Straight from the horses mouth: Premier Campbell and Huggies Hansen tell it like it was – back in 2008.

Watch this video, and listen carefully. Listen to Gordon Campbell talk about how bad the economy is, and how changes will have to be made. Listen to Colin talk about how if a P3 financer can’t get financing, another company can step in because so many are out there waiting.

Now, this is from 2008. Not at all in line with Campbell’s repeated claims post-election that he had no idea how bad the economy really was.

And Colin has some explaining to do now, doesn’t he?

Because in this video he states the taxpayer will never end up on the hook for any P3 project due to financing, because there are so many other companies out there willing to step in and take over….. which is exactly what I have been saying about the failed P3 Port Mann all along. Why did the taxpayers end up on the hook, if another company could have jumped in with financing?  Stinky, stinky, stinky Colin!!! Have huddle with the premier and get back to me on that, won’t you?

But wait… I have more for you.

FROM THE HORSES MOUTH… those organizations who have been lobbying and pushing for the implementation of the HST… and some advice for Manitobans…lol.  Quite a telling sound bite, no?

And while we are still on the topic of the HST… here is a press clip from Harper on the subject. You have to listen carefully as the clip continues  to add in other press bits on the HST..


Last, but not least, the most under reported story of  August was Gordon Campbell’s trip to California to speak to their Assembly. Powell River Persuader was the first to write about it, and a couple other bloggers mentioned it after he did, but there was very little if any real coverage by the MSM.

 Why is this news? Because his address is no more than outright pandering to his corporate IPP friends – a PR promotion for all those horrific run of the river projects.  

Watch Campbell deliver his address, and then tell me he isn’t trying to sell this province down the river… and watch for a cameo of the most gossiped about woman in BC politics at the very beginning   ;  )

Monday morning round – up

Wonderful morning out there, rather ‘nippy’ if you catch my drift! It’s kind of funny how I cringe and freeze when the rain and wind are here, but now that it is sub-zero and bright, I love it! Different kind of cold, I guess, but I’ll take this over the rain any day.

First up this morning, is an update on the HandyDART strike. Yes, the union  and the company are returning to the bargaining table on Thursday, but many employees have contacted me with some unsettling questions surrounding the” pension” deductions the company had been taking off of their cheques. This excerpt from one employee email sums it up:

I work for HandyDart in Vancouver, and as you know we are currently on strike.

A couple of days ago John Siragusa said on the air( on CBC) that the union knew from the beginning that the pension was not on the table. This is a BALD FACED LIE.

We have a memorandum of understanding( MOU) signed by MV in late 2008 that they will honour previously existing contracts and will register for the MPP( municipal pension plan). When they did register for the MPP they asked for a temporary membership. MPP informed them that there is no such thing and invited them to apply for the usual membership.

MVT did not do that.

They told us that the deductions coming off our cheques were being put in a trust account, but until recently refused to tell us the financial institution holding the funds. They recently sent information to the executive which showed that low interest GIC’s had been purchased on NOVEMBER 6, 2009! ( There was no accounting sent as to what this money has been doing, since the date deductions were being made-the statement only shows an opening balance as of October 2009 –  l.y.)

Where has our money been between Jan 01 and Oct 01, 2009 ? What has happened to the interest that would have been earned during that period of time?

I also received this set of documents in questions from an anonymous source, and it states that the trustee for the funds is  a numbered company- 0843627 BC Ltd. The funds deposited were not put into interest bearing investments right away because  the MOU did not contemplate that this should be done. Interestingly enough, those funds were put into one year GIC’s in a series of transactions starting November 6th of this year!  The letter also states that an amount will be deposited equally the interest these funds would have earned had an investment been initially done. 

I have also come across a blog that has a number of allegations regarding the company that bear some investigation:

My hope is that for these workers, the issues before them can be worked out with the company on an equitable basis. It still tastes bad to me, however, that we continually seem to see American companies being contracted to more often in British Columbia. One would think part of keeping BC strong, would be to keep the money in BC.

