Monday, January 25, 2016

Vanishing revenues

With land developers, largest funders of the BC Liberal Party are natural resource companies. They've contributed millions of dollars to encourage government sympathetic to their needs. No administration in the province's history has been as sympathetic to natural gas producers as the present one and benefits to the industry measure in the billions.

I offer information about payments made by natural gas producers to the province over the last ten years. The report is drawn from provincial documents and the numbers can be confirmed by anyone with diligence. These show only the natural resource revenue side, without affect of government accounting that spreads certain rights payments over time. That policy has a smoothing effect so that, in the current fiscal year, the province's statement of operations will not directly reflect recent weakness in both royalties and sale of petroleum and natural gas rights.

Additionally, government is now spending unprecedented sums to promote the industry. In fiscal year 2016, despite the absence of associated revenues, the Natural Gas Development Ministry budget was up 11% to $444 million. In addition, BC Hydro is spending billions to deliver subsidized power to producers and fresh water is poisoned in stunning quantities for fracking.

Gas and other natural resource revenues are influenced by a number of factors. The pricing principles applied have more to do with profitability of resource companies than the intrinsic value of public goods produced by private enterprises. (Ask your landlord to use that principle for calculating your dwelling rent.)

I'd like readers to concentrate on the revenue changes since Gordon Campbell departed. There is a connection waiting to be revealed.

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Thursday, January 21, 2016

Expect to resume writing Monday

A short illness compounded by my computer keyboard going dead has left me quiet for a while. I expect to have new working equipment shortly and to resume writing by Monday. Thanks for all the inquiries.

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Tuesday, January 12, 2016

BC Jobs Plan

British Columbia Liberals haven't talked much about the BC Jobs Plan lately, perhaps because they don't want people looking too closely at statistical reports. Those reveal a trend where full-time jobs are being replaced by part-time jobs, not for teenagers or young adults but for people who traditionally form the most stable part of the workforce.

Here is one example taken from Statistics Canada table 282-0001:

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Saturday, January 9, 2016

"Veritable sewer of skullduggery"

I published the following piece about two years ago. It came to mind after I noticed Black Press writer Tom Fletcher claiming on Twitter that the Shawnigan toxic waste dump on a hill, above a watershed, in a rainforest, is A-OK; that reporting observations of uncontained runoffs is mere political rhetoric and that contaminated soils dumped above Shawnigan Lake may not actually be contaminated.

Note the last few paragraphs in this article because it explains why some promedia scribblers are quick to serve vested interests and dump on people not eagerly doing the same. Purported journalists in the dying news industry have limited choices to stay employed and being in favour with government and industry is the best way of keeping alternatives at hand and avoiding unwanted retirement. It's called paving an exit road.
- - - - - - - - - - - - -

Reading through Diane Francis' 1988 book Contrapreneurs, from which the title of this piece is taken, I noted repeated mentions of a person who was, for more than a decade, indisputable bête noir of white-collar con artists in British Columbia and beyond. Former Vancouver trader Adrian du Plessis had developed qualities, says Francis, that separated him from Vancouver Stock Exchange colleagues: honesty and courage. Refusal to facilitate improper stock manipulation and a decision to blow the whistle got him fired from the investment industry. It also led him into working more than a decade as an investigative researcher and independent analyst of stock frauds.

In days before the 1999 creation of Canadian Venture Exchange (now TSX Venture Exchange), even people putting money into the Vancouver market knew it was a place of dirty stock deals, operated primarily for the benefit of member-owners. Respected Sun business writer David Baines wrote that BC's regulatory system in those days had much more bark than bite. Baines could have added that the most most heard sound around the VSE was not a bark, it was "Baaaaaa" from newly shorn investors.

Adrian du Plessis took on difficult foes when he struggled to hold investment companies accountable for frauds engineered or tolerated. This was not David vs. Goliath, it was David vs. a platoon of Goliaths, many who moved in circles of the province's most powerful. When the whistleblower turned full time muckraker, his opportunities for expression were limited. The internet was in its infancy; major journals such as Newsweek considered it a near useless "wasteland of unfiltered data."

