"The Pulse of Canada "



All the spin that’s fit to print

Posted November 1, 2014 by Norm Farrell
This week, British Columbia saw evidence that corporate media does not report adverse details about public finance unless the material is dropped on desks in digested form, complete with defensive spin from government or industry.

The issue of BC taxpayer subsidies to the oil and gas industry is not new. Auditor General John Doyle qualified his opinion of the province’s 2012 financial statements for reasons that included this:

“Failure to provide for earned natural gas producer royalty credits
“No provision has been made in the summary financial statements for royalty credits
earned by natural gas producers under the government’s deep-well drilling program.
In this respect the summary financial statements are not in accordance with Canadian
public sector accounting standards.

“Had a provision been made prospectively, as required by Canadian public sector
accounting standards when an issue is raised by an auditor in one period but not
corrected until a subsequent period, accounts payable and accrued liabilities as
at March 31, 2012, would have been greater by $702 million, natural resources and
economic development expenses for the year then ended would have been greater by
$702 million and the deficit for the year then ended would have been greater by
$702 million.”

Although the required provision had grown by $160 million in 2013 and another $316 million in 2014, Acting Auditor General Russ Jones dropped the issue from Independent Auditor’s Reports issued in annual Public Accounts. It was restored in Auditor General Carol Bellringer’s first major work, The 2014 Summary Financial Statements and the Auditor General’s Findings.

MSM political pundits ignored the information reported here but when highlighted by the Auditor General, it was covered by Canadian Press. But, the news needed spin so who better than Vaughn Palmer to provide it. Here is part of his October 31 column:

“Another matter that may be of interest to British Columbians is around the incentives that government offers oil and natural gas producers,” wrote Bellringer in the letter signed by herself and deputy auditor general (and her immediate predecessor) Russ Jones.

“Going back to the New Democratic Party time in office, the province has been offering incentives to develop and maintain production. Companies that undertake less profitable activities like drilling in the off-season or tapping into deeper reserves are in line for the incentives, taken as discounts against current or future royalties.”

Curious the columnist would state the letter was signed by Russ Jones, even though it is not. That misstatement could be the work of a helpful spin doctor aiming to shelter the former acting AG who months ago chose not to report on the unrecorded royalty issue. Palmer makes no mention Bellringer reinstating AG John Doyle’s concerns or of the fact that the $1.25 billion in outstanding credits is not recorded in the province’s books and, if it were, the Liberal deficit record would be quite different.

Also interesting that Palmer has the NDP share responsibility for current financial incentives to the oil and gas industry, although the opposition party was last elected 18½ years ago and, over time, Liberals broadened the subsidy program so that today, almost all exploration work earns credits. In fact, a source told me that the acceleration of the producer credit program was government’s response to industry concerns they had paid too much for drilling rights when the gas market was stronger.

Here is a real and important message of Palmer’s column:

“But that glut also suggests this would be a risky time for the government to begin scaling back on incentives to develop and maintain production. In a continent awash in gas, companies would probably shift operations elsewhere.”

That is the race-to-the-bottom argument of Extractivism that supposes government should expect little and even be prepared to pay multinational companies to come here, extract resources and export them to other places.

Palmer also touches on the near-double financing costs of public-private partnerships but he allows, without further comment, that,

“Liberals will cite the reputed benefits of private-sector innovation, on-time construction, capped budgets and off-loaded risks.”

Ah, yes, the on-time, on-budget argument that Liberals so enjoy. However, Northern Insight readers are not easily misled. The Sea to Sky Highway, initially a $400 million project, finished late at a cost of almost $800 million plus a great deal more for parts of the highway not included in the P3 adventure. The $3.3 billion Port Mann megaproject was to be a $2 billion P3 project until the lead proponent suffered financial difficulties. So much for off-loaded risks and capped budgets.

The Sun’s political pundit conveyed another message for the government,

“Not all of the report was critical of the Liberals. The new auditor general dropped some of her office’s long-standing disagreements with the in-house government comptroller. She also concluded that the Port Mann Bridge will eventually be self-supporting from tolls, just as the government always said it would be.”

Reality is that the Auditor did not drop the Port Mann concerns. The fact set changed. The bridge opened and, with the plan for dramatically higher tolls and the intention of eliminating untolled Fraser River crossings (Pattullo and Massey), Port Mann will become self-supporting. The Transportation Investment Corporation provides clear evidence of what is intended for commuters. That is toll revenue in 2017 that is 78% higher than in 2014. Apparently, Vaughn Palmer and the Liberals have forgotten the commitment to restraint that was so vital in September when schools were closed.

Palmer ends his piece by saying that, with a new financial watchdog in town, politicians ought to wake up and pay attention. I respect what I’ve seen from Ms Bellringer but I had great respect for John Doyle before he was forced out for excessive diligence. What the Press Gallery member should have written is that he and his colleagues were going to start analyzing financial records of the province and take counsel from financial experts instead of government spin doctors. A well informed public and rigorous financial controls may assure good management of public finances. Hollow advice to politicians will not.

Full Story »


Exclusive photo’s of Jian Ghomeshi on a date!

Posted October 31, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: Once again, ya saw it here first! After a great amount of trouble and expense, the Perspective Naked News staff , a branch of the Perspective Research Department, has managed to obtain this clip of Jian Ghomeshi on a recent date with one of the women now accusing him of assault. As you […]

Full Story »

Allan's Perspective

Any Ebola yours, is an Ebola mine!

