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Posted on thecanadian.org you will find a report on BC Hydro by economist Erik Andersen, Sinister financial vectors at BC Hydro, and it should shock all British Columbians. I must add that I feel vindicated since I’ve been saying these things for 2 ½ years based on inferred evidence fortified by the lack of rebuttal by BC Hydro, the private power interests or the Campbell government.

The situation Gordon “Pinocchio” Campbell has got us in is all but impossible to believe, but he’s done it.

Let me quickly lay out why we have a publicly owned power company.

Back in the late 50s and early 60s then Premier W.A.C. Bennett made three decisions – he decided that Black Ball Ferries, being privately owned, would never serve any communities unless it was profitable; he decided the same thing for the old PGE railway; and he held that BC needed an abundance of cheap power for both industry and the general public so he nationalized BC Railway in 1961. Thus we had BC Ferries, BC Rail, and BC Hydro and Power Authority.

The power didn’t come cheap either fiscally or environmentally as huge dams were built on the Peace and Columbia Rivers, however Bennett had got the job done and we had an abundance of cheap power. In fact we British Columbians owned what many felt was the best power company in the world.

Enter Gordon Campbell and his energy policy of 2002. What he did was simple and it was breathtaking. So much so that many British Columbians are only now waking up to what has happened:

1.   All new power was to come from private companies and except for upgrading their facilities and Site “C” should they wish to develop that, BC HYDRO was denied the right to create new power.

2.   We were told by the government that these projects would be “run-of-river”, namely that the river would be undisturbed.

3.   We were informed that these would all be small “mom and pop” operations.

4.   We were told that BC was a net importer of energy and that these Independent Power Producers would ensure that we would be self sufficient by 2016.

For the past 2 ½ years Damien Gillis and I, along with Joe Foy and Gwen Barlee of the Wilderness Committee have been speaking around the province telling people the truth. Namely, that these plants were hugely intrusive and destructive of the rivers and their ecosystems, that the companies were huge, such as Ledcor and General Electric, that BC was not short of energy and need never be if we made some modest changes to our policy and that this independent power, because it can only be generated during the run-off, was of no use to BC Hydro since at that time their reservoirs were full and they needed no help.

As if this wasn’t bad enough, we slowly but surely learned what the deals were that Hydro was forced by the Campbell government to make with these IPP’s. And we could not believe what we learned.

To put it shortly and bluntly, Hydro was forced to buy power, on a “take or pay” basis, at double or more what they could get on the export market! If that wasn’t bad enough, HYDRO would be forced to export private power because, as explained above, it was surplus to their needs.

Erik Andersen was only known to The Common Sense Canadian through blogs he did and I was on his mailing list. We have a list of contributors, which you can find on our website at www.thecanadian.org, numbering about 25. These men and women from all walks of life and of every political stripe are asked to do a column for us from time to time for which they aren’t paid a dime.

Erik Andersen did a blog or two which dealt with the issues we’re involved with and we asked him to become one of our contributors and he kindly consented. Erik has been an economist for many years and his resume is fascinating.

On his own, Erik did a blog dealing with many of the points I have above and we asked him if he could flesh that out and give us a report we could circulate.

What Erik was able to do, because of his expertise, was to find the numbers that justified the position we had been taking for the past 2 ½ years – and then some.

I urge you to read this report and send it to friends. What we have here is theft – legalized theft of our rivers, their ecologies and our power. Not only is our power, and the profit traditionally given to the government by BC HYDRO, being sent out of the Province, but we are paying private companies to do it! We get nothing for this, nothing except the same taxes the government would get from a grocery store.

I’m not a young man anymore – in fact I’ve seen many governments come and go and have even been part of one.

Never in my life have I seen such outrageous behaviour as this. It’s made all the more shameful by the government MLA’s doing and saying nothing as their province is ravished.

Read Erik Andersen’s report and weep at the outrages inflicted and still being inflicted on British Columbia by this evil government

6 Responses to “A report on legalized theft”

  1. Myron Claridge says:

    Rafe, perhaps you mean the BC Electric Railway? The PGE was provincially owned since 1918 as it went bankrupt during World War 1-actually more complicated than that. It became British Columbia Railway in 1972 and BC Rail in 1984. TheTyee.ca had a Will McMartin article on BC Rail and its profits saying that it had a net income for 18 of 21 years in 1980-2001-March 29, 2010 TheTyee.ca It explains a lot about the finances. Did CN get its $500 million tax rebate on BC Rail?
    By the way, the Vancouver Sun had an article on Tuesday, July 17,2001 with the then BC Transport Minister Judith Reid saying “We have made our promise that we are not going to privatize or sell BC Rail.” She was echoed in the comments by the newly appointed chairman of BC Rail. Both stated that the aging passenger equipment would be replaced or refurbished at a projected cost of $30-40 million. They talked about the monetary issues of BC Rail but if one followed the Van Sun business pages later, it became obvious that the Northeast Coal line would have at least two mines re-opening during the time that the railway was being “leased” to CN. I never saw the rail line mentioned in any article on the new coal mines in the business section nor do I know whether the Tumbler Ridge line was part of the contract as being seen of value in the price, despite the fact that it was that political development that helped to cause financial problems for the railway.

  2. Skookum1 says:

    @Myron Claridge: The financial problems of the railway were utter fiction, created and exacerbated by the willful mismanagement of the BC Liberals. You sound like a Public Affairs Bureau troll, saying that the PGE was not the same as the BCR; the BCER was the foundation of BC Hydro, not of the PGE. Evidently you can’t learn ANYTHING from reading the Vancouver Sun business pages, or you’re just trying to muddy the waters as is typical of PAB spinmeisters. The PGE’s private ownership went bankrupt before the Great War and THAT’s when it was nationalized (or provincialized as I suppose the term might be) and it remained in public hands until the Liberals broke their explicit campaign promises (or let’s call them “lies”, shall we, as we know from evidence that’s surfaced as what’s happened was planned as a double-cross of the public from Day One).

  3. Stan Fraser says:

    Can there really be one truthful Economist? I guess it would be too much to hope for one truthful politician but then there is Rafe Mair. Ah but I forgot is an ex Economist and an ex Politician so my faith have been restored. Now if we could make Campbell and the MLA’s ex politicians then there may be hope for B.C.

  4. Skookum1 says:

    correcting my bit about when the railway was nationalized, which was in February of 1918 not before the war, though it’s true the railway was variously bankrupt or in other financial distress before the war, which was the reason it was so heavily subsidized and otherwise helped out by the McBride administration: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BC_Rail

    The Wikipedia article barely touches how it all went down, and there’s lots more in other sources see http://www.biographi.ca/009004-119.01-e.php?&id_nbr=7575 which is a biography of Sir Richard McBride.

    I suppose a railway born in financial crisis and political meddling/scandal would end the same way is only natural. But this story ain’t over yet is it?

  5. Chuck says:

    Rafe should do an exposé on Hydro’s smart meters (dumb meters)

  6. […] Also read Rafe Mair’s report on legalized theft. […]

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