Newspapers, then as now, cared more for their own financial interests than for ambiguous public interests. Many investor journals and newsletters were operated by outright shills, paid to promote deals of questionable value. They aimed to be cheerleaders, not critics of the markets. Stockwatch, a reputable service operated by John Woods, employed du Plessis for a period of time but was pressured by the investment community to end the relationship. Threats of violence, even death, were aimed at the man.

Probably the riskiest campaign waged by du Plessis was one involving a man the BBC called the Billion Dollar Don. Semion Mogilevich has also been called boss of bosses of Russian organized crime syndicates and, about the time that du Plessis interfered with his operations, Mogilevich was described in American press as the most dangerous mobster in the World.

Panorama, a British current affairs program, reported on YBM Magnex, whose shares soared from pennies when launched on Canadian stock markets to over $20 in just two years.

After being asked to investigate, du Plessis told BBC investigative journalist Tom Mangrove,
"What I was able to determine about YBM from the documents was that Semion Mogilevich
was an original founder and a controlling interest and in a sense, the brains or the eminence grise
behind the construction of YBM Magnex..."
The Panorama transcript continues,
Once Du Plessis had burrowed deep into the paperwork, the true pattern of YBM's dealings
became clear.

YBM was a mix of reality and fantasy, illusion, a sham that at its core had some businesses
but was also engaged in a range of things that were entirely fictitious and in other ways very
dangerous and illicit.

After Du Plessis published his findings the FBI raided the firm's HQ, the company soon
collapsed and went into receivership.

In early l998, YBM was valued at almost a billion dollars Canadian. That paper is all
worthless now. The bottom line is the public lost tens of millions, maybe hundreds of
millions, in YBM.
Not surprisingly, after YBM, du Plessis ended his role as public protector. His work had been admired internationally and he helped expose a gigantic fraud that involved important players in Canada, including a former Premier of Ontario. Yet, his concern for victims of a corrupt financial system made certain he was anathema to those who reported on or benefited from that same system.

By now, readers may be wondering if there is a current day point to this history lesson. Well, of course there is.

I would like you to remember that at times, communicators outside the corporate media are vital to revealing truth. Newspaper publisher Postmedia, operating at a loss and heavily indebted, will not spend money to examine the markets in which its American owners gain power and rewards. Governments that prefer to believe businesses should regulate themselves will never dedicate sufficient resources to materially disturb their friends and sponsors. Think tanks and, increasingly, the academic world depend on powerful financial interests to enable their activities. As taxpayer supports decline, commercial interests become paramount. Fewer voices speak on behalf of the public.

According to journalism professor Robert McChesney, by 2010, PR agents in the USA had come to outnumber professional journalists by a ratio of four to one. One of the PR conglomerates, WPP Group, based in London, employs about 160,000 people worldwide. Former Vancouver Sun legislature reporter Jonathan Fowlie recently joined Hill + Knowlton Strategies, a unit of WPP. Perhaps even more significantly, H&K works for Enbridge and numerous corporations very interested in favourable treatment in media.

Newspaper writers and editors, faced with continuous downsizing, understandably keep eyes on alternative employment. Canadian radio and television outside of Ontario is largely devoid of journalistic capability and, more importantly, opportunity. These conditions can result in paving of exit roads, which means making friends and establishing relationships that might be helpful in the future. Favours given today are favours returned tomorrow.

These facts are not ones that all people employed in corporate media care to acknowledge. Claiming to hold the legitimate wisdom, they do not appreciate criticism in any form. Instead, some hope to strengthen their current situations by casting aspersions on members of alternative media who add points of view to public debate. Always, the pro media's denunciations are not specific but the generalized pejoratives are repeated.

When you consider points of view, consider whose interests are being served.

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Questions for BC Liberal by-election candidates

One day after Kelowna Liberal MLA Ben Stewart resigned in 2013, unelected Christy Clark called a by-election so that she could seek election and continue as Premier. Weeks later, Stewart was rewarded with a $150,000 a year patronage appointment.

On July 8, Jenny Kwan resigned as MLA for Vancouver-Mount PLeasant and August 14, Douglas Horne resigned as MLA for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain. Both ran in the October federal election; Kwan was successful.

