The recent breakout at Oakalla prison which went unreported for weeks is a good reason to privatize the prison system, says Michael Walker, director of the Fraser Institute, a Vancouver-based think tank.
Walker told Vancouver Rotary Club members in a speech Tuesday that prisons in Canada should be privately run as some are in the U.S.
Describing public sector services as "overcrowded and underfunded," Walker said events at Oakalla are a manifestation of a problem within the prison system . . . a problem that exists throughout the public sector."
He added: "The problem with the prison system, as we shall see, is that they (prisons) have been demonstrated to be incompetent and have been rewarded with more funding and more staff.
"It can't be claimed that the public sector does a better job providing prisons than the private sector. They (the B.C. government) should take the opportunity to privatize the prisons along with everything else."
Walker said increased privatization is a worldwide phenomenon and has nothing to do with politics or attacking unions.
He said left-wing governments such as New Zealand, where it is called corporatisation, are doing it "in a more aggressive and Draconian way than anything we can do in Canada."
He got a laugh from his audience when he suggested that if highways and bridge maintenance operations on Vancouver Island are indeed sold to an employee group, "the fact that many of them are (in) unions will cause them to decide not to be unionized.
Walker produced some statistics, which he accredited to the University of Victoria, in support of contracting out municipal services such as garbage collection.
In a survey of 100 municipalities, Walker said it was determined that those that did their own garbage collection paid an average of $42.29 per household. Where the work was done by private contractors, the cost was $28.02.
He said in Richmond, for example, which contracted out its garbage collection since March 1983, the cost has gone down from $52.71 per household to $31.72. Productivity was 65-per-cent higher under private enterprise, from 6.2 tonnes of garbage collected per-crew person-per-day to 10.25 tonnes-per-person-per-day.
"On a straight, factual level, it's cheaper to do it in the private sector."
The photo of the report was "extracted" from the Newspaper clippings department of the Vancouver Public Library, downtown Main Branch, Fifth Floor. The date, as well as the name of the newspaper, along with the Public Libraries ProQuest software program brought up the full story.
Now here's the rub on the New Zealand scheme of things, and if you do take the time to read it, BC Ferries and David Hahn will start to creep into your thinking...... especially when you read that to increase profitability in the Corporatisation plan.... bonuses were decided to be the best way to make things work...... for the Corporation. BC Hydo comes to mind too.
Search Criteria in Google New Zealand, where it is called corporatisation third hit down under the heading of "Failure"
And before you start to ask the question of where does BC's Auditor General hail from......., you're close in your thinking but ... Wrong Continent.
And to add one more piece to this puzzle, I found this at the same library too......, and on another newspaper clipping was the name Larry Bell
Search Criteria in Google:
"bc systems corporation" Larry Bell Deputy Minister
Add to the search: Larry Bell BC Hydro
But.........FRIDAY, JUNE 24, 1988 Hansard:
MR. WILLIAMS: I suspect that the Minister of Energy has an interesting taste in his mouth these days; it's either that of sweet revenge or sweet irony. Let's remember that the
MR. BLENCOE: That's a long time ago.
MR. WILLIAMS: A long time ago. The venerable minister is still handling things very well.
At the same time, it's fascinating that a group of very different whiz-kids is operating at B.C. Hydro these days. Those whiz-kids had a meeting at Whistler December 5 and 6 last year, and it was there that we first learned the phrase: "Let's strip B.C. Hydro down to the wires. " The brains trust that met at Whistler - the chairman of B.C. Hydro and his colleagues - December 5 and 6, discussed this whole idea of stripping down the Crown corporation.
MR. WILLIAMS: Mr. Larry Bell, yes.
There is no accident in the drafting of this legislation -no accident at all. It's no accident that, as my colleague from Vancouver says, it means they could sell the corporation off dam by dam.
AN HON. MEMBER: The whole damn thing.
MR. WILLIAMS: The whole damn thing, yes.
