No Escaping B.C. Governments' Pre-Election Political Programming

Dermod Travis | Posted 10.18.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

The B.C. government is in the midst of saturating television shows and social media news feeds in the province with a multimillion-dollar back-patting advertising campaign in advance of the 2017 election. The B.C. Liberal party -- who clearly have money to burn -- is getting in on the act as well with mood-setting political ads.

B.C. Accelerates Past Point Of No Return On Megaproject Overruns

Dermod Travis | Posted 10.07.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

One would be hard-pressed to find a single government forecast for the Sea-to-Sky highway project ($195 million over its first estimate), the Port Mann or the South Fraser Perimeter Road that has been met.

Why's The Private Sector Playing Taxpayers' Foreman In B.C.?

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.27.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

How did B.C. end up in the peculiar situation of having to rely on the private sector to oversee private sector construction companies working on public sector infrastructure projects, potentially signing off on billions of tax dollars in cost overruns along the way?

Rising Costs And Stagnant Wages Leave B.C. Wallets In Sorry State

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.15.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

According to the Canadian Payroll Association's survey of employed Canadians released in advance of this week's festivities, 53 per cent of British Columbians reported that "it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their pay cheque was delayed by even a single week."

Public Car Insurers Justify Jacking Up Rates With Fudged Facts

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.06.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

ICBC applying for basic rate increase of 4.9 per cent. According to its release, the number of crashes across B.C. "jumped by 15 per cent in two years from 260,000 in 2013 to 300,000 in 2015." Why 2013 and not some other year, say 2007? The numbers wouldn't fit the narrative.

Here's An Idea – B.C. Should Disclose Direct Award Contracts Online

Dermod Travis | Posted 09.07.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

In April, the Alaska Highway News filed an access to information request for a list of the direct award contracts signed during the first stages of the Site C dam construction. The contracts ranged in value from $30,373 to $900,000, but that's only for the awards the utility disclosed.

Knee-Jerk Policies Will Not Cool B.C.'s Red-Hot Housing Market

Dermod Travis | Posted 08.15.2016 | Canada Politics
Dermod Travis

For months the government had been in denial over the issue: overblown, isolated to a few neighbourhoods, it said. Since then its approach has gone from "the market will correct itself," to a "bold action plan," to legislating a retroactive 15 per cent tax on foreign ownership.

B.C. Officials Racked Up $49.8 Million In Credit Card Charges

Dermod Travis | Posted 08.02.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

In a $46.3-billion budget, $49.8 million is chump change, but the B.C. government's 84,346 credit card charges in 2015-16 do offer some insights into how the B.C. government spends on the run. While the number of charges is down from 102,418 in 2014-15, the dollar value is up from $45.1 million.

B.C. Liberals' Long-Shot LNG Deal Was Fantasy After All

Dermod Travis | Posted 07.25.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

B.C. may still see an LNG plant, but as for that $1 trillion in economic activity and $100 billion prosperity fund the only step left is to call time of death. There's an upside for the government. The public never bought the hype in the first place.

Want A B.C. Government Appointment? Befriend The Liberals

Dermod Travis | Posted 07.14.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Another vacancy in a public boardroom and another B.C. Liberal party supporter ready and willing to fill it. News that Frank Carson -- a partner at Victoria law firm Cox, Taylor -- was appointed chair of B.C. Transit's board of directors last week was met with the expected cynicism.

Put Brakes On Proposed Massey Tunnel Replacement Bridge

Dermod Travis | Posted 07.04.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

With news last week that all but one of Metro Vancouver's mayors have given a firm thumbs down to the B.C. government's proposal for a 10-lane, three-kilometre bridge to replace the George Massey Tunnel, it's a good opportunity to take a step back and give this idea more than a quick once-over.

The Figures Behind B.C. Hydro's Site C Dam

Dermod Travis | Posted 06.24.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

The B.C. government has placed two bets over the Site C project: one that B.C. Hydro can keep construction costs to $8.8 billion, and, two, that it can find customers for the power. Left to cover the ante? Taxpayers.

Is B.C. Forgetting About Its Renters?

Dermod Travis | Posted 06.17.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

With so much of the attention focused on Victoria's tent city and Vancouver's skyrocketing home prices in the housing debate, one group is left hollering, "Hey, what about us?" That group is all of the Province's renters, and it's a group worth listening to.

Latest Manifestation Of Political Mindset Should Worry British Columbians

Dermod Travis | Posted 05.31.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

The headlines were emphatic: "Quick wins amounted to little for NDP"; "Quick wins report lands with a dull thud." But behind the headlines something unsettling: a window into a culture of seeming impunity, where players are told anything goes, do whatever it takes to win.

B.C. Government Masters The Art Of Political Spin

Dermod Travis | Posted 05.18.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Canadians have come to expect that politicians will take a few liberties with facts as they spin issues to suit their purpose. A master practitioner of the art form is the B.C. government, with spin that can be light in the accuracy department.

B.C. Government Scandals Hint At Systemic Misconduct

Dermod Travis | Posted 05.05.2016 | Canada Politics
Dermod Travis

Last July, whistleblower Alana James made a startling claim in an interview with the Vancouver Sun about allegations of corruption leveled at the B.C. Ministry of Health: "This was not about one ministry and less than a dozen individuals."

Meet The Scandalous Companies Working For BC Hydro

Dermod Travis | Posted 04.20.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

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.

Have Donations To B.C. Liberals And NDP Crossed The Line?

Dermod Travis | Posted 04.11.2016 | Canada Politics
Dermod Travis

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.

Local Governments Have A Problem With Transparency

Dermod Travis | Posted 04.01.2016 | Canada Politics
Dermod Travis

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.

B.C. Liberals Have Mastered The Art Of Returning Donors' Favours

Dermod Travis | Posted 03.16.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

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.

Are Christy Clark's Travel Expenses Soaring Sky-High?

Dermod Travis | Posted 03.03.2016 | Canada Politics
Dermod Travis

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.

Balancing The B.C. Budget

Dermod Travis | Posted 02.23.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Petty. One word that springs to mind after last week's B.C. budget. At best, it's a lip service budget. Tweak here, tweak there, but devoid of any ...

Are B.C. Liberals And B.C. Hydro In Opposition?

Dermod Travis | Posted 02.16.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

Make no mistake, there's a price to pay when B.C. Hydro becomes a political arm of government. The intertwining of self-interests gets complicated, while the interests of ratepayers can take a backseat to political interests.

Lobbying Is A Profession In Need Of A Makeover

Dermod Travis | Posted 02.04.2016 | Canada British Columbia
Dermod Travis

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?

B.C. Health Ministry Review Still Bogged Down, Four Years In

Dermod Travis | Posted 01.22.2016 | Canada Politics
Dermod Travis

Proving it's easier to announce an action plan than implement one, parts of the B.C. health ministry's 2011 plan "to strengthen physician hiring and oversight and enhance public confidence" remain bogged down to this day in consultations.