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!

10 thoughts on “At last! The ministry of transportation responds to my questions…

  1. Campbell and bond should stop playing games and answer the questions. So should Ms. James. She also should be asking questions publically.
    An open legislature is not the only forum to be asking pointed questions. People of North of metro Vancouver want to know why they are expected to pay shadow tolls/or subsidise infastructure they will likely never use.
    Ms. James, where are you? Where is your voice? Why are you not sticking up for us?


  2. Wow! What a well thought out and fully explained answer.

    Now, how much do these PAB guys cost the BC taxpayer? 200+ PAB employees times 50, 60, 70,000? Anyone have the answer?

    Laila, you are truly an amazing woman. We will never be able to thank you, and others like Mary, Norm, Grant etc., for all the excellent articles from the “real media” in this province.

    Thank you!


  3. Five days, not bad for a freedom of information request simply by writing your local M o T rep. No fees either.

    Now maybe someone can request a FOI based on your request to find out where your question went to and who it involved.


  4. Ahem. Just updated this story -again.

    Apparently I now have to redirect all questions to Jeff Knight.

    Dave Crebo has just been moved (??) and is now the communications director of the Ministry of Forests, Lands and Mines….He was with MOT for some time, as I recall.

    Maybe they don’t have as many hard questions there.


  5. Laila,

    There’s enormous value on your entry into the outlying small newspapers … congratulations!

    Think of how many kitchens and coffee shops and maybe even classrooms will be thinking and talking about what you’ve researched on those Shadow Tolls and more.

    This is part of the general clean-up of our abused Province.


    1. Thank you Mary, I was honoured to be asked, because to me it shows just how many people out there are looking for different views,and stories with a twist you might not see in the traditional media. Being from a rural northern area myself, I appreciate that people in outlying areas are often forgetten about in terms of issues that effect them.

      I’ve got to say, however, that it strikes me as bizarre that since this story broke, CTV, Global, CBC and several print media make time, day after day, to come back and read the developments, comments etc… and yet this story remains largely reported only in the smaller independent papers and online outlets, with the exception of News 1130. That bothers me. There are some really great investigative reporters out there, some really exceptional press members who could do a fantastic job on this information, but I’ll tell you something, the MOT is counting on the meekness of both the NDP, and the press, on this one. And it makes me sick to think of how much mismanagment of public funds is going on, and how much risk there is here, and there is much more to this story I have yet to write. The deeper one digs, the more questions there are as to the real structure of the deal. And thanks to some wonderful, highly educated professionals who also happen to share those concerns, there are many others who are assisting me to get to the bottom of it all.


  6. Dear Laila, You have opened my eyes by publishing the information about “shadow tolls”. I have voted for Liberals all my life. Now they are not getting my families and my vote anymore. On the other hand, not forgetting, BC ferries boss’s wages, BC ferries fare hikes, BC Rail Public inquiry, MLA’s salary increase including the Premier’s salary. And if NDP wants my vote they will have to ask your types of pointed questions to the Libs.
    Thanks, Keep up the good work.


  7. Thank you, Sudha, for such heartening words of support and for sharing this with us. I trust you will vote with more conscience than ever when the next election comes.

    I agree, if the NDP wants my vote as well, they will have to go far to address the many issues I have brought forth here on the site, that so many British Columbians also want answers to and a position on, from the NDP.

    I hope you continue to find value in my writing in the year to come and that you question much that is fed by the current government and eager new potential leaders – as well as those who support them!


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