Tuesday, Premier Clark got around to calling by-elections to fill the two vacancies. For one, she had three days to spare since the BC Constitution Act specifies a by-election must be called within six months of a seat in the Legislature becoming vacant.

Perhaps Premier Clark's by-election strategy will follow that used in 2015 by Stephen Harper, her political soulmate. In that case, her candidates will go into hiding and there will be no opportunities for questions.

Joan Isaacs & Gavin Dew
If Ms. Isaacs, a former mutual fund salesperson, and Mr. Dew, a spin doctor who's been working on behalf of Kinder Morgan's project to ship dilbit through Burrard Inlet, appear in public forums, here are a few enquiries that could be posed to them:
  • Why is the Liberal government allowing Shawnigan Lake’s drinking water to be poisoned?
  • Why is the Liberal environment minister refusing to be interviewed about Shawnigan contamination?
  • Why should BC Hydro spend $10 to $20 billion for unneeded electricity?
  • Are you happy with provincial debt and contractual obligations that are budgeted to rise above $170 billion by 2017/18?
  • Why not halt Site C until court cases proceed?
  • Why make new IPP contracts 3x market price for unneeded power?
  • Why pay IPPs double the price BC Hydro sells power to industry?
  • Why secretly subsidize industry through BC Hydro instead of making the supports part of the BC budget?
  • Are you in favour of the BC Public Sector (schools, hospitals etc) spending $millions to purchase dubious carbon offsets?
  • Why charge same MSP premium to person with $30,001 annual income as a person with $2 million income?
  • Why has disability assistance been frozen since June 1, 2007?
  • Why sell Burke Mountain Land to Liberal contributors for $43 million less than assessed value?
  • Why did BC Liberals allow Queen of Chilliwack to be sold for a pittance two years after a $17 million refit?
  • Why fire health researchers w/o justification, then pay them off with taxpayer's dollars and require their silence as part of the settlement?
  • Why pay BC Liberal cronies huge fees to conduct "independent" examinations of wrongdoing by the BC Liberal government?
  • Why have Liberals ignored the duty to document business of government?
  • Why allow governing politicians to take cash from companies they regulate?
  • Since you chose to run for BC Liberals, can you be trusted?
I invite readers to submit additional questions that Liberal candidates might be asked if they appear in open forums. I'll add them to the body of this article.

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Certainty of Site C massive cost overrun is 86%

A repeat, first published December 17, 2014:

BC's Minister of Energy said in mid October that the $7.9 billion budget for Site C had been examined by top international experts and was assuredly "reliable." Two months later, Premier Clark revealed the dam budget had jumped to $8.5 billion. Days passed and when project approval was announced, the budget had jumped to $8.775 billion.

