Tuesday, May 8, 2012

BC Liberal closing out sale

Monday, I linked to Guardian columnist George Monbiot, a writer whose work I often find compelling. He said:
"Since the 1980s, in Britain, the US and other nations, the primary mission of governments has been to grant their sponsors in the private sector ever greater access to public money and public life..."
As if to illustrate the English writer's assertion, Bob Mackin, reporting at the new-look Business in Vancouver, tells how companies affiliated with German logistics giant Deutsche Post DHL are manoeuvring to take control of Vancouver and Kamloops operations of BC's Liquor Distribution Branch.

In moves reminiscent of the BC Rail disposition, the prospective new owners of this extensive provincial asset are relying on Vancouver based lobbyists with close ties to the BC Liberal Premier. Patrick Kinsella, whom the Globe and Mail called "the quintessential insider in B.C. politics" and partner Mark Jiles, Gordon Campbell's former constituency campaign manager, are intimately involved, talking to both sides of the deal.

Senator-in-waiting Rich Coleman, Minister responsible for fundraising from energy and mining industries, has also been engaged in the intended liquor privatization. Mackin reports on a memo obtained by BIV:
"The internal memo indicates that Excel had hoped to secure the contract without a competition. If it had to go to tender, Excel wanted "to influence the writing of the RFP" by attempting to use its "strong relationship" with liquor minister Coleman."
Mackin reports NDP critic Shane Simpson's claim that the private monopoly as contemplated doesn't guarantee a revenue stream to government. He says BC Liberals are racing to get this out the door before the 2013 election.

There is much more at the journal Business in Vancouver. I suspect this is more evidence that BC Liberals care little about the prospects of BC enterprises. They worry instead about the prospects of insiders and the mostly foreign owned corporations who can outbid Canadian companies because, using elaborate tax-avoidance strategies (like Apple, Google and other multinationals), they can minimize their tax bills and maximize shareholder returns.

This is a style of business that will keep people like Kinsella and Jiles warm and comfortable in their exotic mansions but will ultimately destroy British Columbia's domestic economy. I prefer the old style capitalists like MacMillan, Koerner, Bentley, Kerr and others. As I wrote here more than a year ago,
"In early days of British Columbia, penniless pioneers arrived with ambition and dreams, built businesses, then empires, created wealth and arm-wrestled unions over rightful shares. They ended lives as philanthropists, returning assets to the very communities that enriched them, not adding to already deep pockets of right-wing foundations and their malevolent information infrastructure."


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10 comments:

  1. Any guess on what a "strong relationship" with Coleman might cost a German company?

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  2. What other 'closing out' bargains might we expect before 2013?

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  3. Just a quick look at the last annual report from BC Liquor Distribution: " In 2010/11, the Liquor Distribution Branch’s (LDB) sales were $2.82 billion which
    was 1.2 per cent less than the previous year. Sales increases were in the spirits wine categories but this was offset by significant decreases in the beer and
    refreshment beverage categories. Net income for the year was $890.4 million which
    was $13.1 million more than the previous year but significantly short of the budgeted
    $973.7 million. We are confident that consumer confidence will improve and that we will once again achieving our sales and net income objectives."

    Another well run publicly owned asset will be sold ? Why are government entities that make money are sold while those that don't stay within the taxpayer's responsibility ? It's a stupid question with a simple answer. It's only too bad more taxpayers are not seeing the light. Do people not realize that a private company would never buy something that loses money.

    Guy in Victoria

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  4. Canada is becoming a pretty much sold out country. Anything of value in Canada, will soon be gone.

    BC of course, was already sold out by Campbell. Christy, the BC Liberals, and Boessenkool, are selling off everything that makes money in BC. What they don't sell, Harper and Christy will pollute.

    While Harper and the Campbell/Clark BC Liberals, will stuff their coffers, the people will gain nothing.

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  5. Guy in Vict:

    "Another well run publicly owned asset will be sold ? Why are government entities that make money are sold while those that don't stay within the taxpayer's responsibility ? It's a stupid question with a simple answer. It's only too bad more taxpayers are not seeing the light. Do people not realize that a private company would never buy something that loses money."

