Saturday, March 30, 2013

Money Money Money: BC Liberals Love Yours

                                                          ABBA: $$$

Premier’s deputy tops salary rankings for B.C. government

John Dyble made $307,000 in latest salary database

Friday, March 29, 2013

Bit & Pieces: The BC Liberal Machine

Vancouver Courier Editorial Cartoon
                                         Geoff Olson, March 27, 2013, Vancouver Courier

AG, fairness monitor Evergreen Line reports sidestep contractor's troubles

Thu Mar 28, 2013, Business in Vancouver. 

A report by the Auditor General on the Evergreen Line released this morning and the report by the project's fairness monitor, which was completed six months ago but only published yesterday, both ignore the problems of the contractor hired to build the 11-kilometre SkyTrain extension.

The provincial government announced October 4, 2012, that embattled SNC-Lavalin would lead the designing, building and financing of the $1.4 billion project.

Auditor General John Doyle's report examined planning for the project, information provided by the Ministry of Transportation and Partnerships BC about the route and technology and the form of procurement.

“What we were looking at was the planning phase,” newly appointed Acting Auditor General Russ Jones told Business in Vancouver. “Basically, what to build and how best to contract the delivery of that service. We didn't take a look at the actual procurement process.”

“We did not examine how the preferred procurement was applied to choose a contractor to build the line,” said a disclaimer in the report.

Likewise for the report by fairness monitor Jane Shackell, a lawyer with Miller Thomson.

Her September 20, 2012-dated final report, submitted the following day to the Evergreen Line project board, was withheld from publication. It was quietly released on the Partnerships BC website yesterday.

Shackell made no mention of SNC-Lavalin or any other bidder in her three-and-a-half-page report and concluded: “I am satisfied that the project team has implemented and complied with the procurement and decision processes set out in the (request for proposals), in accordance with reasonable standards of fairness.”

“I'm not really reporting on anything other than the process,” Shackell told BIV. “The evaluation committee reports to the project board about who the bidders are and who's successful.”

A November 9, 2011, government news release said seven teams responded to the request for qualifications and three were allowed to apply in the request for proposals process, including SNC-Lavalin, EL Partners and Kiewit/Flatiron.

Montreal-headquartered SNC-Lavalin is under investigation for corruption in Quebec, Europe, Africa and Asia. Former CEO Pierre Duhaime, who quit last November, is facing bribery charges related to the McGill University hospital project. The company's transportation division is located in Vancouver.

At a March 23 Coquitlam news conference to announce station names, Transport Minister Mary Polak said: “We have had very good working relationships with SNC on other projects, haven't had any of those problems here in British Columbia. A very, very large company, very diverse, they have distinct and separate entities within the larger SNC-Lavalin, so we don't have any concerns."

Jones said he has asked the Auditor General of Quebec “to keep us up to speed if anything comes up (regarding SNC-Lavalin) that they think might impact some of the work that's going on out here.”

Shackell declined comment when asked whether SNC-Lavalin’s well-known, international and domestic legal troubles affected the Evergreen Line procurement process.

“I probably shouldn't comment on that because I wouldn't want to add to my report by way of speaking to you,” Shackell said.

Doyle concluded in his report that SkyTrain technology was the best option, but the transport ministry and Partnerships BC’s material for Treasury Board in 2010 “clearly fell short” of the government’s 2002 Capital Asset Management Framework guidelines that are intended to inform government investment decisions.

The agencies did not “clearly and fully explain the different costs, benefits and risks when comparing SkyTrain, light rail and bus improvement options in the material presented to Treasury Board. For the preferred SkyTrain scope, agencies did not explain how Evergreen ridership forecasts assumed both extensive investment in other parts of the transit system and a rapid increase in the cost of using automobiles after 2021. In addition, agencies did not show how the Evergreen Line would impact and be affected by the performance and utilization of other parts of the Metro Vancouver transit system.”

Doyle wrote that the procurement decision was “simplified” because a long-term private-public partnership, such as the SNC-Lavalin's partnership on the Canada Line, “did not make economic sense.” The short-term P3 model for the Evergreen Line includes design, build and finance, but not operations and maintenance.

More BC Liberal B.S. Exposed: Carbon Offsets Smoke & Mirrors

P.S. I want to thank those ethical people in this government for finding creative ways to get information out to the voting public. You are heroes and keep it coming, let's liberate those skeletons and secrets!!! 

BC government is not carbon neutral, finds auditor general
By Andrew MacLeod, March 27, 2013, The Hook. Read excerpts below.

The British Columbia government has been buying carbon offsets that are not credible and therefore the government's claim to being carbon neutral is inaccurate, Auditor General John Doyle concluded in a report released today.

Doyle also noted in his report An Audit of Carbon Neutral Government that "vested interests" targeted his office and delayed the report.

The government created the Pacific Carbon Trust to take money from public sector bodies including schools and hospitals to buy carbon offsets from the private sector. The idea was to reduce the public service's carbon footprint to zero by buying emission reductions.

"The credibility of carbon offsets is the crux of the entire concept," wrote Doyle. "Within a complex system of dense terminology and calculations is mired a common sense test: Would the project have happened in the absence of carbon finance?"

Doyle's office took a close look at two projects that accounted for 70 per cent of the offsets the government bought in 2010, the first year it claimed to be carbon neutral: the Darkwoods Forest Carbon project in southeastern B.C. and the Encana Underbalanced Drilling project near Fort Nelson.

"This claim of carbon neutrality is not accurate, as neither project provided credible offsets," wrote Doyle. Both projects would have happened without the money for the carbon offsets, he said.

"Neither project was able to demonstrate that the potential sales of offsets were needed for the project to be implemented," he wrote. "Encana's project was projected to be more financially beneficial to the company than its previous practices, regardless of offset revenue, while the Darkwoods property was acquired without offsets being a critical factor in the decision."

