Prog Blog’s Flickr Photostream

Environmental Law Alert Blog: Poor mines enforcement undermines social licence

Wednesday, June 1, 2016 BC’s government accuses political opponents of being too keen to say “no” to development, but a recent report by B… . . . → Read More: Environmental Law Alert Blog: Poor mines enforcement undermines social licence

Susan on the Soapbox: B.C. “attacks” Alberta. Really?

Thirty-six little words. That’s all it took for the media to whip Albertans up into a “how dare you” frenzy. It started with the BC government’s Throne Speech in which Premier Christy Clark took her new election slogan—Say YES—for a … Continue reading . . . → Read More: Susan on the Soapbox: B.C. “attacks” Alberta. Really?

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: AG reports on suspected frauds in FY 2014 #nlpoli

In his most recent report, Auditor General Terry Paddon disclosed alleged frauds identified during his review of the provincial government’s accounts:The finance department’s Professional Services and Internal Audit Division discovered a potential frau… . . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: AG reports on suspected frauds in FY 2014 #nlpoli

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Small things and big differences #nlpoli

The Auditor General delivered his annual report on some of the provincial government’s programs and services on Wednesday.

We learned, among other things that provincial government consulting contracts have gone horrendously beyond the amount originally budgeted.  The worst case was a contract – presumably related to the Corner Brook hospital  – that wound up  being 780% beyond the original budget. 

One of the big culprits in the escalating costs were change orders.  Those are, as the name suggests, changes to the original contract required because of changes made by the government. That was the case both in capital works contracts that involved changes to construction but in service contracts as well.

(Read more…) - Alberta Politics: What the NDP platform said about ethics in government

After 44-years of one-party government, Alberta voters stampeded to the polls to remove the Progressive Conservatives from office in the May 5 election. The defining narrative of the election was accountability and ethics in government and on this issue voters coalesced around Rachel… Continue Reading →

Susan on the Soapbox: Mr Prentice: Premier or CEO?

“We have to do more with less. That will apply across the board. It will have to apply to the very good work [of the child advocate], it will have to apply to my office, it will have to apply to the auditor general’s office. That’s the way it’s going to be.” Jim Prentice defending cuts to the Child Advocate’s Office and the Auditor General’s Office, Feb 11, 2015

Would someone please tell Mr Prentice that he’s not the President of the United States?

Unlike President Obama, Mr Prentice does not have a unilateral right of veto and cannot (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: All the spin that’s fit to print

This week, British Columbia saw evidence that corporate media does not report adverse details about public finance unless the material is dropped on desks in digested form, complete with defensive spin from government or industry.

The issue of BC taxpayer subsidies to the oil and gas industry is not new. Auditor General John Doyle qualified his opinion of the province’s 2012 financial statements for reasons that included this: “Failure to provide for earned natural gas producer royalty credits “No provision has been made in the summary financial statements for royalty credits earned bynatural gas producers under the government’s deep-well (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Don’t follow the law, change the law

British Columbia’s Auditor General reported to the BC Legislature and there is interesting commentary throughout. Carol Bellringer qualified her opinion as to the fairness of the province’s financial statements and professional accountants regard that as not-good. “This year, our audit opinion on the Summary Financial Statements contains twoqualifications, or areas for concern. One involves the way that government recordscertain revenues in future years, rather than when received and used. The otherqualification relates to prior years for how a Crown Corporation was classified.”

These issues are technical but generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP) allow a consistent way (Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: The Tory Airplane Scandal–Excuses, Excuses

“I am optimistic that your review will assist in securing Albertans’ continued confidence in their government and trust in their elected officials.”—Premier Redford’s letter to the Auditor General requesting a review of her compliance with the Travel and Expense policy, Mar 4, 2014

Ms Redford

Ms Redford’s optimism quickly turned to ashes. Not only did her request dump her onto the scrap heap of disgraced politicians, but there’s a good chance she’ll take the rest of the PC government with her.

