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					  Fourth Session, 38th Parliament




        oFFicial rePort oF

   Debates of the
LegisLative assembLy
           (hansarD)


        Saturday, January 17, 2009
            Afternoon Sitting
          Volume 36, Number 6




 the honourable bill bariSoFF, SPeaker



             iSSn 0709-1281
                                                                    ProVince oF britiSh coluMbia
                                                                    (entered confederation July 20, 1871)

                                                                   lieutenant-GoVernor
                                                           his honour the honourable Steven l. Point, obc

                                                                    Fourth Session, 38th Parliament

                                                             SPeaker oF the leGiSlatiVe aSSeMblY
                                                                     honourable bill barisoff

                                                                                   eXecutiVe council

Premier and President of the executive council ......................................................................................................hon. Gordon campbell
Minister of State for intergovernmental relations...........................................................................................................hon. Joan Mcintyre
Deputy Premier and Minister of education and Minister responsible for early learning and literacy ..................hon. Shirley bond
Minister of aboriginal relations and reconciliation .................................................................................................. hon. Michael de Jong
Minister of advanced education and labour Market Development ............................................................................. hon. Murray coell
Minister of agriculture and lands ..........................................................................................................................................hon. Stan hagen
attorney General and Minister responsible for Multiculturalism .......................................................................... hon. Wally oppal, Qc
Minister of children and Family Development ..........................................................................................................hon. tom christensen
Minister of State for childcare................................................................................................................................................. hon. linda reid
Minister of community Development .............................................................................................................................hon. blair lekstrom
Minister of energy, Mines and Petroleum resources..................................................................................................hon. richard neufeld
Minister of State for Mining................................................................................................................................................ hon. Gordon hogg
Minister of environment .......................................................................................................................................................hon. barry Penner
Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the olympics .................................................................................. hon. colin hansen
Minister of Forests and range ....................................................................................................................................................... hon. Pat bell
Minister of health Services ................................................................................................................................................hon. George abbott
Minister of healthy living and Sport .....................................................................................................................................hon. Mary Polak
Minister of housing and Social Development .................................................................................................................hon. rich coleman
Minister of labour and citizens' Services................................................................................................................................ hon. iain black
Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General ......................................................................................................... hon. John van Dongen
Minister of Small business and revenue and Minister responsible for regulatory reform ................................... hon. kevin krueger
Minister of technology, trade and economic Development and Minister responsible for the asia-Pacific initiative...........hon. ida chong
Minister of tourism, culture and the arts ...........................................................................................................................hon. bill bennett
Minister of transportation and infrastructure...................................................................................................................hon. kevin Falcon

                                                                                 leGiSlatiVe aSSeMblY

leader of the official opposition ...................................................................................................................................................carole James
Deputy Speaker ..............................................................................................................................................................................Sindi hawkins
Deputy Speaker ..................................................................................................................................................................... katherine Whittred
assistant Deputy Speaker ...............................................................................................................................................................Sue hammell
Deputy chair, committee of the Whole .......................................................................................................................................... harry bloy
clerk of the legislative assembly...................................................................................................................e. George MacMinn, obc, Qc
clerk assistant ..................................................................................................................................................................................robert Vaive
clerk assistant and law clerk................................................................................................................................................. ian D. izard, Qc
clerk assistant and clerk of committees ................................................................................................................................. craig h. James
clerk assistant and committee clerk .................................................................................................................................... kate ryan-lloyd
Sergeant-at-arms ................................................................................................................................................................................. Gary lenz
Director, hansard Services ............................................................................................................................................................Jo-anne kern
legislative librarian ............................................................................................................................................................................ Jane taylor
legislative comptroller ....................................................................................................................................................................... Dan arbic
                alPhabetical liSt oF MeMberS                                                                                           liSt oF MeMberS bY riDinG

abbott, hon. George (l)........................................................................ Shuswap          abbotsford-clayburn .................................................... hon. John van Dongen
austin, robin (nDP) ................................................................................ Skeena      abbotsford–Mount lehman ...........................................hon. Michael de Jong
bains, harry (nDP) ....................................................................Surrey-newton             alberni-Qualicum ............................................................................. Scott Fraser
barisoff, hon. bill (l)............................................ Penticton–okanagan Valley                    bulkley Valley–Stikine ...............................................................Dennis Mackay
bell, hon. Pat (l) ...............................................................Prince George north            burnaby north.............................................................................. richard t. lee
bennett, hon. bill (l) ...................................................................east kootenay          burnaby-edmonds ..........................................................................raj chouhan
black, hon. iain (l)......................................................Port Moody–Westwood                    burnaby-Willingdon ..................................................................... John nuraney
bloy, harry (l) ....................................................................................burquitlam   burquitlam .......................................................................................... harry bloy
bond, hon. Shirley (l) ....................................Prince George–Mount robson                            cariboo north ................................................................................ bob Simpson
brar, Jagrup (nDP) .....................................................Surrey–Panorama ridge                    cariboo South................................................................................. charlie Wyse
campbell, hon. Gordon (l) .........................................Vancouver–Point Grey                          chilliwack-kent.....................................................................hon. barry Penner
cantelon, ron (l)................................................................nanaimo-Parksville              chilliwack-Sumas .................................................................................. John les
chong, hon. ida (l)..................................................... oak bay–Gordon head                     columbia river–revelstoke.................................................. norm Macdonald
chouhan, raj (nDP) ........................................................... burnaby-edmonds                   comox Valley............................................................................hon. Stan hagen
christensen, hon. tom (l) .................................................. okanagan-Vernon                     coquitlam-Maillardville............................................................... Diane Thorne
chudnovsky, Dave (nDP) ........................................... Vancouver-kensington                          cowichan-ladysmith ................................................................... Doug routley
coell, hon. Murray (l) ....................................Saanich north and the islands                         Delta north ......................................................................................Guy Gentner
coleman, hon. rich (l) ............................................Fort langley–aldergrove                       Delta South..................................................................................Valerie roddick
conroy, katrine (nDP) ...........................................West kootenay–boundary                          east kootenay .......................................................................... hon. bill bennett
coons, Gary (nDP) .........................................................................north coast           esquimalt-Metchosin .........................................................Maurine karagianis
cubberley, David (nDP) ..............................................................Saanich South               Fort langley–aldergrove ...................................................hon. rich coleman
de Jong, hon. Michael (l) ................................... abbotsford–Mount lehman                            kamloops ................................................................................claude richmond
Dix, adrian (nDP)............................................................Vancouver-kingsway                  kamloops–north Thompson............................................ hon. kevin krueger
evans, corky (nDP) ..................................................................nelson-creston              kelowna–lake country ................................................................... al horning
Falcon, hon. kevin (l) ..........................................................Surrey-cloverdale               kelowna-Mission .........................................................................Sindi hawkins
Farnworth, Mike (nDP) ............................. Port coquitlam–burke Mountain                                langley.......................................................................................hon. Mary Polak
Fleming, rob (nDP) ................................................................ Victoria-hillside            Malahat–Juan de Fuca .................................................................... John horgan
Fraser, Scott (nDP) ...............................................................alberni-Qualicum              Maple ridge–Mission ....................................................................randy hawes
Gentner, Guy (nDP).........................................................................Delta north           Maple ridge–Pitt Meadows ........................................................Michael Sather
hagen, hon. Stan (l) .................................................................... comox Valley           nanaimo ......................................................................................... leonard krog
hammell, Sue (nDP) .................................................... Surrey–Green timbers                     nanaimo-Parksville ...................................................................... ron cantelon
hansen, hon. colin (l) .................................................. Vancouver-Quilchena                    nelson-creston................................................................................ corky evans
hawes, randy (l) ............................................................ Maple ridge–Mission                new Westminster .................................................................... chuck Puchmayr
hawkins, Sindi (l) ..................................................................kelowna-Mission             north coast....................................................................................... Gary coons
hayer, Dave S. (l).................................................................... Surrey-tynehead           north island .................................................................................. claire trevena
herbert, Spencer (nDP)..................................................... Vancouver-burrard                    north Vancouver–lonsdale ............................................... katherine Whittred
hogg, hon. Gordon (l)...................................................... Surrey–White rock                    north Vancouver–Seymour ........................................................... Daniel Jarvis
horgan, John (nDP) .......................................................Malahat–Juan de Fuca                   oak bay–Gordon head ............................................................ hon. ida chong
horning, al (l) .............................................................kelowna–lake country                okanagan-Vernon..........................................................hon. tom christensen
ilich, olga (l).......................................................................... richmond centre        okanagan-Westside .........................................................................rick Thorpe
James, carole (nDP).........................................................Victoria–beacon hill                 Peace river north ........................................................... hon. richard neufeld
Jarvis, Daniel (l).................................................... north Vancouver–Seymour                   Peace river South ...............................................................hon. blair lekstrom
karagianis, Maurine (nDP)............................................esquimalt-Metchosin                         Penticton–okanagan Valley................................................... hon. bill barisoff
krog, leonard (nDP) ........................................................................... nanaimo          Port coquitlam–burke Mountain ...........................................Mike Farnworth
krueger, hon. kevin (l) .....................................kamloops–north Thompson                             Port Moody–Westwood .............................................................hon. iain black
kwan, Jenny Wai ching (nDP) ........................... Vancouver–Mount Pleasant                                 Powell river–Sunshine coast ................................................. nicholas Simons
lali, harry (nDP) ........................................................................... Yale-lillooet      Prince George north.......................................................................hon. Pat bell
lee, richard t. (l) .......................................................................burnaby north         Prince George–Mount robson............................................ hon. Shirley bond
lekstrom, hon. blair (l) ....................................................... Peace river South               Prince George–omineca ................................................................. John rustad
les, John (l) ............................................................................chilliwack-Sumas       richmond centre ................................................................................. olga ilich
Macdonald, norm (nDP) ....................................columbia river–revelstoke                              richmond east ..........................................................................hon. linda reid
McGinn, Jenn (nDP)......................................................... Vancouver-Fairview                   richmond-Steveston..............................................................................John Yap
Mcintyre, hon. Joan (l) ........................................ West Vancouver–Garibaldi                        Saanich north and the islands ........................................... hon. Murray coell
Mackay, Dennis (l) ....................................................... bulkley Valley–Stikine                Saanich South ........................................................................... David cubberley
neufeld, hon. richard (l) ....................................................Peace river north                  Shuswap ...............................................................................hon. George abbott
nuraney, John (l) .............................................................. burnaby-Willingdon              Skeena .............................................................................................. robin austin
oppal, hon. Wally, Qc (l) ........................................... Vancouver-Fraserview                       Surrey-cloverdale .................................................................hon. kevin Falcon
Penner, hon. barry (l) .............................................................chilliwack-kent              Surrey–Green timbers .................................................................. Sue hammell
Polak, hon. Mary (l) ............................................................................... langley     Surrey-newton ................................................................................. harry bains
Puchmayr, chuck (nDP) .......................................................new Westminster                     Surrey–Panorama ridge ...................................................................Jagrup brar
ralston, bruce (nDP) ................................................................ Surrey-Whalley             Surrey-tynehead ........................................................................... Dave S. hayer
reid, hon. linda (l) ...................................................................richmond east            Surrey-Whalley.............................................................................. bruce ralston
richmond, claude (l) .........................................................................kamloops           Surrey–White rock............................................................. hon. Gordon hogg
roddick, Valerie (l) ..........................................................................Delta South       Vancouver-burrard....................................................................Spencer herbert
routley, Doug (nDP) ......................................................cowichan-ladysmith                     Vancouver-Fairview .......................................................................Jenn McGinn
rustad, John (l).......................................................... Prince George–omineca                 Vancouver-Fraserview ...................................................hon. Wally oppal, Qc
Sather, Michael (nDP) ......................................... Maple ridge–Pitt Meadows                         Vancouver-hastings ....................................................................Shane Simpson
Simons, nicholas (nDP) ................................... Powell river–Sunshine coast                           Vancouver-kensington ........................................................ David chudnovsky
Simpson, bob (nDP) ...................................................................cariboo north              Vancouver-kingsway..........................................................................adrian Dix
Simpson, Shane (nDP) ..................................................... Vancouver-hastings                    Vancouver-langara ....................................................................................Vacant
Sultan, ralph (l) ..................................................... West Vancouver–capilano                  Vancouver–Mount Pleasant ......................................... Jenny Wai ching kwan
Vacant .................................................................................... Vancouver-langara    Vancouver–Point Grey ................................................. hon. Gordon campbell
Thorne, Diane (nDP) .................................................coquitlam-Maillardville                     Vancouver-Quilchena ..........................................................hon. colin hansen
Thorpe, rick (l).................................................................. okanagan-Westside             Victoria–beacon hill.......................................................................carole James
trevena, claire (nDP) .................................................................... north island          Victoria-hillside .............................................................................. rob Fleming
van Dongen, hon. John (l) ............................................abbotsford-clayburn                        West kootenay–boundary ........................................................ katrine conroy
Whittred, katherine (l) ........................................ north Vancouver–lonsdale                        West Vancouver–capilano ............................................................. ralph Sultan
Wyse, charlie (nDP) ...................................................................cariboo South             West Vancouver–Garibaldi ................................................hon. Joan Mcintyre
Yap, John (l) ....................................................................... richmond-Steveston         Yale-lillooet ......................................................................................... harry lali


                                                                              Party Standings: liberal 44; new Democratic 34; Vacant 1
                                                                                      CONTENTS

                                                                           Saturday, January 17, 2009
                                                                               afternoon Sitting

                                                                              Routine Proceedings

                                                                                                                                                                                         Page

introductions by Members ................................................................................................................................................... 13411

Statements .............................................................................................................................................................................. 13411
   response to avalanche in east kootenays
      hon. b. bennett


introductions by Members ................................................................................................................................................... 13411

tributes ................................................................................................................................................................................... 13411
   chemainus fire victims
     D. routley


introductions by Members ................................................................................................................................................... 13411

introduction and First reading of bills .............................................................................................................................. 13411
   Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009 (bill 47)
     hon. b. lekstrom


Standing order 81 ................................................................................................................................................................. 13412
       hon. M. de Jong
       a. Dix


Standing order 81(Speaker's ruling) ................................................................................................................................. 13415

Second reading of bills ........................................................................................................................................................ 13416
   Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009 (bill 47)
     hon. b. lekstrom
     c. James
     b. ralston
     h. bains
     hon. c. hansen
     c. Wyse
     S. Simpson
     l. krog
     M. karagianis
     S. Fraser
     D. Thorne
     n. Macdonald
     J. kwan
     M. Sather
     J. McGinn
     J. horgan
     S. herbert
     n. Simons
     r. chouhan
     S. hammell
     J. brar
     D. cubberley
     G. Gentner
     c. evans
     r. austin
     G. coons
       D. routley
       hon. k. Falcon
       r. Fleming
       a. Dix
       hon. b. lekstrom


committee of the Whole house .......................................................................................................................................... 13534
   Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009 (bill 47)
     b. ralston
     hon. b. lekstrom
     l. krog
     S. Simpson
     r. Fleming


report and Third reading of bills....................................................................................................................................... 13553
   Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009 (bill 47)


royal assent to bills .............................................................................................................................................................. 13553
   Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009 (bill 47)
                                                                                                                    13411

                        SaturDaY, JanuarY 17, 2009             of the province. i did also hear from members on both
                                                               sides of the house, and i appreciate that.
  The house met at 12:04 p.m.                                     on behalf of the families, i want to thank everyone for
                                                               their support during a very difficult time.
  [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
                                                                              Introductions by Members
  Prayers.
                                                                 D. Routley: i'd like to introduce my ca, Debra
              Introductions by Members                         toporowski, and her husband Gerry toporowski, who
                                                               have joined us here today.
   Hon. J. McIntyre: it is with great pleasure that i have
the honour of introducing to the house today over 80 stu-                               Tributes
dents with the provincial Francophone Youth Parliament
who, i have to say, in fact hoped that they would be in                     cheMainuS Fire VictiMS
these very chambers this weekend, but are now viewing us
in action. We want to thank them for their cooperation.           D. Routley: i would also like to ask the house to remem-
                                                     [1205]    ber the five people who died in a tragic house fire on the
   [French was spoken.]                                        chemainus First nation a few days ago in ladysmith.
   Joining the group are David ardagh, president of the b.c.   unfortunately, these people died while trying to rescue
Youth council; anike charbonneau, executive director           other people from the home that was burning. it was a
of the b.c. Youth council; Yves trudel, executive direc-       great tragedy. it brings our attention to housing conditions
tor of the b.c. Francophone Federation; charles-hugo           of first nations and fire protection and fire prevention ser-
norman, coordinator of the Youth Parliament; and tanya         vices, but those matters can wait for another day. today
target-haj, Première ministre de Parlement Jeunesse            i'd ask the house to help me bring remembrance and
Francophone. Please make them welcome. Merci.                  condolences to the broad extended families and the whole
                                                               community that's affected by this terrible tragedy.
  A. Dix: [French was spoken.]
   in my former life as executive director of canadian                        Introductions by Members
Parents for French, i was very much involved in this
extraordinary event, and i think it will be unlikely that         Hon. B. Lekstrom: it is an important day. We are here
the debates in the chamber this weekend will meet the          to do important business, but i do want to ask the house
standard that these extraordinary students set every year.     to join with me to wish a very important person in my
however, we'll do our best. i want to join the minister        life a happy birthday. My wife Vicki — it is her birthday,
in wishing everyone welcome to Victoria and good luck          and she's celebrating today.
with all your work.                                               i just want to wish you a very happy birthday, Vicki,
                                                               and i look forward to seeing you soon.
                       Statements
                                                                  Hon. M. de Jong: This weekend Victoria is playing host
             reSPonSe to aValanche                             to hundreds of old-timer hockey teams. The Pacific cup
               in eaSt kootenaYS                               old-timer hockey tournament is taking place. one of those
                                                               teams, the abbotsford barley hoppers, was plying its trade
   Hon. B. Bennett: a few weeks ago the little town of         this morning and had me sitting on the bench with them.
Sparwood in the southeast corner of the province suf-            Their name, of course, reveals what their real talent is,
fered the terrible loss of eight young men. i wanted today     but they are here, and they are celebrating yet another
to thank the Premier and the leader of the opposition          victory from their game this morning.
for their quick, genuine and sincere responses in send-                                                           [1210]
ing their condolences to the families of those eight
men.                                                                               Introduction and
   i also wanted to thank formally here in the house                             First Reading of Bills
the efforts of the volunteer search and rescue group out
of Fernie for those few days. i also wanted to thank the                      VancouVer charter
rcMP, who did a fantastic job dealing with very difficult                     aMenDMent act, 2009
circumstances and also the elk Valley community hos-
pital in the iha for all the work that they did. it was a        hon. b. lekstrom presented a message from his
really difficult time for that part of the province, and the   honour the lieutenant-Governor: a bill intituled
two communities really pulled together, as did the rest        Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009.
13412                                        british columbia Debates                          Saturday, January 17, 2009

   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i move that bill 47, entitled the          in addressing that test and the urgency of the situa-
Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009, be read for           tion, i wish to refer you and the house to two specific
a first time now.                                            documents that i will table. The first is a letter dated
                                                             January 13, 2009, from Gregor robertson, mayor of the
  Motion approved.                                           city of Vancouver, to the Premier of british columbia
                                                             and the leader of the opposition.
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i am pleased to present the                                                                [1225]
Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009. on January               i'll quote portions from that letter and then table the
12 the city of Vancouver made an urgent request to           entire document. The mayor writes:
the government of british columbia to amend the                   "i am writing to request your urgent support for an amend-
                                                                ment to the Vancouver charter, which will enable us to protect
Vancouver charter, permitting city council to borrow
                                                                the interests of taxpayers as we put in place a financial plan for
money and undertake other financing arrangements                completing the olympic village project. The city's commitment
in order to complete the athletes village project and           to delivering the olympic village to Vanoc for the games has
ensure the best possible outcome for Vancouver                  been placed at risk by the cessation of funding flowing from the
                                                                loan made by Fortress, the lender on the project, to Millennium,
taxpayers.                                                      the developer for the project."
   This bill is the provincial government's response to         he continues:
the urgent request by the city of Vancouver. it allows the        "There is an urgent need to restore the flow of funding to the
city to borrow and lend the funds required to continue          developer and the project to allow completion in a way which is
with the construction of the athletes village.                  sustainable and which will mitigate the financial and reputational
                                                                risks to Vancouver citizens and the city itself.
                                                                  "currently the city, through its protective advances, is essen-
   Hon. M. de Jong: Mr. Speaker, before we go any fur-          tially providing bridge funding, and the interest alone amounts to
ther, i wonder if we might distribute the bill and recess       approximately $87,000 per day."
for maybe ten minutes so members have an opportunity            on page 2 of the letter:
to look at what it is we're dealing with today.                   "The amendment to the Vancouver charter we are requesting
                                                                reflects the unprecedented situation we are facing. Public dis-
                                                                closure through the media briefing on January 9, 2009, and at
  Mr. Speaker: hon. Members, this house stands                  yesterday's council meeting was critical to allow our citizens to
recessed until 20 after 12.                                     understand the seriousness of the issue and the urgency to act
                                                                responsibly and quickly given the short time lines.
  The house recessed from 12:12 p.m. to 12:23 p.m.                "all the evidence we have gathered to date supports our need
                                                                to be able to find alternatives to the current loan arrangement in
                                                                order to protect the taxpayers of Vancouver."
  [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
                                                                Finally, in the penultimate paragraph:
                                                                  "every day that passes increases our risk. in view of this and
                   Standing Order 81                            with great respect, we are asking that as soon as the necessary and
                                                                appropriate legislation is drafted, all members of the legislature
   Hon. M. de Jong: i rise to request a ruling from the         undertake to pass it as quickly as possible upon introduction in
                                                                the legislature."
chair pursuant to Standing order 81 that bill 47 be
                                                                i do table that letter with the house.
permitted to advance through all stages this day. The
                                                               The second document i wish to refer to is a letter dated
application of Standing order 81 following introduction
                                                             January 15, 2009, from the leader of the opposition to
of a bill is not uncommon. it is, however, by convention
                                                             Mayor robertson, which was also kindly copied to the
to be used sparingly in this chamber.
                                                             Premier. it is a shorter letter, and i'll read it in its entirety.
  as is frequently the case, Mr. Speaker, you and                 Dear Mayor robertson:
the house may seek guidance regarding the inter-                  Thank you for your letter of January 13 outlining the critical
pretation and application of our standing orders from          situation the new council faces in order to protect taxpayers'
Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia. Standing           interests while meeting pre-existing obligations relating to com-
                                                               pletion of the olympic village. i want to assure you that i, along
order 81 is considered at page 169 of the 3rd edition
                                                               with my caucus, fully understand the urgency of the situation,
of that publication, where the author observes — and           and we fully support the principles of openness and respect for
this is a quote: "There are numerous precedents in the         the taxpayer that underlie the new council's approach to solving
united kingdom house where bills after first reading           the financing problems.
have passed through all remaining stages in one day."             in that light, we support an urgent recall of the legislature to
                                                               consider the city of Vancouver's request for a charter amendment.
The author makes further reference to erskine May, the         We agree that it is not in the interests of the taxpayer to delay con-
21st edition, pages 530 and 531.                               sideration of legislation which may provide relief from financing
   here in british columbia, given the specific wording        deals that harm the public interest.
of our Standing order 81, it seems clear that a key com-          as i have said in public, we look forward to receiving the par-
                                                               ticular details of the amendment for consideration, and we look
ponent of the test that must be met is that the occasion       forward to hearing from the government regarding an urgent ses-
or circumstances giving rise to the application must be        sion of the legislature to debate effective relief for the taxpayer.
urgent or extraordinary.                                          Sincerely….
Saturday, January 17, 2009                       british columbia Debates                                              13413

    it's signed by the leader of the opposition. i table             This is an important occasion, an important piece of
that document as well.                                            legislation. We're here on a Saturday, of course, and the
    i'm obliged to the opposition leader for her letter and       issues involved are significant not only for taxpayers in
the candid and forthright manner in which she acknow-             Vancouver but potentially for the taxpayers of british
ledges, it seems to me, the urgency of the situation.             columbia.
    i suppose there are some who might suggest waiting               The Government house leader makes reference to
next week, next month. to them, i would repeat Mayor              Parliamentary Practice in British Columbia. in particular,
robertson's words: "every day that passes increases               you'll find in the reference to Standing order 81 a quote
our risk." The significant costs being borne by the civic         from Mr. Speaker brand from the english Parliamentary
ratepayers continue to accrue on a daily basis. We have           Debates in 1880. he says: "it is occasionally the custom
begun to read how, left unresolved, the situation could           to pass bills through their different stages at one and the
have implications for the city's credit rating and ultim-         same sitting. That, of course, however, is never taken
ately the cost of borrowing.                                      except in cases of extreme urgency and with the general
    lest i forget, let us not overlook the thousand-plus          assent of the house."
workers involved in this project for whom failure to                 now, on the issue of the general assent of the house,
resolve this matter quickly could have catastrophic               we have a different practice in british columbia and
consequences.                                                     clearly a different operation. Sometimes those things
                                                       [1230]     would happen by leave, presumably if there was assent
   There's one last component to this that i wish to bring        of the house. as there clearly is not, and despite the
to your and the house's attention. This last aspect i'm           reading of the letter of the leader of the opposition, the
going to submit to you is relevant as well to your con-           Government house leader knows well that that's not
sideration. i was also here 13 years ago when a previous          our view with respect to this issue.
government, with which some members of the house                     Those words….
were well acquainted, brought a similar application on a
rare weekend sitting.                                               interjections.
    i mention that because i also specifically remember
the cautionary words of Speaker emery barnes, who on                A. Dix: Well, you know….
that day in april 1996 emphasized the need that the bill
in question should deal with the specific situation giving          interjections.
rise to the urgency. i would submit to you that the bill
before you does just that and also meets this test. it's short,     Mr. Speaker: Members. Members.
but more importantly, its provisions deal exclusively with
the specific development project.                                    A. Dix: i know that the house has only sat five days
   This is not something the government was planning              since May, but these are submissions that we're making
for or contemplating. For reasons set out in its letter of        to you, and the members of the government side may be
January 13 describing the situation that has arisen, the          out of practice.
city of Vancouver requests a specific legislative amend-             This is unusual. That test of extreme urgency is
ment on an urgent basis.                                          reflected in the way that this has been used in practice
    if i have read the opposition leader's letter accurately      in british columbia — in other words, very rarely: in
and fairly, it seems to me that she agrees this is an urgent      2004, 2002. You'll recall, hon. Speaker, that was not a
situation. certainly, that is the view of the government.         great moment for that legislature — that the bills in
immediately upon receiving the formal request from the            question at that time received another reading in the
city earlier this week, we began the work of drafting the bill    Supreme court of canada. in 2000, 1996, 1986, 1984,
before the house today. The government's sense of urgency         1968…. The Speaker is well aware and i'm sure has been
is further reflected in the unusual step of asking this cham-     considering these different examples.
ber, on very short notice, to assemble on this Saturday.             but since the sole issues raised in support of this appli-
    not only do i believe that the current situation and          cation are the letter from the mayor of Vancouver and the
the bill before the house meet the test and requirements          letter from the leader of the opposition, let us reflect on
of Standing order 81. i would respectfully submit to you          the government's approach, how they've acted and how
and the house that it was precisely in contemplation of           that reflects specifically on the question of urgency.
this type of circumstance that Standing order 81 was                 You will recall, and this is our submission, that in
created, and it is therefore, in my view, appropriate to          January 2006, when Vanoc sought $110 million in addi-
invoke its application today.                                     tional funding from the b.c. and federal governments,
                                                                  the b.c. and federal governments required due diligence
  A. Dix: Wow. Merry christmas. happy new year, and               reports prior to agreeing to the funding requests.
happy new year to everyone, Mr. Speaker.                                                                               [1235]
13414                                         british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

   in May 2006 due diligence reports made recom-               to go forward with the request. That was Monday. That
mendations regarding stronger reporting on venue               was five days ago. Wednesday the Premier said — and i
construction, costs and cost containment.                      want to quote him in support of our case in this matter:
   September 2006. The province and Vanoc sign                "We're right now drafting an amendment that we can
the agreement regarding an additional $55 million in           bring into the legislature. as soon as the amendment
venue funding. The agreement contained requirements            is appropriately drafted and passes muster with our
to strengthen reporting between Vanoc and the                 attorney General, it will be introduced in the legislature
province.                                                      before February 10."
   april 2007. Partnerships b.c. reports on capital plan-         in other words, the Premier said that there should
ning and budget for all olympic venues. The report             be accountability. There should be oversight. and even
detailed enhanced reporting relationships between              if it takes an extra day or two days for the attorney
Vanoc, the city of Vancouver and the province of               General to approve and even if that's another $87,000,
british columbia regarding all venue projects, includ-         the Premier said that oversight should take place. That
ing the Vancouver olympic village, which is the subject        oversight takes place, of course, as it ought to, in private.
of this legislation, in part. That finance committee was      The lawyers of the attorney General make that oversight
co-chaired by ken Dobell and annette antoniak — one            in private. This is where the public oversight in british
reporting to the Premier, the other reporting to the           columbia takes place: in the legislative assembly of
Minister responsible for the olympics. The city annual         british columbia.
financial report details a report expanding risk related to       i would say that the government's actions on this
the olympic village.                                           issue have not reflected urgency up to now. The only
   June 2007. a $190 million financial guarantee was           time they want urgency — and this is relevant to the
approved to backstop Fortress's loan. The Premier and          issue of urgency — is when it avoids significant debate
the government knew or ought to have known about               in this legislature.
that.                                                             now, the question of urgency. as you know, most of
   September 2007. The city approves a completion              those cases in the past where Standing order 81 has been
guarantee to Fortress for the full $750 million loan to        applied generally have related to labour relations issues
Millennium.                                                    in the broadest sense. one occasion is different than
   May 2008. The city manager reports that Millennium          that, in 1986, and was actually rejected by the Speaker at
is in anticipatory default. The government knew or             the time. The urgency in many of those cases was people
ought to have known about that.                                being able to get to services that they needed: children
   June 2008. The city manager reports that Millennium         to classrooms, patients to hospitals, and so on. What is
is in anticipatory default, and the city guaranteed a fur-     the urgency in this case?
ther $190 million Millennium loan.                                                                                  [1240]
   october 2008. The council authorized $100 million to           i understand and respect that everybody who wants
pay construction costs, as Millennium was out of money.        legislative change — and that includes the mayor of
and then we had the announcements around the muni-            Vancouver, who has been doing an excellent job on this
cipal elections.                                               issue on behalf of the taxpayers of Vancouver — wants
   in December 2008 we had a new council that was              legislative change right away. We know that.
dealing with this mess. The mayor of Vancouver at the             We've all heard, for example, from the insurance
time spoke to the Premier — at least according to the          industry, which has been waiting for legislative change
quotes from the Premier, which we will provide to the          for five years, and from aboriginal people, who wanted
Speaker and the Speaker's office — at that time about          legislative change last fall. of course, when you need
the possible need for legislation. This was the door by        legislative change, you want it right away, but it's our
which Vancouver was going to exit from this fiasco.            responsibility to ensure that the appropriate oversight is
   now, this week, Monday, the government received the         done. That's our responsibility. i understand the request
request. They'd been warned, they knew this was coming,        of the mayor of Vancouver.
and Monday they received the request. at that time —              The Government house leader refers to $87,000 a
and this should deal with all questions around the letter      day. it was $87,000 a day when the Premier talked to the
from the leader of the opposition — the leader of the          mayor of Vancouver in December. it's been $87,000 a
opposition was clear on Monday and tuesday that this           day for a long time, and action hasn't been taken. it was
should proceed appropriately in this legislature. and it       $87,000 a day on Monday.
is our public role, especially in regards to a matter that        here's the important point. Whether we pass this
had been kept from the public eye, to ensure that there        today — or what we call today, because in these days
was significant scrutiny of this matter.                       we tend to delink the calendar Saturday from the house
   on Monday the Premier received the request and, as i        sitting Saturday…. if we pass this issue — whenever
understand it, indicated that the government was likely        we pass it — if you were to say yes to the Government
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13415

house leader's request…. if we were to do that, then we            That's why we have to debate these issues. There are
would still be paying $87,000 on Sunday and $87,000 on          hundreds of millions of dollars at stake, not just $87,000
Monday. That is the fact of the matter.                         a day — hundreds of millions of dollars — and we have
   The city of Vancouver knows this legislation is before       an obligation over the next few days to hear from the
the house. Presumably, if the Government house leader           public, to debate these thoroughly — not to waive rules
chooses to call us back tomorrow, he'll know it will have       of the house designed to protect the public but to main-
passed second reading.                                          tain and respect those rules. That is what, fundamentally,
   There is not urgency as between Saturday and Monday,         Speaker barnes was saying in 1996. he was correct then,
and no evidence has been brought before you, hon.               and he ruled against a government that was led by the
Speaker, to suggest that there is. i understand that the        nDP.
proponents of the legislation, the mayor of Vancouver,                                                              [1245]
would want it done as soon as possible. i understand that,         That's what we are asking you to do today. The rules
but no evidence — none — has been brought before you.           of the house…. to make Standing order 81 simply a
   now, why is this requirement important? The require-         whim of the convenience of the Government house
ment that a proposal of the government may not become           leader — that it would be more convenient to pass it
law without being considered and debated at various             Saturday instead of Monday — would be to take away
stages on different days is an old tradition, but it's a good   from Standing order 81 its fundamental meaning. i ask,
tradition.                                                      hon. Speaker, that you reject this request.
   There's a reason why we don't deal with this very often,
don't avoid that very often. The reason is…. We often              Mr. Speaker: i want to thank both the opposition
think of the standing orders and parliamentary rules as         house leader and the Government house leader. i will
protecting the rights and obligations and responsibilities      deliberate over this. Whenever we get a decision, we'll
of members of the legislature, but this one in particu-         ring the bells, and we'll be back.
lar also, and most importantly, protects the rights and           The house stands recessed.
responsibilities and the opportunities of the public and
not of hon. members.                                              The house recessed from 12:46 p.m. to 2:29 p.m.
   it's the public's right to read legislation before it is
passed in this legislature. it's the public's right that is       [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]
being thrown into question because the government
believes it's more convenient for them to go Saturday                             Standing Order 81
and pass it Saturday instead of Monday or tuesday. it's                           (Speaker's Ruling)
the public's right to read and to hear what their govern-
ment is proposing that those very provisions of Standing           Mr. Speaker: hon. Members, the hon. Minister
order 81 are meant to protect.                                  of community Development has introduced bill 47,
   They are meant to protect the public's right to scru-        intituled Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009.
tinize those laws that government wants to make and             Following the introduction and the opportunity to peruse
to assess what impacts they will have on themselves, on         the contents of the bill, the Government house leader
their families, on their communities, on the taxes that         requested that the bill be permitted to advance through
they pay. They are meant to protect the public's right to       two or more stages in one day due to its urgency.
comment to us and to criticize and to propose alterna-             i've had an opportunity to peruse the bill and note
tives to the measures that the government seeks to make         that as an amendment to the Vancouver charter, it only
the law of the province.                                        applies to the municipality of Vancouver, and it is, in
   The standing orders require that virtually all laws be       fact, limited to borrowing authorization with respect to
made deliberately and on separate days to protect the           one project — namely, the construction of the olympic
rights of the citizens — in particular, in this case, the       athletes village. under these circumstances, i am of the
rights of the taxpayers of Vancouver. Their right to scru-      opinion that the bill is sufficiently limited in scope to
tinize is what they want to overrule here — their right         qualify under Standing order 81.
to scrutinize how this government has responded to a                                                                [1430]
request from their newly elected city government for the           reference has been made by both house leaders to
powers to deal with a serious problem left behind by the        the decision of Speaker barnes on a similar application.
outgoing council.                                               on that occasion the reason that Speaker barnes rejected
   These responsibilities, these rights, are meant to           the government's request to apply Standing order 81
protect the rights of all british columbians who want           was that the legislation, which was before the house
to scrutinize this government's proposal to deal with a         at that time, failed to isolate the crisis which had to be
serious problem which, in my view — and they may not            addressed and was of considerably broader application
share this — they've been an important contributor to.          than the problem which the house was attempting to
13416                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

resolve. not so with today's application, which in my          ing and sustainable community legacy for thousands of
respectful view has been carefully drawn to cover the          Vancouver residents.
specific problem which has arisen in Vancouver.                   We have chosen to respond to that request with the
   The second test which applies under Standing order          legislation that is before the house today. i would like
81 is that the matter involves an urgent or extraordin-        to provide the hon. members with a brief description of
ary occasion. The house leader tabled a copy of a letter       the events that have led to the introduction of this bill.
from Mayor of Vancouver Gregor robertson to the hon.              on January 5, 2009, the mayor of Vancouver
Premier dated January 13, 2009. in that letter the mayor       approached the Premier to ask for an amendment to
made it clear that the situation was unprecedented and         the Vancouver charter to enable the city of Vancouver
that the legislation was urgently required.                    to address the financing issues of which we are all now
   The house leader also tabled a copy of a letter             aware. The Premier asked that as minister responsible
of January 15, 2009, from the leader of the official           for local government i consider the request and respond
opposition to the mayor of Vancouver which reiter-             to the mayor on this matter.
ated the urgency of the situation and stated: "it is not          in a January 7, 2009, letter, i responded in writing to
in the interests of the taxpayer to delay consideration        the Vancouver mayor and council with a commitment
of legislation which may provide relief from financing         that if the council passed a formal resolution requesting
deals that harm the public interest." it would appear to       this amendment, the province would move quickly to
the chair that the mayor of Vancouver, the Government          conclude the necessary due diligence so that the prov-
house leader and the leader of the official opposition         incial government could make an informed decision on
are all of the view that the need for legislation is urgent.   the matter.
   i've carefully considered the submissions of the               on January 12, 2009, the city of Vancouver responded
two house leaders, and in my view, this occasion is            with a resolution, carried unanimously by its council,
clearly one of urgency and scope which qualifies under         requesting that we amend the Vancouver charter, per-
Standing order 81. Standing order 81, which provides           mitting city council to borrow money and undertake
an alternative process for considering legislation on an       other financing arrangements in order to complete
extraordinary occasion, should be used sparingly. This         the athletes village project. The city also assembled the
case is an example of an appropriate usage of the standing     background information on the matter, which is pub-
order. in making this ruling, i'm mindful of the guide-        licly available on their website, and made a persuasive
lines outlined by previous Speakers' rulings, including        case that proceeding with this legislation on an urgent
those given in this house by Speaker richmond on               basis provided the city with the means to get the best
March 12, 2003, and april 28, 2004.                            possible deal for its taxpayers.
   respectfully submitted.                                        Since then, the provincial and city officials have
                                                               worked together to finalize the required wording of the
                Second Reading of Bills                        amendments to meet the urgent time lines of the city.
                                                               Through this process, it has become clear that straight-
              VancouVer charter                                forward legislation allowing Vancouver to borrow and
              aMenDMent act, 2009                              lend funds would give the city the tools it needs to
                                                               manage this situation in the best interests of its taxpay-
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i would move that bill 47, intitu-        ers. it also became clear that in order for the city to
led the Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009, be              effectively address this situation, the legislation would
read for the second time now.                                  need to be put in place quickly.
   hon. Speaker, i am pleased to move that the Vancouver                                                            [1435]
charter amendment act, 2009, be read for the second               i want to be clear. The city did not ask for a bailout. it
time. We have come to the house today under excep-             requested urgent adoption of the legislative tools con-
tional and urgent circumstances in response to a request       tained in the amendments before you today so it could
from the elected council of the city of Vancouver for          manage the situation to protect Vancouver taxpayers,
amendments to the Vancouver charter.                           and it asked for this legislation on an urgent basis. The
   The council has made this urgent request because they       city itself has underscored this urgency in its letter and
have told us that they require legislative amendments          in its public comments, noting that the current situation
providing them with the tools they need to see that            is costing taxpayers $87,000 each day.
the Southeast False creek project is completed in time            let's be clear. We are here today to debate legislation
for use as the athletes village at the 2010 olympic and        that will give the council additional financing tools it
Paralympic Games. as well, the project is financed in a        needs to meet its obligations. The decision on whether
way that provides the best possible deal for Vancouver         to borrow, how to borrow and if to borrow at all is solely
taxpayers, and they can keep the hundreds of workers           and completely the decision of that duly elected council.
currently employed on the site working to build a hous-           council members are accountable directly to their
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13417