Once again, the British Columbia Liberals demonstrate practiced mendacity. They are consistent though since mega-projects of the past five years typically doubled between first announcement and completion but were invariably pronounced to be on-time and on-budget. The mantra will be used again for the Peace River project, and it will be echoed by the compliant proMedia, even if the dam costs $18 billion. Overages will be accepted,
because as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns -- the ones we don't know we don't know.
A comprehensive study, published in Journal of the American Planning Association, was titled Underestimating Costs in Public Works Projects, Error or Lie? The front page sidebar states,
Based on a sample of 258 transportation infrastructure projects worth US$90 billion …it is found with overwhelming statistical significance that the cost estimates used to decide whether such projects should be built are highly and systematically misleading. Underestimation cannot be explained by error and is best explained by strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying. The policy implications are clear: legislators, administrators, investors, media representatives, and members of the public who value honest numbers should not trust cost estimates and cost-benefit analyses produced by project promoters and their analysts.
The Oxford University authors make the following observations,
  • Costs are underestimated in almost 9 out of 10 projects. For a randomly selected project, the likelihood of actual costs being larger than estimated costs is 86%.
  • Actual costs are on average 28% higher than estimated costs.
  • Estimated costs are biased, and the bias is caused by systematic underestimation.
  • Costs are not only underestimated much more often than they are overestimated or correct, costs that have been underestimated are also wrong by a substantially larger margin than costs that have been overestimated.
  • Underestimation of costs at the time of decision to build is the rule rather than the exception for transportation infrastructure projects. Frequent and substantial cost escalation is the result.
  • Underestimating the costs of a given project leads to a falsely high benefit-cost ratio for that project, which in turn leads to two problems. First, the project may be started despite the fact that it is not economically viable. Or, second, it may be started instead of another project that would have yielded higher returns had the actual costs of both projects been known. Both cases result in the inefficient use of resources and therefore in waste of taxpayers’ money.
The Sierra Club believes that latter point is significant,
British Columbians will be shelling out up-front, B.C. will be losing big time on the jobs front. Building geothermal plants to the same capacity would employ almost 1,900 people – compared to only 165 for Site C. And this doesn’t even take into account development of the agricultural sector in the valley.
According to The Common Sense Canadian,
The retired head of the Association of Major Power Users of BC, Dan Potts, estimates the proposed Site C Dam would lose $350 million a year for taxpayers and BC Hydro ratepayers. The 30-year pulp mill manager told media in Vancouver yesterday that the project, estimated to cost $8 Billion or more, is “fundamentally uneconomic” – based on its outmoded technology and power trading prices that are likely to remain far lower than the cost of electricity produced by Site C.
Prof. Bent Flyvbjerg was co-author of an article in the Harvard Business Review about the runaway cost of a project at a large American clothing company,
A $5 million project that leads to an almost $200 million loss is a classic “black swan.” The term was coined by our colleague Nassim Nicholas Taleb to describe high-impact events that are rare and unpredictable but in retrospect seem not so improbable. Indeed, what happened at Levi Strauss occurs all too often, and on a much larger scale…
Former Premier Glen Clark created a $200 million black swan intended for coastal waters. The cost of Christy Clark's rare bird will be measured in billions.

Read this article Lies my energy minister told me from December 12.

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Thursday, January 7, 2016

Medical services poverty program

Readers of an age to receive a monthly Old Age Security cheque will be thrilled to notice a 57¢ increase in January. As I mentioned on Twitter, cautious saving of that amount might allow a splurge next Christmas.

Unfortunately, there may be no cauliflowers for Christmas among seniors in British Columbia. Premier Clark's government just took more than five times the January OAS increase by raising an individual's medical services plan premium from $72 a month to $75. In the current year, MSP premiums will bring in more than 40% of the take from personal income taxes when Christy Clark took control of the Liberal government.

Here is how medical revenues have changed over time.

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Liberal estimates and guesstimates

This article first published here in October 2014 is even more significant today.

BC's Minister of Energy and Mines says the $7.9 billion budget for Site C is "reliable" and the estimate of "direct construction costs" of $3.8 billion has "an 18% contingency." Bill Bennett's words are imprecise but if $3.8 billion includes the contingency, the allowance for known unknowns and unknown unknowns would be $580 million, 8% of the entire project cost. Compare that to two much smaller Liberal projects that are $2¼ billion, or 98% over budget.

In 2006, Vancouver Sun's Miro Cernetig wrote $3-billion plan to end gridlock:
"VICTORIA -- A $3-billion plan aimed at staving off gridlock in the Lower Mainland will be revealed today, with plans for more and bigger bridges, wider and longer highways and more green-friendly bicycle lanes for the next decade and beyond..."
The plan included $1.5 billion for a new Port Mann Bridge and two additional lanes on Highway 1 as well as $800 million for the South Fraser River Perimeter road. According to the Transportation Investment Corporation Annual Report 2014, the final cost of the first project is $3.319 billion. The truck highway from Roberts Bank to Port Mann cost $1.235 billion. The cost overrun for the two recent capital works is 98% of original estimates.

In his public statement last week, Bennett assured listeners that cost estimates for the Peace River project were accurate because they were reviewed by external engineers, including SNC-Lavalin, a company that Liberals enjoy working with but one that has admitted winning contracts through corruption. Even when the participants are not ethically challenged and/or incompetent, processes to establish budgets for large capital projects are problematic.

