BC Liberals pat themselves on the back over SFPR ‘highway’ opening a year late and $464 million over budget

I’ll give the BC Liberals this: they sure know how to crank out a photo-op and they know how to spin a deuce into silk and make it look like they invented it.

Case in point, the grand opening the of much heralded… and criticized… South Fraser Perimeter Road -aka Highway 17 ( the old highway 17 is renamed 17A).

Spin, rinse, repeat.

Yes indeed all the politicians came out to glad hand and pat backs, including Rich Coleman, Peter Fassbender, Barinder Rasode, Todd Stone, Nina Grewal and Kerry-Lynne Findlay.

Remarkably enough, they even managed to tie this project that is over a year late in completion, to Christy Clarks biggest failure to date, the BC Jobs Plan:

“Completing the SFPR was a key goal in the province’s Pacific Gateway Transportation Strategy, which supports the ‘The BC Jobs Plan’ to expand markets for B.C. products and strengthen infrastructure to get goods to market, ensuring B.C is North America’s gateway for Asia-Pacific trade.

The SFPR will generate economic and business opportunities and lead to 7,000 long-term jobs in Delta and Surrey through improved industrial development opportunities along the corridor.”

But what is more ridiculous than claiming that the South Fraser Perimeter Road will lead to 7,000 jobs ( how the Liberals get these numbers no one really knows) , is this this little gem on the press release:


On-time and On-budget?

Some of you will have caught this… and will be laughing, scoffing or otherwise shaking your head in disbelief, but for those of you not privy to the joke, the punchline is “ SFPR opens on-time and on-budget.” This is a Liberal patented tag-line, and is a complete fabrication. They count on very few reporters knowing the full history of this project that was plagued with problems from day 1.

In July  of 2008 when the project was announced and the Requests for Qualifications went out,the press release with it stated construction would start in 2009 and completion was 2012.

In early 2009, the short list of consortiums were issued the Request for Proposals and again, the completion date was stated as 2012.

However, something went wrong between April 2009 and May 2o10, the date of the next press release that announced who the successful bidder was: not only had a major change had been made in the corporate makeup of the winning bidder, but the completion date had suddenly been delayed for an entire year, with no explanation given!


BC Liberal Claim number 1 -South Fraser Perimeter Road on time?  False.

Let’s talk budget now.

In 2006, the  construction budget in future dollars for the SFPR was estimated at approx.  $700 million dollars.

However, rising costs of land expropriations drove that cost far higher ( a very disgusting but routine story in itself when it comes to Ministry of Transportation projects, see my end links for how the MOT conducts its land deals…), and the Liberals announced that an additional ‘contingency’ was set for $300,000. ( what budget doesn’t include a contingency, I don’t know..but that’s how the Libs work)

In fact, in August of 2010, it was announced that the ministry had increased the budget by $37 million found in savings to other capital projects… never saying where those savings had come from: http://lailayuile.com/2010/08/13/south-fraser-perimeter-road-moves-ahead-as-revised-fraser-transportation-group-signs-agreement-with-ministry-of-transportation/

*Total cost of construction upon announcement: $700-800 million dollars (  it depends on which press release you look at- it changes)

*Total cost being heralded by politicians today? $1.26 billion dollars. ( this figure also varies depending on past press reports)

*Total actual cost overruns according to my calculations ?  approx. $264 million – or around a 40-45% increase

BC Liberal Claim number 2- South Fraser Perimeter Road on Budget? False

What else the BC Liberals press release didn’t tell the public

Beyond the fallacy that this project was on time and on budget, the press release failed to mention a number of other items. The project was plagued by controversy from the beginning:

-Even losing bidders win, when it comes to the BC Government… who hands out million dollar stipends to losing bidders to compensate them for their time and expense. SFPR included. http://lailayuile.com/2010/05/24/when-is-a-losing-bidder-not-a-losing-bidder-when-it-involves-bidding-on-a-ministry-of-transportation-project/

-Despite the fact it was pushed as a nonstop freeway route where trucks did not have to stop and idle, and despite the massive cost overruns, the project was still downgraded significantly from a highway with no stops, to a highway with lighted intersections… intersections that would not only result in congestion on opening day ( hence the Saturday before Christmas opening), but intersections that will result in safety issues as well. http://www.deltachamber.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/SFPR-interchanges-case.pdf

Now, not only will trucks to the port have to stop and idle, they will be mingling with cars and minvans since the province is now pushing this route as  not only the only free alternative to the tolled Port Mann bridge, but a fast way to the ferries. Unfortunately a lack of clear signage has already resulted in lost motorists, prior to the opening.

