Is this Falcon really a new generation in leadership…or just another opportunistic crow? The SFPR and Gateway unplugged.

   No, really, it wasn’t actually my idea at all! Falcon  and his Tory friends came up with the whole Gateway thing right after I appointed him! ”

  ” He, he, he… I did, didn’t I? And everyone though that was your baby… he, he, he…”

One wonders when looking at Campbell and Falcon, if it could be by  sheer coincidence  only that the younger politician seems to have modelled himself after the older. Swap Kevin’s gelled, ever-changing shades of brown for the silver coif of Campbell, and they look remarkably similar. Seriously – imagine Falcon in 15 years ! ( he is older than most think – late 40’s )  However, physical attributes aside, it is the similarity of ramming projects and policy through without regard to anything else, that bothers me most about Kevin Falcon.

 He is well-known for his forceful manner of getting things done, but in my opinion, these are not always things that need to be done, or  should be done the way that Falcon dictates. Extensive research on the Sea to Sky highway shadow tolls, and the project in general has proved this to be true, as has evidence uncovered by my continuing investigations into other projects. (  future stories to come) His signature  and approval is on many, many documents that may come back to haunt him during his leadership bid.

Take for example, the South Fraser Perimeter Road, which is part of the very contentious Pacific Gateway initiative Falcon mentioned in his leadership bid press conference.

In 2005, Stephen Harper announced the Pacific Gateway Strategy, one of the most expensive and ambitious undertakings that centres around British Columbia’s proximity to Asia – China specifically – and the trade routes and transportation hubs we have along our coastline. Taking advantage of this link to China has been a huge project for the BC Liberal and Harper, with MLAs and MP’s travelling several times to China on trade missions to develop and foster business relationships.

 Enter the BC governments Gateway Program, which the government often tries to emphasize is  more about people and moving them around, than it is about moving goods and making money. Truth is, it is all about making money.  The funny thing is that  most of these projects never got the get-go until Kevin Falcon came onto the scene, and consequently signed a memorandum of understanding with Gordon Campbell, Stephen Harper, and David Emerson, accessible here in PDF format.*  PDF counts as five words ; )  Canada-BC-MOU . Gateway has been Falcon’s baby since day 1, and he is guaranteed to follow it through with this same forceful manner of leadership that may have been the hallmark of Campbell’s demise.

The only problem with this big plan of Falcon’s was that much of it was a public relations nightmare – and for good reason. The South Fraser Perimeter Road, which is going to move along the Fraser River in parts of Surrey and Delta, will run from the Port Mann to Deltaport, cutting through residential neighbourhoods with schools, and cutting across part of Burns Bog before moving across some of the most fertile farmland this country has to offer.

 It has been the subject of numerous protests over the last couple of years, with civil disobedience and now a legal battle has begun because the Burns Bog Conservation Society  filed a lawsuit against both the federal and provincial governments for violating the conservation covenant to protect Burns Bog. My wholehearted support is behind this venture, because the South Fraser Perimeter Road  is the wrong project, for the wrong reasons, at entirely the wrong time.

It really made me wonder what would make the BC Liberals move ahead with a project like this,considering all the environmental and economic issues plaguing this project. My earlier reports of significant scope changes to the project, based on information from inside sources earlier, was recently confirmed in the news. Not just any changes, but changes that are still extremely worrying to Delta staff and councillors, as well as MLA Vicki Huntingdon because not only will  the changes create a traffic nightmare, but also a very real safety issue for all drivers on the road.

Originally announced to be a swift moving, mainly truck traffic route with overpasses and interchanges to keep traffic moving, some of those have plans have been scrapped in favor of street light controlled intersections. The move was not a financial one, the government claims, but one based on traffic forecasts where the improvements can be made many years down the road…

All of this came after there had  already been a major change to the bidders during the bidding process, and the project budget was increased before signing in favour of what some may call environmental sucking up. I would also be remiss to  mention the very large drop in trade with China with the economy over the last couple of years, one that has been slow to recover with China’s trade policies.

Toss in the soon to open Panama Canal Expansion… well, why would someone send freight to Vancouver, and then truck it , or send it by rail across the country at great cost when you can ship it right through the newly widened canal and right back up the east coast ? Hmm? Yes, that’s right, Mr. Falcon, you have nothing to say about that, do you?

You see where I am going with this?

Even to the average person, one would wonder why a road that was billed to take container trucks off of residential streets is being built when the global economy has taken such a dive. Even today, stories are coming out that we are about to enter the second wave of recession with the recent developments in Ireland and other countries. Even banks that do global financing, as with the Sea to Sky highway financiers, are still taking hits. ( what the impact of these foreign banks troubles has on our foreign financed P3 projects is, is still unknown- that is another future story)

But wait, there is more to make you question this project if what I have said has not already made you scrunch your brows in confusion.

What if the government itself, as well as many agencies and organizations, felt that trucking was not the best way to move containers from ship to distributor? What if there was a way  that could take trucks off the road almost completely, or a very good proportion of them anyways?

What about Short Sea Shipping?  Pure and simple, this involves placing freight containers from cargo ships onto barges instead of trucks, and pulling them via tug boats up the Fraser river to destination of choice. Not a new concept by far, and one recognized by the ports, the government and the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council as being both a viable and realistic alternative. According to some reports I have come across, there have even been investors ready to invest money into new facilities along the waterfront to receive the barged cargo.

The following confidential document is from 2007, and was produced by an organization called the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council. The brainchild of the federal government, it’s job would appear to be to study these Gateway issues and dictate how things are done, or should be done, in their opinion.  ( PDF format) gatewayvision

Page 16 details what would seem to be extraordinary advantages to container trucking, which would make one think the government would have been all over this – if it was indeed, acting in the best interests of the public. It openly states that moving cargo via this method would take a good percentage of trucks off the road, a win- win situation for all.

So intent have been Falcon and the stakeholders behind the Gateway Council to facilitate the Gateway Vision of 203o,  National Public Relations was hired to conduct extensive research with focus groups across the lower mainland to figure out which words to use to sell this Gateway plan, and which words and phrases to avoid! Maybe it’s just me, but if this vision is such a great idea, why does it need to be” sold” to the people of Greater Vancouver?