electors on how they want to use these tools and how            questions. to restore confidence, i would think that the
they intend to meet the obligations they have before            Premier would want to come clean about the true costs
them. nothing in this legislation changes that account-         of the olympics and give us full time to debate bill 47.
ability, an accountability that every council holds to its                                                            [1440]
electors.                                                          but true to form, the Premier has no such intention.
    i should note that the legislation itself is specific to    true to form, this Premier is ducking accountability.
the Southeast False creek development site. The bill spe-       true to form, the Premier is ramming through legisla-
cifically defines the development area to be the 17-acre        tion in order to avoid legitimate and persistent questions
site that is currently under development as the athletes        about taxpayer liability for the games.
village. The powers in the bill are limited to financing in        british columbians deserve better than they're get-
relation to this development site.                              ting from this government. british columbians are tired
    Finally, i do want to comment on the larger picture         of this b.c. government's arrogance and neglect. They're
before the house today. The development of Southeast            tired of a government that is profoundly out of touch
False creek is a vision that has been alive in the city of      with their needs. They're tired of a government that
Vancouver for 20 years, a vision of turning industrial          won't come clean on olympic spending.
lands into a sustainable community and a landmark for              in just four months they're going to send this Premier
the city of Vancouver.                                          and every member on that side of the legislature a mes-
   The athletes village is just the beginning of that vision.   sage that will be heard across this province: it's time for
it's a vision of providing homes for Vancouver residents        accountability. They're going to say loud and clear that
— 1,100 units of housing that will house thousands of           this Premier and this government have to come clean
residents, including 250 units of affordable housing for        with the taxpayers on the costs of the olympic Games.
members of the community who are most in need.                     We're here to debate bill 47, an amendment to the
    it is also a significant vision for Vancouver's economy,    Vancouver charter allowing the city to borrow an
employing over 1,500 workers every single day with              unlimited sum of money. now, it's not a complicated
family-supporting jobs. Vancouver's commitment to               amendment, but its implications for taxpayers and the
this project means that every one of those workers and          Winter Games are profound. The reasons for bill 47's
their families will have the security they need to make         introduction in this chamber today are deeply troubling,
choices for the future. as members of this house, we            deeply concerning to every british columbian, because
have the opportunity to assist Vancouver in realizing the       those reasons involve a culture of government secrecy
parts of this vision.                                           and arrogance — at the city, with the past government
    to conclude, we are putting this legislation forward        and right here in Victoria.
in a response to an urgent request from the city of                it's an approach that shuts citizens out and that treats
Vancouver. The legislation provides Vancouver with the          taxpayers like they have an infinite amount of money to
tools it needs to see that (1) the Southeast False creek        fuel olympic cost overruns. Quite frankly, this Premier
project is completed in time for use as the athletes vil-       has forgotten that these are taxpayer dollars that we're
lage at the 2010 olympic and Paralympic Games, (2)              talking about here, not his private fund for his pet pro-
the project is financed in a way that provides the best         jects in this province. it's an approach that has brought
possible deal for Vancouver taxpayers and (3) they keep         us to this chamber to help Vancouver taxpayers cope
the hundreds of workers currently employed on the site          with a potential financial crisis.
working to build a housing and sustainable community               let me say first that i want to thank the new mayor
legacy for thousands of Vancouver residents.                    of Vancouver and his council for demonstrating leader-
    i ask that all members lend their support to this piece     ship and accountability on this issue. They've taken an
of legislation.                                                 important first step towards restoring public confidence.
                                                                They're doing what they can to protect taxpayers from
   C. James: i rise to speak on bill 47. i also want to say     an extraordinarily bad deal.
that the nDP intends to support bill 47. but unlike the            That's one of the reasons we're here today dealing with
government, we don't believe that that support comes            bill 47 — to help the city of Vancouver out of the finan-
at the cost of scrutiny. it's precisely that lack of scru-      cial mess that has been left to it. but with that comes
tiny that's at the root of spiralling olympic costs and         responsibility to ask some tough questions of the Premier
plummeting confidence in the liberal government's               and of his government, because try as they might, this
truthfulness about those costs. it is that lack of scru-        Premier can't escape responsibility for this fiasco.
tiny that created the need for us to be here to debate             in fact, there's little doubt that the provincial govern-
bill 47.                                                        ment must have known what was going on with the
   to restore confidence, i would think that the Premier        olympic village. after all, it was the provincial govern-
would be eager to demonstrate accountability. to restore        ment that set up a series of reporting arrangements to
confidence, i would think that he'd be eager to answer          ensure they would know. i want to take a moment to
13418                                      british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

review those arrangements and the history that brings      april of '08 the city auditors reported publicly on the
bill 47 here today.                                        financial risk to the project and to the taxpayers.
   in the middle of 2006 Vanoc came to the provincial         as we all know, Millennium ran out of money. The
and federal governments asking for more money. both        financier, a new York hedge fund in deep financial
governments commissioned due-diligence reports as          trouble, escalated its demands. There followed a range
one of those conditions of considering that request. The   of commitments by the city of Vancouver to underwrite
report and a subsequent one, which were prepared by        both the developer and the financier in order to com-
Partnerships b.c., made a number of recommenda-            plete the development on time.
tions to increase the flow of information and knowledge       That's the sad history that brought us here today to
between the city and Vanoc and between their part-         deal with this bill. if one thing stands out, it's the fact
ners in the provincial and the federal governments.        that this government, in every step of the way, has
   Vanoc created a village advisory committee to           refused to be open and transparent and accountable to
oversee the completion of both the Vancouver and           the taxpayers of this province. taxpayers were put on
Whistler olympic villages. The city's project manager,     the hook without their knowledge for hundreds of mil-
Jody andrews, who this week resigned, met weekly with      lions of dollars in overruns and carrying charges.
Vanoc's project manager. Mr. andrews also provided            The final bill still isn't known, and we're here today
monthly written reports to Vanoc.                          providing, in fact, the ultimate commitment — an open-
   Vanoc's finance committee, according to its own         ended waiver allowing the city of Vancouver to borrow
public minutes, received reports regularly on both         as much as it needs to complete the village.
venues — the venue that we're here talking about today,       now, i've heard the government say that this isn't a
the olympic village venue that has brought this bill in    blank cheque, but the government is wrong. This bill has
front of us.                                               no dollar figure attached to it. Most importantly, this bill
                                                  [1445]   has no accountability built into it. Things can just con-
   The co-chairs of Vanoc's finance committee, who         tinue on the way they've been. The public will know only
reviewed and considered these reports, were, through       what the government decides it wants it to know.
this period and remain today, ken Dobell, who reported        Well, that's not good enough. Passage of this bill
to the Premier, and the ceo of the b.c. olympic            cannot and should not end the debate about olympic
Secretariat, who reports to the Minister responsible for   costs. From this individual experience related to bill
the olympics — a direct reporting relationship between     47, we have to leave this chamber with a plan to ensure
the special committee set up and the government; a         ongoing oversight and accountability for olympic
direct reporting relationship on how things were going     spending. taxpayers expect no less from their legislators
on the olympic village between Vanoc and their             than accountability for their money.
special committee and the government. Former city                                                              [1450]
manager Judy rogers was and still is a member of the          We're here debating a bill, bill 47, that gives the city
finance committee considering those reports.               of Vancouver the power to borrow an unlimited sum.
   So what happened at the city of Vancouver during        That puts a special onus on all of us in this house to
this time period? in May and June of 2007 former city      ensure the taxpayers are protected. So today i again
manager Judy rogers reported to city council that the      repeat my call for the government to appoint b.c.'s
Millennium group, the developer of the village, was in     auditor General as the auditor for the 2010 games now.
anticipatory default. in other words, Millennium was       i believe the auditor should be charged with protecting
running out of money.                                      the public interest and with ensuring highest standards
   under its various signed agreements, the city had       of transparency and accountability for 2010 spending.
an obligation to share that information with Vanoc.           Mr. Speaker, had the government taken this step from
When there was a problem with the exact issue on bill      the beginning, had they actually ensured independ-
47 that we're here debating today — there was an issue     ent oversight, we might not be here. The citizens of
around the financing of the olympic village — the          Vancouver would have known about this project and the
city had an obligation to share their information with     risks long ago.
Vanoc. Vanoc, through its finance committee, in               had this government actually done what they should
turn shared information with the Premier, with the         have done, which is ensured independent oversight, the
province, with the Finance Minister.                       public might have a little faith in the olympic numbers.
   let there be no doubt: the liberal government had       had the government ensured taxpayers had someone
to have known what was going on from the start. but        looking out for them, british columbians might have
as we all know now — and the reason we're here today       some confidence that the games won't leave them with
debating this bill — they refused to share their know-     a legacy of debt and unpaid bills. if the government
ledge with the people of british columbia. as the spring   had done what it should have done, we might not have
of 2008 turned into the fall, the problems escalated. in   needed bill 47 in front of us today.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13419

   now, when we all welcome the world to b.c. next             in fact, he spoke directly to the issue that we're here
year, it's a moment that all british columbians hope           debating today in bill 47. he said on national tV that
will be full of pride, a moment for the world to come          the olympic village itself wasn't over budget, and i'd
together and to celebrate human achievement. but let's         like to quote the Premier. here's what he said on cbc
remember that successful olympic Games are in tune             tV: "no. 1, there aren't cost overruns in the olympic
with the times that they're staged in, and today in british    village. What there are, are some challenges in terms of
columbia and across the world, times are very uncer-           one of the opportunities to finance it. There aren't cost
tain. next year, as we all know, the central credit union      overruns."
expects b.c. to lose 42,000 jobs — 42,000 jobs.                   Well, that's what happens when you don't come clean.
   in british columbia, families i talk to are worried about   You can't keep your stories straight. That's exactly what
managing to pay their rent or their mortgage. They're          happened yesterday, and later the Premier had to apolo-
worried about the declining value of their homes. They're      gize. he said that what he meant to say was that the
worried about rising costs and stagnant wages, and some        olympic Games, in total, weren't over budget. now, who
communities are just barely struggling to survive.             can believe that? tell that to the auditor General, who
   now more than ever, british columbians can't afford         said that the costs are now in the billions. tell that to
olympic cost overruns. now more than ever, they                the taxpayers, who know that they're covering the $400
can't afford scarce resources — their resources — to be        million in convention centre cost overruns. tell that to
diverted from fundamental priorities like health care          the taxpayers in Vancouver who are going to pay in the
and education. now more than ever, british columbians          end for the olympic village with this piece of legislation
don't want the crowds to go home and all they're left          passed.
with is a legacy of debt and red ink.                              it would be funny if it wasn't so serious. We know
   now more than ever, british columbians want their           the Premier has been twisting and turning on olympic
government to focus on the fundamentals, and that's            costs for months. he owes more than an apology to the
what every member on this side of the legislature is           taxpayers of this province. it is time for some straight
going to continue to do: fight for the fundamentals in         talk, for the Premier to cut the nonsense and come clean
this province.                                                 with the real costs on the olympics for the taxpayers of
   in coming into the legislature to take a look at a piece    this province.
of legislation, i had british columbians in every corner           earlier this week i was in kamloops. Yesterday i spent
of this province talking about their worries about a gov-      time in ladysmith and in cowichan. in each of those
ernment introducing a piece of legislation that would          opportunities i met with seniors and their families. i
put them on the hook for additional costs, that will put       heard story after story about the lack of quality seniors
them on the hook for additional debt. Families in this         care. i heard anger in those people's voices. i heard
province are tired of this Premier's pet projects. Families    despair from families who have seen broken promise
in this province want the games to be a legacy for sport,      after broken promise from this government.
a legacy for people, a positive legacy for the economy, a          i heard people ask how the Premier can find addi-
legacy in which we can take great pride. but that legacy       tional dollars for cost overruns in the olympics, the
is threatened by spiralling cost overruns, threatened by       issue that we're talking about today, and yet can't find
this Premier's refusal to come forward and tell the truth      enough money to make sure that their relative gets good-
about olympic spending.                                        quality care or their child gets a good-quality school in
   every time the costs go up, every time we see the           their neighbourhood. i'm sorry, but this Premier has his
Premier and the Finance Minister continue to stand up          priorities wrong, and the public knows that in british
and say that the total cost of the olympics is $600 mil-       columbia.
lion, public confidence is further eroded. When i hear            That's what this debate on bill 47 is about. it's about
the members of government say over and over again              the true costs of the olympic Games. it's about the
that $175 million is enough for security…. People know         liberals finally coming clean with those costs. it's about
in this province how laughable that is. When the auditor       helping the city of Vancouver cope with a financial mess
General says that the b.c. liberals aren't giving him the      that's been left to it by the Premier's friends at city hall.
information he needs to investigate the real costs of the      it's about protecting the taxpayers in kamloops and
olympics, the taxpayers that i talk to are asking: "What       in cowichan and in Vancouver. it's important that we
do the b.c. liberals have to hide? What is this govern-        remember that, as we go through this debate. This isn't
ment trying to keep away from us? What are they trying         about the Premier's project; this is about liability to the
to hide?"                                                      taxpayers of british columbia. it's also about learning
                                                      [1455]   the lessons to protect british columbians from more
   Mr. Speaker, just yesterday the Premier appeared            surprises.
on national television, and he told canadians that it              now, we all know that the b.c. liberals want to duck
simply wasn't true that the olympics were over budget.         debate here in this chamber. That's very clear. but they
13420                                          british columbia Debates                          Saturday, January 17, 2009

can't cut and run from the voters. The day isn't far away         in pursuit of representing the financial interests of the
where their record is going to be judged, and they're          citizens of the province, the auditor General, who is an
going to be held accountable. olympic cost overruns are        independent officer of the legislature, not a politically
a concern for every british columbian. They're a power-        appointed person, and who has a profound obligation
ful symbol of this government's arrogance and neglect.         and, indeed, some considerable powers to investigate
   So i put this challenge to the Premier again. let's not     and report to the legislature on the financial obligations
walk away from this debate on bill 47. let's not walk          and risks to the citizens of british columbia…. he and
away from this house and pretend as though we fixed            his predecessors have, of course, examined the olympic
the problem, because we haven't. We haven't fixed this         project and those agreements — that series of interlock-
problem until the Premier acknowledges the truth, until        ing agreements i spoke of just moments ago.
he acknowledges the real cost of the olympic Games,               What the auditor General said in his report in 2006….
until the Premier comes clean and takes steps to protect       i'm going to quote, just because i want to be accurate
the taxpayers. until the Premier does that, his gov-           and i don't want there to be any suggestion of error on
ernment has profoundly failed the people of b.c. and           my part. i'm going to quote from page 3 of that report:
jeopardized the success of the olympic Games.                      "There are a number of legal routes through which, in our opin-
                                                                 ion, responsibilities for games costs could be shifted to the prov-
                                                    [1500]       ince. The province has guaranteed to the ioc" — that's the inter-
   We will get into discussion on bill 47. We'll have the        national organizing committee — "that it will cover any financial
opportunity to talk about the specifics as we move along         shortfall of Vanoc. This cost could arise if Vanoc is not suc-
in the debate, but let's not forget that the reason we are       cessful in meeting its revenue or expense targets or does not build
                                                                 in sufficient contingencies to cover items it cannot control, such
here today is because of a government that refuses to tell       as inflation, exchange rate fluctuations, the state of the economy,
british columbians the real cost of the olympic Games            world threats or world events.
and continues to try and hide those costs.                         "also, the province has agreed to indemnify the city of Vancou-
                                                                 ver for any losses flowing from the city's signing the host city con-
                                                                 tract. in turn, the host city contract requires Vancouver to indem-
   B. Ralston: it's my pleasure to rise to speak to bill 47,     nify the ioc against any damages suffered by the ioc, includ-
which i think could be fairly described, in short form, as       ing all costs, loss of revenue and also the damages the ioc may
an act to assist olympic village refinancing.                    have to pay to third parties, including but not limited to olympic
   in the letter from the mayor of Vancouver, which was          sponsors and broadcasters, resulting from acts or omissions of
                                                                 Vanoc or the city.
tabled by the Government house leader, it's significant            "The host city contract also makes the city, Vanoc and the
that he mentions: "The Vanoc deadline is nine months             canadian olympic committee jointly liable for all of the obli-
away. The olympic village is the central venue for the           gations of Vanoc related to staging the games and places the
olympic and Paralympic Games." and Vanoc is, of                  financial responsibility for the games with Vanoc and the city."
course, the organizing committee responsible for the                                                          [1505]
conduct of the games.                                            The auditor General goes on — and this is the point
   So this is no ordinary project. This is the central venue   of disagreement between the province and remains a
for the olympic Games. There is a hard deadline of nine        point of disagreement between the province, a signifi-
months away, which requires that that deadline must be         cant one — to say:
                                                                   "We acknowledge that legally, the guarantee is provided only to
met — it's a matter of provincial pride and a matter of          the ioc. in our opinion, however, the obligation of the province
national pride; these are national games — and that this         to ensure the financial success of the games has the potential to
province be in a position to offer the warm embrace to           cause the guarantee to be subject to a much broader exposure. in
the citizens of the world who come here to participate in        the province's view, the guarantee to the ioc is not as broad as we
                                                                 interpret and should not be relied upon by parties other than the
the olympic Games. it's crucial.                                 ioc. This report uses the broader interpretation of the guarantee,
   it's not just another real estate project that gets into      beyond the legal interpretation."
trouble, where construction could halt, other arrange-            now, the position of the province and the Minister of
ments could be worked out — maybe a write-down                 Finance and the Minister responsible for the olympics
of the costs — and a number of deadlines be bumped             is that this guarantee is very narrowly drawn. The prov-
through and maybe come onto the market in 2011 or              ince couldn't possibly be drawn in, in a legal sense. but
2012. Those alternatives aren't there.                         when you reflect upon what the auditor General is
   The mayor properly speaks of the obligation that the        saying, it's obvious — the wisdom of his position and,
city owes to Vanoc. it's significant, in beginning to          indeed, the correctness of his position.
understand this legislation and the potential risk and            could the province stand by while the olympic vil-
liability to the province, to understand the series of         lage, for one reason or another, didn't get completed?
interlocking agreements that not only the city, as an          of course not. Would the province stand by if any of
olympic city, but the province has signed with Vanoc.          these venues weren't completed on time? of course not.
                                                               Would the province stand by if the security arrange-
  [k. Whittred in the chair.]                                  ments weren't worked out between the city, the province
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                                         13421

 and the federal government — the rcMP obligation,              olympic cost. The minister said no. imagine that. We
 perhaps? Would the province stand by and simply let            were floored. We were astounded. The very agency
 that happen? of course not.                                    set up to run the games was not to be included as an
    The obligation of the province goes beyond strict legal     olympic cost.
 liability, sometimes called reputational liability. in other      The minister has persisted in that narrow definition of
 words, our reputation as a province and on behalf of our       olympic cost and therefore avoided taking on the poten-
 country globally, as canada, is engaged in this process.       tial of broader financial liability and, indeed, broader
    We all want it to be successful, and the province           liability — reputational risk — as well. That's a pattern
 could not and would not stand by if there were to be a         that has been consistent.
 failure or a liability that narrowly and legally fell to the      in fact, in pursuit of just that understanding, the
 city alone. The auditor General has quite properly pur-        auditor General has been, since 2006, at the very least
 sued the government and asked repeatedly for broader           — and there have been discussions before that…. as
 accountability beyond the narrow accountability that           recently as a letter to the Speaker of the assembly here,
 the province has been willing to accept.                       which was conveyed to him in December of 2008 —
    These are not, i would hasten to say, technical argu-       there's no specific date on it — he says…. i'm going to
 ments. They may appear on the surface to be technical          quote from the auditor General.
 arguments, but when the provincial guarantee is engaged,            "The second piece of work relates to costs and risks to the prov-
                                                                   ince associated with the 2010 olympic and Paralympic Games —
 that means, in more colloquial terms, that the province           the games. My office's two previous reports, issued in 2003 and
 is backstopping financial problems. in the market con-            2006, conclude that british columbia's share of the full cost of
 ditions, the global economic conditions, that we now              the games is considerably higher than the $600 million figure that
 find ourselves in, the risk of the province's guarantee,          has often been quoted. Further, in the absence of full disclosure
                                                                   by the province, each report highlights significant risk that could
 the province being the backstop, is obviously greater.            result in even higher costs to the province by the time the games
    While it may have been more academic a few years               are finished."
 ago, it's certainly more of a reality now, and the problems       So this piece of legislation merely illustrates one aspect
 with the olympic village are just one good example of          of potential growing risk to the province. What the
 the kind of havoc that the change in market conditions         auditor General goes on to say is to confirm the long-
 can bring to these kinds of projects, particularly where       standing position of the government to minimize the cost
 they're up against a hard deadline. and that's why the         to the taxpayers of the olympic Games. he says: "i have
 mayor is talking, in the letter tabled by the Government       but one recommendation — that government expand its
 house leader, about the Vanoc deadline.                        definition of games-related costs to include all items that
    in nine months the city has an obligation to deliver        are reasonably attributable to hosting the 2010 olympic
 that olympic village completed. They need to make sure         and Paralympic Winter Games and report publicly on
 that they do that, and the province's interest is engaged      these costs and the risks associated with them."
 in making sure that that takes place. ultimately, in the          has that taken place? no, it hasn't. indeed, there's
 words of the auditor General, there's a broader potential      been a litany, with regular and repeated statements
 liability on behalf of the province.                           by various ministers over the last at least four or five
    but the response of the province, when confronted           years, of purporting to claim, in the face of mounting
 with that report of the auditor General, has been to say:      evidence to the contrary, that the games will only cost
"no, we don't agree with that. We fall back on the narrow       $600 million.
 legal liability. We don't accept that. We don't see that as       i will quote from the minister responsible for the
 a responsibility. We're not responsible for those risks —      olympic/Paralympic Games in 2005: "We are very
 reputational, financial, whatever. We don't accept that."      confident — and Vanoc is very confident — they're
 in her response to the auditor General in 2006 on behalf       going to be able to deliver the games without additional
 of the government, the Minister of Finance indeed says         revenues from the province beyond the $600 million we
 words to that effect at the back of the report.                have created." That's october 4, 2005, in Hansard.
                                                       [1510]      The same minister, in an interview with a national
    This is part of a pattern that the government, in its       radio station: "The taxpayers who entrust us with the
 stance towards olympic costs and olympic liabilities….         money at the provincial government level are on the
There's a very clear pattern that has emerged and is only       hook for $600 million, and that is the direct cost of us
 now, under pressure, beginning to crumble. That has            staging the olympic Games and living up to the obliga-
 been to draw a very narrow definition of olympic costs         tions we made to the ioc. to this date there is nothing
 and resist any even rational, reasonable suggestion that       that indicates we will need anything over and above that
 things such as the olympic secretariat….                       $600 million." That was on September 13, 2006, in a
    i see that my colleague the Mla for Surrey-newton           cbc radio interview.
 in estimates debate asked the Minister responsible for            The same minister: "We have committed, on behalf of
 the olympics whether the olympic secretariat was an            the taxpayers of british columbia, $600 million for the
13422                                           british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

staging of the olympic Games. i have every reason to                Sen. colin kenny, a Senator in the canadian Senate,
expect the games will be delivered without any increased         has pursued this issue with some diligence and has
obligation to the taxpayers over and above that $600             stated — i'm quoting from a news report July 8, 2006: "i
million." That's from Hansard, May 9, 2006.                      compare it to kananaskis G8, where we spent $140 mil-
                                                       [1515]    lion to isolate eight people in one resort, and that's not
   The Premier, May 9, 2006: "Mr. Speaker, i don't know          far off the mark for a whole olympic Games. Salt lake
how you can say this more clearly so that members of             was $310 million, and we're talking about something
the opposition understand this. hosting the olympic              still four years away."
Games is $600 million. There is a $600 million budget."             he said in the same article: "it wouldn't surprise me
   The Minister of economic Development, responsible             in the least if the price tag for Vancouver more than
for the olympics, May 4, 2006: "The province is not on           doubled. The way one wants to err on issues like this is
the hook for any increased costs…. it's because of the           on the side of caution, and no one wants a problem to
leadership of the Premier that we put in place a $600            happen on their watch."
million commitment for the province as their cost of                Matt lehman, Salt lake city's managing director of
staging the 2010 olympic Games in this province….                operations: "it becomes pretty clear as you look through
We are quite confident that with the obligations that are        these topics. i would seriously doubt that $175 million
coming forward, the province will live within its $600           can do the job. i would suspect that something around
million commitment."                                             $300 million to $500 million would be required."
   Move on to 2007. The same minister responsible for                                                               [1520]
the olympics: "Within the $600 million envelope that we             rob rothwell, the head of the counterterrorism unit
have to live up to our obligations for the staging of the        at the Vancouver police department, back on June 6,
games, we have half of the $175 million — the provin-            2006: "My expectation is that we will certainly require,
cial share for security. We also, within that $600 million,      as we move closer to 2010, additional funding resources
have remaining about $76 million of contingency." That           in order to properly address the threat."
was in Hansard on February 14, 2007.                                The Prime Minister of canada: "There are yet-to-be-
   i will return to the issue of the growing potential risk      determined costs associated with security." he said that
to the province and the lack of realism in these numbers         on January 17, 2008.
a little bit later in my comments, particularly when it             The auditor General — the same auditor General, not
concerns security costs. The leader of the opposition            a politician — an independent officer of the legislature
referred to the statement of the Premier just days ago,          charged with scrutinizing financial commitments and
on January 15, to the national media about denying that          obligations of the province and risks to provincial tax-
there were any cost overruns or increased risk to the tax-       payers: "We recommend that the province update its
payers of british columbia for the cost of the olympics.         medical estimates and also update the security costs as
   The pattern has been to resist the mounting object-           soon as the required information is available from the
ive evidence, this growing skepticism of the public, the         rcMP."
growing skepticism of the media, the repeated questions,
the reality of the economic climate — this being this               Deputy Speaker: Member, i am listening very care-
legislation arising out of just one of those examples, how       fully to your remarks, and i think that you are straying
changing market conditions have affected the potential           from the content of the bill. i wonder if you could direct
costs of staging the olympics. Those series of quota-            your remarks at the content of the bill that's being
tions that i've given increasingly begin to fly in the face      discussed.
of reality.
   Perhaps one of the most obvious and dramatic                     B. Ralston: i certainly will. i use this as an example.
examples of the refusal of the government and the min-           This bill is dealing with an aspect of olympic costs. The
ister responsible and the Premier to come to terms with          mayor of Vancouver has referred to a hard deadline
the reality of olympic costs that are escalating — as in         and commitments of the city to Vanoc. The auditor
necessitating, in this case, this piece of legislation — is in   General has said that the province is responsible in
this area. That's one example.                                   a broad sense to backstop those, and these are other
   another example is the example of security costs. in          instances of the same problem.
the original budget — i referred to a quotation from the            as i understand it, Madam Speaker, debate at second
minister — the government has insisted on a number of            reading is relatively broad, and i'm simply trying to
$175 million, and that has been long doubted as being the        focus and set that bill in context about potential risks
final number, as being a realistic number, for the security      and liabilities to the taxpayers of british columbia, as
costs, the provincial cost of security. The head of the ioc,     well as to the taxpayers of Vancouver. i bear in mind
Gerhard heiberg, said even back on March 5, 2003: "We            your admonition, and i hope that i'm not straying too
feel that it's not enough." That's quite a while ago.            far. My intention is to illustrate that concern on behalf
Saturday, January 17, 2009                      british columbia Debates                                                13423

of the taxpayers of british columbia and those people            auditor General, as recently as December of 2008, to
that i represent in Surrey-Whalley and speak on behalf           engage in a realistic discussion of olympic costs.
of more broadly in the province.                                    The Premier appeared…. Perhaps it was a misstate-
   certainly, the auditor General has asked and, when            ment. one doesn't know, but he certainly apologized
it comes to potential cost overruns and potential liabil-        later on. as recently as a couple of days ago he claimed
ity, has expressed extreme concern about security costs.         that the olympic village itself, the very subject of this
it has become increasingly clear that the $175 million           legislation, wasn't running over the estimated cost, and
that's in the budget was not based on a real assessment          that's obviously not the case.
of the likely cost. indeed, the federal minister respon-            it's significant that this bill is before us. it gives us an
sible has said as recently as a few days ago that they are       opportunity and the public an opportunity to scrutin-
hoping they can keep it below $1 billion. That's a long          ize the obligation and the failure of this government
way from $175 million.                                           to be candid, to come clean about the real cost of the
   it's increasingly clear that the credibility of the Finance   olympics and the real risk to taxpayers. We will pursue
Minister and Minister responsible for the olympics is            this, doubtlessly, in other speeches, and we'll pursue this
increasingly compromised when his statements con-                at committee stage. There are some questions about the
tinue to fly in the face of a growing reality that's emerged     nature of the obligation that taxpayers in Vancouver will
over a lengthy period of time that the $175 million is           be assuming and the broader risk that taxpayers in the
far from accurate. indeed, the template that the Minister        province will be assuming.
of Finance appears to be working from is a template                 With that, i conclude my remarks.
that was set during the saga of costs for the convention
centre.                                                              H. Bains: it is my pleasure to be here today and
   The convention centre costs. as we will recall, some-         talk about this very, very important document before
what like the olympic village that is being discussed            us — the amendment to the Vancouver charter to give
in this piece of legislation, due to market conditions —         authority to Vancouver city council to borrow money
and in the auditor General's report on the convention            to pay for the olympic village. i think we will have that
centre — and a number of factors that were examined              debate, and we will examine why we are in the financial
in a separate report, the cost escalated. The risk to the        mess that we are in here today.
provincial taxpayer directly escalated from an estimated             not only in Vancouver. We want to take a look….
cost of $495 million when we last spoke of this at Public        Vancouver is certainly part of the overall olympic cost
accounts just weeks ago to a cost closing in on $900             and overall olympic family. Why is Vancouver in this
million.                                                         difficult situation or in this bind that they find them-
                                                        [1525]   selves in? We need to examine the deal that the city of
   every step of the way, somewhat like the question             Vancouver signed as a host city. What are the provisions
of security costs and somewhat like the denial of the            of that? What were some of the obligations of the city of
broader legal obligation that the auditor General spoke          Vancouver, of the province and of Vanoc?
of, we saw ministers repeatedly, including the Premier,             We must examine why we are in such a financial
come out and offer repeated assurances that whatever             mess around the cost of the 2010 olympics, which the
the latest cost escalation was, was the final one.               Vancouver olympic village is a part of. i think we can
   The Premier, most notably in 2004, said that $565 mil-        describe that in three words: lack of scrutiny. That's why
lion would be the final cost. he said: "count on it. There       we are here today. That's why the people of Vancouver
are contingencies built into the project, and it's going         and the taxpayers of Vancouver find themselves in….
to be run professionally. That's it. kaputski. Done." That       it's not only in this particular venue that this lack of
was in 2004. as we know now, the cost is closing in on           scrutiny applies. it is because this Premier and the min-
$900 million.                                                    ister created a culture of secrecy when it comes to the
    So the concern that is raised by this piece of legislation   olympic cost.
is the increasing potential risk to the taxpayers' interests.                                                         [1530]
The provincial guarantee more broadly conceived that,                First, when Vanoc was established, it was estab-
in the way in which the auditor General has described            lished as an entity that is not subject to freedom of
in his report in 2006, the provincial interest will be           information so that no taxpayer will ever know what
engaged and that there will be a further obligation on           goes on behind those doors and how those decisions are
behalf of the taxpayers of british columbia that will            made with their tax dollars.
have to be met in order that the games be successful.               Vanoc used to send its minutes to the secretariat
   it's very clear that, as the leader of the opposition         office, which were then available under Foi because
has said, the government has dodged and weaved and               the secretariat office is part of the Ministry of economic
does not want to come clean with a real calculation              Development. When these sneaky reporters or the
of olympic costs. They've resisted pressure from the             opposition tried to grab their hands on those minutes,
13424                                         british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

they said: "uh-oh, we've got to stop that." So Vanoc             i think our taxpayers deserve to know what is going
stopped sending those minutes to the secretariat office       on around the olympic costs, what is going on around
so that we cannot get those minutes.                          the Vancouver athletes village. Why are we here sitting
  We are here to talk about how this lack of scrutiny got     on Saturday, when the government will not be subject to
us to this issue we are facing today, the issue of amend-     question period? My constituents have given me dozens
ing the Vancouver charter.                                    of questions around this issue, and they want me to ask
                                                              — they want the opposition to ask — those questions,
                     Point of Order                           but they will not have that opportunity, because that's
                                                              the way this whole house procedure is set up.
  Hon. G. Abbott: Madam chair, you mentioned to a                                                                [1535]
previous speaker that he ought to address the issues in          We need to provide them with the information that
and around the bill we are debating today. it seems to me     they need and that they deserve, because they are paying
that you have been extraordinarily generous in terms of       the bill at the end of the day and you cannot deny them
the latitude that has been permitted to this point.           that right under the democratic system that we have.
  i would suggest to the current speaker that Standing        Despite the fact that the government members will try
order 40 and the relevancy that is demanded by Standing       to stifle that debate, try to again deny them that right
order 40 is something that he should consider in his          and that information right here in this house…. They
remarks. he is straying dramatically from the issue at        have done that so successfully out there, hoping that no
hand in the bill we are debating.                             one will find out what the total cost of the olympics is.
                                                                 People are more intelligent than this government
   J. Horgan: it's a little bit rich for the member for       gives them credit for. The taxpayers know that the num-
Shuswap to stand and tell us about straying from the bill     bers this minister has given them time and time again….
when the house leader, in his presentation — keeping          They don't believe those numbers. They know that they
us here to go to second reading — made reference to           are going to pay a lot more than what this minister is
the centrepiece, the olympic Games. had i not had to          saying the cost of the olympics is to them. This min-
run down the hall, i would have had a more reasoned           ister says the cost to the taxpayers is $600 million. The
interjection, but it's our view, hon. Speaker, that if the    Premier just the other day said the cost is $600 million.
house leader for the government feels that he can use         by the way, part of that cost is to go to the olympic vil-
the olympic Games as the argument to stay here, then          lage in Vancouver that we are talking about.
we have that latitude.                                           That's why we want to talk about whether that cost is
                                                              $600 million or $6.7 billion, which the taxpayers think
   Deputy Speaker: i thank both members for their             is the true cost. it is about time this minister and this
remarks, and i do remind speakers that the debate is about    Premier come clean with the taxpayers, especially at a
bill 47, the Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009.           time when they're worried about their jobs.
   continue, Member.                                             ask the forestry workers in my constituency, on
                                                              Vancouver island, in the interior. They are asking….
                   Debate Continued                           They are watching this debate, and they don't want us to
                                                              give this government a blank cheque.
   H. Bains: That's exactly what my intention is, Madam
chair.                                                          Deputy Speaker: Member, relevance to bill 47,
  The minister responsible, in his submission of this bill,   please.
said clearly that this amendment would allow, through
legislation, for the necessary — quote from the minister         H. Bains: of course, Madam Speaker.
who put forward this package — "financing arrange-               i am talking about the Vancouver olympic village,
ments in order to complete the athletes village project."     because people are worried about how much, at the end
  That's exactly what my remarks were around. We find         of the day, it's going to cost them. is this another blank
ourselves in a position where we have to amend the            cheque, those forestry workers think, that we are writ-
Vancouver charter so that they can do what they are           ing for this minister today or to Vancouver city? They
required to do under this legislation. We need to exam-       need those answers before we say yea or nay to this bill.
ine why we are in this position in the first place so that    They deserve and have the right to know and get those
we don't repeat the same mistake over and over again          answers.
and we don't make the same mistake in other venue                i want to talk about how much this total bill is going
arrangements that we have around the olympic costs.           to be. i want to talk about the total bill for the Vancouver
   Madam Speaker, thank you very much for reminding           athletes village. if you look at the auditor General's
us, but that is exactly the scope of my comments, and         report in 2006, he pegged it at $190 million, because
that's where i want to be.                                    that's the information he received from the government.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                           13425