– Nor will the Liberals tell you about the Railgate connection to all of it…which is huge. It is not something that has been talked about other than a side story, but is very significant of itself.



– And they certainly left out about how absolutely vital the SFPR is to the shadow plan to industrialize and build homes on the ALR land south of the Fraser…which might explain all the smiley faces in the photo above. This is a must read.


No… the BC Liberals won’t tell you any of that in their feel good, lets all hold hands and sing Kumbaya together press opp. They don’t want you to know they are going to have to rebuild all those intersection a few years from now, and that they could have saved taxpayers a ton of money by doing it now. They don’t want you to know that the safety of the road was questioned before it was completed, as linked to above.

They just want you to drive on the damn road so they have enough road count numbers to justify the construction of the items they chose not to do as costs escalated. They just want to share the momentary joy of having completed one portion of the plan to remove much of the ALR south of the Fraser, to share the momentary joy of getting truck to the port before the expanded Panama Canal takes a portion of our shipping container traffic away.

Fiscal responsibility went out the window long ago. Don’t be surprised when the traffic jams start being reported on the news every day… this new road/aka highway was destined to be a dud before it even opened.

Merry Christmas Todd. I know it’s not the mess you created, but you certainly stepped into it.


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. *****

“Practical politics consists of ignoring facts.” ~ Henry Adams

I am here, I am alive and no, I am not an undercover operative for a federal investigation…although that did give me a laugh.

The Gateway story is still very much the object of my attention, to the point where every free moment I have had over the past couple of weeks has been dedicated to that story and where it continues to lead me. New revelations have been uncovered and to tell the story incomplete is to do a great injustice to many people, considering recent events.

However, I will be joining  NDP MLA Guy Gentner and independent MLA Vicki Huntington this morning to talk about several issues, one of which includes the glaring connection of Kevin Falcon to Railgate that so many have paid surprisingly little attention to.  This conversation is available to be heard at  http://guygentner.ca/podcasts/p3s-partnership-bc-sea-sky-hwy-south-fraser-perimeter-road-railgate-and-more 

There will be an interim story on Falcon’s connection, and why it gives a totally different perspective to the SFPR, posted later today.

Filed under ” Never thought I would see this photo in the paper – again!”


     This photo crack’s me up every time I see it…why the hell was he smiling? http://jimspss1.courts.state.hi.us:8080/eCourt/ECC/PartyIdSearch.jspx
Search results for criteria: Party Id: @665975, CaseType: ALL

ID Name/Corporation Case Next Event Party Type Filing Date

5 cases found, displaying 5 cases(s), from 1 to 5. Page 1 / 1

@665975 Campbell, Gordon M 0302659AM – State v. Gordon Campbell Defendant 06-FEB-2003
@665975 Campbell, Gordon M 0302659BM – State v. Gordon Campbell Defendant 06-FEB-2003
@665975 Campbell, Gordon M 0302659CM – State v. Gordon Campbell Defendant 06-FEB-2003
@665975 Campbell, Gordon M 0302659DM – State v. Gordon Campbell Defendant 17-JAN-2003
@665975 Campbell, Gordon M 00302659M – State v. Gordon Campbell Defendant 10-JAN-2003

( While the Province article is about the Basi- Virk trial, since the incident of the premiers drunk driving incident was brought into court in relation to the activities of one of the defendants, I thought I would take a side trip down memory lane….)


It has well been discussed in many forums and by many political insiders, that Premier Campbell has long counted on the treaty process with  many British Columbia aboriginal bands, to lubricate the way for mining and oil exploration in traditional band territories. However, it all seem to be falling apart for the premier, as first nations in many parts of BC fight to retain control and prevent exploration and destruction of land within their range – recall the Enbridge post further down this page from last week.