For example, easy to sell words  include: prosperity,mobility, future. Harder to sell words are:environment, sustainability, infrastructure. And words that are a firm RED highlighted STOP NEVER USE ?  Expansion and congestion.

 Take a look, again, in PDF format which allows you to see the entire  84 page document for it’s more than a little condescending manner of looking at the citizens it wishes to push this program on.  : GatewayCon

Now, let’s sum it all up on the South Fraser Perimeter Road. It is, without a doubt, an environmental NO-GO. The federal and provincial governments planned this route through the best farmland and the most sensitive ecological areas in the province. Container traffic is down, and not likely to ever recover to previous levels one the vastly expanded Panama Canal opens. The financing on this project was difficult,the project was downgraded into a stop and go, safety nightmare, and any reason for previously pushing this road seems to have evaporated. Now Bond is looking at it as an untolled alternative to the Port Mann, which is a far from realistic alternative for many motorists, merely transplanting congestion. 

So why is this project being built?

I suspect it has something to do with real estate, valuable commercial land and developments…

The Tsawwassen band used the South Fraser Perimeter Road as a selling point in this request for expressions of interest to develop industrial lands they now control near the ferries and Deltaport. It is billed as part of the lands being in a “strategic” location. Enter the term South Fraser Perimeter Road into the search box in this PDF file to see for yourself. Tsawwassen land projects   Nice to be able to say you have an allegedly dedicated highway for a selling point, no?

Here is another sales document that advertises 27 acres of prime industrial land on Tilbury island, and again, the South Fraser Perimeter road is billed as part of this properties strategic location. ( pdf) Tilburylanddevelopmentproperty

I’m sure this is only the beginning of a rush of land sales and development we might see along that route, development that may very well see further land taken from the ALR, or further harming the delicate and vitally important ecosystem of Burns Bog.

It has  also come to my attention that another route was offered up, one that went over stable land and was far less contentious, yet the government refused to consider it and went with the current plan. Why is that- are these land sales the real reason this road was built? Shades of Sea to Sky highway !!

This is, without a doubt, the wrong project in the wrong location, at the wrong time, and Falcon has been instrumental from day one in pushing this along, with the help of his friends in the federal government.

A scathing, and horrific excerpt to leave you with, from Stephen Rees’s blog link above, one that chills me to the bone:

…the Bog is the “lungs of the lower mainland,” the largest urban carbon sink in the North America, and vital to the survival of the world’s largest salmon run in the interconnected Fraser River.

…according to Environment Canada and the regional Burns Bog Scientific Advisory Panel’s under-publicized reports, the SFPR would essentially destroy Burns Bog.

 It would also increase mortality rates along the route–with seven Delta schools within a kilometer of the highway–force hundreds of North Deltans from their homes (many heritage), and steamroll over hundreds of acres of farmland.

..also learned of an alternate route to the SFPR, known as the Hoover/Naas proposal, that carries none of the above detrimental impacts because it follows an existing rail right-of-way removed from homes, schools and the Bog. This railway is already entirely owned by the the province.

The video also provides a summary of some shocking statements uncovered amongst the government’s environmental assessment application documents, such as this one, which suggests there could be an economic upside to people getting sick from increased air pollution:

With increased air pollution there can possibly be increased employment (e.g., in the health sector) because of the economic activity associated with correcting the results of its impacts.” (Government documents for SFPR: Technical Volume 16, pg. 39, 4.3.5 Employment)

Heard enough?  The  people of Surrey and North Delta need have been long fighting  for their quality of life. The Burns Bog Conservation Society is always in need of various forms of assistance,including donations. For more information please go to their site at :  


* Falcon is billing himself a “new generation in leadership”. One would do well to note that doesn’t mean a different style of leadership from Campbell, only a younger version who may be around a lot longer… for a great, in-depth look at Falcon, who is billed here as a rebel with a cause… read this article quickly, before it disappears, like these kind of links occasionally do…lol..

Corruption is complete authority plus total monopoly, minus transparency.

corrupt [kuh-ruhpt]

–adjective 1. guilty of dishonest practices, as bribery; lacking integrity; crooked: a corrupt judge.

2. debased in character; depraved; perverted; wicked; evil: a corrupt society.

3. made inferior by errors or alterations, as a text.

4. infected; tainted.

5. decayed; putrid.


October 18th is already a date that is emblazoned in my mind, for personal reasons, yet in an odd quirk of serendipity, this year it was also the day everyone appeared, grandly dressed and ready to be surprised, to hear the allegedly shocking admission of guilt by the accused in the Basi-Virk trial.

I’ll be honest.When I read the email from a friend in the MSM yesterday morning, I was so momentarily taken aback by his words that goose-flesh covered my skin, which were immediately replaced by a feeling of intense heat. Enraged, I tossed my pen across the room.

While clearly we all knew this could happen, might happen, I hoped beyond hope that these two men would stand firm in their NOW,  apparently not-so-firm convictions of innocence,  and assist the public in revealing the truth of the depth of corruption within the BC Liberal government.

It was not to be. There would be no titillating revelations in courtroom 54, there would be no tanked careers, no embarrassing facts of evidence presented before the jury, and by nature, all of you.

The two defendants would appear to be  susceptible to whatever influences came before them to entice or dissuade.One wonders what it would take to change the minds of men who stood firm for 7 years, who defiantly claimed their innocence and repeatedly said they were only acting on the orders of other, higher officials. 7 years of work down the drain, bought and sold in a deal I suspect we will never be party to said details.

All said, I will not linger long on the tragic decision of  Basi and Virk, because in all truth I know much will be continually covered by BC Mary, the Queen of the Bloggers, Bill Tieleman, Ian Reid and Gazeteer, among others. In truth, Basi and Virk are relatively minor, somewhat inconsequential players in a grand game far more superior and powerful than them. There are far bigger fish to fry, and I am quite hungry from an extended absence from this blog. Like setting a night line to catch a ling cod, patience is a virtue, and I set my lines  within the MOT long ago, content to sit and tug occasionally to  see what appeared at the end. I suspect a feast will be in order shortly.

Contrary to what our Premier would say, the sale of BC Rail was riddled with corruption. Inflammatory statement, to be sure, but one I am confidant to stand behind, as are many others. We may not hear what evidence there is to prove this in a courtroom, but certainly now you will continue to read and see evidence presented online, in the courtroom of public opinion. The list of blogs to the left of my site will provide you with many links that will continue to bring this evidence into the public domain, because this story is far from over.