but today the city of Vancouver taxpayers are given a             Why would the auditor General say that those, those
huge, big olympic-sized surprise. The bill they are            and those should be considered as olympic costs and
facing could be $875 million for that olympic village.         the government continue to say they are not? When
That's what they are worried about.                            you have a government, this government, on one hand
   They need some assurances from this government.             telling you and giving you some information about the
They need answers on what was going on behind those            olympic costs and the auditor General on the other side,
closed doors when those decisions were made. Why               who has no political axe to grind with anyone — com-
was it that the previous city council, who happened to         pletely independent body — who would you believe and
be friends of this government, signed that deal behind         trust? ten out of ten times i would go with the auditor
closed doors? They need to know whether this is it or          General, looking at the record of this government when
if this government is going to come from some other,           it comes to the olympic cost.
different side and get its hand into their pocket for more        We are today again talking about another olympic
money for something else.                                      cost escalation, another cost that the Vancouver taxpay-
   You can't just isolate one olympic venue from all of        ers were told is only $190 million. now the surprise is
the other costs. This government tried, as i said, to create   there that it could be $875 million.
a culture of secrecy so that people will not know — or            Madam Speaker, it's not that the government didn't
they hope that they will not know — what the true cost         know about this agreement. it's not that this government
of the olympics is going to be to them.                        didn't know what was going on in Vancouver. i will refer
   here is another example. They were told $190 mil-           you to an agreement that was signed by Vancouver, as
lion for the Vancouver olympic village, total cost, but        soon as i find it. This is the agreement that was signed
now they're faced with a bill approaching $875 million.        between the Vancouver organizing committee for the
Someone said that that's like $1,400 per man, woman            2010 olympics and her Majesty the Queen in right of
and child in Vancouver — unbelievable.                         the province of british columbia.
                                                      [1540]      This agreement was signed 29th of March, 2004.
   These ministers and people on the government side           under this agreement there are certain requirements
think that we shouldn't talk about the olympic cost.           and obligations by the province and by the Vancouver
When people are worried about their pensions, are wor-         organizing committee. under the contribution clause
ried about their jobs, are worried whether they will be        here: "The province will disburse its contribution to
able to pay the next payment for their homes, this gov-        the Vancouver organizing committee in the following
ernment continues to give them surprise after surprise         manner." Then in the next paragraph it goes on to talk
when it comes to the olympic cost.                             about "notwithstanding any provisions in this agreement,
   i want to quote the auditor General, who tried…. Three      in no event will the province be or become obligated to
different auditors General tried to warn this government       pay to VocoG," which is the Vancouver organizing
about their obligations and a lack of scrutiny that this       committee of the games, more than $51 million.
government is putting around the olympic cost.                    Then there is a breakdown: $30 million for the athletes
   instead of working with the auditor General, who            village, the very village that we're talking about today;
has no political axe to grind with anyone…. he is an           $19 million for the hastings Park skating and $9 million
independent watchdog on behalf of the taxpayers,               for the hastings Park venue; $10 million for the hillcrest
monitoring taxpayers' dollars, where the taxpayer dol-         venue; $2 million for the capital cost of designing, plan-
lars are going, whether they're getting bang for their         ning and developing of venues. That's the commitment
buck, whether the government is using those dollars in         of the province as far as the dollars were concerned.
a prudent manner, whether they are wasting, whether               but then there was some undertaking by the Vancouver
they can do a better job with those dollars than they're       organizing committee. it says that the VocoG will
doing.                                                         ensure that the venues are completed in accordance with
   instead of working with that office, they've frustrated     the venue development strategic plan. That's the respon-
that office. They've frustrated that office to a point where   sibility that the Vancouver organizing committee took
in his last report, where the auditor General was sup-         on behalf of the taxpayers of Vancouver.
posed to come up with a full report in the fall of 2008,                                                          [1545]
he said in his letter posted on his website…. basically, if       Then it goes on to page 5, 5.01(b). it says that the
you interpret it this way, he threw up his hands in the        responsibility of the Vancouver organizing committee
air, saying: "if the government isn't going to cooperate, i    to: "permit the province at any time or times during
don't basically have time to fight with them."                 normal business hours to copy or audit, or both, any or
   i think that's how you interpret that letter. i'm not       all of the books of account and records, including sup-
quoting that letter, but that's how i would interpret it       porting documents, referred to in section 5.01(a)…." So
— that the government is continually fighting with that        they had a perfect opportunity and a right to go in there
office, continuing to disagree with them.                      and audit and get that information from Vancouver. The
13426                                          british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vancouver organizing committee has the obligation to             province has guaranteed to the ioc that it will cover any
provide that information.                                        financial shortfall of Vanoc."
   Then it goes on. The obligation of the Vancouver                 We all know that the minister has said from time to
organizing committee under 7.01(d) is to: "provide the           time that the province has signed that indemnification
province with a copy of the venue development strategic          agreement with ioc on behalf of the city of Vancouver,
plan in draft, final and amended forms, as the province         Vanoc and Whistler — that if there's any shortfall
may request from time to time." They had a right and             left by any of those three, the province is ultimately
an opportunity all the time to get the information that          responsible.
they needed to have from Vancouver on what is going                 What we are talking about here is Vancouver. We
on with the Vancouver olympic village.                           could be ultimately responsible for what's going on in
   They can't just stand here now. as we have heard in          Vancouver. You can't simply say: "let's narrow down the
the last few weeks…. "Well, we are just the bystand-             debate. let's keep everything under secrecy. let's make
ers. it's not our problem," the Premier will say. "it's a        sure the taxpayers don't find out what's going on."
Vancouver problem."                                                                                                    [1550]
   We are in the mess that we are today because of a                it's true to form. ever since Vanoc was established,
lack of attention by this minister and a lack of attention       ever since this government took this file, they created
by these liberals. it goes on again. There is supposed           that culture of secrecy. That is the core of the problem we
to be so much scrutiny. There was so much work that              have here today: a lack of scrutiny, a culture of secrecy
the province could have done as far as due diligence is          and trying to find ways to off-load the true cost of the
concerned on behalf of the taxpayers. but because they           olympics — hide it from the taxpayers — onto the
created a culture of secrecy, despite the fact that they         municipalities, onto the other government or taxpayer-
had all the rights in these agreements, they chose not to        supported entities — institutions such as ubc.
act on those and kept people in the dark.                           They set it up, like i said. Then they thought: "Maybe
   here's another one. The report, 8.01. The Vancouver           if we stick to the $600 million number, we will tell that
organizing committee "will prepare and deliver to the            we are such good money managers, that we delivered
province such written reports, in form and content               those games for $600 million and that everything is on
satisfactory and prepared by a person acceptable to the          budget."
province, as the province may, from time to time, request           The Premier said just the other day that the olympic
in connection with this agreement."                              cost is on budget. Who believes that? no one believes
   What more do you need as far as the scrutiny and the          that except that minister. no one believes him. The
right to scrutiny is concerned? but because they chose           taxpayers in Surrey don't believe him. The taxpayers in
not to act, or they knew what was going on, they chose          Vancouver don't believe him. even some of those mem-
not to tell the taxpayers. in either case, that's a bad deal     bers are laughing over there, and people are actually
for the taxpayers — a bad deal — and this government             laughing at this government for not telling them the
failed in its duty to the taxpayers. it failed to protect the    truth, for trying to tell them that the total cost is $600
taxpayers.                                                       million, when the auditor General, like i said, who had
   it goes on. i mean, there are all kinds of responsibil-       no axe to grind with anyone, said it was close to $215
ities that the province took on behalf of the taxpayers,         billion.
and they chose to neglect all of that. That is true to              That was in 2006. Since that time he has come out
the form of this government — neglect, out of touch.             with another report that said there's another $170 mil-
instead of accountability, they chose arrogance. instead         lion this government doesn't admit. Then he went on to
of transparency, they chose secrecy. That's their choice.        say — this is part of a letter he sent to the hon. Speaker:
They made that choice.                                          "Further, in the absence of full disclosure by the prov-
   The auditor General went on to warn them, you                 ince, each report highlights significant risks that could
know, what goes on all over in the olympic cost, espe-           result in even higher costs to the province by the time
cially what we are talking about, this amendment here            the games are finished."
today. all of those agreements and the clauses that i read          The auditor General is wrong. Three of them are wrong.
to you, Madam Speaker, from that agreement pertain to           The ceo of torino, who told this minister that the cost of
this agreement that the province signed with the city of         security is going to be way higher, is wrong. The two high
Vancouver.                                                       officials from Salt lake city told this minister that the
   Vancouver is now asking us to come here and amend             security costs are going to be much, much higher than
the Vancouver charter so that they can go out there and          $175 million. The minister said they are wrong. even the
borrow money. The auditor General, as my colleagues              president of the ioc in 2003 said that the $175 million is
have earlier said, said on page 3: "There are a number of        not sufficient. The minister said he's wrong.
legal routes through which, in our opinion, responsibil-            Madam Speaker, you know who's wrong? it's that
ity for games costs could be shifted to the province. The        minister and these liberals and this Premier. it's about
Saturday, January 17, 2009                      british columbia Debates                                              13427

time — especially in the time now when taxpayers are             clearly that they do not know what the total cost is, or if
worried about their jobs, worried about their future —           they know that, they don't want to tell the taxpayers.
that this government comes clean with them and tells                You know, the international community is watching
them what the true cost of the olympics is.                      us. it's not only that we want to promote our athletes
   They are excited about the games. There's no question         through the olympic Games; it is also about economic
about that. i am too. but this government is putting a           opportunities. People are worrying now whether those
damper on that trust and the confidence that they've             opportunities are evaporating because of the additional
given this government by continuing to hide, continuing          and continual escalating costs of the olympics. That's
to not tell the truth about the true cost of the olympics.       what the problem is. like i said, i think it is a problem
People are starting to say: "What did we do by saying            when you continue to add costs to the project, continue
yes to the games and giving our confidence to this gov-          to hide or continue to deny the right of the taxpayers to
ernment in their attempt to run the games?" "What a              know what the cost is.
mistake that was," they are saying.                                 but i think people are worried whether these games
   any file you look at, whether it is through the munici-       will deliver on the economic benefit side as they were
palities…. There are extra costs off-loaded to them. or if       promised. When they don't have jobs to go to, as we
you go to b.c. hydro, there's a hand for olympic costs in        have seen in the forest industry….
people's pockets. Vancouver olympic village, which we               There are many who live in Vancouver. in Vancouver
have before us — again: "We need more money." The city           mill after mill has been shut down. Those are the people
of Vancouver is saying: "look, we can't build this village       who will be asked to pay for this cost — the cost that we
on time if this condition continues the way it is." So they      are saying here is going to go perhaps close to $875 mil-
need the help of this house.                                     lion. That's what Vancouver city has to borrow, or they
   They need the help of this house, but it's all because        have to cosign.
the culture of secrecy put in and designed by this Premier          The other point that one of the taxpayers, one of my
and this minister, and all of the ministers are support-         constituents, asked me…. he said: "isn't this a P3 pro-
ers of that. i might say that they must go back to their         ject?" i said: "Well, the auditor General report said that
constituencies…. i don't know how they face those con-           yes, it is." he said: "Well, isn't this how this minister and
stituents. You need to go and look them in the eye. "We're       the Premier have been selling P3s — that the risk is now
not telling the truth about the true cost of the olympics."      shifted to the private contractor?" i said: "Yeah, that's the
can you do that? i don't know how you do that.                   way the P3 is supposed to work." he said: "explain it to
   Whether it's the b.c. lottery corp., the royal canadian       me now. ask this question of the minister or the Premier.
Mint, b.c. hydro, icbc, the b.c. olympic secretariat, all        how does that argument work? We thought we signed a
of those costs are going to pay for the olympics.                P3 agreement in Vancouver. We thought the risk went to
                                                     [1555]      the private contractor, but lo and behold, it's not so."
                                                                    Mr. Speaker, those are the questions they want us
  [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]                                    to ask in the question period, but what can we do? no
                                                                 question period. We can't ask those questions, but this
   We need to truly, on behalf of the taxpayers, provide         is our opportunity to put those questions to the minister,
as much scrutiny as we can when we talk about pass-              to the liberal government, to the Premier.
ing bill 47. This bill 47 is giving authority to Vancouver          Where is that risk now? The risk was supposed to be
city council, on behalf of the city taxpayers, to borrow         to the private sector. now Vancouver city taxpayers are
money so that they can get themselves out of this mess.          asked to take over that risk again.
at least on this side of the house we will make sure that                                                               [1600]
that scrutiny is there. We will make sure the taxpayers in
Vancouver get all of those answers that they deserve and             Mr. Speaker: before anybody speaks, hon. Members,
have the right to, because they are paying the bill at the       let me make a brief observation in relation to the scope
end of the day.                                                  of debate during second reading of the bill presently
   i think b.c. taxpayers are worried. Vancouver taxpay-         before the house.
ers are worried that this is a never-ending saga about              as stated earlier, the bill has been carefully drawn to
olympic costs. They want to make sure that the games             cover the situation in Vancouver brought to the atten-
are successful, but they're worried about the way this           tion of this house by the mayor of Vancouver. as such,
whole file on olympic costs is being handled.                    it is neither throne debate nor budget debate, permitting
   Whether it is, in Vancouver, the case of Vancouver            the widest possible range of discussion, but it is second
olympic athletes village or it is security or it is all of the   reading debate related to a narrowly drawn bill pres-
other costs that are attached to the olympics, we are            ently before the house. i would ask all hon. members to
becoming an international disgrace — that we cannot              bear this in mind when commenting on this legislation
manage this file. This government has exemplified so             during second reading debate.
13428                                           british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   [k. Whittred in the chair.]                                   would be located. We are not going to be transporting
                                                                 the athletes from the athletes village to General Motors
   Hon. C. Hansen: it's interesting to listen to the official    Place or to b.c. Place when the canadian athletes go
opposition trying to pretend to british columbians that          down to accept all their gold medals. We are not going
they're supporting the 2010 olympic and Paralympic               to be transporting the athletes — or Vanoc will not
Games when, in fact, they're using so much misinfor-             be — on the canada line. That is a station that is simply
mation and spreading so much fear among british                  not being built for the purposes of the olympics, and
columbians that they are, in fact, doing the exact               yet that particular auditor General's report decided that
opposite.                                                        that should be included as an "olympic cost."
   What we have with the 2010 olympic and Paralympic                                                                [1605]
Games is the makings of a tremendous success story for             What i have said consistently is that anybody can
british columbia, one that is actually going to shape            come up with whatever definition of olympic-related
the future of this province and one that is going to pro-        costs they want, and they can plug the numbers into that
vide huge economic stimulus to the province of british           that they see fit.
columbia.
   When you look, for example, even at the Millennium              interjections.
project that's on the waterfront in False creek, that is an
opportunity for the tremendous redevelopment of a sig-             Deputy Speaker: Members.
nificant neighbourhood in the city of Vancouver. it is an
opportunity for the city to create a very significant new           Hon. C. Hansen: The latest work that has been done
neighbourhood that is going to be a model to the world           by the office of the auditor General was a very thorough
in terms of sustainability, environmental protection and         and comprehensive piece of work. i can tell members
new technologies and new innovations that will, i think,         that the staff from my ministry, both in the Ministry of
be acclaimed around the world as an example of how               Finance and the office of the olympic Games secretariat,
british columbia and how Vancouver are leading in                spent countless hours working with the staff from the
terms of innovation.                                             office of the auditor General to identify exactly what
   This particular project is one that, while it is creating a   costs were there, to answer all questions that they might
neighbourhood that is going to be there to serve genera-         have, to make sure that all information was provided
tions to come, will serve the olympic Games for a period         to the staff of the auditor General in a timely fashion
of 17 days while we host the world in February of 2010.          during that process.
   There has been discussion from members of the                    i know for a fact that the office of the auditor General
opposition, including the leader of the opposition,              spent countless hours putting that information together
this afternoon about the various reports of the auditor          and assembling a report that we had every expectation
General. i think that what's important to emphasize in           was going to be made public — and i think the member
all of the reports that have been done to date is that none      referred to this — in the fall of 2008. as happens with
of those reports have identified any undisclosed money           auditor General reports, they will provide a draft copy
— any undisclosed costs that somehow the government              to government in confidence so that we can review it
is aware of but has not made known to the public.                and we can prepare for public disclosure our written
   What those reports really come down to is the ques-           response, which would be combined into the same
tion about what should or should not be considered               publication and released at the same time as the auditor
olympic-related costs. The leader of the opposition, in          General's report.
her remarks, talked about the auditor General identi-              That's actually what happened in 2006. You know,
fying cost overruns, i think she said, in the billions of        anybody is welcome to go back and read what the
dollars. That is simply not the case.                            auditor General's office wrote at that time, and they can
   For example, in the first auditor General's report that       also read in the same document our response and our
came out in 2006…. There were in that particular report          rationale as to why we felt that some of the conclusions
a lot of costs. They were on the public record as to what        of the auditor General at that time we had to respect-
these things cost, but that particular auditor General at        fully disagree with.
that time thought they should be classified as "olympic-            We had assumed that this would be the same process
related costs." i pointed out at the time, just to pick one      with regard to the 2008 work that was done. i had an
example, that there was a station on the canada line at          opportunity to read that report, and i quite frankly
6th and cambie that the city of Vancouver chose. They            thought that it was a constructive piece of work. once
were going to name that station the olympic station.             again, we still had some concerns with it, and so we
This station is not even being used for the olympics.            wrote our response, which would be provided to the
   The reason they chose that name is that it happens            office of the auditor General in time for it to be printed
to be in close proximity to where this olympic village           and released as one package.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13429

   So it actually came as quite a surprise to us when the      going to become a phenomenal neighbourhood that's
auditor General sent a letter to Mr. Speaker indicating        going to serve this province for many, many decades to
that he had decided that he was going to treat that as an      come, so will the rest of the olympic venues that will be
internal document, because i felt that that 2008 report of     there. Whether it's the speed skating oval in richmond,
the auditor General, combined with our response to it,         which is going to become a phenomenal sportsplex after
was actually going to be a very useful piece of informa-       that….
tion for the public better understanding what the cost            The nordic centre up at Whistler is going to show to
dynamics were around the provincial government's par-          the world that british columbia is a destination not just
ticipation in the 2010 olympic and Paralympic Games.           for downhill skiing but a destination for phenomenal
   as the auditor General himself indicated in media           cross-country skiing as well. i think that we'll attract
interviews that he did in early December, what he              a whole new visitor to british columbia. i think the
identified in that report, which has not been released,        olympics will actually demonstrate to them that this is a
is costs over and above our $600 million envelope of           phenomenal destination to come to and enjoy.
$170 million. in our response we indicate why we do               if you look at the new curling rink which is still being
not believe that those should be "olympic-related costs."      built in Vancouver, it is going to be, again, a phenomenal
nevertheless, i think it was further evidence that num-        asset to serve british columbians for many generations
bers are on the table for public inspection. People can        ahead.
actually look at them and draw their own conclusions.             in addition to that, we've got $20 million that has gone
   i have actually urged the auditor General to recon-         in to provide for legacy projects all around this province.
sider the release of that report. We believe that it will be   i've had the opportunity to visit many of these sites and
helpful in helping the members of this assembly better         to realize how important they are to small communities
understand the costs and where the auditor General             in all corners of the province — that they, too, can be
is coming from in his latest review, and we think that         part of the olympic legacy that will benefit their com-
that would be helpful to the public, as well, as we go
                                                               munities with these projects, this infrastructure that will
forward.
                                                               be there for generations to come.
   i think that that additional $170 million of cost that
                                                                  out of that $600 million also comes $55 million for
the auditor General thinks should be olympic-related
                                                               an operating endowment, and that's to make sure that
is a far cry from what the members of the opposition
                                                               some of these sports venues can be funded on their
have been talking about. The exaggerations that have
                                                               operational costs for years to come.
come out of that side of the house today are the cause
                                                                  There are the medical costs. actually, it was one of the
of some of the concern that british columbians have,
                                                               things that was flagged in the latest auditor General's
which is unjustified, as i think the release of that auditor
                                                               discussion. That is something that has been resolved. it's
General's report would underscore.
   i want to talk for a minute just about the $600 mil-        a firm, hard cost that the province will transfer $13 mil-
lion envelope that we've talked about and where the            lion to Vanoc, and they will take all responsibility for
provincial government's financial participation in the         those medical costs, with no further obligation to the
olympic village fits in. if you break down that $600 mil-      province.
lion envelope…. This, again for the benefit of members,           You know, the next one is security, and this one has
is the cost of the province living up to its commitments       received lots of comment. i think that's deservedly so,
that it made at the time of the bid for the staging of the     because as has been pointed out, we are still trying to
olympic and Paralympic Games.                                  finalize what the obligations are. but i'll tell you what
                                                      [1610]   i take exception with, my approach being quite differ-
   Part of that is $290 million for venues. Part of that       ent than that of the member for Surrey-Whalley. The
$290 million is $15 million, which came from the               member for Surrey-Whalley would probably have us
province, was transferred to Vanoc and became part             say: "oh, sure. You know, how much more do you want?
of the $30 million that Vanoc provided to the city of          What's the blank cheque you want for security costs?"
Vancouver for the olympic village project.                     We're not going to do that.
   That whole olympic construction is actually a                  i've made it quite clear right from the get-go that we
phenomenal success story. What we have seen is the             accept that we have an obligation for $87.5 million on
completion now of virtually all of the sports venues.          security costs. We have a security agreement, which is
When you think about it, we're still more than a year          on the website — anybody that wants to read it can go
away from the opening ceremonies, and most — in fact,          and read it — in terms of the scope of our obligation.
virtually all — of the sports venues are already finished.     The scope of our obligation is that we pick up 50 percent
That has never happened before in olympic history.             of the security costs for the venues and the athletes, and
   When you think about these venues…. Just as i men-          they have to be incremental costs over and above base
tioned earlier in terms of the olympic village, which is       cost.
13430                                             british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

  Deputy Speaker: Minister, i wonder if we could get                 interjections.
back to the bill at hand.
                                                                     Deputy Speaker: Members.
   Hon. C. Hansen: Thank you, Madam Speaker.                         excuse me, Minister.
                                                                     i want to remind members that if you wish to partici-
   interjections.                                                  pate, you must be in your seat.
                                                                     continue, Minister.
   Deputy Speaker: Members. Members.
   continue, Minister.                                                Hon. C. Hansen: There is a provision in the agree-
                                                                   ments between the province and the city of Vancouver
   Hon. C. Hansen: i accept your caution, Madam                    for the province to indemnify the city of Vancouver
Speaker. i think that in the context of discussing the             in certain situations. What the member failed to read
Millennium project and the bill that's before us today,            out when he was quoting from those agreements is
there has been a lot of misinformation put on the floor            that the only way that that indemnity can be exercised
of this house today. i will focus my remarks on the spe-           or operationalized is if there has been specific writ-
cifics of the bill, and perhaps we can have that debate at         ten instruction from the province of british columbia
a later time.                                                      agreeing to an action by the city of Vancouver.
                                                         [1615]       in the case of the athletes village, there has been no
   The bill that is before us today, bill 47, is specifically to   such undertaking, and the city of Vancouver, quite
extend powers to one of the olympic partners, and that             frankly, is accepting its financial responsibilities. The
is the city of Vancouver. in some of the discussion earlier        mayor has said very clearly that he is not looking to
today i have found a very interesting tone coming from             the province or the federal government for any kind of
the official opposition, and i think someone needs to              a bailout or any kind of financial assistance. What he's
challenge them on what their policy is in terms of the             looking for is to give the city the power with which they
relationship between the province of british columbia              can actually live up to its obligations and its responsibil-
and the municipalities in british columbia.                        ity and to do so in a way that minimizes or perhaps even
                                                                   avoids any detrimental financial impact on the taxpay-
   What i heard in some of the remarks that have
                                                                   ers in the city of Vancouver.
been said in this house this afternoon is an attitude
                                                                      When i hear members of the opposition talking about
that basically says that the province should be the big
                                                                   the taxpayers and the city of Vancouver being faced
brother to the municipalities, the big brother to the city
                                                                   with costs in the hundreds of millions — or, somebody
of Vancouver — the implication that somehow the city
                                                                   said, $875 million — that is absolutely an exaggeration,
of Vancouver doesn't have the capabilities or the cap-
                                                                   because what the objective of the city of Vancouver is, is
acity to deal with its responsibilities.
                                                                   to make sure that there is no financial cost to the taxpay-
   Well, the city of Vancouver is a partner to the multi-
                                                                   ers of the city of Vancouver as a result of this project. it
party agreement for the olympics, just as the province             is by us passing this legislation today and giving the city
is and just as the federal government is and just as               the powers that they have requested that we are going to
Vanoc is and just as the four host first nations are, and          do our part in assisting the city of Vancouver in mini-
each of the parties that sign the multiparty agreement             mizing those risks.
comes to the table with its obligations, its resources and            The other thing that the member for Surrey-Whalley
its responsibilities. The city of Vancouver comes to the           talked about was the "guarantee" that the province has
table in that regard as well.                                      given for the costs of the olympic Games. again, i think
   The member for Surrey-Whalley made some com-                    the member has to be really careful to make sure that he
ments about the financial relationship between the                 is providing the proper interpretation to that guarantee.
province of british columbia and the city of Vancouver                The province of british columbia is not on the hook
that i think need to be corrected. The member at one               for any financial costs or deficits that might result from
point said that the province is providing financial back-          the olympic and Paralympic Games. What the province
stop. i think those were the words. That is not the case.          of british columbia has agreed to is to guarantee that the
   i think it's unfortunate when a member of this                  ioc would not have to take responsibility for any costs.
legislature puts comments, like he did, in Hansard,                but that doesn't mean that the province automatically
because at some point in the future i would hope that              picks up any of those costs. So it is very specific, the
those remarks would not be used to somehow under-                  guarantee. it is very limited in its scope.
mine the interpretation that we have from the attorney                                                                 [1620]
General's office in terms of the province's financial                 again, i think it's important that members of the
responsibilities.                                                  opposition…. certainly, i think that if any of them sat
   it is very clear….                                              through the estimates debate that we had last year on the
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                               13431

olympics or if any of them should go back and re-read         those viewers are going to see is a phenomenal olympic
it…. i would actually recommend that the critic who           village, a phenomenal testimony to the skills and talent
was there for all of those estimates debates go back and      and innovation of british columbians and british
read the exchanges that took place during the estimates       columbia construction workers. They're going to see
debate, because it's clear from some of his remarks today     one of the greenest projects, and it's going to become a
that he either had forgotten the explanation to some of       model for other developments around the world.
these aspects or perhaps wasn't listening at the time.           They're going to see a province that is resilient. They're
   When you look at the costs with the olympic village,       going to see a province that has come through the eco-
for example, it is part of a construction cost. That's the    nomic challenges of 2008-2009, a province that is ready
$30 million that flowed from the federal government           to excel in economic recovery in the world, a province
and the province — $30 million to Vanoc, which in             that is ready to lead canada. it is because of the olympic
turn flowed to the city to provide for a portion of the       Games that we're going to be able to demonstrate to the
cost of the olympic village. That's the obligation that is    world that this is a great place to visit and that it's a great
there from Vanoc.                                             place to live.
   now, if we were not to pass this legislation, if we           Many of those people will probably wish they could
were not to give the city of Vancouver the tools it needs     come to Vancouver and buy one of those units in the
to deliver on the athletes village, then potentially and      olympic village so that they, too, can build their futures
hypothetically, there may be obligations that Vanoc           in this province and benefit from the phenomenal future
would have to pick up. but the operating budget of the        that this province is going to see in the years to come.
olympics today, the operating budget of Vanoc today,
is on budget and is on target.                                   Deputy Speaker: Member, before i recognize you, i
   When the members scoff at the claim that the olympics      just want to mention once again the words of Mr. Speaker
are on budget and not going into overruns, look at the        when he said: "let's keep this debate on topic." We are
operating budget. it's about $1.7 billion. Where does it      debating the amendment to the Vancouver charter.
come from? it comes from ticket sales, which have been           continue, Member. i recognize the member for
hugely oversubscribed. it comes from the international        cariboo South.
broadcast revenues, which are in the bank, and they have
those. and it comes from the national sponsorships that          C. Wyse: after following my colleague from the other
Vanoc has lined up.                                           side of the house, i can understand, Madam Speaker,
   even this last week there were lots of people trying to    why you might have been a little confused where we
find vulnerabilities there. last week we found that with      were at too.
the nortel commitment, it's there, and it's there to sup-                                                           [1625]
port that operating budget. So things are very much on           i am pleased to be up here today talking and debating
target, and the makings of a big success story.               bill 47, which has been introduced here in the house.
   What comes out of this at the end of the day is a huge        to begin with, i would like to explain to my constitu-
economic opportunity for british columbia, a huge             ents back in cariboo South why i cancelled meetings on
net benefit for british columbia, a huge success in the       Friday with them to discuss their business. Very briefly,
making — $4 billion worth of direct economic activity,        there were issues dealing with some bankruptcies, and
directly as a result of the games. The economists are tell-   there were some issues dealing with some public safety.
ing us that yes, 2009 is going to be a rough year, but they   i'm sure that i will be able to explain to those individuals
also tell us that british columbia is going to lead all of    the need for me to be here.
canada in economic recovery in 2010, and it's because            This is also part of my responsibility — to be here to
of the fact that we are hosting the 2010 olympic and          talk about bill 47, to be discussing it. From the part of
Paralympic Games.                                             the province where i'm from, there isn't quite the same
   We're going to see 250,000 visitors come to this prov-     clarity that the Minister of Finance had on the olympics
ince to witness the games. We're going to have 7,000          and bill 47 and how that is going to splash and carry on
athletes, many of them who are going to be housed             around with the rest of the province.
at this olympic village, who are going to be coming              You see, part of the difficulty i have in explaining
to show their skills to the world. We're going to have        to people back in cariboo South, to the interior of
10,000 media, i think, who are going to be mesmerized         the province, why i'm down here is that i had an idea,
by this olympic village and the innovation that's built       before i arrived, of what the request was from the city
into it, as they will with all of the other venues and with   of Vancouver.
the natural beauty that you will be able to see around           Very clearly, in the letter from the city of Vancouver
british columbia at that time.                                they point out that they require "an amendment to
   We will have ten billion television viewers around the     the Vancouver charter, which will enable us to protect
world who will watch these winter games unfold. What          the interests of taxpayers as we put in place a financial
13432                                         british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

plan for completing the olympic village project. The          it happens to be a pet project of the government. The
city's commitment to delivering the olympic village to        pet project of the government is challenged. its security
Vanoc for the games has been placed at risk by the            is there. That's why we're here. We're here to deal with
cessation of funding flowing from the loan made by            that.
Fortress…to Millennium."                                         other requests that have come forward by local gov-
   They go on that the city of Vancouver is committed         ernments have been set aside. They've been ignored.
to delivering the olympic village to Vanoc by the             When we talk about relationships with local govern-
november 29 deadline. Finally, they point out that the        ments, the government also recently dealt with b.c.
Vanoc deadline is nine months away.                           assessment. The government was looking after their
   it shows, in part, where the city of Vancouver is          interests in their explanation of what they were doing.
coming from. They recognize their obligations to                 in explaining to my constituents what i'm doing here
Vanoc, Vanoc being the body that is representing              talking about bill 47…. it has this wide, wide range of
the province and that has a whole variety of responsibil-     contradictions contained in it. but there is one theme
ities on behalf of the province. if they're not dealt with    that does run through it. When the pet projects are the
satisfactorily, then those responsibilities to Vanoc          ones that are threatened and on the line, then we end up
come back here to the legislature.                            being here to deal with it.
   i knew what the response from this side of the                There are two aspects, then, that i also wish to come
house would be, and i will quote from the leader of           at. There's financial responsibility for local government.
the opposition, where she extends: "Thank you for your        Through the auditor General, it shows that it is open.
letter of January 13 outlining the critical situation the     There are some concerns. There are questions yet to be
new council faces in order to protect taxpayers' inter-       defined for that. but what we do know is that local gov-
ests while placing pre-existing obligations relating to       ernment's main source of revenue is its property tax. to
completion of the olympic village."                           have that source of revenue now opened up is there. it
   now, it isn't until i arrive here and this afternoon get   raises that question.
the government's response to this letter, which is bill 47,      i would like to refer here to what the auditor General
all the rhetoric being set aside…. in bill 47 it is clear —   has made reference to. The legitimate concerns have
at least it's clear to me, because i've had some time to      been around the costs of the olympics being assigned,
study it — that the government has taken the olympic          the true costs. all three auditors General have claimed
village and defined it. They don't even refer to it in the    that the province has not included other olympic costs
legislation. it is the Southeast False creek development.     to taxpayers in the $600 million figure, and they include
That's a way of saying the olympic village. That's very       municipal costs; medical costs; other capital costs such
difficult, and i hope that i've been able to paraphrase       as the Sea to Sky highway, the convention centre expan-
what the government was trying to do with this particu-       sion, b.c. Place. and those lists go on.
lar section.                                                     The taxpayers of the province have a legitimate right
   likewise, when i go on and i read through the rest         to be concerned about where the funds will be found for
of it, if i understand bill 47 correctly, they are saying     dealing with the overall costs of the olympics. is this
that there will be one piece of property, defined here in     any indication of how the costs will be dealt with — cost
this legislation, in all of british columbia that will be     overruns? We're not dealing with a situation in which
allowed unlimited taxation with no defined set period         we simply write blank cheques.
of time in order to borrow money on. it's the only place         The city of Vancouver is living up to their part of the
in all of british columbia where that will apply — with-      bargain. The question that's here in front of us is: is the
out a referendum, with nothing. now, i didn't get that        government of b.c. living up to its side of the bargain in
information until today. That's wide open — that type         delivering the olympics, in delivering those costs across
of responsibility.                                            the province of b.c.? The judge is still out on that part.
                                                     [1630]                                                        [1635]
                                                                 Why have we ended up today dealing with this bill
  [S. hammell in the chair.]                                  47? We've ended up, in my judgment, being here in part
                                                              because of the lack of openness, the lack of accountabil-
   in connection with bill 47, the predecessor before         ity, the lack of ensuring that all the costs, all the items,
me, the Minister of Finance, makes reference to dealing       and all the issues were being recognized and being dealt
with local government: "here we have a request from a         with.
specific local government." local government has been            now, at times and particularly today, i think i'm
requesting this government to respect them, to deal           quite representative of the average british columbian in
with their independence. local government has been            which there is confusion on what we're doing with the
responded to by a whole series of bills restricting their     olympic costs. average british columbians recognize
independence. We have bill 47 in front of us because          that eventually they are going to be paying the bill. in
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13433

fairness, i think they understand when there are quotes        limitations that are put around the debate, given by this
like this from the Premier.                                    set of circumstances.
   The Premier on January 16 is quoted. "no. 1, there are          it would have provided the opportunity to have asked
not cost overruns on the olympic village." While there         other questions: where the other known cost overruns
are "some challenges in terms of one of the opportun-          are — b.c. Place, the convention centre, and the list
ities to finance it, there are not cost overruns. it's going   goes on; where they would have been funded; who is
to be a great, sustainable neighbourhood in the city of        funding them; and how they are going to be funded.
Vancouver." assuredly, the Premier did call back in and        Those opportunities would have provided themselves,
clarify the statement that he made, but the Premier now        but we're here to deal with this particular bill, bill 47.
is clarifying the statement that he made on the item for           it raises another concern, in my judgment. it may
his pet project.                                               not be just my judgment alone, but i will share with
   "Sorry" — that's what the Premier said. "What i was         this house that it is my concern. That is whether bill 47
saying was there are no cost overruns for the olympics.        represents how we get around these costs underneath
Sorry if that came out the wrong way. i apologize for          that area called P3 while government still remains the
that, but, you know, the olympics are on budget, and i         underwriter of those costs, still remains the guarantor
think they're doing a very good job. They've contributed,      of those costs. The big saleable point about P3s was that
i think, almost $30 million to the olympic village. i'm        the risk was assigned to someone else. bill 47 may well
not fully cognizant of all the details of what's going on      be showing what the effect is where government retains
at the olympic village, but there have been no cost over-      the ultimate responsibility for the projects. bill 47 has
runs for the olympics."                                        that contained in it.
    So i understand, if i get confused with statements             We have an example of how a project in Vancouver
like that that come from the Premier, why the average          was passed off to a private developer. The interest rate:
british columbians likewise have some confusion when           11 percent. local government, through the MFa: much
we narrow in on items and try and split hairs. There is        lower, maybe 4 percent. huge differences. bill 47, which
no question, as the Minister of Finance has confirmed,         i'm speaking to, requires the underwriting — unlimited,
what has been made over here on this side of the house —       with no time — for completing a project. Those include
that the province has assured the international olympic        the costs of borrowing money, and bill 47 authorizes
committee that the province ultimately will pick up the        that. an unlimited amount and unsecured time on this
outstanding bills.                                             piece of property, forever, is left there.
   also, we know that there are some huge costs, such as           So there are issues contained within the legislation,
with security, that the estimates now are between $400         which i have just been given today. once more the
million to a billion. We're discussing that and who is         government ignores the warning calls. once more the
going to pay it — how much and where? So therefore,            government keeps things under wraps. it's not open. it's
when we get back to dealing with unlimited time lines,         negligent on issues, possibly. it might be arrogant, but
unlimited amounts in bill 47, is this also mirroring what      it's out of touch with what's going on. There's the dif-
is happening with the total olympic package? There             ficulty. it's what we're dealing with.
is a mirroring to it. Therefore, it is important that the                                                            [1645]
linchpin for the olympics — the olympic village — is               So Madam Speaker, local government — as usual and
completed.                                                     always — lives up to what it's dealing with, what it has
    unfortunately, we are here on a Saturday to try and        promised. a new council stepped in, quickly looked at
ensure that that will take place. There was ample warning      what the situation was, brought the information forward
that would have allowed for a more reasoned reaction           publicly, rapidly. We are here, and we're now dealing
than an urgent meeting being called to deal with this          with that.
item. but as a member of this legislature, i accept my            That's good. but in mentioning Vanoc, what local
responsibility to go back to the people that i cancelled a     government is aware of is that there are responsibil-
meeting with on Friday because i have the responsibility       ities yet that Vanoc may assign to local government
to be here.                                                    — rcMP costs; policing costs; direction to keep those
                                                      [1640]   costs as much as possible at the local level, an item of
    i accept that responsibility to ensure that we have the    local government concern.
linchpin, the olympic village, put into place. at the same         So there are reasons why a local government wishes to
time, i have also the responsibility here in this house        play ball with the hand that feeds them, because Vanoc
to raise the issue that if more frankness and openness         has a whole list of unfunded or "unknown how they're
had been forthcoming by the government over the last           going to complete funding" items starting off with the
several months — never mind years — we would not               policing — rcMP and local policing costs.
necessarily have been in this place. bill 47 may still have        look at translink. unlimited knowledge of what the
been required, but not being called back, with all the         demands are going to be made upon translink, and
13434                                        british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