Scientists associated with Oxford University conducted a study of 245 dam construction projects across five continents. From the abstract of their paper:¹
"A brisk building boom of hydropower mega-dams is underway from China to Brazil. Whether benefits of new dams will outweigh costs remains unresolved despite contentious debates. ...We find overwhelming evidence that budgets are systematically biased below actual costs of large hydropower dams — excluding inflation, substantial debt servicing, environmental, and social costs. ...The outside view suggests that in most countries large hydropower dams will be too costly in absolute terms and take too long to build to deliver a positive risk-adjusted return unless suitable risk management measures outlined in this paper can be affordably provided. Policymakers, particularly in developing countries, are advised to prefer agile energy alternatives that can be built over shorter time horizons to energy megaprojects.
Commenting about the paper in The Guardian, two of the paper's authors said,
"With an average cost overrun of over 90%, large dams have one of the highest cost overruns among all infrastructure asset classes. This result is before accounting for negative impacts on human society and environment, and without including the effects of inflation and debt servicing.

"What's worse, planners do not seem to learn. Forecasts are likely to be as wrong as they were between 1934-2007. Dam budgets today are as wrong as at any time during the 70 years for which data exist."
Another paper worth noting is Cost Underestimation in Public Works Projects: Error or Lie? It,
"found with overwhelming statistical significance that the cost estimates used to decide whether such projects should be built are highly and systematically misleading. Underestimation cannot be explained by error and is best explained by strategic misrepresentation, that is, lying. The policy implications are clear: legislators, administrators, investors, media representatives, and members of the public who value honest numbers should not trust cost estimates and cost-benefit analyses produced by project promoters and their analysts."


¹Full reference: Ansar, Atif, Bent Flyvbjerg, Alexander Budzier, and Daniel Lunn, 2014,
"Should We Build More Large Dams? The Actual Costs of Hydropower Megaproject Development,"
Energy Policy, March, pp. 1-14,
DOI: 10.1016/j.enpol.2013.10.069

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Why the rush to spend billions?

BC Hydro's own sales records demonstrate Site C is not needed. Domestic consumption of electricity has been flat for more than a decade and technological efficiencies indicate we will need less power, not more in the near future. This is proven by looking at the trend line of per capita consumption of domestic power for residential, commercial and industrial purposes.

Experts know that efficiencies can lead to dramatic improvements in energy conservation. As an example, in the last dozen years, passenger car fuel useage has improved by about 30% for each kilometre travelled. By using new lighting technology and converting to more efficient electric motors, similar improvements are already possible in electricity consumed by business and residential customers.

We must ask why the BC Liberal government intends to spend billions of dollars for unneeded generating capacity. Who is to benefit? Who is to pay the costs? We must also ask why they rush; why they cannot wait for resolution of current court actions brought by opponents of the project.

This news release was issued by some of the citizens directly affected by Site C.

"...before the court cases are even heard, BC Hydro is destroying the very valley that these court cases are intended to protect."

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Tuesday, January 5, 2016

A reader comments

I've been reporting information taken from annual and quarterly reports of BC Hydro. There are important economic issues and billions of dollars at stake and the people who benefit from the way BC Hydro operates are many, some of them influential. Corporate media does not cover these issues. Perhaps the reasons are obvious.

We know that BC Hydro has committed to buy electricity worth more than $60 billion, at prices far above market, from independent power producers (IPPs). We also know that many well-connected individuals earned large profits by arranging and then flipping contracts to supply BC Hydro. It is also clear that BC Hydro is selling power to industrial users for about half the cost it faces to acquire new power. Many of the beneficiaries of cheap power are generous contributors to the BC Liberal Party.

We also know that, despite a decade of flat domestic demand for power, BC Hydro is committed now to spending over $10 billion to expand generation capacity. IPPs also continue to expand, disrupting new areas of precious wilderness, even though power is unneeded.

Residential and commercial users pay substantially more for the electricity they consume to to allow industrial users to pay less and IPPs to be unaffected by free market prices.

I don't object to using public funds and institutions for legitimate economic objectives but the efforts should be transparent and the people involved should be fully accountable. That's not happening now in British Columbia and, as citizens, we should be asking why.

A reader named Les left this comment on the preceding article and I think it is worth highlighting because it demonstrates that a thorough independent examination of BC Hydro is overdue.
As long as I can remember, one justification for lower prices to industry was their large use of power. The idea was to take lower revenue on each kilowatt hour but earn more revenue through larger volume.