I am by, not an expert on this case and the sale of BC rail, but I have done a fair bit of digging and searching along with fellow bloggers and interested parties. I have read the entirety of Yvette Well’s notebooks, in fact, I still have the contents, in paper, to read with a short, neat glass of scotch at night. Quite damning, I would say, along with the countless emails and messages that show clearly others knew of the tainted bidding process.

But let us move on now, for there is much that the corrupt sale of BC Rail we can learn from, in fact, about corruption itself, and about corruption within the BC Liberal government. Indeed, from what I have seen, it is the mere tip of the proverbial iceberg, and only gives a glimpse to the depth of the rot within several ministries.

Here in Canada, Quebec generally comes first to mind when conversation about government corruption begins. True enough,Quebec – and Montreal in particular has been long fighting a seemingly losing battle against government corruption and  allegations of organized crime involvement in public projects. In speaking with a french friend of mine recently, he marvelled that in Quebec, nearly every Liberal candidate faced allegations of corruption in some manner –  yet was still elected!

The question to be asked then, is Quebec  really so unique? Is it truly possible that it is the only government  that has been infiltrated, manipulated by organized crime?

For one to think that Quebec is the only province to face such scandal or that it is unique in its rampant government corruption, is foolhardy. Funny enough, this statement brings us right back to the Basi- Virk trial, which initially began with an investigation into organised crime that had allegedly infiltrated the legislature. A statement, that seen in archived video last night on the news, was quickly recanted shortly after it was made. ( reminds me of the swift handling of the  CSIS allegations of Chinese control on BC politicians made earlier this year)

” Nope, not true, certainly not. We did not mean to infer this, blah, blah, PR crisis mode , blah, blah ”

Remarkable, is it not, that such important officers and officials could possibly make such unequivocal statements, on television no less, and then try saying it was an error…

No, I can unequivocably state that no longer does Quebec hold the sole reign on corruption… but I  do think it is safe to say that they simply have more journalists,editors and publishers willing to explore and expose it. Rarely have I read an article on the topic here in BC,  and if there is one bit of necessary writing that I could direct anyone to, it would be this Macleans article titled:

How B.C. became a world crime superpower – Forget forestry or fishing. B.C.’s big, multi-billion-dollar growth industry is crime. And business is booming…

Written by  Jason Kirby and Nancy Mcdonald in 2008, it is a 6 page, detailed look at organized crime in BC, and why the province has become such a player in what used to be an eastern provincial industry. Quotes:

According to police, 40 per cent of all murders in the Lower Mainland are now tied to organized crime. For Vancouver’s law-abiding citizens, the increasingly brazen public executions near schools and in posh neighbourhoods have gotten too close for comfort…

But the carnage on the streets is only the most obvious sign organized crime has infiltrated everyday life…

Things get far murkier once you start to examine the fuzzy line between B.C.’s criminal and legitimate economies. One car dealer in Vancouver told the National Post a few years ago that a quarter of his business involved selling luxury cars for cash to those involved in the drug trade…

… number of factors help explain why B.C. has become such a hotbed of criminal activity. The U.S. border is just minutes from Metro Vancouver, offering ready access to that market. And the province’s ports are among the busiest in the world. Last year the RCMP told the Senate committee on national security and defence that Indo-Canadian and Asian gangs, as well as the Hells Angels, were very active at the Port of Vancouver. Due to limited resources police warned they could only tackle 30 per cent of the criminal activity taking place on the docks. When a new deepwater port opened last year in Prince Rupert, business leaders cheered because it would shave days off the trip between Asia and the eastern U.S. So did the criminals.

B.C. hasn’t grasped publicly the size and the effect the Pacific Gateway program is going to have on B.C. and North America,” says Kiloh. “The projections about the depth of crime that’s going to come just from that are absolutely staggering.” ( highlighted by myself)

…As organized crime flexes its muscles in the province, many fear the inevitable outcome will be corruption on a massive scale. “There has to be people on the take across the spectrum,” says Robert Gordon, head of the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. “From time to time you see little signals.”

“There’s been no indication Canadian police have been compromised or that politicians or judges have been bought, but it’s hard to imagine these kinds of flows of money without that happening,” says Stephen Easton, an economics professor at Simon Fraser University.

My point exactly. BC  has long been the arrival and departure point for a variety of evils we may rather forget exist in this world. Most of it does has little to do with you or I, unless you happen to find yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time.  And right now, you may be wondering what this has to do with corruption in government, so let me explain.

In Italy, it is no secret that organized crime finds its way into public projects. Several years ago, Italian police laid charges with respect to allegations of  organized crime to win a bid on a large P3 bridge project over the Strait of Messina. Had it been successful, it likely would have been the largest money-laundering effort in some time. And interestingly enough, there was a direct Canadian connection.

In Quebec, organized crime has dogged the construction industry for years. In fact, Ottawa has just commissioned the first comprehensive study of the problem, despite active protest from provincial and municipal politicians alike.

The federal government has quietly commissioned a study of a Canadian construction industry mired by allegations of political cronyism and infiltration by organized crime.

The move comes after the federal and Quebec governments as well as Montreal’s administration were sideswiped over the past year by stories alleging impropriety in the industry


It also comes after a year in which politicians at all levels have steadfastly stonewalled demands for a public inquiry.

Quebec and Montreal have been saddled with allegations of intimidation, bid-rigging, inflated contracts, construction cartels and organized crime involvement.

Interestingly enough, the article also mentions the RCMP probe into a $9 million government renovation project involving a bankrupt construction firm and a Tory organizer – in Ottawa!

Clearly, not even our nations capital is immune from corruption, but again, is it plausible to think that our British Columbian Liberal administration have been completely immune to insidious influences? I’m not saying conclusively that organized crime or foreign influence is involved in any BC public projects, but what I am saying is that why is no one looking at what is going on here in BC?

After all, corruption comes in many forms, and not just in terms of the presence of organized crime.

There can be collusion and conspiracy,  or bid-rigging, construction cartels, and  corporate nepotism which is basically a form of favouritism to one particular company based on personal friendship or business relationships.