Doyle also went into detail on the interference with his office during the audit. "Of all the reports I have issued, never has one been targeted in such an overt manner by vested interests, nor has an audited organization ever broken my confidence, as did the senior managers at PCT by disclosing confidential information to carbon market developers and brokers," he said.

"The orchestrated letter-writing campaign from domestic and foreign entities which followed this disclosure demanded considerable staff time, and resulted in the delay of this report. I cannot sufficiently express my surprise and disappointment that a public sector entity, with a fiduciary duty to the people of British Columbia, chose to expend its time and energy in this manner, rather than addressing the concerns raised in the audit –- and that they did so with the knowledge of their governing board," he wrote.

Environment Minister Terry Lake questioned Doyle's expertise. "We reject entirely his conclusion that the offsets he examined are not credible," said Lake. "We fundamentally reject the auditor general's conclusion that government has not met its objective of achieving carbon neutral public sector."

B.C.’s push for carbon neutrality in public sector falters

But Auditor-General John Doyle – whose report was withheld from release Tuesday by the Speaker of the legislature – says that the Pacific Carbon Trust has been paying too much, often double the free- market price, and that the offsets do little to reduce B.C.’s greenhouse-gas emissions.

The Globe and Mail obtained a copy of the report from other sources.

Instead of releasing the document as scheduled Tuesday, Speaker Bill Barisoff issued a brief statement saying it is being withheld.

“Since a breach of Parliament may have occurred, the report will not be distributed until the Speaker has concluded his discussions with the Auditor-General,” stated Mr. Barisoff.

Mr. Doyle said his office had shared draft copies of the report “with the relevant ministries,” but that was standard practice.

“What we’ve done this time is what we’ve done time after time again,” he said of his office’s policy of providing advance drafts to the affected ministry and to MLAs who have been involved in the issue under scrutiny.

Ben Parfitt, of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, has long been a critic of the government’s carbon program.

“It’s a damning indictment of the province’s whole carbon neutral policy,” he said when asked to comment on Mr. Doyle’s findings. “It sounds like the Auditor-General has found the vast majority of the offsets sold by the Pacific Carbon Trust turn out to be bogus credits … it’s shocking.”

Mr. Parfitt called on the government to release the Auditor-General’s report immediately.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Like Sharks to a ChumFest: BC Liberals ship leaking like a sieve

Kudos to the ethical resisters (aka whistleblowers) inside the rapidly imploding BC Liberal government for keeping the information flowing to the public. We, the people of BC, need to know in technicolor detail what these creatures are up to as we head to the ballot box in May. 
If their lips are moving, the Liberals are following a script 

By Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun columnist March 21, 2013.

VICTORIA - On the day that Premier Christy Clark released the critical review of her ethnic outreach strategy, the party communications office circulated confidential suggestions to Liberals on ways to turn the embarrassment to their advantage.

“Premier’s leadership versus Dix’s ducking,” was the headline on the for-your-eyes-only set of “talking points” for Liberals. What followed set the tone for pretty much everything they would say in the wake of last Thursday’s release of the findings from a quartet of deputy ministers.

Point one: “The premier promised a full review on the draft multicultural strategy and she delivered it. The premier has taken decisive action.”

Two: “The NDP had a multi-year strategy to divert local constituency funds to a political slush fund in Victoria. They used these local funds to pay the multicultural outreach contract of a twice-failed and current NDP candidate. Over the years, Gabriel Yiu received over $327,000 from funds taken from local constituencies.”

Three: “Today’s report is about a draft strategy, most of which was not implemented. Some of the lines between politics and government were blurred, and action is being taken to correct it.”

Four: “Expanding multicultural outreach to BC’s diverse communities is the right thing to do, but mistakes were made on how it was being implemented.”

Five: “This is a leadership moment for both leaders.”

Six: “Premier Clark has taken leadership to fix mistakes, and done so openly.”

Seven: “Adrian Dix was part of a scheme to divert constituency funds to a political slush fund. He refuses to apologize, refuses to be accountable for his party’s action, and refuses to demonstrate any leadership.”

Thanks to a timely leak, I had a copy of those points in hand as question period unfolded in the legislature Thursday, allowing me to tick them off one by one as the Liberals went through the motions.

Premier Christy Clark, riffing on points one, three, four and six:

“When this came to light, the first thing I did was make sure we did everything we could to get to the bottom of it, because the essence of leadership is not to hide. It’s not to run away. It’s not to deny responsibility. It’s to accept responsibility when something wrong has been done and then do everything you can to make it right. That is the definition of leadership.”

Cabinet minister Bill Bennett covering bases two, five and seven:

“The NDP have been caught with their hand in the cookie jar. They have been siphoning off constituency office funds for five years. The members’ manual states that those funds cannot be used for political purposes ... When are they going to order an investigation, and when are they going to apologize, and when are they going to pay the money back?”
Like they were reading from a script, isn’t it?

Last Thursday also saw the Liberal communications office distributing a line of response to that day’s opinion poll from Ipsos Reid, showing the governing party trailing the Opposition by a ruinous 19 points.

“Two polls, two different stories,” was the headline, atop talking points that urged Liberals to refocus attention on a rival poll from Campaign Research, reporting a mere five-point lead for the New Democrats over the Liberals.

“This poll was in the field on the day the NDP were caught in a scandal diverting funds from their constituency offices for partisan purposes,” said the party missive.

“Regardless of the poll results today, what really matters is what voters decide in May,” it continued, full of hope. “Recent elections in Canada see dramatic change during the writ period — Alberta, Ontario, Quebec, and at the federal level.”

This week brought the leak of two more sets of Liberal talking points, dealing with entrepreneur David Black’s ambitious proposal to establish an oil refinery on the B.C. coast.