I also remember the old business joke about selling shovels for less than each cost, but hoping to make up for the loss through volume.

Even the Liberals aren't that stupid so the explanation of their energy policy is something else.

It is simple economics. The Government wants to subsidize businesses that are heavy users of power but they don't want to do it openly where the values and justifications of subsidies can be examined. Were the businesses in need? Were all B.C. businesses treated with equal fairness? Were jobs produced and communities preserved? Was tax revenue generated? Was business assistance for a limited time or permanent?

There is another old rule of politics: when you do something good, you tell everything to the world; when you do something bad, you hide all details.

I believe that reasonable people can readily determine what's going on in B.C.
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Monday, January 4, 2016

Buy high, sell low

In the six months ended September 30, BC Hydro purchased 7,640 GWh of electricity from independent power producers. It paid $599 million, which is $78,400 per GWh.

In the same period, BC Hydro delivered 6,771 GWh to heavy industry at an average sale price of $55,400 per GWh.

Not counting very significant overhead and transmission costs of gathering electricity from many small producers and delivering power to industrial users, such as those owned by Murray Edwards, Christy Clark’s most generous supporter, the direct loss is $23,000 per GWh, or $156 million in six months.

This reveals two large subsidies being provided to Liberal friends. Compared to heavy industry, residential consumers pay 187% more for each unit of electricity and commercial users pay 165% more. In addition, independent power producers are paid prices for electricity far higher than either the BC or Pacific Northwest markets justify. Additionally, they are insulated from business and market risks since BC Hydro reduces its own power generation to accept IPP electricity into the system.

Now BC Liberals think hundreds of millions spent subsidizing the electricity bills of their financial contributors is insufficient. Energy and Mines Minister Bill Bennett proposes to allow mining companies to defer payment of power bills and mineral taxes. The latter is insignificant because mining companies already pay almost none. However, electricity is a big ticket item.

Bennett says "There's urgency to this." I suspect that Premier Clark's minions were rolling on the floor laughing, wondering how many other financial time bombs could be planted for future governments.

Of course, the details of planned deferrals are not discussed in public. Is Bennett proposing that resource companies be allowed to pay monthly bills a little after the due dates, or is he offering something far different?

Will unpaid bills attract interest? Will deferrals be for a year, five years or forever? Will long-term contracts be signed to ensure no future government can change deferral terms without triggering large payouts to the businesses?

Compare the BC Liberal attitude to individual citizens who face hard times. When asked about benefit rates frozen for almost a decade, Social Development & Social Innovation minister Michelle Stilwell stressed that payments to disabled citizens are dependent on "what is fiscally acceptable to taxpayers."

Later in 2014, Premier Clark added, “We should raise rates for people who live on disability, when we can afford it."

Now in 2016, we still can't afford to raise social service benefits but helping a favourite Calgary billionaire is urgent.

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Saturday, January 2, 2016

Proceed without caution

Even slightly aware BC citizens know that Premier Clark and her accomplices are incompetent. Liberal managers include not a single person capable of completing a basic course in strategic decision making. The result is a litany of failed designs, missed opportunities, blown budgets and unmet goals. Excepting deadly choices at the Children and Family Development ministry, the main Liberal blunders involve energy. Because of Campbell-Clark-Coleman-Bennett decisions, public wealth will drain from the province for decades.

Yet, the full consequences of bad choices and improprieties are not yet revealed. Some - like major awards to an insolvent Site C contractor - will be resolved by applying yet more public money. Others, like diverting waterways and poisoning groundwaters or dedicating vast tracts of unceded land to transmission corridors will not be resolved with bags of cash.

The rush to advance Site C dam construction and various energy projects despite opposition from affected indigenous peoples is partly justified by the sunk-cost fallacy, which the government's media lackeys have been repeating for months. It requires:
Reasoning that further investment is warranted on the fact that the resources already invested will be lost otherwise, not taking into consideration the overall losses involved in the further investment.
The provincial government and its agencies have been proceeding as if the directions of Canada's highest court are unclear or have no meaning in British Columbia. Rich Coleman has explained his attitude to experts and court orders, "I'm not going to buy any of this."

