by Robin Mathews
It doesn't stop.
One rotten deal (of many) has been cut off. The others continue. The attempted heist by Gordon Campbell/Alcan of the Nechako River has been blocked. The "suspects" were caught red-handed. Their deal? To give Alcan a contract guaranteeing, on-going, a profit of 1400% from energy sales to B.C. Hydro. Campbell fronted for the deal, publicly calling it a good deal for British Columbians (and trying to keep its terms secret).
The B.C. Utilities Commission ruled Campbell's claim false.
Campbell went to Kitimat, remember, didn't meet the Mayor or City Council. He ignored them. He announced a very large expansion of Alcan aluminum smelter capacity to come soon. That seems to be false, too. Alcan keeps saying that unless it gets the 1400% profit deal it may just freeze everything. Or go away. So Campbell's announcement was fog, fakery, flunkeyism.
What you see is what you get in this matter, unless you work for the Leonard Asper family at CanWest. What you have to see (if you're normal) is Gordon Campbell acting in flagrant breach of the trust placed in him by the people of British Columbia. That is not, however, ever, what you hear or read or see from any of the CanWest lap-dogs in B.C., including the Vancouver Sun's editorial writers.
Questions have to be asked about them all. Are they hired because they register below the moron level in I.Q. tests? Are they so indoctrinated they can't think? Are they so terrified of losing their jobs they'll write anything? Or do they have a clear design? The answers don't really matter. What matters is that British Columbians are misled, deceived, told half-truths, fed obviously false Gordon Campbell propaganda, indoctrinated with corporate bilge, and led away from seeing the primary breaches of the trust they have placed in the Gordon Campbell government.
Do the flacks at CanWest really do all that?
Try Vaughn Palmer, the man I call "Gordon Campbell's personal representative at the Vancouver Sun ": Senior (ahem) Political Columnist there. What can he say when Campbell is caught red-handed? How can he cover for his (real) boss in such a situation? To begin, Vaughn Palmer doesn't look at what is in front of his eyes. He refuses to admit Campbell led the dirty deal with Alcan after trying to keep it as a secret deal, kept from British Columbians. He won't admit Campbell is doing a wrecking job on B.C, Hydro.
He doesn't tell his readers Campbell had a golden opportunity to serve the Province. Campbell could have set to work to build B .C. Hydro to be the grand energy servant of British Columbians: ecology-smart, progressive, assuring low-cast manufacture and housebold use, AS WELL AS quietly pouring billions into the Province's general revenues to be used for education, health care, Kyoto concerns, and more.
Palmer won't tell his readers Campbell split B.C. Hydro into three parts, ruled it can't generate more power but has to buy it from private sellers like Alcan! Palmer won't tell his readers Campbell gave (in a secret contract) one-third of B.C. Hydro to Accenture, the dubious, off-shore, former dealer-with-Enron, to look after B.C. Hydro's billing, metering, and financial affairs.
Vaughn Palmer won't tell his readers what you see - one third of B.C. Hydro in an all B.C.-owned distribution operation set up so British Columbians can't control it, can't get a decent profit from it, and must surrender to it all ability to sell energy wherever it wants (in the U.S. grid) for the profit of private owners Gordon Campbell has set up and is setting up.
Do you wonder how Vaughn Palmer can show his face in public? Do you wonder how he can go on writing the pap he does for CanWest? The answer may be that Palmer thinks he's on the winning team and when B.C. is destroyed, the friendly corporations will give him a private yacht to sail off the B.C. coast. He can call it "Lap-Dog" or "Fraser Institute" and equip it with a sound system that only transmits speeches by Gordon Campbell. Paradise! In the meantime, is Palmer following a carefully prepared design?
Consider Vaughn Palmer's column on the B.C. Utilities Commission ruling that stopped the dirty Alcan/Campbell/B.C. Hydro deal. Palmer reports on "the premier's rationale" for the dirty deal. It would supply energy needs (?) at "a competitive price". Pardon. 1400% profit to Alcan reflects a competitive price? Palmer has refused, ever, to say what the profit take would be for Alcan. Then, once again, Palmer pretends smelter expansion at Kitimat and the dirty deal were contained together in a pack.
They aren't. They never were. Then - to reveal the depths Palmer will sink to - he blames the failure of the deal on B.C. Hydro, which seems to have let Campbell down by telling the truth here and there. No, it said, B.C. Hydro doesn't need Alcan. No, self-sufficiency isn't involved in the dirty deal. (Indeed it is not. B.C. Hydro would be stunningly self-sufficient into the far future if it were put back together again, not privatized, allowed reasonable development, and given the chance to involve new ideas.)
