Thursday, May 15, 2014

With Ian Jessop CFAX1070, May 14

We discuss the province's natural gas revenue, BC Ferries, log exports and public debt.

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  1. One thing I don't understand with the IPP contracts . If I owned a business, and the manager I hired to run my business signed contracts with companies that I purchase products from that were obviously not in the best financial interests of my company at all . Would or could those contracts be declared invalid in some sort of court proceedings . Especially if those said product distributers were in some way rewarding my business manager financially with say money to his political party if he had one. And the product distributers were in constant violation of their contracts by say ... killing thousands or hundreds of thousands of fish and countless other infractions with no consequences. I guess what im trying to say is this is legal ?

    1. Say you authorized me to find you a $25,000 used car and agreed that I could commit you would to pay for that car over time. You would be obliged, even if you discovered that a similar vehicle had been available for $15,000 and that the seller was an old friend of my family who frequently gave us gifts and other rewards.

      You might not like the deal but if you needed my permission to challenge it in court, you might not get me to agree, even if the car needed expensive repairs and you had to pay for them. You would be stuck with a bad deal because you authorized another person to act on your behalf. It would be different if you had direct evidence of fraud but that would not include mere knowledge that this car deal was one of a pattern of nudge, nudge, wink, wink arrangements.

      IMO, there are elements of public administration needed for public trust.

      First, take away the millions that political parties raise for their operations. Cash should be severely limited and originate from individual contributions, not businesses, corporations, unions, foundations, or political interest groups. Laws should prohibit senior public servants and politicians from taking benefits, material hospitality, or employment from organizations affected by government actions, while the recipients are in office and for a two-year transition.

      If political parties were to have minimal operating budgets, and spending on their behalf similarly limited, the system would instead depend on citizen involvement. Big money allows a few people to have voices out of proportion to their numbers. That is not healthy for democracy.

      Perhaps most important though is the need for complete transparency of all government business. Just as we should be privy to all expense accounts of public servants, we should be able to look at all details and communications that relate to public administration. There should be almost no secrets in the business of government and the people keeping secrets should not be the ones who determine a need for secrecy. Full disclosure allows wrongdoing to be exposed and it is the certainty of discovery that prevents improper acts in the first place.

  2. I really like your explanation of this Norm especially the last three paragraphs. Well said.

  3. I had a several conversations with the California Energy Commission on the recently Bennett and Polak approved Narrows Inlet Hydro project......they answered more of my queries in a single phone call than my own government in B C did with hundreds of my after tax dollars for FOI requests.....

    1. I've had the same experience in Washington State. People working for government there have an expectation that their work is open to scrutiny. In British Columbia, senior civil servants, quasi-public servants and political operatives expect they will operate in the shadows and there will be no consequence for doing so. We've learned repeated examples of government and political business being intertwined and conducted in personal communication channels, protected from FOI. It has been common practice.

      One example that I've tried to learn more about: A Vice President of BC Investment Management Corporation sits as a Director of a company in which BCiMc has a very substantial investments. Can that person serve British Columbians on whose behalf he invests money while he serves as a member of management of the company? He is paid about $1 million a year to work for BCiMC, yet he also serves other companies. IMO, there is potential conflict of interest but there is also almost nothing on the public record and no willingness to reveal details.



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