It is doubtful that Coleman and his political colleagues have examined details of the final decision of Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia since it runs to almost 20,000 words. However, the outcome of Roger William's 24-year quest for indigenous rights may end up being more than groundbreaking. It may also be government-breaking. Here are a few of the words:

Supreme Court of Canada Judgements, Tsilhqot’in Nation v. British Columbia, 2014 SCC 44:
[67] As we have seen, Delgamuukw establishes that Aboriginal title “encompasses the right to exclusive use and occupation of the land held pursuant to that title for a variety of purposes” (para. 117), including non-traditional purposes, provided these uses can be reconciled with the communal and ongoing nature of the group’s attachment to the land. Subject to this inherent limit, the title-holding group has the right to choose the uses to which the land is put and to enjoy its economic fruits (para. 166).

[73] Aboriginal title confers ownership rights similar to those associated with fee simple, including: the right to decide how the land will be used; the right of enjoyment and occupancy of the land; the right to possess the land; the right to the economic benefits of the land; and the right to pro-actively use and manage the land.

[92] Once title is established, it may be necessary for the Crown to reassess prior conduct in light of the new reality in order to faithfully discharge its fiduciary duty to the title-holding group going forward. For example, if the Crown begins a project without consent prior to Aboriginal title being established, it may be required to cancel the project upon establishment of the title if continuation of the project would be unjustifiably infringing. Similarly, if legislation was validly enacted before title was established, such legislation may be rendered inapplicable going forward to the extent that it unjustifiably infringes Aboriginal title.

[97] I add this. Governments and individuals proposing to use or exploit land, whether before or after a declaration of Aboriginal title, can avoid a charge of infringement or failure to adequately consult by obtaining the consent of the interested Aboriginal group.

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Friday, January 1, 2016

Can we talk about fast ferries instead?

From a presentation by renowned columnist Erik Andersen on CBC:
...After BC Hydro made all the IPP contracts Premier Campbell found that California did not consider "run of river" generation green. Not asking California first means BC Hydro made a $40 billion mistake that we are all paying for now.

BC Ferries is another example of gross economic and financial incompetence. The three ships built in Germany were wrongly powered, a fact pointed out to President Hahn by a former and respected BC Ferries design engineer and the German builders. Because of getting the "ship scale" wrong, a transport term used to describe the matter of sizing the vehicle, ship or airplane to the specifics of the job, we have three too large boats in service that operate with one complete deck taken out of service. That is the equivalent of about 15% of the total ships' weight that produces no revenue but has its costs as depreciation and fuel burn. This penalty is for the life of the ships which is maybe 75 years...
Famed commentator Rafe Mair asks why BC Hydro news has been unreported by British Columbia's mainstream media. Rafe poses questions to Postmedia:
Where have Vaughn Palmer and Mike Smyth been? Where have your reporters been? Where have your energy experts been? Where the hell has your Editorial Board been while the Campbell/Clark government through an enforced "sweetheart" deal between BC Hydro and large International Power Producers have bankrupt the former and unjustly enriched the latter?

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Takin' Care of Business

These charts demonstrate that rewarding influential friends and caring for business is a prime BC Liberal purpose.

Despite a decade of flat domestic demand, BC Hydro continues to add unneeded capacity and increase purchases from independent power producers. The utility not only buys more from IPPs, it pays more, up to 5 times Northwest Power Pool (NWPP) market prices.

However, because BC Hydro sells electricity to heavy industries for less than it pays independent power producers (IPPs), residential users and taxpayers must make good the losses.

BC Liberal schemes have cost billions of dollars already and will cost citizens tens of billions more.

So, if demand for electricity is flat, even declining, why is BC Hydro paying more than a billion dollars a year for power from independent producers? Without domestic demand growth, increased purchases from IPPs result in idling of existing BC Hydro generating capacity. Yes, that's the cheap power we could be enjoying today.

During the period that BC Hydro was paying IPPs about $90 per MWh, the market rate for power (MID C) was between one-fifth and one-third of that price, even after accounting for exchange.

Note: The figures shown shown here are extracted from BC Hydro's annual and quarterly reports.
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