Posted October 28, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Dear Readers: Since your ever faithful reporter comments on matters great and small in the world of religion, we also get a lot of letters trying to set us straight on some issues, and clarifying others! One of the most disturbing pieces of mail we have received in quite some time came from a far […]

Full Story »


Hedonists of power

Posted October 27, 2014 by Norm Farrell
Chris Hedges wrote many words for the New York Times; some of them wrong. He participated in false reporting that helped orchestrate invasion of Iraq by the coalition of the dragged kicking and screaming. He recognized error though and became an articulate critic of his nation’s aggression. The NYT, which preferred the Bush administration’s version of truth, condemned Hedges and encouraged his departure.

He is sometimes controversial but always thought provoking. His latest column at Truthdig is a good one that should be read completely: The Myth of the Free Press. An excerpt:

“The mass media blindly support the ideology of corporate capitalism. They laud and promote the myth of American democracy—even as we are stripped of civil liberties and money replaces the vote. They pay deference to the leaders on Wall Street and in Washington, no matter how perfidious their crimes. They slavishly venerate the military and law enforcement in the name of patriotism. They select the specialists and experts, almost always drawn from the centers of power, to interpret reality and explain policy.

“They usually rely on press releases, written by corporations, for their news. And they fill most of their news holes with celebrity gossip, lifestyle stories, sports and trivia. The role of the mass media is to entertain or to parrot official propaganda to the masses. The corporations, which own the press, hire journalists willing to be courtiers to the elites, and they promote them as celebrities. These journalistic courtiers, who can earn millions of dollars, are invited into the inner circles of power. They are, as John Ralston Saul writes, hedonists of power.”

To me, Saul’s words were prominent. He is a prolific Canadian writer and thinker but also known for six years he spent at Rideau Hall with his wife, Governor-General Adrienne Clarkson. The quote is from Voltaire’s Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the Westand when Saul refers to hedonists of power, he includes more than corporate media fellow travelers. This is an abstract:

Trending toward the end of egalitarianism. Source

“…Modern men of power come in many apparently different forms. But certain characteristics link them. First, a great difficulty in coming to terms with the democratic process. The talents of the technocrat do not suit public debate or an open relationship with the people. …They set enormous value upon secrecy. Intentionally or otherwise, their methods induce fear among those who must deal regularly with them. Almost without exception they are bullies.

“…The technocrats suffer from character defects which have to do with their inability to maintain any links between reason, common sense and morality. They believe themselves to be the inheritors of the Age of Reason and therefore do not understand why their talents fail to produce the intended results.

“Their abstract view of the machinery of human society prevents them from understanding the natural flow of events and from remembering when they themselves have erred and why. That is to say they don’t seem to understand the historical process. Instead they seem actually to believe that their definitions of the world will become both real and permanent simply because they are the result of applied logic. When these formulae refuse to stick, the technocratic mind, rather than deal with failure, simply wipes the slate clean and writes a new definition. They are, in that sense, slaves of dogma.

“…Their talents have become the modern definition of intelligence. It is an extremely narrow definition and it eliminates a large part of both the human experience and the human character. Suffice it to say that under the current definition of intelligence, Socrates, Byron, Jefferson, Washington, Churchill, Dickens, Joseph Conrad, John A. Macdonald and Georges Clemenceau would have been unintelligent or eccentric or romantic or unreliable.

“The technocrats are hedonists of power. Their obsession with structures and their inability or unwillingness to link these to the public good make this power an abstract force — a force that works, more often than not, at cross-purposes to the real needs of a painfully real world.

Merging the comments of Hedges and Saul provides a timely warning to Canadians. Bullies in the halls of power provide or withhold access and information, the stock in trade of journalists. With a natural preference for reward over punishment, most reporters become courtiers and push colleagues to adopt the same role. Those who choose the more difficult course and dare to shame the comfortable sycophants may become journalistic lepers. Chris Hedges provides American examples but we may have Canadian ones in present days. One is Andrew Mitrovia, another might be Michael Harris, author of Party of One. Here in the west coast minor leagues, it is bloggers who draw the ire of media lickspittles.

If the intent of the rxn of the Hill tribe is to get me to shut up, go away or otherwise be quiet, I can assure you it’s not going to happen
— Andrew Mitrovica (@AndrewMitrovica) October 27, 2014

This is how it works: RCMP issues press release. Takes no questions about the many changes & inconsistencies in it’s story. Media repeats it
— Andrew Mitrovica (@AndrewMitrovica) October 27, 2014

As I said, I’m deeply gratified that this column has resonated with so many readers.
— Andrew Mitrovica (@AndrewMitrovica) October 27, 2014

As always, a damningly on point @HarrisAuthor here: A thoughtful bookend to my column. Please read and share.
— Andrew Mitrovica (@AndrewMitrovica) October 27, 2014

I’m considered a “bitter, failed hack” by Andrew McDougall, John Ivison, Bruce Anderson & Terry Milewski. There u have it. The Hill defined
— Andrew Mitrovica (@AndrewMitrovica) October 27, 2014

Full Story »

Allan's Perspective

Blowin in the wind!

Posted November 7, 2014 by Allan W Janssen

Well folks, it’s official, wind turbines do NOT cause illness, or even ill effects, in people. A year long study of over 1000 people has positively shown that wind turbines do not cause bad things to good people. Not through noise, or magnetic fields, or increased UFO traffic, or disruption of the O-zone, negative energy, […]

Full Story »

The Latest