Tag Archives: Privatization

Björk Protests Icelandic Geothermal Utility Sale to Canadian Company


From HuffingtonPost.com – Jan 23, 2011

by Joanna Zelman

Singer Bjork joined fellow Icelanders in protesting the sale of a geothermal energy company this week, according to a recent Reuters report. In what seems to be a disturbing act of “parliamentary oversight,”
a deal was approved to sell Iceland’s HS Orka to Magma Energy Corp, a
Canadian-based geothermal firm. Since the deal was made, the public has
been fighting it, demanding a vote on the privatization of the country’s
natural resources.

Geothermal energy
is considered an intriguing sustainable resource, produced by drilling
into the earth and extracting heat, which is then converted into usable

This week, Bjork presented Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir with a petition signed by 47,000
people. Considering that the entire population of Iceland is less than
320,000, this is a remarkable number of outraged people. According to The Canadian Press,
the petition stated that “For 100 years, good people protected our
natural resources and public interest. [Then] the sale of natural
resources and irresponsible access to them began. Now it is time to stop
that unfortunate development.”

Sigurdardottir invited Bjork and other activists to discuss the issue in her office. After the meeting, Bjork reported
that “basically we are in agreement on the issue, but it’s always a
question of methods. In plain language, it’s a question of how to deal
with the system, the bureaucracy.”

Meanwhile, Magma reported
that the government has not contacted them, and Monday was “business as
usual.” Although perhaps actions speak louder than words in this case –
Monday afternoon, Magma’s shares apparently dropped 2.9 percent on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Read full article


Peace River to Louisiana: One Easy Railroad


From The Northshore News – Jan 5, 2011

By Elizabeth James

“The important thing is to never stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”

Physicist Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Einstein, of course, is most famously known as the proponent of his
theory of relativity, a subject about which I am woefully ignorant. So
when I was asked for a name for this space, I had no idea he and I
would have seen eye-to-eye on the need for endless questions and

So, on the understanding that I may never receive an
answer, or that the answers I do receive may not always be the truth,
this column is written according to the Chinese proverb: She who asks
may be a fool for an hour, but she who does not ask will remain a fool

The first and overriding question is this:

than the B.C. Liberal government, what connection could there be
between: fish-farms; independent power producers (IPPs); BC Hydro; the
construction of the Site C dam in Northern B.C., Alberta tar sands and
the Enbridge pipeline; and, the sale of B.C. Rail to CN?

Read full article


Dr. Marvin Shaffer: Response to private power lobby’s top 10 list


From PolicyNote.ca – Jan. 4, 2011

by Dr. Marvin Shaffer

The Vancouver Sun’s Gordon Hamilton reports that the IPP lobby, BC Citizens for Green Energy, has
released a Letterman-like top ten reasons for the development of more
of their run-of-river and other ‘green’ power projects. Though not as
funny as Letterman, the BCCGE’s top ten could bring out a laugh, except
for the serious environmental and economic issues involved.

The BCCGE states that more development of their projects would:

1. Eliminate the need for BC to import electricity from coal-fired generators in Alberta and the United States. (What
they don’t say is that it would also restrict BC Hydro’s ability to
import surplus hydro power during the spring run-off on the Columbia
River system in the US, or the ever-increasing amounts of surplus wind
power, produced at times when not needed in Alberta or the U.S. — very
cost-effective clean energy imports that could greatly benefit BC
Hydro’s customers).

2. Create jobs for people in BC. (True, it would create some
jobs during construction, but very few during operations. On the other
hand, and not mentioned by BCCGE, it would do so by driving up BC Hydro
rates more than necessary, to the detriment of BC households and

Read full article here


Latest in ‘Basi Files’: Kinsella’s Massive Conflict of Interest


From alexgtsakumis.com – Jan 4, 2011

EXCLUSIVE/BREAKING NEWS: ‘The Basi Files’ Chapter VIII–Patrick
Kinsella’s Unfettered Access to Both CN and the BC Government Through a
Sham Process to Sell BC Rail

In this chapter, it’s now November 17, 2003, exactly one week before the deal to sell BC Rail to CN is formalized.

In a short, but explosive memo-to-file, Basi recounts how he spoke to
then BC Liberal party Executive Director, Kelly Reichert, whom is
colloquially referred to as “The Senator.”

