Monday, April 29, 2013

NOT for the people

In an 1830 speech, Massachusetts Senator Daniel Webster said that government should be
"Made for the people, made by the people, and answerable to the people."
British Columbia's present ruling political class may pay lip-service to this fundamental ideal of democracy but, repeatedly, their behaviour demonstrates the priority is to serve special private interests. Premier Clark said that unashamedly in the leaders' debate on radio, explaining why TI, the province's vital pharmaceutical watchdog, was being eliminated. It's teeth had already been blunted.

In Saturday's Times Colonist, former Deputy Minister of Health Lawrie McFarlane wrote:
"Tuesday's announcement by Adrian Dix, leader of the B.C. New Democrats, that he plans to rescue the Therapeutics Initiative concludes (hopefully) one of the more disgraceful episodes in our recent political history..."
Of course, it is no coincidence that BC Liberals have pocketed hundreds of thousands in donations from the very private interests that lobbied against TI.

Please take the time to read through materials at AlanCassels.com. It is "Where media and medicine meet." Follow him too on Twitter @AKECassels

Pavco is another disgraceful illustration of how BC Liberals function for the benefit of insiders and friends. As the days counted down to the election, Pavco was racing to deliver valuable real estate into the hands of private interests friendly with Rich Coleman and the Liberal government. To facilitate these and other efforts, most of the provincial government stopped delivery of FOI documents unless they had been stripped of contentious contents. Countless files have been placed in limbo pending the election. Pavco even took action seeking to deny answering each and every request for documents filed by diligent investigative reporter Bob Mackin.

Similarly, other provincial departments and agencies have been working at tying the hands of a new government. Long term procurement and service contracts worth hundreds of millions have been renewed long before they needed to be. Senior bureaucrats and Liberal operatives, knowing days are numbered, are greedily stuffing pockets wherever they can.

Economic crimes are underway and both present and future taxpayers are the victims.



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Saturday, April 27, 2013

BC's uncomfortable political reality

I noticed this at Bob Mackin's website and my thoughts match his. So, it is easier to steal Bob's words than crank out ones of my own that couldn't be better.
"On April 28, Sean Holman screens his new documentary "Whipped: The Secret World of Party Discipline" at 7 p.m. in the Vancouver Public Library's Alice MacKay Room. Suggested donation is $5.

"I saw the premiere at the University of B.C. on April 26 and it is a shocking look at how B.C. is governed. It is a must-see that will cause you to question the state of our democracy (or lack thereof).

"It was great to see Holman back in B.C., rousing the rabble like he does so well. This province's loss is Alberta's gain. The former Public Eye Online proprietor is an assistant professor of journalism at Mount Royal College in Calgary."
Bob also has details of DOA's Joe Keithley performing a solo acoustic gig tonight for NDP supporters and again May 3. Check Bob's website for details, using the link above.

I was also at the UBC screening Thursday. Even though I've been a political observer in this province for a very long time, Sean's video described defects in our parliamentary system worse than imagined. It is astounding that a man now employed in Calgary is the one to say what needs to be said while the dinosaurs of the Legislative Press Gallery just go along, to get along.

I now understand why the sitting government maintains an extravagant pension plan for backbench MLAs; it is not to attract better candidates, it is to ensure the quiet complicity of loyal enablers. All they have to do is sit quietly, pound their desks at the right moments and vote as instructed by leadership. If they don't do those things...

Whipped is a program every concerned citizen should see. Nothing much will change in the Legislature until we make fundamental alterations of our voting system. Understanding the faults of governance is vital to beginning any meaningful improvement.

Thank you Sean Holman for completing your work. Now, it is time for citizens to begin ours.

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

If you value independent journalism

To the left is a donation button linked to PayPal Secure Payments. An explanation of why
you're asked to use it follows. Note: any amounts not expended directly in furthering this
project will be returned to contributors July 31, pro rata.

A number of bloggers plan a blog aggregation website featuring regular commentary about many issues important to British Columbia. Writers will maintain independent sites but there will be a single internet entry for readers to review abstracts, then make a choice to be linked, or not, to originating blogs for the complete articles.