Our friend at  ” How bad is the record” has a post up that is self-explanatory with regards to what I have just mentioned, and I encourage all of you, to attend a rally/protest in downtown Vancouver today, if you can- details at the end of the following story  :


I have known from the beginning that Campbells “new relation” with the First Nations of BC was a sham. It was designed to placate the nations and lure them into a false sense of security.He never ever thought once that he would buck big business, especially  mining, to allow the First Nations to have a say in their traditional lands.

Please read the following press release about the Fish Lake, Prosperity Mine double cross by Campbell.


For immediate release B.C. Government Treats Aboriginal Rights as Meaningless; Tsilhqot’in Nation Denounces Long-Term Lease for Taseko June 14, 2010, Williams Lake – The Tsilhqot’in National Government angrily denounced the provincial government’s decision to grant Taseko Mines Ltd.(TML) a long-term mining lease for its proposed open-pit mine at Teztan Biny (Fish Lake), an area where the Tsilhqot’in Nation holds proven Aboriginal hunting and trapping rights.
“B.C. is essentially saying our proven rights are meaningless,” said Chief Marilyn Baptiste, of the Xeni Gwet’in First Nation, one of the six Tsilhqot’in communities that comprise the Tsilhqot’in Nation. “The Province is handing Taseko long-term property rights to lands where we are actively exercising our proven Aboriginal hunting and trapping rights – before it is even known whether Taseko’s project will be approved or rejected by the federal government.”
Federal approval is far from certain. During recent public hearings held by a federal environmental review panel, the Tsilhqot’in Nation actively opposed the project, which would destroy two lakes of profound cultural and spiritual significance, with elders, members and even school children describing the unfathomable loss that this destruction would mean for their communities and traditional way of life. The federal panel is due to issue its report and recommendation on July 2nd. “During those hearings, our Nation, people from Williams Lake, environmental organizations from across the country and a number of eminent scientists warned the Panel that this mine will cause untold damage to the Tsilhqot’in culture and to a complex ecosystem,” says TNG Tribal Chief Joe Alphonse of Taseko’s plan is to drain the pristine, trout-bearing Fish Lake and dump waste rock there. “Even federal agencies said that Taseko’s plan to destroy Fish Lake and Little Fish Lake didn’t meet their guidelines. It’s a black eye for British Columbia. It’s hard to find anything good to say about it.”
The Tsilhqot’in National Government (TNG) called the decision to issue the 25-year renewable lease “disrespectful.” Chief Alphonse: “There is still a need for Tsilhqot’in endorsement to operate with the Tsilhqot’in traditional land. The Tsilhqot’in National Government does not feel that we have been adequately consulted.” TNG has written to Jody Shimkus, the Chief Gold Commissioner, recommending the decision be rescinded.
The issue of allowing mining companies to use lakes as garbage dumps for mining waste is now a national issue. On June 4th, the Sandy Pond Alliance – a coalition that includes the Council of Canadians, MiningWatch and other eNGOs – launched a court case against the federal government contending that the regulation currently used to authorize the destruction of lakes for mining purposes is unlawful. On Wednesday, June 16th, there will be a protest at 12:30 pm in downtown Vancouver at the Taseko Mines Annual General Meeting. The rally at 837 W. Hastings Street has been organized by Council of Canadians in support of the fight to defend Teztan Biny (Fish Lake).and please pass this on to your friends

Posted by Gary E at 9:35 PM

At long last, a return to Bits and Bites,Tuesday June 8th, 2010

Good evening, my loyal friends and readers!

