The masters of disaster

"We inherited a railway that was bankrupt and in disarray." That's how Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Shirley Bond recently rationalized her government's decision to privatize British Columbia Railway Co.'s operations in 2003. Similarly, her cabinet colleague Kevin Falcon told The Globe and Mail it's necessary to push down healthcare spending because "if we don't do this, our system will implode under the weight of its own excess and inefficiency." But political analysts and commentators have persuasively pointed out BC Rail was profitable and healthcare spending isn't as out of control as Mr. Falcon would have us believe. So is the government just wrong or is it manufacturing crises so it can make decisions that would otherwise be unpalatable to the public?

Well, before you answer that question, let me share a government document I found last week. It describes the behaviours senior civil servants are expected to demonstrate. Among them: being able to "create a crisis to force change." I'm not making this up. I'm not wearing a tin foil hat. That's exactly what the document says. So if that's what bureaucrats are doing behind closed doors, is it unreasonable to think their political bosses are doing the same thing?

8 Comments

Libs been doing this since they took office. Alternative service delivery when they convinced everyone that civil servants were lazy and in capable and business could provide services better, save us buckets of money that we needed to save for "public services.' Welfare 'reform' when they convinced people they were all lazy bums, made them all go through hell with that review and massive reapplication process and hired "business" to provide employment services that only succeeded in paying companies when terrorized people were kept off the welfare rolls even if they hadn't even seen the people, and when the midnight hour struck when they were going to kick people off after 2 years on to the streets, they magically came up with exceptions in 1 weeks time because Coell demanded out. They've got a few years to manufacture the next crisis just in time for the election. That'll be health care and when they're reellected they' will privitize it all Canada health act be damned.

what can you say Campbell and the Libs are brutal they have to go and I cant wait for the next election bring on recall!

Will McMartin wrote a very good article in The Tyee a while back exposing the concerted effort the BC LIberal Party employed to make BC Rail look like a financial money pit.

The Tyee being a site such as this one allows for comments on its articles and other than a few obvious ones from pro-liberal types, the responses were in support of Mr. McMartin. We know that the PAB trolls the internet sites and as such this article would have gotten the attention of the BC Liberal caucus. I have not heard any of them challenge McMartin's story which leads me to believe that they couldn't defend the indefensible.

Statements such as this from Shirley Bond are a joke. She offers no facts to back up her assertion, just party line spin.

The PR team working for the Gordo and co. outfit seems able to say just about anything they want and most forks go along with them. Some folks knew BC Rail was doing well but the government simply talked over them

Anon @ 1:20 details a trick that is widely used. All Government services such as BC Rail,Hydro,Ferries etc are said to be money loosing black holes and will soon bankrupt the government. If this is true why are private interests so interested in buying them? Government Health Care has been under attack in Alberta for years. This trick was also used in the attempted theft of the City of Calgary utility Enmax but even though the Provincial Government thought of passing legislation to make it illegal for Municipalities to own such utilities, we still have it. It makes money hand over fist and may soon swallow some of the prospective buyers. How much do you think BC Rail is making for CN and the real estate developers right now?

I don't know about railways of healthcare, but the strategy of manufacturing a fake crisis has certainly been evident in Education.

The province keeps telling us they're spending more on Education than ever despite declining enrolment & that costs are out of control. A Special Adviser was appointed, prompting hysterical headlines about VSB mismanagement, until weeks later the Minister quietly accepted the VSB's claim of $17 million in provincial underfunding was actually legit. A week ago, the Minister hinted again at a need for drastic change because student outcomes are flat or declining.

I've been gathering research & data on education funding at the BC Education Coalition Website: http://stopeducationcuts.org

The data (including the Ministry's own data) don't support a crisis of out-of-control spending - on the contrary they suggest underfunding is increasingly straining the ability of public schools to meet even basic student needs:

1) In real dollars, the $5.1 billion Education budget for 2010-11 is actually $500 million less than the last NDP Education budget in 2000-01, after adjusting for inflation (that stat originally cited by the Vancouver Sun's Don Cayo & I fact-checked it).

2) In 1991, Education represented 26% of the provincial budget vs 14% today.

3) Relative to provincial GDP, BC's Education spending has declined by 14% since 2001.

4) After a decade of VERY modest declines (avg 0.5% per year), K-12 public school enrolment is now growing again. And provincial projections call for continued growth as far out as they look.

5) BC now has the second-highest student/educator ratio (a StatsCan proxy for average class size) in all of Canada.

6) BC has cut special education grants to public schools by $120 million since 2001, while the number of students with special needs has increased. Despite deep cuts, boards now face $350 million a year in unfunded special ed costs - a gap that's grown from $50 million in 2001-02.

7) Ontario spends $10,000 per student vs BC's $8,000. McGuinty has increased Education spending by more than $5 billion (more than BC spends in all) since taking office, because they see a highly-educated populace as a key pillar to building future competitiveness and prosperity. Our Education Minister talks about our schools needing to offer more opportunities in the culinary arts and house-building.

Meanwhile, to find evidence of out-of-control spending, there is no need to manufacture fake crises - just look at the capital side of the BC budget, which most pundits routinely ignore. Or the extra $6 billion that former Finance Minister Carole Taylor paid to buy labour peace for the Olympics. Or the MLA, Minister & mandarin pay hikes...

obviously these guys have a neoconservative agenda they want to put in place. its all there. the entire playbook of the fraser/cd howe institute etc.

privatize everything. lie about crown corporations. feed the public what they had last thursday.

and friday.

and saturday.


seen as how the majority of media is owned by neoconservative or neoconservative sympathizers it is not difficult to infect public opinion with copious amounts of disinformation.

its sickening and seriously disheartening to watch these hyenas erode what many generations have worked so hard for.

ps. thanks for those stats dawn

It appears the Liberals are continuing with their very old and tired shock doctrine tactics. They all need to be sent packing in 2013 or sooner!!

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