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…

” Circumstances do not make the man… they reveal him.” ~ James Allen, former defence minister of New Zealand

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.. what does this one tell you?  ( And a reminder to scroll down and read the HST agreements that the government would rather you not see, and how far they would go to prevent that from happening.)

“The incestuous relationship between government and big business thrives in the dark.” ~Jack Anderson

” The Team” at launch of South Fraser Perimeter Road Construction

From the Fraser Surrey Docks press release:

Fraser Surrey Docks was a fitting background for the official launch of the South Fraser Perimeter Road (SFPR)project on Monday, January 12th 2009, which was attended by Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Premier Gordon Campbell along with the provincial Minister of Transportation & Investment, Kevin Falcon, and federal International Trade Minister Stockwell Day.

The governments’ decision to hold the launch at Fraser Surrey Docks clearly demonstrates the importance of our terminal to the Vancouver Gateway, particularly our role in facilitating international trade and commerce, and in creating new economic opportunities for the region.


As a new, reliable and efficient transportation corridor, we expect the SFPR to benefit Fraser Surrey Docks and our surrounding communities; to improve travel time for many of our employees; and to enhance our value proposition to customers. The SFPR will also allow cargo to reach its destination more quickly and thus lowering overall transportation costs. In addition, it aids in connecting Fraser Surrey Docks to several industrial hubs including the USA, the Interior of BC and the province of Alberta.

Yes, very fitting indeed, to hold the launch at a facility owned by Macquarie Infrastructure,part of the worldwide conglomerate, the Macquarie Group – a company the BC Liberals have assisted in establishing a solid presence in British Columbia.

By March of 2007, Macquarie Infrastructure Partners had closed on the purchase of 100% of Fraser Surrey Docks, a strategic move on their part to add to the Macquarie groups growing holdings and investment in ports worldwide. Among Macquarie  port and shipping holdings?

Halterm in Halifax, Canada, DCT Gdansk in Poland, Changshu Xinghua Port in China, and a joint venture with Hanjin Shipping with operations in Japan, Taiwan and the United States.

In 2008, Macquarie hired Mark Jiles to lobby the government with the sole purpose of promoting P3’s and the Gateway Project. He registered as active with the Lobbyist registry from September 2008 to January 2010, and contacted Partnerships BC in addition to then transportation minister Kevin Falcon, as well as Ian Black, Ida Chong, Mike De Jong,Rich Coleman, Kevin Kruegar and ex finance minister Carole Taylor.

Of course, we know Macquarie tried to but did not succeed in getting the money together for the Port Mann P3 model, however they were kept on as ” advisors”, the details behind this arrangement never made public, on orders of Kevin Falcon, then transportation minister.

As part of the Gateway project, the SFPR will be a vital link for Macquarie as owner of the Fraser Surrey Docks, as well as shipping lines and port terminals in China, and Japan, both targets in the Asia-Pacific market Kevin Falcon still speaks so fondly of.

Mark Jiles certainly must have done his job well…

To be sure, it might be argued that Macquarie stands to profit most from the SFPR,maybe even more than  Deltaport, and more than the stealthy developers who have gobbled up land left,right and centre along the route –  BC Rail Properties among them.

Making money on both ends and during shipping is a profitable venture not often imagined by any corporation, and certainly the BC liberals have been kind to the Macquarie group in many ways- the Sea to Sky highway, the Port Mann, Duke Point Power Project,Hluey Lakes, Sechelt Creek are but a few examples of their increasing investments in British Columbia. ( I am sure there is more- stay tuned as I delve further into these relationships in a future post)

However, it was none of this that actually struck me as funny when researching the extent to which Macquarie has become comfortable with the BC Liberal Party. In fact it was a message board on the internet that grabbed my attention immediately, because it showed David Bassett as the dinner chairman for a Liberal dinner fundraiser.