Reichert, you’ll recall, is the brother-in-law, of legislature raid lead RCMP investigator, Kevin deBruyckere.
Reichert recently left the BC Liberal Party, after consolidating
control, under the tutelage of Gordon Campbell. He is replaced by
another Campbell Imperial storm trooper Chad Pederson–infamous
for returning calls of only compliant media, while he was
Communications Director for the BC Liberals over the last decade
(Translation: He must have Bill Good’s home number).

To the memo…

‘The Senator’ tells Basi of the broad-sweeping involvement of Patrick
Kinsella in the deal. And for the first time Basi introduces us to the
involvement of long-time BC Liberal PR spinner Randy Wood. Wood, for those of you unaware, is the long-time life partner of Marcia Smith,
former MA to Stan Hagen (she preceded me) and general self-important,
entirely overrated political hack, who worked with Kinsella on
successive provincial campaigns along with other such chest-beating

Reichert gives Basi the heads-up that Kinsella is sifting through the
tax pool information–pivotal to CN’s position as buyer. While Kinsella
stickhandles such key details, Basi writes that he is told by Reichert
that Kinsella will “call Martyn (Brown, Principal Secretary/Chief of
Staff to Premier Campbell) and the Premier directly if he needed

Read full story here


Maude Barlow on Secretive, Scary Canada-EU Trade Deal


From the Globe & Mail – Jan 6, 2011

by Maude Barlow

What you don’t know about a deal you haven’t heard of

In coming days, Canadian and European officials will intensify
negotiations on a new trade agreement most Canadians have never heard
of. The Canada-European Union Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement
is by far the largest free-trade deal this country has ever undertaken.

it goes through, CETA will open up the rules, standards and public
spending priorities of provinces and municipalities to direct
competition and challenge from European corporations. Ottawa refuses to
even discuss the environmental implications, but a recent trade
sustainability impact assessment commissioned by the European Commission has sounded alarms in several areas.

The report says the kind of liberalizing trade deal envisioned will lead
to increased European investment in the Alberta tar sands, and thus to increased greenhouse gas emissions. Trade lawyer Steven Shrybman
has sounded a similar warning in a recent legal opinion, noting that
CETA will give corporations the right to ignore or challenge existing or
new rules aimed at reducing the current heavy footprint of the tar
sands. He posits that the Conservative government sees international
trade regimes as an important tool for defeating efforts to address
climate change.

Read full article here


The Industrialization of British Columbia


From TideChange.ca – Dec. 11, 2010

by Ray Grigg

To many British Columbians, “Super, Natural British Columbia” was a reassuring slogan. At least it tacitly recognized the incredible beauty and the astounding ecological diversity of BC – one of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. Implicit in this marketing slogan was the promise that BC’s remarkable scenery and richness would be acknowledged as an invaluable and irreplaceable public asset.

So the shift in marketing to “The Best Place On Earth” should have been noted with foreboding, primarily because the expression is too vague to mean anything in particular. Is it “The Best Place On Earth” to gamble? To ship illegal immigrants? To get rich by unregulated speculation? To export raw logs? To operate polluting mines? To drill for methane and gas? To build pipelines? To open new tanker routes for shipping oil to Asia?

The emphasis during the last decade in British Columbia has shifted away from “Super, Natural” toward industrialization. The change has never been official, never publicly declared or explicitly decided by plebiscite or election. But governance of the province has abetted this shift with the relaxation of regulations, with the weakening of oversight, and with environmental assessments becoming little more than ritualistic exercises invariably favouring industrial development over conservation and precautionary measures. The shift has been gradual and pervasive. But not so subtle for the few British Columbians who have noted the signs. Many more, however, are now aware of the loosened rules, the auctioned resources, the changed landscapes, and the exploited places in which everything natural seems to be for sale.

Read full article here




Dec. 14, 2010

From alexgtsakumis.com

Some time in early November, after the obvious deal cutting between
the B.C. government and co-defendants David Basi and Bob Virk, I
received a phone call from someone close to the prosecution and very
familiar with the BC Liberal government, who was appalled by what had
just transpired.

A long-time retired lawyer with a storied reputation when he
practiced, this wasn’t a man who was going to suffer the spin zone, and
for reasons which, in part, are entrusted with him and his client, they
provided me with several bankers boxes of information related to the
sale of BC Rail.

We met several times over the course of a week. He explained his position and that of his client as I listened.

