Thursday, October 18, 2012

Media fails to give an honest account

http://edocs.lib.sfu.ca/cgi-bin/Cartoons?CartoonID=2239
Yesterday, the Liberal government claimed its diligent examination of TransLink had resulted in $139 million in annual savings. As I noted, the claim was easily determined to be false. Yet that did not stop the media echo chamber from repeating, even amplifying, the delusive assertions.

A news commentator recently referred to the NDP's "fudge-it" budget in 1996, implying therefore, today's opposition is unsuited to manage the economy, come 2013. Yet, if one examines fiscal realities of the Harcourt and Clark administrations, their records, while imperfect, were not disastrous.

The fudge-it budget meme was a creation of right wing business interests, acting on behalf of Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals. Party member David Stockell, with funding from far-right organizations, filed a lawsuit (Leonard Friesen, Holly Kuzenko, Mildred Umbarger v. Sue Hammell, Graeme Bowbrick, Ed Conroy) aimed at overturning the 1996 election. The unsuccessful lawsuit was about modest differences between estimated and actual budget numbers.

Nevertheless, through the period of NDP rule, media was an energetic political opponent of the government. I'm fine with that because intense scrutiny is the way of keeping politicians on the right track. All of us should be demanding, regardless of which politicians are in power, that open government and maximum transparency are ruling principles.

Media today does not hold politicians' feet to the fire. Instead, they are compliant mouthpieces for the BC Liberals. With few exceptions - Bob Mackin and Jon McComb, for example - corporate media reporters and commentators avoid and consciously ignore scandalous situations that, had they happened when the NDP was in power, would have been headline news, day after day.

I've written here about the growth in BC Hydro's obligations to purchase private power. Those rose from $20 billion to $55 billion between 2010 and 2012. The debt has been growing rapidly and steadily but that is barely mentioned in the corporate media. Guys relentless in criticizing NDP Finance Minister Elizabeth Cull for missing estimates by $100 million, can't muster energy to examine a billion dollars a month added to sums owed Liberal friends — if any friends are left that have not flipped the projects for quick riches — for electricity we don't need and can't afford.

My numbers regarding future energy purchase commitments are taken from BC Hydro's audited financial statements. They are linked here: 2012 2011 2010
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5 comments:

  1. Norm,
    Exactly. Right.
    And good work on the Hydro accounts. Run of the river doesn't begin to describe the free ride these insiders are getting.

    ReplyDelete
  2. BC Hydro's net long-term debt went from $7.5 billion in 2008 to $12.8 billion in 2012.

    p. 90:

    http://www.bchydro.com/etc/medialib/internet/documents/annual_report/2012_BCH_AnnualReport.Par.0001.File.2012-BCH-Annual-Report.pdf

    ReplyDelete
  3. Keep reading Hugh. This is on page 86:

    "NOTE 16: COMMITMENTS AND CONTINGENCIES

    "ENERGY COMMITMENTS

    "BC Hydro (excluding Powerex) has long-term energy purchase agreements to meet a portion of its expected future domestic electricity requirements. The expected obligations to purchase energy under these agreements have a total value of approximately $53,109 million ...Powerex has energy purchase commitments with an estimated minimum payment obligation of $2,453 million
    extending to 2025."


    Arcane accounting rules ensure that lay people cannot easily understand the financial position of a reporting entity. BC Hydro is responsible for a stream of future payments amounting to more than $50 billion but that is not part of the total debt ($17.849 B)reported among current and other liabilities on the balance sheet (page 55).

    BC Hydro's financial statements would make heads spin in most MSM newsrooms. So, reporters ignore data that is difficult to extract and simply echo the PR spin desired by the BCH executives.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Proving Liberal politicians have BC Hydro in their tight grip, Vaughn Palmer writes, "The new chief of staff to the premier is Dan Doyle...chairman of the board of BC Hydro."

    Palmer makes a joke about the Premier's revolving door when he should be digging into how this public utility turned into a crime scene.

    Funny, cause I remember Vaughn Palmer wrote almost daily columns about the fast ferries, that long ago and, by comparison, minor political screw-up.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I seem to only have a white belt in Google-Fu.


    Leonard Friesen, Holly Kuzenko, and Mildred Umbarger: Where are they now?

    ReplyDelete

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