I am pleased to bring to your attention our first major election campaignfund raiser, the BC Liberals Fall Dinner on Thursday, November 20, at theExecutive Plaza Hotel and featuring Minister Black as our Keynote Speaker. Wedo expect a sellout, and would be delighted to include you in the evening in a supportive manner.I have attached the order form and invitation for your consideration. Should
you have any questions or wish to know about some of the sponsorship and
auction donation opportunities, please do not hesitate to contact me by e-mail
at, or by calling me at 604-640-0322.

Thank you in advance for your support.

Yours truly,

David Bassett, Dinner Chairman

The 2008 BC Liberals Fall Dinner
In Support of Re-Electing Hon. Iain Black, MLA
November 20, 2008, The Executive Plaza Hotel (Coquitlam)
Hosts: The Port Moody-Coquitlam Riding Association
Contact: Dave Bassett, Dinner Chairman, 604-640-0322

May mean nothing to you, but that contact number? It belongs to Macquarie Private Wealth.  where Dave Bassett is an investment advisor…

Certainly, we are all entitled to our political leanings…but…the relationship is notable. A BC Liberal supporter, fundraiser, working for a Macquarie subsidiary dealing with wealth management…

As is this one… Matt Ilich, an investment associate with Macquarie Private Wealth who worked as a constituency assistant for soon departed premier, Gordon Campbell…

Macquarie has strategically placed itself in many sectors at risk for privatisation if the BC Liberals continue to govern this province – highways, hydro and other energy resources as the IPP projects on the coast.

The Liberals have repetitively shown us (whether Campbell,Kevin Falcon and now Christy Clark), that the relationship between government and big business does indeed thrive in the dark.

On the eve of a new premier being selected for British Columbia in a way already riddled with contentious allegations, what will it take for the people of British Columbia to say enough is enough and turn the light on, once and for all ?

We are all Egyptians.

Fighting the good fight

I believe that any individual who has spiritually awakened in our time, to the degree that he or she finds a higher and deeper motive for living, is going to be driven to fight the good fight in one way or another.

 Whether it is through engaging with the struggle to evolve *democracy or fighting to save *the environment or remove *corrupt governments, the spiritual impulse cannot be separated from the moral compulsion to make the world a better place. And in order to fight the good fight, we have to engage, we have to get into the ring, not just stand outside it and be philosophers.

It takes guts and integrity of motive to fight the good fight.

 It takes a passionate interest in life itself.

It’s easy to stand on the sidelines, shaking your head and commenting on how tragic things are. But if you really care, you are going to be in the ring, trying to make the world a better place. And only from that position will your words and your thoughts and your insights have weight.

 When you live an engaged life, your sense of self gains depth and power and authority, and your philosophy is no longer abstract. You become a person who can really make a difference, because you are actively participating, you are digging deep, and you are pushing up against the edge of your own potential.

Andrew Cohen

(* indicates words I have substituted for effect)

A pink wash frames Mt. Baker in the southern sky beyond my bedroom window this morning, signalling the start of a new day. I woke very early, laying in the dark thinking about the quote I posted to Facebook last night.

“Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.” ~Louis Dembitz Brandeis

This morning, I realized I am an Egyptian.

Nothing else could explain the magnitude of outrage and desire for change that burns in my belly. Nothing else could explain why, even at this early hour, I feel like I should have a loudspeaker in my hand as I march down the centre of  the streets, drawing people to join me as I shout: ” I have had enough! ”

I have had enough of a government that issues press releases touting the “overwhelming success” of the Canada line when the truth is that line is a massive financial burden to taxpayers and in my opinion, has done little to nothing to get cars off the road. The only people who think this project is a success are the concessionaires who are getting a wonderful return on their P3 investment, among them shadow fares based on number of riders and distance travelled. This is fact, not fiction. It is yet another case of hidden debt and monetary excess that we all pay for whether we ride it or not.

For the rest of us, and in particular, Susan Heyes, it is nothing more than another reminder of why this government must go, the sooner the better.

It is a reminder that this government has repeatedly and with great air of entitlement, demonstrated that they are above the same laws the rest of us are beholden to. This it not simply a use of rhetoric on my part, it is fact. I have stacks of research and documents to back this statement up, as do a number of others.

