Tuesday, July 14, 2009

NDP demands BC Liberal government release full BC Rail sale deal on 5th anniversary, with line abandonment possible starting today

The BC NDP is demanding that the BC Liberal government release the full text of the deal that saw BC Rail sold to CN Rail for $1 billion in the province's largest-ever privatization.

And it says that as of today, CN can begin abandoning rail lines that it guaranteed would continue running for five years after the deal.

July 14 marks the 5th anniversary of the BC Rail deal being implemented, following the announcement of its privatization sale to CN on November 25, 2003.

"This whole deal is tainted with scandal, tainted by a corruption trial," NDP MLA Leonard Krog told a news conference in Vancouver Tuesday morning.

Krog says that after five years, CN is now allowed to abandon rail lines previously run by BC Rail and guaranteed to continuing operating for a five-year term.

"I want to know what communities are impacted. I want to know CN's plans," Krog said. "If rail lines are abandoned the consequences could be devastating. Those communities deserve to know if they're on the hit list."

The full BC Rail deal agreement has never been released but in a highly-censored version first obtained in August 2004 in response to an NDP Freedom Of Information request, the text not severed shows that CN can stop service to portions of the rail line five years after the agreement was ratified on July 14, 2004.

Krog said Premier Gordon Campbell should release deal and let the public know what might happen with the former BC Rail lines but is more concerned with "ducking responsibility for the BC Rail corruption trial of former BC government aides David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.

“If Gordon Campbell really cared about transparency, he would release the full B.C. Rail contract. Instead, his government continues to stonewall and refuses to answer even the most basic questions about the impact of this scandal for British Columbians,” said Krog.

When I asked if the NDP will request that CN release the full details if the BC Liberal government doesn't, Krog responded: "Excellent suggestion."

"But it's the premier's obligation to disclose this, not CN's - they're the purchaser," Krog added.

And in response to another question I posed - whether the NDP would consider suggestions by BC Rail deal bloggers that the party pursue a legal injunction to block the deal - Krog said it would be extremely difficult and expensive.

"You would have to have legal standing for an injunction. There would be a separate hearing, you would have to hire legal counsel," he said.

"The opposition is not in a position from a legal or financial aspect to bring about a private action," Krog concluded.

I agree.

Having had direct experience with one of my clients who attempted to win a legal injunction against the BC government and a crown corporation over a previous privatization, I know that the costs are enormous - $200,000 in that case - legal fees plus government costs awarded against my client - and the odds decidedly poor at best.

Spending limited time and resources in a legal battle that is almost sure to be lost and lost at great cost is not a good strategy.



Anonymous said...

this has already cost us a great deal!Some times it's just not about the money !what the hell are you telling us bill!

Anonymous said...

I understand the province is paying Basi and Virk's legal bills. Surely an argument could be advanced that the public interest would be served by having the province pay for an injunction over the BC Rail properties that are threatened by what may well be a tainted commercial deal.

Even if that weren't the case, surely there are lawyers who care enough about the future of this province to put in some pro bono time on behalf of the people.

The Campbell government, apparently, couldn't care less.

Anonymous said...

Once again people . . . you voted for these crooks and now you have them for another 46 months.

And the NDP by voting for and retaining their brain-dead and unelectable leader are as guilty as the trailer park clowns who voted for Campbell and his Howe Street Mafia.

BC Democracy in its perverted form is being served here . . . you really are electing a government of "YOUR" peers.


DPL said...

As I understand it, and maybe Bill could enlarge on the court costs while government folks are in court as "innocent till proven guilty" They have been accused but are in the catagory of "Innocent unless proven other wise. If folks want an injunction set up a fund, collect lots of money and go for it. If anyone, government included were doing shady deals it will come out when the folks are actually sworn in and have no place to hide.

Angela said...

Thanks Bill. Something new to me, this deal of secrecy. Seems to me it should have been made public five years ago if it was the sale of a public company. How can our government get away with such behaviour ? Oh, right. They're our all-knowing, all-powerful, to-question-them-would-be-blasphemous Government. Like I always say, don't blame the Liberals.

BC Mary said...

The Campbell Government did the BCR-CN deal. So it seems obvious that the Opposition should seize this opportunity to oppose the deal.

This pivotal 5th BCR anniversary date has very little to do with Basi and Virk. This contract date is between us (as BCRail) and CN. It's still mostly secret. But that didn't stop it from maturing yesterday with new demands which need to be studied and acted upon. And here's a serious tip: I suggest we watch for Patrick Broe and/or his OmniTRAX Company who may very well re-appear on the BC Rail scene.

An injunction would put a HOLD any further deals, one example being the virtual gift of BCR lands for $1.

An injunction would give the people their first, fair chance to decide the options. Re-possession of the BC Railway is one option, if cause is shown. And apparently there are "causes" in the form of issues unfilfilled. Or so we hear.

There's the possibility of certain rail lines being abandoned, which triggers other issues for the communities left in the lurch. And more. The agreement is said to be 450 pages or 600 or I've heard even 1,500 pages long. Whatever. SHOW US THE DEAL.

This is the time to assess whether CN has fulfilled its obligations under the agreement before the final lockdown.

Citizens want to fulfill their own duties of oversight. And in my view, the Loyal Opposition should be on their feet, helping the people do that. If an injunction is too expensive or too narrowly applicable, then find another way. But the Opposition in all decency must do something. This present situation is so outrageously undemocratic.

Leonard Krog's press conference on July 14, 2009 was very nice -- but it was only an appeal for "somebody else" to do something ... and I think that somebody is the BC Opposition. And the time to get started was yesterday.


Anonymous said...

Didn't CN recently say somewhere that they have no plans to abandon any of the track lines ?

I think turfing that $ 400K a year BC Rail Mahoney guy should be a bigger priority than this stuff.

Anonymous said...

What the Globe has this morning on Campbell ordering the destruction of Basigate information in May of 2009 certainly casts doubt on what constitutes "legal" government in the Province of BC.

The real question is what is going to be done about this!

Waiting for the NDP (with very few exceptions)to act like an opposition party is a sick joke.

To wait for a "fair" and "free" Press in BC to report on it is an even bigger crime.

So what is left?
The People?!


Anonymous said...

The Globe did not say Campbell ordered the destruction...it was some staffer that did it. The article didn't mention who gave the orders to the staffer.

Anonymous said...

G+M today

Rosemarie Hayes, director of Messaging and Collaboration Services, Workplace Technology Services (WTS), states that at the beginning of May of this year, her department requested that backup tapes of government e-mails created prior to May of 2004 be expunged from the system. The e-mails are the subject of a legal proceeding and as such should not have been deleted, according to the government's own guidelines.

The affidavit apparently does not say who gave the order to kill the electronic records or why.

Larry said...

This case is totally unfathomable and I guess this is the way it is meant to be.
I find it unbelievable that the press in B.C. (with a few exceptions let this go on and on with virtually no comment. What can a small guy do? I didn't vote for these guys.. I have written a few letters.
If the press does not take on this corruption and sandbagging, then we are in a very sad state of affairs.
We have laws against bullying in the schoolyards, but thisGovernment bullies like no other I have seen and the people that should stand up to the bullies.. I.E. the police ,the press and the opposition (ha-ha) seem to be passing the bullies a bigger stick.
What to do. Well, I for one am at a loss.