And please don’t forget the exchange of  large political donations for contracts, which technically is hard to prove in a court of law without precise supporting documentation and evidence, but happens frequently nonetheless. Buying influence through donations is no less corrupt than anything else, although it seems to be a completely acceptable practice, although often denied as  merely ” coincidental “.

The construction industry  in B.C. is replete with massive,public projects undertaken since the Liberals came into power, many of which I have scrutinized in detail following allegations made to myself of ongoing  ” irregular bidding practices “, both of which would appear to be supported by my research into cases in which the MOT has been involved.

However, since the ministries involved fight disclosure of bid-related information tooth and nail, no one has yet  been able to delve into the fine details of some of the most dubious projects, such as the Port Mann bridge. 

Information that is released on Freedom of information requests is often heavily redacted and provides little if any understanding, and this is alarming for several reasons. Until the public at large knows the details of what happened, why it happened, and the terms of the agreement, how can we be assured of any accountability for our tax dollars?

Secrecy and lack of transparency in government are two cornerstones that pave the way for corruption to sprout and blossom, as evidenced in the landmark case of Tercon vs. British Columbia and MOT.  This important case I uncovered  and wrote about extensively earlier this year, is quite indicative to how the province does business – corruptly, and in this case, fraudulently and with rife deception.

Rogue civil servants indeed – ha! In the case of Tercon, the key players went onto long and lucrative careers within the BC government and the private sector –  the reaping the benefits of obtaining government contracts in what I believe are classic examples of corporate nepotism within the BC Liberal government.  If you have not, you must read the above link and the backgrounders, which demonstrates exactly how those ” rogue civil servants”  get their start.

Another aspect of how the BC Liberals like to demonstrate their lack of regard for transparency ( one of those cornerstones of corruption)  is how they have increasing taken such an interest in public-private partnerships (P3’s), even in an economy where  using the P3 model has delivered higher costs and additional risks, such as the Port Mann Bridge fiasco.

Last year, a damning report was released that confirmed the legitimate concerns surrounding the P3 model preferred and endorsed by Campbell  and his team of Liberals,for BC’s largest projects:

VANCOUVER-In a report released today, B.C.’s most respected forensic accountant, Ron Parks, along with his colleague Rosanne Terhart, find that public private partnerships (P3s) are costly for taxpayers.

They also find a consistent pro-privatization bias in the way that the B.C. government (through Partnerships BC) compares costs when assessing major projects. On top of this, the B.C. government is routinely denying access to critical information, which limits the public’s ability to know that its interests are protected on P3 projects.

Parks and Terhart evaluated four P3 projects: the Abbotsford Regional Hospital and Cancer Centre, the Sea-to-Sky Highway Improvement, the Academic Ambulatory Care Centre (Diamond Centre) and the Canada Line. Based on this review, they find that developing the projects as P3s is more expensive than if they were done publicly.

In the case of the Diamond Centre – they report that the actual nominal cost of a P3 was more than double that of a publicly procured project.

Secretive, biased and expensive. Pretty strong words when used in reference to the way a government who claims to be open and transparent is doing business, and extremely relevant to keep in mind when watching Premier Campbell smugly maligning Basi and Virk on TV and in print as rogue civil servants who acted on their own.

And important to keep in mind when thinking of the large, most often international corporations that are getting our public works projects.  If one digs a little deeper, one often finds information like this :

German contractor Hochtief A.G., ranked the world’s largest contractor based on revenue outside its home country, is considering a Sept. 16 buyout offer from Madrid-based construction giant Grupo ACS. The Spanish firm, which is Hochtief’s largest shareholder with a nearly 30% stake, has offered $72.70 per share for the remaining shares, valued at $3.5 billion. Hochtief owns two U.S. contractors, Turner Construction Co., New York City, and Flatiron Construction Corp., Longmont, Colo. ACS acquired 25.1% of Hochtief for $1.65 billion in 2007. ACS, which also owns Spanish contractor Dragados, has acquired U.S. contractors Schiavone Construction, John Picone and Pulice

( Again, I am certainly not saying organized crime is involved with ACS or the SFPR, however it is interesting, if nothing else, to note even the most remote connections of two companies that makes up part of the Fraser Transportation Group.  )

I believe we have a come to a point in British Columbia, where the general public is finally, genuinely aware of the implications of electing officials without due care and regard.  Of the  further implications of turning a blind eye in acceptance without asking questions and demanding answers. In the long run, I doubt they will draw any distinction between the various types or level of corruption, because it is what we have come to expect from public officials and politicians and we have allowed it to continue for so long.

In my opinion, corruption is corruption no matter how you serve it up, and it is the continued and marked absence of appropriate and assured accountability that is at the root of a majority of the scandals and allegations confronted by the BC liberals.  It would appear to be, that the more powerful one in within this administration, the less accountable they are required to be , and premier Campbell sets the standard by far.

As long as the government  fails to create and adhere to an accountability model that really works, as long as they police themselves with no regard to public transparency, we will have corruption to various degrees, at all levels of government.

What is particularly disturbing to me, is that the Campbell government has repeatedly and actively sought to block fact-finding inquiries made by those wishing to uncover and reveal the abuses of power that have occurred in the 10 years of Campbell’s ‘Golden Decade’  – as we just witnessed by Campbell’s refusal to initiate a public inquiry into the BC Rail sale. ( I often wonder if Campbell calls it the Golden decade because so many of his colleagues and friends lined their pockets immensely while he has ruled the province!)

Sadly, corruption is as human as the desire for love. There will be no remedy to any of it unless someone consistently and forcefully challenges both the cynicism of the public, and systematic degradation of our political process and justice system.  Governance for the purpose of  illegitimate and illicit power and dominance is as reprehensible as the ideology that begets it – a lesson every political party in this province would do well to take to heart if they want to win over an electorate whose political cynicism is at an all time high.

” The accomplice to the crime of CORRUPTION is frequently our own indifference.”

Bess Myerson

( Now, if you want to read something really, really corrupt, head over to Creekside, where Alison has the details on the gag order Basi and Virk had to sign in order to get that multi-million dollar legal costs reprieve from the government…..  If that isn’t a pay-off of the most corrupt kind,I don’t know what is )

South Fraser Perimeter Road moves ahead as revised Fraser Transportation Group signs agreement with Ministry of Transportation

Late out in yesterday’s press releases from the government was the news that the Fraser Transportation Group came to an agreement with the province to complete the very contentious South Fraser Perimeter Road. You can read that press release  HERE.

