Category: Dermod Travis

Best friend, best price or best value

If you’re just tuning back in to B.C. politics, you may have missed a great political adaptation of West Side Story this summer, where two rival gangs – the Liberistas and the Unionistas – compete for the affection of B.C. taxpayers on public infrastructure projects.

The musical was loosely based on this summer’s announcement by the B.C. government that key public-sector infrastructure projects will be tied to pay scales, apprenticeship training, job opportunities for under-represented groups and a union card for any worker “within 30 days of starting employment.”

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Dark echoes in an era of semi-disclosure

Echo chambers has been popular as a buzz phrase as of late, the idea that we post and share links and opinions that we agree with on social media to others that also agree with them, thereby amplifying their echo.

What happens to those chambers, though, when ‘dark echoes’ infect public debate?

In an era of increasing public distrust, there’s a very real risk that good ideas could fall victim to a failure to disclose. It breeds suspicion.

Some are clamouring for public advocacy groups to disclose their sources of funding – an admirable goal – but they’re eerily silent when it comes to Jim Shephard disclosing his funding sources for his recent first-past-the-post advertising campaign in advance of this fall’s referendum on proportional representation.

Sometimes the connection between a group and its self-interests are obvious: the Fraser Institute or the Canadian Taxpayers Association spring to mind.

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Don’t overlook the cost of dirty money on B.C.’s communities

With last week’s release of Dirty Money, the report on money laundering in B.C. casinos by former RCMP deputy commissioner Peter German, the province that Maclean’s Magazine once called the most corrupt in Canada now finds itself an also ran to B.C.

A lot of public attention has been focused on the shock and awe videos that Attorney General David Eby played at that news conference, but not so much on the connections between crime, gangs and money laundering.

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B.C.’s housing crisis rants

Ever sense that you’ve been listening to one, or more, of these rants again and again over the past few years?

“It’s foreign buyers. No, it’s not. Show me your proof. The CMHC said so. No, they didn’t. They said there wasn’t sufficient data to form a conclusion.”

“It’s all about supply. Yeah, right, what supply? Every time you guys dream up a new condo project you sell it all through pre-sales in China and Singapore. You’re a xenophobe.”

“It’s the city’s fault. More to the point it’s Vision Vancouver’s fault and their stupid rules. Hey, condos don’t leak any longer, you’d think they’d trust us by now. And don’t get me started on their bike-lanes.”

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Who’s minding the Site C store with all eyes on Trans Mountain?

Lost in the threats and counter-threats, charges and counter-charges over the Trans Mountain pipeline is news that B.C. Hydro will be cutting a cheque to Flatiron/Graham, principal contractors on the Lower Mainland Transmission Line, for approximately $100 million following a semi-successful arbitration, depending upon your perspective.

First announced in 2009, the then-$602 million line was to be completed by 2014. Naturally, it came in “on budget and on time” in 2015, at a cost of $743 million or – in the words of then-president and CEO Jessica McDonald – “about $18 million higher than Hydro’s original budget of $725 million.”

It was another B.C. megaproject riddled with errors from the get-go: failure to consult with First Nations, sub-standard steel imported from India and frustrations that led the utility to complete one section of the line itself.

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Time for a rethink on candidate nominations, starting at the very beginning: vetting

It was hardly front page news on the west coast, but St. John’s lawyer Ches Crosbie, son of former Progressive Conservative MP John Crosbie, was elected the new leader of the Newfoundland and Labrador Progressive Conservative Party last month.

It’s noteworthy because three years ago, the Conservative party of Canada, rejected Ches’ federal candidacy, claiming in his words that “decision-makers at party headquarters in Ottawa decided I wasn’t the type of candidate they wanted.”

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