One touted the results of an independent review of the $25-billion development: “The proposal is real and has the potential to create thousands of jobs in B.C.”

The other swatted the New Democrats for their lack of enthusiasm for Black’s proposal, citing a comment from Opposition energy critic John Horgan.

“But I think it’s irresponsible to assume because the guy has an idea that it’s going to be successful, because that’s not the track record of private sector investment,” read the carefully selected quote from a longer interview with Horgan on radio station CKNW. “Everybody’s got a good idea ... As they say, there’s a sucker born every minute.”

Then the talking point: “For the NDP to tell investors not to bring good ideas to British Columbia sends the wrong message. To say the private sector has a bad record of creating jobs is disrespectful. And to belittle investors with credible ideas by calling them suckers is irresponsible.”

Horgan’s words, wrenched from context, serve as a reminder of why parties strive to keep everyone on message in a campaign where every stray comment is grist for the partisan mill.

But those efforts, like the messy details of sausage-making, are not necessarily flattering when aired publicly. After reading the above cited missives, one could be tempted to ask any Liberal candidate, “is that you talking, or just your talking points?”

"False & Spurious" This: BC Liberals Latest Misuse of Taxpayer Funds

This excellent article exposes how Premier Clark and her evil henchmen, the BC Liberal election team, continue to spend your hard earned tax dollars, while also abusing the public trust, because that is EXACTLY what their actions constitute when they corrupt the public service in this way. 

Liberals formed attack team to target John Cummins and B.C. Conservatives 

Tory leader John Cummins accuses Liberals of again mixing public and party business 

By Cassidy Olivier, The Province March 21, 2013.

Threatened on the right flank by a resurgent centre-right party, members of Christy Clark’s office enlisted the services of other government staff at the B.C. legislature to form a B.C. Conservative attack team, The Province has learned.

Team members included a research officer with government caucus, several ministerial assistants, staff at the Premier’s Office and a corporate director of strategic planning for Government Communications and Public Engagement.

The team was under the direction of Dimitri Pantazopoulos, a former principal secretary to Premier Clark who is now on contract with the B.C. Liberal Party, and chaired by Sam Oliphant, then a research officer with government caucus, The Province has learned.

“Hi all,” begins an email from Oliphant, dated Aug. 30, 2011, to the team members. “As discussed over the phone, I’ll be co-ordinating this BCC group and we’ve been directed by Dimitri to have a preliminary meeting as soon as possible to go over the objectives of the group and discuss how we’re going to get the most out of it.”

The email was time stamped 5:02 p.m. and sent from Oliphant’s private account to the private email accounts of the team members.

The purpose of the team, according to a confidential source, was to use taxpayer funded resources for the benefit of the B.C. Liberal Party, a point indirectly refuted by both Oliphant and Pantazopoulos when asked to comment on the group.

“I did do political work, as a political staff, during my time in caucus,” said Oliphant, who is now a communications officer with the B.C. Liberal Party. “In fact, I remember being asked to dig up stuff on John Cummins because your colleague . . . was looking for some information. That is the type of work we did, and it is the type of work the NDP do as well.”

Said Pantazopoulos: “I have no interest in vague stories based on unverified emails from sources whose motives are suspect. All allegations of impropriety are false and spurious.” Neither Pantazopoulos or Oliphant spoke directly to the existence of an Conservative attack group or any work that may have been done as part of the team.

The “Book on John Cummins,” a four-page document, drafted by Oliphant, that outlined B.C. Conservative leader John Cummins’s position on variety of issues, is at least one tangible product of the team.

“Hi all,” reads an email from Oliphant, dated Sept. 22, 2011 and sent to the private email accounts of the group members. “First, attached you will find the ‘Book on John Cummins’ that I’ve put together . . . Second, Dimitri has asked that someone go through their policy document sent out earlier this month and put together a bit of a report that looks at three specific things 1) What is worth stealing? 2) What has already been done? 3) What is just crazy/impossible/impractical/dangerous etc.?”

“Third, it would be good next week to go over the Premier’s jobs agenda. Carleen [Kerr, then an executive assistant to the attorney general] is working on a document that compares the Premier’s program to the BCC policy document, and that will be a good starting point for a group discussion on how we can go on the counter attack.”

The email also suggests a meeting time for that week: “same time as our last meeting (10AM).” Meetings were held in a committee room in the legislature. Asked about the book on Cummins, Oliphant said “I’m not sure what document you are referring to.” 

As noted in the recently-released Dyble Report, which was drafted in response to the Liberal’s controversial ethnic outreach plan, the work political staff — executive assistants, ministerial assistants and government caucus — do often crosses into a grey area.

For example, drafting the book on Cummins falls within the duties of a caucus researcher. But overt partisan activities or discussion inside the workplace is against the rules outlined in the B.C. Public Service Act.

Sharing the information with the Party would also be a clear violation of established codes of conduct.

The report noted that the current standards of conduct “may not be adequately designed” for political staff, given the often times blurred boundaries. However, the report was clear that partisan politics “are not to be introduced into the workplace.”

GCPE employees are also considered “part of the non-partisan public service” and are expected to “provide non-partisan advice” the report noted.

Shown a copy of the document drafted in his name and one of the emails, Cummins said it is “regretful and disappointing” that Clark’s government appears to have again crossed the line “between public service on behalf of British Columbians” and “partisan work on behalf of the B.C. Liberal Party.”

“It is also extremely disconcerting that B.C. Liberal political appointees once again have been revealed as using private, personal email addresses through which they have attempted to hide their partisan activities,” he said in a statement.


