absolutely!!

After all, since 2001, the BC Liberals closed 10 jails in BC, trying to pinch pennies on their budgets, closing the minimum and medium security jails and moving all the prisoners to maximum security facilities.   You can read their action plan from 2002 – 2005 in this PDF document HERE public_safety_and_solicitor_general

Among the closures were Terrace Community Correctional Centre, Rayleigh Correctional Centre, Chilliwack Community Correctional Centre, Mount Thurston Correctional Centre – including Chilliwack, New Haven Correctional Centre, Stave Lake Correctional Centre, Alouette River Correctional Centre, Vancouver Pre-trial Correctional Centre, and Hutda Lake Correctional Centre.

Yes, they closed them, moved the prisoners and put the then supposedly ‘surplus’ inventory up for sale, sometimes not even indicating an asking price, as detailed in this older news article archived by another site. A cursory search indicates some of the properties were sold for mere pittance compared to the cost of building any of the new expansions, and a tiny fraction of the cost of the new prison slated for Oliver.

One facility, the Bear Creek Correctional centre, has changed hands several times and remains to this day vacant and empty, surrounded by fencing to keep out vandals. The sawmill has been dismantled on site, but apparently the buildings remain. Why not simply purchase it back and do what needs to be done to get it up and operating? Could this be done with any of the other sites that were sold? What the hell were they all thinking?

One would wonder if it is a particular brand of stupidity that makes a premier talk about the amazing investments her government is making in corrections, when she was actually still a sitting MLA under Campbell when all these cuts that led to the current disaster were made in the first place.

She’s walking on very shaky ground on this issue, among others,as her past history has proven impossible to shake. But never forget, simply tossing her out and replacing her with a new leader is not going to save this sorry bunch, most of whom have been right alongside the great one past and not so great one present, the entire time. Not just closing prisons, but also closing courthouses, family justice centres, probation offices, and on.. and on. Just head back up to the top and read my ” 1oo Reasons the BC Liberals must go” if you really need a refresher. It remains on the top of this blog until they are gone, and feel free to add to it with Ms. Christies crackers faux pas.

I would remind you that this corrections issue is not the first contrived rescue scenario played by the Liberals, who cut personal income taxes straight to the bone over the last ten years, then used the resulting lack of revenue as a justification to promote P3’s, the HST, business tax breaks, you name it. And yes, Ms. Clark was still fawning over Campbell in much of that time as well, as much as it makes me shudder to think of it again. But back to the state of corrections in British Columbia.

Never forget that it was because of every cut made by the same BC Liberals who even now, even now, claim economic restraint yet spend thousands on a SuperBowl ad, as if people watching the Superbowl are really concerned about her gosh darn amazing jobs plan.Seriously. Between her and Falcon there is no hope, none whatsoever.

So, in light of the latest attempt to fix what they broke, I thought it fitting to offer up the headline as a campaign slogan for Christy and crew:


“It’s not hard to make the right decisions when you know what your values are” ~ Roy Disney

Unfortunately… the vast majority of BC Liberals in office have no clue what they really value, so they do have a hard time making decisions…. case in point:  this extremely stupid and assinine expenditure detailed by Jonathan Fowlie of the Vancouver Sun…. http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Liberals+planned+promote+with+iPad+giveaway/6070263/story.html

“Obtained by The Vancouver Sun after a 19-month battle under the Freedom of Information Act, draft copies of the pamphlet contain a large image of the Olympic flame on the cover and bear the title “Spirit of 2010: Building on B.C.’s Olympic Advantage.”

The government never sent out the pamphlet, shredding all copies not long after having spent $780,000 to have them designed and printed.

On its second page, the pamphlet features a list of the “10 reasons why B.C. is The Best Place on Earth,” including answers like: “we give hope to the world;” “we’re cool;” and “we like big stuff.”

One part of the pamphlet contained a contest giving people a chance to win one of three Apple iPads, valued, it said, at about $750 each.”

Of course… thank you to my dear friend Wendy in Powell River, we know how horrific the working conditions are for the Chinese employees who assemble those lovely Ipads…But do the BC liberals even care about the Human Cost for workers in China?

Yeah. That’s what I thought too. You’ve got to be Falcon kidding me…

Color China Photo, via Associated Press

( A reader informs me that Norman at Northern Insights had the same link up early today, kudos to Norm for this great find as well)