Onto another labour dispute – it looks like gravel truck drivers will wait until after Christmas to decide what action to take in order to deal with the ever dropping gravel hauling rates  that owner-operators are facing. Teamsters president Don McGill says it looks like nothing short of an industry wide shutdown will be needed to rectify the situation, which is having a huge impact on truck safety as owners try to save money on maintenance just so they can stay in business. The dispute is the result of Port Mann Bridge contractor, Peter Kiewit and Sons, cutting the current rates they are paying gravel truck operators, from previously established  higher ones.  Stay posted in the New Year, as we could see construction grind to a halt on the Port Mann project.

Well here’s funny twist on things…. The BC  government issued a press release  last week (FRIDAY, by the way) because 4 of the provinces P-3 projects have been given national awards from the Canadian Council for Public Private partnerships.  

Which projects got the kiss of approval? The  Sea to Sky Highway, The Canada Line, The Golden Ears Bridge, and the Royal Jubilee Hospital Patient Care  centre. *Click on those links for a good read on those projects…. ; )

So,curious as ever to see who this ‘council’ is composed of, I clicked on the About Us link, and guess whose smiley face is the first thing I see? 

Gordon Campbell. Yes, our honourable premier is the  Honourary Chair. (Quite the profile…) But wait, it gets better. The board of directors,executive and members lists contain a veritable who’s who of Liberal business partners and contractors….which kinda-sorta-makes it look like all the people involved on the 4 winning projects just gave themselves a big award…

Now,isn’t that just grand? Good grief.

I’ve run out of memory.

Computer memory that is.Let me assure you, this is QUITE an inconvenience, not to mention very frustrating!

As a result, today you are going to get this crappy message rather than the really revealing post I’ve been working on about a large company involved in BC public projects…that has a very ” interesting” corporate history. And on that note, let me leave you with a couple quotes I found rather pertinent in this endeavor….

” The road to truth is long, and lined with annoying bastards…” ~ Alexander Jablokov

“A lie would have no purpose, unless the truth were felt as dangerous” ~ Alfred Adler


Time to ask why Kiewit keeps getting the bids.. even when things go wrong. A story within a story.

Yes, I say it is time to start putting toll booths on the Sea to Sky highway, especially considering this new lawsuit BC Hydro and BC Transmission Corporation filed against Peter Kiewit and Sons – the contractor who built and maintains the splashy new drive.  The Vancouver Sun has the story tonight :

BC Hydro and BC Transmission Corporation claim they are owed almost $400,000 by road contractor Peter Kiewit Sons for consultation services provided on the Sea to Sky Highway construction project.

In a summons filed this week in B.C. Supreme Court, Hydro and BCTC allege that Kiewit agreed to pay the Crown-owned utilities’ costs to monitor the Sea to Sky Highway 99 expansion project in proximity to high voltage transmission lines between West Vancouver and Whistler.

Sure, why shouldn’t  the province install some toll booths over there? After all, isn’t that our money BC Hydro is using to file the writ and duke it out in court? Legal proceeding in Supreme court are very costly, unless they come to a settlement within a short time. Seems to me, that with all that expected traffic heading out towards Whistler over the next few months, it just might be the way to recover costs -and then some! Heck, I bet the tolls on that highway alone, could pay for the Port Mann bridge too, thereby saving valley residents that added and unaffordable twice daily charge.

It was October 2008 when I first called for tolls on that highway, and highlighted the inequity of the failure to pay for that highway improvement project through tolls, as compared to other projects .  I still feel the same way.

Gregor Robertson, mayor of Vancouver , has since put forth that very same idea.

Here’s an excerpt of my blog post   from last October :

As a taxpayer in the province of BC, I have a question for the transportation minister, Kevin Falcon, and our Premier Gordon Campbell.

The Golden Ears Bridge project costs $800 million  and will be a toll bridge to cover costs.

The Port Mann Twinning project will cost  $1. 5 billion, and again, will be a toll bridge to cover costs. ( note: this was the original cost the province announced -LY)

The new Patullo Bridge project – cost unknown but guaranteed mega$$$$$– already is planned to be another toll bridge.

THE SEA TO SKY HIGHWAY PROJECT – $ 600 miliion dollars – or more – NO TOLLS.

Those toll booths on the Patullo, Port Mann and Golden Ears bridges will be faced directly by residents of Surrey and Langley – and it hardly seems fair. Both the Sea-to-Sky highway and the new Kelowna bridge, as well as the Pitt River Bridge (part of the province’s Gateway program), are all TOLL FREE.