The amendment that's on the order paper doesn't seem to fully deal with the loophole in terms of the electrical division. There are significant parts of the electrical division. The earlier study carried out for the former minister in charge of privatization, the member for Vancouver South, was carried out by another former Deputy Minister of Finance, just as Mr. Larry Bell was - Mr. David Emerson. In that earlier study, they looked at some of the options for selling off chunks of the corporation. They looked at the Kootenay canal project, for example, on the Kootenay River between Nelson and Castlegar, and at what their cost was on the books and what they might get if they sold it off. They talked about selling it off to West Kootenay Power and Light in that report of April of this year.
So it's no accident that the legislation was drafted the way it is. This is a conscious program in terms of being ready to sell off, in effect, the rivers of British Columbia. That's what that represents: selling off the birthright, the rivers of British Columbia.
We know what a storm there was in the Kootenay region and in the Okanagan with the sale of West Kootenay Power and Light. The Consumers' Association that our new colleague is familiar with has thousands and thousands of members opposed to the selling off of British Columbia rivers, opposed to foreign ownership of these important natural resources. These are the rivers of British Columbia.
The minister sort of kicks Hydro. This is an administration of 30 years in this province, basically running this corporation, the B.C. Hydro and Power Authority. And you're saying, in effect, that you and your colleagues in the past have been monumental failures in terms of running a public enterprise. You are saying you're incompetent and just have to get out of the business. You're incompetent, but the people of British Columbia have to put you out of the business. This isn't the way to do it.
I remember when I first came here. W.A. C. Bennett was Premier. I was young then, like the minister was young at the electric company. I thought, "Let's listen to what this old chap has to say, " and I wondered if he really had much to deliver. He was talking about B.C. Hydro actually. I have to admit that I was impressed - I didn't come here expecting to be impressed by Mr. Bennett; that changed over times, but in many ways I was impressed by him. He talked about Hydro and said: "My friends, you never sell off the equity. You never, ever sell off the equity. " He said: "That's the birthright of all British Columbians. We can borrow. We can take out bonds and all the rest. We can do borrowings, but we never, ever sell off the assets." The assets are the rivers of British Columbia. That's really what the plan has been here: to piece by piece, in effect, loot the province of British Columbia. That's the way I see this privatization game. All too often it's a looting of the public assets of the province.
MR. LOVICK: Like vandals.
MR. WILLIAMS: That's right. The business of selling off West Kootenay Power and Light in the Kootenay canal project is the sixth- or seventh-largest operation in the province. Can you imagine selling that off to a Missouri corporation, UtiliCorp? That is seriously being looked at by the advisers to the ministry. They estimate the annual revenue out of that at something like $88 million. They suggest that they might actually have a value of $1 billion in the Kootenay canal project. I suspect that a billion dollars looked very tempting to Mr. Bell and Mr. Emerson.
Then you start thinking about the other assets of this corporation: Peace Canyon, Bennett, Seven Mile, Revelstoke, John Hart and all the others. We're talking, truly, about a great natural heritage here in the province. The potential losses to the Crown over time would be absolutely monumental.
The Hydro Rail idea, as the member for Kootenay says.... How much sense does it really make to sell off Hydro Rail - even to Mr. Emerson, an ideologue of your ilk? It didn't make any sense to him. It made some sense to look at merging it with B.C. Rail, but it didn't make any sense to him to sell it on a standalone basis.
The minister has since privately and publicly said: "We're not going to sell off the right-of-way." I'm not entirely sure what that means, but we don't have any protection in this legislation against selling off the right-of-way, Mr. Minister. That right-of-way proved incredibly beneficial when building SkyTrain through Burnaby and the east side of the city to New Westminster. That right-of-way was provided free for a commuter system. In the same sense, Hydro Rail can provide a commuter system from Surrey to Chilliwack, south of the river - the fastest-growing area in British Columbia. It makes all the sense in the world to use that rail line as an extension - surface commuter rail that's not expensive for the growing south side of the river.