    Probably why BC Hydro has not been totally sold off. It owes $42 billion for overpriced IPP power. The 'smart grid' and Site C will cost it est. $9 billion.

    Better to have the public pay for all that.

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  6. I wonder just how much money was paid to Gordon Campbell (bonus, percentage of sale, annual retainers etc.) for the sale of British Columbia's assets - the same can be applied to other senior ministers both past and present.

    Given Campbell was/is a well documented pathalogical liar, it gives raise to what the motives werethere for the sales - comissions of some sort would be the norm. Greed is a great motivator and the "so called settlement of the Basi Verk guilty plea" begs the question of how much of this last decade has been driven by corruption within the legislature in Victoria.

    A very serious and ominous sign of the times. What control will the public get over the direction the government takes and for what reason. It appears the dishonesty and blatant lies are the norm for both federal and provincial politics these days.

    What to do ????

    Thanks

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  7. Someone in the legislature, independent or otherwise, should stand up and put this government on notice, that any agreements signed between now and the next election will be subject to withdrawal if deemed not in the best interests of the citizens of British Columbia.

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    Replies
    1. I would agree. This government"s performance with "dismantling" the public assets that are profitable, is incredibly short sighted. They "complain" about not having enough taxpayer dollars, to run the services we all require, and yet sell off, the major revenue generators.

      These are public assets. Not the BC Liberal's assets. We really do need a change in government, to address the social contract that has been left in tatters, by this current "regime".

      "Orders in council", can and must be used by any future government, to redress these issues. Blatant disregard for public assets especially those that generate revenue, should not be tolerated. We need the cash. A government that sells off these profitable assets, is not a government that we want. Especially when they are connected, to the sale of the assets, in any way. That is a direct conflict of intrest.

      BC Rail is a perfect example. Partisan politics has played a big role, in the sale of this asset. The alledged; illigality, fraud, payoffs etc., are all an example of what is "widely viewed" as the "perfect storm" of a corrupt organizaion, who's "sole aim" is to line their own pockets, at the expense of the taxpayers of this province.

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    2. I would go further and say that since all British Columbians know that Excel wishes to get their grubby little paws on our distribution warehouses, that they have active lobbyists and that Coleman supports it, they should be disqualified from even bidding. And if they get it, the entire BC Lieberal caucus needs to be personally sued....

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  8. scotty on DenmanMay 8, 2012 at 1:47 PM

    I totally agree that it's important to stand up and say all sales of public assets will be reversed immediately upon the change in government. Keep it simple. Just stand up in the Assembly and say it in no uncertain terms. Repeat it. Let the reactionaries react. Let them do it in public.

    The public don't need reminding why these fire-sales of public assets need to be stopped; it is understood. It needs to be said, in words, in the Assembly and everywhere. The reactionaries may remain aloof or they may howl and whine but their privateering accomplices will get the fear in 'em, for sure.

    They may demand details. Keep it simple. Here's an example: if a public inquiry into the sale of BC Rail concludes there was corruption, the sale will be nullified. Let the BC Liberal government ridicule, rave and rant like a tiger in a tar-pit. Let 'em.

    There. Just say it.

    The end days are here for this corrupt government. Flies are swarming the ointment. Wrenches are grinding into the gears. Fraternities of mutual complicity are breaking just ahead of the rout. Hitherto beneficiaries of BC Liberal ideological largesse will surely be contemplating the serial numbers on ill-gotten loot and the threat that any hint of impropriety in last-minute sell-offs may render the asset more trouble than it's worth. Hitherto coerced bureaucrats will eschew culpability without fear of reprisal. At some point they'll be able to stop shady transactions dead, some point very soon if the policy is stated simply and clearly.

    Just say it out loud in words: the day the BC Liberals are bounced from office, all Independent Power Projects (The cushy, BC Hydro-bankrupting contracts that allow their insider friends to parasitize the public coffers) will be suspended pending a review of public interest and possible annulment. Let the profiteers roar and gnash and threaten legal action. Let 'em. An election is coming.

    Go ahead, just say it.

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