In addition, original and cooperative publishing will occur as the effort evolves. We will promote vigorous exchanges but feature wise, witty and mannerly discussions. At least, most of the time.

We also intend to provide research assistance and training resources to encourage and improve independent journalism. Another goal is to help beginners start in the world of blogging.

To achieve this goal and ensure the website remains free of advertising or commercial sponsors, we must address start-up costs that include programming and internet hosting and communication services. That’s how readers can help. A number have already contributed but without further assistance, we cannot develop a product as fine as it can be.

Additionally, if you can volunteer technical or professional services to assist in the start up, send me an email and explain what those could be. We'll be looking for a graphic artists, web designers and a lawyer with media experience.

Many bloggers receive no revenues from published work and independence is reflected in their writing. We think a broad range of opinions deserve to be heard and we want to bring you the best.


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Patients exposed to harm on a staggering scale

This item first published here in September is worth republishing as the BC Liberal Gov't takes more action against Therapeutics Initiative, a science based reviewer that troubles major pharmaceutical companies and their client politicians. 

Make sure you read RossK's recent piece: Nevermind The Stunt-O-Meters...The Therapeutics Initiative Is An Issue That Matters.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

The drugs don't work: a modern medical scandal, Ben Goldacre, The Guardian, Sept. 21, 2012
"...In 2010, researchers from Harvard and Toronto found all the trials looking at five major classes of drug – antidepressants, ulcer drugs and so on – then measured two key features: were they positive, and were they funded by industry? They found more than 500 trials in total: 85% of the industry-funded studies were positive, but only 50% of the government-funded trials were. In 2007, researchers looked at every published trial that set out to explore the benefits of a statin. ...They found that industry-funded trials were 20 times more likely to give results favouring the test drug.

"...The results from every randomised controlled trial (45 out of 45) favoured the drug of the sponsor."

"How does this happen? How do industry-sponsored trials almost always manage to get a positive result? Sometimes trials are flawed by design. ...Sometimes, drug companies conduct lots of trials, and when they see that the results are unflattering, they simply fail to publish them.

"Because researchers are free to bury any result they please, patients are exposed to harm on a staggering scale throughout the whole of medicine. Doctors can have no idea about the true effects of the treatments they give...

"And this data is withheld from everyone in medicine, from top to bottom.

"...it is entirely normal for researchers and academics conducting industry-funded trials to sign contracts subjecting them to gagging clauses that forbid them to publish, discuss or analyse data from their trials without the permission of the funder.

"...How is it possible that our systems for getting data from companies are so poor, they can simply withhold vitally important information showing that a drug is not only ineffective, but actively dangerous? ... "

• This is part of an edited extract from Bad Pharma, by Ben Goldacre, published next week by Fourth Estate. To order a copy go to guardian.co.uk/bookshop.
Ben Goldacre's Guardian article reminded me of The Gazetteer's reports on BC's capitulation to international pharmaceutical giants. RossK quoted from a Times Colonist editorial that has since disappeared from view:
"The last act in a nasty vendetta has finally played out. Premier Gordon Campbell's government has decided to kill B.C.'s only independent drug review agency. And not just kill it, but bury it in an unmarked grave.

"The agency involved is called the Therapeutics Initiative. Based at the University of British Columbia, it evaluates new drugs that come on the market.

"The Therapeutics Initiative saves taxpayers $50 million annually by finding cheaper alternatives. Largely thanks to its efforts, B.C. has the lowest drug costs in the country, despite offering some of the best coverage.

"Moreover, the Therapeutics Initiative runs on a shoestring budget. The agency gets $1 million a year. That means it generates a 50 to one return on investment.

"Finally, its researchers have been credited with saving 500 lives by issuing timely warnings about suspect medications. When the new anti-inflammatory product Vioxx came out, the agency discovered a link with increased heart attack rates. As a result, although Vioxx was approved across most of North America, it was kept off the shelves in B.C. ... "
Read more about Therapeutics Initiative at The Gazetteer.


