The B.C. government’s dark ops

New Democrats might not like what they find when they check what Liberals left in the cellar

By Dermod Travis

As the new B.C. government settles in and email accounts are transferred over, it’ll soon be time for them to pluck up the courage to check the cellar.

The nooks and crannies of government operations, if you will. Some of what they’ll find may come as a shock.

Think of it as the former government outsourcing operations, getting them off the books so to speak and as far away as possible from pesky things such as legislative oversight or B.C.’s access to information legislation.

There’s AdvantageBC – an independent non-profit society – whose members enjoy an annual provincial tax rebate in the neighborhood of $25 million.

Its CEO, Colin Hansen, says the organization focuses “mostly on companies in China,” even though the bulk of its members are born and bred right here in North America.

The new government can’t fire Hansen, can’t even appoint a member to the board of directors, independent and all.

Then there’s HQ Vancouver, set up to attract head offices to Vancouver. It received $3.3 million from B.C.’s Ministry of International Trade.

It too is focused on China, but seems to be having some teething issues, according to an April article in the Financial Post: “HQ Vancouver’s ‘success stories’ suspect as Asian companies sputter or fall under scrutiny.”

Both the B.C. government and HQ Vancouver made a big deal out of the decision two years ago of China-based F-Pacific Optical Communications – a manufacturer of fibre optic components – to open its North American headquarters in Surrey.

Former premier Christy Clark called it the “start of great things” for both F-Pacific and HQ Vancouver.

Turns out when the Financial Post showed up at the Surrey site they found the plant vacant and a For Lease sign up.

The New Car Dealers Association of B.C. runs the government’s $46 million electric car incentive program, as the Vancouver Sun’s Gordon Hoekstra reported in April.

It’s not known what the association charges to oversee the program.

Somehow the Quebec and Ontario governments manage to do it all on their own.

The association has donated more than $1.3 million to the B.C. Liberal party since 2005.

In May, Vancouver journalist Bob Mackin reported on the Forest Enhancement Society of B.C., another independent, non-profit society arranged by government that can also thumb its nose at the province’s access to information laws.

The society is charged with overseeing tree-planting in the province.

In 2016, then-Minister of Forests, Land and Natural Resource Operations, Steve Thomson, gave the brand-spanking-new group $85 million in public funding.

Clark topped that up by another $150 million earlier this year.

Should all start-ups be so fortunate.

In March, former MLA Bill Bennett announced that the government would outsource wildlife management to a new outside, independent group.

Local hunting, conservation, and wildlife groups were to be tasked with establishing the group’s “framework.”

Fearless Bill felt “government is afraid to manage wolves, for example, or afraid to manage grizzly bears in some cases because of the politics of that.”

At the announcement, Bennett said the group would be funded “with an initial $5 million from the government,” with annual hunting license renewals as the sustaining funding.

The group’s current status is unknown.

Something else the government will find in the cellar?

Those stellar reports on controlling executive compensation at Crown corporations aren’t quite as stellar as they may seem.

A few former executives simply became executive consultants to their former bosses.

The new government is sure to find a lot more surprises when it goes through the cellar.

God speed.

– Dermod Travis is the executive director of IntegrityBC. www.integritybc.ca

Just Posted

Restaurant holds fundraiser for server

Clearwater is so amazing. We raised a total of $2,300 for Lachlan’s university fund!

Buy-Low helps Highway Rescue

Clearwater and District Highway Rescue gets $1,000 the store won in Dairyland contest

VIDEO: Researchers rely on drones to survey aftermath of B.C. wildfires

UBC researchers are using aerial drones to study the historic 2017 wildfires in the province

Report gives details on proposal to relocate Grade 7s

According to the report, there has been some interest generated in the communities to relocate

This weekend at the Sportsplex

Here is the schedule for the North Thompson Sportsplex for the weekend of Dec. 15 – 17

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Kamloops man cuffed after running from police

Kamloops RCMP say a suspect was arrested after running from police

UPDATE: Grizzly bear trophy hunting over in B.C.

Now only Indigenous people can hunt bears for meat

Star Blue Jays announced for Vancouver ‘Winter Tour’ event in January

Toronto’s pro baseball team heads west for two-day event

UPDATE: ‘Multiple fatalities’ as Amtrak derails over the I-5 in Washington State

13 cars jumped the tracks as train made its first voyage between Seattle and Portland

Mental effects of wildfire still linger in Fort McMurray

‘Resilient, but tired:’ Mental effects of wildfire lingering in Fort McMurray

Climate change hits Winter Olympic preparation

AP Exclusive: Climate change hits Winter Olympic preparation

Calgary Flames thump Vancouver Canucks 6-1

Mark Giordano, Sam Bennett lead the way as Flames thump Canucks 6-1

Homicide detectives now probing billionaire couple’s death

Police release cause of death of Barry and Honey Sherman as “ligature neck compression”

Most Read