Many of those identified in the private emails have since changed their positions. The following is a list of who was included and their positions at the time of the August and September 2011 emails:

Sam Oliphant, research officer government caucus.
Ken Dawson, ministerial assistant to minister of education (now director of policy in the Premier’s Office).
Kiel Giddens, ministerial assistant to minister of environment.
Samantha Howard, ministerial assistant.
Jeff Melland, communications officer in government caucus.
Carleen Kerr, executive assistant to the attorney-general.
Rebecca Scott, communications co-ordinator and deputy press secretary in the Office of the Premier.
Trevor Halford, senior communications co-ordinator in the Office of the Premier.
Spencer Sproule, senior issues management co-ordinator in the Office of the Premier.
R.J. Senko, ministerial assistant, ministry of sports and cultural development.
Nina Chiarelli, corporate director, strategic planning GCPE.

Below is the Book on John Cummins prepared by the Liberals:

The Book on John Cummins
The Book on John Cummins

Friday, March 22, 2013

Stumbling to the End of the Line: BC Liberals are taking themselves out of the game

Premier Clark probably does face sexism, women in politics and leadership usually do. But mostly she has earned the bad marks because she chose to be elected Premier (via by-election in one riding) of a government that is well past their best buy date. She earned the negativity because of how she presents herself, and most importantly, how she and her minions conduct business and run our government. They are a rotten bunch and voters know it. Look at the drop in support from the Liberal core who will likely sit this election out altogether, because they won't vote for Clark, or the current brand of the party.

Here is a perfect example, from her own lips, and the bafflegab of her government. 

This is a perfect example of why people have so much disdain for Premier Clark and her evil henchmen. They must be quite clear they will not form a majority government on May 15th by now. Yet, they saddle taxpayers with a new five-year Maximus contract, to which the outgoing AG found did not fulfill promised benefits. Why no big press releases on this? Why no photo ops?

BC governments extends outsourced health information management despite issues raised by Auditor General 
Keith Reynolds, CCPA, Policy Note, March 11th, 2013.

British Columbia’s government today announced it had extended its agreement with Maximus BC, a US subsidiary corporation, to manage BC’s health information for another five years. The $264 million contract will run from 2015 until 2020. The original contract began in 2005.  That ten year deal cost $324 million.   
On a comparable basis the new five year agrrement has an increase in price of roughly 40 per cent.

The agreement was apparently signed two months before a provincial election and 11 days after a report from BC’s Auditor General that found the benefits promised from the contract in 2004 had not been realized.

Christy Clark, She's Come Undone

The Straight Goods, March 21, 2013.

The entire BC Liberal Government and party are in disarray, words and phrases are being tossed around like final death throes, end of a dynasty, thunderstruck, dying days, point of no return and they are all fitting though I prefer to use phrases and words like crime family gunned down, corruption rooted out, zombies exposed to sunlight melt and my favorite, ding dong the wicked witch is dead..

Scandal and organized crime, it`s as simple as that, I still remember the headlines after our BC Legislature was raided by police "Organized crime has infiltrated the highest offices of the BC Government", those headlines were more than eye catchers , it was all true and the saddest part of the last 8 years. It wasn`t quality governance or decisions for the common good that kept the party in power it was a coordinated media effort, a shielding of the sins committed, cover fire for active criminals provided by the biggest media players in the game, Vancouver Sun, Global television and cknw, a radio station that turned stacking calls and promoting red herring stories to an artform..

Thursday, March 21, 2013

BC NDP: Coasting in the for the Win on May 14th

Can't believe that the brain trust Premier Clark is depending on for her election strategy think that smokes & mirrors & empty promises are going to help them win this election. 

Are they incapable of understanding the degree of cynicism that Clark and her party now engender after a decade of slashing and burning, scandals, skeletons and cover-ups? Apparently so. Wonder what other "election announcements" voters can expect as the campaign really heats up. 

Angus Reid, the bearer of bad news...for the Liberals
Shane Woodford | Email news tips to

The latest Angus Reid Poll on the BC political scene contains more bad news for the Liberals.   The NDP are well out in front at 48-percent support, a jump of one point.

The Liberals polled below 30-percent for the first time this year after dropping three points to 28-percent support.   Tied for third are the Green Party and Conservatives who saw slight improvement to sit at 11-percent.

Matter-of-fact, Green leader Jane Sterk is now tied with Christy Clark with a 27-percent approval rating.   62-percent of those polled say it is time for a change of government.

Adrian Dix is the pick of 31-percent for best Premier; Clark had 16-percent.   The Angus Reid Poll was done for the Globe and Mail.

Building hospitals is like kissing babies, says critic
Shane Woodford | Email news tips to

The NDP's Health critic says the Premier's announcement to begin the rebuilding process for Penticton's aging hospital lacks a few important details.   Mike Farnworth says Premier Clark neglected to include any real money or a specific timeline. Farnworth called it, "pure electioneering."   

But, what would the NDP do for the people of Penticton, "My understanding is that today the Government said they would do the business plan and if there is funding for that, we will make sure a business plan is completed. But what really needs to happen is that we need to have a comprehensive facilities plan, capital plan, for health care right across the Province which takes into account the key priorities in each of the health authorities."

Farnworth says all Clark is doing now is using false hope to try and shore up votes.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Tick Tock: Let's See Those E-mails Before the Election

Now, wondering if this investigation will include personal e-mails from Premier Clark? Primrose Carson, Executive Director of the BC Liberal caucas? Who else?

Privacy Commissioner may seek out personal emails in ethnic scandal
Janet Brown, CKNW. 3/18/2013

Potentially more trouble for the BC Liberals.

The so-called "ethnic strategy" fallout continues with BC's Information and Privacy Commissioner launching an investigation.

Elizabeth Denham says she'll hold a preliminary investigation into the ethnic strategy, including alleged information- sharing between public servants and the BC Liberal Party.