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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Boardroom theatre

The concept of a Kitimat bitumen refinery may have reasons to exist at this moment but none are connected to serious business objectives. Accordingly, David Black's proposition, which if built would rank among the world's largest refineries, has been received with what Gary Mason called a rush of cynicism and doubt.

Last month, Black indicated $25 B financing was arranged through the Oppenheimer Investments Group, a company unknown to the public. This week, Black announced that Oppenheimer is out and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) will try to organize lenders for the project.

David Black appears to lack technical and managerial experience for a huge industrial project and he does not have the financial muscle. (Torstar carries their 20% interest in Black Press at zero value.) Despite that, CP quoted Premier Clark, "Black driving the development, ensures the project is BC owned." Perhaps Ms. Clark expects bcIMC will find investors for the project in BC.

Its promoter claims Kitimat Clean would process 525,000 barrels per day, making it larger than any refinery constructed on this continent in four decades. North America's last significant refinery project, a facility in Garyville LA, began operating in 1977 at capacity of 200,000 bpd and is now rated at 460,000 bpd.

Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration 

I surmise the project is a Hail-Mary effort to boost Liberal chances in the May election. Liberals lay claim to being a business friendly government and they hope the proposal promotes the Liberals' fantastical promise of a debt free British Columbia. Premier Clark announced that "Kitimat Clean refinery royalty revenues" will be captured by her new Prosperity Fund. Since the Dilbit feedstock would be extracted in Alberta, perhaps Clark is expecting a royalty sharing agreement with Premier Redford.

The second value of Black's refinery proposition is to lessen opposition to the Northern Gateway pipelines. Refining in Kitimat is promoted as a way of exporting petroleum products without the risks associated with water transport of diluted bitumen. However, beginning construction of the pipelines provides no guarantee the refinery will get built. Difficulties in financing a Canadian refinery can be claimed to justify shipping Dilbit to Asia.

Enbridge first disclosed its plans to transport bitumen to BC's north coast in 2003.  After more than a decade of consideration, the company still faces obstacles that delay the start of construction. Kitimat Clean has not completed comprehensive environmental studies for their massive proposal. Unless Canada's Conservative Government totally abdicates environment reviews, 67-year-old Mr. Black has a long road to travel.

However, I don't think it is a road he intends to travel. The scheme is almost certainly an act of theatre from the same Liberals who brought us the Concerned Citizens for BC and its deceitful attacks on Opposition Leader Adrian Dix.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tax issue the Harper Gov't prefers not to address

Read Committee studying offshore tax evasion will not question revenue minister at The Globe and Mail.

This story comes from the USA but Canadian companies employ similar schemes of tax avoidance. In fact, most of the companies listed here have large Canadian operations. One of the reasons that companies doing business in British Columbia wanted to maintain HST is that, under that system, they avoided nearly all sales taxes.

Many had already managed to avoid income taxes through off shore affiliates and shelters but they wanted to eliminate local consumption taxes as well. The $2 billion of BC sales taxes those businesses will now pay under reinstated provincial sales tax cannot be sheltered by offshore phantoms.

That makes multi-national operations and their Liberal Party surrogates unhappy.

The entire article, Corporate Tax Dodgers: 10 Companies and Their Tax Loopholes, was published by Institute for Policy Studies, republished by Common Dreams,, a fine site available by free subscription.

HIGHLIGHTS OF 10 CORPORATE TAX DODGERS [IN U.S.A.]

Bank of America
Had $17.2 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Reported it would owe $4.3 billion in U.S. taxes if profits are brought home.

Citigroup
Had $42.6 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Reported it would owe $11.5 billion in U.S. taxes if profits are brought home.

ExxonMobil
Paid just a 15% federal income tax rate from 2010-2012, less than half the official 35% corporate tax rate – a tax subsidy of $6.2 billion. Had $43 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes.

