One tough question for the BC Government

In the days since the horrific failure of the tailings pond dam at the Mount Polley Mine, and the silence that initially followed from our government and the company, one thing is clear to me.

Sadly, as a province we cannot in good faith, trust industry or our own government to ensure the safety of the public, or the environment.

The government states it warned the mine for years:

The company has stated he didn’t think this could happen:

And while the Liberals fully wear this one from beginning to end, according to the Vancouver Observer, this issue goes back to the late 90’s :

Enough is enough. I put this question to Minister of Energy and Mines,Bill Bennett on twitter, and I now ask the environment minister Mary Polak, and the premier, Christy Clark the very same question:


BC Liberal members decline and ignore requests for interview with leading LGBT blogger and advocate as ‘too risky’.

News today that Liberal MLA Mary Polak’s campaign manager has  resigned over anti- gay comments might surprise some, but not many in the LGBT community in BC.

The entire story brings to light the issue of lesbian,gay, bi and transgender rights in the province, and why for many youth and adults, this is still a big issue to be addressed by the families first, anti-bullying Liberal party.

CBC is reporting that Todd Hauptman  resigned because:

 …the very base of voters who will likely help Mary get re-elected in just one-week’s time are made up of individuals who hold hateful attitudes towards the community I am a part of.

“It is knowing this that I simply cannot in good conscience support a campaign made-up of people who think of me as less of a person because I am gay. It is for these reasons that — after considerable thought and deliberation — I have decided to step down from Mary’s campaign effective immediately.”

Mary Polak was well known for her role in trying to ban books depicting same sex parents  from the Surrey school system.

Following this story today, I spoke with Brian Webb, Mr. Gay Canada 2012 People’s Choice, and owner/ editor of, and he had this to say about Hauptman’s resignation:

“The BC Liberal Party has had 12 years to secure equal rights for all British Columbians and to protect youth.

Today’s announcement of Todd’s resignation is unfortunate and a clear sign of the BC Liberals lack of commitment to LGBT issues.

I’ve offered the BC Liberal party multiple interview opportunities to clarify their position and they have declined, citing it is ‘too risky’. LGBT and bullying  should not be a risky discussion for any political party.”

Brian has been a strong advocate for LGBT rights and anti-bullying initiatives in the province, and is one of the biggest independent LGBT bloggers in Canada.


While Spencer Chandra Hebert of the BCNDP took time recently to speak with Webb, along with Alberta premier Alison Redford, the BC Liberals have declined or ignored all requests, Brian told allisonme:

“I have been in contact with members of the BC Liberal party for months now with multiple interview requests, and they have all been ignored or been declined, citing it’s ‘too risky’ to do an interview with an LGBT blogger.”

Kind of gives an entirely new twist to Christy Clarks Pink Shirt day, doesn’t it?

Bait and switch toll reduction won’t help BC Liberals.

From my new post headlined over at HuffPost BC :

“The Port Mann Bridge project has been steeped in controversy from its humble beginnings as an economically prudent plan to twin the existing bridge at a cost of $1.5 billion to what we’ve ended up with today: a completely new bridge and highway project totaling $3.3 billion financed through tolls.

Wednesday’s announcement by newbie B.C. Transportation Minister Mary Polak that the tolls on the Port Mann will be reduced for a period of time with incentives — call now and the next five people get a free Shamwow — is no less controversial than the project itself for one very good reason.

Mary Polak is of course a Liberal MLA in Langley facing an election in 2013, along with MLA Rich Coleman and likely Surrey MLA Stephanie Cadieux. Each has confirmed they intend to run again to the press and it’s very apparent to everyone (except Mike Klassen apparently) that the Liberal brand has been all but blown up by the disingenuous Christy Clark. Quite frankly, these MLAs are going to need every bit of help they can get.

The question is, will a reduction in tolls make any difference at all to hardened voters weary of the endless stream of politicking from Clark, the second most unpopular premier in Canada? I don’t think so, and this is why. The Liberals are using the old bait and switch trick, one they’ve perfected over the last 10 years. Sure we get a discount at first, but eventually we’re all going to be paying — for the rest of our lives quite frankly…”

Check out the rest at

Returning Monday September 10th with new stories, new posts.

Generally speaking, summer is a bit of dead zone for political stories, however this summer has been a non-stop series of eyebrow raising news items that have continued right into September.

