Thursday, February 7, 2013

Pay to play

I'm planning an article, probably Thursday pm, about campaign financing and the ludicrous conflicts of interest that exist when a government that manages public resources and taxation extracts millions of dollars in contributions from corporations whose financial interests are at stake.

I've been wading through the Financial Reports and Political Contributions System provided by Elections BC, the supposedly non partisan agency formerly headed by Craig James. Getting useful information from FRPC is problematic because Mr. James made sure the database search engine uses computer technology that is equivalent to what we used almost two decades ago. (Remember Lycos or Altavista?)

By example, enter the name ALLAN MARKIN (former CEO of Canadian Natural Resources Limited, which has donated $100,000) and FRPC reports that he contributed $100,000 to BC Liberals through three numbered companies. However, enter ALLAN PAUL MARKIN and FRPC informs that Markin gave another $160,000 to BC Liberals.

The primitive search capability at the Elections BC site means that entering JOHN A. SMITH, for example, would not report results for JOHN A SMITH, the name without punctuation. Twice, I've complained to EBC and their response is
"Your suggestion has been noted, and will be assessed as an enhancement for a future release of our Financial Reports and Political Contributions system."
That they continue to offer a database devoid of modern search capabilities, suggests they made a choice to keep it that way even though the cost of an upgrade would be minimal. The reason to not improve search capability must be strictly political.

Here are a few Tweets that I sent out during my research:








In a few days, Gwen and I will be departing for a month of travel. Trying to travel light, I'm leaving my laptop at home in favour of a tablet with Bluetooth keyboard. That means no long form new material here from the start of next week until mid-March. I'll stay in touch with events here because the political landscape is about to change dramatically.

May I suggest you keep an eye on my Twitter feed ( @Norm_Farrell ). It may not be consistently wonderful but you'll see things that are catching my attention and may also interest you.
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13 comments:

  1. Without sounding selfish let me first say we all deserve a great holiday and I truly hope you & Gwen enjoy the best time ever. However I will miss reading your articles and without them the MSM will just print it's biased stories without Northern Insights providing the real details in a balanced way. With respect to "Pay to Play", I read that Pamela Martin has been paid to play again. She was the features guest at a $60 a plate Christian event where Christy spoke. I guess as a tax payer paid employee we can all expect dear Pamela to be fair to everyone in BC? What a waste of money she is....and even worse a person with no conscious.

    Guy in Victoria

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  2. Norm, I hope you and your wife have a great time in India. I'm sure your heads will be spinning, with all the sights, sounds, tastes, smells — and chaos.

    Here's hoping you don't come back thinking, "Hmm... the BC Liberals aren't all THAT bad." LOL!

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  3. " The reason to not improve search capability must be strictly political.:"

    I agree wholeheartedly. Back when BC Mary and I first started trying to track what was happening with the BC Rail farce (and she was even trooping from courthouse to courthouse in search of information in person, still residing here at that time) I soon came to the conclusion that the Attorney General's and Court System web resources were designed more to make information hard to access than any honest effort at transparency. This was indicated in many ways, including poor search technology as you point out above.

    Back then, when many folks not located in the Lower Vainland or other large centers didn't even have the opportunity for broadband, the government insisted on publishing everything in the data intensive (because it is image based rather than text based) .pdf format when using either plain text or HTML would have used much less band width with as much richness (in the case of HTML) of formatting options.

    Also not only did one have to search each courthouse individually to find if a hearing was actually scheduled, but they had a habit of "accidentally" posting Basi-Virk or Bobby's cousin Bains, (the coke dealer convicted and sentenced to eight years virtually secretly - no mention in the media for months until Mary dug it up and shamed Canwest and Global) hearings scheduled for Victoria or Robson and Smithe under say Williams Lake or Prince George, not to mention not publishing the schedule at all until after the hearing took place. I rapidly concluded they spent more effort in making access as difficult as possible for anything unless it was something they wanted to promote - most likely a PABlum Brigade decision.

    I found it much faster and easier to find out about civil and criminal court activities in California or Oregon than in my own jurisdiction, where my taxes support the system, supposedly for my benefit.

