December 23, 2006

Dec. 23, 2006: BC Rail Memory Lane

Update and Correction - at bottom.

What would Christmas season be without something to read?

After posting yesterday (Dec. 22, 2006: Basi / Basis - Virk - Third Parties ) , I had occasion to look at the posts on Frost Hits the Rhubarb May 22, 2005 - May 27, 2005 and I was surprised at the amount of currently relevant information posted that week. The following is just one excerpt. See that post for the links, sections highlighted, etc. This is intended just to give an idea. FHTR

Frost Hits the Rhubarb May 22 - 27, 2005

Search, bearing in mind that computers are stupid so try different versions, for example:

Chretien / Chrétien
BC Rail / B.C. Rail

Example: CN is a Crown Corp.; yet, while receiving public money, the Canadian citizenry are not privy to much information. Read the excerpt that follows with this in mind: which of the following are involved?

* ports,
* LNG terminal(s),
* pipeline(s),
* shipping
* business expansion in BC,
* Canada-China business and business networks,
* expansion of business preparatory to the 2010 Olympics. . . and afterward?

and one would be remiss in not mentioning

* friends in government

The Big Question: Who are providing the private money mentioned here and who benefit?

[.... The following is from the BC / British Columbia Provincial Legislature ]

Hansard: 2004 Legislative Session: 5th Session, 37th Parliament -- B.C. RAIL SPENDING ON MAINTENANCE AND OPERATIONS MAY 18, 2004, Volume 25, Number 16, [ Page 11199 ] -- Additionally, you might want to follow that link for these; .... "Impact of government policies on airport authorities" and possibly "Destination ImagiNation competition"

J. MacPhail: Three days until this place shuts down until the fall, three days until the government can hide from questions on B.C. Rail, and I'm sure they're all relieved. But before the cabinet heads off for the barbecue circuit for the summer, maybe the Premier can tell this House how much money B.C. Rail is spending right now to spruce up operations before the Premier hands it over to CN for 990 years.

Hon. G. Campbell: As you know, Mr. Speaker, the B.C. Rail investment partnership agreement is before the competition board. At the time when that is complete, everyone will have all of that information. .... In terms of what B.C. Rail is doing, it's trying to keep an ongoing operation that works for its shippers, and that's what we would expect it to do as we go through this transition period.

Mr. Speaker: The Leader of the Opposition has a further question.

J. MacPhail: Well, isn't that interesting? An ongoing operation. Here's what we know. The government has spent $14 million, much of it on lawyers and spin, preparing for the handover of B.C. Rail to CN, the new owner. But until today we didn't know that B.C. Rail is also spending $1 million a month on upgrades, including brand-new B.C. Rail trucks and vehicles before CN takes control. In fact, these vehicles are labelled as non–revenue generating, but they're shiny, they're new, and they're big.

Again to the Premier: can he tell the House why B.C. Rail is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on a taxpayer-financed gift to CN in the form of brand-new B.C. Rail trucks and vehicles?

Hon. G. Campbell: I'm sure the member opposite would understand this. When there's a transaction that takes place, B.C. Rail has an ongoing operation and maintenance of its fleet. That's part of what the agreement would obviously have expected. You wouldn't have expected B.C. Rail to close down while we worked through the completion of this agreement. But let me say that within the next few days, I'm sure this agreement will be completed.

Within the next few days, there will be a billion dollars of private sector investment that will come into British Columbia. Within the next few days, we will begin opening up the north to opportunities, to passenger rail service, to gateway service in Prince George, to a new Prince Rupert terminal and port that will open up huge opportunities to Peace River farmers. Tourism will benefit. Northern communities will benefit. Regional communities will benefit.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you this. The B.C. Rail investment partnership is going to make a huge difference in the future of British Columbia.

[1420] Jump to this time in the webcast" [Go to the site for this. NJC]

J. MacPhail: This is the government that said this deal would be done by March 31, 2004. This is a government that doesn't have a clue what's happening at B.C. Rail right now.

Here's the expenditure document for April 2004. According to this April 2004 status report…. It's about B.C. Rail capital spending. It was leaked to the opposition.


Mr. Speaker: Order, please, hon. members. Let us hear the question.

J. MacPhail: In the first four months of this year, B.C. Rail has spent $675,000 on brand-new vehicles for its yards, vehicles that are listed as non-revenue vehicles — pricey present to CN, a company that I'm sure can afford to buy its own shiny new trucks. It's just one more example of the B.C. Liberals keeping costs secret about how much this B.C. Rail deal is costing taxpayers. They're predicting that they will spend $1 million on these shiny new trucks. Again to the Premier…


Mr. Speaker: Order, please.

J. MacPhail: …are these brand-new rail yard trucks and vehicles part of the contract of sale with CN, or did the government buy these for CN as another taxpayer-financed token of appreciation for helping B.C. Liberals break their election promise?

Hon. G. Campbell: You know, I think the member opposite clearly doesn't understand that capital upgrade and maintenance budgets are part of an ongoing operation. The ongoing operation of B.C. Rail is obviously critical as we move forward. [If you are virtually giving away BC Rail, why would this be necessary? NJC]

Let me just say to the member opposite that the great thing about the B.C. Rail investment partnership is that the taxpayers won't have to pay a million dollars a month to upgrade equipment. The taxpayers won't have to invest in an upgrade of the system, because the private sector will be doing that. The private sector will be creating jobs in British Columbia.

[FHTR comment:] Who are the private sector players? Make an educated guess; then start digging.

There is more posted during that week which is relevant currently.

Update and Correction: If you check further on the Frost Hits the Rhubarb May 22, 2005 post, note my error in this:

"Canadian taxpayers have just gifted resident of France, Ismaili from Pakistan the Aga Khan and his organization with $30-million for his Ottawa 'centre for pluralism';..."

Correction: The Aga Khan, leader of the Ismaili Muslims, has been reported to have been born in Kenya. It was his grandfather and/or father who left the Gujarat, India, to live in Kenya, Africa, some time after Partition of India and changes in India's tax laws. That was connected to Ismaili tithing, I understand. Subsequently and reported variously, the Aga Khan has studied in or lived in or had citizenship in France, Switzerland, the UK. I have read of some past connection of the Ismailis to Iran, as well. Check further.

It was my error from checking when I was tired; then, I compounded it. With individuals having such wide-ranging, international backgrounds, it is not possible to assume a Khan came from Pakistan, nor from one the Muslim areas of north India.


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