 I have to thank all of you for your continued patience and let you know how much I appreciate your faithful stops even though the pages here have remained vacant of posts for some time. All I can say is that sometimes life lobs you a hard-ball, and then sometimes life burns in two or three in succession, and as a result, I’ve had to take time to attend to my health and my family. I’ve still been working on various stories behind the scenes, but at a far less dedicated level than previously. I promise to be back to filling these pages with insight and revelations as often as I can over the summer, and who knows, you may even see a special feature of  the Laila Yuile Road Trip across BC…

And out of the starting gate today… It seems there was much ado about nothing at the Basi-Virk trial today, as we all wait -again- to find out the decisions of the two jurors who were not sure if they could continue their duty well into 2011.  I invite all of you to tune into my three favoured sources for all things Basi- Virk ( Railgate) ,each of which posts continued and detailed updates on the proceedings: The Gazetteer, my good friend BC Mary’s site, The Legislature Raids, and of course, my friend Bill Tieleman, who has had some interesting experiences in the past when it comes to Railgate related incidents.  

Next up, I have to say that if there is any grace, any tiny blessing in the horror that continues down south with the BP oil disaster, it is that it may jolt the minds of locals who have yet to form an opinion on the Enbridge pipeline, of which I have been blogging about since last year.  see these posts for my coverage of this issue:  Support divided for Enbridge Northern Pipeline, Close Call on BC coast should be “Wake-up call” for all British Columbians ( contains links to several other posts of mine, and a great video link of the Exxon Valdez) . I called it then in the first post about the fact that the alleged moratorium against tanker traffic is baseless, as did others before me- but did anyone listen then?

I think, I hope, that they are all listening, and watching now. What we have here in BC is unique, precious and must be saved and preserved at all costs for future generations.

I was thinking about all of this when I was surfing through YouTube recently, when I found the  following two videos.

The first is taken from Question Period in the Legislature, March 23rd, 2010. The entire video is worth watching ,but is you are short on time, FAST FORWARD TO the 2 minute mark and pay close attention to what Premier Gordon Campbell says in his rare moment of speaking in the house.  He says , quite clearly, ( and I paraphrase here ) that if the First Nations say no to the Enbridge pipelines, THEY WILL NOT PROCEED…. This is a very,very important moment caught on tape.

Now, the following video was taken the day BEFORE premier Gordon Campbell’s great speech declaring that if First Nations were opposed, they would not proceed with the pipeline. The date is March 22nd, 2010

This video shows the Coastal First Nations press conference  stating unequivocably that they will not allow, support or endorse in any way, the Northern Gateway project and the Enbridge pipeline. Clear as a  bell to me. 

So. Please tell me why this project has advanced to the environmental review stage, and why Enbridge is still spending tons of money emailing people like me their glossy new project brochure?  ( PDF)

And, if that wasn’t enough, check out this link  to the great people at the Dogwood Initiative :

By arranging to attend as official representatives of Enbridge shareholders, I and whoever comes with me have a once-in-a-year chance at holding Enbridge CEO Patrick Daniel to account, by asking him point blank questions on the record. For representatives of First Nations who make it to the AGM, it’s a unique chance to assert their jurisdiction in front of senior executives, the Board of Directors, shareholders, and the financial media.

This year the AGM team included myself, Vice Tribal Chief of the Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Terry Teegee, Chief Namoks (John Ridsdale) of the Wet’suwet’en, and Nikki Skuce from our colleague organization Forest Ethics.

I’m not gonna lie; trips like this are always stressful. There’s the logistics (e.g. my Greyhound bus broke down on the way to Calgary), the preparation, making sure media know why you’re there and what you’re doing, and the worry up until the end that something’s not going to go according to plan.

But somehow it always works out, and this time was no different. Super Calgary volunteer John Vickers pulled through with an entire series of professionally designed posters to be used as rally placards outside the meeting; we were able to speak with TV and print media about the issue; John and Terry did an amazing job of asserting First Nations’ jurisdiction over the project; and, we got Patrick Daniel on the record admitting to three crucial points:

(1)    That Enbridge hasn’t been completely upfront with all of the shippers they’ve been negotiating with about the inadequacies of the review process for the project.

(2)    That the broad opposition to Enbridge’s oil pipeline and tanker project creates “significant” risk for the company, which the Board of Directors discusses virtually every time they meet.