The government has fostered an environment within itself that not only rewards unethical behavior – just don’t get caught – but encourages it by example. The government has committed to transparency and accountability, but has a record of stalling both in any possible way they can.

” The HST wasn’t on our radar.”

” We can state unequivocably that there are no shadow tolls on the Sea to Sky.”

” We’ve said all along, the government did not do anything wrong in the sale of BC Rail, it was only about two corrupt criminals and they have admitted their guilt.”

I dare not go on, it might use all my blog space. One look at the 100 reasons Campbell should go above, will also tell you why the rest should depart as soon as possible. There is no difference between any in this group, and nor will electing a new leader change what is going on inside the ministries,because as Tercon vs. BC showed us, it is often the high level ministry contacts that oversee contracts and projects who are well involved in some unethical actions as well.

We are told to put our trust in a national police force that has shown us more than a few times, that even they will conceal, deflect and spin the facts that could have shown us the truth.

We have Liberal corporate friends and associations that think nothing of using their money and power to bully and intimidate people who tell the truth and threaten their current feed at the Liberal trough. Look at how much money these kind of companies are throwing behind Kevin Falcon, skirting his own parties leadership financial limits for campaigning. Look at the movers and shakers on Christy Clark’s team. These are the people who will benefit most from a continuation of the Liberal corporate driven agenda – not you, and certainly not I, nor any other average person in this province.

Look at it. Skyrocketing unemployment, a fake deficit that is far larger than the one the government admits to, and a province in turmoil  and indecision as the two major provincial parties both struggle to choose a new leader as the old one departs and tells reporters he is proud of the feeling he has left with British Columbians…

This is the time to say enough. And mean it. No more settling, no more rationalizing, and no more excuses.

 It is not enough to stand on the sidelines and say you watched and supported while others fought for your future. It is not enough to read the stories I bring you and say: ” Wow, that sucks- the government really is corrupt!” because what if next time it is your house in the way of a road? What if it is your business their overbuilt, over-priced  project will run into ruin?

Who will fight for you then?

 You must take your future into your own hands and fight for what it right and show this government they work for us – we don’t work for them.

After all, we are all Egyptians.

Falcon added $2billion debt as transportation minister – and that doesn’t include the Shadow tolls

Will McMartin did an outstanding job on his piece about Falcon in the Tyee today.   Fact, not fiction and cuts right through the Falcon leadership rhetoric. Highlights include:

:  Kevin Falcon added close to $2.6 billion in infrastructure debt during his tenure as transportation minister, all the while rejecting “the old NDP way,” and promoting a “pay as you go” philosophy.

:B.C.’s transportation debt by the end of 2012-2013 will have skyrocketed to an all-time high of $10.1 billion — or nearly two-and-a-half times higher than it was when the New Democratic Party government was defeated in 2001.   ( note- this figure does not include shadow tolls and P3 payments which are considered contractual obligations, as Will goes on to mention is $16 billion + … LY )

: Business men and women across the province no doubt raised a glass to toast Falcon’s determination and vigor as he eliminated such hindrances to investment as the Dogwood, Rhododendron and Trillium Protection Act, the Premier’s Advisory Council for Persons with Disabilities Act, and unproclaimed sections of the Motor Vehicle Act. ( during his time as minister of deregulation, when he made it easier for business to rape and pillage… and thus part of the reason he has so much business support -LY )

Go on, grab your coffee. And remember, it’s not so bad if he becomes leader of the Liberals, because I can guarantee this province will never, ever vote for him as Premier. Who wants to see another list of 100 on my site- this time titled ‘ Falcon’s Follies?’

( This just has a Gerry Hummel cartoon written all over it… )

Kevin Falcon will not commit to a full BC rail inquiry.

Just back from the Vancouver Sun live chat with Kevin Falcon, in which every question I submitted was given to Falcon except the last, because time ran out.

So, what can you expect from Kevin Falcon if he were to be the leader of the Liberals, or worse yet.. shudder… premier?

