Mainstream media ignoring real story on BC Hydro debt, skyrocketing power bills

Mainstream Media Ignoring Real Story on BC Hydro Debt, Skyrocketing Power Bills
Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer

I find myself in complete empathy with H.L. Mencken, when he said “Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

I read Vaughn Palmer in Friday’s Sun, where he said, talking about the challenges facing Bill Bennett (not the real one but the one now in charge of BC Hydro), saying his mandate is “to minimize rate increases to consumers.” Palmer counters, “Yet Hydro needs to manage soaring debt, rising costs and billions of dollars worth of spending in unresolved deferral accounts. Plus it is being pressured to deliver gobs of clean, cheap power for an expanded liquefied natural gas industry.”

Vaughn – where the hell have you been?

I’ve defended the pussycat approach you and your colleague Mike Smyth have taken towards this government for some years, saying that, unlike me, you have mortgages and education fees for your children that I don’t have thus I shouldn’t criticize the ongoing corporate blowjobs you have given and continue to give the Campbell/Clark government. No more.

BC Hydro is in a terrible way, as are we, its shareholders. And many, starting with Dr. John Calvert of SFU and other academics along with environmentalists like Tom Rankin, Damien Gillis and me – and most notably economist Erik Andersen – have been saying as loudly as our limited public outlets will permit that the Campbell/Clark government has forced BC Hydro into making deals with private companies for energy they don’t need yet must take at a cost at least double the market price and up to ten times what they can produce it for themselves. AND, these contracts are now in the range of $50-60 BILLION.

Where the hell have you and the government sucks that employ you been on this issue? A little one-liner in your column implying that this is something surprising that perhaps we should investigate. Golly, gee whiz, look what I found Mommy – a suspicious looking expenditure by BC Hydro that maybe, just maybe we should have a look at!

The scandal is not just the government and the private companies that just financed their re-election – not just the woefully inept Opposition Party – but YOU! Yes, Vaughn, you and those who employ you bear ultimate responsibility for covering this up, going back to the beginning of the Campbell/Clark government that connived to create these secret pay-offs.

I, personally, bear some of that responsibility, for it wasn’t until 2005 that I started questioning this energy policy. I interviewed David Austin, the lawyer for the Independent Power Producers for several years and never questioned closely these secret deals. I admit that and I’m ashamed of it. But I did start to ask questions, penetrating questions and, hearing no honest answers, persisted.

I repeat, Vaughn, where the hell have you and the mainstream media been? How can you now just slough the matter off with sort of a dreamy observation that BC Hydro has some bills to pay?

BC Hydro is broke, Bust. Bankrupt. At least it certainly would be were it in the private sector. Its only salvation is that it can raise its rates to the long-suffering ratepayers.

Now, in the June 15 Weekend Sun, Scott Simpson and Derrick Penner do an interview with Rich Coleman, who is in charge of getting Liquefied Natural Gas rolling. Good Grief! Can’t anyone ask a question? A real question? One slow pitch after another!

Of course the Liberals are to blame as are the NDP for being a pitiful example of what an Opposition is supposed to look like, both in the Legislature and on the hustings.

But the mainstream media and their neutered columnists are as much to blame as is the lily-livered Opposition. You have never even questioned this so-called “run of river”, private power policy, just as you have never questioned salmon farms, pipelines and tankers. You have let it happen and thus it happened. Now, it would seem, you will give Coleman and company free rein as they try with LNG to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear – and fail.

All of you should at least admit it, late in the day though it is, and start telling the people the truth and force the government to do the same.


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at

3 thoughts on “Mainstream media ignoring real story on BC Hydro debt, skyrocketing power bills

  1. I believe, Rafe noted years ago, that Campbell promoted these ideas of run of the river projects would do nothing more than give the Liberals reason to privatize BC Hydro. V. Palmer & M Smyth, in my opinion, have never written truthfully about anything government.

  2. Wednesday, 26 June 2013 11:08 posted by Jackie Marshall

    MSM is nothing but a government’s tool used by the government to carry out its agenda! They do not have any credibility whatsoever and don’t deserve any attention from the public.

    Friday, 21 June 2013 21:58 posted by Marc Erickson

    “In a memorable exchange with Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, [Michael] Hastings’ aggressive line of questioning angered Reines. “Why do you bother to ask questions you’ve already decided you know the answers to?” Reines asked. “Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?” Hastings replied. ”

    Some media members need to take THAT approach.

    Friday, 21 June 2013 21:57 posted by Marc Erickson

    “In a memorable exchange with Hillary Clinton aide Philippe Reines in the aftermath of the Benghazi attacks, [Michael] Hastings’ aggressive line of questioning angered Reines. “Why do you bother to ask questions you’ve already decided you know the answers to?” Reines asked. “Why don’t you give answers that aren’t bullshit for a change?” Hastings replied. ”

    Some media members need to take THAT approach.

    Thursday, 20 June 2013 13:56 posted by Keith Ballantyne

    Is LNG the latest corporate blow job all at public expense, from infrastructure to shipping it out of the country.
    Surely the people of B.C. have the right to be serviced by LNG instead of the more expensive LPG which is derived from petroleum, all before exports are considered.
    And what about tomorrow, the corporate interests want their profits today at the expense of our grand-children’s children right to energy.
    The “energy agenda” has overtaken democracy and that is not all that is at risk.