(3)    That the “protocol agreements” that Enbridge has signed with some First Nations don’t actually indicate support for the project, and that at current count, there are zero First Nations he is aware of that are publicly supporting it; in contrast to the 28 who are publicly opposing it. Enbridge’s project is on shaky ground

These statement’s by Daniel proves what we knew all along, the Enbridge project is on shaky ground. More importantly they give us the opportunity to drive home the message that Enbridge is in for a fight they can’t win

Campbell proved he was a liar with the HST, and continues it with Enbridge. 

The premier needs to put an end to this and stick to his word, for once. We do not want an environmental disaster here, in this place of incredible beauty and diverse ecosystems.

Speaking of the HST, a curious note to mention here , direct from my blog stats. WordPress shows me what search terms people used to find my blog ,and one of the top search terms for the last month has been : ” How much will my HST rebate cheque be if I am low-income?”

What does that tell you? People are freaking out about paying the HST and already counting on getting some money back. Yes, we know  the Liberals are going to issue rebate cheques for those among us who are hurting, but it is far too little in the end to save any of the woefully lagging Liberals. Especially now that the First Nations in BC have joined the fight.  (Let me guess if that is going to help. ..or hurt, the treaty process…)

Last, but not least, there will be more to come this week on an interesting angle to the South Fraser Perimeter Road, and let me tell you, it’s quite a PR angle that may not have been discussed yet.  Call me a tease, but that is all I’m going to give you right now.

A quick bit of insanity for you relating to the Canada Line: Who exactly decided giant orange Cheeto Bears make any kind of sense at all coming out of this wall ?  Yep. I thought so.Seriously, what’s the deal with these bears, and more importantly, how much did they cost?

Under the  ” Bet you won’t see this in the Sun or Province ” banner, I bring to you a very Proud to be Canadian moment from our friends at The Galloping Beaver ( and let me tell you, this would be a crowning blogger moment, if I may so so myself!)  

The Galloping Beaver – Banned in Guantanamo

Friday, June 04, 2010

We get mail :


Your website is one I have long visited and I was quite surprised when I was visiting Guantanamo last month and I was not allowed to visit your website while at the base. I received a notice that the website was not allowed to be accessed by the “administrator” (military censors) (not an exact quote). I was quite surprised, went to other websites that I thought might be more controversial but had no problem and checked at various times to get on to your website (I was there for almost a week this visit) but I never could get on to your website.

So, please take my congrats….I would consider it an honor to be barred by those thugs!

Best regards,

H. Candace Gorman

Well … just … wow. We at The Beav also consider it an honour to be visited by Guantanamo human and civil rights lawyer Candace Gorman.

Ms. Gorman was successful earlier this year in freeing one of her clients from Guantanamo and maintains The Guantanamo Blog to “provide updates on developments concerning the plight of the detainees, the ongoing injustice of current U.S. detention policies in the “War on Terror” and efforts to hold accountable those men and women responsible for the war crimes”.
Today she writes :

Of course Bush only spoke about his joy in waterboarding KSM…..I wonder how he will respond to questions about waterboarding Abu Zubaydah (some 100 times) as the government has now been forced to admit Abu Z was not al-Qaeda or taliban …. just some shmuck who had the misfortune to be captured by my criminal

Another recent blog entry asks you to lend your support to a military lawyer who refused to prosecute a man who was tortured into confessing. Lieutenant Colonel Darrel Vandeveldis is now at risk of losing his 19 year military career for doing so.

Thanks for making our day, Candace, and for all your fine work defending justice and the rule of law from thugs.

Email published with permission of author.

Congratulations to all the busy beavers posting over there, and if you haven’t been to visit, why not head over and check them out?  Consistantly great posts that hit the mark every time !

Last, but not least, I would like to thank my army of ” helpers”, who without which , it would be all that much harder to write the blog. You know who you are, and I thank you today for all that you do to get these stories out.

Take care , and see you again soon!

A little rebellion now and then is a good thing and as necessary in the political world as storms in the physical. ~ Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to Jame Madison

And never have I felt more rebellious, more incited to revolution than tonight, when I sat down to read who, and what, really controls what you, and I, and our friends and neighbours read and watch in the evening news….

And you think you live in a democracy?

I suggest you read the following. And think again.

