Stephen Rees's blog

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

ICBC paying severance to staff fired in chop-shop scandal

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This is bizarre. What was happening: ” formerly written-off cars were being resold after their repair histories were altered.” So eight staff members were – let me use the euphemism to cover a variety of issues – ‘let go’.

What happened was clearly wrong, certainly a tort for the people who got cars with fraudulent records, probably criminal. Certainly due cause for dismissal. But it now appears that the action was more about PR than good sense. The whole thing was quickly hushed up – so the scandal would “go away”, preferably quickly.

If people are dismissed – or allowed to resign – to avoid other penalties they deserve no severance at all. Indeed those who profitted from this scheme should make restitution. But that would require an investigation, which might well turn up other related issues – who knows? – and all that it seems was to be avoided at all costs. Which is something you might be able to do with a closely held private company. But not with a crown coporation.

The more one knows about ICBC, the less one feels comfortable about it. I have been sitting on some material for some time now on distance based inssurance. This is an idea that Tod Littmann has been promoting for some time – and I did not really want to move onto his turf. But the main  concern I have is that ICBC has not – so far as I can determine – ever even considered the  idea. It certianly has given no credible reason why it should not be tried.  And my question is why should this be? Why is ICBC so reluctant to being open and letting its owners – us – know what it is doing and why.

It is something of  a cultural issue in crown corporations – and it is noticeable that the present government is getting increasingly ham fisted at dealing with these government owned and directed operations. BC Ferries and BC Transit are the two I am most familiar with – and neither are any longer examples to be proud of. The way BC Hydro is being chopped up and forced into a corner is even worse.  And at least part of the problem is that the right wing does not think public enterprises should be successful. They must be made to fail in order to promote the ideology (there’s a word I havebeen reaching for a lot lately) that private is good public is bad.

Written by Stephen Rees

December 5, 2008 at 10:10 am

Posted in politics, privatisation

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