Denham says her office will review all relevant records and meet with parties involved in order to determine if a "formal" investigation is needed.

She also wants to know if personal e-mail accounts were used in an effort to evade access to information laws.

She's warning public servants that personal e-mail is accessible if used for making public policy.


Public employees’ personal email accounts aren’t private: privacy commissioner

, Business in Vancouver, Mar 18, 2013.

Work-related email sent or received by public employees from their personal email accounts is covered by Freedom of Information laws, according to British Columbia’s Information and Privacy Commissioner.

“The citizens of British Columbia expect accountability from public bodies in their actions as well as their information practices,” Elizabeth Denham wrote in a memo published today.

“One important way for public bodies to demonstrate this accountability is to create an accurate record of actions in a manner that preserves records of enduring value. When employees of public bodies conduct business through their personal email accounts, accountability is easily lost.”

Denham’s four-page directive came in the wake of scandals involving aides to Premier Christy Clark and ex-Multiculturalism Minister John Yap using non-government email addresses to evade the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act (FIPPA). 

The act applies to provincial and municipal governments, agencies and enterprises in B.C. “The use of personal email accounts does not relieve public bodies of their duty to comprehensively search for requested records and to produce them,” wrote Denham.

“While nothing in FIPPA directly prohibits public body employees from using personal email accounts, doing so may make it more difficult for their employer to search for records. Employees may be unwilling to produce records from their personal account or to allow access to their accounts for that purpose.”

Denham wrote that security is another reason for public bodies to prohibit workers from using their personal emails. Many personal accounts are web-based and reside on servers outside of Canada. FIPPA requires domestic access and storage of information.

Denham also announced a preliminary investigation into the Multicultural Outreach plan scandal. The March 14 in-house review by John Dyble, Deputy Minister to Clark, found public employees had violated the government’s ban on mixing political party work with government business. Unlike Dyble, however, Denham has the power to order witnesses to testify under oath.

Denham ordered her staff to do “additional fact-checking” over her March 4 investigation of the government’s no-records replies to FOI requests. That report was published three days after Clark’s deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad quit over the ethnic wooing scandal. Haakstad admitted to Denham that she may have destroyed records about last September’s departure of chief of staff Ken Boessenkool, but did not violate the FOI law because the records were considered “transitory.” Haakstad was not under oath because she agreed to the interview.

“These events reinforce the need for a legislated duty to document, which would ensure that a record of key decisions, actions, advice, recommendations and deliberations of government is created, secured and preserved,” Denham wrote. “A duty to document is not only in the public interest; it promotes openness and transparency, good governance, and provides documentation of government’s legacy for future generations.”

Friday, March 15, 2013

Ethic Outreach Plan breaches FIPPA laws: Where is the OIPC Investigation?

This really downplays what was done by these BC Liberal insiders. This isn't just a standards of conduct breach, government officials breached provincial law, the Freedom of Information & Protection of Privacy Act. 

Where the hell is Commissioner Denham, of the Office of the Information & Privacy Commissioner, about now? She better step up and investigate the use of confidential information collected by the government and the cavalier way these political operatives thought nothing of breaching citizens rights to privacy by sending all sorts of confidential information to their personal devices. You better believe this was a strategy to manipulate the use of information collected for different purposes and those citizens deserve an investigation and justice. 

Dyble report finds breaches of conduct, mis-use of government resources
Sean Leslie, CKNW (AM980), 3/14/2013

The Dyble report (read highlights of the report here) on the ethnic voting scandal is out and it's more bad news for the BC Liberals.

John Dyble has identified partisan activity among some government officials that breached the public service standards of conduct, and that some government resources were mis-used as part of this botched and flawed ethnic outreach plan.

The report finds some officials did not draw a boundary between their partisan and government roles, inappropriate activity occurred around the procurement of community liason contractors, confidential information such as contact lists from government events was inappropriately sent to personal email accounts and there were two serious instances of government resources being misused.

There was no evidence in this report that Premier Christy Clark was aware of or participated in anything inappropriate.

However, former cabinet minister John Yap is on record in this report as saying personal emails were being used to avoid Freedom of Information.

The Premier, in a written statement, says she accepts all of the recommendations.
One recommendation here is to consider further disciplinary action.


‘Culture of entitlement’: Auditor general uncovers secret payouts of almost $700,000 to legislature clerks
Sam Cooper, The Province March 14, 2013.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Culture of Entitlement in Victoria: Quelle Surprise!

Is anyone really surprised by how much of a culture of greed and entitlement has flourished in Victoria over the last decade, or longer? 

'Culture of entitlement' in legislature, B.C. auditor general finds

Unusual financial arrangements for retiring officers of the legislature: report

B.C.'s outgoing auditor general says the province's financial accounts are slowly being cleaned up, but there's still much work to be done.

John Doyle's latest report says an all-party legislative committee that oversees finances needs to work harder to ensure greater openness and accountability.

But the report also says there have been some improvements in record-keeping and accounting since his audit last July.

Last year, Doyle said the records were so disorganized, he couldn't determine if bills were being paid.

"There's a culture of entitlement and an inappropriate inattention to proper management process that has been in the legislative assembly for a considerable period of time," Doyle said on Wednesday.

"They actually need to get into the real world and discharge their duties as per their own legislation."

Doyle's latest report points out what he calls unusual financial arrangements for retiring officers of the legislature.

It also highlights office renovations for Vernon-Monashee Liberal Eric Foster, who happens to be the chair of the committee that voted against rehiring Doyle for a second term as B.C. auditor.

On Thursday, Doyle will be release his report into the so-called ethnic outreach scandal.

With files from CBC's Stephen Smart.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Git 'em John Boy: BC Liberals don't have to give a $%&!