FedEx
Made $5.7 billion from 2010-2012 and didn’t pay a dime in federal income taxes. Got a tax subsidy of $2.1 billion. Received $10.3 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

General Electric
Made $88 billion from 2002-2012 and paid just 2.4% in taxes for a tax subsidy of $29 billion. Paid no taxes in 4 years. Had $108 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Received $21.8 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

Honeywell
Made $5 billion from 2009-2012 and paid just $50 million in federal income taxes – a tax subsidy of $1.7 billion. Had $11.6 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Received $16.7 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

Merck
Made $13.6 billion and paid $2.5 billion in federal income taxes from 2009-2012. Paid an 18.4% federal income tax rate, half the official 35% rate – a tax subsidy of $2.2 billion. Had $53.4 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes. Received $8.7 billion in federal contracts from 2006-2012.

Microsoft
Saved $4.5 billion in federal income taxes from 2009-2011 by transferring profits to a subsidiary in the tax haven of Puerto Rico. Had $60.8 billion in profits stashed offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. taxes; reported it would owe $19.4 billion if profits are brought home.

Pfizer
Received $2.2 billion in federal tax refunds from 2010-2012 while earning $43 billion worldwide even though 40% of its sales are in America. Had $73 billion in profits offshore in 2012 on which it paid no U.S. income taxes. Received $3.4 billion in federal contracts from 2010-2012.

Verizon
Made $19.3 billion in U.S. pretax profits from 2008-2012 but paid no federal income taxes during the period; instead got $535 million in tax rebates. Total tax subsidy: $7.3 billion. Received up to $6 billion in federal contracts from 2011 through 2023.
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Monday, April 15, 2013

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon, you're talking real money

Was the Royal Bank of Canada hurt by public consternation about exporting jobs, importing foreign workers and telling tall tales about the actions? Only slightly, and only briefly, as their stock price reflects:


That does not mean that individuals cannot apply continued pressure on the Royal Bank and their CEO, who earns a quarter million dollars a week while terminating Canadian workers gaining 1/500 of his remuneration.

A group of construction union pension plans have threatened to pull $1 billion in investments and funds if RBC does not abandon plans to outsource jobs by using temporary foreign workers. Lee Loftus, president of the B.C. Construction Trades Council, said,
"A billion dollars is chump change to them, we understand that, but we certainly think that a billion dollars is a substantial amount of money in the B.C. economy and if they are not going to manage our money right, we will find others that will."
According to its most recent investment inventory list, the BC Investment Management Corporation could withdraw another $1 billion from investments in RBC. The agency invests on behalf of public sector clients in British Columbia including the pension plan investments of more than 500,000 people.

Individuals acting together can make a difference. There is no better place to initiate ethical investment policies than with public pension funds. After adding shares in eight of its nine tobacco stocks in fiscal 2012, bcIMC had more than a half billion dollars invested in cigarette manufacturers. It also holds massive investments in other corporate pariahs, including SNC-Lavalin and twelve of the twelve corporations rated worst in ethical performance among multinationals by Swiss research firm Covalence.

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One "news reporter" is feeling sad

"The Liberals could come out with an announcement heralding the sky for being blue and a good portion of the electorate would respond by criticizing them for ignoring the clouds."
Stephen Smart is the political correspondent who wrote the comment shown above, published today by CBC News online. By no coincidence, he is also spouse of Rebecca Scott, a Public Affairs Officer with the BC Government who was previously Christy Clark's deputy press secretary. She is a person likely to lose her job if electors do focus on clouds and miss the bits of blue sky.

After complaints, CBC Ombudsman Kirk Lapointe said this in 2012 about the legislative reporter for CBC Radio and Television in BC:
"CBC's protocol can combine disclosure and recusal, but the pervasive appearance of a conflict of interest will continually challenge their reputations"
Those of us who thought Smart's position untenable, were told to judge his work. Well, I have done so and am still not satisfied. Additionally, I note zero disclosure that accompanies Smart's work. Whether he recused himself from any reporting is something only the CBC knows.



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Sunday, April 14, 2013

More "CRAP!" from the blogosphere

Contrary to the claims of retired newsguy Bill Good, blogs are not invariable distributors of CRAP! Instead, the good ones are sources of information and commentary that Bill Good and others in commercial news operations dare not discuss.

Creekside, by Alison, is one of the very good blogs; the sort that should embarrass the recipient of a bogus distinguished service award from his boss, who then makes that "award" the subject of countless promotional spots hoping to check his station's failing ratings.