He will continue to use and promote P3 projects far and wide, because in his own words, the government can’t build projects on time or on budget or as good as a private partner can. He says that P3 projects are not off the book debt, and are a great way to build the things we need. He also claimed the Sea to Sky was built on budget and for less than the government could have as was the Canada line.  ( yes, clearly although he was transportation minister, he has no clue it has been shown time and time again that the projects would have been cheaper if the government had built them. )

He skirted right by the shadow tolls issue and did not address it.

When asked if he would commit to a full BC rail inquiry into the sale of the railroad and the legal fees paid to Basi and Virk, he emphatically stated ” NO, I will not commit to a full inquiry into the BC rail sale…”  but ” I will agree to an investigation into the legal fees being paid to Basi and Virk”

Falcons reasoning was that the people who admitted guilt as to the statement of facts is what the government had been saying all along, that it was a couple of criminals responsible and one person with some unethical behavior but that was it. But he sure wants to know why the legal fees were paid because that was something he sure didn’t agree to.

Falcon does plan to continue the South Fraser Perimeter road because he sees the bigger picture of what our future needs… ( I suspect he has no clue what the opening of the expanded Panama Canal is going to do to our ports in terms of traffic… can you say the port expansion and SFPR will become redundant?)

He also talked about the importance of our natural resources in terms of using them,making jobs for people in the north, etc etc..

Yes, it is clear to me that a vote for Kevin Falcon, is a vote for Gordon Campbell et al. All over again… Those liberals who want to rid themselves of the Campbell era stink would do well to step away from the Falcon, who is looking more and more like another Campbell buzzard.

The Macquarie Connection

 **** Updated January 12th,2011

While not evident in researching this post, it has been brought to my attention that Macquaries interest in the Casino was reduced in a debt reduction transaction that took place in August of last year, which received very little press. The majority ownership now belongs to Catalyst Capital, a toronto based investment firm, which was , in layman’s terms,an exchange of  payment of debt for shares. Macquaries investment was reduced to approximately 2%.I do research my stories to the best of my ability,and had confirmed the below information with not one, but two source’s. However, since New World Gaming is still listed as an owner, the minimal portion of that nature was not widely known. The fact remains that Macquarie did own the casinos until just a few months ago, and one wonders why, if there is so much debt accumulation in these casinos- this transaction was a cash injection, Catalyst was a major creditor and this was a debt paydown- why the casinos are still operating ? Why keep a money pit open? 

Those of you who have been readers for a while may have picked up on a couple of emerging themes over the last year.  One surrounds the  indepth features on some of BC’s P3 projects, and the other swirls around the Macquarie group of companies. You will know by now that Macquarie has had a big interest in British Columbia for several years now, seemingly since the Liberals came into power and began the process of really pushing P3’s as the best model of building new infrastructure province wide.

To be certain, Macquarie, through a number of its fund and subsidiaries, has a hand in a number of projects, and until later last year had been quietly making money off of another venture that has most recently attracted attention of the press, yet again, for money laundering and organized crime – gaming, specifically casinos.

In 2007, Macquarie Group Ltd. entered into a joint venture partnership with Crown Ltd. to buy out Gateway Casinos, through the new company named New World Gaming Partners Ltd.  The acquisition meant that they now owned the Grand Villa Casino in Burnaby,the Starlight Casino in New Westminster, Cascades Casino in Langely, Lake City casinos in the Okanogan, and two casinos in Edmonton.

It is interesting to note that even though Macquarie is not a majority shareholder, that when I went to the Gateway casinos main website, there is a lot of nothing to read. Want to know about the company, its history ? Nope, under construction. Want to know about past press? Nothing, again under construction.

Some of the suspected money laundering incidents reported occurred at one of this companies properties, the Starlight Casino in New Westminster. To be certain, in the media reports it is always BCLC that is mentioned, but I find it interesting that none of the former or current casino owners  appear to have been interviewed, since this excerpt from the CBC story shows it is hard to get the casinos to operate within regulations:

According to Ed Rampone, who was B.C.’s manager of casino investigations until 2009, gangsters can use casinos using so-called loan sharks — people who make high-interest, short-term private loans and will resort to violence to collect debts.