Dear Ms. and/or Mr. B.C. Taxpayer,

We couldn't give a $%&! about your hard-earned taxpayer money. We're going to just piss it away and not bother to account for it. Frankly, we've been doing it for years, thanks.

As you know, Ms. and Mr. Taxpayer, you can't do anything about it and we're going to keep getting away with this, because we have no checks and balances, or accountability built into your legislature and how we fund things. Or the rest of government to be honest.

The majority might be weak, but we still have it.


Your BC Liberal government

Auditor General says spending problems persist for government
Sean Leslie | Email news tips to Sean

BC's Auditor-General says progress has been made since he first rapped the legislative assembly over "substantial irregularities", but problems persist and more must be done.

John Doyle also zeroes in on an expensive lease and renovations to the constituency office of Liberal MLA Eric Foster.

He says public money was used to pay not only the $67,000 dollar lease, but $51,000 dollars in renovations, and the landlord may be conducting private business on premises paid for with public money.

Doyle also says previously missing invoices have now been submitted, but with no date stamp, raising "serious concerns" as to when they were actually added to the legislative record.

Foster is paying back that money via deductions from his constituency allowance.

The legislative assembly is calling the arrangement an "exception", and is considering hiring a leasing expert to help guide decisions in the future. 

With a chaser of: Who is really the turd in this scenario?

BC Liberal Bennett defends "turd" tweet
Sean Leslie | Email news tips to Sean

Liberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett is making no apologies for calling New Democrats "turds" in a tweet last night.

Bennett says he's been called worse by the opposition.

Bennett says politics is a rough business and we stand up in the house and we call each other names in Question Period on a regular basis...perhaps not that particular word, but other words that are probably a lot harsher than that word, and it was said in fun, with tongue in cheek.

Bennett says he made the tweet after an evening with fellow MLA's but alcohol was not a factor.

Good Question: How did a $6-million loan to two ex-government aides magically vanish?

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The BC Liberal Sticking Point: 1 Premier & 2 Cabinet Ministers involved in wood building scandal

Clark overstepped fiscal bounds with failed plan for tallest wood building: former finance minister
VICTORIA AND VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail, Mar. 10 2013.

Former finance minister Kevin Falcon says the political storm over a collapsed deal to build a palace for B.C. wood products in Prince George was triggered when Premier Christy Clark overstepped the bounds of what the provincial treasury was willing to pay.

On a September 19, 2011, visit to Prince George, home of two of her most powerful cabinet ministers, Ms. Clark stepped up the rhetoric around the long-promised Wood Innovation and Design Centre (WIDC), saying it would be the world’s tallest wood building.

Pat Bell, the Jobs Minister, also repeated the promise, making it difficult for Mr. Falcon, then responsible for the province’s purse strings, to pull back.

“That was an unfortunate description,” said Mr. Falcon in an interview. “As chair of Treasury Board and finance minister, I made it very clear it was not something that should be talked about because it was clearly not something we could deliver on with the dollars available.”

The mayor of Prince George at the time, Dan Rogers, said Ms. Clark’s public announcement that the wooden tower would be the world’s tallest meant the province had committed to a massive project.

“Obviously, when Premier Clark announced a 10-storey building, we were really excited,” Mr. Rogers said in an interview.

“When we did the math, it represented a $100-million investment.”

Mr. Falcon, who was replaced as Finance Minister after announcing he would not be running again in the coming election, said he is a long-time friend of Dan McLaren, one of the disgruntled proponents of the project, first mentioned in the government’s Throne Speech in 2009.

Mr. McLaren and another local businessman named Brian Fehr have alleged that the Jobs Minister made promises and assurances to them that Mr. Fehr’s proposal, using land controlled by Mr. McLaren, would be shortlisted for the government contract to build the Wood Centre. That proposal did not make the short list, however, and an $8.9-million loan to Mr. McLaren by a public trust fund is now in default.

Mr. Falcon said he was careful to stay out of the development of the project because of his association with Mr. McLaren and said he never tried to set up a meeting for the Prince George businessman with the Premier. He said he was not aware that Mr. McLaren had assembled a significant amount of land in the city’s downtown until much later in the process.

“I always advised Dan the same thing, the only commitment I was ever aware of around this property was the $25-million commitment from government, and that was all we would be spending. … The dollar commitment from government never varied. The issue that Dan McLaren constantly complained to me about was that it had been described by the current Premier and Minister Bell that it was going to be the world’s largest wood construction building.”

As the head of Treasury Board, his refusal to budge on the dollar figure effectively killed the project that Mr. McLaren was counting on because a smaller building would not use all the land Mr. McLaren had assembled with the loan from the public trust.

“What I kiboshed was that this was going to be the world’s tallest wood building. I said that was not going to be possible with the dollars available,” he said.

The former finance minister acknowledged that he was under pressure to reconsider.
“That wasn’t particularly well-received by anyone, including Dan. But that was the only commitment we were aware of at Treasury Board and certainly we didn’t have the fiscal room to make the world’s tallest wood building.”


Christy Clark brushes off criticism from Kevin Falcon about wood building
CBC News, Mar 11, 2013.

B.C. Premier Christy Clark continues to face criticism from within her own party, this time from former finance minister Kevin Falcon, over her promises to build a new centre for wood innovation in Prince George.

In 2011, Clark said the government would build "the world's tallest multi-use wood building" to house the new research centre.

That led many to conclude the building would have to be at least 10 storeys tall to match the size of existing wood buildings. Some estimates put the cost of a 10-storey wood structure at $100 million.

Falcon says it was clearly not something the province could deliver, because the province had only committed $25 million to the project.
On Sunday he told The Globe and Mail the premier overstepped the limits of what the province was willing to pay for the new building.