Creekside impressed me with recent coverage of the Royal Bank's perfidious behaviour:
"...iGATE receiving RBC's Outsourcing Excellence Award back in 2008 when RBC only had 500 iGATE employees working for them.

"A few months later, RBC itself received a $25 billion dollar government bailout, or 'backstop' as we prefer to call taxpayer bailouts of corps in Canada, amounting to 63% of the bank's total value. RBC CEO Gordon Nixon took home $10M+ in salary and compensation that same year.

"At the time, RBC VP and head of Application Services Marjorie Mong explained :

'The key message to [RBC IT staff] was that offshoring was not about job cuts. It was about augmenting our workforce in a flexible way.'
Well, Bill Good, is it crap when bloggers suggest that loyal Canadians ought to get themselves down to the Royal Bank and remove whatever small part of the 'backstop' individuals can control?

I think not.


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Thursday, April 11, 2013

16 yr-old talked to NEB, before new regulations

I first published a link to this video February 2 and it has been viewed by thousands of Northern Insight readers. Additionally, most major Canadian news operations paid close attention to a young man who speaks for future generations. However, enabled by the Conservative government's Omnibus Budget Implementation Act, the review panel would have prevented Mr. Harrison from speaking without first gaining approval after completion of a 10-page application.

Since the NEB is staffed entirely by energy industry representatives, approval of this presentation would have been unlikely.

Sam Harrison testified before the NEB Northern Gateway hearing but under new federal rules, he would likely have been excluded from the process. That would have been unfortunate.

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Not told by Canada's corporate media

Fiscal record of Canadian political parties, Toby Sanger, The Progressive Economics Forum:
"With all the recent news stories — as well as alarm raised by other leaders — about the fiscal and economic impact and record of NDP governments, I decided to take a look at and review the fiscal record of all federal and provincial governments in Canada for the past three decades.

"These results may be surprising to some: they show that NDP governments have the best fiscal record of all political parties that have formed federal or provincial government in Canada.

"Of the 52 years the NDP has formed governments in Canada since 1980, they’ve run balanced budgets for exactly half of those years and deficits the other half. This is a better record than both the Conservatives (balanced budgets 37% of years in government) and the Liberals (only 27%), as well as both Social Credit and PQ governments..."

H/T @chwk_collin

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Monday, April 8, 2013

Royal Bank of Canada - exporter of jobs

CEO Gordon Nixon, 12.6 million dollar man
The Royal Bank of Canada (aka RBC) is responding to public complaints that spread rapidly following reports the bank will be terminating Canadian staff who are training temporary foreign workers to take over their jobs. This is like the condemned being forced to clean and load weapons for their firing squad.

The bank's response is as believable as Premier Christy Clark's claim that 400 million people witnessed the Times of India film awards that cost BC taxpayers $11 million this week. About 30,000 people saw the pre-election show at BC Place but we don't know where the other 399,970,000 viewers were since the show was not broadcast. The Times of India, an English language publication, did not mention British Columbia in its Sunday online report.

However, I digress. Back to the RBC, which should be stung by thousands of customers fleeing from their greedy clutches, beginning first thing Monday morning.

The bank's response begins like this,
"RBC wants to address media reports and provide clarification. Contrary to allegations, RBC has not hired temporary foreign workers to take over the job functions of current RBC employees."
No, what they did was hire a company who hired temporary foreign workers to take over the job functions of current RBC employees. However, being honest about that would admit that critics and complainers have been correct.

When the last Canadian employee is sent packing, perhaps the exodus will include CEO Gordon Nixon. If he spent his wages in India, he could find a little place where he would not be bothered by RBC employees. A modest little home like the one that houses the Maharaja of Marwar-Jodhpur:


While RBC and the other Big Six of Canadian banking pay zero allegiance to their non-executive employees, Vancity, Canada's largest credit union, is a Living Wage Employer. The organization provides its lowest paid people about twice British Columbia's minimum wage of $10.25 per hour.

All of Vancity's service providers do the same, having agreed to recognize the social and economic benefits of paying a living wage. Low wages have contributed to BC having the highest child poverty rate in Canada and 25% of couples with children in Greater Vancouver live below the Living Wage level.