I’ve taken a bit of break for the last week and a half to concentrate on the back to school transition, but will be back next Monday  with some stories on the Port Mann among other items. Rumour is new transportation minister Polak might be stripping or pushing back tolls altogether in order to get re-elected in her riding, since tolls are a huge issue here for everyone south of the Fraser and the Liberals need all the help they can get. We’ll also take a look back at other projects the Liberals have screwed British Columbians over on, via the lucrative shadow tolls that line corporate pockets.. if you’ve forgotten, or are still not aware of how Falcon and crew committed the province to 20 years + of payments to offshore and out of province corporations.

I’ll also be taking a look at why independent candidates are incredibly important in the next election here in B.C. and how they can keep the governing party and opposition in check.

That and more, next week! Until then, get out of the house and enjoy this fantastic late summer weather while you can, and enjoy the beautiful BC scenery like I did recently…

“Just because everything is different doesn’t mean anything has changed.” ~ Irene Peter

Never would you find a more fitting quotation to apply to our newly unelected Premier’s cabinet appointments. Just because everything is different, doesn’t mean anything has actually changed at all.

I, like many others, watched the live feed  of yesterday’s undemocratic proceedings, and I say undemocratic because in this rare instance, democracy has not yet reared her lovely head. There is nothing democratic about swearing-in a leader that has not been duly selected by vote of the people, and if anything, Ms.Clarks glowing expression throughout the ceremony smacked of smug regard in the faces of those who bode her no good will.

However smug she is now, she would do well to enjoy her time in the big chair and take as many photos as possibly to sit and bitterly reminisce over in the cold, dark days of certain defeat. Defeat, because in choosing her cabinet she has effectively terminated whatever chance she may have had in showing cynical British Columbians that she is any different from Campbell at all.

Where to start? Appointing the privatization king, Kevin Falcon, to finance minister and deputy premier was the hail Mary of all mistakes. Falcon, who so proudly pointed out endlessly on his leadership campaign that big business is his best friend, will prove  a big barrier to the Liberals winning any election based on the overwhelming public perception that he is Campbell incarnate. If he runs the ministry of finance like he ran the ministry of transportation, we can look forward to a heavy push towards privatising services across the board, as well as a strong surge of P3 projects in entirely new  and possibly untested venues. Family first values? Not with this Falcon. He is well-known for stating that he prefers China’s undemocratic methods of forcing projects on people without having to deal with things like public consultation! And we know he loves the HST, so good luck with that one.

And what possibly can I say about Rich Coleman except that he’s been around the Liberal block so many times he’s gone a little past his expiry date and should have been left on the back shelf like sour milk.  Remember, it was under Coleman’s watch that 10 jails, 24 courthouses and the Vancouver pre-trial were closed.He was also the minister that rejected calls for a public inquiry into the death of Frank Paul – not once, but twice, first in 2001, and again in 2004. Toss in some issues with the BCLC …. and it’s clear Christy’s choices again leave the people of BC lacking.

Where I find Ms. Clarks mindset for her families first agenda so troubling is to have allowed Mary Polak to stay in cabinet at all, appointed to  Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation. This woman is so clearly unqualified to handle any position of authority with regards to decisions that directly affect humans of any age, that she too should have been shelved on the sour milk shelf with Rich Coleman. Seriously. She leaves the ministry of children and families with a black cloud of shame over her head for failing the vulnerable and special needs children of our province, a horrific mark on her, and on the Liberals who instead of addressing what they have done wrong, will deflect and make some ridiculous statement about how much money they have put towards families.  Is Polak the right choice to steer Aboriginal issues in this province, a segment of our population that is plagued with addiction, poverty and youth depression and suicides? Never.

What I find so interesting is that Christy is facing a variety of difficult challenges in the province, challenges that mean balancing economic hardships with environmental concerns that have been blatantly ignored by Campbell’s government. In appointing so many of the same key players with the same values Campbell demonstrated – ” friends take care of friends” – Christy has revealed her  stunning lack of depth in understanding the electorate in the province she is now deemed with running. Does she not get that people don’t want to hear or see Patrick Kinsella’s name in connection with yet another premier? Does she not care that we find it repugnant that she has chosen people working with Enbridge and SNC- Lavelin to head up her transition team? Maybe not, after all this is the premier who loves Manswers…

Clearly, contrary to her claims, Ms. Clark did not listen to the people of BC while working as a talk show host on CKNW, because if she did she would have some inkling that her future as premier is bleak and short. Being a mom does not make you a better premier, but being a person with integrity does. By refusing to discuss the documented proof of her involvement with key players in the sale of BC rail, by refusing to call even the most limited inquiry into the payment of Basi and Virks legal fees, she has effectively killed her own claims to creating an open and transparent government, a contradiction in terms to her own actions she will not be able to back out of at the polls.

