Friday, May 9, 2014

I'm all right Jack! - updated

At The Tyee, Bob Mackin contributed Ex-Head of Troubled SNC-Lavalin Named Chair of BC Crown Corp. Like all work from this diligent investigative journalist - one of the few in BC - the article is worth your time. The comments are fun too although the web magazine's censors have been at work.

Commenting at The Gazetteer, regular reader motorcycleguy reminded me of an article about Gwyn Morgan published here in 2011. It's repeated below. In this item, I mentioned that Morgan's little Saanich bungalow was assessed at $7.5 million. That was based on the assessed value of 2007. The BC Assessment Authority pegs its 2014 market value as $5.9 million.

That his house was valued 29% more seven years ago is surprising. Perhaps it's unfair for taxpayers to be paying this influential man only $1 a year after he suffered a $1.6 million loss in value in his residential real estate. I suppose he was just unlucky since many of the capital area's residences have gone up in value over the last seven years. But, at least he's saved huge amounts in property taxes and he's made clear he does not like paying good money to governments.

I'm still wondering about why people who choose to live in secluded waterfront luxury, overlooking a sheltered seascape with precisely zero movements of oil tankers and coal barges, would aim to gift all this to the environment that is home to hundreds of thousands of aboriginal people of British Columbia and Alberta.

* * * * *
A quiz for readers. First person to identify this gentleman wins a free subscription to Northern Insights. He
  • was a major backer of Premier Photo Op during her bid for Liberal leadership;
  • served as a transition adviser to ensure BC's provincial government maintained the right direction while Gordon Campbell stole away (h/t: Lew);
  • is a director of several large corporations in Canada;
  • is on the board of trustees of the Fraser Institute;
  • is a Director for The Manning Centre for Building Democracy;
  • was appointed by Stephen Harper a Member of the Order of Canada;
  • linked rising gang violence in Canada to immigrants;
  • says "green alarmists" kill jobs;
  • favours export of water from B.C.’s remote coastal mountain streams;
  • served as the 2008/09 Jarislowsky Fellow in Business Management at the Haskayne School of Business, a part of Canada's centre of neo-liberalism, The University of Calgary, but, nevertheless, he claims that Canadian universities sing inadequate praises of free-market capitalism;
  • says power projects on the province's great rivers, such as the Peace, will create many jobs while providing clean competitively-priced energy;
  • demands government "Just say no to more stimulus spending [despite being Chair of a corporation grown fat on government contracts] because, rather than stimulating economic recovery, government spending has had the opposite effect"
One other thing. He opposes the plan to treat Victoria sewage now pumped offshore into Juan de Fuca Strait and claims that treatment may instead harm the environment. He does not want tax dollars being wasted nor care about obligations to neighbouring Washington State. The Seattle Times editorialized in August 2010:
"...After almost four decades of willful neglect, abuse and arrogance, the British Columbia government has agreed to treat the raw sewage pumped into the water between Vancouver Island and Washington state. "This was never Victoria's secret. As noted in a Seattle Times story in 2006, "Victoria, B.C., is the only large city in North America that has made no effort to stop pumping its raw sewage into a waterway." "An estimated 34 million gallons of raw sewage are pumped every day into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Treatment amounts to passing the effluent through a screen to filter out flushable debris..."
Final clue: When in British Columbia, our subject resides on the forested ocean front of North Saanich in a modest little house assessed at $7.53 million,

in this neighbourhood (SW corner of photo) near Victoria:

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  1. Gwyn was also BCChristy's transition team advisor when she slithered into the Premier's office. I'm sure he steered her in the RIGHT direction.

    Hope you don't mind, but I've already been using my free subscription.....

  2. A true sociopath's sociopath. I cannot imagine anyone truly liking him. He must have a very sad life. Imagine the good all of those sociopaths could have done if they had one iota of compassion for their fellow man.

  3. Although I would never, as my wife put it two minutes ago, invite Gwynn Morgan over for dinner, I do agree with him on only one thing from that list. Victoria does not need sewage treatment and all the 'crap' spewing from those that will not believe the scientific studies is just so much political bafflegab.

    Keep up the good work Norm, I love your blog.

  4. Another example of the 1%'s sociopathy. Many of these people are not nice guys who care about their fellow man. They got to where they are by screwing a lot of others.
    Sad that they can sleep like babes.

  5. Typical business tycoons don't want to pay taxes. Their campaign supporting HST, their past enthusiasm for business trusts, efforts to remove progressive taxation and reduce personal income tax rates and their frequent export of profits to overseas tax shelters, demonstrate the aim to defund Canadian governments.

    In November, Morgan wrote "every dollar of government debt must be borrowed from another person or another country" leading developed countries to "teeter on the edge of an abyss."

