Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Liberalizing" BC Hydro - top BC Liberal party insiders take spin control of Crown corporation - from Olympics to FOIs power flows from the Party

BC Hydro Vice-President - and BC Liberal operative - Susan Yurkovich


How BC Hydro was 'BC Liberalized' by parachuting Party into power

Top BC Liberal Party operatives help spin Olympics and Site C Dam

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday July 20, 2010

By Bill Tieleman

"I can tell you that the sooner we eliminate patronage in the province, the better off all of our public institutions are going to be."

- Gordon Campbell, as opposition leader, March 26, 1997

Top BC Liberal Party political strategists and supporters have taken over key positions at BC Hydro, and the results at the province's largest Crown corporation have become clear in the last several months.

Sixteen senior managers, all making over $100,000 a year, were seconded to do low-level jobs like selling tickets for the Vancouver Olympics, as I reported exclusively last week in 24 hours.

Who will pay for BC Hydro sending 67 employees at a cost of at least $2.48 million to work on the Olympics for up to five years? BC Hydro customers will, through higher electricity bills.

Why would BC Hydro give up so many staff to subsidize the Olympics? Could it be because people like Susan Yurkovich and Steve Vanagas are top BC Hydro executives who also happen to be key B.C. Liberal Party operatives?

Yurkovich was senior vice president, corporate affairs and was also responsible for BC Hydro's 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games operations until this month. She is now VP responsible for the Site C Dam project.

Key Liberal spin doctors

Yurkovich was also a member of the B.C. Liberal Party's secret central 2005 election campaign committee. And in the past year alone she has donated $1,450 to the B.C. Liberals.

Vanagas is BC Hydro's director of communications and public affairs and reported directly to Yurkovich. Vanagas came to BC Hydro straight out of Premier Gordon Campbell's office, where he was deputy chief of staff responsible for communications.

Both Yurkovich and Vanagas were parachuted into BC Hydro headquarters in 2006 after the provincial election.

Yurkovich has strong federal Conservative Party ties, having worked under the Brian Mulroney administration for B.C. cabinet minister Tom Siddon. She also sits as a provincial appointee on the University of B.C. board of governors and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

Yurkovich was also a Canfor vice-president, serving under the term of Canfor president David Emerson, later a turncoat MP who switched from the federal Liberal to Conservative party in order to stay in a cabinet minister job.

Vanagas is a former staffer at the right-wing Fraser Institute and former reporter at the defunct BC Report conservative newsmagazine.

FOI requests now sent upstairs

But just in case the BC Liberals didn't have enough ability to spin BC Hydro affairs with two of their most loyal followers in charge of communications, they went even further.

A government "letter of expectation" issued in April orders BC Hydro to provide it with all freedom of information requests before releasing them -- no doubt including my FOI that revealed a $140,000-a-year manager was seconded by BC Hydro to be a "Ticket Representative" during the Olympics and that a $137,916 a year manager worked as a "supervisor, event services."

The letter of expectation has led the non-profit B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association to ask that B.C.'s information and privacy commissioner investigate possible political interference in FOI requests.

Friends on the board

The BC Hydro board of directors has also been stacked with top B.C. Liberal Party supporters.

From Jamie Brown, president of Canaccord Financial subsidiary Canaccord Genuity and son of long-time BC Liberal donor Peter Brown, to Larry Blain, the premier's top privatizer of public services as CEO of Partnerships BC, to BC Liberal donor and former BC Gas CEO Stephen Bellringer, the party is well-served at the directors' table.

From top to bottom, when it comes to BC Hydro the real power flows from the BC Liberal Party.

.

18 comments:

DPL said...

That's what friends are for, in Gordo's twisted little mind. My God , this province is run by a weird bunch

Anonymous said...

Not much diferent from the NDP.

Remember Bob Williams? Crown Corporations Secretariat.

Marc Elisen? Patronage pork gone wild (was part of the NDP Ver. 1.0) and then came back with a BC Hydro appointment during NDP Ver. 2.0.

Now Communications? Ron Johnson got quite a bit of NDP largresse considering that he ran as a candidate and so did his better half as NDPers.

There are quite a few more "non NDPers" within that are recognisable but no sense in going through those here.

You'll be an interesting read once we get our NDP Party into government once again.

Without the largesse and patronage that is evident. Would be a great point of policy to run on don't you think. A good policy would leave any NDP offical, campaign worker and such like such as Gerry Scott out of the picture.

Hope you're going to be a watchdog for Carole James as you are now.

Vanagas does have a background in communications.