we know how that has been restructured so that local         get narrowed down. The ability to be here and to discuss
government has limited input upon how that moves and         things with a full range of all of the tools that are avail-
how its costing is dealt with.                               able to government gets narrowed.
   two examples i share here with the house on why              i respect the decision that was made by our Speaker.
local government not only in Vancouver but in the            he spent time reasoning and moving on it.
whole GVrD area has to be concerned, why the entire             The government has got a very, very long way to go
province has to be concerned. two items — policing           to explain to me yet why bill 47 in the form that it's
costs as well as translink.                                  in, without some amendments, should be accepted. So
   You can see why Vancouver in part wishes to live up       that's important. it really is truly important, because this
to their side. it's why we have the response. it's why we    will be the first time that local government has asked
are here today. it's why we're here dealing with bill 47.    over here in Victoria for some type of a response on an
Possibly it will be explained to us later on as we move      item considered important to them that the government
through the debate on whether it was Vancouver that          has moved on it.
asked for it to be open-ended, with no amounts on               i'll set aside the fact that it's connected with the
it. When we get into committee stage, we may get an          Premier's project. i will make no reference to the fact
explanation to those items.                                  that they also wanted the election act changed, and
    but our response just starts today. We have just been    that came forward unanimously from the council of
given this item. This is what second reading is about. it    Vancouver, but that was ignored, and they had that for
is to show where concerns are connected around the bill.     long periods of time. The list goes on and on and on.
i hope i've been able to improve upon staying focused           Madam Speaker, it is with that that i wish to thank you
on bill 47 as compared to my predecessor, my colleague       for the opportunity. i wish to acknowledge the latitude
from the other side, the Minister of Finance. he tended      that you gave me to explain to my constituents back up
to want to talk about things like olympic security costs     in rural b.c. that are concerned about the items such as
and where they were being funded from…                       forestry job layoffs, agriculture-related issues, transpor-
                                                             tation — a whole variety of different items. They were
  An Hon. Member: athlete transportation.                    hoping to have that opportunity to speak with me, but
                                                             bill 47 and my other duties required me to be down here
   C. Wyse: …athlete transportation, b.c. Place — a          in order to do other parts of responsibility.
whole variety of items. he listed so many of them               i appreciate the opportunity that you've provided for
that i can't remember them, Madam Speaker, and               me to explain to people back in rural british columbia
i apologize for that. but the Minister of Finance is         that may have even more difficulty in connecting to the
quite accurate. The list of these unfunded liabilities       discussion that is happening here.
that Vanoc is looking for someone on behalf of the              With that, Madam Speaker, i take my seat and thank
government to ensure that those costs are taken care         you.
of is found….
                                                    [1650]      S. Simpson: hon. Speaker, for your information, i am
   When i reflect back, a former government initiated a      the designated speaker on this bill. i look forward to the
bid for the olympics, but a former government making         opportunity to discuss a number of areas in bill 47 and
a bid for the olympics, i am sure, had no idea that we       to talk through those areas.
would end up in a bill 47, that we would end up in this                                                         [1655]
set of circumstances. We've ended up here in this set of        also, i very much appreciated the comments of the
circumstances because for going on to eight years now,       Minister of Finance, the Minister responsible for the
we have been refused that whole access, that openness        olympics. Since we are in debate, i know and i appre-
that should be around how the funds are spent.               ciate the latitude that the chair provided the minister
   We did see the relationship of what happened with         as he dealt with a wide array of issues related to the
Vancouver, where the new government came in, and             olympics. clearly, the minister has quite a sensitivity
they moved expeditiously in very difficult sets of circum-   about the fact that he and half a dozen people over on
stances to move and live up to their obligations. They       his side believe that $600 million is the provincial com-
made decisions over there in Vancouver that possibly         mitment, while the rest of british columbia knows it's
should be mirrored here. There were senior appointees        significantly greater.
with the responsibility to ensure that the Premier and          i look forward to being afforded, as this is a debate,
the cabinet were kept informed of what was happen-           the same latitude to respond to a number of the com-
ing. either that didn't happen…. but it should have          ments that the minister made while he was in fact
happened.                                                    talking about these things, and of course, i'll take that
   That reflects upon the balance of why bill 47 may have    opportunity. but the most important part of this will
been set for today — so that the debate and discussion       be to talk about bill 47 and to talk about this bill as an
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13435

important piece of legislation — important for the city        strated for everybody across the country on newsworld
of Vancouver, certainly.                                       that he has no grasp of this file and doesn't understand
   bill 47, the Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009,         the costing and funding of the olympics. That's the
is a piece of legislation that was required for us to be       one thing the Premier demonstrated for canadians.
here on a Saturday because of what the government has          he couldn't see fit to simply do it in british columbia,
said and the request from the city of Vancouver and the        where only british columbians would know that. he
mayor of Vancouver around an urgency.                          had to do it for the whole country.
   clearly, what we do know from what we've heard                                                                    [1700]
from the city of Vancouver, from the city manager, a very         So what does this do? We have a situation here where
accomplished civil servant who i believe used to work          the olympic village…. The olympic village clearly is a
here but went on to find a better job where she'd feel         major, major residential development being developed
more respected, i'm sure…. She provided a good brief-          by the Millennium group, funded by Fortress, which is
ing for us, generally — us being the people of Vancouver       a new York hedge fund, initially a new York Wall Street
— when she spoke to council last week talking about            hedge fund. This is a project that was to put 850 market
the implications of the deal related to the Millennium         units on the table, and 730 of those would largely be
project, related to the olympic village and why we're in       what could be considered luxury condos. Those condos
a desperate situation there, or the city of Vancouver is in    are selling.
a serious situation.                                              i would note that the first couple 250 of those, at least
   hon. Speaker, as you would know, the city of Vancouver      where there have been presales…. We have no assurance
now, because of a completion agreement that was signed         that those presales will hold up, but the presales have been
by the previous council in camera, by the nPa council          upwards of as much as, i think, $3.5 million for some of
of the day, more commonly known around the city of             those units. Then there are 120 market rental properties
Vancouver as the b.c. liberal farm team, an agreement          that are also there and 250 units of social housing.
that was signed and voted on, and i would note voted on           So what we have is a situation where this project,
and supported by the nPa members, which essentially            almost going to a billion dollars, almost sort of bor-
put the people of Vancouver on the hook for the $875           dering right there, and who knows where it will be by
million…. That's what that did.                                the end of the day…. i would note that this is a very
   So what we have here is a situation….                       expensive project. it's interesting to note, and i know
                                                               the Minister of Finance talked about what a wonderful
   interjection.                                               neighbourhood this would be. it's going to be a good
                                                               neighbourhood, i'm sure.
   S. Simpson: The braying and the caterwauling from              i know that prior to coming to this place, i sat on and
the other side have started early. We have a long way to       chaired the Vancouver city Planning commission for
go for two hours. What i would note is: who voted for          a number of years for the city, and we looked at those
the motion? i think it was: who voted for the motion?          lands considerably and looked at ways to develop those
   i do believe, and i certainly haven't heard anything        lands. i'm sure that this project will be a beautiful
from nPa members to counter this…. What i heard is             development.
that the nPa members, the liberal farm team, voted for            but it's interesting, when we talk about that develop-
a terrible deal, demonstrating their inept management          ment, that even very recently in the commentary
skills, as the other members are inept on the other side.      around this…. an nPa candidate in this most recent
They demonstrated those management skills, whereas             municipal election, and a very well-respected developer
it was the coPe and Vision people who voted against            in Vancouver who developed univercity, a Michael
that agreement to protect the interests of the people of       Geller — very smart guy, very well respected — has
Vancouver.                                                     looked at city development for a long time. he made
   What we have here is an agreement that was sup-             the comment that the $800 a square foot — that's the
ported there that put Vancouver on the hook for a              average there on that development —was, he thought,
significant debt. The completion agreement essentially         exorbitant and raised serious questions about that, how
says Vancouver is on the hook for $875 million. now, it        that all occurred and how we got into that situation.
won't be afforded to cost all that. There clearly are pieces      but, you know, we have here…. Maybe it's kind of like
of that that will come back, and hopefully, Vancouver          a situation not dissimilar to the convention centre, of
will get out without too big a debt.                           course, where it wasn't going to be a dime over $560 mil-
   now, that's $875 million. Maybe somebody should             lion or whatever it was, and we're now pushing a whole
have told the Premier this before he went on newsworld,        lot closer to $900 million. but that's okay. That's okay.
but it used to be 750. it's now 875. almost a 20 percent          What we know is that we have a situation here where
overrun — almost — but the Premier seemed to have              this development is in the situation it is, and the city is
missed that before he went on television and demon-            in the situation it is, because of the role that this village
13436                                          british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

plays in the olympic Games. if it wasn't for that aspect,          So it's a pretty safe bet that when all of the rhetoric
we wouldn't be sitting here today. We wouldn't be here          is aside, the provincial government, in fact, is on the
today doing this if that wasn't the case.                       hook for this, and i'm sure they're very hopeful. i'm
   because of that, we really do need to look at the lessons    sure the provincial government's very hopeful that
we learn from this. We need to put some scrutiny to this        Mayor robertson and his council and his new city man-
piece of legislation, and we need to put some scrutiny to       ager will be able to negotiate an agreement and a deal
the issue of how we proceed over the next period of time        that allows the city, as they've said they will, to accept
heading to 2010 and to the olympics. i do look forward          responsibility.
to talking a little bit about how that scrutiny works. We          but we know that at the end of the day, the province
clearly have an example of how it hasn't worked very            will be on the hook for this, and that's the way it is.
well in the olympic village, leading us to bill 47.
   What we know is that the city is now in a situation            Hon. K. Falcon: nonsense. nonsense.
where the new city council has been put in a place where,
now that they've been able to look at the books, where             S. Simpson: i hear the Minister of transportation
they've been able to get kPMG to look at the books              over there calling: "nonsense. nonsense." i would think
for them, they've found themselves in a place where a           that the Minister of transportation would be out, busy
previous council committed them to a project where              beating the phones trying to find somebody else to build
they're paying Fortress 11 percent on their money. and          his bridge since he's quickly losing his bank. he'd have
11 percent is a huge interest rate for a government to be       other things to do and try to find a funder.
paying.                                                            i do seem to remember that this is the minister who
   as my colleague the critic for community develop-            said it will be started before the election. Well, you better
ment and municipal affairs mentioned earlier, that              get your shovel and your boots on, Minister, because
money probably could have been borrowed much more               you've got a long way to go.
cheaply through the MFa or through other sources.
                                                       [1705]     Hon. K. Falcon: Do you support it?
   What this piece of legislation will do, and this is a good
thing, is allow the city to look at how it goes out, how it        S. Simpson: The minister over there is asking if i sup-
is able to probably pay a significant penalty but be able       port it, and i would be happy to discuss that, but that
to get out of this agreement, hopefully, with Fortress and      would be wavering away from bill 47, and i certainly
put itself in a place where it can complete this project        wouldn't want to do that.
and, hopefully — and i think we all hope — be able at              So what is the relationship that we're looking at? i'll
some point, depending on how the markets play out, to           just reference this a little bit. We know…. This is what
dispose of those units in a way that allows the city to at      raises significant questions for those of us on this side
least recoup most of the money. We'll just have to see          of the house. it's what raises significant questions for
how the market plays over the next couple of years to see       british columbians who are asking about this situation
whether that can, in fact, be done.                             in Vancouver, asking about the implications of that for
   but at this point, they're at a place where they need        a number of olympic initiatives and venues and being
to get out of this deal. This is an interesting deal, and       very concerned about the cost. Part of the reason that
we'll talk more about this in a little while. it's an inter-    they're concerned about the cost is because the Premier
esting deal because it does raise questions about how           and the minister responsible have been unable to get over
the accountability is structured around these olympic           the fairy tale of $600 million and tell british columbians
initiatives and the olympic venues and such.                    what the olympics will really cost.
   it raises those questions because what we know around           i suspect that if they had chosen to do that — if they
this is that the province, as the Minister responsible for      actually came out and talked about the real costs for
the olympics said, in fact, at least with the ioc, has          british columbians, for taxpayers, of putting this event
made guarantees and has indemnified Vancouver and               on — people would feel much better about it. People
Whistler to ensure that the ioc won't face additional           would have more confidence in it, and the discussion,
costs and, quite frankly, whatever the legalities, to ensure    hopefully…. The discussion might be today about the
that these projects get delivered.                              excitement of putting the olympics on rather than the
   as we all know, while you may make the case one              anxiety of paying for something when they don't know
way or the other about this particular village and this         what the cost is.
residential development, the bottom line is that the               either it's being all settled in a cabinet room behind
provincial government has to deliver an athletes village        closed doors, or God forbid, the Premier and the minis-
one way or the other. if they don't deliver the athletes        ter actually have no clue and are operating this the way
village here, they would have to deliver it somewhere           they operated the convention centre, and we're going to
else.                                                           spiral right out of control.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                               13437

   how does this happen? What we know is that the struc-       been saying, that the minister and the Premier were
tures that we see in terms of connections of government        oblivious to all this until Global tV told them about it.
and connections to this village…. What we know is that            it's hard to believe those connections weren't made.
the Vanoc board…. b.c. has three representatives on           What that raises are questions about how the city and
the board, including ken Dobell who, until recently, had       the province decided to deal with these things.
been a key adviser of the Premier, along with a couple of         We know that as early as april of 2007 Partnerships
other officials. We also know that Mr. Dobell chaired the      b.c. in their report cited the athletes village as one of
finance committee of the board and that the previous           five venues that posed a challenge for Vanoc out of
city of Vancouver manager, Judy rogers, also sat on that       the 15 venues that they reviewed. The report pointed
finance committee.                                             out that the village was behind schedule and that there
                                                     [1710]    were questions about whether it would be ready for
   So we would expect that somewhere here there might          the games. it was considered to be tight. it also noted:
have been some discussion at some point about the chal-       "The scheduled delays do not currently impact reaching
lenges that were going on for the city of Vancouver that       completion in time for the 2010 games." but it clearly
led them in 2007 to be signing a completion agreement          was a degree of risk. This was Partnerships b.c., in fact,
because Fortress was saying: "The project is in overruns.      that wrote that in a report when they did an assessment
We're going to stop the cheques, and we don't want to          of the facilities.
pay for this any more."                                           So we know that the situation was such that any rea-
   hon. Speaker, you would have thought that maybe,            sonable person — i stress the point "reasonable" because
just maybe, the key adviser to the Premier and the city        i understand that the government side doesn't buy this,
manager, who are sitting on the finance committee              but i stress the point "reasonable" — would believe that
together for Vanoc, might have had a discussion about          Mr. Dobell or Ms. antoniak would have been aware of
that. They might have had a discussion, and maybe              this situation.
the principal adviser to one of the key advisers to the           They would have been aware of the circumstances
Premier might have come back and said something to             prior to this completion agreement being signed by the
people in the Premier's office. Maybe he would have said       city of Vancouver. They would have been aware that there
something to Jessica McDonald. Maybe he would have             were challenges. There would have been some degree of
said something to the Premier directly in '07. Maybe he        discussion with the city because we know the city had
would have done that.                                          responsibilities related to this and they have obligations,
   he either didn't do that — and we'll get to this in com-    obligations that they will hopefully be able to fulfil.
mittee stage — or else the question is about: what did                                                                [1715]
this government know, and when did they know it? This             but the question becomes: when they chose to sign a
becomes a very big issue because this government and           completion agreement that essentially took full respon-
this Premier have claimed to have known nothing about          sibility for the financial end of the completion, did they
this until the news broke this fall. That's the claim. They    have a discussion with the minister or with a deputy or
know nothing about it until the news broke this fall. Well,    with other officials of the government? Was there some
that's as unbelievable a statement as the $600 million bill    discussion there as to who would ultimately take respon-
for the olympics. it's as unbelievable a statement.            sibility for this? Was there an okay that, yes, we're going to
   We also know here that the finance committee that i         sign on for what could, in the most extreme of situations,
was speaking about earlier also has, and i would expect        be almost a $900 million commitment for the city?
the minister might know…. What we know is that the                Did they have somebody in the provincial govern-
president and ceo of the olympic secretariat, Ms.              ment at the minister level or at the senior official level
antoniak, sat on the finance committee. in fact, i believe     telling them: "That's okay. You can sign that completion
she co-chairs the Vanoc finance committee with Mr.             agreement. everything should be fine, and if it's not fine,
Dobell.                                                        then we will look at what we do to help sort this out for
   Presumably, as the president and ceo of the secretar-       you"?
iat, she might periodically have a conversation with the          We don't know that. That comes back to what has been
minister responsible, and she might have mentioned to          a large part of this discussion today. That comes back
him that there were challenges related to the olympic          to the issue of transparency. it comes back to the issue
village, related to the athletes village. She might have       of fair scrutiny. it comes back to the issue of openness.
mentioned to that to him. We would expect her to do            it comes back to the issue of the government deciding
that.                                                          to tell british columbians what's going on with their
   i know Ms. antoniak. She's very conscientious, and i        olympics and their money.
wouldn't believe for a minute that she wouldn't under-            at some point the Premier has to understand that
stand her responsibility and tell the minister about this.     these olympics don't belong to him. They don't belong
but it appears, if we're to believe what the Premier has       to the b.c. liberal Party. They belong to all british
13438                                          british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

columbians; they belong to all canadians. it's british          this at this point is that there is a significant debate in
columbians and canadians who will pay for them. it's            this province about where the responsibility for those
british columbians and canadians whose reputation is            lies. We've heard a lot about the auditor General today,
on the line for these olympics, and they have a right to        and we'll hear a little bit more.
know what it costs. They have a right to know what's                                                                 [1720]
going on, and they have a right to expect competence               but at this point, the Premier has said that the govern-
out of this Premier and this minister, and today they're        ment's costs…. he would probably argue they are $600
not getting it on this file.                                    million and maybe $400 million, whatever the number
   We have a situation…. and this is the remarkable             is — $400 million, $500 million of costs for security that
thing about this bill. The bill is the Vancouver charter        have yet to be resolved.... That number is somewhere in
amendment act, and it's a very short bill. For people           there. What we know….
who are at home, it's a little less than a page and a
half — actually just about a page or so. This is all about         interjection.
the olympics. This piece of legislation is all about the
olympics, but the interesting thing about it is that the           S. Simpson: i'm responding. The Minister of
olympics aren't mentioned in here at all. There is no           community Development wants to know what's rel-
mention of the olympics in this bill at all.                    evant. Well, what's relevant here are significant issues
   We all know it's about the olympics. british                 that british columbians have questions about that this
columbians all know it's about the olympics. Maybe              government refuses to deal with and refuses to answer.
an appropriate amendment down the road might be to              They refuse to deal with, they refuse to answer. They hide
put the olympics in the bill. You never know. We might          behind the rules. That's what they do, because they're not
have to talk about that when the time comes. but what           a particularly competent government, and they're a gov-
we do know is that, like many other projects, this is all       ernment that hides. They can run and they can hide till
about the olympics.                                             May 12, but the running and hiding will end on May 12.
   So that raises the question about what lessons we've           i look forward….
learned. it raises the question about what scrutiny we
have seen. it raises the question about how this fits into         interjection.
that larger olympic scenario, because this is an inte-
grated issue. There is no question about that. There is no         S. Simpson: believe me, i have…. a much greater
question about that at all.                                     percentage of my comments will relate to what the min-
   What we know is that there is a whole array of facili-       ister would say has relevance than we heard from the
ties related to the olympics. i believe that Partnerships       keynote speaker, apparently, on that side — the Minister
b.c. has 15 venues that they identified as being part of        of Finance and Minister responsible for the olympics
this. So we do know that there are significant venues,          — who may have passed by bill 47 somewhere in his
and we know there are significant costs related to those        comments.
venues. There's no doubt about that either.                        but i appreciate that this is an important debate,
   We also know that a number of these are venues and           and i support the comments…. i support the right of
facilities that the government desperately wants british        the Minister of Finance and Minister for the olympics
columbians to believe aren't part of the olympics. in           making those comments, because that's the debate that
the same way, i'm sure that they would tell us that the         british columbians want in this house. They want the
olympics are a very small piece of the olympic village          government to stand up and defend its position, and
— that the athletes village is a very small piece of that, so   we will stand up and tell british columbians why it's
maybe that shouldn't be included either. Who knows?             wrong.
   but what we do know is there is somewhere, when we              So let me get back to my comments here. What we
look at costs here…. and this relates back to comments          have is…. We have about a billion dollars, maybe a little
that were made by the Minister of Finance and the               less, that the government has committed and said: "Yes,
Minister responsible for olympics. he raised a number           that's ours." but what we know is that there's close to $4
of issues, and he challenged the member for Surrey-             billion of other costs and potential costs that the auditor
Whalley about a number of his comments. i'll be happy           General, among others, has said legitimately belong in
to refer back to those in due course because i'm sure that      the olympic debate — between them and Partnerships
the Minister of Finance and Minister responsible for the        b.c. So the problem with this….
olympics would not want to leave british columbians
with any misunderstanding about what the member for                Hon. B. Lekstrom: i rise to raise the issue of relevancy
Surrey-Whalley did or didn't say.                               to this. i fail to see…. The member has just quoted and
   but what we know at this point is that we have this          is speaking about $4 billion. bill 47 is one page, and
series of venues in that, and what we know also about           i'm quite confident he's possibly read it by now, but the
Saturday, January 17, 2009                      british columbia Debates                                                         13439

relevancy to bill 47 on what he's speaking about is not          know why the Minister of community Development
there. i encourage him to get back to the fact.                  didn't leap to his feet to call relevance on the Minister
                                                                 of Finance, but i guess that he wasn't paying that much
   S. Simpson: i would point out to the minister that            attention. Maybe that's why.
this is the legislative chamber. This is called a legisla-          What we have here is a situation where we have
tive debate. The Minister of Finance stood up, has made          a number of venues that the government won't take
assertions…. The embarrassing part is the govern-                responsibility for. We have a number of facilities that
ment over there that won't tell the truth. That's what's         the government will not take responsibility for. Much
embarrassing.                                                    as, at least, the city of Vancouver seems to be prepared
                                                                 to take responsibility for this facility, for the village, as
                      Point of Order                             they should, we do know that we have facilities that the
                                                                 auditor General…. The auditor General has told us that
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: i rise to request the member with-           ultimately the government may well be responsible for
draw his last comments — unequivocally.                          what happens in the city.
                                                                    but we know, of course, that the auditor General
  Deputy Speaker: Member, you will withdraw.                     also referenced the secretariat, cultural legacies, the
                                                                 callaghan Valley roads, the b.c.-canada house
   S. Simpson: i withdraw, hon. Speaker.                         in torino, the b.c.-canada pavilion in beijing, the
                                                                 Squamish lil'wat cultural centre, the Paralympic centre
  Deputy Speaker: unequivocally.                                 in kimberley, the own the Podium 2010 contributions,
                                                                 the social legacies in Vancouver, the canada line stops at
   S. Simpson: unequivocally.                                    athletes village, the Vancouver convention centre. and
                                                                 Partnerships b.c. identified the canada line and the Sea
                    Debate Continued                             to Sky highway upgrade as well.
                                                                    So they identified those. That adds up to just about….
    S. Simpson: So what we have is…. We have a situa-            You add in the renovations — not the new roof but the
tion where the government has basically said that they           renovations to b.c. Place — and you're at about $3.97
have somewhere in the range of about a billion dollars           billion. Then you throw in what the crowns are going
in commitments, and there's about $4 billion in other            to pay, and you get to about $4 billion even. So what
areas where they're not claiming commitment. So the              you have here…. You have here a situation where the
question here is: how do we get at those numbers?                government is not addressing these issues.
    it relates to the situation we have in bill 47, because in      They're not addressing these issues, and instead,
bill 47…. What we've done in bill 47, basically, though          they're trying to offload responsibility. and of course,
the minister wouldn't want to say it, is…. We have said          the city, because the city has accepted responsibility for
it's a blank cheque to the city of Vancouver. i'm very           the athletes village, and that's their job, they're prepared
confident that the city of Vancouver will act responsibly        to have us go through this because obviously they're not
and do their best to deal with the financial situation that      having to accept responsibility here.
they've found themselves in, in relation to the develop-            how credible is this? how credible is this situation that
ment. but it's a situation, at least there….                     we have? Well, what we know is that we have the auditor
                                                       [1725]    General, who has made a number of comments…. i
   The big difference here — between this situation with         would note and i just would reference this comment
bill 47 and the situation that we have as it relates to the      because i do believe that the Minister of Finance in his
$4 billion of olympic-related costs that the government          comments referred to the member for Surrey-Whalley
won't take responsibility for — is that at least the city of     and suggested the member for Surrey-Whalley was
Vancouver and the mayor have come out. They've put               making comments that weren't accurate.
those numbers on the table. They've told people what                What the member for Surrey-Whalley…. i just want
the numbers are. They've told people how they'll deal            to correct this for the record. The member for Surrey-
with them. They've let people know what the situation is,        Whalley wasn't referencing his own comments. he was
which is totally the opposite to what this government is         referencing the comments of the auditor General in a
doing in trying to hide the $4 billion of responsibility for     September 2006 report on the games. Just so that the
olympic costs that we see here.                                  record is clear, what the auditor General said was:
    So hon. Speaker, we have a situation where we need to             "We acknowledge that, legally, the guarantee is provided only to
figure out how to deal with these things. as the Minister           the ioc. in our opinion, however, the obligation of the province
                                                                    to ensure the financial success of the games has the potential to
of Finance — and i would note, again, that we had a                 cause the guarantee to be subject to a much broader exposure. in
situation…. The Minister of Finance made a number                   the province's view, the guarantee to the ioc is not as broad as
of claims, and i would note…. i'm beside myself to                  we interpret" — being the auditor General — "and should not
13440                                                    british columbia Debates                         Saturday, January 17, 2009

   be relied upon by parties other than the ioc. This report uses             "Specifically, i share my predecessors' view that the full cost
   the broader interpretation of the guarantee, beyond the legal            of staging the games should include a number of items that
   interpretation."                                                         are not included in the official budget. in addition, i share my
   because the auditor General…. and as somebody                            predecessors' concern that the risks associated with some costs
                                                                            and revenues have not been adequately disclosed. Should these
referenced or commented earlier, who do we trust here?                      risks come to pass, the cost of staging the games could escalate
Well, we trust the auditor General. The auditor General                     considerably."
said we need to go with the broader interpretation.
                                                      [1730]              Deputy Speaker: Member, you must relate your com-
   now, when we talk about this, though, and we talk                     ments to the bill.
about auditors General and what they do or don't say,
the interesting thing is that it's not like we're dealing                   S. Simpson: i'm happy to do that. These comments
with a single auditor General here. We have had three                    by the auditor General relate very much to bill 47,
auditors General through this process. We've had three                   because what we've seen in bill 47 are the costs increas-
of them who have dealt with this issue in some fashion.                  ing from $750 million to $875 million — almost a 20
   What we know is that in 2003 the auditor General at                   percent increase in the costs that we're facing around
the time, Mr. Strelioff, suggested that maybe it was about               the olympic village.
a $3 billion venture. but the more important thing he                       The situation here is exactly the same. it's exactly
suggested at that time is…. he said: why not provide the                 the same. We've seen this. This is not an isolated inci-
resources and the responsibility to his office to be able                dent with bill 47. it's not an isolated incident with the
to be the auditor General for the olympics, to provide                   olympic village. We have seen the pattern. take a look at
the oversight?                                                           the convention centre — over $400 million cost overrun.
   if that had happened, if he had had that responsibil-                 That's what we're seeing. These are on facilities.
ity, which the committee decided to turn down when                          Much like the situation with the convention centre
he made that request, maybe we would be in a different                   and the village, they have a lot in common. What's in
situation on bill 47 today. Maybe we would be in a dif-                  common is that we have the need for the athletes vil-
ferent place in relation to this, in relation to the athletes            lage for the olympics, so the pressure is on to get it built.
village, in relation to the situation that we're in.                     The due diligence, the scrutiny, is not necessarily done.
   but the government chose not to do that. The govern-                  costs start to go out of control.
ment chose not to have independent oversight on the                                                                             [1735]
olympics. it's unfortunate, but that was the decision.                      We have a situation now much like what happened there,
   now, the other thing, of course, is that that was not                 when the pressure is on to build the convention centre for
the only auditor General to take us to this place. in                    the olympics. The pressure is on. The cost pressures con-
September of 2006 the then acting auditor General, Mr.                   tinue. There's no design. There's a board that lacks expertise.
van iersel, released a review of estimates related to the                Then all of a sudden we have a situation where those costs
province's commitments. he put the costs at around                       have spiralled right out of control. it raises issues.
$2½ billion at that time — the provincial cost. he listed                   This bill 47 deals with the matter around the athletes
a whole array of items that should be included that, in                  village and around the olympic village, the one that
fact, the government has chosen not to include, as it                    probably is the first one where we've seen a situation
claims $600 million and nothing more.                                    where it's really created a crisis — a crisis to the extent
   We now have, in December '08, the current auditor                     that if we're to listen to the house leader on the govern-
General, Mr. Doyle. What Mr. Doyle has said in a letter                  ment side and this bill and the ruling of the chair, which
to the Speaker…. i'd just like to quote the auditor                      is a fine ruling, then this is an urgent matter.
General because auditors General are always good                            it's about urgency, and it's about urgency because
people to quote:                                                         of the circumstances and the situation — that the lack
    "My office's two previous reports issued in 2003 and 2006 con-       of due diligence and scrutiny by the government, the
  clude that british columbia's share of the full cost of the games
  is considerably higher than the $600 million figure that has often     lack of putting in place the kinds of structures and the
  been quoted. Further, in the absence of full disclosure by the         kinds of accountability that would deal with those mat-
  province, each report highlights significant risks that could result   ters, created a situation where we have the Vancouver
  in even higher costs to the province by the time the games are         convention centre spiralling out of control and we have
  finished.
    "My original intention was to provide an update on the recom-
                                                                         the requirements for things like bill 47.
  mendations contained in my office's previous reports. however,            What we have is a situation where we have to look
  fundamental differences of opinion between government and my           at: how did those things happen? So let's look at some
  office remain unresolved. While the details of specific issues may     of those linkages, at what happened in the case of the
  have shifted to some extent since the office's last report — cost
  estimates remain, to a great extent, a moving target — the under-
                                                                         athletes village.
  lying fundamental differences of opinion between government               What we know, as i had said before, is that we have a
  and my office have not.                                                situation where the government had a number of people
Saturday, January 17, 2009                      british columbia Debates                                            13441

in place. Those people were in place, and should have               The other thing we know about this is that we know
been in a position to be able to, in fact, provide some          that in april 2007…. When it talks about reporting
oversight in relation to the athletes village.                   mechanisms here…. Partnerships b.c., when they
  They should have been in a place where they were               reported on the capital planning and budget for 2010
able to talk, to raise the flags much earlier on some of         olympic venues, made a reference to the village advis-
these issues. They should have been in a place where             ory committee. That's a committee that was set up in
there could have been some discussion about these                2006 with Vanoc and the city of Vancouver, and it was
requirements for a completion guarantee and what the             stipulated in the bid agreement that it be there.
implications of that were.                                                                                           [1740]
   to the best of our knowledge, that discussion never              according to the report that Partnerships b.c. wrote,
occurred. There may have been structures in place, but           the committee met monthly to make recommendations
for whatever reason…. and this side of the house has             and decisions on project representatives. The city pro-
to believe that Mr. Dobell and Ms. antoniak apprised             ject manager provided written reports to the committee
their political bosses, the Premier and the Minister             each month, and Vanoc's project manager meets with
responsible for the olympics that there was trouble —            the city's project manager weekly. So clearly, Vanoc is
that there was trouble with this facility, that there was        there. clearly, the city of Vancouver…. This is the village
trouble with the athletes village.                               advisory committee, the committee that's supposed to
                                                                 deal with this village. They're meeting on a weekly basis.
  interjection.                                                     are we to believe that nowhere in here a discus-
                                                                 sion comes back that the province, who ultimately has
   S. Simpson: i'm talking about bill 47 there, Minister.        responsibility for the olympics, ultimately has respon-
This is what we have. We have a situation where this             sibility for dealing with this matter, that nobody here
has spiralled out of control in the athletes village and         heard it, nobody here got involved in those discussions?
the olympic village, where we've created this situation.            That's why, hon. Speaker, when we get to committee
but what we know is that the government…. The struc-             stage on this there are going to be a number of ques-
tures related to Vanoc, the structures related to the            tions that need to be answered, and those are going to be
olympics, tell us that in fact there should have been a          questions around what discussions did in fact occur.
level of oversight here.                                            What discussions did occur between provincial repre-
   That oversight should have come through reporting             sentatives and city officials and Vanoc about what was
back to the Vanoc board, where both representa-                  happening with the village, what was happening with
tives…. Senior officials for the government sit on that          Millennium and their capacity to deal with this, what
board, and senior officials for the city are sitting on that     was happening with Fortress, the new York hedge fund
board. Why wasn't there a discussion there? Why weren't          that was underwriting this and providing the funding
there flags raised ahead of time? Why wasn't there some          for this? What was the response of the government, or
dealing with this matter?                                        did the government...? Were they oblivious to the fact
   We have this government over here that tells us earlier       that Fortress in 2007 pulled back and said, "We're not
today that it's $87,000 a day of interest. That's what the       going to write the cheques anymore," and all of a sudden
city is paying because of this 11 percent interest rate —        the city has to start writing cheques?
$87,000 a day.                                                      We all know that during the municipal election there
   The question that i have is: how come people in that          was all of the discussion around the $100 million that
government, the members of that government, their offi-          was voted for in secret, and that's fine. Those things
cials…? how come they weren't talking about the $87,000          happen. but what we now know and what we find out
a day in 2007? how come they weren't talking about how           after the fact, of course, is that $100 million goes back
to deal with these matters much prior to this?                   to the city having to send chits off to Millennium to pay
   The ultimate responsibility — and we know this, and           the bills in regular payments so that in fact the project
we've heard it continually…. While the government, i             can continue to be built. That's what we know was really
know, likes to abandon responsibility as quickly as it can,      happening.
the reality is that the ultimate responsibility for making the      now, it's unbelievable that the provincial government,
olympics successful will rest with the provincial govern-        who ultimately has responsibility for the olympics, who
ment. The provincial government has that responsibility.         ultimately should be accountable to the taxpayers of
                                                                 british columbia for the expenditures that are made on
  interjection.                                                  the olympics, shouldn't have at some point had some-
                                                                 thing to say about this. if they did have something to say
 S. Simpson: i know that the Minister of transportation          about it, then it would be good to know what that was.
may not want to take that responsibility, but the govern-           it would be good to know exactly what advice, if any,
ment has that responsibility.                                    was given by provincial officials to the city of Vancouver,
13442                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

to then Mayor Sullivan, to the then nPa council, that           regarding the status of the village. So if they were doing
they felt confident enough to sign a completion agree-          that…. What the government is telling us is that nobody
ment at 11 percent interest rates and to move ahead.            at Vanoc actually talks to the province of british
They did this over what appears — and more informa-             columbia about these issues, that nobody talks to them
tion, i'm sure, will come out on this — to have been a          about what's going on.
situation where the chief financial officer for the city of        in addition to this committee…. This wasn't the only
Vancouver, Ms. lo, raised serious concerns about this to        place. There was this villages committee, but in addition
the point where she essentially was dismissed because           to this special committee that had been put in place,
she disagreed with the city manager. She raised red flags       Vanoc also had an accommodations and villages group,
on this — said the deal was a suspect deal, said there          and that was responsible for oversight of the Vancouver
should be real question about going ahead.                      village and the Whistler village. one of the recommen-
   Well, at the point when the chief financial officer of the   dations of this report for the Vancouver village was for
city of Vancouver is raising these issues about whether         the city of Vancouver to provide Vanoc with a project
this deal should go ahead, about whether a completion           execution plan that included implementation deals by
agreement should be signed, about whether these pay-            the summer of 2007, which was around the time that
ments should be made, to the point where there's such           the completion guarantee was made by Vancouver to
a conflict that she ends up getting fired, essentially —        the Millennium developers.
forced out — the question then becomes: doesn't the                around the time that they signed that completion
provincial government have some concern that this is            agreement, they were also then under requirements
going on? Doesn't the provincial government at some             from Vanoc to put in the project execution plan, and
point…?                                                         that plan was to lay this out as to how this was all going
    isn't there anybody on that side or any of the people       to work. now, part of the reality, of course, is that up
who work for them who at some point didn't say: "Wait           to this time no plan has been completed for either the
a minute. This thing's heading sideways in Vancouver,           Vancouver or Whistler villages, nor did Partnerships b.c.
and let's figure out what's going on. let's get a handle on     have any detailed budget information. They had none.
this and make whatever corrections, provide assistance,            The city, who had two representatives on the Vanoc
provide support, provide advice to the city of Vancouver        board, was under requirements to put this plan in place,
and make the corrections that need to be made to pro-           to explain what they were doing, to lay it out for Vanoc,
tect the interests of Vancouver taxpayers"?                     presumably to lay it out for the province, who ultimately
    but that doesn't happen. The province is silent, or the     has responsibility for the olympics, but it's clear that
province advises the city: "Go ahead and do what you're         that work wasn't done.
doing. Sign this agreement. commit yourself to all this."          So at some point here, did it ever occur to anybody on
if that occurred, well, who knows what else the province        the government side, to anybody in the Premier's office,
said that they would do for the city if they got into a         to anybody in the minister's office that they might want
bind?                                                           to look into this? or maybe, just maybe, what it demon-
                                                      [1745]    strates more than anything else is that level of arrogance
    but, you know, it's kind of a little bit like…. My guess    that we see coming out of this government, the level of
on this is it may be that in 2007 when this was an issue,       arrogance and the neglect. This is an issue of neglect.
as we were heading up to these meetings where the deci-            not only is the government arrogant in thinking it
sions on the completion agreement were had, that it's           will all be fine and it will all take care of itself — the
much like the economy of the province. i suspect that           same as the Premier said for the convention centre. it
the Premier and the Finance Minister responsible for            will all take care of itself. You know, there is a pattern
the olympics had been blind.                                    here. There is a pattern, and what we saw here is a pat-
   They said, "commodity prices are high. We're spend-          tern. There's a neglect, and it's disregard and neglect,
ing like drunken sailors, but it's okay. everything's good      and if disregard and neglect isn't arrogance, then i don't
to go," never thinking that some degree of responsibility       know what is.
and due diligence would be a good thing to have. They              as we know, the government has a history of doing
chose not to do that, as they haven't necessarily done on       this. This is not new. This is not a situation that should
the economy. We'll see as that debate unfolds.                  come as a surprise to anybody. it's certainly not a situa-
    but getting back to the issue of the bill and of this       tion that comes as a surprise to anybody on this side
particular situation, we had these meetings going on.           of the house, because, as you'll note, the government
because what we know is that then — and i understand            who said, "everything's fine," the government who is
he has now resigned — Mr. andrews, who was the pro-             now saying, "This isn't our responsibility. We didn't have
ject manager for the city on this particular project, was       to do anything about this. This is all the city's respon-
meeting with Mr. cutler, who was the project manager            sibility," clearly ignored any of the signs that they were
for Vanoc, on a weekly basis since 2006. They met               getting.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                      british columbia Debates                                             13443