Rampone says gangsters lend large amounts of cash, mostly in $20 bills, to loan sharks. The loan sharks then act as middlemen, lending to high-stakes gamblers.

The gamblers typically repay the loans in the form of casino chips.

The gangsters cash them in and the money then appears to come from casino winnings, not illegal activities.

The practice is becoming more prevalent, said Rampone, who added that it was “an uphill battle” getting casinos to co-operate with regulations.

“I would agree that things have gotten worse,” he told CBC News. “There definitely has to be a willingness to stop it and much, much more participation from all the stakeholders in the industry.”

Read more:


Since Maquarie seems to be divesting itself of investments on a global scale, I am hoping we may be soon to see the last of Macquarie in this province, with their recent sale of the 100% stake they had in the Sea to Sky highway. Business has been bad for them overseas, as their model of financing has proven worldwide to be inadequate and risky at best. Enron style number manipulations and skewed calculations leave projects and governments at risk when things  appear to be better than they actually are.

No one knows why Macquarie sold that stake in the Sea to Sky, but I find it interesting to note that entire transaction fed a lot of money into BC from Macquarie investments and holdings… and they just made a tidy little profit and left.

I’m far from being the first to question this companies methods and holdings. Macquarie’s worldwide holdings include many, many offshore companies. Blog Borg Collective posted a list of their holdings worldwide, and it is substantial, although it is likely to read differently now.

Who’s afraid of Macquarie Bank? – The story of the Millionaires Factory” is an eye-opening article into the company that has taken such an interest in BC while the Liberals have been in power.

Macquarie developed a taste for and an aptitude in handling big infrastructure assets, while its executive director, Nicholas Moore, also identified a secular shift. Governments were not just stinting on infrastructure but exiting what they had: there was money to be made in the shift of public-sector assets into private hands, and in the provision of amenities and facilities on behalf of the state. Over the last decade, this initial jeu d’esprit has evolved into the ‘Macquarie Model’: the closest thing in Australian finance to a perpetual-motion machine.

The ‘Macquarie Model’ is begun when the bank buys all or part of a business, whether it be road or bridge, airport or utility. After a period of ingestion, the investment is passed on to one or more of its specialist funds, crystallising a profit, usually modest. But these funds not only pay Macquarie for management; they also pay fees for advice, underwriting and refinancing, as well as bonuses for outperformance of market indicators. In conjunction with rapid growth, Macquarie’s fee structure sometimes produces bizarre excesses: in the three years from June 2002, for example, the rake-off from the Macquarie Infrastructure Group was 54% of cash flow.

In theory, it would be possible for investors to find a cheaper manager. In practice, to unseat Macquarie from one of its funds is almost as inconceivable as Westfield Holdings being booted out of Westfield Trust. So it goes – and when you are clipping per cents off $131 billion of infrastructure assets, there is soon plenty to go round. As Scoop Jackson observed, “A billion here, a billion there, and pretty soon you’re talking about real money.”

Of course, we – and that includes the premier, and the auditor general – know now that the Macquarie Model of financing is the worst thing a government can get into, via P3’s or IPP’s. My colleague Erik Anderson and I have chatted about this, and the best thing you can read to understand how bad this companies methods are , is to read this article, titles Macquarie model blowtorched.

 New York- based corporate governance service RiskMetrics Group has delivered a stinging rebuke to Australia’s infrastructure sector , and in particular the “Macquarie Model” which has been mimicked by Babcock & Brown, and has spawned a generation of toll-roads, airports, telecommunications and power generation stocks.”

“In the most detailed independent research of Macquarie’s Group and Babcock satellites to be published, RiskMetrics critiques the financially engineered infrastructure model for its high debt levels, high fees, paying distributions out of capital rather than cashflow, overpaying for assets, related-part transactions, booking profits from revaluations, poor disclosure, myriad conflicts of interest, auditor conflicts and other poor corporate governance.”

