BC Rail revisited

“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.



This entry was posted in BC Liberals, BC Politics, BC Rail, Christy Clark. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to BC Rail revisited

  1. Norm Farrell says:

    Ian, you demonstrate very clearly why I invite specific providers of news and information to admit the conflict of interests that have perverted political reporting in this province for more than a decade. Analysis of the sort you provide should not have been left to an independent online journalist. Truly, we have evidence that corporate media abdicated its responsibilities to report fully on actions of the BC Liberal government.

    As a principled course of action, mainstream media should make scrutinize itself and be accountable, without further delay.

    Time for BC’s media to admit its conflicts


  2. BC Mary says:

    If Kirk LaPointe can make such a turnaround, then there’s hope for West Coast media to admit its conflicts and become an honourable profession.

  3. bewlay says:

    I’ll make you a deal like any other candidate…
    (this bootleg always cheers me up ; )

  4. The public is constantly being reminded by the BC Liberals that we, the Province, still own the Right of Way beneath the BC Rail trackage ….. however, in a BCR Properties Ltd. brochure, for a chunk of property for sale in Squamish on Buckley Avenue, its obvious to the naked eye that CNR owns the Right of Way! Either that or the Land Title department has screwed things up royally for the BC Liberals.

    Go ahead call me a liar C.N.R. R / W on page 2 has two stretches of rail line marked as such.

    You’d think that the one portion of BC Rail properties that we, supposedly, still own would be marked on drawings as B.C.R. R / W. Squamish is just one small town, how many other drawings have been flipped without our knowledge?

  5. cfvua says:

    Excellent digging Mr. Reid. There is way more of this and I, like most find it appalling that our government has the audacity to blank out information that should be all available to us so we can make up our own minds. It is more than apparent to anyone who watched this happen how crooked the deal was and how slick, hustler friends of folks in the big chairs profited from it. Please keep it up and we all need to push for an all encompassing inquiry. And soon, so nothing else is redacted. Unfortunately, we have already lost Martyn Brown’s memory.

  6. Jacob says:

    Can it be said that the Roberts Bank Rail Corridor Program is nothing else than the “consolation prize” to CP Rail, as a result of the successful but still debatable purchase of BC Rail by CN Rail?

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