   They must have ignored those signs, and it ends up            we look back at the linkages, we see a government that
with us being back here on a Saturday trying to deal with        has done a poor, poor job at oversight, an incredibly
this mess that was created by the b.c. liberals, trying          poor job. We see a government that's done a poor job.
to deal with this mess that they allowed to occur under
their watch. but, you know, it's not new. it's not new.            interjection.
                                                       [1750]
   as we know — and i would just refer to this because              S. Simpson: You know, the Minister of community
i wouldn't want the members on the opposite side to              Development talks about trusting local governments.
forget that this isn't unique — we'll all remember the           Well, that's a good one, and i would remind the minis-
convention centre. it was the Premier who, in 2004,              ter…. i'll take that comment. Maybe the minister would
said, when he talked about the $565 million as the final         like to tell us how trustworthy he was of local government
cost: "count on it. There are contingencies built into the       when they introduced bill 30 and stripped the powers of
project, and it's going to be run professionally. That's it.     local governments. Maybe the minister would like to tell
kaputski. Done" — $565 million.                                  us about how they introduced bill 75 and stripped the
   not quite. not quite. We're still hundreds and hun-           powers of local governments. Maybe the minister would
dreds of millions over that. Why are we hundreds and             like to tell us about all of the resolutions that passed at
hundreds of millions over that? Well, this is the problem        the ubcM, that passed there and are ignored by this
we have with bill 47. bill 47 starts to tell us about the        government. The list is long. Maybe….
government in the city of Vancouver and the province,
because the province has responsibility — though                   interjection.
they're not prepared to accept it, clearly — to have pro-
vided a degree of oversight for the taxpayers of british           Deputy Speaker: Minister. Minister.
columbia, whether those taxpayers live in Vancouver or
live elsewhere.                                                     S. Simpson: he'll get a chance to close in debate. or
   The reality is this. if for some reason the city of           maybe the minister should talk to his friend the Minister
Vancouver can't get this deal done, if for some reason the       of transportation about all that confidence in local gov-
city of Vancouver did have to step back from this, we all        ernments, when he gutted local control of translink
know that ultimately it would be every taxpayer in this          and handed it over to his friends.
province who would have to pick the bill up. it wouldn't           That's what you call liberal respect for local govern-
just be Vancouver, because we know the government                ments. That's the liberal example of respect for local
couldn't let this facility die. They couldn't let this village   government. as we know, the record is long and the
go down, and that would be everybody's responsibility.           record is sad, but the record is there, and the record is
   We can only hope that because the city of Vancouver           any time a local government has disagreed with the b.c.
has put proper leadership in place now, that at least            liberals and with this Premier, there was no negotiation;
there's proper leadership at one level of government             there was no meaningful discussion. They just slapped
in this province, and that they may be able to extract           them down and changed the rules, and that's how they
themselves from the mess that this bunch across the way          do business.
helped to create.
   What we know, and i would refer back…. again, as i              Deputy Speaker: Member, relevance.
said, there's a pattern here. When we look at the conven-                                                           [1755]
tion centre, which is one of the most glaring examples….
how does that relate to 47, and how does that relate to             S. Simpson: What is this issue here with complet-
this facility? Well, there were delays in setting the project    ing this project? Well, there are a number of questions
up. The original budget was not based on details. We             that need answers. There are a number of questions
now know there are execution plans, project execution            that need answers from this government, and hopefully
plans, called for in here. There are project execution           we're going to get these answers.
plans called for that were never done.                              Maybe — though i kind of doubt it — there might
   clearly, the plans were never done for the village.           even be somebody else on that side who is willing to
What we know is that that follows a pattern, because we          stand up and defend the government's record. as we'll
also know that there was a failure to get a fixed price          note, debate to date…. So far, we obviously heard from
contract for the convention centre. There was a lack of          the Minister of community Development when he
communication and a lack of expertise on the board,              introduced the bill, and that was good. We heard from
and there was a Premier who jammed this agreement                the Minister responsible for the olympics and the
through before a design was ever done.                           Minister of Finance when he got a little testy about being
   and what happens there…. That's where this is very            exposed for his bad math over what is and isn't a legit-
similar to what happened at the village, because when            imate olympic expense.
13444                                         british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   Maybe somebody else on that side will choose to get           We now know, or it certainly appears…. if there was
up at some point and talk about this bill. but i don't        no communication there about the status of that facility,
know — maybe not. Maybe a little later on — who               if the government wasn't aware or concerned about that
knows? but i'm looking forward to it. i'm sure there's no     facility prior to the situation that we now find ourselves
shortage of members over there chomping at the bit to         in, it does raise the question of what is the process for
get up and talk about this.                                   the Premier's office to, in fact, get reports on progress on
   here are some of the questions, when we get to com-        venues, including the athletes village, because it might
mittee stage, that we're going to want to know answers        raise a flag. clearly, the progress reports on the conven-
to. realistically, what's the government's estimate —         tion centre haven't been very helpful. but maybe there is
based on markets, based on what will happen around            a process there, and we need to see what it is.
the market in Vancouver, based on what's reasonable for                                                             [1800]
sale of those condos…? at the end of the day what will           The work of the village advisory committee, which
the taxpayers be on the hook for in the olympic village?      i spoke about earlier…. again, was there anybody
What will they be on the hook for?                            in the Premier's office or the Minister responsible
   i would like to think…. The minister over there says       for the olympics — or the Minister of community
to ask the mayor of Vancouver, and we'll ask the mayor. i     Development, for that matter — who was getting advice
would like to think, though, that maybe the government,       on what that committee was doing, was being told that
in preparing this, might have wanted to ask the mayor         there were concerns? or were there no reports coming
what he thought the costs would be. Maybe they might          from that committee about the status of the village and
have wanted to know that before they wrote the blank          about the kinds of issues that have been going on in that
cheque in this piece of legislation. They might have          village for quite a period of time now?
wanted to know what the implication for taxpayers was.            it's a concern that's been going on for quite a period
oh, i forgot. taxpayers are not that big a deal.              of time, considering that Fortress pulled the pin, essen-
   We also want to know — and we'll have this discus-         tially, on their commitments earlier in 2007 and created
sion, and this is certainly relevant on this side — how       a situation where the city had to step in and put the
come we keep talking about $600 million. and where            completion agreement in place so that, in fact, they
are those other moneys coming from, and how are they          could get back to the table.
being booked? We probably want to ask the Premier,               at some point there, were there reports coming
and we may have to ask the Minister of community              through that advisory committee, and were those
Development, but i'm sure he can get somebody from            reports in any way coming back to the government?
the Premier's office to come in and sit with him and help     Was the Premier or, for that matter, the Minister of
him answer these questions in committee stage.                community Development or the Minister responsible
   We might want to ask when the Premier first learned        for the olympics…? how did they respond to the work
that the financing of the village was in jeopardy. When       of Partnerships b.c.? Partnerships b.c. reported on the
did the Premier, when did the minister…? i think this         village. They raised concern that the village was one of
actually happened before the minister got his current job,    five venues that they saw as being problematic. They
to tell you the truth, so he may not have known that early,   raised the issue that there were concerns and that those
but the Premier certainly would have known. When did          concerns clearly should have been addressed.
the Premier know? When did his office know that there             So the question is: did the Minister of community
was concern around the funding of the olympic village?        Development or the Minister of Finance, responsible for
When did he know that there was jeopardy there? What          the olympics — or the Premier, for that matter…? Did they
discussions did he have?                                      get any of those reports? Did they choose to ignore them, or
   We might want to know whether Mr. Dobell, who              did they not get them, or were they just oblivious to them?
is the provincial appointee to the Vanoc board, who              Those are questions that need to be answered, and
was the co-chair of the finance committee of Vanoc….          those will be questions for committee stage. We'll talk
When did Mr. Dobell, or did Mr. Dobell, have this             through those matters in committee stage.
conversation with the Premier or with Ms. McDonald                i'm trying to give the Minster of community
in the Premier's office about the concerns? or did Mr.        Development a hand here. i'd like to let him know what
Dobell have no concerns about what was going on in            some of these questions are, because it would be good if his
Vancouver? That would be good to know.                        staff could actually prepare answers that were thorough.
   Generally — and this is a slightly broader question,
but it's a critical question — what has been the process        interjection.
of progress reports on venue construction across the
olympics, of which the olympic village is a key venue?           S. Simpson: absolutely.
                                                                Well, we're giving you the advantage of a little bit of
  [h. bloy in the chair.]                                     foreshadowing of what some of the questions will be.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                       british columbia Debates                                              13445

i'm sure that at that point the minister can have his staff           We can hope that the city will be able to manage its
prepare proper answers, and it will be a unique situation         way through this and not have a significant impact on
getting proper answers in committee stage.                        the credit rating, but at this point Standard and Poor's
   i'm confident. This is a new minister, and this may            is saying that that may not be the case. They have a
be the only shot that he gets at introducing a bill in the        watching brief on now with the city of Vancouver over
legislature as a minister, so we should give him the              the question of their credit rating. That will stay an
chance to do that.                                                unresolved question, presumably, until this piece of
   We'll be asking questions generally around how due-            legislation passes and until the city can take its ability to
diligence reports are prepared for the olympics but very          borrow without referendum and negotiate some kind of
specifically, also, as it relates to this facility and bill 47.   agreement for the completion of this project.
   i would hope that in the kind of work done around                 Then, presumably, Standard and Poor's and others
this venue — the olympic village, the athletes village,           will look at what that expense is, will look at what the
a critical piece, one of the cornerstone pieces for the           cost is to the city and to their balance sheet, and then
olympics, the reason that we're here on a Saturday; it            will make some determination about whether in fact it
isn't the luxury condos that we're here to save; we're here       does affect the credit rating of the city. We all know, of
to save the athletes village — there's some process of            course, that nobody wants that to happen.
due diligence done there, there's some process in place              The other question this raises — and this is a broader
to ensure that the government is ahead of the game on             question, but it certainly is a relevant question as it
this.                                                             relates to how the government deals with this — is the
   but it doesn't appear to be the case, because here we          question of whether there are other facilities that relate
are, after the fact. it took — and this is the remarkable         to the olympics that are in a similar situation in the city
thing — an election in Vancouver, where the b.c. liberal          of Vancouver or in richmond or elsewhere. We'll need
farm team was tossed out of office and a new govern-              to see that. We'll need to look at those matters.
ment was put in place, which immediately looked at this               We'll be asking — and this relates back to when we
situation, brought kPMG in to give them an independ-              try to get information out of the provincial government,
ent assessment of the situation with the village and then         out of the b.c. liberal government — what advice
took action. it's a government that acted responsibly,            they provided here. We'll very much want to know
unlike our friends across the way.                                very specifically what advice they provided around
   What we need to do is now ask the questions in com-            what is essentially a loan guarantee — the completion
mittee stage as it relates to this. i would hope it will give     guarantee.
us some indication of what this government's doing in                 What advice did they provide to the city about whether
other areas — as to how, in fact, that due diligence has          that was a good idea or not? Did the province offer to
occurred as it relates to the athletes village and how that       look at the deal and to provide any assistance in trying to
occurs.                                                           make the deal as good as they could? it's a big question.
                                                         [1805]   being as they've signed a deal at 11 percent interest rates,
   We'll be asking — and i'll be looking forward to the           it's pretty hard to assume that anybody went and did a
minister's answer on this: what advice, if any, did the           very good deal at 11 percent interest rates. Probably in
province or any provincial officials give to then Mayor           2007, when that was done, i imagine the interest rate was
Sullivan around the situation with Millennium? When               running at about half of that. but it was a decision.
Millennium was in trouble — they didn't have any                     The other question…. This is a significant question.
more money; they were running cost overruns on the                This is an issue that i would think the Minister of Finance
olympic village — and when Fortress was backing away              and Minister responsible for the olympics would have
from funding, what advice, if any, did the Premier or his         been particularly cognizant of. at the point when the
office or others in the b.c. liberal government give to the       city's chief financial officer left under what appears to
city around that — as to how to deal with Millennium?             have been a significant disagreement with the then city
What suggestions, if any, did the province give to the city       manager over whether this was a good deal, did that
about how to deal with this question of risk?                     raise any flags for the Premier or for the Minister of
   The risk is very real. We know that. We see the reports        Finance about this issue? Did it raise any flags at all? it
that came out. What did Standard and Poor's say?                  doesn't appear to have done that. Those are just some of
Standard and Poor's say that because of this situation            the questions that we're going to need to talk about.
that the city got itself into — without support, appar-                                                                [1810]
ently, from the province or expertise from the province               Generally, we know that the olympics is going to be a
— it potentially compromises the city's credit rating. and        pretty important event. it's a pretty fundamental…. We
we all know that it's not a good thing, if you're a govern-       hope it will be remembered as one of the great events to
ment, to have your credit rating compromised. how did             happen in british columbia — the olympics. We know
that occur?                                                       that we all — i would hope on both sides of this house,
13446                                          british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

as most british columbians — want the olympics to be            responsibilities are — whether it's the athletes village,
as successful as they can be. We all know that we want          whether it's convention centres, whether it's b.c. Place
the olympics to be an event that everybody's proud of.          or whether it's any of the other venues. They want to
We want the olympics to be an event that all british            know what those costs are.
columbians, or the vast majority of british columbians,             We're here debating bill 47. bill 47 will provide some
can get behind enthusiastically. We may yet see that.           small insight into the situation as it relates to the athletes
   but what we're seeing at this point is something differ-     village. hopefully, we can drag out of the government
ent. We are seeing a case where there is growing anxiety.       some information, shine some light on this. i'm not
We are seeing a case where there's concern about lack           totally confident of that, but we'll try.
of information, lack of transparency, and we're seeing a            You know, there are 14 other venues. There is a
concern with what the real costs of this will be.               secretariat. There are a number of other facilities and
   bill 47 and the circumstances that created the need          initiatives that relate to the olympics that are not going
for bill 47 have taken the issue of anxiety that people         to be covered by the debate that we have on bill 47, that
might have had about what is going on or what isn't             are not going to be covered by the discussion at com-
going on and moved that to a different place. it moved          mittee stage on bill 47. all of those are issues that need
from being, "Gee, i wonder whether things are okay?" to         to be addressed.
a place where now people know things aren't okay.                                                                      [1815]
   They aren't okay. nobody can deny that. clearly, if              The government is here to deal with this one issue, but
things were okay related to the olympics, we wouldn't           they've missed this opportunity to finally shine a light
be sitting here on Saturday debating what is an urgent          on the reality of the olympics for taxpayers of british
bill that we're required to debate all evening and prob-        columbia — to say, "let's have that more open discus-
ably through the night — because of the urgency of the          sion," to have engaged in that discussion here. People
bill, because of the situation the city has been put in,        across the province would have felt much better about
because of what i would argue is the lack of oversight on       that situation.
the part of the provincial government to have seen the              We'll get to that discussion at some point. Maybe after
flags come up much earlier on this concern and to have          February 10 we'll get to it, and we'll certainly get to it in
intervened and to have dealt with this.                         april and May. but we're not there right now.
   i'll tell you, i've had the opportunity in the last little       The question, again, coming back to bill 47 and this
while to be in some different places around the province,       piece of legislation…. We need to know — and the gov-
and in terms of people and how they're feeling about            ernment can explain — why they didn't put any caps or
this and wanting to build the olympic pride…. You               numbers in here. it may make perfect sense for there not
should know this. hon. Speaker, you may well, and i'm           to be a cap, but what does the government expect the
sure the Minister of community Development knows                spending to be on this?
this, because i suspect that he might hear a little of this         The people of Vancouver, who are responsible for
in his community periodically.                                  this, who are going to be on the hook for what happens
   When you talk to people outside about loan guaran-           with bill 47 if the city is able to successfully negotiate an
tees on $875 million debts for olympic villages and $350        agreement…. it is my constituents and the constituents
million for a new roof for b.c. Place and a $400 million        of other members in Vancouver who will pay that cost.
overrun on the convention centre and then you talk to           Will the government tell us: have they estimated what
people about what's happening in their communities,             it should cost taxpayers in Vancouver for the city to
some of them aren't very excited about the olympics.            extract itself from this?
Some of them don't feel like they're getting their share.           it will be interesting to know whether they've given
   The problem with this piece is that it just adds to that     any thought to this at all. or have they just enabled this
situation. it adds to the cynicism that we see from many        and, through this legislation, said: "We're going to enable
people around the olympics. We have a responsibility            it, and then we're going to run away fast"? but the people
here. We have a responsibility to try and diminish that         of Vancouver will want to know what the cost implica-
cynicism, to try to build the spirit, to make people feel       tions are. What are the property tax cost implications?
better about these olympics, to make them feel better           What can they reasonably expect to pay for this?
about this overall situation as we head into 2010.                  There are others in other places around the prov-
   Part of the challenge here — and this is part of the         ince with other facilities related to the olympics who
concern with this bill, and it's part of the concern with       i'm sure are looking at their facilities and saying: "hey,
what appears to be the government's preoccupation               what's the status of my facility?" and "am i going to be in
with not wanting to discuss these issues — is that people       a Vancouver situation that i don't know about yet, and
of british columbia want this discussion of issues to           what's the cost going to be to me?"
occur. They want to know. They want to know what                    he doesn't have to do it here, necessarily. i know he
the real costs are. They want to know what the taxpayer         doesn't like to have those conversations here all the time,
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13447

but maybe the Premier would like to provide some assur-           instead of doing due diligence, they chose not to do
ances to the people of british columbia that, in fact, he's    that, and they might have done that. We know that this is
on top of this file, that he's able to deal with this matter   one of a number of facilities that have been in a suspect
and that he's able to provide some assurances. now, that       situation. We're going to have to see how those play out,
is a problem, because i guess i had referenced earlier the     whether it's massive overruns on convention centres or
assurances that we've received around the convention           multi-million-dollar investments in roofs and upgrades
centre and other things. So we will take those assurances      at b.c. Place, where i think it's 60 times more than what
with a grain of salt, for sure.                                the original estimates were to do the improvements. it's
   This is still early in the debate. We still have many       now 60 times the amount that we've now budgeted for.
people, i'm sure, who want to talk about this. i'm sure           Whether that's the case, we know that there's going
that there must be members on the other side who               to be…. Maybe the government will tell us something
would like to engage in this debate. i would love to hear      about this, but i'm not holding my breath. Maybe the
from some of the members who come from outside the             government will tell us about how they've rethought
lower Mainland who can tell us what their constituents         the way they're dealing with due diligence in facilities
think about the money being spent in Vancouver on the          to make sure that in fact we are in the best place we can
olympics. i look forward to hearing that. The Minister         be on this.
of community Development might tell us that in his                We know at this point that there are a number of
closing comments tomorrow or whenever he gets a                reports out there from the auditor General dealing with
chance to make those.                                          an array of these issues and cost exposures, including
   They'll be wanting to know about all of those hun-          when you look at the interlocking…. When the auditors
dreds of millions of dollars spent in Vancouver. They'll       General talks about the interlocking agreements, they
be wanting to know about that.                                 would tell you what is legal — what the legal respon-
                                                               sibilities are and what the real responsibilities are — and
  interjection.                                                that ultimately, the province is going to be on the hook
                                                               for most of this and provincial taxpayers will be on the
   S. Simpson: uh-huh.                                         hook for most of this. They can only hope the city of
   let me go back and just recap a little bit. We're here      Vancouver deals with this particular issue, but there are
on a Saturday to deal with a piece of legislation over a       many more venues to deal with.
financial crisis in Vancouver that was created because            We know that there are cost projections that the prov-
of a deal that was cut by the then city council — by the       ince has put forward in relation to a whole array of the
nPa council, the b.c. liberal farm team council — in           costs for the olympics that seem to be nowhere near the
2007. it's a deal where they signed a completion guaran-       real costs — what the auditors General, among others,
tee on a facility — almost a billion-dollar commitment,        are saying are the real costs. We know that's a problem
$875 million, that they are exposed for.                       we need to get to. We know that the linkages here are
   They make that commitment there. We have a struc-           going to be challenging in terms of what the real costs
ture here that suggests that there should have been at         are for taxpayers in Vancouver. i will assure you that i
least two or three or four different avenues for the           know, as a member from Vancouver — in the conversa-
province to have become aware of this agreement very           tions that i've had about this, in the correspondence that
early on, when the concerns started to be raised, when         i've got in my office, from the people who have talked to
Millennium ran out of money, when Fortress said: "We're        me — that as Vancouver taxpayers, they're concerned.
not paying any more." There were a number of places, of           They're concerned about what this means in terms of
avenues, where the government should have seen those           their property tax bills. They're concerned about what the
flags and should have intervened.                              impact on them is going to be, and at this point there's
                                                   [1820]      no evidence that, in developing bill 47, the government
   at this point there's no indication that the govern-        asked those questions about what the city projects the
ment…. They either ignored them…. They chose not to            cost implications of bill 47 to be when the city negotiates.
pay any attention to them. They were negligent about it.          i'd accept a range. i'd be happy if the minister can
all of those are possibilities.                                stand up and say: "We expect the cost to the average
   The one thing we know for sure is that they did noth-       taxpayer or the charge on the mill rate, if it's applied to
ing. unless what they did was quietly told the then            property taxes, to be somewhere between this figure and
mayor of Vancouver to sign the completion agreement,           that figure, and here's what that cost will be."
that it was okay to expose the taxpayers of Vancouver             We have no reason to believe that work has been done
to this huge potential debt, that it was going to be okay      to this point, but maybe the minister will tell us he does
because the economy was great, commodity prices were           know that and he does have that information. Maybe
great and b.c. was the finest place in the world to live,      when we get to committee stage, he'll be able to provide
and don't worry about this.                                    that information. Who knows?
13448                                          british columbia Debates                          Saturday, January 17, 2009

   We also know there are critical linkages here that we       in crisis. in my constituency three more mills are shut
want to have information about. again, we'll be asking         down. Workers, 700 of them, are laid off indefinitely. Yet
who knew what, when they knew it and what the impli-           we're here today in a special….
cations of that are.
   in my last couple of comments here i guess what                Deputy Speaker: Member, Member. i'm going to read
i want to say is that bill 47 is an unfortunate piece of       a note from the Speaker that he read earlier:
legislation, but it's a piece of legislation that, under the       "The bill has been carefully drawn to cover a situation in Van-
circumstances, is necessary.                                     couver brought to the attention of this house by the mayor of
                                                                 Vancouver. as such, it is neither throne debate nor budget debate
                                                      [1825]     permitting the widest possible range of discussion, but it is second
   it's a piece of legislation that…. The people of              reading debate relating to a narrowly drawn bill presently before
Vancouver are on the hook for an awful lot of money at           this house. i would ask all hon. members to bear this in mind
an interest rate that's unacceptable, and while this will        when commenting on the legislation during second reading."
still cost them a potful of money in Vancouver…. it'll           Please continue, Member.
cost taxpayers a potful of money at the outset. hopefully,
that interest rate can be brought down through some               L. Krog: Thank you, hon. Speaker, and i very much
different negotiations, and hopefully, the economy will        appreciate your comments and the intent of them as
turn enough in the next couple of years that they'll be        well.
able to dispose of these assets in a way that will recoup         My point is this. We're here at a special session of the
the rest of the money.                                         legislature to deal with a bill that is a page and a tiny
   We'll see that, and we'll see that over time, post-         bit more long, not even two full pages, because the city
2010 — as to whether in fact that occurs or not. in the        of Vancouver has asked for it. Yet that's my point. how
interim what we know about bill 47 is that bill 47 should      does one get into this legislature? how is one's voice
be instructive to all of us. The requirement for bill 47       heard? There are many communities in this province in
should be instructive to everybody who's involved in           dire circumstances — an industry in this province that's
this olympic process in terms of having even greater           in dire circumstance — and yet we're here dealing with
due diligence, looking much harder at the facilities that      one specific bill on a very specific and very narrow topic,
are there, looking much harder at the costs and the            dealing with 17 acres of downtown real estate in the city
projected revenue streams and being much more frank            of Vancouver.
and much more open with all british columbians about              You know, i acknowledge that this is important. i'm
what the true costs of the olympics are, about what the        the first to acknowledge it. our leader has acknowledged
reasonable expectations about revenues are, about what         the importance of this legislation. The city of Vancouver
at the end of the day the debt will be or not from the         has made a special request to the government of british
olympics for british columbians post the 2010 event.           columbia, both to the Premier and to the leader of the
   british columbians. as i've said before, the olympics       opposition, asking that we "protect the interests of tax-
belong to british columbians. They don't belong to             payers as we put in place a financial plan for completing
this legislature. They certainly don't belong to the b.c.      the olympic village project."
liberal government or the Premier. They belong to the                                                               [1830]
people of british columbia and the people of canada.              This is about the olympics. This is about ensur-
They're paying for them. They're their games. let's make       ing, when the athletes come to Vancouver, that they'll
sure that they understand what they're in for and that         actually have a place to stay. We won't be looking at
we can make the games as good an event as possible             some monolith that's completely unoccupied.
but that at the end of the day we don't create an undue           but as one of my friends has just muttered in the back-
burden on the people of Vancouver or the people of             ground, i guess the homeless in Vancouver might have a
british columbia.                                              question about the quality of the accommodation for the
   That will only happen if we have much greater               athletes. What we're really debating here is a testament
transparency, much greater accountability from the             to this government and this Premier's incompetence.
government, much greater openness and better due                  it is clear, given the close relationship between
diligence and management generally over what is the            Vanoc and this government, the city of Vancouver and
olympic file.                                                  its former nPa government, its mayor and its council-
                                                               lors, that this is not some problem that arose out of thin
  L. Krog: one always has to ask the question: how do          air. This wasn't suddenly discovered last week. it didn't
you win the lottery of legislation? how do you get your        fall off the back of the truck like some ripe turnip. These
voice, your concern, your needs met in the legislature of      issues have been confronting the city of Vancouver.
british columbia? For the last several years, during this      They're documented. They're in a report.
government's tenure, the forest industry, the most basic          i won't quote which particular columnist in The
industry in the province of british columbia, has been         Vancouver Sun today points it out so ably. The fact is
Saturday, January 17, 2009                         british columbia Debates                                                             13449

 that this was known. We are here dealing only with this,             hon. Speaker, section (a) simply says:
 instead of the other serious problems confronting the                   "(a) incur liabilities, including by contracting debts by borrow-
 province of british columbia. This legislature has sat                ing or otherwise under section 236 (1)….
                                                                          (b) provide financial assistance, including by lending money;
 only five short days since it finished the spring session
                                                                          (c) grant security by way of a mortgage or other charge on, or
 in a time when the world is plunging into economic                    security interest in, property that is within the development area
 crisis.                                                               or that is identified by resolution of the council as property asso-
    We have crises of all kinds confronting people, ordin-             ciated with the development project;
 ary citizens of british columbia who face the loss of their              (d) take security by way of mortgage or other charge on, or
                                                                       security interest in, any property;
 homes and have lost their jobs. Municipal governments
                                                                          (e) take assignment of a loan as lender, or assignment of
 are facing serious tax crunches because of the collapse               another right or interest in relation to a liability, including any
 in the forest industry. Major pulp mills, major compan-               related security;
 ies, are threatening to not pay their city taxes. We're not              (f) assign or otherwise dispose of a right or interest, or security,
 discussing that. We have one item on the agenda.                      taken under paragraph (d) or (e)."
    in the time that i've been able to sit here listening                                                                 [1835]
 to the interesting debate, i took a flip through the pri-             What this bill is essentially doing is giving powers
 vate members' bills that haven't been debated. i looked            to the city of Vancouver to not only engage in signifi-
 through the three major bills that are still before this           cant development but to go out and borrow whatever
 house: the amendments to the insurance act, the                    it decides it wants to do. now, constitutionally, every-
Wills, estates and Succession act — important pieces                one understands the municipal governments only exist
 of legislation.                                                    because there's an enabling act passed by this legislature.
    What we are dealing with here today with this                   i mean, that's why we're here. We have to amend the
 bill is essentially a form of damage control, and it's a           Vancouver charter in order for Vancouver to have the
 pretty big damage. it's a pretty big number we're talk-            authority and power to do this.
 ing about. This bill doesn't even mention the number.                 it seems to me that the precedent being set here by
 lord forbid that we'd actually talk about what the real            this bill is just a little bit concerning. Does this mean
 number is. i haven't heard the Minister of Finance in his          that every municipality is going to have equal right to
 rather tepid defence of this legislation, nor the Minister         send a letter to the Premier, ask for a special session
 of community Development who introduced it…. i                     of the legislature and ask for unlimited borrowing
 haven't heard in their tepid defence of this legislation           powers — the unlimited ability to mortgage land and
 what we're really, really talking about.                           property belonging to the city or take assignments of
    in other words, those members who represent the                 security?
 constituencies within the boundaries of the city of                   it's like we're debating a federal bank act here today.
Vancouver are not going to be able to go back whenever              We are being asked in every way, and in the full, simple
 this bill passes this house and say to their constituents:         meaning of the common phrase, to give the city of
"Well, we've just gone over to Victoria on your behalf,             Vancouver a blank cheque. We're doing this because
 and we've rescued you, but we can't tell you what the              of the mess that the city of Vancouver has put itself in
 price of the rescue is."                                           through, i respectfully suggest, poor management and
    one would have thought that this legislation might              dreadful leadership.
 have specified what we're talking about, but you know,                We're being asked to save the city of Vancouver's tax-
 that's consistent with the blank cheque that we're being           payers from unnecessary pain. The mayor's letter is fairly
 asked to deliver here, consistent with what we've had to           clear. he talks about protective advances to the contract-
 consider when it came to the olympics generally.                   ors working on the site. These protective advances also
    We're going to give the city of Vancouver significant           include interest which is being paid to the lender on the
 powers, new powers to do things that it doesn't have               $317 million which Fortress has already advanced to the
 already. now, i think the citizens of Vancouver who are            project. it talks about interest clicking away at $87,000
 ultimately going to be the presumed beneficiaries of               a day.
 this legislation would want to know what their Mlas                   how did this happen, and why are we here? how is it
 and all the Mlas in this legislature are being asked to            that an organization as important, with as much ability
 support.                                                           to call on a staff, as the city of Vancouver, put itself in a
    it's not a long bill. i've read it several times. i don't see   position where it is now having to beg this legislature
 the number in here. What i do see is the authority, if you         to pass in an emergency session a bill that enables it
 will, despite any other act, that the city, meaning the city       to, in theory, borrow any amount it wants, which will
 of Vancouver, may "…for purposes of financing of, or               be a potential burden on the taxpayers of the city of
 financing arising in relation to, the development project,         Vancouver for generations — for generations?
 on terms and conditions the council considers neces-                  There's no number, as i point out, in this bill. nowhere
 sary or advisable, do any or all of the following…."               do we talk about it. one would have thought that a pru-
13450                                           british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

dent government might have wanted to put a limit on                 C. Evans: Maybe the liberal sky really is falling.
this — perhaps, say, a billion or maybe $1.2 billion or
maybe $1.5 billion. but this government didn't have the             L. Krog: one of my friends suggests maybe the liberal
courage to pick a number. This government didn't have            sky is falling. Maybe that's what the member from north
the courage to pick a number because they don't want             Vancouver is talking about. Maybe the liberal sky is fall-
to talk about what the real number is, because after all,        ing. if it's not falling, it's certainly looking a little less
this is part of what may, unfortunately for the people           blue than it did a few months ago.
of british columbia, turn out to be one of the greatest             We're here to save interest. We're here to save interest,
financial fiascos in the history of the province. That's the     because this government, of all governments in the his-
way the olympics have been managed.                              tory of the province of british columbia — unlike the
   The government still continues to subscribe to the            Social credit, unlike the new Democratic governments
outworn creed, the outworn belief that we're only going          that governed this province — insisted on ensuring that
to spend $600,000 on this — pardon me, $600 million. i           we get ourselves in thrall to foreign bankers. That's what
mean, $600,000, according to what we're debating today,          this deal is all about. This is about borrowing big money
would only be like seven days' interest on the money             from Wall Street.
Vancouver's in hock for right now.                                  big money from Wall Street, and where are we
   The Minister of Finance speaks so glowingly of the            today? We're now having to have a special session of the
games still, notwithstanding that everyone in british            legislature, because you know what? Vancouver can't
columbia now senses with some great trepidation what             afford to pay the interest at 11 percent anymore.
this is going to cost. he spoke glowingly earlier today             now, i've got to tell you that in the old days in this
to say: "What we have with the 2010 olympic and                  province that governments actually — and the provin-
                                                                 cial government in particular — were able to borrow at
Paralympic Games is the makings of a tremendous suc-
                                                                 fairly cheap rates. it was a good risk. So i have to ask:
cess story for british columbia" — now, i notice he said
                                                                 what happened in the last seven and a half years under
the makings of a tremendous success story — "one that
                                                                 this government that the city of Vancouver is now put in
is actually going to shape the future of this province, and
                                                                 a position where we have to debate this on a Saturday to
one that is going to provide huge economic stimulus to
                                                                 save them interest because they got into a bad deal?
the province of british columbia."
                                                                    Why is it? i'll tell you why. because it's been this
                                                       [1840]
                                                                 government's ideological bent to look after big lenders
    he does go on to acknowledge in his further remarks
                                                                 instead of little borrowers. because it's been this govern-
that, in fact, virtually all of the sports venues are already
                                                                 ment's ideological bent that has ensured that we build
finished. So if the economic boom that we're supposed            our ferries overseas instead of in british columbia, that
to get from these games actually occurs, then basically          we transfer our work and our money abroad, and that we
it's already happened. Yet all the statistics that i'm read-     end up having to have special sessions of the legislature
ing indicate that the province of british columbia is, in        to debate a bill to save interest so that american banks
fact, slipping into a recession.                                 stop ripping us off. That's what we're here for.
    i just have some difficulty appreciating the remarks of         but what's even more despicable about this whole
the Minister of Finance when he talks about this shaping         process is that if we actually had open, transparent
the future of this province. Those well may be words that        and accountable government in the province of british
will come back to haunt the Minister of Finance when             columbia and that was the hallmark of how we did
he talks about shaping the future of this province.              things, we wouldn't be in this mess. The city of Vancouver
                                                                 wouldn't be in this mess.
  D. Jarvis: The sky is falling.                                    if that view, that public debate and public scrutiny was
                                                                 somehow an impediment to getting on with the job….
   L. Krog: The member from north Vancouver talks                if that view didn't prevail, Vancouver wouldn't be here
about the sky falling. let's hope the sky isn't falling. let's   begging for money today. This government wouldn't be
hope it isn't falling, because this government, which has        in the situation it is today. but that's because this gov-
enjoyed record resource prices for several years and             ernment, notwithstanding what it says about openness
significant surpluses on the backs of the taxpayers and          and transparency and accountability, doesn't practice
the people of british columbia, now, as we face difficult        what it preaches.
times, has nothing in reserve for it.                                                                                   [1845]
   They have spent it away like drunken sailors, and                What we have here is the city of Vancouver getting
there's nothing to house the homeless, and there's noth-         its voters, its citizens, its taxpayers into a dreadful mess
ing to support public health care and education. That's          with a real estate project that is starting to look more
the trouble. They didn't listen to their mothers and fath-       like a disaster instead of a housing project. if it had
ers who actually saw difficult times in this province.           been done not in secret, then the citizens of Vancouver
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13451

 might be in a position to actually have re-elected Mayor         now, the Minister of Finance tried to do a bit of a job
 Sullivan and the nPa-dominated council.                       over here defending the olympics, and halfway through
    but you know, that didn't happen in the last elec-         his speech he was quite properly, i suspect, called to task
 tion, because i think the people of Vancouver actually        by the Speaker, who suggested he get back on topic.
 smelled that something was maybe wrong at city hall,             but this bill…. as we debate it, the real question is
 that maybe cities shouldn't be getting involved in these      for the taxpayers of Vancouver. ultimately — they can
 kinds of arrangements and that maybe, if they're going        fudge around the language — what's the cost going to
 to do it, they should do it in an open and transparent        be for the taxpayers of Vancouver? What does this bill
 way so that legislatures don't have to be called back to      tell them about what the real cost is going to be? That's
 correct their little messes. This little mess, in the best-   the question.
 case scenario, is going to cost and has already cost tens        i would have expected, if the government thought its
 of millions of dollars to the citizens of Vancouver.          position was really defensible, that we would have heard
    We have a new city council that wants to deal with the     from the Premier. You know, the Premier, more than
 pressing issues of the city of Vancouver, that wants to       anyone on the government side, has championed the
 deal with housing and homelessness issues, that needs to      olympics — how it was managed, how it was going to
 attack crime, that needs to protect citizens in their homes   be on budget and on time, and how it was only going to
 and on the streets, that needs to ensure that its public      cost $600 million.
 facilities are world-class as we begin the homestretch           i would have thought the Premier would have taken
 to welcome people from around the world to the city of        the opportunity to stand in this house — and he still
Vancouver and the province of british columbia. instead,       has that opportunity, and i hope he takes it — to stand
 that money's gone. it's been spent on interest. it's been     up and defend his baby, because it was the Premier who
 spent, hon. Speaker, in a way that's forced us here today.    promised the most open, transparent and accountable
    i come back to my point about this belief, somehow,        government in the province's history.
 that we can't do things without resorting to foreign                                                              [1850]
 capital, that governments can't manage things without            Yet what we have today now is a request to pass a bill
 resorting to private partners. W.a.c. bennett didn't          that gives unlimited borrowing powers to the city of
 have to turn to a private partner to build the great series   Vancouver, at the very time in our province's history that
 of dams in this province that gave british columbia a         taxpayers are most concerned about their tax burdens,
 significant economic advantage over jurisdictions all         the economy and how government is managing their
 over the world and that enabled this province to develop.     affairs. There's something wrong with this, hon. Speaker.
 he did it through a crown corporation — a crown cor-          There's something wrong with it.
 poration that this government has tried in its clumsy            You know, we close every session of the legislature
 fashion to privatize. That has put us in a position where     in the spring with the remarks from the lieutenant-
 we're guaranteed now to pay more for electricity gener-       Governor, who thanks the house on behalf of her
 ated through so-called green sources than we have to          Majesty for its benevolence. The most basic thing that
 through any other sources.                                    we do in this chamber year in, year out, the most basic
    i note with great interest that — unlike other debates     thing for which kings were beheaded and revolutions
 in this legislature, where there are government mem-          fought and people died was to ensure that the Queen, on
 bers just chomping at the bit, just so happy to jump up       behalf of the people, didn't get to spend money without
 and debate and support the government's bills — so far,       the consent of the people.
 on what has been a long afternoon and is going to be a           here we are today being asked to give a blank cheque.
 longer evening, we've had the minister give one of the        not even her Majesty expects a blank cheque. at the end
 shortest speeches supporting a major piece of legislation     of the session, there's a number, and it's a big number,
 that i've heard in a very long time, and then defended        but we know what the number is. We know what the
 rather tepidly by the Minister of Finance, who, i suspect,    number is. today the city of Vancouver is asking for a
 in the back of his mind is remembering his responsibil-       big blank cheque, and i think it was this government's
 ity for the olympic file and is thinking maybe he better      job to turn to the city of Vancouver and to say: "What's
 defend what was his baby, lest there be some political        the number? let's put a limit on it. let's ensure that the
 fallout in the May 12 election over what's happened with      taxpayers of the city of Vancouver are protected."
 the olympics generally.                                          Those are some of the questions that i want to ask the
    i mean this in the nicest way, hon. Speaker. There's       Minister of community Development when we get to
 usually a lot of crowing roosters over there. but the         committee stage of this bill. i want to know about the
 chickens are home to roost, and i don't hear any crowing      conversations he's had and the amounts that we're talk-
 roosters on the other side. i don't hear anyone saying:       ing about, because i don't believe for one moment that
"Gee, we've done a great job, and we're proud of the           this legislature would be called back in the extraordin-
 olympics."                                                    ary way in which it has been called unless the Minister
13452                                            british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

of community Development and this government had a                have a security agreement, which is on the website…."
pretty good idea of how much the city of Vancouver was            it's on the website. it must be true; it's on the website.
going to borrow.                                                  Then i hear him talk about ten billion viewers, and then
   our reputation, the city of Vancouver's reputation,            i'm expected to approve a bill that doesn't contain a
the reputation of this province to have the ability to hold       number in it.
and host the olympic and Paralympic Games is at stake                You know, i suspect that like most british columbians,
here, and it's a little late in the game for everyone to be       the credibility of the government is maybe just a little
pussyfooting around and being afraid to disclose the              bit weak; that maybe it's lost a little bit of its shine and
numbers.                                                          tarnish; that maybe this openness and transparency and
  You know, you go into hudson's bay, you want a piece            accountability that was talked about so much actually
of china, and they've got a price on it. it's not a difficult     hasn't come to pass; that maybe, in fact, with bill 47,
process. You go to the gas station, there on the pumps,           what we're really doing here is continuing to do what
and you know what you're going to pay. but you come to            this government has done since it took office — and that
the b.c. legislature and the city of Vancouver, and guess         is to talk a great game and to play a very different game.
what. There's no price tag. There's no price tag.                    There is nothing open and transparent about this.
   it is the duty of the members of this assembly, as it          There is not the kind of oversight in this bill that one
has been for well over a hundred years, to ensure that            would expect to see when we're talking about the kind
we don't go around giving blank cheques to anybody.               of project that we are, and it's disappointing. but to use
hon. Speaker, today we're being asked to give that                that shopworn and timeworn cliché, at the end of the
blank cheque. now, i'm sure — i am just sure — that               day, the city of Vancouver needs this legislation. So with
the Minister of community Development will be able to             enormous concerns and no small degree of reluctance, i
enlighten this chamber. i'm surprised he didn't attempt           will support this bill because we are at zero hour.
to enlighten it in his opening remarks in second reading             This government has done an inept job of managing
debate.                                                           the olympics from start to finish. We are now basically
   What do we know about this? We know that this                  a year away from the olympics. The village isn't com-
legislature wants to help the citizens of Vancouver. but,         pleted, Vancouver is in hock, and we've just got to do
you know, when i hear the Minister of Finance, in his             it. it isn't pleasant, but the old cliché about a rock and a
remarks, talk about the ten billion television viewers            hard spot certainly applies.
around the world who will watch these winter games                    So yes, i will support this legislation, but i'm look-
unfold, now, i have to ask myself: was that an exag-              ing forward to hearing the Minister of community
geration, given that i'm reasonably informed that there's         Development defend each of its sections, because not-
only about six or seven billion of us on this planet, or is       withstanding the left-wing nature of my politics, some
he talking about repeat viewers? or is his grasp of num-          of us are getting just a little bit tired of having to bail out
bers as the Minister of Finance so good that just a little        private enterprise.
exaggeration, a few billion here and a few billion there,
doesn't really bother people?                                        M. Karagianis: Well, i have watched this story unfold
  You know, churchill said it best. There were three              with great interest over the last few weeks and certainly
kinds of lies. There were lies, damned lies and statistics.       listened to the very able debate by my colleagues here.
So i just want to inquire: what ten billion television            i have to say: what a mess. What an absolute mess that
viewers, and how many hundreds of millions or billions            this government has made of the olympics file.
are we talking about when we talk about the olympic                  Throughout this province we now have people not
Games and the cost of this village?                               excited about the olympics for itself, not waiting for
                                                       [1855]     this wonderful event to unfold here. We have people all
  There was that wonderful line that hillary clinton              across this province saying: "What in the world is going
used to use: "it takes a whole village to raise a child." Well,   on with this government and with this olympics file?"
what we've learned here today is that it takes a whole city       and now there is a taint upon this because of this gov-
to pay for a village. indeed, the great fear is that it will      ernment's mismanagement of this file.
take the whole province to pay for the olympics.                     We are here right now debating bill 47, an urgent bill,
   but we know now that it's not just going to be the             forced here on a weekend where, in some ways, we are
province on the hook. it's going to be the federal govern-        outside of the eye of the public. We are here debating
ment. We're already in those pleasant little wars about           this urgent bill because of a bungling of this file from
who's going to pay for the significant cost of security.          beginning to end by a government that has repeatedly
   So when i hear the Minister of Finance defend this,            touted itself as being the best business-friendly, the most
and defend this bill and still say: "i've made it quite           capable of handling these kind of business transactions.
clear right from the get-go that we accept that we have           What a mess.
an obligation for $87.5 million in security costs, and we                                                              [1900]
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                            13453