Gerald said...

When these Liberals criminals are turfed from office (hopefully through Recall in the Fall) every corner of this province will have to be fumigated to eradicate all of the party cockroaches that have infested all corners of the government.

Anonymous said...

"When these Liberals criminals are turfed from office (hopefully through Recall in the Fall) every corner of this province will have to be fumigated to eradicate all of the party cockroaches that have infested all corners of the government."

and then we - the NDP silverfish - will then take over the infestation.

Bwahahahahahh..

Beware of those little things in the corner of the NDP HQ.

Those are eggs.

Gerald said...

Anonymous 9:19---- The difference is that the wholesale looting of this province by the lieberals is downright criminal and many of them should be in jail...
Your hatred of the NDP is for something you think they may do... My hatred of the lieberals is based on their actions of the last 9 years.
The most dishonest,fiscally irresponsible,crony ridden ,unsympathetic ,hypocritical government probably in the history of Canada.
Government of the people ,by corporations for the corporations.
I can't wait till they all scurry off when the lights come on.

full disclosure said...

I see the BC Boy is at it again..he always seems to forget who's actually IN POWER and ruining the furniture....

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous 9:19---- The difference is that the wholesale looting of this province by the lieberals is downright criminal and many of them should be in jail...
Your hatred of the NDP is for something you think they may do... My hatred of the lieberals is based on their actions of the last 9 years.
The most dishonest,fiscally irresponsible,crony ridden ,unsympathetic ,hypocritical government probably in the history of Canada.
Government of the people ,by corporations for the corporations.
I can't wait till they all scurry off when the lights come on."

and you figure the NDP will be very nice and run government perfectly with absoltely no complaints, no power brokerages, errors. You're living in a dream world.

The previous NDP admistration wasn't exactly the best one B.C. has ever had, they were granted alot better than the stupidity of the Gordon Campbell goverment (hard to beleive that Gordo has even exceeded the mess VanderZalm caused when he was Premier).

The NDP put their own people in cosy jobs, and a few received many goodies. Every party does it. I don't like it and have said to many in politcs.

Bill here was a benificiary of a political goodie although he didn't stay long as did his friend David Schreck.

Be careful for what you wish for.

You might get it in the end.

and so will everyone else.

I would rather see a good government working for everyone in B.C. to build our province. Not a government in it for themselves.

Stan Mortensen said...

Bill, what would be interesting to see are the employment contracts and their respective termination clauses which I suspect are in the 6 and 7 figure range.
You can always tell when the right wing feels threatened, they are always fighting old elections. At issue is not what happened 10 years ago but what is happening with this government today.
When they can't defend their existing positions they look to the past with the argument, that while we may be bad, the other guy is even worse.
I suppose if we wanted we could go back to the time the BC Liberals tried to destroy the BC Economy during WACs' time by creating a run on the parity bonds.
During my time as a Board member for the last days of the Social Credit Party, that was one of my biggest frustrations trying to get people to focus on the here and now and the future, there was too much time spent fighting old elections and castigating people who were either dead, dying or retired from active political life.

Anonymous said...

What government agencies or projects did you work for, Bill, when the NDP was in power?

I bet you it was quite a few.

cherylb said...

And none of them want to spend a dime of taxpayers money to help out the poor, the disadvantaged, the mentally ill, the elderly. They sure don't mind using taxpayer money to set themselves up though....

Bill Tieleman said...

I am amused that supporters of the BC Liberal Party and its takeover of BC Hydro can only complain about NDP administrations going back decades.

But I will take the bait - here are a few points I'd love to see cogent responses to:

1) In their first term the BC Liberals fired all the roughly 200 public service, merit-hired communications officers in the province and replaced every one of them with Order In Council appointments - meaning they serve at the pleasure of one Premier Gordon Campbell.

Some were rehired - and took out BC Liberal Party membership cards - others were terminated.

Now every single communications person in government reports to the Premier's office - for forest fire info, highways reports - you name it - all centrally controlled.

I would urge the NDP to reverse that and restore a public service communications operation. This was the most obvious propaganda move by the BC Liberals.

2. The BC Liberals were merciless in attacking anyone with an NDP background if hired to do any work for a Crown corporation, regardless of qualifications.

The issue is sheer unmitigated hypocrisy - Gordon Campbell made it a major concern and then went far further than anything the NDP had ever done.

I don't argue that no one with a BC Liberal card can work at BC Hydro or anywhere else - but when top Party operatives take over the top communications jobs full time it indicates extreme command and control.

