Left out of its December release -- announcing the awarding of the $1.75 billion contract -- was any mention of collusion and bid-rigging by Korean-based Samsung C&T; the ongoing investigation by a Spanish magistrate and anti-corruption prosecutors into "allegations of misappropriation of public funds, falsifying documents and money laundering" at Acciona; and liquidity issues at Petrowest.
The 2015 political donations were out this week and they contained some numbers that should cause a bit of unease. It's not just the 2015 amounts that are of interest, it's the running totals as well. Since 2005, the B.C. Liberal party has raised more than $107.8 million -- $70.2 million of that from businesses and corporations.
When most communities in B.C. have more in-camera meetings than the City of Toronto, there's a problem. In Ontario, councils are entitled to go in-camera to consider six specific matters. There are four reasons that councils must go in camera and over a dozen reasons why they "may" close a meeting. The nuance between "may" and "must" seems to have been lost on a few.
Just thumb through the party's 2009 donor list for a sense of how widespread the practice of awarding contracts to friends has become. Back then, someone must have woke up on New Year's Day with one hell of a hangover -- not from the night before -- but from the bank balance in the B.C. Liberal party's account.
News that Premier Christy Clark has spent $500,000 on private jets since assuming office has -- not surprisingly -- raised a few eyebrows. It's a story that has as much to do with the symbolism as it does with the dollars. A political condition that the government seems increasingly tone deaf to as of late.
Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but there does seem to be a future for the industry. In fact, if we're not careful, B.C. could be overrun by lobbyists. Last year, there were 2,502 in-house and consultant lobbyists registered in the province, up from 1,451 four years ago. Whoever said the B.C. Jobs Plan wasn't working?
Buried among a spate of bad news announcements that the B.C. government released over the Christmas holidays was an update on a province-wide system for peer reviews of medical scans. The system was to have been operational by 2014, but still isn't in place at three of five health authorities and won't be until mid-2016 at the earliest.
Trade associations -- Many are known to donate generously to political parties, particularly when they want to curry favour. In the U.S. it's called "dark money," a way to spend big bucks on politics and remain relatively anonymous. It doesn't have the same bad rap in B.C. yet, but it's problematic.
For those not counting, there have been eight B.C. trade missions to China alone in the last 18 months. Forests minister Steve Thomson is set to leave on a ninth mission this Friday. Trade missions aren't cheap, they set the B.C. government back $767,000 in 2014 and that doesn't include the bill for local governments, universities and other agencies.
health ministry firings, multicultural outreach strategy and what some are calling deletegate -- they demand finesse and there's a definite pattern to how the government goes about it. Its damage control manual seems to come with instructions: mix and match to fit, use sparingly and only as required.
To put it in a local context: the B.C. government is providing unprecedented tax breaks to what is effectively a foreign Crown corporation, where the prime minister is suspected of siphoning off US$700 million from one of its other Crown corporations to his personal bank accounts. Doesn't inspire confidence.