After several more meetings, I traveled to Nanaimo, where he
introduced me to the man who delivered what I refer to as ‘The Basi

Over the next week or so I will release one ‘Memo-to-File’ per day.
They are authored by Dave Basi alone, in his own words, and after he
wrote each installment they were witnessed by Victoria lawyer George Jones, Q.C. whose unimpeachable integrity is without question and whose signature I have verified.

The memos are dated from October 6th., 2003 and extend almost two
months to November 25th., 2003 (the day after the sale of BC Rail to CN
was formalized).

What you will read is the clearest record we have thus far of how to
two key government operatives, Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, it could not
have been more clear: The BC Liberal government were running a heavily
skewed process whereby BC Rail, an asset that we were promised by Gordon
Campbell would never be disposed of, was being sold (990 year lease) to
a company run by a very close friend and bagman of the Premier of
British Columbia, David McLean. Additionally, during the course of the
disposal of this asset, as it becomes clear as day in subsequent
installments that you will read over the next week to ten days, that
breathtaking risks were taken by Basi and Virk, all to satisfy direct
orders CLEARLY coming from the Office of the Premier through former
Finance Minister Gary Collins. From Basi’s own words, it is evident that
not only was the Premier of the Province of British Columbia, Gordon
Campbell, clearly involved in directing the sale (the unseemly pressure
applied by the Premier in conversations with Bob Virk are documented by
Basi), but that other Ministers, including Gary Collins and Christy
Clark participated in various aspects through a process designed to
favour one bidder, CN, over all others.

Read full article here


Bute Inlet Private Power Proposal – Update


An excellent summary by Lannie Keller from Friends of Bute Inlet of the campaign to stop the largest proposed private hydro power project in Canadian history – GE and Plutonic Power’s plan to dam and divert 17 rivers at the head of Bute Inlet on the Sunshine Coast. Lannie updated the crowd at the “Take Back Our BC” event on Quadra Island on November 7, about the latest details of the 1,027 megawatt proposal (worth at least $20 Billion to the corporations involved) and the citizen campaign to save the ecologically diverse and visually spectacular Bute.


AECL Up for Auction but West’s Industries Protected


The Harper government’s reversal on the foreign takeover of
PotashCorp coupled with its oilsands policies clearly demonstrate its
priorities — namely, keep Western Canada happy at all costs.

With 14 seats at stake in Saskatchewan (all but one Conservative),
the Conservatives are ready, willing and able to disregard their free
market principles and fiscal conservatism in order to champion certain
sectors of the Canadian economy — particularly if they are based in the

Contrast this government’s interventionist approach in the West
with its laissez-faire attitude toward high-technology industries based
in Ontario. We all remember the sad saga of Nortel, an Ontario-based
high-tech icon. The Harper government refused any kind of intervention
to help save that company, at a significant cost to Ontario’s economy.

Ontario-based politicians at all levels have been remarkably muted
in defending the 30,000 plus jobs at risk as the Harper government
appears poised to abandon Ontario-based Atomic Energy of Canada Ltd.

In Ottawa, only the Senate stood up to the Harper government’s
privatization scheme. It took a last-minute Senate appointment to ensure
the defeat of amendments that would send the deal back to the House.

Read full Toronto Star article here


World Bank Quietly Funding Massive Corporate Water Grab


Billions have been spent allowing
corporations to profit from public water sources even though water
privatization has been an epic failure in Latin America, Southeast Asia,
North America, Africa and everywhere else it’s been tried. But don’t
tell that to controversial loan-sharks at the World Bank. Last month, its private-sector funding arm International Finance Corporation (IFC) quietly dropped a cool 100 million euros ($139 million US) on Veolia Voda, the Eastern European subsidiary of Veolia, the world’s largest private water corporation. Its latest target? Privatization of Eastern Europe’s water resources.

has made it clear that their business model is based on maximizing
profits, not long-term investment,” Joby Gelbspan, senior program
coordinator for private-sector watchdog Corporate Accountability International,
told AlterNet. “Both the World Bank and the transnational water
companies like Veolia have clearly acknowledged they don’t want to
invest in the infrastructure necessary to improve water access in
Eastern Europe. That’s why this 100 million euro investment in Veolia
Voda by the World Bank’s private investment arm over the summer is so
alarming. It’s further evidence that the World Bank remains committed to
water privatization, despite all evidence that this approach will not
solve the world’s water crisis.”

Read full Alternet article here