“Although the report has not put a figure on it, fees in the billions above normal public-private partnership (PPP) rates of return have gone to the investment banks.”

But back to the Millionaires Factory…. Another excerpt to make you wonder why our government likes to do so much business with companies like these…

The risks attached to Macquarie aren’t only financial. It is not just another big company making a tonne of money; it is a company increasingly standing in for the state, and not just in Australia. Two of its biggest recent purchases have been British assets of the most public kind: the venerable utility Thames Water, acquired by a Macquarie-led syndicate last October for £8 billion, and the emergency-services communications network Airwave, for which £1.9 billion was paid in April. Thames looks like the bank’s gamest bet yet: massively profitable, but with pipes so decrepit that almost a third of the water that flows through them seeps into the ground. London’s mayor, Ken Livingstone, has derided it as “the unacceptable, unsustainable and irresponsible face of privatisation”.

In the public eye, Macquarie can look squeamish. Stan Correy from Background Briefing describes attending a financial industry conference to hear Nicholas Moore speak. When Moore heard that the ABC was present, he demanded that recording equipment be switched off. “I was just reading that Macquarie is investing in regional newspapers in the US,” Correy says. “Which has got to be ironic, considering they absolutely hate journalists writing anything about them.”

Its reputation, moreover, is for being prickly, even hostile, when criticised. When Business Review Weekly was preparing a cover story on Macquarie three years ago, the bank started issuing complaints to the magazine’s proprietor, John Fairfax Group, even before publication. Two years ago, transport academic Dr John Goldberg published a paper casting doubt on the viability of the M2 Motorway and the Lane Cove and Cross City tunnels; the bank not only complained to the University of Sydney, where he was an honorary associate, but demanded the university disassociate itself from his comments. Whatever the rights and wrongs of Goldberg’s critique, it seemed needlessly heavy-handed. Likewise the response to the Wilson HTM analyst Brett Le Mesurier, who was told recently that he was being denied access to management because he had the temerity to write a note to clients comparing Macquarie to its smaller rival Babcock & Brown. “Of course,” says the puckish Le Mesurier, “that just encourages me.”

An investment bank undertaking roles previously performed by  government is anything but a like-for-like swap. A government is elected on the basis of what it may giveth; an investment bank is chiefly interested in what it can taketh away.

Considering that last statement, there is no doubt our government’s ideologies are badly skewed, when they continually encourage and promote business investments that will ultimately not only bankrupt our province, but our citizens of faith and trust in the process.

Question the Macquarie connections when you see them, past or present, not only for what they represent, but for what that connection means for the future of our province.

Sea to Sky shadow toll story makes national news courtesy of Mark Hume and the Globe and Mail

Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail has done an outstanding job of taking the Sea to Sky highway shadow toll story to an entirely new level in the Monday edition of the paper, and managed to get some rather creative answers from both Macquarie and the BC government.

Truly,creative doesn’t even begin to describe what Nicholas Hann, managing director of Macquarie North America had to say in response  to Mark’s queries,considering he has been actively involved in teaching business students all about P3’s at UBC’s Sauder school of business for some time. He certainly didn’t have any hesitations in describing those shadow tolls in workshops and lectures!

Here is a tease :

When the Sea to Sky Highway was reconstructed for the Olympics, the government considered paying for the $600-million upgrade through a toll.

But that idea died early. Tolls aren’t popular with the public in general, and tourism operators in Whistler didn’t fancy the idea of having a toll gate looming like a barrier between Vancouver and the ski hill. So it became a toll-free highway.

Or did it?

Laila Yuile, a provocative writer and blogger who keeps a close watch on the B.C. government, has been drawing attention to documents that indicate a “shadow toll” exists on the dramatically scenic highway…

Read the rest of Mark’s column in the Globe and Mail, here: 

May I say, in the short time it has been posted tonight, discussion has been rampant, and very opposing in views of P3’s in general. Wonderfully rewarding to see the discussion and the ensuing email flood!!!  I will reply personally to everyone, in time!