A junket to Grande Prairie

On Thursday, Oct 25, 2012 Premier Redford and 8 MLAs—Donna Kennedy-Glans, Ken Hughes, (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Alison Redford resigns as MLA for Calgary-Elbow

TweetOne-hundred and thirty-six days after Alison Redford was forced to resign as Premier of Alberta, she has announced that she will resign as the MLA for Calgary-Elbow. Through an opinion-editorial published in the Edmonton Journal and Calgary Herald, the former premier defended her record as premier and refused to apologize for the misdeeds and scandals […]

Susan on the Soapbox: Alberta’s Climate Change Strategy Goes Up in Smoke

Alberta’s Auditor General blew a gasket. He called the government’s performance on climate change strategy “troubling” and “disturbing”. Hey, he’s a mild mannered accountant; this is as in-your-face as he gets.

Our feisty Auditor General

Mr Saher kicked off the July 2014 audit report with a lesson on the role of government. A good government puts the right people in place to get the job done. It exercises ministerial oversight (gee, there’s a thought) and most importantly, is accountable and ensures Albertans receive value for the money spent on government programs and services.

Mr Saher tested Alberta’s climate change strategy (Read more…) - Alberta politics: Airplane scandal takes off as Tory support, fundraising effort nose dives

TweetYesterday’s Speech from the Throne was old news as scandal erupted today over Premier Alison Redford’s alleged inappropriate use of government-owned airplanes. After facing criticism over her $45,000 trip to South Africa and a $9,200 trip from Palm Springs, Ms. Redford struggled to control the story today by announcing plans to pay $3,100 for costs […]

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: Terry Paddon’s Report #nlpoli

If you want to understand what the provincial government’s audited financial statements really mean, you will have to skip Tom Marshall’s comments last week and look instead at the lengthy set of observations from the Auditor General released on Friday.

Paddon’s comments are especially important for two reasons.

First of all, Paddon is the former deputy minister of finance.  He knows both the current situation and how the government got there.  if he is speaking this plainly now about the government;s financial position, you can imagine what he was saying as the current administration got itself into a mess in the first place.

Second, Paddon explains a great many things in plain enough English so that anyone can understand his points. As you will see, they are not what the government has chosen to talk about.

(Read more…)

Susan on the Soapbox: The Auditor General’s Report: Alberta’s “Enron” Moment

God bless Merwan Saher, Alberta’s Auditor General! He grabbed the government by the scruff of the neck and gave it a shake for dragging us into the abyss of “Enron” accounting. Sadly, the government refuses to budge and opaque financial reporting will continue.

Merwan Saher has been a government auditor for 33 years. He was promoted to Auditor General in 2010. It’s his job to audit every ministry, department, fund and agency in the province. He’s like E. F. Hutton—when he talks; people listen.

The Auditor General took a dim view of the government’s decision (Read more…)

The Canadian Progressive: NDP demands action on missing $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding

By: Obert Madondo | The Canadian Progressive: Last week, the Auditor General reported that the Harper Conservatives can’t account for $3.1 billion of the $12.9 billion allocated to the Public Security and Anti-Terrorism Initiative [PSAT] for the period 2001 to 2010. The New Democrats are demanding action and accountability. Via a motion that was scheduled for [...]

The post NDP demands action on missing $3.1 billion in anti-terrorism funding appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

The Canadian Progressive: Search and Rescue personnel deserve applause, says Union

By: Union of Canadian Transportation Employees | Press Release: OTTAWA, May 1, 2013 – The Union that represents Search and Rescue specialists with the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) is not surprised at the…

The post Search and Rescue personnel deserve applause, says Union appeared first on The Canadian Progressive.

Northern Insight: BC Auditor General site down Mar 29-30

Since the website of the British Columbia Auditor General is inaccessible early morning March 30, and was down late March 29, I provide this access to recent reports from the Auditor General.

An Audit of Carbon Neutral Government by NRF_Vancouver

An Audit of Air Ambulance Services in B.C. by NRF_Vancouver

Discussion on qualified audit opinion of British Coumbia financial statements, fiscal 2012 by NRF_Vancouver

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: BC Auditor General site down Mar 29-30

Northern Insight: Pacific Carbon Trust officials must resign

Finance Minister Mike de Jong must demand resignations of the senior executives and directors of Pacific Carbon Trust. They are officials of a publicly owned enterprise but instead dedicated their loyalty to vested interests that do business with PCT.

Additionally, director Mike Watson appears to have a conflict of interest since he is principal of a public relations firm hired by PCT to deride the work and reputation of Auditor General John Doyle.

