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Cowichan Conversations: Stephen Hume: A Tale of Two Coasts

Richard Hughes- Political Blogger

We are often referred to as the ‘Left Coast’ due the liberal left tendencies of many west coasters. The way the Ottawa’s largesse is doled out, we could just as easily be known as the ‘Left Out Coast.’

Age old arguments of the West getting the short end of the federal stick have always been a sore spot when comparing our representation to the Maritimes.

One of the sorest of sore points is BC Ferries. We are being ripped off through mismanagement provincially and funding inequities federally. Stephen Hume’s article spells it out.

Ferry subsidies: (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Vancouver Island Man’s Rant Against BC Ferries Goes Viral

This has been labelled as a rant but it seems to me that it is just a straightforward, well reasoned analysis of the problems at BC Ferries. This story was carried in the VanCity Buzz.


Vancouver Island resident Sean Smith’s rant against BC Ferries’ cruise ship-like operations has gone viral on Facebook.

SEE ALSO: BC Ferries releases open letter in response to Vancouver Island man’s viral rant

Read More

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: If the numbers are not known, invent them

Reviewing BC Ferries financial statements this week, I was reminded of a radio interview I heard early in the tenure of the current BC Ferries CEO. That was shortly after he banked a $200,000 bonus, provided to him by the ferry corporation because he was not going to collect bonuses in the future. (Don’t worry if this seems odd; no one else understands the logic either.)

Mike Corrigan appeared on Sean Leslie’s CKNW program June 17, 2012, explaining how a net loss at BC Ferries was actually good news. “…Throughout the year, we lost $30 million more in (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Fiscal unfairness, a BC Liberal tradition

Between Powell River and Texada Island, ferry service is by the oldest vessel in BC Ferries’ fleet, the 57-year-old MV North Island Princess, a vessel with capacity to carry 49 vehicles and 150 passengers. A sailing takes 35 minutes each way and there is no alternative means of surface transport.

The ferry fare for four people and a car is $71.

Five hundred miles east, between Balfour and Kootenay Bay, ferry service is by the 14-year-old MV Osprey, a vessel with capacity to carry 80 vehicles and 250 passengers. A sailing takes 35 minutes each way and using the ferry (Read more…)

The Disaffected Lib: Another BC Liberal Lie Gets Shattered – In Record Time

One of the greatest whoppers the British Columbia Liberals have told is that B.C. Ferries is an independent operator.  This has been the story since the Liberal government “privatized” the ferry service – handing the ships, terminals and other infrastructure to a private, shell company – while the government remained the sole shareholder.

This way when BC Ferries got into a labour dispute or opted to buy ships from Germany or Poland, the government could duck the flack by claiming these were the decisions of a private company, not the government.

That facade got shattered this week when word (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…)

Left Over: A Bridge Too Close?

Gabriola Island Bridge project prompts new opposition from residents Bridge-Free Salish Sea group plans to mount a petition campaign to gauge concerns over proposed bridge

CBC News Posted: Oct 29, 2014 11:06 AM PT Last Updated: Oct 29, 2014 11:07 AM PT


I think that all of us who live on the Big Island and the littler ones had better get used to this; not only is it a direct threat to the NIMBYs on the smaller islands who don’t like the big rise in ferry fares (none of us do, but it keeps my limited income on the (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Reporters as stenographers

Two years ago, the corporate media published headlines about ferry subsidies.

This report, which came during fiscal year 2013, was enough to stir the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation into action. They warned that subsidies to business might have to be cut if government wasted more money on citizens. CTF did not need to worry, the BC Liberals’ largesse to ferry users was less than it seemed.

There appears to have been no recent growth in provincial ferry subsidies. These were $2 million less in the 12 months ended March 31, 2014 than in the year before. We don’t know what the (Read more…)

Northern Insight / Perceptivity: Nature has inviolate principles, Christy Clark does not

A comment left by Lew on an earlier article deserves to be featured. Here is Christy Clark, the premier of our province, speaking as a radio show host just before leaving to run for leadership of the BC Liberals: “Ferry fares go up on Friday. It will be the eighth fare hike over the past five years, and this time BC Ferries says it needs to do it to find the money for rising fuel costs, and since the provincial government refuses to chip in, they’re dumping almost all of those new costs on users.