Scroll down to see the latest damning contract, as well as links to the entire series!

Sea to Sky operator awards Transtoll technical advisory contract to ensure accurate shadow toll vehicle counts on the Sea to Sky highway – despite the government making repeated,public denials that shadow tolls even exist.

The latest development in my ongoing investigation into the province’s many P3 projects has been the surfacing of a news release from Transtoll, courtesy of a reliable source, that announces that the company was awarded a contract in June of this year on behalf  of the Sea to Sky Highway Limited Partnership, the operator of the Sea to Sky highway.

I broke the story of the hidden shadow tolls on the Sea to Sky a couple of weeks ago, here on the blog. Despite repeated  public denials to myself, News 1130 and the Squamish Chief newspaper that shadow tolls exist on the Sea to Sky highway, Transtoll was awarded a technical advisory contract in June of this year, to review both the contract and hardware for the traffic counting hardware currently installed on that highway. The press release can be viewed in full PDF format here: Transtoll_20100601_Sea2Sky

The Ministryof Transportation has been caught in an outright lie. Shadow tolls do exist on the sea to sky, and the road operator has even awarded a contract to Transtoll to make sure the vehicles are being counted accurately. Are they concerned over how much is being payed to the operator every month? A number and payment of which no one is privy to because not only does the goverment deny the shadow tolls exist, they have refused to make public the portions of the concession agreement that reveal the details of how much the operators are being paid per vehicle. And think carefully now, because that is a number and $$ amount that is sure to rise over the years of that 25 year agreement… I assure you, this is a profitable venture for Kiewit, Macquarie et al.

Which  now brings me back to the technology that was originally installed on that highway, and the manner of data collection which included licence plate scanners and microwave technology to determine weight, speed and occupants of the vehicle.

The ministry never responded to my queries whether or not that equipment was still in use, a possible breach of privacy if highway users are not aware they are being recorded.

The NDP never came out and publicly commented on this story either.

What else is the government lying about? Was this contract simply handed out as a favor to Transtoll, which happens to be owned by Macquarie Group, one of the concessionaires on the project?

More on this, and other projects, in the days to come.

****Update: Sea to SkyHighway Investment Limited Partnership is the entity operating the sea to sky highway,and I have confirmed that it was in fact the concessionaire that has awarded this contract- which would make it a sub-contracting type of agreement between the two, and the contract was not awarded by the MOT, or the government- per se.

However, sources indicate to me that the MOT did not want to handle this  Transtoll contract because of the need to avoid verifying the presence of the shadow toll ( awarding a contract to Transtoll would be questionable, wouldn’t it, considering the MOT has unequivocably stated there are no shadow tolls on this highway?)  and so the operator, Sea to Sky Highway Investment Limited Partnership handled the outsourcing of this contract to avoid questions for the MOT. 

My sources also indicated there is some concerns as to under/overbilling to the Ministry based on incorrect vehicle counts.

The question then becomes, how much does this new contract add to the cost of the sea to sky highway? Are the highway operators  billing the government for it in the end? I contacted the MOT yesterday, but have yet to get a reply on this issue.

The Sea to Sky Shadow Toll series:

1. Breaking news: BC liberals inked ‘hidden toll’ into Sea to Sky highway deal – and we all pay for the next 25 years

2. Shadow tolls on Sea to ‘Sly’ highway, the William R. Bennett Bridge,and the BC Rail connection

3. At last! The ministry of transportation responds to my questions…

4. “The B.C. governments secretiveness is not confined to ‘shadow tolls’. And there is genuine concern they have a lot to hide…”

At last! The ministry of transportation responds to my questions…

****Updated at the bottom, Tuesday Nov. 2, 8pm.

Sometimes what is more telling about a situation isn’t what is said,  but rather, what is not.

Since the publication of my first story on the shadow tolls on the Sea to Sly Sky Highway, Dave Crebo (PAB from the MOT) and I have had a rather unimpressive exchange of emails, as detailed on the last post immediately below.