Falcon came second to Clark in the B.C. Liberal's 2011 leadership race and is not running again in the upcoming May election, leading to speculation he may be trying to distance himself from Clark with his comments, perhaps in preparation for a run for federal politics.

He was not at the legislature on Monday when the premier was forced to sidestep questions from reporters about his comments, saying she did not know what motivated Falcon's words.

"I don't know what motivates anybody's comments, but the thing is, at the end of the day, this project is happening," said Clark.

"Particularly over a period of time...projects will change, the scope of things will change, budgets will change."

But NDP leader Adrian Dix said he was not impressed by Clark's explanation.

"Clearly the government, on this issue in terms of its fiscal management, has been found wanting — not by me, but by Mr. Falcon," said Dix.

The Wood Innovation and Design Centre will be built at the old Prince George Hotel site on George Street and is expected to house both academic and research programs focused on advancing B.C.'s expertise in wood-related products.

It is not the first time the project has been in the news. Last month a Prince George developer alleged that Jobs Minister Pat Bell personally promised him he would be short listed for the project, but the minister insisted everything was handled properly.

Monday, March 11, 2013

BC Liberals Dissing their own Party: It's about time

I'm not seeing the problem, Bill Bennett. People who aren't running are tired of the sorry b.s. that Christy Clark's government has been spewing and the crap she and her minions have been up to. Bennett has been part of this government for a while now, he likely knows a lot more about the stuff that's been going on behind the scenes than most of us. Don't get pissed off your political career is in jeopardy. Maybe its your party's (mis)management, bad public policies and the hurt your BC Liberal party has unleashed on a whole lot of voters over the last decade that is going to get all of your butts thrown out of office. 

You're also not going to hear any weeping since all of the current MLA's will get "transitional" funding if they get voted out of office. And unlike the majority of voters, politicians are getting gold-star pension plans while in office. 


Critical BC Liberals not running again, says Bennett

By Andrew MacLeod, 11 Mar 2013, 
BC Liberal MLAs who have said they won't run in the May 14 election are creating problems for the governing party, Bill Bennett said today.

"There's an issue with a whole bunch of people who aren't running again, who aren't invested the way you are when you are running," said Bennett, who is minister of community, sport and cultural development and the BC Liberals election platform co-chair.

"You think you can just say whatever you feel like saying and there's no consequences and for them I guess there aren't," he said.

He acknowledged he's frustrated. "I want to win. I want to win personally and I want to see our party win. Seeing people not running again, they've taken their eye of the ball. It's not about them anymore."

Bennett made the comments on a day when the Globe and Mail quoted former finance minister Kevin Falcon saying Premier Christy Clark made promises in Prince George for a 10-storey wood frame building to serve as the Wood Innovation and Design Centre, even though he'd told her there wasn't enough money for a building of that scale. 

Falcon, who came second in the BC Liberal leadership contest Clark won, has also recently publicly criticized the government over the controversial ethnic outreach memo.

While Bennett did not name names, around 17 of the current BC Liberal MLAs have announced they don't intend to run in May's election.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee's Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Find him on Twitter or reach him here.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Will Premier Christy Clark's grovelling be enough? Not a chance

Vancouver Courier Editorial Cartoon 
Geoff Olsen, Vancouver Courier, March 6, 2013.

Will Premier Christy Clark's grovelling be enough?

Les Leyne, Vancouver, Courier, March 05, 2013.
The days of good alternatives are gone for Premier Christy Clark's government. All that's left now is to figure out the least worst alternative.

Six weeks before the election campaign begins, she spent Monday accepting a symbolic cabinet resignation, apologizing profusely for the ethnic outreach scandal and begging for time while her deputy minister digs into the job of investigating, among other people, her.

She also took 90 minutes to smooth things over with her disenchanted caucus. That was the only clear win of the day for her. She managed to convince those present to walk past reporters without saying anything inflammatory about her leadership. (Not counting Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Kash Heed, who took a family time-out and didn't bother attending.)

It got so bad that at one point she was apologizing for the first apology, telling reporters that she offered her sincere regrets for not returning to the legislature last week to deliver the government's first apology in person.

That was the clumsy attempt Deputy Premier Rich Coleman read on her behalf, apologizing for the plan B.C. Liberals hatched last year to co-opt government multicultural staff for political advantage and design apologies for historical ethnic wrongs for quick political wins. The obvious question is whether the whirlpool generated by the leak of the plan will take her down along with John Yap, who resigned as advanced education and multiculturalism minister.

Last week, some fed-up cabinet ministers appeared ready to call her out. That prospect faded after an emergency weekend cabinet meeting and Monday's extended caucus session. But her cryptic remark Monday about what lies ahead raised the possibility she could conceivably take herself out of play if the situation worsens. "When we have all the facts and the report is tabled, we will likely be required to take further action, and I will take that action," she told the media.

It could just mean she's intent on cleaning up the mess. But all the leaked documents to date show that her office is deeply involved.

A document from a December 2011 meeting to co-ordinate the ethnic outreach effort lists several people from the premier's office. They include former deputy chief of staff Kim Haakstad, who resigned last week, and "outreach director" Pamela Martin. (Martin, a former TV personality, was identified as the overall lead for one particular part of the strategy: "Tying faith into plan - reach through faith." It described multi-faith roundtables and "identifying our supporters in key faith groups.")

The Opposition said the list contradicts Clark's assertion last week that her people weren't involved in crafting the plan and that Haakstad merely distributed it. The Opposition has turned its document leaks over to John Dyble, deputy minister to the premier, who is running the investigation.

Yap stepped aside only because multiculturalism was his portfolio. He only assumed responsibility in March 2012, months after the offending documents were circulated. He said he was caught completely off-guard last week when they were aired and pointed to his (inept) attempt to defend the government as proof.