The question of whether that's going to be available or not is a neat question. We obviously have to have access to the tracks and have use of the tracks in terms of a timetable for rush hour and all the rest. The people at Hydro Rail all say that it's workable, that they tested it during Expo and it was successful. That they can do that in the fastest-growing area of the province makes absolutely no sense. As the member for Kootenay (Ms. Edwards) said, they have strategic control with respect to the right-of-way out of Roberts Bank and Annacis Island, important industrial areas in the heartland of our economic bread-basket in British Columbia - exclusive rights-of-way to those places.
Think about the R and D division in terms of separating this group: 90 percent of their work is for B.C. Hydro. The logic of privatizing is clearly not there. Mr. Emerson makes it abundantly clear as well. He said that it had a weak potential for privatization. That's Mr. Emerson, the former Deputy Minister of Finance, speaking in April of this year, saying it has a weak potential for privatization, but you're proceeding regardless.
The gas division, Mr. Minister: about 9, 000 kilometres of pipe in the lower mainland. You have a contract, as I understand it, with Westcoast Transmission to last until 1991. It's not a good contract. As soon as you're out of that contract, the opportunities. . . . You talk about freezing prices for three years in terms of customers of the gas division. In 1991 they are out of unsatisfactory contractual relationships with Westcoast Transmission, and presumably the opportunities then of cheaper gas from the fields will be available on a throughput basis to the system in the lower mainland. That should leave a very healthy margin for the new corporation, a very healthy margin that either would have gone to the consumers or to B.C. Hydro, the Crown corporation, but will flow through to this company during this time period. That's the sleeper in the deal for the gas division.
The current arrangements, which are unsatisfactory based on older gas prices compared to the potential of new gas prices in the field. . . . The whole exercise gives one an uneasy feeling around the area of privatization in this province. There's a kind of looting mentality that pervades the government ranks. It was there in the sale of the public assets of the Expo lands. When you reflect on the kind of deal that was made, where two-thirds of the price of the lands will be paid in the last three years of the deal, some 15 or 20 years later, then you realize the kind of looting that represents in terms of decent pricing of public assets.
The other test operations in the Okanagan and elsewhere sold for a pittance, justified by the Premier in his recent to trip to Alberni. On the CBC, he said to the workers at the mill in Alberni:
"You want to maintain your present level of wages; you want to have the present level of services we have in British Columbia. If you want that, then you've got to accept the privatization of all of these other activities, because we can't maintain services in British Columbia at their present levels unless we privatize and we can't maintain wage levels in British Columbia unless we privatize. "What kind of voodoo economics is that, Mr. Speaker? What kind of phony scare tactic is that to try and peddle to the public of British Columbia' We are a wealthy province with great natural resources. If we don't squander them the way you want to squander them currently under these various programs, we can see to it that in the future all British Columbians will have a better economic chance than they have today. None of this poor-mouthing of British Columbia. We have a gross national product that increases annually; we have a gross provincial product that increases annually. We are a wealthy people here. We do not have to sell off our birthright to pay the bills and to pay decent wages.
The intent here was clearly a carte blanche to allow the new prodigies over there in B. C. Hydro under this Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources to sell off the outfit piece by piece-, indeed, "to take it down to the wires" -that's their quote, Mr. Speaker, not ours. Those are the top people in B.C. Hydro talking about taking Hydro down to the wires. That's their quote, that's their view of the operation and that's their measure of the failure of this administration in managing a public enterprise and Crown corporation.
I have to reflect again on Mr. Bennett and those early days in this chamber. He had profound and simple advice for us. He said that we should never. ever sell off this birthright; we should never, ever sell off the equity. That's why we're opposed to this bill. It's very clear what the strategy of government is, and it flies in the face of administrations in this province for decades.
We urge the minister to reconsider the amendment that he's got. It clearly needs tightening. Then we might have some assurance that the pieces of the electrical division will not be lost. We are not assured at this stage by the decisions made to date or by the statements of the Premier.
In 1988 BC Hydro sold its Gas Division which distributed natural gas in the lower mainland and Victoria to Inland Natural Gas
Wilhelmus Nicholaas Theodore Marie "Bill" Vander Zalm