 Because when journalists employed by publications that benefit from very lucrative government advertising revenue are among those who are designated to pick and choose who may obtain media accreditation on behalf of the Supreme Court…. something has gone terribly wrong.

 From The Legislature Raids :

BC Supreme Court Media Accreditation Committee … say again?

What is a working journalist? Wouldn’t it be someone with a set of high skills who attends all the hearings, studies the process, and reveals the story in its fullest form? I think so. And I think Robin Mathews is that highly skilled working journalist who is telling us the BC Rail story in its fullest meaning.

Recently Robin wrote to Court Scheduling to ask for accreditation.  Why? So he could do his job better. He said that if the court is jammed (as it was for the first jury-picking) he needed to get a place where he could hear what’s going on … which isn’t always easy in the back row with 150 people in the public gallery. A reply came to him from H.L.McBride, Supreme Court Law Officer, with material describing the Accreditation Process and it referred him to the committee of journalists which does the initial accrediting.  Of the four named as representative of the committee, Robin chose Keith Fraser to write to.

Robin Mathews has been in the BC Rail courtroom with other paid journalists for over three (3) years. Sometimes Robin Mathews is the only working journalist in the public gallery reporting on the BC Rail Trial.  I would imagine that he has logged more hours in the public gallery than any other journalist at the BC Rail hearings. So in my view, the public should know the dark side of what goes on.

Heaven knows we berate the journalists often enough for not doing their jobs better. I, for one, never quite imagined them doing these kinds of things as part of their duty to the public.

First, here’s Robin’s inquiry:

Dear Keith:  First:  I wrote to Mary Ellen Pearce to ask if I could get accredited as a court reporter. My reply came from H.L.McBride who I can never decide if it’s a woman or a man.  Anyhow, the reply was I have to go to someone really powerful to ask – and you were listed among the really powerful!!!!

                     Yes, I would like the right to record.  But also I’d like the right if the court is jammed (as it was for the first jury-picking) to get a place where I can hear what’s going on … which isn’t always easy in the back row with 150 people there. I notice that you and CP could slip in to a corner where you were in good relation to the goings-on …

                    I’d like to know about “accreditation” if you can spare a few minutes over the next days (before the 17th.)

                    good wishes, Robin

Next: Neal Hall of Vancouver Sun offers the formal reply, as follows:

From: “Hall, Neal (Vancouver Sun)”
Date: May 11, 2010
To: , “Fraser, Keith (The Province)” , ssmart@ctv.ca, JSeyd@nsnews.com,
Subject: Court accreditation application

Robin Mathews:

The B.C. Supreme Court media accreditation committee considered your application but has decided you are not a working journalist, so do not qualify for accreditation.
We are aware of the valuable role you play as a “blogger” and analyst of the court proceedings, so would encourage you to apply by letter to the trial judge, requesting permission to use a recording device in court.
As for seating, so far, there doesn’t appear to be any special arrangements for media seating in the courtroom. So we’re all in the same boat – we’ll be trying to find the best available seat each day.
Any questions, please feel free to contact me (I can always be reached by e-mail).

Neal Hall
The Vancouver Sun
(604) 605-2067
Email: nhall@vancouversun.com

Now. If you don’t get what is wrong here, I feel for you. I really do. But for the rest of you, click on the The Legislature Raids  and read the rest of the story…

“The kind of corruption the media talk about, the kind the Supreme Court was concerned about, involves the putative sale of votes in exchange for campaign contributions. “~ James L.Buckley

I wonder how our dear premier is feeling this morning? Because depending on what side you take, the latest news regarding the political campaign contributions made by various special prosecutors ( Kash Heed’s messy election campaign investigation + the Basi- Virk trial) have got to be revelations carrying a double edged sword. Yes, reveal the possibility of hidden motives and alliances, by all means –  this is the crux of what we strive for in most of the blogosphere. However the revelation of the political contribution of  the special prosecutor in the Basi-Virk Trial may also have a far greater impact on where that trial ends than any allegations or charges faced by the accused, or by any evidence presented in that oh- so secretive courtroom.