So a minister resigned honourably to take responsibility for something he knew nothing about. But where does that leave a premier who says she wants to take just as much responsibility and has at least four direct office staff implicated in the scandal?

Clark told the house "there may be new details that emerge . . . when that review is delivered, I will act on the recommendations . . . because British Columbians deserve to know not only that I am sorry but that I am prepared to accept responsibility."

It was a day of abject grovelling for the most part, which isn't the best way to build political momentum. The only half-hearted defence from Clark was that the plan was just a concept. "It seems apparent at the moment that most of that document - particularly the things that most of us, including me, find most offensive - was not acted on."

It's Dyble who will write the end of this story. He and three other deputy-level officials are investigating the affair. Dyble has already interviewed Haakstad and has free range to talk to anyone in government who knows about the scheme. So, rather than gearing up for a high-energy campaign, Clark is obviously braced for more bad news. What she plans to do about it is anyone's guess.

BC Liberals Put Families who need Child Care Last

Well, she's all about "Families First" right? The new $55 a month "tax benefit" is offensive coming from someone who is a parent. A study last year reported one third of children starting kindergarten in Vancouver were not ready to start in terms of reaching expected learning and social milestones. This equals to a significant number of children starting out their school careers at a disadvantage. What is the government doing about that? Absolutely nothing. It is an issue that should concern all of us. BC needs all of our kids to be successful, educated and contributing members of society. Our future as a province depends on it.
About 200 protesters gathered outside Premier Christy Clark's constituency office in Vancouver's Point Grey neighbourhood Saturday afternoon to demand affordable public child care.

The rally, organized by the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of BC, is urging the province adopt the "$10-a-day plan" for affordable child care, which would see parents pay $10 a day for daycare with the province picking up the rest of the tab.
Many of those at the rally hope to see B.C. create a program like Quebec's, which provides subsidized childcare for $7 a day.

In the recent budget, the government promised a $55-a-month child-care tax benefit for families with children under age six, starting in 2015.

Irene Lanzinger, speaking for the BC Federation of Labour, says the tax benefit does nothing to help families who already face expensive child-care fees and housing prices.

"Well, it's not enough, and it's not geared toward childcare," Lanziger said. "We need something that specifically increases childcare and makes child care more affordable so working families can do better."

With files from the CBC's Farrah Merali

Thursday, March 07, 2013

A Scandal a Day Keeps the Voters Away: BC Liberal poll numbers signal defeat

Geeze, I think BC could have an inquiry on Shirley Bond alone. She's been so successful at keeping below the radar while being up to her eyeballs in many things.

A quick scan of both rags for Prince George brings up zilch on this story. Maybe this is why print media is dying - too much coverage of bake sales, and the like, while local media stop doing its job and reporting on real issues that are important to readers and voters.

A new headache for the Clark government
Sean Leslie, Victoria/CKNW(AM980), 3/6/2013.

It's the last thing the Clark government needs: Another scandal.

Cabinet ministers Pat Bell and Shirley Bond are under fire for their alleged roles in trying to influence a 25-million dollar government project in Prince George.

At issue is whether Bell and Bond exerted pressure to secure funding for a wood development centre in their hometown of Prince George; then left two local businessman who put land together for the project out hundreds of thousands of dollars when they didn't make the short list.

New Democrat M.L.A. Maurine Karagianis is calling for a full investigation.
"These are very serious allegations, not to be taken lightly not to be brushed off by the jobs minister."

Jobs Minister Pat Bell says he did nothing wrong by asking the Northern Development Trust to lend money to the unlucky developers.

"We do exactly that Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the member opposite would do that if she had the opportunity as well."

Premier Christy Clark is standing by her ministers.


B.C. election outlook: Is Christy Clark's goose cooked?

By Michael Smyth, The Province March 7, 2013.

For Clark, a recent series of political pratfalls may have sealed her doom, and an election win in May looks as impossible as ever.

For Dix, his rival's self-destructive habits have put him on a fast-track to the premier's office. Judging by the polls, and the Liberals' screw-ups, it looks impossible for Dix to lose.

Now the pollsters and political scientists are weighing in: Dix has a big lead and his opponent is mired in scandal. He should win — and fairly easily, too.

And, unfortunately for Clark, she's a lot farther behind than 10 points and she's probably fallen farther back as a result of the ethnic-outreach scandal.

"I think the last week has pretty much baked it," said the University of B.C.'s Richard Johnston. "A week is a long time in politics and all that, but Dix would have to succumb to massive hubris to blow it."

But Clark has a new disadvantage going into this campaign: the fresh ethnic-outreach scandal that forced the resignation of her deputy and a cabinet minister.

"Too many setbacks," observed Allan Warnke, of Vancouver Island University. "For the B.C. Liberals, nothing had to go wrong."

Warnke said the scandal will blunt the effect of Liberal attack ads against Dix over the 1999 memo-to-file affair, in which Dix back-dated a memo in the casino scandal that brought down former NDP premier Glen Clark.

"The negative ads are dead," he said. "Unless there is an 'April Surprise' the Libs can spring, or a huge error or indiscretion involving prominent New Democrats, Dix and the NDP are home-free."

Pollster Mario Canseco, though, points to the party's "phenomenal" voter-retention rate. "Roughly nine in 10 people who voted for the NDP under Carole James are still with the party under Adrian Dix," said Canseco, of Angus Reid Public Opinion.

"Conversely, the retention rate for the Liberals is about 66 per cent, so a third of their voters have left them."

Given all that, Hamish Telford thinks the Liberals shouldn't plan on shocking the world, but plan on picking up the pieces of a shattered party. "Forget about winning and focus solely on winning enough seats to save the party," said Telford, of the University of the Fraser Valley.

"If they come back with fewer than five or 10 seats, I suspect the Liberal Party will disappear."

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