Hydro appears to have fallen into "mistakes" that made it look as if the deal might not have been so bad after all. But the mistakes were easy to spot and the B.C. Utilities Commission spotted them. How did the mistakes come to happen?
Trust Vaughn Palmer. He asks questions. Did B.C. Hydro expect a Utilities Commission rubber stamp on the dirty deal? Was Hydro "going through the motions Š not caring to be a conduit for a subsidy-in-all-but-name for the aluminum smelter"?
Trust Vaughn Palmer. To avoid. Perhaps B.C. Hydro was tired of having its throat cut on behalf of Gordon Campbell's corporate friends. Could it be the people at Hydro knew (as Palmer pretends he doesn't) that the smelter "deal" was in no way tied to the 1400% profit deal on energy sales by Alcan to B.C. Hydro? So if Hydro supported the "heist" with a 1400% profit on it, there was no guarantee the smelter expansion would ever happen. The dirty deal would mean cozy, dirty profit for Campbell's buddies, but less than nothing for B.C. Hydro, Kitimat, or the B.C. people.
Gutless Vaughn Palmer refuses to finger Gordon Campbell for trying one of the dirtiest, smelliest deals in B.C. history. Instead, Palmer turns on the public servants in B.C. Hydro, already stretched on the rack by Campbell and his pirates. Palmer stands over the poor B.C. Hydro people with a lash. Bold, brave, courageous Vaughn Palmer. Is that bold posture by Palmer part of the design?
Readers who suffered that Parade of Palmer Political Pornography shouldn't be surprised that precisely six days later (Vanc. Sun, Feb 12, 07 A10) they were given another fog job, an editorial: "The Newspaper's View", titled "B.C. Hydro lets its customers down". The Newspaper's View we may take to be the view of Leonard Asper, the monopoly corporation's CEO. (CanWest papers write "Right" - whether the truth or not - or the writers don't last long.) The (faceless) editorial writers (like Vaughn Palmer) fell not on Gordon Campbell, but on B.C. Hydro. A coincidence? An accident?
The editors admit they earlier got things wrong. They thought the deal was great; it turned out to be lousy. But did they really get it wrong or did they pretend it was okay, hoping the dirty deal would go through without being noticed? Didn't they look into it - that important deal - those powerful, august managers of the Vancouver Sun? Didn't they know that with Gordon Campbell's knife in their backs, the B.C. Hydro representatives couldn't tell the truth about the sham deal they were being pushed into?
The Sun editorial writers don't ask any embarrassing questions of Gordon Campbell. Like their fellow Lap-Dog, Vaughn Palmer, the editors go for the jugulars of B.C. Hydro representatives. Surprise? Not at all. Private corporate power in North American wants to destroy publicly owned B.C. Hydro. The Vancouver Sun editors (I say) are simply doing their job: misrepresenting the facts, covering-up for the dirty attempt of Gordon Campbell, working tirelessly to destroy B.C. Hydro. The editors even mislead on the "incentive" touted to get Alcan to expand smelter facilities at Kitimat. The editors call it "the $110 million incentive".
The "incentive" - with no binding demand that smelter facilities be built - was a two billion dollar, on-going sale of energy to B.C Hydro in a deal that would deliver 1400% profit to Alcan. If Vaughn Palmer's Lap-Dog column stinks, the Sun editorial is a disgrace to the (already craven) level of argument for which the Sun is becoming infamous. But we can end, fortunately, with a humourous note (for those who like Black Humour).
Apparently, concerned, caring, intelligent citizens have challenged the editors for the false, idiotic, mindless editorial: "BC Hydro lets its customers down". (It should, to begin, have been entitled: "Gordon Campbell's Dagger Found Between BC Hydro's Shoulder Blades".)
Apparently, the editors were sympathetic to the complaints. If I'm not wrong, they suggested they may have taken the wrong tack. It has even been suggested the editorial was written all confused and in a rush. Will the editors write an apology and tell the real story? Will they do something? Of course not. Don't be silly. After all, they work for the Asper family. After all, CanWest is a big, private, reactionary, monopoly corporation whose sympathies are with all the reactionaries in Canada (and the U.S.). B.C. Hydro must be completely destroyed, those reactionaries believe. "What", the editors might ask, "do you think we're paid to do? Do you think we're paid to serve British Columbians? To tell the truth? To report fairly? We work for CanWest. Remember."