3. The Board of BC Hydro is obviously made up of government appointees and it is their right to put similar minded people in place. My concern is that from top to bottom BC Hydro has been "Liberalized".

The NDP - to their credit I believe - did appoint prominent non-NDP business people and others to just about every board and commission in the province. The BC Liberals scorched those boards and overwhelmed them with supporters.

With the possible exception of WorkSafe BC and BC Ferries, where the union is able to nominate one labour-background director, I can't find any other of the thousands of board with appointees with a labour or NDP background.

I think good governance uses people of all political persuasions - and those with none - to execute the government's stated intentions in a fair and transparent way.

4. I worked for Premier Glen Clark as Communications Director for 6 months before and through the 1996 election.

When I set up my communications consulting firm in 1998 I did work for some Crown corporations and provincial government departments but it was never a majority of my work at any time - most of my clients were and are unions, labour organizations, non-profits and businesses.

Did I appreciate the work for government? Of course. Was I qualified? Absolutely. Did I charge fair market rate? Absolutely.

The record is in Public Accounts - feel free to look it up - I'm not embarrassed in the least.

But I was never parachuted into a Vice-President position at BC Hydro!

Anonymous said...

"But I was never parachuted into a Vice-President position at BC Hydro!"

Sure, but a soft landing at the Premier's Office albeit for a 6 month stay was alot better than what many NDP volunteers would get.

"The NDP - to their credit I believe - did appoint prominent non-NDP business people and others to just about every board and commission in the province. The BC Liberals scorched those boards and overwhelmed them with supporters."

So THAT was a credit to the NDP? Some of those appointments were indeed NDPers. Let's look at Jack Munro. Very well respected by both bsiness and labour. King of the Forest and rightly so. But he knew nothing about ferries and maritime transportation, and it showed with his handling of CFI.

You're also missing a few things here. Vanagas is not currently a BC Liberal operative. He was, but not now.

and do you think those who are known BC Liberals will be able to serve the province in one of these crown corporations when the NDP gets to be government again?

I doubt that would happen, even despite the fact that a few may have far longer experience and qualifiers in the area of interest than NDP hacks.

Hypocrisy on part of Gordon Campbell? You bet I agree 100%.

But let's finally end this sharade of favoured appointments once and for all.

The NDP can easily put a stop to the crap if they adopt something along these lines as policy:

For example: No appointment to any government ministry, agency, crown corporation, if:

(a) you worked in a campaign during the election preceding the election of an NDP government in
a middle to senior capacity (been
a chair of some part of the campaign or the Campaign Manager)

(b) you are a Director, Vice President, President or other voting official within an NDP riding association and/or have been so for the past two years prior to the election for which the NDP won to become government.

(c) same as (b) above for any NDP riding association at the federal level

(d) same as (b) if you have served on Vision Vancouver, or any NDP afflilated civic elector association for the past year prior to an election from which the NDP won government.

(e) Have been a Union Organizer for the past year prior to an elecion from which the NDP won government.

(f) You have served on the Provincial Council at any time within the past three years prior to an election from which the NDP won government, in the capacity of Director, Vice President or President.

(g) you have served in an official capacity with the NDP as a President, Vice President, Secretary, Regional Organiser or Field Organizer at any time within the past three years of an election from which the NDP formed a government.

The positions exempted would be
Contituency Assistant, Legislative Assistant and Communications Director and Princpal Secretary, since those are political positions and not public service adminsitrative positions.

Priority would be given to those who have academic and occupational background in the areas within the scope of the Ministry and Crown Corporations.

For work done for government, the above would be reduced to half the time exempted, and all such type of work would be placed out to public tender so anyone who is qualified can bid.

Seems fair to me. It would most definately end the appointments.

There are those who figure the appointments as they stand now should be there because of reward.

I say bullcrap. If you can't keep your mind on volunteering for our NDP party to help us win the next election either provincially or in our local riding, then you're no good to us here. You might as well go to the BC Liberals if you're wanting to volunteer hoping to get a nice cosy high paying job out of it.

Bill Tieleman said...

Oh it's "our" NDP is it? Somehow I doubt your authenticity! For example, how do you know Steve Vanagas is "no longer a BC Liberal operative"?

But you would exclude "union organizers" without even checking if they were NDP supporters?

I also love your including Vision Vancouver - despite the fact that many federal and even some provincial BC Liberals have supported the party.

And you would put everything out to public tender, eh? You should take a good hard look at BC Liberal government expenditures in that case - they don't even tender some of the biggest contracts.

