Well friends, this whole BC Ferries debacle really did get under my skin, and, the more I dig,the more I probe the messier it becomes,just like an onion, the BC Ferry corporation saga gets stinkier after each layer of skin has been removed.
First off, money and finance aren`t my expertise, I have examined the facts, or at least the one`s I can get my hands on and I have come to the conclusion that malfeasance has taken place. I did a little digging through the Hansard library and I ran across some very troubling finds.
After 2001 when Gordon Campbell swept to power in a blow out, as you know there were only two NDP MLAs as opposition, and to their credit they did an admirable job, imagine those two trying to be critics in all the different ministries, the workload, and with the BC Rail scandal in full bloom, not to mention how freedom of information dried up, corporations like BC Ferries became hidden from public view and scrutiny, but having said that,to their credit Joy McPhail and Jenny Kwan were almost as effective as the 35 NDP MLAs we have today.
Back on may 3/2004 during estimate debates for the ministry of transportation I discovered some very interesting details, Joy McPhail was debating,asking questions of Kevin Falcon, Joy spent a great deal of time trying to unravel the BC Rail deal only to have road block after road block thrown in her face, I`m not going into BC Rail on this post but in this Hansard library Joy McPhail canvassed information on BC Ferries, I`m going to paraphrase some of the dialogue but I will leave the link for you to explore at your own leisure.
Joy McPhail was upset that during estimates debates there was no one from BC Ferries, to which Falcon was unsympathetic, Joy asked why....Falcon responded...It`s a separate entity,a private corporation....To which Joy McPhail put on the record...."The BC Ferry deal is structured like the BC Rail deal, troubling, are BC Ferries a big secret, a secret organization"
And Joey went on to ask about the 75,000 plus preferred shares, she also asked about the debenture, or what she described as underwriting, Falcon responded to the debenture as a "Investment" and stated the term is a three year payback with interest.......Joy McPhail also complained about no annual report for BC Ferries was available for 2002/2003......and here in this particular debate the annual report for 2003/2004 hasn`t been released either, Kevin Falcon said several times that the government would get her the reports "Sometime" (read the exchange here) http://www.leg.bc.ca/hansard/37th5th/h40503p.htm Check out page number 10798 and beyond....or 1905 marker on the right hand side of page and beyond.
Now this was may 3rd 2004......Shortly after the session ended and on may 27/2004 BC Ferries paid off their debenture....They paid the province 427,701,000 and 25.879,191 in interest for a grand total of 453,580,191......plus another 6 million in interest(guaranteed return on the shares) on the 75 thousand non voting shares the province was issued, for a grand total of about 460 million $ Dollars.
Now Joy McPhail was close, but I think she missed what was really going on here, Gordon Campbell had a huge majority and no two ndp MLAs were going to stand in his way, he knew they couldn`t dedicate the resources to sniff out the scam, and along with a complicit media who approved and looked the other way, their reporting stopped,investigations were frozen, whatever Gordon Campbell was up too was not their concern, so lets dig a little deeper into the numbers.
Gordon Campbell had ran two deficits in a row, the sale of BC Rail was about done and BC Ferries was sold to someone, so many have talked about did we actually get paid for selling BC Rail, I`m not sure, but if we did the money went into general revenue somewhere, but back on ferries.
Three weeks after the may 3/2004 Hansard debate ...BC Ferries paid off the debenture plus interest to the province, the total paid to the province was about 460 $ million dollars, BC Ferries paid off the debenture 2 years earlier than Falcon said they would in estimate debates......But from everything I have read, no where can I see what BC Ferries did with this money except this.......They gave it to the province and put the debt on BC Ferries balance sheet.
I have looked at revenue summaries for the province for the years 2003/2004 and 2004/2005 and nowhere do I see an accounting of this money, it certainly isn`t a stand alone line item, it might be lumped into the line item....(Return from investments)....... http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2004/est/Estimated_Revenue_by_Source.html
and nothing here http://www.bcbudget.gov.bc.ca/2004/est/Schedule_M.html
So as for this debenture that BC Ferries paid back to the province, nowhere do I see that BC Ferries did anything with the money but give it to the province, so now, BC Ferries has a long term debt of 1.4 $ billion dollars or so,to which 460 odd million was funneled to the province and general revenue....And the province after running back to back deficits have found a way to spike the revenue totals for that year, along with the BC Rail money....His budget numbers were artificially juiced upwards, it made Campbell look better going into the 2005 election.
So lets see if we got this figured out, we lost BC Rail and BC Ferries ......We lost BC Rail because Campbell needed money and his friends needed gifts, after back to back to back deficits Gordon Campbell needed surpluses to look good going into the election, so he sold BC Rail and sold BC Ferries......BC Ferries had it`s old debt retired, Gordon Campbell gave BC Ferries a debenture (a promise to pay back whatever BC Ferries borrows) BC Ferries uses the debenture to borrow money to the tune of near half a billion $dollars to which Gordon Campbell puts in the 2004/2005 budget along with BC Rail money to boost his pre-election budget numbers.
As a result of this misguided use of our assets we no longer have BC Rail and BC Ferries is sitting on a enormous debt of 1.4$ billion dollars and from everything I have studied 500$ million of the BC Ferry debt went into general revenue for the Campbell government.
And the only way to pull it off was to make BC Ferries unaccountable, un FOI able....A Quasi private company that is funneling money to the province while racking up debt,all be it,some of the debt was for vessels......And, the governing model that Gordon Campbell set up to run this Quasi ATM machine has run wild....They appoint whomever they like to the ferry commission and Hahn and company set the pay levels and Campbell can`t do anything about because .
If the truth comes from a whistleblower....(In my opinion) along with BC Rail and what we really happened with BC Ferries ....What we should be talking about is an immediate arrest of Gordon Campbell along with charges of breach of public trust.
The question is this,why would we semi -quasi privatize BC Ferries, make it un FOI able, accountable to no one, and why would we give them a debenture,which Kevin Falcon Describes as a "Investment" ....and, BC Ferries pays it back in one year instead of three, along with a 7%interest payment (25 million) tacked on, and BC Ferries didn`t make any profit to pay off the debenture, the money was borrowed,but borrowed for who? And for all of the effort what did BC Ferries gain by acquiring a near 500 $ dollar debenture and paying it off a year later?
What other possible reason to go this route? The BC government could have borrowed money way cheaper than BC Ferries,and ultimately we,the tax payer are on the hook for BC Ferry debt, this arrangement, the debenture,big interest over one year for your own company,........................now this year, and another big deficit and were selling our tax sovereignty and screwing everyone with the HST....A 1.6 $ billion dollar screw job!
The Straight Goods
Cheers-Eyes Wide Open