My question to Premier Gordon Campbell ? Why is that very expensive Sea to Sky highway toll free ? Why are some of us getting dinged up to three times to get from the suburbs to our work locations, and yet all the millions of people who drive up to Whistler all summer, and every winter get to do so for free? Put those toll boths on that highway, now!

Now, what makes this news story about the law suit soooo interesting to me, is that  Peter Kiewit and Sons are also one half of the joint venture contract team charged with building the Port Mann Bridge project. Originally that project was deemed to be a P3 venture, but after the contractors financing tanked, the province decided to keep them anyways and do the bridge as a public project.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always wondered why the province would keep a contractor(s) whose failed to meet the financial terms of the contract. In other industries, a failure to meet those terms would have resulted in the contractor being dis-qualified and the next highest bidder would have been given the opportunity. Makes sense, right? You don’t need to be a road builder, or a CEO to get that concept.

But in this case?

No. Didn’t happen- the province instead made the Port Mann Bridge build a public project and kept the contractor(s) who couldn’t ante up the money for a successful P3 .

Ironically, their failure to get financing is a good thing for the people of BC, because it actually saves the government some money as a public project!  Kevin Falcon, transportation minister at the time, even admitted that the government can get lower financing rates than a private contractor could:

The government will build the bridge as a public project rather than a public-private partnership, as originally planned.The about-face will save about $200 million, in part because the government can get lower financing rates than a private partner could,Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon said….

Capital cost of the project, which includes the widening of 37 kilometres of Highway 1, is estimated at $2.46 billion. Total costs, including operations and maintenance, had been expected to be $3.3 billion, but Falcon said it will be closer to $3.1 billion, partly because the government can get financing at lower rates than a P3 could…

( umm… if the government gets lower financing rates, then why do a P3 project at all? )

Now, the contractor on the Sea to Sky highway, Peter Kiewit and Sons, is being sued in Supreme Court by  BC Hydro and BCTC.

That same contractor – who allegedly failed to pay a pretty big bill submitted by those public utilities – was kept on by the BC government to build the Port Mann project….despite the fact their financing fell through last year..

Talk about ‘Things that make you go HMMMMM’…

The whole scenario drew me back to a letter I received from a rather knowledgable reader recently, one that I’ve been mulling over for some time because of the nature of the contents.

Here is the letter, with links inserted by myself where I think it to be appropriate. I think it raises some valid questions about the Port Mann Bridge project, especially in light of the news regarding the BC Hydro/ Peter Kiewit lawsuit :

‘Morning Laila,


I don’t know how familiar you are with the Province’s highway construction programme, but I’ll assume you know nothing and lead up to my most recent peeve.

 In the ‘good old days’, before P3’s, when the Province wanted to build a road or bridge, they designed the work, put it out for tender and the lowest qualified bidder was awarded and built the work.  Any contractor that had the financial wherewithall, as determined by his bonding company, was ‘qualified’ and entitled to bid on the work, often resulting in 15 or so  bidders. 

 The process was known as Design/Bid/Build.  The Province provided the Design, often a Bill of Quantities to ensure that all were bidding with the same parameters, and often made available certain materials, such as gravel and asphalt oil, to reduce the risk and level the playing field.

 Under the recently developed P3 process, when the Province decided to build a road or bridge they invited ‘Expressions of Interest’ from (presumably) these same contractors.

However, the projects were usually considerably larger resulting in fewer contractors that could meet the financial qualifications. 

 Those that could, and considered the risks warranted it, submitted their expression of interest. from which the Province (by some method unknown to most) selected 3 contractors that would be permitted to Design/Build/Finance/Operate the said works (DBFO). 

 A rigid set of parameters would be provided to those three (the rest being left in the dark as to why their expressions weren’t considered) that outlined the extent of the work and the specifications that were to be adhered to.  The Port Mann project, for example, defined the start and end locations, the number and location of the additional lanes, bridge location, Highways Specifications and offered a number of Provincial owned gravel sources.

 The chosen three were then responsible to design and price the work. 

  The results were assessed by some unknown agency and the work awarded by some unknown process to one of the three. 

 The difference between the ‘G.O.D’ and the ‘P3’ is that the contractor, instead of the Province, was responsible for the Design.  Fair enough, but it increased the risk to the Contractor and Contractors don’t take risks without charging for them

 Furthermore, the ‘successful’ Contractor (Contractors are ‘successful’ only when they make a Profit – not just because they have ‘won’ a Contract) was charged with Financing the work, and Contractors also charge for Financing – usually at a rate considerably more than the rate that Provinces charge!