” VICTORIA – The Province and the Fraser Transportation Group have entered into a design, build, finance and operate agreement for the completion of the South Fraser Perimeter Road Project, announced Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond and the Honourable Stockwell Day, President of the Treasury Board of Canada and Minister responsible for the Asia-Pacific Gateway.

“The agreement with Fraser Transportation Group represents the major contract for implementing the project and it provides excellent value for taxpayer dollars,” said Bond.

Under the contract, Fraser Transportation Group will be undertaking construction work costing $658 million. Fraser Transportation Group was selected to carry out the final design and construction of the SFPR through a rigorous competitive selection process. This public-private partnership agreement finalizes a performance-based, fixed-price contract with Fraser Transportation Group to design, build, finance and operate the road for a term of 20 years. The contract includes $200 million in private-sector financing and makes certain that Fraser Transportation Group assumes construction, cost, schedule, design, long-term maintenance and operational risks, as well as other costs related to the project.

This announcement puts to rest the chatter about whether or not the project would even move ahead, but questions still remain as to the complete scope of the project, which was rumoured to have been revised due to economic concerns on the part of the MOT.

The province of BC has increased the budget of the project by another $ 37 million, and says that this money will come from savings on other ministry capital projects… notice they fail to mention exactly what projects they have saved this money on !

Since the AFPR is yet another one of those totally ridiculous  P3 projects , I’ve been following this bid since the beginning, in particular because  of a large change in the make-up of the bidders that comprised the winning consortium –  something that apparently occurred half way through the bidding process.  You can read the interest and questions behind that development  at the following posts:

The question still remains of how a qualified bidder was able to change the members of the group – after the initial bids had been entered . Were the other bidders advised of the change? Was the bidding process fair to all qualified bidders ? No one knows. While the ministry remained somewhat closed mouth as to the reasons behind the changes in the Fraser Transportation Group, I  wasn’t satisfied with their answers, and contacted  one of the companies that dropped out, which was Zachry American Infrastructure from Texas. There I was told that the project did not meet their needs after further evaluation of what they were looking towards in this economy.

Questions and protests will continue as this project charges forward, about  the wisdom of paving over valuable farmland and the delicate ecosystem of Burns Bog, as well as whether this project is even required. Port use projections are said to be far above what is realistic considering China’s  sagging economy, a key element behind the motivation for the SFPR. Coupled with having to compete for trade business with the massive expansion of the Panama Canal, the SFPR seems to be doomed to oblivion at the taxpayers expense.

Over priced and contentious projects, dubious bidding practices and blindness towards longstanding ecological damage ?

Just another day at the office for the BC Liberals and the Ministry of  Transportation.

** I highly recommend that anyone with a vested interest in this project, for whatever reason, read the links above, AND the comments that follow.  There is absolutely no need for the SFPR . There are also important questions about the bidding process of all  public projects in the Ministry of Transportation, and this project is no different.

Over the past year and a half, I have encountered numerous allegations that have come my way specifically regarding the way the MOT conducts the procurement process in this province. Everything leads me to believe a full inquiry and review must be conducted  on those projects originated within that ministry, by an outside agency if not the RCMP. The Tercon case is only one example that clearly shows highly unethical, fraudulent behavior that borders on the criminal, on the part of ministry staffers.

On that note, be sure to scroll down and leave your contribution to the Gordon Campbell Caption Challenge.!

All the same names, in all the right places – Part I

It has always been a point of amusement for me that when it comes to companies that do business for -and with- the BC Liberals, I tend to find all the same names, in all the right places.  The Ledcor Group is a prime example.

The Ledcor name recently made news again when it was announced that two of their companies – Ledcor Industrial/Mining Group Ltd. and  Ledcor CMI Ltd. – had become part of The Fraser Transportation Group that has  emerged as the preferred bidder for the South Fraser Perimeter Road.

There was a lot of chatter concerning the appearance of Ledcor in the revised group of preferred bidders – not only because they have been a frequent contributor to the BC Liberal Party, but also because it raised a number of concerns over the status of the project, and ethics of the bidding process itself.

But, was the addition of the two Ledcor companies more than addressing some sudden vacancies in the group ? Further research has led me to believe that the appearance of Ledcor may also have been a strategic one, one that has to do with an attempt at addressing some of the environmental concerns and placating naysayers and protestors. While speculative, I think it bears consideration, for the PR angle on it alone.

In July of 2009, Ledcor issued a joint press release  regarding a strategic partnership they had entered with another, rather interesting company : Offsetters Clean Technology.  ( I say interesting, because as the debate over global warming slowly seems to fizzle out, this company seems to have positioned itself well between the provincial government and industry, and bears the stamp of approval from Gordon Campbell. )

Here is the press release:

Construction/Building — July 23, 2009

Ledcor and Offsetters Establish Strategic Partnership to Offer Carbon Management Services


VANCOUVER, July 23 /CNW/ – The Ledcor Group of Companies (Ledcor) and

Offsetters Clean Technology (Offsetters) announced today the formation of a

strategic partnership designed to enhance their service offerings to existing

and prospective clients.

“In today’s economy, one of the key drivers for business success is

strong environmental performance in areas such as the reduction of greenhouse

(GHG) emissions,” said Scott Lyons, President of Ledcor CMI. “The challenge to

understand the generation and subsequent reduction of GHGs touches every

aspect of Ledcor’s business and the business of our clients,” he said.

“Through this partnership, Offsetters will help position Ledcor as a corporate

leader in sustainability within our industry and allow us to offer our clients

sustainable solutions for their projects,” he concluded.

“We are excited with the prospect of working with Ledcor to help them

achieve their environmental objectives,” said Dr. James Tansey, CEO and

co-founder of Offsetters. “This partnership allows Offsetters to provide

sustainable solutions to many of the problems facing North America’s largest

companies in the industrial and building sectors.”

As part of Ledcor’s sustainability strategy, Offsetters will assist the

construction company in the creation of a centre of excellence to help the

company better understand climate concerns, carbon offsets and identify clean

technologies that can be applied in the construction industry.