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Saturday, April 6, 2013

Boycott of RBC - make this a movement

RBC replaces Canadian staff with foreign workers, CBC, April 6, 2013
"Dozens of employees at Canada’s largest bank are losing their jobs to temporary foreign workers, who are in Canada to take over the work of their department.

" 'They are being brought in from India, and I am wondering how they got work visas,' said Dave Moreau, one of the employees affected by the move. 'The new people are in our offices and we are training them to do our jobs. That adds insult to injury.' ..."
If this style of business offends you and you are a customer of RBC, visit Vancity or a nearby credit union. They'll help you transfer your banking business and a year from now, you'll wonder why you didn't do it long ago. You'll get better banking services and the community will benefit economically.
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Apply to express an opinion: who runs this place anyway?

Financial manipulators and industrialists have control and they aim to set Canada's economic course without input from Canadians. They bought the license from Stephen Harper. Evidence is provided by Gloria Galloway in the Globe and Mail,
"Canadians who want to tell the National Energy Board what they think about proposed pipeline projects – either in person or in writing – must now complete a 10-page application form proving they would be directly affected by the development or that they have relevant expertise.

"The new rules the NEB unveiled on Friday stem from provisions in omnibus budget legislation drafted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government and passed into law last year..."
I am convinced that citizens operate less on fact than on myth and artifice. It is wrong to assume that oversight exists for effective protection of the environment. It exists instead to minimize public concerns as industries plot whatever courses they wish.

The Conservative Party of Canada and the National Energy Board pretend to conduct an independent examination of the Northern Gateway project but government ministers have already announced intention to proceed. The NEB, an agency staffed and controlled by the energy industry, will concur. No thinking person can expect a different outcome.


Recently, the Alberta government, according to Andrew Nikiforuk, appointed
"the founding president of the Canada's most powerful oil and gas group as well as an active energy lobbyist to head its new energy regulator."
No one should imagine the energy business will not have every intended move facilitated by Alberta regulators. Regulation and oversight is like Santa Claus, a myth we choose to believe because of the comfort it provides.

Thinking about this subject, I had the radio playing and heard a BC Liberal advertisement for an oinker trying to find a place at the trough. The intro accused the NDP of unrestrained spending after that party formed government a couple of decades ago. Additionally, Liberals stated that families were broken apart as workers fled the province because of destroyed opportunities.

However, it seems the Liberal claims are actually based on myth and artifice, falsehoods that lazy and compliant media members, like the ones described here, echo and reinforce.

In fact, spending under Gordon Campbell and Christy Clark has been less restrained than it was under NDP Premiers Mike Harcourt and Glen Clark. The difference is dramatic when population statistics are included. Growth under 10 years of NDP was 19% but during the first 10 years of BC Liberal rule, it grew 13%.


The comparison would be worse for Liberals if I factored in all the "off balance sheet" transactions done through private agencies, government owned corporations, public private partnerships and by unrecorded future commitments such as those that financed billions in private power expansion.


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Friday, April 5, 2013

Only when their lips move

On February 15, Times of India Film Awards flack Laura Ballance said,
"About 35,000 tickets for the April 6 awards ceremony at B.C. Place went up for grabs Friday morning at 8 a.m. — and by 4 p.m. only a few single tickets remained. ...We’re virtually sold out."
April 5, CKNW reported the latest version from Laura Ballance,
"When 20,000 tickets were offered in February, they were snapped up but she says since then, they've reconfigured the stage and seating plan... People can go in and get tickets at the different ranges..."
Now, I have a choice to believe TOIFA about a near sell-out crowd or to believe the ticket broker who said they'll "be papering the place."

Well, Kingsley Bailey never lied to me before.

Advertising man par excellence Terry O'Reilly on his wonderful CBC program Age of Persuasion, said this,
"A generation ago, one of the greats of the Ad business, Bob Levenson, wrote perhaps the most remarkable - and least-celebrated - ads in history.

"Titled "Do This Or Die", it was both a manifesto and a warning to the Ad Industry.