Political contributions have long been the avenue of unofficial lobbying and influence for many a businessman or corporation. Say as you may that making a monetary contribution to one party only does not exert any influence or conflict, the fact is that it does, because in election campaigns , every single penny matters – just ask Kash Heed.  It is well demonstrated in British Columbia that large political contributions by corporations often result in favourable contracts or business deals down the road,  case in point perhaps for the next in line may be Enbridge.

The Enbridge pipeline has been a favored blog topic for me in the past, because of the vast impact this one project will have on all British Columbians.  For more  of my posts on Enbridge, check out these links:






Enbridge operates a smooth, well oiled( no pun intended) public relations team that makes the project seem like the best thing to hit this province since…. run of the river projects. Enbridge has since received staunch opposition from First Nations in this province, as well as residents and business alike in the northern part of our province where the pipeline is proposed.

With all the Liberals seemingly on board with such a contentious proposition, and with so much profit at risk for Enbridge should the project fail to proceed, one would wonder if Enbridge  dabbled in the political contribution arena at all….. so, off to elections BC to check the contributors list… and BINGO.


Combined Contributions Search Results (S-A1-A)

S-A1-A – Your Search Criteria
Contributor Name Date From Date To Party
enbridge      (ALL)
  S-A1-A – Your Search Results
  Total Contribution For This Search: $50,290.00 
Records 1-19 of 19 
Contributor Name Date Amount Party Class Principal Officer 1 Principal Officer 2
ENBRIDGE INC. 2008/04/30 $520.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
ENBRIDGE INC. 2008/04/30 $3,500.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
ENBRIDGE INC. 2005/12/31 $3,500.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
ENBRIDGE INC. 2005/12/31 $4,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
ENBRIDGE INC. 2007/09/14 $100.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
ENBRIDGE INC. 2007/12/31 $4,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
ENBRIDGE INC. 2007/12/31 $4,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    

Roger Harris, Vice President of Aboriginal and Community Partnerships  for Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipelines has personally contributed as well. http://contributions.electionsbc.gov.bc.ca/pcs/SA1ASearchResults.aspx?Contributor=roger%20harris&PartySK=0&Party=(ALL)&DateTo=&DateFrom=&DFYear=&DFMonth=&DFDay=&DTYear=&DTMonth=&DTDay=

While $50 k might not seem like a lot, in the grand scheme of a mult-million dollar project, I think it speaks volumes, just as the recent revelations do of political contributions of the special prosecutor  involved in charge consideration in the Kash Heed matter, and as it does in the special prosecutor appointed to the Basi-Virk proceedings. And while for all  the players involved in these debacles, it may be just’ business as usual’ in the province of British Columbia, to the rest of us it stinks to high heaven of inconsistencies and corruption at all levels of government and law. 

The questions remain: why does this still continue ? – and how much more is there to find out?

But…. before I go, take a look at this blog post passed on to myself by a wonderful reader. http://ponderingsitec.blogspot.com/ Although a newly born blog, clearly there promises to be some questions posed here that should be answered.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Green Energy Program?!?!?

A quick look at some of the Site C pre-construction reveals some interesting “green” ideas.

They claim they will recover one million cubic meters of marketable wood products. That’s a pretty good trick in today’s world.
A million cubic meters of additional wood in the Ft St John regional market is going to clearly cut logging activity in other places.
You can bet they won’t be getting premium prices for it either. This really would be a fire sale. They either have to sell it or burn it.

Better yet in the “green energy program” is the other stuff they have to get rid of.

They are apparently going to have a go at creating the worlds largest compost pile. The legacy left by Campbell and ‘Larry The Cable Guy’ Lekstrom could then include a great big mud dam and a footnote in the Guinness Book Of Records.

They note they will be removing 500,000 metric tons of WASTE VEGETATION. They are going to have to put it somewhere.

Just exactly what is waste vegetation? Is that the stuff that doesn’t filter CO2?

No matter says Larry………..lets git er done ……… now I don’t care who yar…… thats green thinkin right thar.

Posted by A Critical Eye at 9:39 AM 0 comments
Good questions, no?