In response to the developing North American cap-and-trade and carbon

regime in the market place, Ledcor has purchased a substantial equity stake in

Offsetters to strengthen the strategic partnership. Going forward, Ledcor will

utilize Offsetters expertise to help the company expand into new areas of

business associated with the clean technology sector and green building


About Ledcor

Founded in 1947, the Ledcor Group of Companies is a leading, North

American, privately-held, employee-owned collection of construction companies,

specializing in building, civil, industrial and telecommunication projects. In

addition to a diversified portfolio of projects, Ledcor is an award-winning

contractor as well as recipient of numerous safety honours. Ledcor brings an

established history of construction excellence.

About Offsetters

Offsetters Clean Technology was co-founded in 2005 by the company’s CEO,

Dr. James Tansey, a respected professor at the University of British Columbia.

Offsetters is Canada’s first and leading integrated carbon management company.

Since 2005, Offsetters has been helping individuals and organizations

understand, reduce, track and offset their greenhouse gas emissions. They use

carbon offset funds to develop and invest in high quality, renewable energy

and energy efficiency projects that would otherwise not take place.

Offsetters is the first supplier of carbon offsets to the Pacific Carbon

Trust, a provincial Crown corporation helping organizations reduce their

carbon emissions through carbon offsets. Offsetters is also the Official

Supplier of Carbon Offsets to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter


Considering that one of the many real environmental concerns of the South Fraser Perimiter Road construction is vehicle emissions and ongoing pollution, the partnership with Offsetters sets up Ledcor to be prime billing as an attempt to make the project ” environmentally friendly” – at least in appearance.

Stay tuned for Part II : ” Jesus turned water into wine? …. That’s nothing compared to what this fellow has done… “

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!

When is a losing bidder, NOT a losing bidder? When it involves bidding on a Ministry of Transportation project!

Without a doubt, it’s when the losing bidders have bid on a Ministry of transportation project with the BC Liberals! 

It came as a shock to me, anyways, when I recently read in the South Fraser Perimeter Road Request for Qualifications, that the losing proponents( bidders) would still be receiving  so-called ” Stipends” to the tune of $1. 5 million dollars each.  My God, I thought, I’m clearly in the wrong line of business, if even a losing bid could be so lucrative!  MLA Guy Gentner agreed wholeheartedly with me when I recently talked about just this topic on his radio show  ” Live from the Leg” 

Now, one must remember that submitting any bid to the province and the MOT is a risk venture at best, because the MOT makes all the rules, and often changes or breaks them as the bidding process goes along. The right and ability to do this, often with no notification to the bidders, is clearly written into the wording of the most recent large projects, and to be honest, reading some of these Request for Proposals makes it seem like the bidding process is as safe as jumping into a pit of cobra’s who’ve been tortured for a while already.  But still,  big business is never without risk, and in many other private sector industries there is no such thing as a consolation cheque for not getting the job.  

So why is the Ministry of Transportation still handing out such lucrative stipends to these losing bidders?  That is a question for Shirley Bond, I would say. 

Take for example the losing bidders for the Sea to Sky highway, who each walked away with a cool $1.5 million each : Page 51/77 section 6.2 

 The Province will pay a $1.5 million stipend ( the Stipend) to each proponent that is not selected as the Preferred Proponent… 

And let us not forget the most recent announcement concerning the South Fraser Perimeter Road preferred proponent ( bidder) – each of the losing bidders there also receive a lovely cheque in the amount of $1.5 million each, just for losing…   Page 16/62, Section 2.3 : 

…a Stipend in the amount of $1,500,000.00 will be paid to each Proponent that is not selected as the Preferred Proponent… 


But the award for the largest consolation prize in the history of BC bids that I am aware of has to be given to the RAV line losing bidders, each of whom received … are you ready for this? $ 4 million each. 

You read that right, $ 4 million dollars for NOT making the cut :  Page 42/96. section 12.5 : 

RAVCO upon Closing will pay an honorarium to the unsuccessful BAFO Proponent covering a significant portion of its costs up to $4 million 


You can do the math, these amounts add up in to a massive sum of money when you consider this is the way it’s done on most large projects initiated by the provincial government.  And while I’ve only started to crack the surface of the muck that covers every surface of the MOT, it leads me to wonder if these kind of consolatory offerings are the norm for losing bidders in other ministry projects and contracts! I highly suspect it is. 

It’s hard to imagine that in these tough economic times, that these kind of top dollar “Stipends” are still being handed out, especially in light of the massive cuts the government have ordering in various other sectors, such as health care, education and special needs.  There is no justification for it, no matter what angle I look at. 

I’ll let you be the judge of whether these cheques are fair or not, but to me, this is a clear-cut case of  typical BC Liberal extravagance – perhaps even  Liberal callousness, at worst, when one looks at the many children, elderly and handicapped going without needed diagnosis, treatment and care  all over the province. 

What do you think? 

( now scroll down to why I think the Basi-Virk trial is just the tip of the iceberg…)

Tune in this morning to ” Live from the Leg” , between 10 am and 11 am to listen and participate as I join MLA Guy Gentner to talk about the SFPR and P3’s

To listen live, head on over to and go to the right hand side of the page, where you will see the ” Live from the Leg”  and Listen Live  button. Questions are allowed, it appears you can email them in while the show is in progress.

I will be joining Guy at 10: 30 am, after the second portion of Glen Clark’s interview.

” Ministry officials would not say why the equity partners in the perimeter road have now been changed. ” ~ Surrey Leader

Found this gem tonight online, courtesy of the Surrey Leader , with respect to the significant change in the partners of the Fraser Transportation Group – AFTER the pre-qualified bidders were approved ( meaning, how could these new partners be qualified – if they entered the bidding process AFTER the Request for Proposals?  And did the Ministry advise the other bidders of the change when it occurred?  :

Ledcor was not previously listed in the Fraser Transportation Group and has replaced former equity partner Zachry American Infrastructure of Texas.

Last year, the province gave up on a struggling financing partner for the $3.3-billion Port Mann/Highway 1 expansion project and opted instead to directly borrow all the money.

Ministry officials would not say why the equity partners in the perimeter road have now been changed.

“For internal reasons they needed to amend the makeup of their consortium,” ministry spokesman Dave Crebo said.

Internal reasons…. indeed. Methinks Dave believes no one really knows how the procurement process works with the MOT.