"It was a plea for candour and intelligence among advertisers, and for authentic dialogue with consumers."
That week on The Age of Persuasion, Terry O'Reilly explained why today's advertisers ignore this plea at their peril. Christy Clark's team should have been paying attention.


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As much as anyone, Liberals hurt themselves


"A lie is an affront to the soul, as well as an insult to the intelligence of the person to whom one lies." ― Judith McNaught


Underwear mfg is prime sponsor
Tickets for Vancouver’s Times of India Film Awards ‘virtually’ sell out within hours, Larissa Cahute, Vancouver Desi, Feb 15, 2013
"Tickets for the first-ever Times of India Film Awards gala in Vancouver were “virtually sold out” within two hours of officially going on sale.

About 35,000 tickets for the April 6 awards ceremony at B.C. Place went up for grabs Friday morning at 8 a.m. — and by 4 p.m. only a few single tickets remained.

" 'I was — I have to admit — surprised at the actual amount of tickets that went so quickly,' said Laura Ballance, with Laura Ballance Media Group — the PR firm leading the North American media relations for TOIFA. 'It was virtually sold out in the first two hours.'...

" 'It’s been a fantastic day,' said Ballance."
Premier Christy Clark, on Facebook:
“Great to hear the Times of India Film Awards sold out in a single day. Hosting the awards show is a tremendous economic opportunity for British Columbia.”
Minister of Something Pat Bell in the BC Legislature, Hansard, March 5:
"We've got a great deal at $11 million. It's already sold out."
Sold out Mr. Minister? Not by a long shot. Sponsorship dollars by Vancouver based businesses are almost non-existent and investigative journalist Bob Mackin quotes long time ticket broker Kingsley Bailey as saying,
"I think they’re probably going to be papering the place."
Pacific Coliseum hosted the Times of India Film Awards Musical Extravaganza on April 4. The venue's full concert bowl seating provides a maximum of 13,500 seats. Late Friday, CKNW reported attendance had been 4,700.

A film screening scheduled in Surrey was scrubbed and TOIFA spokeswoman Laura Balance told BIV that the planned venue was too small to constitute "a true community event."

The second of two public events still planned, the April 6 gala awards show that sold out in hours seven weeks ago, still has thousands of seats available early morning April 5. At that, only about half the capacity of BC Place is being used.

The three hour event at BC Place Stadium serves another important purpose. It allowed Pavco officials to count off sixteen event days. Yes, 16: 10 move-in days, 1 concert day, 2 move-out days and 3 conversion days to reconfigure BC Place for soccer. No bloody wonder Pavco executives keep meeting their facility utilization targets and earn those bonuses.


UPDATE:

Questioned April 5 about the SOLD OUT show still having thousand of tickets available, Liberal flack Laura Ballance (she also helped Pacific Carbon Trust's effort to discredit the Auditor General) says they reconfigured the stadium and that's the reason that tickets are now available.

Of course, were that true, the available tickets would be in newly opened sections. However, when I looked at the online ticket sales site early this morning, seats were available in many sections, even in the premium floor seating. Does Ms. Ballance expect us to believe they suddenly found space for more chairs on the stadium floor?

I refer to the line at top. tbe TOIFA representative insults our intelligence if she expects us to believe what she is saying.


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Monday, April 1, 2013

Pundit, partisan, or?

A garrulous right-winger, Alise Mills has appeared on CKNW, CTV, Sun News Network and CBC. Because she is pervasive, it's worth learning a little about her. In the preceding article, you can hear Mills discussing blogs that she calls "absolute garbage" but I offer information about her that is a good deal more specific.

In August 2012, the national network described Mills as a "Conservative political analyst" when she said on camera that British Columbia's free enterprise coalition was ending. Mills predicted the B.C. Liberals would lose the coming election and probably cease to exist. Talking after Kevin Falcon's August resignation, she said,
"There was sort of a lack of direction by the Premier's office. It seemed to be skipping from one announcement to the next and no real focal point. I think they've lost their way a little bit and I think that's more or less what we need to be looking at."
She stated that Christy Clark should fall on her sword to protect the right of centre coalition.