But thanks for dropping by - always amusing.

Anonymous said...

Campbell has taken many pages from China's book. He has devalued our standard of living, to the standards of China's have nots. Campbell is a dictator, and like all good dictators, he lied, deceived and cheated to win. Why else is Canadian Intelligence, keeping an eye on BC? Fadden only said, what the BC citizens already knew. Many of us, see communism forced on us. Has anyone noticed Campbell, following the Constitution? Our Civil Rights and Liberties, have been taken away from us. Does anyone see any, Democracy and Freedom in BC? BC hydro, the FOI, is a drop in the bucket, to what that S.O.B. is really up to. So far all of my thoughts, about Campbell, have come true.

Anonymous said...

"Oh it's "our" NDP is it? Somehow I doubt your authenticity! For example, how do you know Steve Vanagas is "no longer a BC Liberal operative"? "

Friend who knows him very well. Hate to break this to you but I do have a few friends on the BC Liberal side and also many on the NDP side. This isn't East and West Berlin, Bill.



But you would exclude "union organizers" without even checking if they were NDP supporters?"

If they were NDP supporters then they would be excluded. Esp. if they held Union Office, since there could be a conflict, but if you don't want that part, take it out.

But don;t let high ranking union officials get the political goodies because of deliverance of support en masse to our party.


"I also love your including Vision Vancouver - despite the fact that many federal and even some provincial BC Liberals have supported the party."

Some how I doubt that now, with the mess that Vision is in, but look at the composition of the Vision council. Mostly NDP.

There's very little of COPE left
as you know. I don't know if Vision is constitutionally affilated with the NDP, but I do know that the Burnaby Ctizen's Association is most definately.


"And you would put everything out to public tender, eh? You should take a good hard look at BC Liberal government expenditures in that case - they don't even tender some of the biggest contracts."

So why bother continuing with that.

Put out to tender and tell people to get on the Purchasing Commission's Suppler List.

That's what I've done in doing business with the goverment when I did, and I did not always get the work.


But thanks for dropping by - always amusing.

Anytime, brother. See you at the Labour Day Festivities in Vancouver.

Anonymous said...

Campbell has taken many pages from China's book. He has devalued our standard of living, to the standards of China's have nots. Campbell is a dictator, and like all good dictators, he lied, deceived and cheated to win. Why else is Canadian Intelligence, keeping an eye on BC? Fadden only said, what the BC citizens already knew. Many of us, see communism forced on us. Has anyone noticed Campbell, following the Constitution? Our Civil Rights and Liberties, have been taken away from us. Does anyone see any, Democracy and Freedom in BC?

This comment is laughable. There is still elections, and there is still public input (see the latest on the Family Law).

To think someone has this idea that Campell is taking pages from the Chinese government. Way too funny.

You've never seen real communism and a real totalitarian state.

If you did, VanderZalm, Delaney and Tieleman would be shot a few months ago for going against the government.

Campbell is bad, but not as bad as those who run the Chinese government,

If you don't think so, live in China for a few months and openly and loudly speak against the governmen there.

We'll be interested in reading your crying to the Cdn. Embassy to get you out of Chinese jail in the Vancouver Sun.

kootcoot said...

Really Bill, AnonoMo the Wierdo is a waste of pixels - he's not even coherent, just against anything anybody says, unless maybe they quoted him and said "Right On!"

That ole well the NDP did it too, or today in Ottawa "rememember the nasty Liberals etc. etc. etc.

If I ever kill anybody (and I have to admit sometimes I feel like it) and am arrested I'll just say:

"Hey, don't blame me, it's normal, hell Cain started for Christ's sake!

Hell with that kinda logic and defense I prolly won't even need a lawyer, will I?

Anono is so all over the place he reminds me of one of my own favorite mottos when I'm accused of being biased or something similiar - I just reply - "No way, I'm an equal opportunity hater, and I hate everybody equally (with a few exceptions - those I actually like and care about).

Actually I jest, but there is a grain of truth hidden in there somewhere!

Anonymous said...

"If I ever kill anybody (and I have to admit sometimes I feel like it) and am arrested I'll just say:

"Hey, don't blame me, it's normal, hell Cain started for Christ's sake!"

For fictionally killing anyone, Kootie would be a good choice.

Would certainly relieve him out of his perceived misery.

But don't blame me. It was Cain that started hell, and Gordon Campbell just took over that file in 2002 and has done very well with it.


But there is hope for Kootcoot, if he would divert his energy to helping the NDP rather than coming up with silly comments on a blog that exists as a hobby.