“Premier Gordon Campbell announced a partnership with CN Rail that will significantly improve rail service in B.C. CN will sign a lease to operate BC Rail for the next 60 years in exchange for $1 billion. Although many critics are trying to convince people this is a sale, it is not. Taxpayers will continue to own the most important components — BC Rail’s tracks, railbed and rights-of- way.” Kevin Krueger, Dec. 1, 2003.
Remember how the sale of BC Rail was never really a sale, according to BC Liberal stooges like Kevin “thumper” Krueger? ‘It’s not a sale. It’s a lease’, Krueger and his mates repeated over and over, eyes focused on the talking points in front of them.
Of course the Liberal government knew it was a lie. And now, we know that they knew.
Heavily scrubbed documents obtained through an FOI request show that all the while the BC Liberal government was calling the sale a “restructuring through a lease”, government staff and political appointees were referring to the transaction as a sale.
For example in a routine email chain between Evaluation Committee secretary Yvette Wells and BC Rail executives in October of 2002, Wells exclusively referred to the transaction as the BC Rail “sale/purchase” or plain old “sale”, as in “Attached are two timelines for the project. The first is the sale timeline.”
In fact the “restructuring” word doesn’t pop up until the first “messaging” document turns up. A draft powerpoint presentation from the fall of 2002 intended for a meeting of “Mayors of BC Communities” refers throughout to the restructuring of BC Rail.
But the staff charged with preparing the document continued to refer amongst themselves to the sale of BC Rail. Emails sending the powerpoint draft to evaluation committee members for comment, referred to the transaction as a sale.
But then they would have. The Evaluation committee had internal opinions about the transaction that diminished the government’s ability to claim a simple lease and “partnership”.
One government CGA let the committee know that once the rail lines were leased for an extended period, the retained land was valueless.
On September 26th, 2002 – prior to Campbell’s “restructuring” announcement at UBCM – Kit Chapman, director of Corporate Financial Accounting with the Officer of the Comptroller General, wrote to Yvette Wells to tell her that the BC Rail railbed was worthless under the deal.
Chapman told Wells “I spoke to Barb Reuther and we’ve agreed that if there is a lease that effectively transfers the use of the land to another party for an extended period then the land would need to be written off as its value to Rail in now nil. In short the land would need to be written off.”
A lease that sucks the value out of the remaining public asset. Someone got hosed and it wasn’t CN Rail.