The same names in all the familiar places…

From Alex G. Tsakumis’s site, Rebel with a Clause, as he comments on Bill Tieleman’s departure from CKNW :

 …I suspect, STRONGLY, that there is more to this than meets the mic…

Two items: Tieleman has NEVER backed away from naming Christy Clark as someone of interest in political issues emanating from the Basi-Virk trial (which always rankles the dimbells at NW) and Bill has been APPROPRIATELY critical of the shameless Premier and his pathetic excuse for a govt.

You don’t think that the bias angle is possible?

Well, let me light another bomblet…

During the 2005 municipal election, I was still on the Board of the NPA in Vancouver. (I didn’t become a scribbler until later in 2005). My youngest daughter was going through life saving heart surgery about the time of the mayoral nomination, fought by Sam and Christy. I resigned from the campaign committee to assist my wife with caring for Giulia (who is fully recovered, thank God), but had an interesting conversation with someone, who stunned me with his revelation…

He knew that I was supporting Sam (and not just because Sam was clearly the better candidate, but, too, because Christy’s then husband would have turned City Hall into a federal Liberal Martinite outpost).

Then this same fellow said to me that while he was supporting Christy, he had some regrets…

“You know, Alec, I’m working awfully hard on getting her a sealed deal at NW for as long as she wants. She should go do that instead of Mayor. CKNW will do her political career much better and keep her name circulated and current…then we can run her for whatever she wants”  I was so stunned, I wrote it down, it’s verbatim.

The man’s name?

Patrick Kinsella.



Supreme Court rules on secret witness issue Thursday am – will the Basi-Virk trial proceed?

From my friend Bill Tieleman’s site :

The most anticipated decision in the BC Rail corruption case of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi will come at 6:45 a.m. BC time from the Supreme Court of Canada.

The Court has announced today that it will release its ruling on Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino’s appeal of two BC lower court decisions on the issue of a secret witness and how his or her testimony should be handled.

Berardino hinted at one point the trial might not go ahead if the identity of a secret informant could not be fully protected, stating he would not violate the privilege of the witness to remain unknown….

Visit this website Thursday morning for the decision and full analysis of what it means for the likelihood of the trial proceeding.

A pivotal moment – one of many thus far – in the case that many have said the BC Liberals would like to see quashed before it even begins – and for good reason.

 Pre-trial hearings have produced thousands of documents that would seem to support allegations of fraud, breach of trust, bribery and corruption in all levels of our provincial government involved with the privatization deal of BC Rail.The potential witness list contains many past and current government ministers, such as CKNW talk show host, Christy Clark, Premier Gordon Campbell and a host of other well-known politico’s of the BC scene. The most comprehensive list of who is who, and what it what pertaining to Railgate, can be found in this Tyee article, also by Bill, titled  ” Railgate , A to Z ” .  Another critical site to check out, The Legislature Raids devotes itself entirely to everything and anything pertaining to the BC Rail deal and subsequent events

 The biggest  government scandal to hit the province of BC, Railgate began with the infamous  RCMP raid on the BC legislature in December 2003, amid allegations that organized crime had infiltrated every corner of province, possibly even the very building the RCMP charged into that fateful day.

Since that date, nothing has come easy to these hearings. Bogged down in paperwork, at times it has seemed unlikely that the pre-trial stage would ever reach completion. Toss in some pertinent emails that were “accidentally” deleted by the Liberal government after being requested in court, a judge who at times seemed disinterested in the implications of potential damning documents,  and that same judge subsequently being replaced so she could  take a new appointment ?

All I can say is that you have the makings of a home-grown political thriller, and one I would very much like to watch one day! Adding to the intrigue is the ever-present spectre of the mysterious secret witness Bill writes about above – one who very much has the power to end the trial before it even starts.

Yes, the scandal ridden Basi-Virk hearing started with the Legislature raids -but will it all end with this Supreme Court ruling?

Head over to Bill Tieleman’s site Thursday for the full meal deal on the ruling , and what it spells out for the future of what promises to be the most riveting trial in the history of British Columbia.

For now, I think it is time for a little reminder of what may have been the motivation for the entire deal. Check out this previous post of mine, titled:  The key to the BC Rail deal lies in Premier Gordon Campbell’s beginnings in real estate and land development.