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Those who have followed my checkered career will know of my intense dislike of the CanWest dailies in our town, The Vancouver (Seriously West Coast) Sun and The Province. They are simply lousy papers who play down stories contrary to the government’s interest or policy and save their criticisms until after an election is safely behind them.

If you took Wednesday’s Toronto Globe and Mail – the National Edition – and looked at the front page, left column you would have seen this headline – “Green Premier’s Agenda hits snag as energy plan rejected” with the sub headline “Commission says Campbell’s initiative not public interest”. This was followed by a full article by the eminent Mark Hume outlining how the British Columbia Utilities Commission (BCUC) has roundly criticized the private rivers scheme of the Campbell government.

I’m not going to deal with the issues themselves today – the Save Our Rivers Society will issue a press release in the next few days.

This story is a block buster with shares of Plutonic, one of the major players in the private energy scam, taking a sizeable plunge. The Globe and Mail knows it’s a major story so let’s see what the local CanWest papers had to say.

The Province told us about hoods on bail (this story has taken on the status of regular feature with this paper), the sale of the “fast ferries”, a story about Translink and the Ferries and the perils of driving while using a cell phone, There was the start of a housing project, two full pages about the heat wave, a Canadian killed in Puerto Rico and how you should take your garbage with you (including unopened CanWest papers one assumes). We have now reached the op-ed page and nary a word about the BCUC ruling!

As we move on, we have HST and restaurants, guilty letter carriers and Hutterites and photo ID. On and on it goes, a big story on tanning beds on A 20 and we’re through the News section. Knowing this paper’s penchant for burying stories I even checked out the Sports section.

The Vancouver (seriously West Coast) Sun is the same except that Vaughn Palmer, who usually comments upon the news and doesn’t report it, uses the story for his column and obviously is checking back tears as he relates this tragic condemnation of his Liberal government.

So here we have it – The Globe and Mail, on the front page, not in the BC section, fully reports this blockbuster story while it doesn’t outrank lost dogs and losing BC Lions quarterbacks with “seriously west coast” CanWest.

I said I won’t deal with the finer points because Save Our Rivers Society (www.saveourrivers.ca – check out its Board of Advisors) – has people much more knowledgeable that I to do this. I will, however, give you a political opinion.

The Campbell government has based its very existence on the its rivers policy which is a shameful sham. It encourages the destruction of our rivers beyond repair so that large international companies can produce power which MUST be purchased by BC Hydro at prices 2 to 3 times the value on the spot market. Because this power is mostly produced during the spring run off when BC Hydro had fill reservoirs and lots of power, private power it’s all but useless for British Columbia customers and will be exported at a huge loss by BC Hydro. The policy is madness and if you doubt me, read Dr. John Calvert’s book, Liquid Gold. (Dr. Calvert is on the SORS Board of Advisors.) Given these facts no intelligent observers, as are the members of BCUC, could fail to see that the Government’s rivers policy was a colossal mistake.

Now here’s what happens. Because BCUC offered some positive words about the Burrard Thermal Plant and Site “C” the government will hop on these to justify legislating the BCUC decision out of existence. I need hardly tell you how irresponsible this will be. Whatever other things the BCUC said, the condemnation of the private power scheme stands on its own. The government knows that BC Hydro can indeed phase out Burrard Thermal (which is only used in an emergency) and make up power needs by conservation, upgrades of current generators, new generators and, by exercising our powers under the Columbia River Treaty, repatriating power we send for to the US.

This issue is a political one and it involves a government and a premier with an overweening sense of infallibility which allows them holding their noses but with otherwise straight faces, protecting not the citizens but its corporate paymasters. Rather than do what is right Campbell will not permit BCUC to embarrass him. To him and his crowd, loss of face ranks far ahead of the public good.

It’s a marvelous victory for all who laboured so hard to expose and end an atrocious policy but it won’t last because – and you can bet on this – Campbell will legislate his power policy so that Plutonic’s shares will rise again at the expense of us the voters.

To this government good policy is trumped by his policy even if it’s disastrous – which this is.

5 Responses to “The BCUC and CanWest Global”

  1. Bravo Rafe!
    I am certain that Vaughan Palmer, for one, hadn’t even read the BCUC report when he began spouting factual errors, most particularly about Burrard Thermal and the impacts of BCUC on aboriginals. Hume’s report is like comparing the work of an educated adult to that of a lazy and disinterested middle school student.

    BTW, here’s my take on the final solution for the salmon fishery:

  2. Add to that my comparison of the Canwest Global boys’ work to that of Mark Hume.


  3. Mon Aug 3, 2009 — Canwest skips $18.5 million in interest payments…

    Canwest Global Communications Corp said its unit, Canwest Limited Partnership, will not make the Aug. 1 interest payment of about $18.5 million on its 9.25 percent senior subordinated notes.

    Canwest Global said under the terms of the notes, the noteholders will not be able to demand payment of about $400 million principal amount of outstanding notes prior to Sept. 1.

    Canwest is trying to stay afloat as it wrestles with a debt load of about C$4 billion….


    Canwest currently has a quoted market cap. value of $15.9 million…
    …. which represents approx. 1/4 of 1% of the value of Canwests’ debt … which means the free market essentially values Canwest as virtually worthless…. which is far, far, far below junk status.

  4. A 5 year stock chart of Canwest …


    … if your an employee of Canwest, you might want to think about how much longer until your cheques start bouncing.

  5. I have a plan. Those of us in the blogger world each contributes $10 and we mount a takeover bid for Canwest Global. I’ve already reserved the Victoria bureau and a few other positions are spoken for too but Rafe, how about you being radio & tv critic? Give us an objective review of Corus Radio’s contributions to a new style of news reporting.

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