Dave would be horribly mistaken about that…

Fraser Transportation Group chosen as preferred bidder for South Fraser Perimeter Road, surprising many.

The  Ministry of Transportation  issued a long-awaited press release Friday- late,late Friday –  surprising many industry insiders by announcing  that the Fraser Transportation Group  has been chosen as the preferred bidder and will proceed to the final stage of the procurement process for the South Fraser Perimeter Road project. 

I say surprising because many industry insiders thought SNC Lavelin of the Riverway Partnership were shoe-ins following the Port Mann bidding debacle that awarded that project to Kiewit-Flatiron, despite their failure to secure financing as required. Had the MOT deferred to the next best bid when that occurred, SNC would have been building the Port Mann right now, instead of Kiewit.  Rumour also had it that SNC had been considering legal recourse because of this, but decided against such action so as not to be blacklisted by the province on other projects- ( See Tercon vs. MOT/Province of BC, to find out what happens to contractors who complain too loudly) 

However, there was something else very surprising that I notice in the  SFPR Press Release

VICTORIA – Fraser Transportation Group has been selected to proceed to the next stage of procurement as the preferred proponent for delivery of the next phase of the South Fraser Perimeter Road project. This stage involves detailed negotiations for finalizing a contract. 

 Fraser Transportation Group includes ACS Infrastructure Canada Inc. and Ledcor Industrial/Mining Group Ltd. as equity partners, and Dragados Canada, Inc, Ledcor CMI Ltd., Belpacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership and Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. as the members of the design-build contractor. 

There appears to have been a significant change in the make-up of the proponents in the group itself, because in the announcement of the three qualified short-listed bidders,   The Fraser Transportation Group looked like this: 

Fraser Transportation Group –  includes Iridium Concesiones de Infraestructuras, S.A. of Spain and Zachry American Infrastructure of Texas as equity partners and Dragados S.A. as the lead design build contractor. 

Wow. So… Am I right to ask the question : What the heck happened to that pre-qualified bidding group? Iridium( From Spain) and Zachry ( of Texas) are now gone as the equity partners, replaced by ACS infrastructure Canada, and Ledcor Industrial /Mining Group Ltd.  That is a complete change from the “Pre-qualified bidders” listed in the original announcement. 

Not only that, Dragados Canada  were listed as the lead design/build contractor in the original announcement, which now lists Ledcor CMI Ltd., Belpacific Excavating and Shoring Limited Partnership and Vancouver Pile Driving Ltd. as part of the design-build team. 

What happened to the original bidding team? Why the complete change in equity partners? No money? Companies backed out?  Call me a cynic, but I would say that Jane Shackell, the ” fairness  reviewer”  appointed to oversee and monitor the procurement process, has her hands full on this one. One of the most popular blog series I’ve ever written covered the near decade long Tercon vs. BC/MOT lawsuit, in which  a change to the makeup of a ” pre-qualified” bidder during the procurement process, ultimately led to a supreme court win for the contractor. In Tercon vs. the MOT/Province of BC, an unqualified contractor was added  on as a concealed partner with an already qualified bidder, and  this change was subsequently concealed by MOT staff  at many different levels to avoid complaints from  the other qualified bidders who may have been rightly awarded the MOT job. Full details are in this post, which contains links to the other two parts of the series. 

One would certainly hope the province has not overstepped in this case, because this seems to be a significant change to the makeup of the preferred bidder. (Not that I mind seeing smaller local companies doing work, rather than Kiewit and SNC Lavelin- so long as the bidding process was fair, transparent and honest ) 

 Also of extreme importance in this press release is the notation that the SFPR is now slated for completion in 2013,  which is a full year behind the original completion date 2012. I stand by my source that the project has been scaled back with significant scope changes and that can only mean one thing. Money. money. money… ( out of interest, click HERE to see political donations by LEDCOR)

While I am on the subject of money, it certainly would seem that Kiewit, the main contractors on the Sea to Sky highway and of course, the Port Mann bridge…. have a hell of a lot of extra money to toss around on campaign contributions -and the timing of them is  certainly interesting, to say the least. 

S-A1-A – Your Search Criteria
Contributor Name Date From Date To Party
kiewit      (ALL)
  S-A1-A – Your Search Results
  Total Contribution For This Search: $81,575.00 
Records 1-13 of 13 
Contributor Name Date Amount Party Class Principal Officer 1 Principal Officer 2
PETER KIEWIT SONS CO LTD. 2008/12/03 $1,875.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
PETER KIEWIT SONS CO LTD. 2006/09/29 $3,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
PETER KIEWIT SONS CO LTD. 2007/04/24 $1,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 2    
PETER KIEWIT 2009/04/02 $2,000.00 BC LIBERAL PARTY 1

Note the rather obese contribution to the BC Liberals mere days after the last election….and in the rest of 2009. Now, call me speculative, but if I were a  contractor who had just been chosen to build the Port Mann Bridge, even after my financing fell through,( see link above on Kiewit)  and the province went to a great extent to give me that contract, even changing the project from a P3 to a taxpayers fully funded one to do so….. well, I think I would be really appreciative too.  Not sure those contributions paid off for the SFPR bid though…lol. 

It brings me back full circle to the topic of campaign contributions and conflict of interest which we have been talking about on and off over the past bit. Lets even toss in  how they relate to collusion and corruption. 

 While it is certainly not illegal for any one person,  or any company to donate to one political party or another, I find it remarkable that anybody could say these donations, especially such sizable ones such as Kiewit’s, have no bearing or influence, nor do they represent any conflicts in the various situations that invariably pop up along the way. 

Poppycock.  Do you honestly think a $50 grand donation from Kiewit doesn’t help to grease the wheels along the way? Keep them at the top of the Special Donors list? Of course it does. To think anything else is to be as naive as a new-born babe. 

Just for fun, because yeah, I’m kind of geeky that way, I did a bit of an update to a previous list of large donors to the BC Liberals, from their 2007 reported ones. Donors that also seem to get the lucrative government contracts along the way, donors who have boards of directors padded with ex-MLA’s and political movers and shakers. 

Donors that know how business works in BC. 

* 2009 donation amounts listed only- click on provided link to see past donation history. 