   So it concerns me greatly as to what kind of condi-        ernment backers and supporters, the Premier's special
tions now are going to follow our olympics from this          group, Partnerships b.c.
point forward till the day that they open in Vancouver           We have heard for the last eight years that this gov-
and on the mountain. i think it's a travesty that in fact     ernment has been in power here that Partnerships b.c.
we have so much controversy around olympic spending           was putting together all these wonderful deals, was pro-
and around now what is happening here to the city of          moting all these wonderful privatized deals, where the
Vancouver.                                                    taxpayers were going to be alleviated of risk. They were
   We're here actually changing a very significant char-      going to be spared the risk of any of these investments
ter, the Vancouver charter. and why are we having             in huge projects. and yet what we're seeing right now
to do that? because of, partly, an ideologically driven       is that those very same individuals — these groups that
government that has led us straight into the hands of         were promoted by the Premier, that have had oversight
privatization schemes that are falling apart like wet         throughout their process by the Premier and his advis-
kleenex everywhere we go.                                     ers — are at the heart of the first of a failed scheme here
   i'm going to talk a little more about that because it is   that has put the city of Vancouver at risk.
something i have canvassed repeatedly in this house. i           That, to me, is absolutely unacceptable. i spent nine
have, along with many of my colleagues, repeatedly in         years in local government, as did many of my colleagues
estimates debate…. We have asked over and over and            here on this side of the house, and we are very aware of
over again about the kinds of risks in these privatization    what happens when the government imposes conditions
schemes that the government has insisted on imposing          upon local government that they must engage in these
on every single project in this province over $20 million.    kinds of privatization deals. and when they fall apart,
For municipalities, for communities across this province,     what happens? now we have a city coming to us in an
for everything that the province has engaged in there         urgent and emergency crisis mode, having to pick up
has been this insistence that these privatization schemes     the pieces of one of these failed projects.
were the way to go and that that was going to alleviate the      The reason i bring that up is because, as i mentioned, i
province and the citizens of this province from risk.         have canvassed this numerous times on a variety of these
   nothing could be further from the truth. and so            kinds of privatization projects that the government has
here we are on a Saturday night debating an urgent            engaged in that i believe put taxpayers at risk, that will
amendment to a very important charter for the city of         continue to put taxpayers at risk. We can see what's hap-
Vancouver because of a failure of a privatization scheme.     pened with the city of Vancouver around bill 47, and i
i think this is a very important part of the component of     expect that there may be more risk that is going to have
the whole olympics here that has not had enough atten-        to be borne by the taxpayers of british columbia.
tion. So it concerns me greatly about what the complete                                                            [1905]
implications of this are going to be.                            i'll just go back to a conversation i had here while can-
   You know, we are currently in a very interesting           vassing the Minister of transportation about the kinds
economic time here in north america and across the            of weaknesses inherent in these privatization schemes.
world. So many of these huge multinational corpora-           it was very interesting, because this took place some
tions, the banking that backs them and all of the other       months ago. We were discussing the fact that even as
components that go into what was supposed to be the           much as a year ago there were signals out there in the
magic bullet of privatization schemes in fact turn out        marketplace that there were some economic problems
to be the very thing that's ripping our economies apart       developing for many of these multinational corpora-
right across the globe.                                       tions, many of whom our government was engaging in
   i think that the failure of these privatization schemes    business with.
is actually plunging us into an unknown future, and              i brought forward to the minister's attention an article
much of it will be tied to the olympics. This, i believe,     that had run in the Globe and Mail in January of 2008
is the first collapse of something that we may see have       which talked specifically about the issue around bank
further implications here.                                    loan backing for these major corporations. i laid the
   it think it's really important that we are here debat-     article out in front of the minister and talked about the
ing in whatever way we can, on behalf of the taxpayers        fact that bond insurers and bank loans were on the brink
of Vancouver and the taxpayers of british columbia,           of some kind of major catastrophe in the marketplace
around the significance of what we're talking about           and that, in fact, signals were there for some time.
doing here.                                                      in the case of several of these very large corporations
   We have now forced the city of Vancouver to engage         that are engaged in doing huge infrastructure projects
in a practice with a privatized partner, where they are       here — some of them very directly tied to the olympics,
now having to go out and borrow money and put their           like the Sea to Sky highway…. i asked the minister if he
own taxpayers at risk and back a failed scheme that,          was concerned about the crisis that was going to occur
frankly, was touted and put together by the very gov-         in guaranteeing these loans to these corporations.
13454                                                     british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   i asked the minister very point-blank: does the minis-                 a grasp of what would happen in the city of Vancouver
ter, at this point, have any comment about the impact, the                around the olympic village and that the failure of the
risk, that is going to occur around these bank loan fail-                 olympic village backers has landed square in the lap of
ures? and certainly, i said: in a very volatile market that               the taxpayers of Vancouver. now we are looking here to
we see today, what are the implications going to be to our                change and amend their charter so that they can take
infrastructure projects here in british columbia like the                 the very necessary steps to try and protect their taxpay-
Sea to Sky highway and, potentially, like the olympics                    ers from further risk.
village that the city of Vancouver was involved in?                          it would seem to me that one of the very basic tenets
   it was very interesting to me, because the Minister of                 of government's responsibilities, certainly around the
transportation said, when i asked him about what would                    olympics, is to look at ways that we protect our taxpay-
happen if any of these backers, any of these privatization                ers from risk. but if all of these privatization schemes are
corporations that were involved in these privatization                    beginning to fail…. They are on many other projects —
schemes with government…. What would happen if                            not just the olympic village, which we are standing here
they failed, if they went, say, bankrupt or were no longer                debating bill 47 over, but other infrastructure projects,
able to carry out their fiscal responsibilities?                          many of them tied to the olympics and, i believe, many
   it was interesting that the minister…. his comment                     of them tied up in the cost overruns that the govern-
was this, and i will quote you from Hansard:                              ment has been so very, very secretive about and has been
    "one of the things that i think is important for the member to        so loath to disclose to the people of british columbia.
  understand is that these companies that engage in these projects           it goes right back, maybe, to this basic misunderstand-
  are very, very large concerns. as i refer to them, they are big boys
                                                                          ing that somehow these privatization schemes would
  and girls. They know exactly what they're getting into….
    "You know, it's a risk that the private sector takes every day when
                                                                          pick up the risk, that those shareholders and those cor-
  they enter into these agreements. They are very large concerns. in      porations, wherever they are in this world, would pick
  many cases, large companies like the ones we were discussing are        up the responsibilities that government has dropped or
  massive companies backed by banking concerns that are some of           would protect the taxpayers.
  the largest in the world, certainly equal in size to british colum-
                                                                             Why would they do that? They're there to protect their
  bia, if not larger, in terms of assets under their management….
    "i'm sorry if a contractor enters into a contract with their          shareholders and make profit, and i don't think they give
  eyes wide open and signs an agreement and then finds out later,         a darn about what happens here as these schemes fail.
  through whatever happens — whether costs go up or financing             The people of the city of Vancouver are going to be the
  goes up or the myriad of risk that the private sector deals with        first victims of exactly this failure. i suspect we will see
  every day could result in them losing money…. i genuinely
  feel sorry for them. i'm sorry that their shareholders are going
                                                                          at the end of the day that the cost of this may be greater
  to eat that, and no doubt their shareholders will hold manage-          than what we even know on the surface now.
  ment accountable at some point if they do too many of these side           like many of these kinds of initiatives, these endeav-
  agreements."                                                            ours that the government has gotten us into, we will
Well, isn't that interesting? The Minister of trans-                      not always know what the end result is going to be
portation assumed that the company would take the risk.                   unless they fail, as in the case of the olympic village
They'd lose the money. The shareholders would lose the                    in Vancouver, where a failure of financial backing has
money. but in fact, the very opposite is true — is it not,                driven the true costs and the true implications of this
hon. Speaker?                                                             privatization scheme out into the daylight. now the city
   in the case of bill 47, we're here debating because when               of Vancouver is on the hook, and we are having to amend
the finances failed for a major corporation engaged in a                  their charter in order to give them a way to protect their
privatization scheme on the olympics village, was it the                  taxpayers and get on with the very real responsibilities
shareholders of that company who took the risk? Was it                    that they have taken on and signed on, which is to finish
as the minister claimed: "They're big boys and girls and                  the olympic village in time for the olympics.
know what they're getting into"? no, not at all.                             i would think, unfortunately, that this foreshadows
   What happens? The taxpayers of Vancouver are going                     a bigger and greater problem that we may see begin to
to pick up the tab on this one. So we are here on a Saturday              snowball on us as time goes on. We have a very short
night debating a bill because in fact, all of the assurances              time to the actual olympics event itself. We know that
that this government has given us all along on privatiza-                 bill 47 — the urgency of that — is because of the short
tion funding schemes have failed to be true, have failed                  time line here. but all of the other transactions that are
to protect the taxpayers of Vancouver and, i would also                   tied to this, and many that are not, that are a part of the
say, are putting the taxpayers of british columbia as a                   whole privatization scheme ideology of this government
whole at risk because of these privatization schemes.                     i think are at risk as well.
                                                      [1910]                 i have here a recent article which appeared around the
   i've had grave concern for a very long time. in canvas-                privatization, or P3, banker embroiled in a bond scan-
sing this with the minister responsible for transportation                dal. in fact, this is the DePFa bank, a major lender to
infrastructure, we can see that the minister did not have                 public infrastructure projects here in british columbia.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                            british columbia Debates                                             13455

This is not offshore. it's not in another country. it's not               let's be clear. Many of my constituents have lost faith
someplace else. it's here. This is a bank, a major lender to          in this government's ability to come clean with the costs
these P3 public-privatized projects in british columbia.              and the implications to them for the future. Many of my
This company has found itself embroiled in a major                    constituents are very concerned about the enormous
bond scandal involving the italian government. The city               costs that we are hearing about and the fact that this is
of Milan is considering legal action to recover losses they           coming at the cost of things that could be happening in
face over derivative contracts arranged with a group of               my community, like more home care for seniors, like
five banks, including DePFa.                                          more long-term care beds for seniors, like remedies for
   The interesting thing for me…. You know, it always                 wait-lists.
comes back, for us as Mlas, to representation of our                     Very justifiably, i think, my constituents have a right
communities.                                                          to say that if this kind of money is at risk in the city of
                                                                      Vancouver, backed by the province of british columbia,
  Deputy Speaker: Member, i'm going to read a state-                  if this kind of money is at risk by burgeoning, huge cost
ment that the Speaker read earlier — okay? as stated                  overruns…. Whether the government will admit it or
earlier:                                                              not, they are leaking out everywhere, and the truth will
    "The bill has been carefully drawn to cover a situation in Van-   out, as it has here in bill 47 with the olympic village. if
  couver brought to the attention of this house by the mayor of       that is going to be costing my constituents in services, in
  Vancouver. as such, it is neither a throne debate nor budget
                                                                      schools, in affordable housing, then they have a right to
  debate permitting the widest possible range of discussion but is
  a second reading debate relating to the narrowly drawn bill pre-    ask. They have a right to know and have a right to have
  sented before the house. i would ask all hon. members to bear       their voice heard.
  this in mind when commenting on this legislation during second          i will tell you right now, hon. Speaker, that i have had
  reading debate."                                                    phone calls to my office. i have had e-mails. i have had
                                                                      messages. i walk down the street to get a loaf of bread
   M. Karagianis: Thank you very much, hon. Speaker. i                from the grocery store, and people stop and talk to me
appreciate the reminder. i do believe i have been speak-              about what is happening with the olympic file and why
ing very specifically about bill 47 and the purpose we                this government has bungled it. i have a right to stand here
are here for: to amend the charter and, certainly, some               in the debate on bill 47 and speak up for my constituents
of the other projects tied to it.                                     and say to this government that if you are going to engage
                                                     [1915]           in risky privatization funding schemes that are failing,
   My concerns are that some of the very same compon-                 these kinds of backed loans and privatization schemes are
ents that have got us here debating this urgent bill are              jeopardizing much more than just this olympic village.
inherent problems elsewhere that affect my constituency                  We saw the other day that the much-touted Port Mann
and that my constituents phone and talk to me about,                  bridge is in question because the privatized partner is
because you see, this now has raised an alarm bell.                   not able to get funding and may walk away from this.
   bill 47 and the circumstances of what is occurring in              We see stories here about how the bank that's backing
the city of Vancouver around this fiasco, the funding                 the royal Jubilee hospital wing here is in trouble with a
fiasco with their olympic village, has raised questions               bond scandal in italy.
right across this province, and justifiably so, with                     These are very real conditions, and standing here talk-
taxpayers who feel themselves at risk. as many of my                  ing about an emergency debate to amend the community
colleagues have very, very ably laid out here earlier in              charter…. if this is the beginning of an endless snowball
this debate today, i think the implications are, at the end           of olympics-related costs that are going to cost my con-
of the day….                                                          stituents and the communities here on the south island
   We heard the Premier of this province and we heard                 and taxpayers across british columbia money, then i
the liberal government here stand up and say that                     have a right to ask those questions. in fact, that is clearly
they are backing the olympics, that they are ultimately               what i see — that the very essence that has caused this
responsible for all aspects of what it takes to bring this            emergency at the olympic village in Vancouver is a
event to fruition here in british columbia. in fact, this is          failed privatization project.
one piece of it — the failing of this olympic village fund-                                                                 [1920]
ing, the fiasco around that — and we are here debating                    it's a failed privatization funding scheme that the gov-
this as an emergency.                                                 ernment has required. These privatization schemes have
   if the taxpayers of british columbia could ultimately              been promoted by Partnerships b.c. They are required
be on the hook for this, then i think it's justifiable for            by every community on projects over $20,000. They have
me to listen to my constituents, who are very concerned               us engaged in huge projects like the Sea to Sky highway.
about these cost overruns, about the implications, about                  if these privatization schemes are going to start fall-
the possible failure of other parts of the whole olympic              ing apart like the one in Vancouver did because of failed
planning.                                                             bank backing across the world, then i think we have a
13456                                          british columbia Debates                           Saturday, January 17, 2009

right to ask if the government has contingency plans, if         olympics? The Premier says: "i'm not saying he can't
they are doing due diligence. or are we going back to            have his opinion. i simply disagree with that position."
this reliance that the Minister of transportation talked            That is the most audacious thing i have ever heard. an
about only a few months ago — that these are big boys            independent officer of the legislature gives an independ-
and girls, these corporations, and that it's their problem       ent audit of the most important event that we are to
if they lose money?                                              hold here, which is costing hundreds and hundreds of
   Well, it's not their problem if they lose money, because      millions of dollars to the taxpayers of british columbia
we can clearly see from the olympic village cost over-           and has now got the city of Vancouver indebted for —
runs and the need for bill 47 — a change to the charter          who knows? — perhaps as much as a billion dollars.
— that it is not the corporations who take it on the nose.      and when this is disclosed in an open and accountable
it's the taxpayers of this province.                             way, the Premier says: "i disagree. i disagree with the
   We are here to speak up on behalf of our taxpayers            independent position. i disagree with the figures."
and to speak out for the taxpayers of Vancouver, because            We've got the Minister of Finance standing up and
my community is worried about the implications of this.          saying: "i disagree with the independent informa-
They want to know: how deep does it go, how far will it          tion. i disagree with the figures, the real facts." i mean,
spread, and are we going to see this province and the            honestly.
taxpayers of this province indebted for 30 years like                                                                  [1925]
Montreal while we very nicely listen to the ministers               You know, the security costs for the olympics…. This
here tell us that all is well?                                   is not even the government giving us their numbers.
    it's laughable to me that….                                 These are independent figures coming in that say it could
                                                                 cost up to a billion dollars. We have the government still
   interjection.                                                 saying $175 million, nothing more.
                                                                    it's patently absurd that we would have the person
   M. Karagianis: Montreal was very bad, but it's laugh-         responsible for running the government of this province,
able to me that we've actually had debates here….                the Premier, stand up and say: "i disagree with the facts.
   We've had the Minister of Finance stand up and try to         i don't agree with that position, and therefore, it's not
convince us one more time that the olympics are only             true." We have the Minister of Finance, on December
going to cost us $600 million. it is actually just absurd       13, 2008, only a couple of months ago — not even that,
to me, and i think a little disturbing as well, that our         a month ago — saying of the auditor General's report:
Minister of Finance seems unable to come clean on the           "it's up to him to release those documents, and i urge
costs. The Premier is unable to come clean on the costs.         him to do so. lots of people have different definitions of
   You know what? We all want to see the olympics                what should or should not be an olympic-related cost."
occur. We want a successful event here, and why the gov-            lots of people have different definitions of what should
ernment thinks it's necessary to fudge the information           be included. Well, it would seem to me that if it says
here in some way is absurd to me. We have the auditor           "olympics" on the cover, that would be one indication.
General of this province giving us a report and talking          i'm not an engineer, and i'm not a chartered accountant,
— very clearly, right? — about: "My office's two previ-          but it seems to me that if it's an olympic village, like bill
ous reports, issued in 2003 and 2006, conclude that the          47 here — we're debating something around the olympic
british columbia share of the full cost of the olympic           village — that would say to me: "olympic cost."
Games is considerably higher than $600 million."                    olympic security. Well, that would be an olympics
   Yet today we still have the minister responsible for all      cost. let's talk about the olympic secretariat. Do you
of the financing of this province insisting that that's true.    think that might be about the olympics? in my world,
it just seems to me that if you cannot get the Minister          yes, it is about the olympics.
of Finance to either grasp the depth of the problem or
admit to it, then what faith does the public have here            Deputy Speaker: Member, please take your seat.
that any of this is ever going to come to light in a way          i'm going to read the statement that the Speaker read
that is credible and that does them justice?
                                                                earlier, and i would like you to abide by it. as stated
   i am very concerned about that. i'm even doubly
                                                                earlier:
concerned about the fact that when the auditor General                "The bill has been carefully drawn to cover a situation in Van-
made this very clear auditing report…. and we do trust             couver brought to the attention of this house by the mayor of
the auditor General to look into the affairs of this prov-         Vancouver. as such, it is neither a throne debate nor budget
ince at many levels, in many different projects, and we            debate permitting the widest possible range of discussion, but
                                                                   it is a second reading debate relating to the narrowly drawn bill
trust what the auditor General is saying. That's what we           presently before the house. i would ask all hon. members to bear
hired him for. That's what the government hired him                this in mind when commenting on this legislation during second
for. Yet what does the government say when the auditor             reading debate."
General says we have not disclosed the full cost of the            Please continue, Member.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                              13457

   M. Karagianis: certainly, reading from the first line      case, at False creek area. The village is essential, as we
of the letter from the city of Vancouver to the Premier       saw from the letter that was written to both the Premier
and the leader of the opposition: "olympic village pro-       and the leader of the opposition from the new Mayor
ject: urgent request for Vancouver charter amendment          robertson — Gregor robertson. i'd like to congratulate
to protect the interests...."                                 him on Hansard here.
   We have here some comments by the minister, but i             The urgency of this was brought forward by the mayor.
think that in reality…. because i see that my time has        They have been left basically holding the bag for a ques-
almost run out here, i will say to you that sitting here      tionable deal where the taxpayers in Vancouver are on
amending the Vancouver charter…. The citizens in my           the hook for upwards of $875 million in a deal that was
community have been bereft of so many things they need        not made public. We heard about it during the munici-
at the expense of the olympics that they are justifiably      pal election.
concerned that as we sit here and debate amendments to            if i can, for the sake of those of my constituents and
the Vancouver charter to try and rectify the very poor        certainly people across the province that just want to
decisions this government has made in how they've             know what we're doing here today…. We came into this
established these public-private partnerships…. i'm           chamber midday, and we had first reading of bill 47.
here to stand up for those citizens. i'll continue to do      We're currently in second reading of bill 47.
that.                                                             Prior to that, there was a discussion, certainly from
  You cannot constrain speech in this house by continu-       the house leader and from the opposition house leader
ing to try and keep us to a bill here that is really about    also, regarding how fast this would come through the
repairing the poor decisions made by this government          house. The house leader put forward an argument that
on how olympics costing is being disclosed to the cit-        this was urgent and that it had to be passed right away.
izens of british columbia. it is outrageous, as far as i'm    it's called Standing order 81.
concerned. We'll find out, i believe, as time goes on, that      We in the opposition argued — i thought our house
these cost overruns are bankrupting this province.            leader argued this very eloquently — that while the
  This government needs to come clean and tell the            matter is of urgency to everyone, certainly the people
people of this province — who are doing without seniors       of tofino — sorry, of Vancouver…. i was the mayor of
care, who are having their schools closed, huge tuitions,     tofino. i digress. The understanding was that they saw
no child care — of the cost of the olympics. hundreds         this as an urgent matter.
of millions of dollars going into the olympics. So i am
justifiably outraged on behalf of the citizens of my com-       [k. Whittred in the chair.]
munity about the olympics costs.
                                                    [1930]       now, urgency has many meanings for many people.
                                                              This particular deal is costing the taxpayers of Vancouver
   S. Fraser: i rise today to speak to bill 47, intituled     $87,000 a day, and that's certainly urgent. having the
the Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009. i must             ability for Vancouver to be able to negotiate a better deal
say that when we got called back for this today…. it's        through bill 47 could help alleviate that, and hopefully it
Saturday today. i had a number of my constituents             will to some extent.
call, confused about what exactly the process was that           That being said, it does not take away the argument
was happening around bill 47 and just what was hap-           that we've put forward from this side of the house. it
pening in Vancouver regarding the olympics, because           does not take away the necessity of public scrutiny when
— as we've all heard in the press and from the auditor        it comes to passing bill 47 and looking at why we are
General — there have been a number of spiralling costs        at a point where Vancouver taxpayers and, indeed, the
that have certainly scared a lot of british columbians        citizens of british columbia could be on the hook for a
who are looking forward to an olympics that can be            project that is $875 million.
something we're all proud of.                                    it's hard to get your head around that kind of number
   With respect to my constituents, i am sure they are        when we hear that this is only one small part of an
not alone in the province. i know many, many people           olympic project with cost overruns pretty much every
are wondering just why we're here and how we got to a         step of the way. This village concept in False creek is…. i
point where we're dealing with bill 47.                       believe that in the last report out of the new city manager
   i must say that bill 47 is the most abbreviated bill i     for the city of Vancouver the cost overruns are about 20
have seen. it's basically one page, and some of that is       percent now. That's $125 million.
definitions. it's really quite a small amendment to a                                                                [1935]
charter, the Vancouver city charter. in essence, if passed,      essentially, if this bill is not passed, this construction
it would allow Vancouver mayor and council to be able         cannot continue, and that could put the entire olympics
to borrow money — a lot of money — required to back           at jeopardy. every other project associated with the
the olympic projects, for the olympic village in this         olympics could subsequently be put at jeopardy. While
13458                                          british columbia Debates                   Saturday, January 17, 2009

this is definitely an issue of urgency for the taxpayers in    about how we could get to a place like this where this
Vancouver, it is an issue of some urgency and concern          house is coming back on a Saturday to have very little
for all british columbians because the investment that's       ability to scrutinize and ask the hard questions about the
been put forward so far by all of us for the entire olympic    olympics and how we got to a point where a deal was
project is at risk if this village is not completed.           made like this, which must have been known about by
   Just so that the constituents will understand, the          the Premier and the ministers and this government.
opposition lost that bid to have a full and fulsome debate                                                          [1940]
over a period of days to make sure that we could ask all           Mayor robertson and the council, i think, are wise to
the hard questions that the public and the taxpayers of        bring this forward. This is going to get around the neces-
british columbia demand on an issue such as this.              sity under the community charter, i guess, to have a
   So this will be somewhat abbreviated. i believe we will     referendum. normally a borrowing of this size would
be running all night. certainly we have so many ques-          require public assent. anyone who's been involved in
tions to ask. That is the intention from the opposition,       municipal politics knows that much smaller projects
and we're hoping at the end, i believe, to pass this bill,     and much smaller borrowing requirements certainly
bill 47, because there is no alternative. The new mayor        require a referendum. in the case of Vancouver, there is
and council of Vancouver have been put in a box on this        certainly the concern that this will cause a precedent.
one.                                                               So these kinds of questions should normally be asked
   i referred to tofino earlier. That's why i'm going to       in a detailed way through committee stage and that
go there now. i was the mayor quite a few years ago            sort of thing. our ability to scrutinize this and for the
of the district of tofino, a small metropolis compared         public to see this document has been curtailed through
to Vancouver. one thing i did learn is that mayor and          Standing order 81 because we're going to be going
council is a continuing body. The obligations, good and        through this all in basically one day — long day though
bad…. From a previous mayor and council, there is an           it may be. i do not believe that's in the public interest.
obligation with a new mayor and council of continuity.            There's a term i learned on the west coast of Vancouver
There's an expectation that deals that are made before         island from the nuu-chah-nulth elders. it's hishuk-ish
will be honoured by a new mayor and council. to not do         ts'awalk. it is "all things are connected" or "everything
so would be to the peril of a new mayor and council. The       is one." For us as legislators to pass a bill without look-
reputation of integrity can be put at question.                ing at it in the context of what is happening around the
   even a bad deal — in this case, i would suggest, an 11      entire olympics would be foolish. That's according to
percent interest rate on a very big loan that now has to be    nuu-chah-nulth wisdom, certainly, and i've learned to
renegotiated because of that, and that high interest rate      trust that piece of wisdom, hishuk-ish ts'awalk.
certainly — is a deal that was made by a previous mayor            knowing that the taxpayers and, at the end of the
and council, and the new mayor and council are now             day, not just the taxpayers of Vancouver but the taxpay-
asking for help in an urgent way. i do not believe, in my      ers of british columbia could be on the hook for a lot
opinion, that it was urgent enough to warrant Standing         of money — hundreds of millions of dollars through
order 81, but that is the purview of the Speaker of the        such a bill — is of concern. So in that context, i think
house, and i do respect that decision.                         it's important that we look at the other cost overruns
   This request came from Mayor robertson, on urgent           because the people of british columbia need to know
request, formally, i believe, on Monday. it is Saturday.       that.
The fact that we are sitting here on a Saturday to discuss        The auditors General have been raising concerns about
this means that there is no question period. That has          cost overruns on the entire olympic project, whether it's
been raised by constituents who understand the system,         the Sea to Sky highway, the $400 million cost overruns
wondering, if it was urgent, why this was not brought          on the Vancouver convention centre expansion project
forward earlier. Monday it was requested, and certainly        or the costs of the b.c. Place Stadium roof replacement
all of the information that i have at my disposal indi-        or the olympic secretariat. There are so many costs that
cates that the Premier, the government and the minister        are not being calculated by this government, by this
must have known about the fact that there was a crisis in      Premier and by the minister responsible still sticking on
the financing of this particular deal and that it could fall   a ludicrous figure, if i may say, of $600 million as total
through and also put the entire olympic project at risk.       cost. My constituents know that's not the case. They
   The bill had to be drafted, certainly, and looked at        do trust in the office of the auditor General and the
by the attorney General, i'm sure, to make sure it was         auditor General's role, in an unbiased and non-partisan
appropriate, but i'm going to repeat myself. it essentially    way, to be the watchdog for the public purse.
is a one-page bill. in the sense of urgency i do not think        The fact that we have a Premier and a minister sticking
it needed to happen on a Saturday to avoid question            to a $600 million figure as the true cost of the olympics
period and avoid the questions that the public — that          is a problem for most people in this province. i think it
my constituents in alberni-Qualicum — certainly have           will be more cause for concern as we get through this
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                               13459

process. From everything i'm hearing, it certainly will       that we can celebrate for british columbians. We're all
be a cause for concern for those voting in the next prov-     on the hook for that one.
incial election on May 12.                                       bill 47 will allow borrowing for the city of Vancouver,
   The total olympic costs are spiralling out of control. i   mayor and council. if the Millennium project…. We've
must say what the auditor General was suggesting puts         all heard the problems with that. We've heard that the
it from $600 million…. Well, depending on how you             lender is no longer coming forward with those funds.
calculate it, it could be well over $2 billion. i've heard    The city of Vancouver must be able to "guarantee" — i
other calculations that could put it closer to $4 billion.    guess the word would be — those moneys, to be able to
   So while we are debating a bill that will allow            borrow those moneys. This bill is required for that.
Vancouver to borrow substantial sums…. and we don't              how we got there is questionable. Where we are in
know what those sums are, so this is to some extent a         the entire olympics management from government is
blank cheque.                                                 questionable at best. The Premier, the minister and the
                                                    [1945]    government have not been, in my opinion, forthright
   i want to take issue with statements made by the           with the public. They ignore the advice of the auditor
Minister of Finance earlier today, this evening. The          General — the auditors General — over and over again.
Minister of Finance did not stick to the strict terms of      They seem to be able to pick and choose what pieces of
this bill. he had a long, far-ranging, rambling discussion    the auditors General's report they want to agree with
about many issues, so i'm hoping there would be some          and then disagree otherwise.
leeway there. but i'm going to speak specifically to one         That is wrong. The auditor General is the watchdog
of his statements.                                            for the public. We in the opposition are the mechanism
   he took a position contrary…. he criticized the            for the public to have proper scrutiny of this bill and
member for Surrey-Whalley, our critic for Finance, and        the hard questions of the entire olympics, all the parts
he suggested that the critic was wrong in suggesting that     of the olympics that are now part of a scandalous cost
the taxpayers could be on the hook for these cost over-       overrun — potentially billions of dollars over budget.
runs. he further suggested that there is nothing, at least                                                            [1950]
written legally, that would put the province on the hook         There can be reasons for that. We can rally as a prov-
for these costs. i suggest that shows just how far out of     ince to support the olympics, but that becomes much,
touch the minister and the Premier and this government        much more of a difficult and bitter pill to swallow for
are.                                                          british columbians when the Premier and the minister
   The fact is that if the city of Vancouver were not able    and the government refuse to disclose the real costs of
to cover the costs of this borrowing, it would put the        the olympics.
olympic village at risk. That, by definition from the            it's hard to rally around a project of this scale. it's hard
documents, as the house leader for the government             to have the citizens of british columbia be stewards of
said earlier today, could put the entire olympics at risk.    the olympics when they do not believe they can trust the
   if the minister was suggesting that if that money was      statements coming out of the minister, of the Premier
not forthcoming from Vancouver and if there was a             and of this government about the true costs and the real
default or an inability to pay and the olympic village        costs of the olympics to the taxpayer. it's a particularly
could not be built, the government would allow that to        bitter pill to swallow for….
occur — that the province would allow that to occur              My constituents in alberni-Qualicum are not unique.
and allow the olympics to fail…. i believe that is a scen-    We're okaying the borrowing of a lot of money that the
ario that the government could never allow to happen,         taxpayers of british columbia may all be on the hook
because it would put every other project, with all those      for. This comes at a time where there doesn't seem to
cost overruns to the taxpayer, at risk too. The entire        be enough money for obstetrics at the tofino hospital,
olympics could be at risk.                                    where there doesn't seem to be enough money to sup-
   i would suggest that the minister…. by saying that         port Fir Park and echo Village seniors facilities in Port
the taxpayers of british columbia are not on the hook         alberni, and there isn't enough money to protect sensi-
for this as well as the taxpayers of Vancouver, i would       tive watersheds in the Parksville-Qualicum area.
suggest that he is wrong. i would suggest that he should         So when cost overruns of this magnitude are being
take a reality check, because the government could            brought forward in the name of the olympics, it's
never allow the olympics to fail at this point. it would      very, very difficult for my constituents to see us in the
be, at this point, a public betrayal. The investment has      opposition being denied the right for a full and fulsome
been made.                                                    debate on the true costs of the olympics on behalf of
   We in the opposition have a lot of issues with how this    our constituents and on behalf of the people of british
has been managed — this olympic project under this            columbia.
government and this Premier. but for all that, we are            i've learned a lot in my almost four years as Mla about
hopeful that we will have an olympics here, something         the parliamentary system. it doesn't matter what your
13460                                           british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

party stripes are. our system is designed as a check and         the house, that it doesn't tarnish the olympic experi-
balance. an evasion of due process, evasion by govern-           ence for all of us, for the world.
ment and Premier of the ability of the opposition to do             This Premier, this minister and this government had
their job, either by cancelling sittings in this legislature     the chance to do a world-class olympics that we could
or by bringing forward standing orders, suggests that,           all be proud of. now it's mired in scandalous spiral-
yes, this is urgent, but not more urgent than the public         ling cost overruns where the city of Vancouver is being
interest.                                                        forced to come to this house with bill 47 to allow them
   The fact is that we needed to scrutinize this bill in         to borrow money, which shouldn't have to happen at
its fullest of ways, not through Standing order 81 that          this point. This should have been done openly.
says all of the readings of this bill can happen in one             The Premier knew this was coming down, the min-
day. now, there are urgent bills and there are urgent bills,     ister knew this was coming down, and the government
but bill 47 is a blank cheque — at least half a billion dol-     members had to have known this was coming down.
lars, maybe more — and that deserves full scrutiny of            There were so many reporting checks and balances that
this house. it deserves more than the Premier is giving.         led us to this urgent bill.
on behalf of the people of british columbia, we in the              We still have a chance to have an olympics that we
opposition want to ask all those hard questions.                 can all be proud of. We have to assist, in my opinion, the
   They — the people, the taxpayers of british columbia          new mayor and council in Vancouver and the taxpay-
— deserve to know the true costs of the olympics. if the         ers of Vancouver to get out of the hole that was dug by
taxpayers in Vancouver and british columbia are going            the previous council — for everything i can see, with
to be on the hook for the costs, the hundreds of millions        the complicity of this Premier, this minister and this
of dollars potentially indicated in bill 47 — although           government.
there are no numbers in here, which is of concern —                 it is shameful that we are dealing with this issue now in
they need to know all of the costs of the olympics.              an abbreviated form, that we are not allowed to go through
    unless the taxpayers can put that into perspective,          the full readings and the number of days required for that
unless we in the opposition can put that into perspective,       to do it justice for the people of british columbia.
it's very hard to deliberate on a bill in isolation. The costs
of the olympics, it appears, are going to be a burden on           Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.
future generations, and that's not a legacy that's worthy
of the olympic Games.                                              interjections.
                                                       [1955]
   The people of british columbia are going to host the            S. Fraser: i relish the heckling from the ministers
world in 2010, and it's scandalous for this Premier and          across the way.
the minister responsible and the government of british
columbia to withhold the truth about the true costs of             Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member. Your time has
these games for future generations.                              expired.
    how we got to a point where the city of Vancouver                                                        [2000]
can be coming to this place, to this legislative assembly,
asking for help to get out of a mess left by their previ-           D. Thorne: a few minutes ago one of my colleagues
ous council, according to the documentation, with the            started out her discussion by saying: "What a mess this
full knowledge of this Premier and this minister and             whole thing has turned into — the olympics." i can't
this government…. That deserves accounting for in this           think of a better comment to make, starting out.
house. This is what we are here for. This is the people's           The best part, actually, of getting the opportunity
house.                                                           to stand up tonight — other than to read out a couple
    Madam Speaker, this bill has brought us back for one         of letters from the stack of e-mails that i've received
day. This is our sixth day of sitting since the end of May,      in my constituency and to represent the constituents
since a meltdown in the economy worldwide, since the             of coquitlam-Maillardville and their comments and
loss of thousands of forestry jobs, since the auditor            thoughts around the olympics, and particularly the
General has come forward with yet another report                 financing and the money aspects of the olympics — is
showing massive and spiralling cost overruns on the              to just say that it's a very interesting….
olympics. We have sat here for six days.                            We have not really had much of an opportunity up
   and this one day we're back has been abbreviated by           until now to discuss the olympics and how the people
Standing order 81, with the opposition on this side of           in british columbia feel about how things are going so
the house who are trying to get some accountability              far, aside from how we feel as legislators — but how our
from this Premier, from the minister and from this gov-          constituents feel. certainly, we're not going to get a full
ernment — who will be accountable at the end of the              debate this weekend, or at this time in any case, around
day. They will be accountable. We hope, on this side of          bill 47, but at least now we can express something.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13461