    I must admit that I will miss your input here at Northern Insight while you are gone to the Exotic East, but you and Gwen deserve it and I wish you the best. I won't be following you on Twitter as I don't roll that way, so I will anxiously await your return - and I'm certain it will still be interesting here in the Most Corrupt Place in the Western World!

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  4. Well, I've spent a bit of time travelling near the area Norm is going to, and trust me the BC Liberals are already there.

    The BC Liberals are demonstrating similar lack of environmental stewardship, similar push to overcrowd urban areas with lack of adequate transportation and affordability, rewards for corporations that donate heavily to "the Party", rewards to bureaucrats and lobbyists that facilitate these lucrative contracts, securing payment for these lucrative contracts off the backs of regular working folk, increasing the gap between working people and the few non-producers that just happen to be "in the know"....etc....the same there as here.

    BC Liberal levels of unethical governance may even greater...largely due to the fact their media has much more integrity than ours and holds elected and appointed officials to task.

    We will miss you Norm. Jeez, no Doyle, no Norm Farrell...will we make it through?

    You will not be held ransom with high cell phone/internet access fees like you are here...it is very economical and accessible....so no excuses for not checking in once in a while!....other than allowing ample time to take in all those sights, sounds, tastes and smells of course...and...most important of all.....allowing time to gain some Eastern Insight.

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  5. Norm, my husband and I truly wish you and your wife an awesome trip - we know everyone needs a break. I never was interested in politics until this last couple of years when stumbled upon your blog. You have enlightened me as well as my husband, our friends etc and we all thank you for that!

    What you've pointed out today is proof of how corrupt this party really is - and their actions are not due to ignorance - it's deliberate! If a common person was to run their business like this there would be hell to pay including some time at the holiday hotel. It wouldn't surprise me to hear that this party, including their insiders, is well connected to the mob! In fact Mr Corruption (Coleman) seems to be their top guy with his fingers in all the mob type revenue streams - gambling, alcohol, real estate etc. Makes me wonder if he's got a "special escort service" going for the out of town guys, too!

    The Liberals push an anti bullying agenda, yet all their actions scream bullying tactics! These people are more concerned about retaining power than about maintaining principles! And to use one's religion as a political tool - Now how toxic is that? I'll vote for whoever gives this province a Judicial Inquiry into all the misdeeds of this group of people - hopefully they'll be stripped of all their proceeds of crime and thrown in jail!

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  6. Norm:

    I have raised this issue with you regarding corporate and individual contributions. How can we be sure that those well-heeled corporate tycoons are not submitting expense claims to the corporation to get reimbursed?

    Maybe, that is perefectly acceptable but does that result in an expense tax-deduction for the corporation and a very generous tax credit for the individual?

    Have a good trip!

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  7. Norm, on behalf of the people of BC, I just called your travel agent and cancelled your trip to India so you can stay here and continue to do your fine work. :P (you're welcome)

    Who needs India when you can go to Indian Arm? Who needs New Dehli when you can go to New Denver? Who needs Mumbai when you can listen to the mumblings of Patrick Kinsella top boy Rich Coleman?

    In all seriousness, have a great (and relaxing) trip, and thank you so much for your exhaustive effort to reveal the truth in this thoroughly corrupt province.

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  8. Adiós and come back safe and sound, as the news on this blog is more than one gets from the two daily fish-wraps and Bill Boring on dead dog 98.

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  9. You deserve some fun and adventure! It sounds like some politicians may be having misadventures while you are away because as you say: the polital landscape is about to change dramatically.

    bye the way, AGT's blog is down any info?

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  10. Norm, you're a gem. Have fun and come home safe.

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  11. And we can't forget that bastion of balanced and fair reporting Glacier media who have their hands in the government treasury up to their armpits.

    We will miss your thoughtful informative posts.
    BC Mary got me hooked on this and you are taking up the slack of where she left off.
    I know a lot of people really appreciate what you do.
    Be safe, be careful.

    CGHZD

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  12. Wishing you and Gwen a wonderful trip. Thank you for the wonderful blogging you do, it's an inspiration for all of us to keep fighting the good fight. Will look forward to reading your posts when you get back.

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  13. Watched a show last night that delved into the whole Enron fraud.
    Sounded like what's going on here in BC with the BC liberals.
    And got to thinking about my own area, and my council and supposed good mayor, Surrey SET.
    Similarities? imo, yup, all of them.

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