But, that was then, this is now. A few days ago, BC Conservative blogger Dean Skoreyko wrote about Mills in Another “Conservative” outed as a Liberal mole:
"And now we have another one of these BC Liberals in Conservative clothing who has fully exposed herself.

"Alise Mills runs around pretending to be a Conservative in the media when it suits her purpose such as appearances as a frequent guest on Sun News David Akin’s program Battleground like when she tellingly played-down the BC Rail scandal as an election issue..."
Inevitably, hired guns deliver their loyalties to people who pay the bills. While Alise Mills predicted the end of the BC Liberals and called on Premier Clark to resign, she's back in the fold trying to get MLA Mary Polak elected in a campaign against Conservative leader John Cummins and NDP candidate Andrew Mercier. According to Globe and Mail writer Justine Hunter, Alise Mills is currently Liberal Mary Polak's communications guru. (Note: Subsequent to publication, Liberal insiders said this claim was untrue.)

Mills refers to herself as a "crisis communications & issues management consultant & part-time political pundit." In the summer of 2011, she was a lobbyist for clients of accounting firm MNP, formerly Meyers Norris Penney. Sun business writer David Baines and a group of wounded investors once knew her as a director and vice-president for Veridigm Inc., a Vancouver company that traded on the OTC Bulletin Board in the United States.

Baines is a highly respected business writer, long the bane of perfidious promoters skulking around stock investment scenes. He paints an unsettling picture of cheats, dupes and victims and Alise Mills was one of the subjects in How Louis Dion's much-hyped gambling venture came to naught:
"... About this time, Alise Mills, a Vancouver public relations specialist and occasional radio and television political commentator, became a director and vice-president of corporate communications.

"Her arrival was the first hint that Dion [recently sentenced by a New York judge to 4 years for securities fraud] was working behind the scenes. Two years earlier, Mills had held a similar position with the World Bingo League Co. Inc. (a.k.a. World Entertainment Corp. and World Mobile Network Corp.), which featured Dion as president and controlling shareholder.

"World Bingo was a disaster for investors. As detailed in my column last Saturday, Dion told prospective investors that, within three years, the company's online bingo games would generate $54 million in revenues and $17 million in net profits. In fact, the company didn't generate a cent of revenues.

"In June 2007, Mills announced "the upcoming launch" of Veridigm's newly developed game, Megaz Bucks, which she described as "the largest progressive jackpot game ever to be offered on the Internet."

"Not mentioned was the fact that the domain name, MegazBucks.com, had been registered the previous month by Kerrie Naples, who is Dion's daughter.

"On July 12, 2007, Mills announced the official launch of the Megaz Bucks game, with a "progressive jackpot that would begin at $5 million and grow from there."

"...In September 2007, Veridigm announced a master licensing agreement with Cannes Games. According to Mills, the agreement would enable Veridigm "to further position itself as a leading international provider of progressive online gaming software." No further details were provided

"Mills also announced the company would move its head office from Vancouver to Dublin, which she described as "a leading city in the online gaming software and entertainment industry."

"Mills said about 35 Veridigm staff would relocate to Dublin from Vancouver. "Our plan is take on an additional 25 to 30 people with software skills and see us eventually employing over 100 people," she said. (There is no indication in any of Veridigm's public filings that the company had anywhere near 35 employees.)

"All these boosterish announcements were difficult to reconcile with the company's financial statements, which showed the company failed to generate a single cent of revenue during the year ending Dec. 31, 2007.

"Furthermore, the company had no capacity to generate any revenue. As of Dec. 31, 2007, it had zero cash and its total assets consisted of office equipment valued at $3,471.

"So what happened to the $4.5-million financing that the company had announced in March 2007? Mills confessed in a news release in December 2007 -some nine months after the fact -that the financing never happened.

"She also admitted the company never consummated the deal with Dimensions Inc., which was supposed to provide access to a gaming platform that generated $125 million annually in betting revenue. Ditto for the deal with Cannes Games. In February 2008, the company announced it had removed Mills as a senior officer and director. By that time, the stock -which traded as high as 22 cents in June 2007 -had sunk to two cents..."
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