  You know, it's been very difficult before now because        in May and into June of 2007, there was a financial guar-
really the whole strategy of this government around            antee approved to backstop the Fortress loan for $190
managing olympics costs has been to try to hide                million.
them from the public. bill 47, at least, is giving us the          Surely bill 47 didn't just appear by magic this week. i
opportunity to discuss things like the auditor General's       mean, this is a year and a half ago that this was happening.
reports over the years and how our constituents feel           at that time the city manager in Vancouver reported to
about aspects of the olympics and bill 47, which is an         council that the Millennium developer was in anticipa-
integral part of the….                                         tory default and that this was unlikely to be constructive
                                                               to our important relationships and to the completion of
  interjections.                                               the village. i would say that this might have been one of
                                                               the understatements of the year — that this was unlikely
   Deputy Speaker: Member, before you go further, let's        to be constructive when they're in default and asking for
just remember the content of the bill, please, and stay        $190 million and it's only May of 2007. in September
relevant.                                                      the city approved a completion guarantee to Fortress for
                                                               the full $750 million loan to Millennium — certainly a
   D. Thorne: Yes, thank you.                                  huge red flag.
   Well, we are here today to discuss bill 47, the olympic         in april the following year — last year, 2008 — the
village fiasco in Vancouver, and the horrible situation        city annual financial report detailed the expanding risks
that the current city council in Vancouver finds itself        to the olympic village. in october the old council of
in and the reason that they have come to look to the           Vancouver authorized $100 million to pay construction
legislature to give them help.                                 costs, as Millennium was out of money. okay, that was
   i believe that the financial mess in Vancouver is           just a few months ago. in December kPMG did an audit
indicative, more or less, of the financial mess that we        for the new council that came in, and the new council
find ourselves in with the whole olympics and may find         came to the government for the authorization to borrow.
ourselves in, in the future in a worse mess.                       now, if we are going to stand here and accept the fact
   in terms of bill 47, i did want to just go over sort of a   that this was a surprise and very sudden, i find that very
time line about how all of this came to pass — how we          difficult to believe. and i can tell you that the people in
ended up here today — and going back a couple of years         my constituency don't believe it at all — don't believe
and how this legislature, certainly the government, had        it at all. They believe it even less — that bill 47 is a new,
to have known that this was happening.                         sudden, shocking surprise — than they believe that the
   in January 2006 Vanoc sought $110,000 in addi-              olympics are going to cost them $600 million.
tional funding from both the federal and the british              anyway, we're here today regardless of how we got
columbia governments. at that time b.c. and canada             here. i just outlined how we got here, and we're here
required due-diligence reports prior to agreeing to fund       today. We're talking about bill 47.
the request. i would think that alarm bells would have             of course we have to help the city of Vancouver out.
gone off at that time, and we would have all been aware        You know, the council in Vancouver — this isn't their
that there were problems brewing in Vancouver.                 fault. This isn't their fault, but we need to debate it. in
   in May, just five months later, due-diligence reports       the debating, i would hope that the shroud of secrecy
made recommendations regarding stronger reporting              around olympic financing will be lifted somewhat for
of venue construction costs and cost containment. in           the citizens of british columbia. i would hope.
September of the same year the province and Vanoc                  it's very, very difficult. We're being shut down every
signed an agreement regarding an additional $55                way we turn. We were shut down on having a full debate.
million in venue funding. The agreement contained              We're shut down when we bring up anything that isn't
requirements to strengthen reporting between Vanoc             fitting in absolutely very narrow confines, and it's very,
and the province.                                              very hard for us to get out the word, the information that
                                                     [2005]    the people of british columbia want.
   by this time i would imagine — this precursor to bill           i'm just going to read you a couple of e-mails that
47 — alarm bells would have been going off right across        i received today — well, yesterday and today. i have a
the government, not just the city of Vancouver. Then           bunch more, but they're repetitive. i've just picked out
the following year in april, Partnerships b.c. reported        these ones because when my constituents heard that we
on capital planning and budgets for all olympic venues.        were coming back to the legislature to talk about the
The report detailed how enhanced reporting and the             olympics….
relationships between Vanoc, the city of Vancouver
and the province of b.c. regarding all venue projects….          interjections.
Then a little later the finance committee reported to the
Premier and to the Finance Minister. The next month,             Deputy Speaker: Members.
13462                                           british columbia Debates                            Saturday, January 17, 2009

   D. Thorne: You see, after four years here i'm begin-          They're worried. They're concerned that the P3s that
ning to realize — well, i always knew this, but to really        are involved across the province in what are considered
realize — that people who are out there doing their              non-olympic expenses, like the Sea to Sky highway, the
everyday work, people in all of our constituencies….             big rink in richmond…. There are a number of different
They get up, they go to work to feed their kids, they            things.
do what has to be done, and they're not following this              but the people are telling us, Mlas on this side of the
legislature, unfortunately, day to day, minute by minute.        house — and, i'm sure, on the other side of the house
They're not following what the member at the end of the          — that they want an end to any financial secrecy. if there
table there is doing day to day in his riding or even what       is out-of-control spending, they want a plan to contain
i'm doing in my riding, but they know when something             that out-of-control spending.
is out of whack. They know when they want information               So i have this letter from one of my constituents. i'm
that they're not getting.                                        not going to give his name, although he would probably
                                                    [2010]       be delighted if i did. i'm not going to. he says:
   We've all been getting e-mails. i would even venture               "i hope you and your colleagues will take every opportunity at
to say — now, i will never know this — that there are               this weekend's hastily called legislative session to press the gov-
                                                                    ernment to open up the books on obligations that they have taken
members on the other side of the house that are getting             on for all of us. They cannot be allowed to withstand the calls of
the same kind of e-mails that i'm getting, saying: "What's          the legislature's own auditor General to provide a full account-
up? What's going on?" it's very hard for me to imagine              ing of all the costs we will pay off.
that the constituents in Prince George are so different               "The city of Vancouver will need your support in gaining per-
                                                                    mission to take on the debt today to avoid the disaster that could
from the constituents in 100 Mile house and coquitlam.
                                                                    come tomorrow if they can't act to salvage the situation the cur-
i can't imagine it. So i suspect that the member at the             rent council finds itself in. a situation that need not have arisen
end of the table and the members over here are getting              from the past council has shown the openness of the present
the same questions that i'm getting.                                council to try and deal with their citizens.
                                                                      "That is exactly the kind of openness that our government has
                                                                    stonewalled. That is the openness that will allow the people to
  interjections.                                                    judge the performance of the government as stewards of our
                                                                    resources.
  Deputy Speaker: Members.                                            "Please do not allow one more day of evasion. We're all count-
                                                                    ing on you."
  D. Thorne: The member across the way, Madam                    now, i'm sure they don't mean just me. i think they
Speaker, wants to know what i know.                              mean the official opposition, because they're very,
                                                                 very worried that the government is not telling them
  Deputy Speaker: Member, take your….                            everything they need to know. in their minds, bill 47 is
                                                                 part of that suspicion and mistrust that is growing up
  D. Thorne: Well, he won't tell me. i don't know                rapidly, and this is what people don't understand. This
anything.                                                        is why they need a clear accounting of every cost of the
                                                                 olympics — every cost, as this letter referred to; as the
  Deputy Speaker: Member. Member.                                auditor General himself and, in fact, several auditors
                                                                 General have said.
  interjections.                                                    i'll just read briefly from another letter.
                                                                      "although i have never been a big supporter of the olympic
                                                                    Games, i am appalled at what we are learning regarding the
  D. Thorne: and that's what….
                                                                    budget, especially given these tough economic times. The Van-
                                                                    couver issue is a big problem, and i am not sure if there are other
   Deputy Speaker: Member, would you take your seat                 possibilities other than what the mayor is asking for. however, it
for a moment, please.                                               does point to an ongoing lack of accountability in general with
                                                                    the olympics and the government, and one suspects that there
   Members, every member of this chamber deserves a
                                                                    are more surprises in the future.
right to be heard, so i ask, please, for decorum.
                                                                                                                                  [2015]
   continue, Member.                                                  "i think that the government needs to reassure the public that
                                                                    they are watching carefully, reducing costs, and be very, very clear
   D. Thorne: but it is that very lack of information that          about the money they are spending and how they are doing it."
is upsetting the constituents in coquitlam-Maillardville         and then she goes on and on about the economic melt-
and, i suspect, right across the province.                       down. She does say at the end, though, which i thought
   however, i'm just going to briefly read these little things   was rather a good way to end: "right now, $600 mil-
here. i'm hearing from outraged british columbians who           lion sounds very, very good. oh, if only that were true."
want to know the truth about olympic cost overruns,              That's how the letter has ended.
including the olympic village in Vancouver, because                 i wanted to move on from there to…. i have some
people are not clear on exactly what's happened there.           notes here from the Minister of Finance's comments this
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                              13463

afternoon, and i must say i was a little amused by the part        in fact, i still spent the money, and it was entertain-
about the auditor General and the utterly superb rational-      ment money. Perhaps it was a bottle of wine, and i put it
ization made by the Minister of Finance about what really       on the grocery budget, and i felt better about it because
the auditors General — and i use plural — have meant            it was groceries instead of entertainment.
over the years when they talk about olympic costs.                 That's how i kind of thought. When the Minister of
   and he says: "i think it's important to emphasize that       Finance was talking, i thought: he's really doing a great
none of the reports have identified any undisclosed             job of rationalization. it's really, really excellent.
money, any undisclosed costs that somehow the gov-                 The whole issue around the auditor General and what
ernment is aware of but has not made known to the               is and what isn't an olympic expense really does tie into
public. What these reports really come down to is the           bill 47, which, as i said earlier, i absolutely believe we
question about what should or should not be considered          have to pass at some point in time. but i am hoping that
olympic-related costs."                                         through the minimal debate we're having, some infor-
   So this goes back in a way to bill 47, in that there are     mation that the public is crying out for, some openness,
people…. i'm not saying the auditor General, but there          some transparency will happen.
are people who might not think that the olympic vil-               Madam Speaker, i'm going to finish up. i have….
lage — what i'm calling the olympic village, the basis of
bill 47 — is really an olympic-related cost. it might just        interjections.
be a big development in Vancouver that's going to make
somebody — the city, the developer or both — a whole              D. Thorne: i see members across the room are happy
bundle of money down the road. is this really any more          that i'm going to finish up. They must think that….
an olympic-related cost than the Sea to Sky highway or
the Skytrain to the airport or any number of things that          interjection.
aren't included?
   i have a list here of costs that i would consider olympic      D. Thorne: They probably do.
costs and that i think a lot of my constituents consider          i have some questions for them, so i'm hoping that
olympic costs, which are not included in the budget by          when i'm done, they're so happy to see me finish that
the Finance Minister and the Premier — things like the          someone over there is going to get up and answer the
Vanoc secretariat, the b.c.-canada house in torino,             questions — unless they know that the next speaker is
the cultural centre in Squamish, the Paralympic centre          going to have some information for them that i don't
in kimberley — i mentioned the canada line already —            have, which i rather doubt, because we don't have very
the Vancouver convention and exhibition centre, the             much information.
Sea to Sky highway and the renovations to b.c. Place.             as i said earlier, very few people now in british
how are they any different from the village that we're          columbia believe the government anymore when they
discussing in bill 47? how are they any different?              say that the olympics are going to cost $600 million.
   That's what my constituents are wondering. They're           They now know, though one of the questions that they
confused by all of this, and then i hear the Finance            might have been asking prior to today and yesterday and
Minister saying that really it's not that there's money         the past few days….
that hasn't been disclosed — so we're not talking about
any kind of financial irregularity or crime at all — and          interjections.
what the auditor General is talking about is what should
or should not be considered olympic-related costs.                Deputy Speaker: Members. Members.
   i just found it, in a sad kind of way, a bit amusing
because that would sort of be like me in my household              D. Thorne: it gives me a break. it lets me take a drink
budget listing all my expenses in my entertainment              of water.
budget and my grocery budget. So i wouldn't think that
i was spending too much money in my entertainment                 interjections.
budget — because, you know, you have to watch that
when times are tough — i would kind of slide some of              Deputy Speaker: Members.
those expenses over into my grocery-list budget. Then             continue, Member.
i would be able to say to my friends or to my children
or even to myself when i was rationalizing what i was              D. Thorne: at least now the taxpayers of british
doing: "Well, you know, we really spent $20 more this           columbia know how much they're on the hook for with
month on food, but we spent $20 less on entertainment.          the olympic village in Vancouver. So this is the begin-
So we've really, really tightened our belts, and aren't we      ning of opening up that Pandora's box that we — well,
doing a good job?"                                              not we; some of us in the room — have kept locked up
                                                       [2020]   tight for a very, very long time with a little bolt that says
13464                                            british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

$600 million. and now that little bolt, that little lock on         Deputy Speaker: Member, address your remarks
that Pandora's box is starting to break open.                     through the chair, please.
    i suspect that lots of other information and figures
will come out over the next few months, which perhaps                D. Thorne: Yes. Sorry, Madam Speaker.
the government had hoped to keep in that box for a little            i will close by saying that i do support giving the city
while longer.                                                     of Vancouver what they need so desperately because
   The security budget is a very interesting part. as far         of the hole they find themselves in, but i do want to
as bill 47 is concerned, i think it's tied directly to secur-     reiterate that the lack of transparency, openness and
ity. i think that is one area — where the athletes will be        full debate around bill 47 is quite dismaying to me. i
staying — where very much of those security costs will            expect when i go back to my riding next week to hear
be spent in Vancouver. So it's very important that this           a great deal about this, and i suspect, again, that so will
village be built to the right kind of specs and that they'll      the members on the other side. i can't believe that half of
be able to properly secure it.                                    the province feels so strongly about something and that
    nobody knows yet who will bear those costs. We do             the other half doesn't.
know, though, that the taxpayer will in the end, whether
it's the city of Vancouver, the federal government or the            N. Macdonald: it's always a privilege to stand in this
province of british columbia. The very taxpayers that             house. it is, i guess, 8:30 on a Saturday night, which is an
are being kept in the dark are the ones who will pay all          odd place to be on a Saturday night, but i can honestly
of these costs in the end.                                        say that it is a privilege to be here. over the four years
    it's so easy for us to stand up here in the legislature and   i have always felt that this is a place that's important to
say: "oh, that's the federal government. We don't need            the people i represent. They want me to come here. They
                                                                  want me to take every opportunity that i have to speak
to worry about that," or "That's the city of Vancouver.
                                                                  for them. So i say very sincerely that it's a privilege to
We don't need to worry about that." but we are all one
                                                                  stand at any time and to speak for them.
and the same taxpayer — another reason to get that
                                                                     i want to just say three things before i get into the
Pandora's box open as soon as we can, air out the insides
                                                                  main part of what i want to say. i just want to take
of it and at least let people know what's going on.
                                                                  this opportunity to start by offering congratulations
    Many olympic projects in the city of Vancouver and
                                                                  to a former colleague and a man who we all came to
across the province are over budget. The preparation
                                                                  know and admire here in the nDP caucus — it's Gregor
centre in Surrey may not even be ready in time for the
                                                                  robertson — on his election as mayor of Vancouver.
games. We would like to know, the citizens of british
                                                                  That is a fantastic accomplishment.
columbia, how many projects are in trouble — not just                Vancouver is really one of the world's truly great
how much they cost, but what kind of trouble they are in.         cities, and we have tremendous confidence in Mayor
are we going to get them done, or will the costs escalate         robertson's abilities to not only deal with the issue that
even more to get all of those things finished in time?            brings us here today but also make Vancouver the city
                                                         [2025]   that can truly be a model to the world — not only with
    We're wondering after seeing what happened in                 social justice but his commitment to environmental
Vancouver with bill 47. People are now very, very wor-            innovation, a city that's artistic and culturally rich. i
ried about other agreements. are costs in place? are              mean, all of those are possible with Mayor robertson. i
these agreements signed? Who has guaranteed them?                 just want to pass along those congratulations.
What costs are outstanding? There are a hundred ques-                i also want to just say hello quickly to chuck, who's at
tions around agreements.                                          VGh. he's watching. i want you to know that we're all
   The government so far has refused to listen to the             thinking of you here and that the work we did together
prudent advice of the auditors General — or auditors              in kimberley gave me an opportunity to see an Mla do
Generals; i'm not even sure quite how to say that. but            work that would make all of us proud. i've got my new
about the olympics — still refusing to cooperate with             Westminster pin here. i've not only got the pin from him,
the auditor General. Why? he wrote a letter to the                but i also know how to say new Westminster, which for
Minister of Finance in December. it wasn't even made              somebody from Golden is not an automatic.
public, really, because i think that he felt there was no            The last thing i would like to do, which is slightly off
point. There was no point….                                       track — and i know we've been careful to keep things
                                                                  focused — would be just to congratulate the minister
   interjection.                                                  and just say that he, i think, very consciously took seven
                                                                  years to become a minister through his own decisions,
  D. Thorne: Sorry — to the Speaker. i apologize,                 and he knows the respect that he's gained from col-
Minister. it was to the Speaker. You're absolutely right.         leagues on both sides of the floor for making the choices
Sorry.                                                            that he did.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13465

   i don't mean to be cryptic, but very often compliments      which seem like they are the centre of everybody's
here seem like they're sarcastic. it's not. it's something     universe, are not necessarily the same things that we
that we really admire him for, and we wish him all the         care about. but like most british columbians and most
best with this bill.                                           canadians, the olympics is something that we hope is
                                                      [2030]   going to be successful and be something that is not only
   So we'll get directly to the bill. i was pleased that       successful but useful in economic terms.
speakers on both sides have provided an opportunity to             but they want to make sure the money that is spent
speak to a lot of issues that people in my area would like     is spent properly. They want to make sure that the true
to see raised here.                                            costs are put in front of them. That surely is an obliga-
   bill 47, the olympic village act — or the act that deals    tion of any government, but particularly a government
with the olympic village — that's before us this week-         that came into power in 2001 promising to be the most
end arises from a financial crisis in the city of Vancouver.   open and accountable in…. i forget if it was in canada
There is no question that there's a clear parallel with what   or north america or the world. i've heard so many of
the b.c. liberals are doing provincially.                      these sorts of claims that i get them confused. certainly,
   The b.c. liberals municipal party, the nPa, in their        there was a clear promise that this would be a govern-
recent election tried to hide the truth about the financial    ment that was going to be open and accountable.
boondoggle that the olympic village has become. They              The truth is that on almost every count, they have
hoped to keep costs hidden and their financial obliga-         failed. They have failed to be truthful. You look at free-
tions that they'd put the city in hidden until after the       dom of information. You look at a whole host of areas
election. That did not work. What you see is that not          where they not only have not tried to be open and
only did it not work for the Vancouver wing of the b.c.        accountable, but they have deliberately tried to do the
liberals, but i don't think trying to keep the true story      opposite.
about what's happening with the olympics is going to                                                                 [2035]
work for the b.c. liberal government as well.                     The very least with these olympic costs that people in
   in 2002 the city of Vancouver undertook a project           my area would expect is to know that the money is being
with Fortress investment Group and the Millennium              spent properly and that the money that is reported is
Development group to develop the olympic village.              an accurate reflection of the obligations the taxpayers
That was to be completed by november 2009. There's             have. i think on those counts, there's been a failure, just
no question, i think, that that project has been bungled       as there was a failure with the olympic village — just as
— a combination of arrogance and neglect. Some mis-            there was a failure that a local government, the nPa, felt
fortune has led to this problem that we're trying to deal      that they could keep those costs hidden, those obliga-
with today.                                                    tions hidden.
   This bill will provide a type of solution, but i think we      There's no question in my mind not only that we have
need to be clear that the solution is really a solution of     to look at what has happened with the olympic village
desperation and no more. The nPa council tried to hide         but also, as a legislature, that we should be exploring
the true situation, just as the b.c. liberal government        the wider picture and looking at the lessons that need to
tells us that the olympics will cost no more than $600         be taken from here.
million.                                                          That $600 million figure — that's something that
   During the last election in an all-candidates forum, in     auditors General in b.c. have rejected and that they
a debate, my b.c. liberal opponent said she wanted to          do not accept. These are non-partisan, these are profes-
make it clear that b.c. rail wasn't sold, that it had only     sionals, and we should respect professionals in all fields.
been leased for a thousand years. and the people there         certainly, when they tell us that the $600 million figure
laughed. They thought it was a ridiculous statement.           is inaccurate, then that's something that should be lis-
   i get the same reaction with any suggestion that the        tened to.
true cost is going to be $600 million. That is simply not          certainly, the opposition disagrees with that figure,
a figure that is accurate or meaningful for people here.       the wider public disagrees, and the most sympathetic of
They realize that trying to narrow what you define as a        the mainstream media dismiss it as a fiction as well. So
cost makes no difference to the amount that we're going        let's put an accurate picture in front of the public and
to spend — the amount of money that is going to go             allow them to understand what is going on. The cost
towards the olympics.                                          could be as high as $6 billion for the olympics.
   Where i come from, people are excited about the                 i think anytime — and other members have talked
olympics. We are distant from Vancouver. it is difficult       about this — you say that the olympic secretariat is not
to get from Golden to Vancouver, to get from revelstoke        part of the olympic cost, you invite ridicule. That ridi-
to Vancouver, to get from kimberley to Vancouver. We           cule is well earned, and it's there. So to persist in saying
are distant from Vancouver and distant from Victoria.          it's $600 million…. Well, give it up. tell us the true cost
it means that very often things that are happening here,       — what is going to come out of our pocket — so that the
13466                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

public can judge the benefits and whether that money is         would accept if the money was being spent wisely, but
spent wisely.                                                   they would not accept….
   if you look at the olympic village, there is no question
that it is a mess. it is a mess, and we need to understand                           Point of Order
how it came to be that way. i would say that there are
clear lessons that we need to learn, which we can apply           Hon. P. Bell: Point of order. There's little or no rel-
in a wider sense. So part of what we need to do is under-       evance of the member's comments to bill 47. i believe
stand what went wrong and understand how to make                the Speaker has been clear on the importance of mem-
sure that it doesn't happen again.                              bers being relevant specifically to the bill. The member
  again and again we see with this government the               has talked about convention centres. he has talked
tendency towards secrecy. i would say that anytime              about services to rural british columbia. i'd ask that you
you remove the scrutiny and do things in secret, you            direct him to refocus his comments.
are inviting the problems that we see. You invite mis-
management. You invite poor decision-making. You set              Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.
up a scenario that is bound to create problems. certainly,        Member, please remember the content of the bill and
in the olympic village case we see it.                          direct your remarks accordingly.
   We see it in other things as well. We see it with the con-
vention centre, the same scenario where secrecy invited                            Debate Continued
incompetence, where misleading the public — and
clearly, with the convention centre there was a mislead-           N. Macdonald: certainly.
ing of the public — allowed a project to go off track to           While i may take issue with the Minister of Finance's
such an extent that to go and recover that project was          $600 million figure, i certainly know that his experience
extremely difficult and came at a tremendous cost.              in the house would give me the example to set in terms
   With the convention centre we were told originally           of the breadth i can take on this sort of issue. So i cer-
that it would cost $495 million, and the provincial tax-        tainly fall in line with what the Minister of Finance spoke
payers would be responsible for about $220 million of           about. i think that compared to the fact that he has….
those dollars. We were guaranteed. We were guaranteed           he mentioned bill 47 once. i think i've mentioned it a
$495 million. later on the Premier himself guaranteed           number of times, and it's within context. The people that
$565 million.                                                   speak to me in coming here and talking about an issue
   Well, none of that information was accurate. it was          such as….
based, according to the auditor General, on information
that simply was not there. The best information that was          interjections.
available at that time was that it would cost at least $635
million. a project done in secrecy with minutes that the          Deputy Speaker: Members.
public could not understand or could not get access to….
   Projects that are misrepresented are bound to create            N. Macdonald: So when we're looking at an issue like
problems, and that's what you have. That's what you             the olympic village, which we are here to deal with, and
have with the olympic village. That's what we are here          the mess that we are here to clean up, it leads people
trying to fix, just as we have a mess with the convention       from my area to look at how money is being spent. at a
centre that will need fixing.                                   time when in my communities, you had dramatic cuts, it
   i think that from a rural perspective, we need to            really begs the question as to whether the money that we
understand that the money that is spent on these pro-           spend on the olympics is well spent. it's not $600 mil-
jects represents lost opportunity in other parts of the         lion — remember. it will approach $6 billion, and many
province. now, if it is money well spent, then people in        of these projects….
rural british columbia can understand it.
                                                      [2040]      Deputy Speaker: Member, i ask you once again.
   but at the same time that you have an open cheque-           Please, relevance of remarks, and please address your
book for the olympics, the context for that, especially         remarks to the content of bill 47.
between 2001 and 2005 in rural british columbia, was
pretty dire. While money was being spent on all sorts of            N. Macdonald: Thank you very much, Madam
projects, you had an unprecedented cutting of services          Speaker.
in rural british columbia, in the area that i represent.            to understand the context of what is being said, it is
What people would say and would continue to say, even           this. bill 47 deals with the olympic village. The olympic
though it has improved substantially since 2005…. They          village is an example of a project that has gone off track.
would say that there was a fundamental unfairness in            it's not the only one. it is one mess that we're here today
where resources were going in this province. now, they          to clean up, but it's not the only one we're going to be
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13467

cleaning up. The convention centre is another mess. The            i would also like to remind members of the state-
convention centre isn't….                                       ment made earlier by Mr. Speaker in which he did draw
                                                                the attention of this house to the fact that this is not
   interjections.                                               second reading of either throne or budget debate, which
                                                                does allow a great deal of latitude. So our latitude in
   Deputy Speaker: continue, Member.                            this respect is narrower. in spite of that, the chair has
                                                                allowed, i think, considerable latitude, but i do ask that
  N. Macdonald: The convention centre is another                your remarks be directed to the content of bill 47.
example of a project that has gone off. now, when these            continue, Member.
projects go off, there's a certain frustration in the money
being wasted at any time, but in the context of what rural                         Debate Continued
british columbia had to put up with over the past seven
years and certainly in the first four years — between             N. Macdonald: So the cost of the olympics, then,
2001 and 2005 — it is particularly offensive.                   needs to be seen in the context of the wider b.c. liberal
                                                                spending.
                      Point of Order
                                                                  interjections.
   Hon. P. Bell: Madam Speaker, the member is sway-
ing off the topic of this bill on a regular basis. he has         N. Macdonald: oh, for goodness' sake.
not redirected his comments and focused them on the               You know, after you speak….
matter of the bill. it is a relatively simple bill. There are
some very specific things that could be discussed as a            interjections.
result of the bill, and i would ask that you direct the
member opposite to refocus his comments to ensure                  Deputy Speaker: order. order.
that they are relevant to the bill.                               Thank you, Members. i am once again reminding you
                                                                of the purpose of the debate here, which is to debate the
   J. Horgan: i certainly am well aware of the rules of this    principles around bill 47. i would also like to ask mem-
place, as i'm confident the Minister of Forests is. if he had   bers, if you have a point of order to raise, to stand and
the class and dignity of the member for columbia river–         raise it appropriately. You will be recognized.
revelstoke, he would allow some latitude for him to take           continue, Member.
the half an hour that's given to him to speak his mind on
issues of importance to people in his constituency.                N. Macdonald: bill 47 deals with the olympic vil-
   We are confined by the rules of this house. no ques-         lage. The olympic village is a project, like many with the
tion about it. You've made the issue quite clear to the         olympics, that has gone terribly off-kilter.
member. The member has respect for the chair. The                 There is a new government in place that is fixing that
member will follow the chair, but he does need to have          mess. Well, that's something that in a few months will be
some latitude to paint the broad mosaic of issues that          the work for other people, just like the city government
his constituents want put before this house. if that is         in Vancouver has to fix up messes. There are plenty of
uncomfortable for the Minister of Forests, that's his issue     messes being left for the next government to fix with the
— not the Speaker's and not the member for columbia             provincial set of projects.
river–revelstoke's.                                                in particular, when you look at local government and
                                                       [2045]   look at the obligations that are being put on the people
                                                                of Vancouver with a project that is being bungled, you
   interjections.                                               start to look at how that came to be. There is no question
                                                                that there are lessons to be learned. as i said before, one
   Deputy Speaker: order, Members.                              of the key lessons is around secrecy. it is not only with
                                                                this project but at a provincial level too. We can look at
   interjections.                                               the convention centre. We can look at the mistakes that
                                                                were made with the convention centre, and we can see
   Deputy Speaker: order. order.                                the parallels. We can see the parallels.
                                                                   before the minister stands up to object again, he
   interjections.                                               should have listened to the debate that has gone on here.
                                                                he should have heard his own member and seen where
   Deputy Speaker: Member, before i ask you to con-             his own member has taken it. We sit in this house how
tinue, i simply want to remind you that second reading          many times since last May until the next election? how
debate is about the principle of the bill.                      many days are we going to be sitting here?
13468                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   every opportunity i have taken, every opportunity i         costing closer to $700 million. That's the provincial tax-
have been given, i have come to this house and tried to        payers' obligation on that project.
speak for the people that elected me. to have ministers           What we see with project after project — whether it is
not able to sit through 30 minutes of what people in           the nPa, the junior b.c. liberals, or it's the b.c. liberals
my community want to have said and just be quiet and           themselves — is projects botched. The Vancouver
listen to it is highly objectionable.                          convention centre expansion project was one of the
                                                    [2050]     worst-managed projects in the history of this province.
   now, i ask for no special privileges, but i certainly       it shares that now with the olympic village. it shares that
expect the same respect on behalf of the people that i         in the same way with b.c. Place.
represent as any other member of this house.                      While this government wastes taxpayers' hard-earned
   The fact of the matter is that there has been money         dollars, we see program after program, cut after cut in
misspent. it is not our money in the sense of being            the area that i represent.
legislators. it is the people of british columbia. in this
case, with this bill, it is the people of Vancouver whose        interjections.
money has been misspent, and in all cases they are
going to look at that money and see how it could be               N. Macdonald: it's interesting to have this minister
spent better.                                                  talking now. let's talk about kimberley hospital, closed
   if you come to the area that i represent, there were        by this minister. kimberley hospital — closed.
cuts all over the place. There were cuts between 2001
and 2005, and money that could have been spent….                 interjections.

                     Point of Order                              Deputy Speaker: order. order.

   Hon. P. Bell: Madam Speaker, again, you've warned             interjections.
the member opposite on a number of occasions. The
member is talking about something that from his per-             Deputy Speaker: order.
spective, perhaps, occurred in the past. it is completely        continue, Member.
irrelevant to the bill, and i'd ask that you redirect his
focus on the topic of the bill.                                  interjections.

  Deputy Speaker: continue, Member, with the same                Deputy Speaker: order.
guidelines that have been mentioned before.                      continue, Member, and relevance to the bill.