As opportunistic as the rest, she has surrounded herself with corporate players and backroom manipulators rivalling the worst -or best- of Campbell’s era, signalling that her hockey mom, families first persona is just that. And considering how Ms. Clark has bought and paid for a good part of Vancouver’s media,(  including CTV’s Chris Olsen ‘ On your side’, who is obviously no longer on your side, after all ) – I suspect she has  already anticipated the need to create the biggest PR team in BC history to create a bed of roses out of her pile of dung.

Self-conceit always leads to self-destruction…

By now you may have heard of the days events –  Bill Bennett was kicked out, literally it seems, of the caucus, perhaps even the building. CKNW has been the best source of news on this so far this afternoon, and although I never listen, today I made the exception to hear now, at least one Liberal finally speak the truth.

Gordon Campbell is a bully, a tyrant and from the sounds of it, more than a little maniacal. And I give Bill Bennett credit for speaking so openly on NW this afternoon, pulling no punches when he said all of it was ” bullshit” and that he has seen Campbell run all over other people in caucus.

Bennett also said that there is a PR spin coming out to indicate that it was a cabinet decision, as would appear to be true with this CBC quote from Kevin Falcon:

B.C. Health Minister Kevin Falcon said Bennett violated an important government protocol with his remarks about Campbell.

“It is not appropriate to be making those comments outside cabinet confidentiality of which we all swear an oath when we are signed up as cabinet ministers,” said Falcon. “Bill knows that and was warned after the first time it happened and after he continued, he unfortunately left cabinet no other option.”

Falcon,as we all know, is one of the most likely contenders for leadership of the Liberals, and the one I would least like to see in the Premiers seat since he has spent much of his career modelling himself after the premier. Now that Campbell has been outed by Bennett, Falcon has stood in support of Campbell’s decision, and we shall soon see where the rest of his loyal troupe stand – Mary Polak, Shirley Bond, Rich Coleman.

Will they answer the questions truthfully when asked if they have seen the premier act as Bennett has stated? Will they admit he holds an iron fist on his cabinet, or will they continue to follow along, the blind leading the blind?

Remember, not one of these ministers stood out and told the truth about the HST, none of them. Each and every Liberal MLA came out and publicly declared their support for the HST, and to this day, they continue to push that it is a great thing for this province.

Mary Polak is a nightmare, having done the provinces needy children and families the greatest disservice of all by literally ripping that ministry apart at the seams. Falcon, trashed the transportation ministry and mortgaged all of our children’s futures with these P3 projects that he is now pushing in the health ministry. Coleman? Well we all know Coleman’s record, or lack of it, some might say. Bond is kept busy trying to figure out how the hell to manage the mess Falcon left her.

One of my favourite quotes is by Eleanor Roosevelt:

“When you have decided what you believe, what you feel must be done, have the courage to stand alone and be counted.” 

Bill Bennett finally did it, although it took a long time. It’s just too bad that every time the rest of the Liberals get a chance to be accountable, they fail miserably. You can count most of them in with Campbell.

( I am working on a story that is taking longer than anticipated, with power outages etc due to the high winds today. More on the Ministry of transportation shortly)


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I appreciate your patience during this time.) ( how does what is going on in Quebec, relate to BC? More to come on that in weeks to come)

Breaking news: Supreme Court rules in” Tercon Contractors Ltd. vs British Columbia(Ministry of Transportation)

 ” The appeal from the judgment of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia (Vancouver), Number CA033983, 2007 BCCA 592, dated December 3, 2007, heard on March 23, 2009, is allowed, the order of the Court of Appeal is set aside and the judgment of the trial judge is restored, McLachlin C.J. and Binnie, Abella and Rothstein JJ. dissenting. ”

 From the Reason for Judgement :

” V.  Disposition

 [80]       I conclude that the judge did not err in finding that the Province breached the  tendering contract or in finding that Tercon’s remedy in damages for that breach was not precluded by the exclusion clause in the contract.  I would therefore allow the appeal, set aside the order of the Court of Appeal and restore the judgment of the trial judge.  The parties advise that the question of costs has been resolved between them and that therefore no order in relation to costs is required.

Reasons for Judgement :

See this earlier post of mine, for history on this case:

Let me give you a lay-persons summary of this judgement, if you will, in one sentence.

In essence, the Supreme court is upholding the original judgement in favor of Tercon Contracters Ltd. ,with no damages ordered.

I spoke with one of the key players in this case today, former chairman of Tercon Contractors Ltd., Glenn Walsh, and asked him what his reaction was to the judgement of the court.

Walsh had this to say:

              Although I am no longer associated with this particular Tercon company, I am obviously pleased and feel vindicated with the judgement–after 9 years.