The impact of the new (Read more…)

Northern Insight: The states of state affairs

Comparing remuneration of senior public officials in Washington State to BC counterparts can leave one astounded. The most obvious examples are at the publicly owned investment management agencies and the ferry operations. Despite paying substantially less to executives, both Washington State Investment Board and Washington State Ferries outperformed equivalents north of the border. In recent years, WSIB earned better investment returns than bcIMC and WSF had growing utilization while the opposite is true as BCF. My review of Washington’s senior civil servants is also demonstrating major differences.

I surmise that rules of open government in the neighboring State are great (Read more…)

Northern Insight: BC Ferries still owed $25 million 2nd mortgage

Under leadership of CEO David Hahn and Board Chairs Elizabeth Harrison and Don Hay, in a deal negotiated before completion of construction, BC Ferries lent a real estate developer almost $25 million for The Atrium, a Victoria commercial development. The loan was secured by a second mortgage, even though, when it negotiated the deal, BC Ferries did not know the final terms of first mortgage financing that would rank ahead of its own security.

Two and a half years ago, I wrote this at Northern Insight: In 2008, the company announced plans to move into 90,000 square feet of (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Ferries’ future foretold

In a month or three, BC Ferries will publish statements of its financial position and information about remuneration earned by the top executives.

I had someone look into a crystal ball and we’ve determined that in 2014, as in all years prior, the ferry execs achieved key financial targets, improved value to customers at every point along the customer experience chain, continuously improved the safety of operations, improved operational reliability of vessels, terminals and facilities and just got better at everything they do.

As a result, bonuses will be paid. Again.

There may be few ferry users scattered in coastal (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: Maroc’s Public Letter to John Horgan Probably The New Leader of Her Majesty’s Loyal Opposition

Don Maroc-Cowichan Conversations Contributor

It looks like the power brokers have decided that you are the NDP’s last hope for revival. Of course no one is saying anything like that John, but that’s what’s being bantered back and forth out here among what was once the NDP backbone.

Don’t be complacent when the party’s fixers hand you the mantel of leadership, that’s an empty shroud unless you can re-establish the NDP/ CCF link with the working people of B.C., the folks who built and maintained our once vibrant culture.

They are also the folks who have to get (Read more…)

Northern Insight: War on coastal communities

Christy Clark’s Liberals seem dedicated to punishing residents of BC coastal communities, probably because all ferry dependent communities failed to return Liberal candidates in the last election. A few days ago, BC Ferries announced: “Due to current world fuel market conditions that influence the prices that BC Ferries must pay its diesel fuel suppliers, the company is advising customers that a fuel surcharge will be implemented on the majority of its routes on January 17.

“The fuel surcharge will be 3.5 per cent on average…”

Is this truly a response to “world fuel market conditions” or something (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Lies, damn lies and statistics

In late 2012, BC Ferries published a 14-page self-promotion titled Fuel Strategies. It discussed alleged savings in fuel consumption achieved by BC Ferries’ brilliant managers.

A centrepiece was this chart:

Looks pretty good. Maybe worth another bonus or two. Except, here is the same information portrayed differently.

Not quite as impressive. But wait. BC Ferry’s traffic has been steadily declining. In 2013, vehicle and passenger movements were 27.7 million and in 2004, the total was 31.3 million movements. So, if we look at litres of fuel consumed for each traffic unit, changes in fuel consumption look like this.

. . . → Read More: Northern Insight: Lies, damn lies and statistics

Northern Insight: An example of coastal ferry fares, 5x inflation

One of my readers lives modestly on Texada Island and comes to the city occasionally for shopping and medical treatments and to visit family and friends. He retired on this northern Gulf Island after working there in the rock quarries and then as a gyppo logger.

My correspondent feels the pain of ferry fares. When he and his partner make a return trip to Vancouver, which is 75 miles distant as the crow flies, they face three ferry crossings that total about two hours each way. The fares for a small car and two adults is $199.55 return.

Five (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Without fairness for all

Successful societies are based on equitable treatment of every citizen. That is not to say that individuals must be dealt with equally, rather that fairness is always evident. Does that precept matter anymore to economic and political leaders of British Columbia and Canada? I conclude it does not.

This week we heard that assets of Canada’s wealthiest billionaires grew by double digits. I  learned that one British Columbia mining company netted more from a single operation than the province grossed from every mine in the province that extracts metals. Also, that BC’s coal exporters earned profits measured in the billions (Read more…)

Northern Insight: The BC Ferry crisis is a political one

I’ll be posting more about the changes proposed by government to BC Ferries but there are a few bits of information worth throwing out before I complete a more thorough piece.

