Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The RailGate 8000.....Counselling The Mayors


So, I've been slogging through binder #8, which contains approximately 1/15th of the 8000 pages of RailGate - associated material obtained through the FOIA by the Defence and recently ordered released to the NDP by the court......

The front half of number eight is mostly correspondence to and from Premier Campbell and/or Transportation Ministers (the former) Judith Reid and (the current) Kevin Falcon. There is some juicy stuff about meetings that revolve around non-CNR bidders that I'll get to later.

But what I'd like to tell you about here is how the mayors of the cities and towns along the BC Rail lines were dealt with.

Initially, most were furious, especially about the loss of passenger rail service and then, increasingly, they were concerned about further potential cuts to come.

And in the early days, the Campbellian strategy was mostly to blather on and on about crushing debt-loads, evil subsidies, and how the railway had to pay all its own way and raise all its own capital. Then, as early as late 2001, suddenly the magical P3 (ie. the non-privatization privatization solution) started popping up.

Unfortunately for Mr. Campbell, most of the mayors just got madder and madder right through 2002 and into 2003, especially when the spectre of naked, no-foolin' privatization suddenly came out of nowhere, shrouded in secrecy.

The response of the Campbellarians then?

Why, of course.......A 'Mayor's Council'!

Which, at least in terms of what I can gleam from the correspondence included in Binder #8, seemed to work, for most, but not all of the worships (details of the 'unfriendlies' and how they were referred to in internal Emails to come).

Which could be seen as brilliant real-politicking.

And/or a brilliant job of re(al)-education.

Then again, perhaps the apparent success of the 'Mayor's Council' initiative was actually driven by the promises of all the riches that shower on down from the $150 million Northern Diversification fund that would materialize, like magic, from the windfall of the non-privatization privatization.

And for those mayors that were still doubtful, right through the fall of 2003 (remember, the deal was 'announced' in Nov 2003)?

Well, they were assured that there was no need to worry their little heads, because they would get the very best secret deal possible.

By way of example, when Lillooet mayor Greg Kamenka wrote to Mr. Campbell on August 13, 2003 (see pg 277 of Binder #8) informing him that the Council of the District of Lillooet had:
RESOLVED (THAT): The Government of British Columbia stop the sale or lease of BC Rail until such time that the Government has completed a forensic audit of BC Rail and a socio-economic study on the effect of the proposed sale or lease on communities along the line"

(AND FURTHER RESOLVED): That the Mayor's Council approve the Terms of Reference for the socio-economic study and this information be put before the public for open discussion."

(red bolding mine)

Mr. Campbell responded on Sept 02, 2003 (see pg 278 of Binder #8) that:
"As I have said previously, British Columbia needs an integrated, top-quality rail service to meet the needs of communities in the Interior, North and the rest of British Columbia, and we are committed to working with the northern communities to ensure that BC Rail remains an important asset in the future economic development of our province.

The four firms short-listed in the BC Rail revitalization process have now been asked to submit further detailed submissions to the Evaluation Committee in mid-September. The submissions will be evauluated against the terms of the RFP, including a number of strategic considerations important to communities, employees and BC Rail customers."

Which is all fine and good.

But to heck with public input, consultation, transparency and all that.

And just when did 'privatization' suddenly morph into 'revitalization'?

But hang on as second.....

That letter from the Premier was written on Sept 2nd, 2003.

Four bidders?


Still 'four' bidders!!!????

Hmmmmmm......looks like it's time to revisit the timeline of the Whitewa.......errrrr.......Fairness Report.


Stay tuned for the next installment (You too, Room Karen Valentine + 1'errs, who seem to like hangin' round here so much these days)......
Update: Looks like Michael Smyth has been reading through Binder #8 too.


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