It supports the whole principle of integrity, honesty, fairness and transparency being requirements in government tendering processes. The court has agreed that the Ministry acted ‘agregiously’ and purposely ‘obfuscated’ the role of Emil Anderson such that the real relationship—-was ‘smothered’.

Ministry staff got caught cooking the books.

 I think it is unfortunate though, that the court accepted the validity of ‘exclusion clauses’, which effectively prohibit contractors from any claim against a public agency that doesn’t abide by its own tendering rules.
It called such a clause to be a ‘negotiat[ion] between savvy participants in the construction business’, saying that bidders are ‘free to decline to participate’ in any tender.
 I cannot accept that a contractor whose primary business is highway construction can ‘choose’ to not tender highway projects because of an overly onerous clause that allows the agency to bend the rules. That effectively takes away his right to carry on his business.
 Unlike a negotiated contract between a contractor and a private owner, where any terms of the contract can be negotiated, in a public tender the contractor must accept all of the terms, including the tendering rules, with absolutely no qualifications.
To accept the court’s finding that ‘there was no relevant imbalance in bargaining power’ is difficult for me, in that there is no ‘bargaining’ in the public tendering process.
The industry has been waiting for years for some clarity on this issue, but this seems to perpetuate heavy-handed procurement practices.
  As for myself, someone now so deeply intrigued by the procurement process  of government projects  –  particularly with regards to the BC ministry of transportation – I too feel relieved to see such validation of  what I consider to be a clearly unacceptable business practice among the statements from the Justices of the Supreme  Court. At best, the MOT’s behavior is unethical –  slimy, shall we say- at  the least, it is indicative to me of a deeper rot within the ministry that must be stopped if smaller contractors in the construction industry in BC are to have any chance of surviving at all.
Tercon is a large company, with many subsidiaries and deep pockets that  allowed such a case to go this far. Other contractors are not so lucky, and would  have no other alternative other than to suck it up and move on.
( On that note, I would strongly urge anyone interested in this case, or in how the provinces procurement process works, to read the entire reasons for judgement in the link above. One does not need to be a lawyer to understand the gist of the ruling, and if anything, it is a shocking look into the inner workings of the BC government. )
However, let us not all jump for joy at once now. Although this judgement clearly vindicates Tercon with respect to the behavior of Ministry officials, it left the onus for enforcing change upon the ministry’s business practices, with the contractors themselves!
          The construction industry in British Columbia is run by knowledgeable and sophisticated people who bid upon and enter government contracts with eyes wide open. 
 No statute in British Columbia and no principle of the common  law override their ability in this case to agree on a tendering process including a limitation or exclusion of remedies for breach of its rules.
  A contractor who does not think it is in its business interest to bid on the terms offered is free to decline to participate.  As Donald J.A. pointed out, if enough contractors refuse to participate, the Ministry would be forced to change its approach. 
 So long as contractors are willing to bid on such terms, I do not think it is the court’s job to rescue them from the consequences of their decision to do so. 
Quite the point, no?  On one hand, I agree that if you sign a contract knowing the terms of the contract, you get what you signed for. That being said, the expectation and “good faith” one holds with respect to the other parties honest business practices is a given.
In other words, one should not expect that one is going to get shafted when bidding on a public project, but in this case, that is exactly what happened. From my investigation on the ministry,Tercon is not the first contractor to experience this kind of behavior from the ministry, nor will it be the last . In fact, this judgement leaves me with more questions than answers, because as Walsh indicates in his statement, how can any contractor reasonably be expected to refrain from bidding on projects that make up their bread and butter?
In the name of government transparency to the public, there remain some pressing questions in my mind tonight.
  • Who, within the Ministry of Transportation, called the shots on this bid? Who really orchestrated this entire debacle? And more importantly, where are they now?
  •  Why did the job change from from the ‘design-build’ concept to the ‘alliance’ arrangement shortly after Tercon was rated the top proponent (and Brentwood 5th) under the former scheme, which would have seen the bidders list shortened to the top 3?
  • Who’s original idea was the EAC/Brentwood association?
  • What effect did Tercon’s success with its Parksville suit in the 90’s have on how this project was handled?

And most importantly… what does the government plan to do about it ?

Or are the elected folks happy to allow these kind of business practices continue?

To be more blunt, although the judgement clearly recognizes the horrible and unethical behavior in which the Ministry of Transportation acted, it still leaves the door open to an increase in highly questionable and unethical bidding on public projects in British Columbia.
In my mind, that is simply not acceptable and I say now, that this ruling indicates the need  for a full investigation  and public inquiry into the public procurement process within all ministries of the government of British Columbia.