Saturday, October 19, 2013

RailGate Resurfacing....Boss! Boss!...The Spur!!!


Well, well, well.

Looks like that little chunk of track that may or may not have been dangled as some sort of bizarre 'stay in the game/quid pro quo' strategy a decade ago, is back in the news again.

Lori Culbert had the latest chapter in the BC Rail 'Spur Line' saga in Thursday's VSun. Here is her lede:

Troubled BC Rail sold off its trains almost a decade ago and was absorbed into the transportation ministry in 2010, and yet it still has 20 executives and staff that collectively made nearly $4 million last year.

The question critics ask is what are these employees doing, after the government sold its trains and leased its rail lines to CN in a controversial 2004 deal that sparked a police raid of the Legislature, a high-profile criminal trial, and the public paying $6 million in defence lawyer bills?

According to government documents, the primary mandate of BC Rail now is to support the expansion of goods coming into the province through the Pacific Gateway Strategy, which involves “acquiring, holding and managing railway corridor and strategic port lands and making related infrastructure investments.”

BC Rail still owns the 40-km spur line to Roberts Bank port, manages the CN lease of its railbed and tracks, and operates a real estate subsidiary...

All of which is interesting, as far as it goes.


What Ms. Culbert's piece (as published at least) failed to mention is the fact that, just like the rest of BC Rail tracks, the Spur Line was also for sale way back when.

And then, suddenly, in the spring of 2004 (i.e. a few months after the Ledge raids when the investigations were going pretty much every which way) the bidding on the Spur was suddenly halted when the Horsemen informed a very fine fellow named Kevin Falcon that the process was 'tainted'.

Which brings us to another chapter of the saga that appears to have little, if anything, to do with clandestine meetings at lupine-like restaurants and/or gladiator games on mile-high gridirons. We summarized that part of the tale thusly:

...(The following is from) the transcript of a RailGate-associated RCMP wiretap of a conversation between Mr. David Basi and Mr. Bruce Clark (Ms. Christy Clark's brother) wherein they discuss a 'Request for Proposals' (RFP) for the BC Rail 'Spur Line' in the fall of 2003. The transcript was finally released to the public in early 2011:

David Basi: "So basically, um, what we have is the draft RFP."

Bruce Clark: "Okay."

Basi: "Um, that uh, we have t' make changes and y'know, uh, um, we can draft it anyway we want now, right: so..."

Clark: "Whose, wh', whose hands is it in?"

Basi: "It's, it's in our hands right now."

Clark: "Okay."

Basi: "Uh, and then it'll go back to transportation. And then they'll look at it and then they'll uh, um, issue the official RFP."

Clark: "Okay. What are the time lines like?"

Basi: "Uh, two weeks."

Basi: "So, I can sit on this thing for two weeks. So if you come back next week then you can take it and look at it, show it to them. They can, they can, y'know, change some of the words around, that's obviously, some buzz words they wanna see in there, right?"

Clark: "Yeah."

Basi: "And these, these companies know how to, how to, y'know, get the fluff out of this shit and how to tailor it to themselves, right?"

Clark: "Of course." 

...{snippety doo-dah}... 

Clark: "Wonder, wonder if it would be better if you got it couriered from here or not?"

Basi: "I don't care. Whatever you want. I don't care."

Clark: "Okay, well maybe I'll get you to courier it to Europe for me, or something."

Basi: "You want me to courier it to Europe?"

Clark: "Sure, you could do that."

...{snippety doodle-dandy}...

Clark: "Or uh, or, or can it be faxed or something or?"

Basi: "Oh it can be faxed, yeah. Do you wanna give me a fax, secure fax number?"

Clark: "Yeah, I'll get you a secure fax number and we can do it that way."

Basi: "Yeah, you get me a fax number and I'll fax it to you.

Clark: "Sounds great my friend."

One last thing....As for that 'troubled' descriptor right at the top of Ms. Culbert's pyramid lede....In our opinion (and we are not alone) that type of stuff lives on because a fiction that was deliberately written by the architects of the Golden Era so that it could be used both to change public opinion and to make a massive tax write-off possible for the pre-selected winning bidder of the big prize....OK?



Anonymous said...

About that "massive tax write-off"...

I don't recall the federal government making a ruling on the tax liability - did it get allowed, or is BC holding the bag on it?

A link to the ruling, or failing that, the rulings announcement would be great.

e.a.f. said...

thank heavens for bloggers, thank heavens for bloggers.

is this going to get interesting again?

Can't just one of those lieberals go to jail over all of this?; and I don't mean Basi or Verk.

Lew said...

“The Pacific Gateway Strategy involves acquiring, holding and managing railway corridor and strategic port lands and making related infrastructure investments.”

Apparently BC Liberal friend and insider strategy involves keeping in close touch with BC Rail to acquire, hold, and invest in those same lands.

Anonymous said...

I find it amazing that Dix was slagged by the MSM because of the re-dated memo. However, they left the whole BC Rail case and Christy Clark's involvement and did not bring it up during the campaign.
Dix said it was a mistake to change the memo and apologized to us for doing it. This was nothing compared to the mistruths the BC Liberals, including Clark told us when they sold BC Rail. They said they would not sell it but they lied and they did sell it. In the subsequent investigation, the BC Legislature was raided. It was unbelievable that the press forgot about these lies and misdeeds but remembered the memo. Clark's feet should have been held to the fire and she should have explained the deceptions involved in the BC Rail sale.

RossK said...


Point taken - will go year-by-year through 'public accounts' to see if/when it dropped off.

I wrote about this quite extensively in the past including a post about how the number, based on the fact that it was classified as a 'contingent liability' with egregious annual interest accrual had ballooned from an original $250 million to a potential $550 million by 2009...Vaughn Palmer wrote about it subsequently, estimating that if it was not taken care of that it could reach as much as $900 million by, surprise!, 2013.


RossK said...


Unfortunately, the ruling on challenge from Mr. van Dongen and friend allowed the proMedia to heartily gobble down the pablum labelled 'exoneration' that the Snooklandians were peddling in the last month of the election campaign.

How do I know things went down that way?

Because the Dean himself said so.

(so it must, of course, be true)


Anonymous said...

Thanks for looking into the tax situation Ross.

Just checked Wikipedia (I'm not in skool, so I'm allowed) and there are two big 10 year anniversary dates coming up:

"On November 25, 2003, it was announced that Canadian National's (CN) bid of $1 billion would be accepted over those of several other companies. The transaction was closed on July 15, 2004."