Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

The New SoCoBritCA Board

with 5 comments

The Vancouver Sun’s columnist Pete MacMartin is showing some considerable independence these days. Normally the Asper family’s retainers are expected to toe the party line – and since they control a lot of the media in the region that means that the BC Liberals and their associates in local government tend to get a pretty easy ride.

But the Cambie Street merchants have got Pete’s sympathy, and he is caustic about the latest “shop the line” shnennanigans. But he is even better when it comes to this new board – very few of whom would talk to him.

But Derek Corrigan did – and I think I should just stand back and let Derek speak

“They are a hand-picked group of Liberal flunkies, that’s what they are … that will be receptive to do whatever the Liberals want them to do.

“It’s really quite pitiful. They’re almost all business people. I see this board meeting in private and doing whatever [TransLink CEO] Pat Jacobsen wants them to do, and getting their direction from the Board of Trade and (Transportation Minister) Kevin Falcon.”

But it was the man behind the scenes whom Corrigan saved his ire for.

“It’s just beyond comprehension that Gordon Campbell, who was a mayor, could do this to the municipalities. When he become Leader of the Opposition, he said every time the provincial government interfered in local transit affairs, it ended in disaster. And he promised to give the municipalities autonomy to make transit decisions when he became premier.

“The sheer hypocrisy!”

He spit that last word out, as if he had eaten something distasteful.

I think it is actually too early to tell, but the one person who admits to being a transit rider is also an NPA member. It could be that the Board will take its responsibilities seriously – although Kevin has made sure that they will not have enough finance to do very much and is requiring fare increases and property tax hikes as a condition of more gas tax. None of which is going to win them any friends. I have my doubts, which I have expressed – and I have yet to hear from Ken Hardie who jumped on me for my predictions on who the Board would be. I am not surprised.

In 2009 we will have a provincial election and at present the BC Liberals are ahead in the polls – mostly because the economy is doing well. But 18 months is a long time in politics and the BC Rail scandal has yet to be aired in court. They seem to be riding out the cost overruns for the convention centre and the Olympics – and, so far, we do not have any bags of cash changing hands on hotel rooms. But people in Delta are angry (about the SFPR, the port expansion, the hydro lines, the ALR and Burns Bog) – and that has been a Liberal safe seat even through the Hospital issue last time. I expect that there will be many more announcements leading up to the election as more transit funding arrives from Ottawa – that’s already happening in Ontario. And Gordon Campbell does not poll well among women – yet he is the government and the strong women he brought in to balance the ticket are leaving – Carole Taylor and Olga Illich most recently. But I do not see any signs of an electoral alliance between the NDP and the Greens which, in a first past the post system, is the only way to unseat this lot short of a major upset. Which do you think is more likely?

Written by Stephen Rees

December 15, 2007 at 9:59 am

5 Responses

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  1. I’ve read the McMartin column. What both he and Corrigan fail to mention (deliberately?) is that the new TransLink board of nine was selected from a short list of 15 by the Mayors’ Council, of which Corrigan is a member. In turn, those 15 were picked from some 250 people who applied for the posts through a public process and were screened by a committee chaired by Mike Harcourt.

    How does that square with them being hand-picked by the Liberal government? And does Corrigan now count Mike Harcourt among the “Liberal flunkies” of this province?

    Ian Smith

    December 15, 2007 at 11:21 am

  2. Corrigan refused to take part in the Board selection. And I am afraid that Mike Harcourt has been on the Board of the Vancouver Port too long and has been suckered in by the talk of the “need” for port expansion. Like a number of people he has even said that would support twinning the Port Mann “done right” – which for me is a bit of an acid test.

    Stephen Rees

    December 15, 2007 at 11:48 am

  3. Sorry, Stephen, what were you expecting to hear? I think Ian covered the situation well. Didn’t mean to jump if I did that before…actually, it was meant more to be a ‘pounce’ ;o)

    I know for a fact that the first Kevin Falcon heard the details on the new directors was when we e-mailed him the list. The closest the province got to the process was to name the nominating entities that chose the screening panel, to name one of the screening panel members and, obviously, to write and pass Bill 43 that specified a nine member board and that if the Mayors’ Council could not or would not select the new board, then the top three nominees from the screening panel would be ‘it.’

    Undoubtedly, a lot of people were waiting to see how ‘representative’ the directors would be of the various interest groups, but that was not intended to be the criterion for choosing them. It was to be a board made up of people with business experience in large organizations and projects, and that indeed it is.

    Trust you are keeping well.


    Ken Hardie

    December 15, 2007 at 8:47 pm

  4. How did the committee work? Did each candidate had to be approved by every member?


    December 17, 2007 at 10:30 am

  5. I have no idea

    Stephen Rees

    December 17, 2007 at 1:16 pm

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