John Doyle, British Columbia’s Auditor General

“Of all the reports I have issued, never has one been targeted in such an overt manner by vested interests, nor

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Pacific Carbon Trust officials must resign

Northern Insight: From the audit of carbon neutral government

“… [Carbon] offsets can only be credible in B.C. if, among other things, the revenue from their sale is the tipping point in moving forward on a project. It must be an incentive, not a subsidy, for the reduction of GHGs. Yet neither project was able to demonstrate that the potential sales of offsets were needed for the project to be implemented. Encana’s project was projected to be more financially beneficial to the company than its previous practices, regardless of offset revenue, while the Darkwoods property was acquired without offsets being a critical factor in the decision. In industry

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: From the audit of carbon neutral government

The Sir Robert Bond Papers: One Newsroom. Two Stories. @nlpoli

For the English crowed in Newfoundland and Labrador, @cbcnl gave its audience one story from the Auditor General’s report.

They focused on horrendous salary increases in one government agency.

From the Radio Canada desk in the same newsroom comes a completely different story that fits exactly with the Big Story that has been dominating headlines since the Premier warned of layoffs and spending cuts late last year.  The Radio Canada headline translates roughly to “Alarming increase in public spending in NL”.

. . . → Read More: The Sir Robert Bond Papers: One Newsroom. Two Stories. @nlpoli

Politics, Re-Spun: Who’s Running BC?

It has been a month of amateurish politics starting with the government posting the auditor-general’s job. Then this week the government backed down several steps to keep from ejecting the well-respected A-G John Doyle from his chair with an attempt at saving face by changing the legislation surrounding his appointment. As if they meant to do that anyway.

But there’s something fishing about how the premier backed down this week. Take a look:

In a move described by critics as a massive flip-flop and policy making on the fly, Clark on Wednesday proposed legislative changes to the Auditor General’s Act

. . . → Read More: Politics, Re-Spun: Who’s Running BC?

Northern Insight: Deception and financial fakery for friends

A few days ago, I wrote Cronies, henchmen and the future and noted the loss of revenue government derives from natural resources, even though prices have risen dramatically in the past decade. BC Government revenue from natural resources, taken from annual public accounts, were these:

2001 = $3,975,000,000 2012 = $2,699,000,000

I also pointed out that, under HST, resource companies no longer pay provincial sales tax, a savings of hundreds of millions annually. Meanwhile, commodity prices have changed significantly. These changes are taken from the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas.

It turns out that British Columbia’s current revenues

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Deception and financial fakery for friends

Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

This and that for your Tuesday reading.

- Don Lenihan responds to Allan Gregg’s recent critique of Canadian politics, featuring this on the connection that ought to exist between ideology and policy: First, the fact that a policy is based on ideological conviction does not mean it is opposed to reason. According to Gregg, “to follow a course based on dogma or ideology, it becomes necessary to remove science and reason.” I disagree. As I wrote a few weeks ago, each of us has only a limited knowledge of the society around us. An ideology is a system

. . . → Read More: Accidental Deliberations: Tuesday Morning Links

Northern Insight: What’s hidden from the Auditor General ?

Vancouver Sun’s excellent business writer David Baines considers tax implications of government paying $6 million in legal fees for convicted criminals Basi & Virk.

$6-million question: Should corrupt aides pay tax for defence? David Baines, Vancouver Sun, June 23, 2012

“Is the $6 million in legal fees that taxpayers paid for the defence of provincial ministerial assistants David Basi and Bob Virk — who pleaded guilty to political corruption in the BC Rail case — a taxable benefit?

“Due to confidentiality rules, Canada Revenue Agency isn’t saying, but case law strongly suggests that it is.

“If it is, then Basi

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: What’s hidden from the Auditor General ?

Impolitical: Today in secret deliberations

Something to watch for today as the Conservatives keep digging their democratic deficit, the Commons public accounts committee meets to decide the future of the F-35 hearings. Not in public, mind you! Where do you think you are? The committee is scheduled to meet again Thursday behind closed doors. The effort to shut down the hearings, led by Conservative MP Andrew Saxton, comes after about seven hours of testimony from witnesses.

Liberal and NDP members of Parliament had expected the hearings to continue this week, but Saxton introduced a motion during the committee’s May 17 meeting to stop calling witnesses

. . . → Read More: Impolitical: Today in secret deliberations