    His solution to minimal taxes and no deficits is to cut spending on every government program. He wants public needs to be contracted out (to companies such as his) and reduced public involvement in medical services, education, environmental and business regulation, transportation, infrastructure, etc.

    There is another way to maintain public services and universal access to social necessities, while avoiding borrowing for non-capital expenditures. It is a simple solution too. It is a progressive taxation system with each person paying in accordance to their ability with no loopholes and no shelters.

    In addition, we should have the strongest possible rules - independent audits, access to information, whistleblower protection - that ensure every single dollar spent by the public sector is done with maximum efficiency.

  6. Speaking of Mr. Morgan....this is a copy of some old thoughts of mine regarding spiritual inclinations and positions awarded to the Board of the Dalai Lama Centre...from a Vancouver Sun article 21 Sep 2009

    "To help pull off the ambitious project, however, Chan has put together a small team of staff and drawn together some high-powered people to serve on the board of the Dalai Lama Center. They include former University of B.C. president Martha Piper; Brenda Eaton, a top-level B.C. government civil servant; Gwyn Morgan, former president of giant Encana Corporation; Evan Alderson, former dean of arts at Simon Fraser University, Tom Rafael, a lawyer, and James Hoggan, a noted public relations specialist who also chairs the David Suzuki Foundation."

    Gwyn Morgan, per above article. Brenda Eaton former BC Hydro board member in charge of setting standards of conduct, Martha Piper on the board of TransAlta, James Hoggan...well, you know......kind of makes you go a Tibetan monk sort of way?? or power generator sort of way??

    If Mr. Morgan has actually heard the echo of yak bells in the Himalayas...yet still does not get the the message...we have a tough row to hoe.

  7. Laurie,

    Wondering how innocuous all that raw sewage would be if you were living in it?

    Yeah. And all those scientific studies warning us of the wild salmon's plight is political bafflegab too?

    Such codswallop!

    Nice digs Gwynn! When's the open house? Perhaps you can co-host HypoChristy's next toga party? That would be fun.

  8. Several years ago the head of a well-known Victoria non-profit bragged that he paid zero taxes on his hefty wage and investments. Wonder how many Joe lunch boxes would donate to an organization that had a shirker leading it?

    July Morning

  9. I think the 'lowering' of his municipal tax as a result of a lowered assessment would be worth looking into.

    Did his neighbours receive similar relief?

  10. Mr. Morgan certainly doesn’t need me to speak for him, but I wonder about your numbers respecting values, Norm.

    I have been watching the Capital Regional District market for about a year and a half; the Sidney area in particular.

    Following the area sales stats shows a very soft (I might even say depressed) market for sometime in the CRD; in spite of the VRB spin.

    Another thing I monitor closely is the assessed values and there has been a steady decline since 2008, which is very much reflected in the market. The average drop in assessed value 2008 to 2014 is 25% with some dropping as much as 35%.

    On the other hand, I know nothing of the assessed and real values of the land of the rich and famous.

    1. I compared 2007 assessed values for a number of high value homes in the Victoria region to the values for 2014. I saw none with a value reduction percentage like that of the Morgan house. Additionally, I looked at a number of waterfront properties in SW BC and saw a distinct upward trend between 2007 and 2014. Accordingly, it is appropriate to ask if high value property owners have been given special treatement.

      There is another issue that gets little discussion when it comes to special treatment of wealthy individuals of the kind that don't make monthly mortgage payments. Andrew Weaver, Green MLA deserves credit for raising it on his blog. I quote,

      "...there is a glaring loophole that is being exploited more and more frequently by wealthy individuals and corporations. That loophole involves having the property held in what is known as a “bare trust”.

      Read more: Let’s close a tax loophole so big you could drive a bus through it

      "A bare trust is a legal entity that allows for the separation of beneficial and legal ownership. The beneficial owner of a property is the person or persons who make all the decisions concerning such things as rent, repairs, management, sale etc.; they are also the person or persons who receive all the revenue from and arrange financing for the property. The trustee of the bare trust has no substantive decision-making capacity as they simply act upon the instructions of the beneficial owner. Typically the trustee is a corporation that has no other purpose but to act as a trustee for the bare trust and for which the beneficial owner owns all the shares.

      "Now here’s the loophole. Suppose you own a $10,000,000 home or apartment building that you want to dispose of. If you simply transferred title, like most of us do when we sell a home, the purchaser would have to pay $198,000 in property transfer tax.

      "But if instead the property is in a bare trust where the trustee is a company, then you will pay no tax. All you have to do is sell your shares in the company for 1$ (the company has no assets anyway), and sell the “beneficial ownership” rights of the property to a third party via a “bare trust agreement” which is not registered at the Land Title Office. Since no change in title occurs, no tax is paid."

  11. Thank you Norman for naming your file of his home using his address on Ardmore.



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