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BC Hydro

When plans for big infrastructure projects roll out, they should be guided by the basic principals of public procurement:competition, fairness and value.
Continuing construction is bad public policy, and it's not too late to halt it.
British Columbia just finished a provincial election and one of the big issues was the Site C dam. During the election, a lot of myths were spread about the project. In this post, I'd like to dispel some of the most egregious of these myths.
The so-called B.C. Liberals aren't liberal. They try to run government like a business. B.C. is the only province without a poverty reduction plan. Not a word on this from the corporate premier. Clark likes to brag about BC's strong economy, but she won't address the gross inequality in our province or the record number of children in poverty.
I am tired of hearing about people dying every single day from overdoses while we still don't have a solid long term plan-a year after declaring a state of emergency. I'm tired of watching friends and family struggle more and more every year while costs of living skyrocket and wages remain stagnate. I am tired of fundraising endlessly to cover basic supplies at my sons school and watching other schools go without because they cant fundraise enough.
B.C. politics already has its dark money donations that are difficult to trace back to an actual donor. But the free for all when it comes to political fundraising in the province has given rise to another murky practice: raising campaign cash from some dark corners of the world.
As the provincial election is fast approaching it can be hard to keep up with or remember all the deceptions of Christy Clark and the B.C. Liberals. So let's take a look at 10 of the biggest ones.
If last year's provincial budget could be described as "petty" after Finance Minister Mike de Jong doled out an increase in assistance rates for those living with disabilities -- only to claw most of it back by ending the subsidized bus pass program -- this year's budget could best be described as "petulant."
We're now three months from the provincial election. The government doesn't seem to want to talk in-depth about BC Hydro, so it will be up to the voters to press it as an issue. What are the parties' plans to get BC Hydro out of debt? How much will they increase our rates? How will they bring costs under control?
Premier Christy Clark has already taken off the table the one thing that leaves Canada's three other public auto insurers in decent financial shape: no-fault insurance. Makes one wonder who is so strongly opposed to the idea? Likely, a group that does well with the current regime. Lawyers spring to mind.
Hate to be one of those folk that B.C. Housing Minister Rich Coleman believes has nothing better to do than get up and whine every day, but the B.C. government's affordable housing plan announced last week falls short. Sorry, someone had to say it.
News that's guaranteed to cheer the hearts of a small number of B.C. companies is word that they've been added to a list of pre-qualified suppliers to the B.C. government. The lists are intended to offer all the appearances of open and transparent procurement. They can be anything but.
According to the Canadian Payroll Association's survey of employed Canadians released in advance of this week's festivities, 53 per cent of British Columbians reported that "it would be difficult to meet their financial obligations if their pay cheque was delayed by even a single week."
In April, the Alaska Highway News filed an access to information request for a list of the direct award contracts signed during the first stages of the Site C dam construction. The contracts ranged in value from $30,373 to $900,000, but that's only for the awards the utility disclosed.
Another vacancy in a public boardroom and another B.C. Liberal party supporter ready and willing to fill it. News that Frank Carson -- a partner at Victoria law firm Cox, Taylor -- was appointed chair of B.C. Transit's board of directors last week was met with the expected cynicism.
The B.C. government has placed two bets over the Site C project: one that B.C. Hydro can keep construction costs to $8.8 billion, and, two, that it can find customers for the power. Left to cover the ante? Taxpayers.
B.C. Hydro must have been counting on nobody taking a close look at the questions they asked respondents in a recent public survey about the site C dam, because not only are they misleading, they also tell another story entirely.
According to Martyn Brown, "No corporation, no industry, no union gives the level of money that they give to politicians without expecting special consideration in return, and they do get it." Here's a sampling of what "special considerations" might mean.
Canadians have come to expect that politicians will take a few liberties with facts as they spin issues to suit their purpose. A master practitioner of the art form is the B.C. government, with spin that can be light in the accuracy department.
Last July, whistleblower Alana James made a startling claim in an interview with the Vancouver Sun about allegations of corruption leveled at the B.C. Ministry of Health: "This was not about one ministry and less than a dozen individuals."