Bob Broughton's Blog about British Columbia politics

The sinking of the "Queen of the North"

An article by Ian Mulgrew in the Vancouver Sun, Ferry sinking: We may never know what happened starts with this sentence: "The public may never hear what actually happened aboard the Queen of the North ferry the night it hit Gil Island and sank, killing two people, because the family of the victims can’t afford B.C.’s exorbitant court fees."

Huh? Why not? The Queen of the North was the property of the citizens of British Columbia. That's us. Are they telling us that we can't find out why this ship is now sitting at the bottom of Granville Channel?

B.C. Ferries did an internal investigation in 2007. The Federal agency Transportation Safety Board did an investigation, and released a report in 2008; you can read it for yourself here.

The same day that Mulgrew's article was published, the provincial Ministry of Attorney General laid criminal negligence charges against the navigator, Karl Lilgert. You can read the Ministry's statement here. Good idea; let's get this thing in court.

One thing that we will probably learn from this is that the Queen of the North had a perfectly good GPS system, and the crew wasn't using it.

Video story from A/News.

I was a passenger on the Queen of the North in 2004. It was a wonderful experience.

Wikipedia article: MV Queen of the North

OK, let's put a stop to this. Now.

Thanks to Crooks and Liars for making this available.

Two quick facts:

1. It is none of the Canada Border Services Agency's business whether Amy Goodman or anybody else wants to talk about the 2010 Olympics or not. From the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: "Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association."

2. "The Canada Border Services Agency didn't respond to our request for an interview." Let's see if they will respond to a subpoena instead.

Story by Petti Fong of the Toronto Star: What Olympics? Baffled U.S. radio host interrogated at border "Canada Border Services Agency spokeswoman Faith St. John said she could not speak specifically about Goodman's detention. But she said anyone entering the country may be subject to a more in-depth examination.

"It should not be viewed as an accusation of wrongdoing." Wrong, Ms. St. John. If there was no accusation of wrongdoing, why was Goodman told that she had to be out of Canada within 48 hours?

Video story (with transcript) from Democracy Now. Includes quotes from Chris Chaw, David Eby.

Blog post by Harvey Oberfeld: Border Services Attack on Freedom of Speech: Merits More than Just a Story. Lots of good comments.

Blog post by Sabina Becker at News of the Restless: A big embarrassment for my home and native land

Click to view full size, printer-readyFree bumper sticker; click here to view full-size image, then print it and do whatever you want with it.

Talk 1410 becomes Team 1410

Vancouver radio listeners suddenly discovered on November 6 that they had one less talk radio station, and Simi Sara, Dave Brindle, and Nikki Renshaw learned the previous afternoon that they no longer had jobs. Instead, the Vancouver market now has two all-sports radio stations. Most of the content on Team 1410 will be national sports talk hosts such as Jim Rome.

I can't find anything good about this development. There are a lot of things going on in British Columbia that could stand more attention from the citizens: the Virk/Basi trial, disappearance of salmon runs, privatization of rivers and electric power, loss of civil liberties related to the 2010 Olympics, government unwillingness to prosecute polygamists, to give a few examples. Consider this: the takeover of Burlington Northern Santa Fe by Warren Buffett last week could have a significant impact on transportation and employment in the Lower Mainland, but local press coverage consisted of a wire service story in the back pages of the business section of the Vancouver Sun.

We now have fewer sources of information about what's going on than we had a week ago.

What brought this on? The latest ratings for the Vancouver market gave Talk 1410 AM a 1.8% market share. To put this in perspective, CBC AM got 11.6% and CKNW got 11.5%. (CKNW's share was in the 17-20% range in their heyday.) The 1.8% even compares unfavorably with Jim Pattison's geriatric "all time favourites" CISL (650 AM), with a 3.4% share. Low ratings mean low ad revenue, which means less money to pay Sara, Brindle, Renshaw, and the rest of the hired help.

There's another side to this, however. That 1.8% is the highest share that Talk 1410 AM had in over a year. And what short of listenership do they expect to get with reruns of Vancouver Canucks games and (this isn't a joke) radio coverage of golf. They also lose ad revenue for Coast to Coast and (ugh) Laura Schlessinger, syndicated programs carried at low cost.