To be honest, I did not expect a reply to my last email, where I asked these questions:

Why were the schedules and annexes not included in the public document?  If the ministry still is going to deny the existence of the shadow toll as a semantic issue of word usage, produce the documents that spell out the details of the vehicle usage payments – the project is complete.
What is the ministries position on  Macquarie’s assertion the sea to sky highway has a shadow toll ? Can the ministry please explain the difference, if they believe there is one, between a shadow toll and a vehicle usage payment ?
Considering the ” vehicle usage payment” pays difference rates for the types of vehicles using the highway, and the distance they travel, how is this monitored, by whom, and where is the information stored?
 Are the licence plate readers and microwave  vehicle detection systems still in operation, and if so, who monitors, compiles and stores the information, and where? 


In reply to those questions, Mr. Crebo sent me the following :

Both the ministry and S2S Transportation Group agree the payment mechanism for the concessionaire is not based on a shadow toll

Wow. It took 5 days for the ministry to come to an agreement with the S2S group, of which they have been in a legal contract with for nearly the last 6 years,  that they both think the  payment mechanism is not based on a shadow toll. hehe. Would have loved to have heard that conference call!

Kind of funny, no?  I even have to agree- the payment mechanism is not based on a shadow toll – but the shadow toll does comprise a portion of the payment mechanism… 

More semantics, more verbal games, and still no answers to some very interesting questions.

If there is nothing to hide, the ministry would simply answer the questions instead of making a dedicated effort to avoid them.

Macquarie has been the financial advisor for S2S throughout the entire bidding process, the negotiations and the bid award. They remain as such even now. An international corporation like this does not make mistakes in documents like the one on my site. Nor did any of the other partners who have indicated the shadow toll as a good feature on this project. Macquarie never counted on an outsider to the industry seeing that, nor did the other partners and no one ever thought someone would look into it and start asking questions.

Gordon Campbell and Minister Shirley Bond must stop playing games immediately and answer the questions asked of them by myself, and the people of British Columbia. Something stinks, and it sure doesn’t smell like roses

*****Update, 8pm – Seems I am keeping the PAB working late these days. This just came in reply to my email sent earlier this evening in reply to Dave Crebo, who at the time was writing as MOT rep it seemed:

From: Laila Yuile []
Sent: Tuesday, November 02, 2010 05:36 PM
To: Crebo, David PAB:EX
Subject: RE: Comment or statement from the minister or yourself.

Thank you for taking 5 days to work out what all parties involved agree on! Congratulations are in order. I too, agree the payment mechanism is not BASED on a shadow toll, however it does make up part of the total payment.
Perhaps now that the ministry has come to a common conclusion about what or what not you  and the concessionaire agree on,you can actually answer the questions listed at the bottom of the email below your most current reply, since you have still refused to address them.
 That would likely be the most efficient use of your time, rather than sending emails answering questions I did not ask.
Best regards,
Laila Yuile

Date: Tue, 2 Nov 2010 19:48:35 -0700

As I’m no longer with MoTI pls contact Jeff Knight for follow up Qs.
Dave Crebo
Communications Director
Ministry of Forests, Mines and Lands
(250) 387-8467 (o)
(250) 812-5747 (c)

Huh?  To quote William Shatner, host of my new favorite show: ” Is that weird…. or what? ”

In a half hour the guy is transferred to another ministry? Ah, well…. he didn’t seem so keen on transportation issues anyways.

Now… let’s see how Jeff is going to handle this.

( I would like to thank a host of online publications from the interior who have asked me to join as a contributor, an honour they have also asked of Harvey Oberfeld, whose blog items are to be found on their pages as well. In particular, Adrian Barnes wrote an exceptional piece following my invitation to contribute, and I would like to pass the link onto my readers. He addresses the phenomenom of social media and independent writers like myself- the lone sheep of the media world! You can read that article here:

Thank you to the following publications for picking up the Sea to Sky story, and inviting me to share my stories, opinions and thoughts with your readers too!