While a bloated management structure continues to exist, the executives actually operating the system have suffered cutbacks. Above the ferry management are two boards of directors involving 18 Liberal friends, each paid five-figure rewards and given free passes for themselves and their family members. They supervise ferry management as do two ferry commissioners who work part-time and earn six-figure rewards. No changes are proposed to this comfortable patronage.

If (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: BC Libs Slash Ferry Service, Seniors Discounts and Will Install Slot Machines

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Recall the promises of prosperity heralded by now Premier Christy Clark. The LNG fracking and pipelines will deliver untold goodies, wealth and benefits the shameless BC Liberals proclaimed.

Well folks it ain’t necessarily so! The hacking and slashing of all public funded services is underway. Routes will be cut back and the seniors has been targeted for a new cash grab.

Not only that but the hapless Libs are also going to lighten your wallet further by installing gambling opportunities on the ferries!

Here is the updated report from the CBC.

Northern Insight: Ferry innovation? Wazzat?

With 20 directors on two boards and two well compensated ferry commissioners overseeing by far the highest priced ferry managers in the world, BC Ferries should be world leaders in innovation.

Not quite. Norwegian ferry operator Fjord1 has a dozen LNG ferries in service or on order, with the largest equipped to carry more than 250 vehicles. Now, they’ve announced the next generation vessel:

“Multi Maritime has, in close cooperation with the ferry operator Fjord1, launched a new green ferry concept. The ferry is a “plug-in” LNG hybrid, which incorporates several features to reduce the ferry’s environmental footprint. The (Read more…)

Northern Insight: On BC Ferries with Ian Jessop, CFAX1070 Nov. 1

If you cannot see the audio controls, your browser does not support the audio element

Here is a list of directors that served British Columbia Ferry Services Inc. in the fiscal years 2009 through 2013. In this five year period, fees paid BCFS directors totalled over $3.3 million. According to Elections BC, directors and associated companies contributed $1.3 million to the BC Liberal Party since 2005.

Mark L. Cullen Christopher G. Gardner Elizabeth J. Harrison Holly A. Haston-Grant Donald P. Hayes Guy D. Johnston Brian G. Kenning Gordon R. Larkin Maureen V. Macarenko A. Daniel Miller Jane L. (Read more…)

Northern Insight: Bridge for sale, cheap

Province columnist Michael Smyth is technically correct about the status of the corporation, when he writes,

“B.C. Ferries is a private company that acts independently of government, even though the government still technically owns it.”

But, if he believes the statement to be accurate, I’d like to offer him a great investment opportunity, the Lions Gate Bridge, which I’m willing to sacrifice for a one time cash payment of $10,000. Act quickly, Mike.

Northern Insight: Pushing back on the pushback

Anonymous reader argued through earlier comments that comparisons between BC Investment Management Corporation and Washington State Investment Board are inappropriate “apples and oranges.” The person attempted to justify huge increases in executive compensation because “Much of the compensation is based on results over the past 4 years.” This question was also posed, “What are the long-term returns of both organizations.”

First, I’ll deal with long term returns. Since 2005, BCiMC averaged 7.2% annual rate of return while WSIB averaged 8.5%.

Are salaries established based on results? Apparently not for the most senior executives of BCiMC. (Read more…)

Cowichan Conversations: BC Ferries Block 20 Year Old Woman From Ferry Over 10 Bloody Cents!

Richard Hughes-Political Blogger

Rules are rules is the official line from some demented BC Ferries spinner after a rules and regulations freak would not allow a young woman on the ferry over a dime!

Her ‘Experience Card’ was short a dime and rather than slip her 10 cents they required her to top it up at a cost of 60 bucks which she did not have.

So they left her stranded in Nanaimo overnight. Brilliant!

Here is the story from CBC News! (Video)


Left Over: One Dime Short and a Day Late…BC Ferries Sucks

BC Ferries refuses woman 10 cents short on ferry fare Company spokesperson says the rules are the rules CBC News Posted: Jun 24, 2013 8:46 AM PT Last Updated: Jun 24, 2013 8:45 AM PT



Was there no one in the line – up to give/loan this woman a single dime? Is the fare taker, a well paid union employee (as I once was) so heartless that she wouldn’t cough it up herself? This is really pathetic…why not have a small coin box for just these situations (like most retail stores do) so that no one has to (Read more…)