The owners of CTVglobemedia, who also own Team 1040, The Beat 94.5 FM, and 103.5 QM/FM, had other options available to them. The nearby Air America Radio affiliates, KBAI-AM 930 in Bellingham and KPTK AM 1090 in Seattle, both carry some live sports programming to bring in some additional ad revenue. There was nothing obvious to stop CTVglobemedia from carrying BC Lions games and other live sports coverage, continuing with Coast to Coast, and keeping Sara and Brindle, whose programs were growing in popularity, on the air.

Was there something else going on here? Did somebody in CTVglobemedia's management get a phone call from Gordon Campbell or Stephen Harper's office, expressing displeasure with the subject matter under discussion on Sara's and Brindle's programs? One thing's for sure; if nobody asks this question, we're not going to hear any answers.

Article by Monte Paulsen for The Tyee: Talk 1410 gone, Brindle vows return

How to reduce the BC budget deficit IV

1. The provincial government funded an invitation-only party for the opening of the Richmond speed skating oval with a half million dollars, and the government came of with this money on two days' notice.

VANOC should be ashamed of themselves for requesting this money, and they should return it.

2. Three Crown corporations, B.C. Hydro, ICBC, and the B.C. Lottery Corporation, have spent more than $1.4 million on Olympic tickets.

This money could be recovered by simply re-selling the tickets. eBay will work.

How to reduce the BC budget deficit III

Warren Buckley, the CEO of the BC Pavilion Corp., is paid $597,438 per year. The BC Pavilion Corp. manages BC Place Stadium (the one with the white inflated roof, and looks like a big mushroom), and the Vancouver Convention Centre.

Unlike David Hahn, Kevin Mahoney, and the Public Affairs Bureau, I am not suggesting that Buckley be fired, as I have no reason to believe that he is doing anything other than a good job. And, unlike the Public Affairs Bureau, he's performing a function that has to be done by somebody.

However, I suspect that Buckley would be capable of doing just as good a job for us hard-working taxpayers for $200,000 a year. At that level, he would still be making more money than 98% of British Columbians, and we would be $397,438 closer to balancing the next provincial budget.

How to reduce the BC budget deficit II

The Liberal government of BC has come up with a classic example of rewarding failure: David Hahn, president of BC Ferries, made over a million dollars last year. Read about it here: Shock as B.C. Ferries boss Hahn's $1-million salary revealed

It shouldn't be very difficult to find someone who could do a better job than Hahn is doing for only $200,000 or so.

An extra $2 billion in sales taxes so that the provincial government can continue to pay the salaries of Hahn, BC Rail CEO Kevin Mahoney, and the Public Affairs Bureau? Can you say "tax revolt"?

How to reduce the BC budget deficit

Two months after the last provincial election, we're hearing from Canwest Global that the half-billion dollar deficit we were told about before the election was fiction, and now we're going to get cuts in health care, education, and social services to "solve this problem".

The same Canwest Global never misses an opportunity to tell us that it's the Liberal Party of BC that we should trust to manage the provincial finances. Why? Because it's the Liberal Party of BC that we should trust to manage the provincial finances.

So, armed with the knowledge that we can expect Gordon Campbell, Kevin Falcon and Co. to do the right thing, I'm offering a couple of suggestions on how they can cut expenses.

1. Fire Kevin Mahoney: Mahoney was paid $494,182 last year to run the part of BC Rail that wasn't given away to CN. That leaves 40 km. of track, no rolling stock, and 24 employees.

Premier Campbell, if you're going to start talking about welfare extravagance, start at the top. Set an example by telling BC's biggest welfare recipient to get a real job. And don't pull this "severance package" stunt again; Mahoney's salary is already a severance package.

Read more about it: Public taken for a 40km, $1.2m gravy train ride, by Michael Smyth.

2. Shut down the Public Affairs Bureau: This is a bureaucracy with 223 employees, and costs us hard-working taxpayers $28 million a year.

Not a one of these 223 employees is responsible for paving streets, collecting garbage, educating students, or putting criminals in jail. Instead, they "manage" the information that we get from the provincial government.

To give you some perspective on what a boondoggle this is, there isn't a newspaper or television station in Canada that has 223 employees.

Not a single teacher or nurse should be laid off by the provincial government until every single one of these people has been fired. Show us what your priorities are, Gordon. And, when you do this, be as vindictive about it as you're capable of, so that the NDP won't be tempted to reinstate this abomination after winning some future election.

More on this from Miro Cernetig: With Fourth Estate under siege, governments seek to manage the news
Blog entry from BC Mary: About that Public Affairs Bureau ... this premier has the largest political communications staff in B.C. history