 Anyway, let’s assume that the Port Mann project was awarded to Kiewit by a knowledgable ‘unknown agency’ and that it was done so on a fair and equitable basis without any bias. (Is that a fair assumption? – I don’t know!!) 

 As we all know, the wheels fell off Kiewit’s Financial Organ, not once but twice. ( here is where I find this letter so compelling – L.Y.)

 Under the old scenario, the Province would have confiscated their 10% Bid Bond and awarded the work to the next lowest bidder

 In this case however, the (almost-broke) Provincial Government undertook to provide at first one billion dollars financing, which they later increased to three billion. 

 This begs the question: where in the recently revised from deficit 498 million to deficit +/- 4 billion dollars budget does this show up? 

  The bigger question is: How much did Kiewit lower the cost to the taxpayer for this huge reduction in Risk/Cost?  Perhaps we’ll never know!

  We’ll certainly never know how much the other two proponents would have reduced their price if they had not been required to provide financing!!

 Now we’ll get to the part on which my peeve is predicated. 

 Remember, I said that as well as listing parameters such as length of project and the number of additional lanes required, the Province had  also named some gravel resources that the contractor could avail himself of.

 One of these was a Provincial owned pit at 248th Avenue in Langley.  Access was directly off the freeway.  The Contractor could haul excess material (mud, topsoil, deleterious material etc) off the construction site and return with good gravel to build embankments and pavement structure.  There were a number of other sources made available, but none offered such convenient access and quality material.  Its only natural to assume that all three contractors availed themselves of this resource in preparing and costing the work, as they were entitled to. ( I did a little digging, and found a couple of stories referring to a provincial owned pit in that area, that residents fought against re-opening,for fears of digging harming their well water  supply, and generally being a nuisance during the construction of the bridge- LY – )

 Allegedly, this resource has been withdrawn and I’m told that Kiewit has had to make other plans for wasting excess material and sourcing gravel.

  I wonder how much this is adding to the ‘Lump Sum Contract’ under ‘Changed Conditions’?  Is it reasonable to expect an explanation?


Well, I would think it should be quite reasonable to expect an explanation for all your questions, my friend, and perhaps our transportation minister could help us out with that. I’ll be forwarding her a copy of this post to see if, and how she responds.
As for me, I think this  BC Hydro/ Kiewit story was the best news I’ve ever seen the government release late on a Friday night- on a Thanksgiving long weekend to boot.  Don’t choke on that turkey now, Gordie…
*****UPDATE Saturday October 10th, 2009
Being who I am, instead of getting to my pre-Thanksgiving preparations this morning, I kept thinking about Peter Kiewit and Sons. I really don’t know that much about them and was starting to look around and see what I could find, when a little birdie put a bug in my ear.
When I Google Peter Kiewit Sons Inc, this is the type of search result you get:
Of course, first up is the company site, then related sites, then news items etc. Nothing special. I tried the company site About page, and oddly enough, none of the links loaded. I tried several times from different search engines, but to no avail, so I don’t know if this is my computer issue, or they have removed all of that information. Give it a try yourself.
On the advice of the little birdie, I then googled  ” Peter Kiewit + Bid Rigging”, which brings up an entirely different side of Peter Kiewit information that you won’t be finding on their corporate website anytime soon.
Links like this one: a scan of a newspaper article:
Or this one- insert search term ‘ Peter Kiewit” in the search box on that page to get right to the pertinant section:
And this one:
However, the most explosive link of them all, is this one for where it leads – scroll to page 21 :
And so. There are numerous scans, filings and documents available online to substantiate the bid rigging allegations from the US.
Interesting enough, the author of this letter, Bev Harris, also authored this link :
 where if you enter the name Peter Kiewit into the  PDF search box, it takes you to page 5, for her complete history on the company and the allegations and charges against it over the years.
Interesting, is it not?

**Update: The reason there are no tolls on the sea to sky highway, is because there is a hidden toll the government pays on our behalf to the builder, already installed in the contract. Read the entire series here on the Best of page: scroll down to the Sea to Sky Shadow Toll series