Sunday, April 19, 2009

Mason Hammers It

Below are four paragraphs taken from Gary Mason's column on BC politics published in yesterday's Globe & Mail. I can only add please read the entire piece. Esepcially the part about Patrick Kinsella's business partner being granted a gaming license. It is simply one of the best things written recently about the tenuous state of what passes for democracy in this logging camp.

The very sight of simple-minded geeks happily spending their Saturday afternoons nailing up Gordon Campbell signs on their auto-sprinklered lawns makes me sick. What's worse is that the fools smile at us as we pass. Soon we turn to each other and say, "Those sticks will be good for peas or green beans in a few weeks."

Friends of government, friends of the Premier, people who have played pivotal behind-the-scenes roles with the governing Liberal party can do all manner of lobbyist-like work and not have to tell a soul.

Beyond that, Mr. Kinsella has done consulting work for a dizzying number of private companies, work which has put him in touch with government officials. Yet he has never registered with the provincial registrar of lobbyists because, he says, his work doesn't meet the legal definition of lobbying. Yet, he appears to be doing exactly the same type of work that most registered lobbyists are doing.

When the provincial registrar of lobbyists attempted to investigate Mr. Kinsella's activities, the Liberal insider refused to co-operate. And that was the end of that.

The Liberals have been promising over the last few years to toughen up the province's lobbyist laws but nothing has happened. It would appear they're in no hurry to upset friends making millions in the lobbying business.

Straight Nails It

B.C. Liberals say a $2-billion project is "on-budget"; it was $1.5 to $1.7 billion

For years, I would have to write that a transit project linking downtown Vancouver, Richmond and the airport would cost $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion.

I knew that the figure had been lowballed. But I didn't have a choice because TransLink repeatedly used this $1.5-billion to $1.7-billion figure in news releases concerning what was then known as the Richmond-Airport-Vancouver line. It's now called the Canada Line.

Five years ago, the credit-rating agency Standard & Poor's also suggested there was "cost overrun potential" on the the $1.5-billion to $1.7-billion RAV line.

“The RAV project is a large, lengthy, and ambitious undertaking with cost overrun potential given the long-term and technologically complex nature of the construction project,” Standard & Poor’s stated.

Of course, the costs did go up. Now, the public is being quoted a $2-billion figure for a project that was expected to be built with a bored tunnel that would result in minimal intrusion on local merchants.

The $2-billion line includes 16 stations. The original $1.5-billion to $1.7-billion line was going to include 17 stations.

Of course, higher costs contributed to a decision to go instead with a cut-and-cover tunnel, which obstructed traffic and contributed to the bankruptcies of several businesses on Cambie Street.

So what does the B.C. Liberal platform say about the Canada Line?

It's "on-budget".

Gimme a break.


Last Year's Runner-Up