Teck Cominco and subsiduaries:  $150,800.00 

Goldcorp: $88,500.00 

Encana : $118,000.00 

Telus : $68,123.52 

Aquilini Group : $ 80,700.00 

Brookfield Asset Management/ Brookfield Timber Management : $ 60, 000.00 ( note Richard Legault and Barry Blattman, whose names seem to come up in everything Liberal related. 

Timberwest: $ 60,988 

West Fraser: $ 108,089 

Catalyst: $ 24, 500.00  ( guess they couldn’t have been doing too poorly if they could still afford donations to the Liberals…  

Jim Pattison Group and Great Pacific Investments: $10,500.oo ( down from previous years)   

Well, that’s all folks. If you are an average person like me, this all stinks to high heaven. Smaller companies who can’t , or won’t play the game are getting left out in the cold time and time again.  Clearly, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know -and how much you donate to them. Think about that next time you are driving over the Port Mann bridge…

Bits and Bites – Thursday July 23nd, 2009

*** updated 11 am, July 23rd-

Colin Hansen just announced that on July 1st, 2010, the BC government will “harmonize” the PST we pay with the Federal GST– in other words, they are going to combine the two taxes into one charge on your purchases. Read the press release HERE.  What does this mean for you ?

Currently, these are the items exempt from PST in BC, among them are: food items, drugs and medicine. Under the new combined sales tax, it appears that you will likely be paying more tax at the grocery store and in other areas, while some exemptions will remain. Oddly enough, although  the presser accentuates the virtues of the combined tax and how it is going to help us all, it goes on to mention that a credit will be issued to low income families to offset any impact the new tax will have. Meaning, this new tax will only turn out to be a good thing for the government.

Long story short ? Campbell just raised the axe again  and slashed again — in your wallets.


You know what makes running every morning at 5 am fun? Getting to see the sunrise over the hill and  feeling that cool morning air wash over me as I run. Try it, you might like it. You don’t have to run, you can walk, but just once this week, get up at 4: 45 am, get your workout gear on and head out the door to catch that sunrise. I promise you won’t regret it.

Every once in a while you read something that just blows your mind, and the first item up this morning did just that. An Ontario woman is campaigning AGAINST universal health care in the United States!! Yes, she is warning everyone- on behalf of an American organization against universal health care –  that she would have died from a growth near her brain if she had waited to be treated here in Canada. Not happy with her wait time to see a specialist, she re-mortgaged her house and flew to the US for treatment. 

Now, Ujjal Dosanjh is running around doing damage control on American and Canadian stations, telling them that yes, sometimes we do have issues, but overall it is a far better system.  You know, I feel for this woman, I really do, but has she really thought about what she is doing? Is she aware what happens to far too many people in the US? Has she ever watched SICKO? We might have our issues, but the system here is still far better than down there.

“Not only has the criminal justice system failed my beautiful child; they have failed all of you, all Canadian citizens. There is nothing there to protect you.” These words from Sandra Martin-Toner, the mother of Matthew Martin who was killed at the age of 16, in cold blood, at Surrey Central skytrain station in 2005. She was referring to the decision to allow Katherine Quinn out on bail while she awaits a new trial after her second degree murder conviction was over turned because the judge had erred in his instructions to the previous jury.  I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again – it is time to hold our judges accountable by electing them. No more appointments, elect them all so they have to answer to the public.  Quinn, a mother of three, must remain in her parents home and is not allowed to leave except for doctor visits and court appearances. Makes me wonder how they plan to make sure she actually does this – like, is this the honour system here?  My thoughts are with Matthews mom and family this morning – may you all find the strength to see this through again.

In another development, Justice Thomas Braidwood is going to announce some preliminary findings today from the inquiry into the use of tasers by RCMP in Robert Dziekanskis death in 2007. CBC is reportingthat ” the announcement will deal only with “the use of conducted energy weapons by law enforcement agencies in B.C.,” but …may also include recommendations for severe restrictions on the use of the devices. ” Yes, take away those tasers. Cops survived decades without them, and can continue on that way in my opinion. Solicitor General Kash Heed is expected to hold a press conference immediately after the announcement to respond to the contents of the report.

( speaking of Kash Heed, looks like he never heard of the phrase: ” Loose lips sink ships…” )  

Much like our dear premier though, he usually refuses to comment on anything. Is there some sort of Liberal boot camp where new politicians get schooled on the art of obfuscating and stone walling?

 The weather is hot, but things might get a lot hotter on River Road in Delta today, where protesters plan to block the demolition of houses to make way for South Fraser Perimeter Road construction. Contrary to the Liberals mantra to reduce greenhouse gases, a report by the Livable Region Coalition found that the Gateway project would  actually increase provincial emissions by 30%!  “The BC government’s freeway expansion schemes are completely at odds with their own provincial greenhouse gas reduction targets,” says Surrey resident Tom Jaugelis. “Our planet is facing a climate crisis and the wasteful Gateway project will only make it worse.”

The project will pave over 75 homes in Delta and  portions of Burns Bog, in addition to acres of some of the best farmland in BC. The protest will start at 6:30 am at 10253 River Road in Delta. Details at

Enbridge will be responding to the questions of Kitimat resident Murray Minchin, as I recently detailed in this post : Here is the rather anonymous response I received from someone at the Northern Gateway office:

Dear Laila,
Thank you for your email. We also received Murray’s letter as he forwarded
it to us last Friday. I have passed it on to Roger Harris as well as
Steven Greenaway, VP of Public and Government Affairs. They have
acknowledged receipt and will respond. I have also forwarded your email to
them today.

Thank you for your interest in the project Laila, we will be in touch soon.

Enbridge Northern Gateway

You see? They are actually thanking me for my interest in their project.( Which means I’m likely on a list on some PR guys desk in Texas with a big red bullseye on it.) Oddly enough though, National Public Relationshas been visiting the site again, which means either I’m somebodies work assignment or they just really like me…. hehe.

I’m thinking things must be getting a little hot for the Premier right now, and I’m not referring to the heat… no sirreee.  He’s slashed student aid, cut back on health and who knows what else is headed our way- but the biggest question everyone has for him is still: ” WHO ORDERED THE DESTRUCTION OF THOSE EMAILS ?”  I’m guessing Gordon Campbell is  ” Under Pressure” like never before …

Keep it cool everyone !