    Thursday, 20 June 2013 08:13 posted by Mary Lowther

    Thank you Rafe! Well-written and right on.

    Monday, 17 June 2013 11:29 posted by scotty on denman

    Goodness knows there’s a lot of frustration around BC in the wake of a most unsatisfactory election (by which I mean the campaign and the turnout as much as the result) which might explain the commonly heard call to civil disobedience. Civil disobedience always wants to jump the queue with a breathless “before-it’s-too-late” rationale, and BC Hydro, bristling with pins like a voodoo doll, is doubtlessly an apt subject. But before obeying uncivility, we should consider measures outside our habitually preferred popular fora, politics and media, one so new it bears reminding, the other so omnipresent we often don’t see it, that is, Citizens’ Initiatives and the good old (well, old, anyway) judiciary.

    Recall has proven difficult to achieve, yet the petition route, with only a 10% threshold, proved, for the first time in Commonwealth history, it can upset legislation and force politicians to do things they’d rather not (think HST). Now we know it works, lets apply it to BC Hydro. Courts criminal and civil are amply equipped to deal with non-compliance to environmental regs, workplace safety and fundamental rights. We need to seek decisions in law, not politics. Politics isn’t working.

    Monday, 17 June 2013 11:01 posted by scotty on Denman

    At least half of what private enterprise claims as its due is revenge for being deprived of its right, self-proclaimed, to profit at anything that generates wealth. The skewering (or hobbling, knackering, poisoning, sabotaging or…any number of descriptions) of BC Hydro, so insidious, so mean, seems an order of revenge appropriate to the most heinous of crimes; I might have missed whatever it was—the creation of the public power producer happened years before I moved to BC—yet I’ve always wondered, probably with some naivety, why private businesses, most of which use electricity to some extent, wouldn’t enjoy the vastly cheaper rates BC Hydro has supplied. Or why businesses wouldn’t be happy that BC Hydro pumped several hundred millions of dollars annually into public coffers, paying for schools, roads, hospitals and the like that would otherwise have to be levied from taxpayers, businesses included. Still, the tens of billions earmarked for parasitic IPPs is far out of proportion with the profit privateers would have made if electrical power generation had not been nationalized in BC. It’s more than unfair, it’s murderous: kill BC Hydro, make sure it’s dead.

    Monday, 17 June 2013 07:50 posted by Vince Kelly

    The Vancouver Sun isn’t even a news organization,.. It is a PR firm for the BC Liberal Party.

    The Province and the Times Colonist are crap,.. but the Vancouver Sun is on a totally different level of shit. Rat’s diarrhea,..

    The Vancouver Sun is for high school kids but basically an insult to anyone who thinks and looks up facts.

    Vaughn Palmer only breaks news, when his employer, the BC Liberal Party leaks news to him to divert whatever is being covered.

    The Vancouver Sun is just an extension of the BCLP, nothing more nothing less.

    PS…….Thanx for the picture, I love images

    Monday, 17 June 2013 07:36 posted by Cameron Hood

    “Ongoing corporate blowjobs”…Ah ha ha ha ha ha HA! You’re a genius, Rafe, come back to politics, start your own party, we need you DESPERATELY, man!

    Sunday, 16 June 2013 17:23 posted by ron wilton mie

    Politicians and virtually all ‘purchased’ mainstream media can no longer be trusted to tell the truth about matters of serious general concern.

    They actually lost that trust quite some time ago, but now that the chickens are coming home to roost, our forests, our fish, our rivers, our air, our homes, our jobs, our right to a decent affordable lifestyle, have all been jeopardized by all of these corporate robber barons.

    Our police and our courts that we pay for, are compromised as well by theses same miscreants, and used against us when we put up any significant resistance.

    The hour is fast approaching when we must involve ourselves in acts of physical civil disobedience.

    Whether that be barricading their equipment from further intrusion, marching in the streets, boycotting their products, sending them diseased salmon in the mail, whatever anyone can think of to make their lives so miserable they will have no choice but to perform the proper functions we pay them to do.

    If that doesn’t work, more serious actions will have to be considered.

    Sunday, 16 June 2013 16:51 posted by rr

    “Perhaps it is time that these men were publicly ridiculed for the damage they do” (Fillmore).

    Sunday, 16 June 2013 15:40 posted by Kevin Logan

    The Mainstream Media and Vaughn Palmer as flagship BC legislature Press Gallery “reporter” has failed British Columbians immensely.

    Vaughn is of the highest caliber of our local reporters and his knowledge of the issues is vast, however his employers have abandoned journalism and have opted instead to implement corporate PR and communication plans.

    There is no attention paid to crucial sovereignty sacrificing issues littered throughout the entirety of the oil and gas agenda. Time after time our jurisdictional and sovereign capacity is abandon in what is an unending capitulation to the oil and gas agenda, yet not a peep from the gallery.

    Trade agreements including wholesale gutting of regulatory and environmental safeguards, abandonment of EA processes and decision making is over looked and instead what is communicated is PR spin drafted in the oil and gas board rooms, or what Rafe plainly describes as “corporate blowjobs.”

    The “energy agenda” in British Columbia has overtaken our democracy, riddled our public purse with debt and now dictates our every move, the success of our leaders and the destiny of our Province.

    I fear our children will inherit a broke tin pot dictatorship

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