                   Debate Continued                               N. Macdonald: So we come here for — what? — five,
                                                               13 days from the end of May until the election. how
   N. Macdonald: So bill 47 and the olympic village. The       many days are we going to be here? Thirteen days, 16
olympic village is, of course, a key part of the olympics.     days — that's it. That's a year's work.
What makes that project so difficult to manage and why            People expect us to come here and speak for them,
it has gone so badly askew is because there is an artificial   and we cannot even get a sentence out without inter-
deadline. There is an artificial deadline just like there      ruptions from the ministers. i can see why they do not
was with the convention centre project.                        want me to speak about what is important to the people
   What is in common with all of these projects — and          of columbia river–revelstoke, because each one of
b.c. Place is no different — is the hand of the Premier        the ministers that is interfering with what i want to say
— the hand of the Premier directing, making decisions          has failed the people that i represent dramatically. The
that have not been thought through. That arbitrary date        Forests Minister, when there has been an unprecedented
for 2009 for the olympic village creates problems. We          collapse in the forest industry …. he is a minister. it is a
would not be here if there was not that deadline. it is the    legacy of complete and utter failure.
same with the convention centre expansion project.
   by the way, the convention centre expansion project                              Point of Order
was not supposed to be an olympic project. it clearly
is now. The decision was made by the Premier to make             Hon. P. Bell: Madam Speaker, the member opposite
that the broadcast centre instead of where it was sup-         has completely disregarded your direction on three sep-
posed to be in richmond.                                       arate occasions.
   a decision by the Premier sets that artificial deadline,                                                         [2055]
and what you see is a project that's supposed to cost            i am very concerned about the way this debate is
the people of british columbia $200 million ending up          proceeding. i believe that the Speaker, in his earlier com-
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                                13469

ments, has been very clear in terms of the latitude, or                              Point of Order
lack of latitude, that would be offered. i would strongly
encourage the Speaker to ensure that the member stays            R. Thorpe: i have been in my office listening to this
on topic. That is not the case at this point.                  nonsense. Madam Speaker, i would ask that the mem-
                                                               bers — and through you because i know you've been
   Deputy Speaker: Member, before i allow you to               giving him direction — keep on the relevancy of the bill.
proceed, i want to remind you once again that second           That's what we're here for.
reading is on the general purpose of the bill. This bill is,
in fact, very narrow in its content.                             A. Dix: in reply to the point of order….
   continue, Member.
                                                                 interjections.
                   Debate Continued
                                                                 Deputy Speaker: order, Members.
   N. Macdonald: as part of what the government
described as an emergency measure, clearly we couldn't            A. Dix: i know that the Minister of Finance, who
spend two days talking about this bill. it clearly is an       spent a while talking about the curling rink today, is
emergency in some way related to the olympics. i think         going to lecture us again about relevancy, but the reality
in everything we heard, we had the olympics raised.            is that you're not allowed to use points of order to harass
When we look at olympic projects, i've already made            and interrupt speeches. This has been the fourth inter-
the point that the idea that it's $600 million is a complete   ruption, and there has to be direction, in my…. i ask you.
fallacy. That's clear.                                         There has to be direction.
   i've also made the point that secrecy is part of the                                                             [2100]
problem that led to this mess that we're trying to clear
up with bill 47. it is a mess. it is a mess created by the       interjections.
b.c. liberals farm team in Vancouver. it is a mess that
they created in secrecy. When we look at this govern-             A. Dix: hon. Speaker, i just suggest to you that it is disre-
ment, it is the same modus operandi again and again. it        spectful to the chair for members on the government side,
is secrecy, secrecy, secrecy. it hides incompetence — and      members of cabinet, to pretend that they're the Speakers
consistent incompetence.                                       of this legislature. They are not, and constant interrup-
   i raised the point to make…. The minister wants me          tion of members' speeches, in my view, affects their rights
to back that up. i would say i back it up with the conven-     as members of the legislature. So i ask in fairness that
tion centre project. i back it up with the bungling of b.c.    control be exercised on both sides for these things.
Place. i back it up with the fact…                                When a member gets up on a claimed point of order
                                                               and says another member's statement is nonsense, which
   Deputy Speaker: Member. Member, please, relevant            is a point of debate…. he has every right to get up in that
to the bill.                                                   debate if he wants to. i look forward to it. he can get up
                                                               anytime he likes. but that is a point of debate, and it is not
   N. Macdonald: …that the olympic village, as well,           a point of order. Points of order should not be used by
has been bungled because of that tendency towards              people who don't have the respect to get up themselves
secrecy, that taking of taxpayers' money and being indif-      and participate in the debate as points of debate.
ferent or being reckless with it.
   We are here to try to fix that mess. There's no question.      Deputy Speaker: Sit down, member.
The Minister of Finance is looking at me with a puzzled           Members, before we proceed with the proceedings in
look. is there any question? Does anyone question that         this house, i am going to just remind both sides of the
that project has been bungled? it has been bungled. it is      house once again, and i'm going to quote the remarks of
in a difficult, difficult place that we are going to extra-    Mr. Speaker when he reminded us once again that this is
ordinary lengths in an emergency debate to fix. That           neither throne debate nor a budget debate, which both
is what we are doing. So any argument that it is not           permit the widest possible range of discussion. This
bungled…. it is bungled.                                       is second reading on a debate relating to the narrowly
   i have complete confidence that the people who are          drawn bill presently before the house.
there now in positions of leadership, like Mayor Gregor           i have said that many times, and i would ask the
robertson, will fix it. i have complete confidence in that.    members of this house to please direct their remarks to
but i know that we got to this place because of mistakes       the bill at hand.
that were made by the b.c. liberal farm team. We see              Member continues, but i wish to remind the member
those same mistakes being made by this government.             that i expect his remarks to be confined to the bill, or i
Secrecy, then, is the issue.                                   will have to ask him to resume his seat.
13470                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

                   Debate Continued                               The lesson that we need to learn is that when you act
                                                               in secrecy, when you deliberately go out to hide what
   N. Macdonald: Thank you, Madam Speaker, and i               is happening, then you invite certain very predictable
do hope that the member from Penticton will take the           things to happen. We have seen it provincially with the
invitation to speak. i think there'll be an opportunity for    b.c. liberals. We have seen it on the convention centre
him to speak about, perhaps, and draw on some of the           project, we have seen it on b.c. Place, and we see it with
things that i've said and maybe just explain about the         the olympic village.
convention centre.                                                Just as surely as there is a mess with the olympic
                                                               village, i would defy anyone to stand up on that side
  [S. hammell in the chair.]                                   and say that the convention centre project hasn't been
                                                               a complete boondoggle, a complete mess. b.c. Place —
   i think it was this minister who stood up and guar-         the same thing. That is clear.
anteed $495 million on time, on budget — guaranteed               The olympics as a whole — mismanagement and an
by this minister. Well, it's not $495 million, and it's not    attempt to paint a picture that is simply not accurate for
on time. So i think it would be an interesting debate to       the people of b.c. So $600 million — who believes that?
engage in as he finishes his career.                           That comes nowhere close to what the cost is. The people
   My point is that the problems we addressed today are        of b.c. are paying for this. They have a right to know
things that we need to learn from. i don't think that that's   accurately what it's going to cost. Secrecy is at the core
an outrageous stretch to say that when there's legislation     of the problem. Secrecy is something that you see not
and you're addressing a problem, you would speak about         only with this project but you see as a consistent trend.
what took you to the point, what took you to the place.        So that we can learn from the experience, i would point
   Why are we here in an emergency debate having to            to just a few examples from the convention centre, a few
change the rules, which has been done, i think, since          examples from b.c. Place.
1968 only six times? We are changing the rules so that
we can ram this through in one night. how did we get             Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.
to that place?
   i would put it to you that one of the central lessons we      N. Macdonald: Thank you, and i thank you for the
need to learn from this is that when you remove account-       opportunity to speak here and for listening so politely.
ability…. let's be clear. even this exercise today with
these ministers is an attempt to remove accountability,           J. Kwan: i rise to speak to bill 47, the Vancouver
to try to silence any criticism. When you consistently         charter amendment act, 2009. What is this bill? This
remove accountability and you put things in a hidden           bill essentially allows the city of Vancouver to borrow
place, then you invite trouble. it is the reason that we       an unlimited amount of money related to the olympic
have this institution. it's the reason that we have debates    village project without going to referendum.
over a series of days. it is the reason that you have esti-       let's just visit for a moment here some of the back-
mates that are supposed to last more than two hours on         ground about this scenario, how it is that we got to be
these important things.                                        here today in this legislature in an emergency debate,
   but as soon as you hide them like you did with the          on a Saturday no less, in the evening, nine o'clock —
olympic village, then you invite a bill 47. You invite         9:07 to be exact. it's kind of like déjà vu for me. been
this to happen again and again and again. if we do not         here, done that — on several occasions, i may add. The
learn lessons, then we are doing a terrible disservice to      last time, i recall, the government called the legislature
the people that we are supposed to be representing, the        back for bill 29. in the dark of the night a bill was passed.
people whose money we are supposed to be spending              turns out the final verdict came from the court, and it
wisely.                                                        ruled that the government was dead wrong in doing
   if we repeat mistakes…. let's be clear. We are here         what they did.
not at a glorious moment. We are here in an act of des-           With bill 47, Fortress investment Group is a Wall Street
peration, forced to hold our noses and do what none of         hedge fund. it oversees about $35 billion in assets. it was
us would otherwise choose to do if we weren't in a des-        the financier of the Vancouver olympic village up until it
perate situation. This is not what the city of Vancouver       pulled out of the project. When? in September 2008.
wants to do.                                                      The city of Vancouver has been providing bridge
   We have in place rules around referendums so that           financing and paying interest of about $87,000 a day
people can decide for themselves as a public whether           ever since. it is projected that this fiasco could cost each
they want their municipal government to spend money            person in the city of Vancouver $1,400. in my family
or not. here we're waiving that rule. it is an act of des-     alone, a family of five, that's a $10,000 debt added on
peration. let's be clear.                                      just like that. That's a huge debt load for every child and
                                                     [2105]    adult in the city of Vancouver.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                        british columbia Debates                                              13471

   to be clear, bill 47 does not take away the problem.            2007; January 16, 2008; March 19, 2008; May 21, 2008;
all that it does is to give the city of Vancouver a better         July 16, 2008; September 17, 2008; and finally, December
negotiating position and potentially secure a loan at a            9, 2008.
better rate. That may ease some of the debt load, but it              now, what do you think they talked about at these
does not, to be sure, erase it.                                    meetings? could it be that the weather is not so nice
   here we are in an emergency sitting of the house to             these days or that the weather is nice or that it's raining
debate a bill that essentially bails out Millennium, the           too much? What do you think they talked about at these
developer who couldn't finance the project, and now the            Vanoc board meetings? Well, the public can't know
taxpayers are on the hook.                                         because they're closed to the public. Minutes can't be
                                                         [2110]    made available, because secrecy is the operation here. it
   So let's call this for what it is. it is a corporate bailout,   is how the government does its work. So nobody can
and, yes, the city of Vancouver is on the hook because             find out.
the municipal liberal farm team, the nPa, under the                   What do you think, if they were responsible people
leadership of former Mayor Sam Sullivan, signed a com-             doing their job, they would be talking about? could it
pletion agreement guaranteeing that the project would              possibly be some of the progress with the projects or
be delivered by the city of Vancouver — the same party,            lack thereof? Do you think by chance that they might
by the way, that the Premier was the mayor of when he              have — just might have — talked about the olympic vil-
was in the city of Vancouver.                                      lage, that they just might have talked about — oh, gee,
   now, i have to wonder aloud. tracey. People may                 you know — that the developer Millennium is failing to
recall tracey who died on the streets of Vancouver trying          finance the project and that we're in deep trouble?
to keep warm. Why didn't the liberal government rush                  The city of Vancouver is going to have to bail that
back to the legislature to address the homelessness                project out. and guess what. taxpayers are going to be
crisis that's happening across the province of british             on the hook. Do you think that they might have talked
columbia? They didn't do that.                                     about that at all?
   now, the Minister of Finance says that the govern-                                                                    [2115]
ment is unaware of the financial troubles. The Premier                i don't know if they did. i can only assume that any-
says that he's not aware of the financial troubles that the        body with any due diligence might have talked about it,
olympic village is in.                                             because that is what their job is supposed to be — at
   Well, let's just walk through who knew what and                 least one of them anyway.
when. The former city manager, Judy rogers, who just                  if they didn't talk about it, surely, surely somewhere,
happens to be ken Dobell's protégé, had been aware of              someone would have asked: "Why didn't they? Why
it at least since June of 2007 — that there were serious           not?" and if they didn't talk about it, what exactly did
financial problems with the olympic village. in fact, the          they talk about, anyway? What were all those meetings
city council was warned that Millennium was in "antici-            about? as it happens — conveniently, i might add —
patory default" and that the nPa farm team decided                 none of the meetings' minutes are available to the public.
to sign a completion agreement, guaranteeing the pro-              if the Minister of Finance wants to step up to the plate,
ject would be delivered with exact specs by the city of            he may want to rise in this house today and table those
Vancouver.                                                         minutes for everyone to see.
   Judy rogers was one of two of the city of Vancouver's              but it's too convenient for everything to operate
appointees to the Vanoc board of directors. Vanoc                  under the shroud of secrecy. That's just how the govern-
reports to the Minister responsible for the olympics.              ment likes it — no public scrutiny allowed. The olympic
cabinet needs to deal with these matters. The Premier              spending, like all aspects of this whole project — for the
has to deal with these matters.                                    olympic village, for security costs, trade and convention
   The province has three appointees, among them ken               centre projects, and so on…. The government would not
Dobell. You recall ken Dobell — the right-hand man of              want the taxpayers, british columbians, to know what
the Premier, the guy who had a desk in the Premier's               is going on.
office as an unregistered lobbyist. You recall ken Dobell.            That is the truth of how this government's operating,
ken Dobell is also on the board's finance committee. in            because if it wasn't the truth then all the government's
fact, he is the chair of the finance committee.                    got to do, all the Premier has got to do, the Minister of
   now, Judy rogers serves on the finance committee.               Finance has got to do, is to get up in this house to say that
This might be comical to members of the opposite side,             the meetings will be open for the public, subject to scru-
especially to the Minister of Finance, who ought to be             tiny, that they would table the minutes of these meetings,
very concerned about what's going on here. Judy rogers             that they would make available the agreements that have
served on the finance committee. Since June of 2007,               been signed between the parties for the public to review,
there have been nine scheduled meetings of the Vanoc               and that they would actually allow the process of Foi
board: July 18, 2007; September 19, 2007; november 21,             to apply to all olympic-related activities. That's all they
13472                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

have to do to actually set the record straight, to prove       the financial troubles related to the olympic village that
the opposition wrong, to prove to british columbians           brought us here today with bill 47?
that they have nothing to hide.                                   That agreement was also to ensure that Vanoc's
    now i, like many taxpayers, am wondering: did ken          venue management and construction team is appro-
Dobell not warn the Premier about the olympic village          priately staffed with experienced project managers
financial status? he is, after all, the head of the finance    and maintains a direct reporting relationship between
committee, who is responsible in part to ensure that           Vanoc's new executive vice-president of construction
those projects are progressing and that, if there are          and Vanoc's chief executive officer. in addition to that,
challenges, to actually highlight them, to address them,       the Village advisory committee was set up in September
and to deal with it. now, did ken Dobell not warn the          2006 between Vanoc and the city of Vancouver, as
Minister of Finance, who ought to know? because at the         stipulated in the bid agreement.
end of the day, it is the province that is responsible for        So according to that, the april 2007 report, the com-
delivering the games, and we would want to ensure that         mittee meets monthly to make recommendations and
it is delivered on time and on budget.                         decisions on project representatives. based on that, the
   The truthful part of that would be the real budget,         city's recently resigned project manager, Jody andrews,
not some fictitious budget that the Premier insists is         has been meeting with Vanoc's project manager on a
$600 million for the olympic Games. even the auditor           weekly basis since 2006 regarding the status of the village.
General…. not just one, not two, but three auditors               Finally, there was a special committee that has been
General say that the olympic budget is not $600 million.       set up, and Vanoc has an accommodations and villa-
Which part of that doesn't the Premier get?                    ges group. That committee was responsible for oversight
    if the chair of the finance committee does not warn        of the Vancouver village and the Whistler village. The
the Premier, does not warn the Minister of Finance, does       city of Vancouver was to provide Vanoc a project
not warn the Minister responsible for the olympics             executive plan, including implementation details, by
about these potential risks that taxpayers are faced with,     the summer of 2007, which happens to be right around
then what is he doing there? What is he doing there?           the time when the completion guarantee was signed by
Why have the position? and what is the responsibility,         the city of Vancouver to protect — frankly, to bail out —
then, of the finance committee chair exactly? i sure hope      Millennium, the developer of the olympic village.
not to have meetings to talk about the weather alone.             So there are layers upon layers upon layers of reporting
    i don't believe, frankly, for a minute that ken Dobell     out about the status of the olympic village project and
didn't know about the olympic village financial woes,          other venue projects. it follows that the Premier and
and i don't believe for a minute, for a second, that he        the Minister of Finance and the Minister responsible
didn't inform the Premier. i don't believe for a second        for the olympics ought to have known — they had to
that cabinet…. i hope that the cabinet would have been         have known — what was going on. it is not believable
alerted of this fiasco.                                        for them to suggest, to anybody who's followed this, to
    in addition to this, the government has signed an          believe that they did not know.
agreement with Vanoc in September of 2006, and that               at issue here is the need for the government to come
agreement actually required Vanoc in part to estab-            clean. come clean with what they knew and when they
lish, yes, a capital advisory committee by october 13 of       knew about these cost overruns, about the financial
2006.                                                          troubles of the olympic village project. to come clean
                                                     [2120]    with taxpayers on the financial exposure that they are at
    i wonder if the Minister of Finance can explain to this    risk for. to come clean with why the Premier didn't say
house and explain to british columbians what exactly           anything about this earlier.
is the job of the capital advisory committee? Were they           could it be that the very people who created this
advised of the olympic village fiasco? Did that commit-        problem were the liberal farm team, the nPa? could
tee keep on top of what was going on?                          it be that the liberal farm team's political interests were
    it also requires that the province be provided quarterly   more important than the interests of the taxpayers? That
reports, beginning october 31, 2006: "of construction          it is more important than appropriate public scrutiny
progress, period-to-date capital spending, forecast cost       and transparency related to the olympic spending and
and schedule to completion for each individual games           to the olympic village?
venue, risk and mitigation strategies, and status and                                                               [2125]
forecast use of the Vanoc centralized capital contin-             isn't that a big part of the problem? That we have a
gency allocation".                                             Premier who says one thing and actually does another?
    Well, how about making available the capital               You will recall that the Premier said, when he was in
advisory committee meeting minutes for the public to           opposition, and i quote: "openness is better than hid-
see, for the opposition to see, if the government insists,     denness." That's a direct quote from the Premier when
if the Premier insists, to say that he does not know about     he was in opposition.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                             13473

  interjection.                                                  Madam Speaker, how about this for a change? come
                                                              clean on the full cost of staging the games. tell british
   J. Kwan: Yeah, please do clap. Please do, because that's   columbians the real truth, the actual truth, for a change.
what the Premier is supposed to be doing. That's exactly      So $600 million does not cut it, and everyone knows it.
what the Premier is supposed to be doing, but it turns                                                            [2130]
out that what the Premier really meant was not if he             in fact, even christy clark — and, boy, i can't believe
was in government, not if he is the head of the executive     i'm paraphrasing christy clark — said that at some
council. Then the notion of an open, transparent and          point you've got to tell people what is really the truth
accountable government is just a farce, because that is       because if you don't, people will just start laughing at
exactly what the Premier is doing.                            you. That's from christy clark, paraphrasing her. i don't
   he's too arrogant to admit mistakes. he's too arro-        have her exact quote. but that was the former Deputy
gant to say that he was wrong in saying that the olympic      Premier for the liberal government. Maybe the govern-
budget is $600 million. he would not admit the fact that      ment can learn from her. how about that? come clean
the project is over budget. he would not admit and tell       on the costs, because at some point people are going to
british columbians when he knew that the olympic              start laughing at you. and if you hadn't already noticed,
village was in trouble and how much risk Vancouver            no one believes that the olympic cost is $600 million.
taxpayers, british columbian, are at risk for, because           how is that relevant to bill 47, Madam Speaker?
the liberal government strategy around managing the           lesson learned on bill 47: unless you actually account
olympic costs is to hide the costs from the public.           for your spending, you cannot avoid the financial dis-
   i have to say this: british columbians deserve better      aster that's coming, that's looming, that's going to come
than that. british columbians expect better than that.        wash over us.
come clean on the olympic cost overruns. let's start            and i'll tell you, Madam Speaker, my son is in the
with the olympic village cost overruns, but let us not        precincts today, almost five months old now, and guess
stop there.                                                   what. This is something i thought i would never preach,
   bill 47 is the beginning. i hope that this will address    but there you are — that i wouldn't want him to have to
some of the financial troubles that the olympic village is    carry a debt load that he knew nothing about. because
faced with. i did not believe it would erase the problem,     why? The liberals wouldn't tell anybody what the debt
but at least we now know the depth of the problem. at         load is, what the olympic debt load is going to be for
least we now know that there is a project in the olympics     generations to come.
that's actually costing taxpayers a lot more money than          come clean, and tell british columbians now. What
anticipated. So that's a start. at least we know the truth.   are the financial risks around these projects? and as
   We should not stop there, because there are many           the auditor General said, auditor General Jim Doyle —
other aspects related to that. That's one example of          because it's not just the opposition who's saying it….
showing the world how we do business here in british
columbia. Wouldn't it be nice to set an example, to use         interjection.
this as a lesson learned by the government to come clean
on the costs — the real costs — on the security side?            J. Kwan: John Doyle. Sorry. John Doyle, not Jim Doyle,
   The government projects $175 million, they say, for        the guy who actually tried to run. Didn't he lose for you?
security costs. The minister, Stockwell Day, projects a       anyway, okay, John Doyle, the auditor General said: "i
billion dollars. So who's lying? Who's telling the truth?     think they could be more transparent, and i'm the third
i do wonder. is it the provincial government, or is it        auditor General in a row to say this. We need to bring all
Minister Stockwell Day?                                       expenses together in one report that shows everything
                                                              and allows citizens to see what the financial footprint is
  interjection.                                               for the games. Government should be confident enough
                                                              to clearly explain what it is doing as it's doing it. There's
   J. Kwan: The relevance is this: learn from bill 47.        no need to be anything but totally transparent."
exercise scrutiny, transparency and openness. how                lesson learned from the auditor General — not one,
about that for a starter? haven't heard that before, eh?      not two, but three. They're asking for the government to
no wonder.                                                    be transparent on the olympic Games costs. it is time
   Madam Speaker, through you to the government               for the government to come clean and to tell british
Mlas and cabinet and to the Premier, to every one of          columbians how much the games are costing them.
the liberal Mlas: listen and listen hard, because this is        if the government is to learn anything from the
a lesson that's important for all british columbians —        olympic village experience, then do what the leader of
transparency and openness, something that the Premier         the opposition has suggested, and that is to appoint the
himself preached when he was in opposition. Those             auditor General to be the independent watchdog of the
words are now coming back to haunt this government.           games. british columbians deserve no less.
13474                                            british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

   This is serious. it is serious because it's people's hard-     top bursts. but really, there's a whole lot bubbling under-
earned money, the people who are labouring out there,             neath, a whole lot that needs to be lanced, needs to be
who are toiling from day to day just to make a buck. it is        explored, needs to be exposed, and not just for the sake
their money, and we have a responsibility in this house           of the opposition to have something to criticize the gov-
to be accountable to them, and it starts from the top. it         ernment about.
starts from the top.                                                  it's a chance for two things. it's a chance for the people
   The Premier — i will say this — when he was in                 of british columbia to become better informed, as they
opposition, got it right: openness is better than secrecy.        should be by their government. but for the government
i will just substitute for the word "hiddenness" because i        also, it's a chance for them to take a reckoning of where
don't think that word is in the dictionary. Maybe that's          they've been heading.
why he's not doing it. he's got that concept right. The               it's really clear to me, watching the members oppos-
only thing he's got to do now is to practise it. That's what      ite this evening, that they're not at all happy to be here.
he's got to do. talk is cheap in the life of politics. You        They're grumpy. They're not in a good mood. They
don't have much to offer other than your own integrity            brought us in here on a Saturday so they didn't have to
in the words that you speak and what they mean to the             face question period — neat little trick — but it's not
people that you represent.                                        really working in their best interests either, because
   That's why we're here. We have a job to do. You will           they're going down.
wonder, Madam Speaker, why the house leader argued                    if they continue the way they're going now, this
against passing the bill in one day, in one stage, all in one     olympic legacy that the Premier wanted, his crowning
day. There is a strong reason for that. it is called oversight.   achievement, is going to be the death knell that brings
it is about debate. it's about ensuring that the interests of     this government down, unless they turn the ship around,
british columbians are protected. The government can              unless they start taking some accountability, unless they
live up to that if they choose to. or will they choose to         start using examples like what happened in Vancouver
be too arrogant to do the right thing for the taxpayers of        to chart a new course.
british columbia?                                                    as i say, if they don't, you know…. christy clark had
                                                        [2135]    it right. People are laughing, but not in a kind way, about
    i hope, and i challenge all members on that side of the       the government. They're just going: "hey, these guys
house to get up and say that their leader was right when          don't get it. We get it. We understand that we're being
they were in opposition: openness is better than secrecy.         taken to the cleaners. but the government, our govern-
Show the books to british columbians — how much the               ment, is not taking any responsibility for it."
games are costing all of us.                                                                                              [2140]
                                                                     This bill is very relevant to the discussion of many
    M. Sather: like my colleague who just finished, i too         aspects of what's been going on with the olympics and
will eventually invite the members opposite to get up             the preparations that this government has been doing. i
and say their piece. i'm just glad they didn't get up now,        think it can be the beginning of openness and account-
because i've been waiting a while here to get my chance           ability for this government.
to speak. i'm glad to be able to do it, to speak to bill 47,
the Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009, which is,                 interjection.
as has been mentioned, a short piece of legislation — i
think the shortest piece i've seen.                                  M. Sather: Maybe it is too late. The member says it's
    let's not be fooled by the shortness of this bill, because    too late. i guess i'm an eternal optimist.
it's a very significant bill in a number of respects. it's very      one of those things has been mentioned many times —
significant to the city of Vancouver as they deal with the        the cost of the olympic Games. That's a big issue. That's
financial crisis that they're facing in order to complete         the issue right here in Vancouver with the olympic vil-
the olympic village.                                              lage. it's just one part of the cost of the olympic Games.
    i hope that in the course of our discussions here over           So let's hope that we can use this to gain more infor-
this bill today and tomorrow and Monday if it should              mation from the government, and after i'm done, i
go that long…. i hope in that period of time that we              hope that they will get up and speak. The member for
will actually…. Particularly, i hope that the government          chilliwack i know is very keen to speak, and others i'm
will gain something out of this, because it's important           sure will as well.
to the people of british columbia. They want to know                The government says this is an emergency, and it is. it's
what's going on with the olympic Games. They feel very            an emergency in many ways, but it's not an opportunity
strongly that this government has not been open and               — it shouldn't be an opportunity — for the government
accountable.                                                      to use the emergency argument as a way to stifle debate,
   This issue that's arisen that resulted in bill 47 is kind      because it needs a fulsome discussion, and we need to
of like you've got this big boil, and this little pimple on       look at as many aspects of it as we can.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13475

   Fortress investment Group is the financial body              continues to maintain that, well, it's up to $600 million.
that lent the money to the Millennium Development               but according to them: "it's only $600 million, and you
corp. to build the olympic village. The Millennium              know, everything's just fine. Don't worry. be happy."
Development corp. itself has a little bit of an interest-          The people of british columbia aren't buying that
ing background. how they got the bid — that would               anymore. everywhere i go and talk to people about it,
be interesting to know. apparently the owner of their           they nod: "What is the government doing? our money
parent company was a member of the nPa board in the             is at risk. Who's watching out for us?"
lead-up to that particular occurrence, but that's perhaps          Part of the problem about this government, and we've
for another day to discuss.                                     complained about this over and over again, is the degree
   but they ran into difficulties. The $750 million loan that   of secrecy that surrounds these deals. You know, the
Millennium obtained soon ran afoul this fall, and probably      ultimate was…. The member for Surrey-newton men-
long before if the truth be known, and that's what we're        tioned earlier the olympic secretariat. The reports that
trying to find out. What is the truth around what hap-          they were making to the government were discontinued
pened in Vancouver and the olympic village and beyond?          because then they would fall under the freedom-of-
   We saw the secret agreement that the past council in         information rules. So: "Wow, we wouldn't want that."
Vancouver did to keep the project going with $100 mil-             a cloak of secrecy is how this government oper-
lion loan. now that certainly hasn't been enough, and           ates, and it hasn't been good for the people of british
Fortress is asking for more. They're one of these typical       columbia. What's happened in Vancouver and what
high-risk, low-regulation kinds of groups. So they're           we're discussing in bill 47 is the awakening of the people,
looking for a return on their investment, and they seem         certainly of the lower Mainland and i think throughout
to have the leverage to do it, to get what they want.           the province, about how their money is being treated.
   in the end, it will be the taxpayers of Vancouver, the       They're beginning to understand that there's really
taxpayers of b.c. that are going to take the hit. The big       something wrong with the operation and the delivery of
corporation is going to get off again. You can bet that         the olympics insofar as we're being told by this govern-
Fortress will get their money, including their usurious         ment, and that's not very far.
interest rates — 11 percent — which, apparently, accord-           now, as has been mentioned, it's simply unbelievable,
ing to a lot of these outfits, can run up to 20 percent         incredulous, that the government should maintain that
or more. Supposedly Millennium will get their project           they only learned of this laterally last fall or so. i mean,
done, we all hope.                                              you have the deputy to the Premier and the Minister
   now, the Minister of transportation…. it was men-            of Finance, who are sitting on the Vanoc board, but
tioned earlier by one of my colleagues that he had said         i guess they don't talk to the Premier. They don't talk
of these types of companies like Fortress: "These are big       to the Minister of Finance. They didn't know anything
boys and girls, and they know what they're doing." Well,        about it. it's all news to them.
they certainly do, Madam Speaker. They know how to                 That's a problem. When you see that happening and
fleece the public, and they've been aided and abetted by        when the public sees that happening, the trust in their
this government right, left and centre.                         government plummets. They realize that…. Well, i won't
   The foreign capital is where the Premier seems to            use the "l" word, but they realize that the government is
always want to go, and the structuring of these deals           not being open and accountable and not telling them
ends up with those kinds of companies in control, not           everything that they need to know.
to the betterment of the people of british columbia, but           So what are the true costs of the olympic Games?
to the betterment of those corporations. i don't know.          Various estimates run from $4 billion to $6 billion. That's
We're seeing that it's not doing a lot of good for the          seven to ten times higher than what the government is
people of british columbia.                                     saying it should be.
   looking at this deal, as i said, it really is important to      You know, when we look at what's happened at the
know how much the olympics really do cost. What did             olympic village and see how those costs have gone
the Premier say about the olympic costs back a few years        wild…. The financing isn't there. The structure wasn't
ago? he said that $565 million would be the final cost          there. it was all a big gamble. it's very believable to the
of the olympics: "count on it. There are contingencies          people of british columbia that this government has
built in the project, and it's going to be run profession-      allowed costs to skyrocket — out-of-control spending.
ally. That's it. kaputski. Done."                                  ken Dobell, the Premier's special adviser, who chairs
                                                      [2145]    the Vanoc finance committee and reports out to the
   i guess that was the Premier's equivalent of the "down       Premier at least once a month. but as the previous member
to the toilet paper" quote, but it hasn't turned out that       from Vancouver said: "What did they talk about during
way, as we know. You would never know it, because               those meetings?" Surely they must have discussed what
despite the crisis that's happened in Vancouver and             was happening with the olympic village in Vancouver,
that we're discussing with bill 47, the government still        and when did those discussions first take place?
13476                                            british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

   Those are the kinds of questions that we would have               The auditor General believes that the responsibilities
liked to ask this government this weekend, this week,             of the government and where it all ends…. he says it's
whenever this discussion was going to take place, but             going to end up with the province, a lot of this, in the
the government doesn't want that kind of scrutiny. They           end, if things go wrong. So if things go wrong…. as i
don't want to answer questions about the olympics                 read that, if the city of Vancouver gets in trouble, the
because they know it's bad news. it's bad news if the             province is going to have to take over. i don't know. We
truth comes out, so they're doing everything they can to          need more explanation. We certainly didn't get it during
not talk about it.                                                the budget debates we've had with the government over
   i think that's going to change in a minute. Members            the olympics and related projects. it's been very, very
are going to be up here to explain themselves in full.            difficult to get information from this government, but
                                                  [2150]          again, that's the hallmark of this government — this hid-
                                                                  denness. There it is — secrecy. it's catching, i think.
  interjection.                                                      it's time for the Premier, who is the leader of the team,
                                                                  to set the example, to say: "look, we're going to put it
   M. Sather: it's going to be a long wait. They don't            out there. My colleagues said, 'Just put out the true costs
know what to say.                                                 and then explain them.'" Maybe the people of british
   The security budget alone — that's one that struck             columbia will agree with you that it's costing $4 billion,
me early on. The security budget is around $800 mil-              but you can defend that. but to say it's only costing $600
lion, we're told. The province, though, has said, "oh,            million when everybody knows it's way more than that
175." These are figures that are way, way…. They're as            blows your credibility completely. That's up to the gov-
disparate as you can get almost, so what is the truth? The        ernment to make that determination, but it's not in the
people of british columbia deserve to have the real facts,        best interests of british columbians to not be forthright
and this situation with the olympic village should be a           with the truth.
perfect springboard for the government to start acting,              You know, other things that are laughable we've heard
to start getting the facts of the whole olympic spending          about earlier today — saying that the olympic secre-
picture out to the people of british columbia.                    tariat is not part of the olympic spending. it goes on
   another thing that's been brought up…. There's a lot           and on. but the bottom line, what i hear and read the
of stuff. There's a million dollars extra for transit rides       auditors General saying is that the province is the sole
that will be needed. how many of the olympic projects             guarantor of the games. We need a complete discussion
are in trouble? That's what we want to know. is this the          and explanation of what that means.
only one? i don't think so.                                                                                            [2155]
                                                                     What does it mean? because what we're finding out is
  An Hon. Member: What about the Golden ears?                     that, despite what we've been told — that the taxpayers
                                                                  are not at risk — citizens of Vancouver are finding out
    M. Sather: The Golden ears is mentioned. i'll say a           to their dismay that they very much are at risk. if they're
little bit more about that in a few minutes — the Golden          at risk, who else is at risk in the province? That's what
ears bridge in my backyard.                                       the people want to know. That's what we want to know.
                                                                  We're asking the government to explain some of that to
  An Hon. Member: What section does that refer to?                us.
                                                                     The auditor General in 2006 said that the province
    M. Sather: The member wants to know what section              provided a guarantee to the ioc that it would cover any
that refers to. it refers to every section in here, because       financial shortfall of Vanoc if Vanoc doesn't meet
this bill…. This bill has got to be about accountability.         its revenue or expense targets or does not build in suf-
it's the most open and accountable government, we're              ficient contingencies to cover items it cannot control,
told, in the universe. So it's all about that. That's what        such as the state of the economy. Well, that's just exactly
i'm trying to explain to the members opposite, that this          what we're facing. a situation that has hit the world is
is all about openness and accountability, which i know            the recession, the state of the economy. What does that,
they're dying to embrace, and i can only hope that they           then, have to do with the role of the government and the
will do so sooner than later.                                     responsibility of the government?
    one of the former auditors General, Mr. van iersel,              The auditor said the guarantee of the province has
said in his report that the province has agreed to indem-         the potential to broaden the exposure to include other
nify the city of Vancouver for any losses flowing from the        parties, which i am assuming would include the city of
city's signing of the host city contract and that the host city   Vancouver, which we have here as the subject of debate,
contract places the financial responsibility for the games        bill 47. So this all ties together very clearly. as much
with Vanoc and the city. So what does that mean? We               as the government doesn't want to talk about anything
need an explanation. The people need an explanation.              except the city of Vancouver and the olympic village —
Saturday, January 17, 2009                        british columbia Debates                                             13477

 and very little about that, i think — the fact of the matter      they learning from what happened in Vancouver? We're
 is that the implications of what's happened there are             here to discuss bill 47, but i haven't seen any sense yet
 wide-reaching and to a far greater degree than simply             that they're learning from what happened, by not being
 what happened in Vancouver, although as if that wasn't            open, by not being transparent, by not being inclusive
 troubling enough.                                                 of all the costs.
     he also said that the province should provide a defin-           The Sea to Sky highway was part of what the
 ition of olympic-related costs and report regularly to the        international olympic committee insisted that
 public on the status of those costs. That's a simple, straight-   Vancouver build in order to get the games. So to turn
 forward kind of accountability that of course the auditor         around and say that it's not part of the olympic spend-
 General is going to request — the auditors General; they          ing, again, is incredulous. What about the raV line that
 all said the same thing. but this government says: "no, we        the Minister of Finance said earlier: "That's nothing to
 don't agree. We don't agree. We'll do it our way." That's         do with olympic spending. it would have been built
 not good enough for the people of my constituency and, i          anyway." but he knows that's not true. certainly the
 think, for the people throughout the province.                    people of Maple ridge–Pitt Meadows and of coquitlam
    The current auditor General, Mr. Doyle, said he                and Port coquitlam know that.
"shares his predecessors' view that the full cost of staging          The greater Vancouver regional district wanted to
 the games should include a number of items that are               build the evergreen line because they rightly ascer-
 not included in the official budget" and "that the risks          tained that that was where the line was most needed.
 associated with some costs and revenues have not been             but no, it was the raV line instead. Why? because of
 adequately disclosed. Should these risks come to pass,            the olympics.
 the cost of staging the games could escalate considerably."          remember the transportation Minister forcing the
That's just what happened in Vancouver. it's perhaps               board to vote three times until they got it his way? The
 what has happened throughout the province wherever                government should just simply say: "Yeah, these are
 the olympics are concerned, particularly in this part of          olympic-related costs. everybody knows it. This is how
 the world and in the lower Mainland.                              much they are. This is how much the games are going
     What are those risks? We know about — to a degree             to cost. let's discuss it." but they're ducking and hiding,
 anyway — the risks that were incurred in Vancouver, but           trying to avoid the truth.
 what about other risks out there? We want to hear the gov-           another troubling part, too, is that this secrecy in the
 ernment answer some questions about that. bill 47 should          way that government does business in this province has
 be the springboard for the government to come clean               deepened with the proliferation of public-private part-
 on the cost of the olympics, because there's going to be          nerships, of which the olympic village is one.
 more and more. The government is running, ducking and                You know, we have been fed a lot of misinformation,
 hiding and hoping that that's not going to happen, but i          and the government members talked about us giving
 think it's a gamble that they are ill-advised to undertake.       misinformation. We have been fed a lot of misinforma-
     Mr. Doyle also said that the government should be             tion on this side by this government about P3s. now
 confident enough to clearly explain what it is doing as           what's happening? Well, it was reported recently in the
 it's doing it. "There's no need to be anything but totally        Vancouver Province, rightly or wrongly, that the govern-
 transparent," he said.                                            ment is considering taking over the Port Mann bridge
                                                        [2200]     project. So much for no risks of P3s. no risk.
     What was the Premier's answer? he said: "i'm not
 saying that he can't have his opinions. i simply dis-                Deputy Speaker: Member, relevancy. relevancy to
 agree with that position." he disagrees with an auditor           bill 47.
 General who said there's no need to be anything but
 totally transparent. That is apparent that he disagrees              M. Sather: Thank you, Madam Speaker.
 with that, because he is not transparent — anything but.             it's essential that this government look carefully at
    The related costs are really troubling about the               what happened in Vancouver and that they recognize
 olympics too. You know, the convention centre — $400              that one of the problems…. You know, it was very much
 million in overruns. The Premier lauded the convention            part and parcel of the problem there that this was a P3
 centre when it was first introduced. as this was going            project where it's so structured that Millennium corpor-
 to be happening, he said it was part and parcel of the            ation couldn't get financing from any bank in canada
 olympic bid. but now, no. The government says that it             because they didn't have the collateral, and that should
 has nothing to do with the olympic spending because,              be a good reason not to finance a venture. So they go
 oh well, they would have built it anyway sometime.                abroad to find a company that says: "Sure, no problem.
 Doesn't pass muster with common sense.                            We'll take you on for 11 percent interest." That's what
    The same with the Sea to Sky highway. The govern-              happened there.
 ment says: "oh, that's not olympic spending." What are                                                              [2205]
13478                                         british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

   Then, when times got tough, problems really escalated         People of Vancouver-Fairview are asking me where
out of control. My friend mentioned the Golden ears           the rest of the money is coming from, where the rest of
bridge, just with regard to risk. i mean, we almost had       the $458 million is going to come from. They're wonder-
the same situation — and i don't know if it's over yet —      ing how much on the hook they're going to be for this
as Vancouver had. The Golden ears bridge financers, the       money.
DePFa bank and Dexia…. DePFa was nearly in receiv-               The reasons for the introduction of bill 47 are deeply
ership. They were bailed out by Germany, but that could       concerning for british columbians and for my residents
very much have happened to us as well. it's illustrative,     of Vancouver-Fairview. Those reasons involve a culture of
i think, for these projects all around the province that      arrogance and government secrecy both here in Victoria
the government take another good look at them, because        and at the city, an approach that shuts people out and
they're wasting a lot of our money — taxpayers' money.        treats the taxpayers of Vancouver like they have an endless
                                                              amount of money to fuel these olympic cost overruns.
   J. McGinn: i rise this evening, of course, to speak           People i've spoken to wondered when this will end.
on bill 47. This bill would allow the city of Vancouver       They say that the costs of the olympics are skyrocketing
to borrow and undertake financing arrangements in             out of control. The costs of the overruns on everything
respect to the completion of the southeast False creek        from the convention centre to the olympic village to the
development project, otherwise known as the olympic           escalated security costs are causing great concern for
village. This is of particular interest to me, as this pro-   my constituents. They're worried about their liability as
ject is actually in my riding in Vancouver-Fairview. as       taxpayers.
a Vancouver taxpayer, i share the concerns expressed by                                                              [2210]
many in my riding about the fact that we as Vancouver            There are some challenging economic times that
taxpayers are going to be on the hook for this project in     we're facing right now. in fact, the central credit union
particular and for the olympics in general.                   expects to lose 42,000 jobs next year. People in my con-
   The winners here are the developers and the banks on       stituency are worried about those jobs, about whether
this project, not the citizens of Vancouver. as a former      they're going to be able to pay their rent or mortgages,
banker, i know a good deal from a bad deal, and this          to keep food on the table and to make a comfortable life
is not a good deal for the residents of Vancouver or of       for themselves and their families.
british columbia.                                                The people of my riding are a good, hard-working lot.
   We're facing this situation because Fortress investment    They believe in sound management, good fiscal govern-
Group, a u.S.-based hedge fund, stopped financing the         ance and honesty. They expected much more prudence,
project when it became clear that the project was way         responsibility and accountability from their government
over budget and that the housing crash could make this        than what they've been witnessing. There's little doubt
project untenable. Vancouver city council stepped in          in the minds of the people of Vancouver-Fairview that
with a loan of a hundred million dollars to the developer,    the government was aware of the problems facing the
Millennium Development, to keep the project going. but        village. after all, they're the ones that set up the series of
the cash is running out, and they'll need more money by       reporting arrangements to ensure they would know.
February 15.                                                     if you allow me, Madam Speaker, just to review those
   The city council of the day — the previous city council    arrangements briefly. in the middle of 2006, Vanoc
run by Mayor Sullivan and his liberal farm team, the          came to the provincial and federal governments asking
nPa — signed a completion guarantee. That would mean          for more money. both governments commissioned
that the city and its taxpayers are ultimately responsible,   due-diligence reports as a condition of considering the
regardless of the costs to complete the project.              request. The report and a subsequent one prepared by
   now, we're in a serious time crunch here. This deal is     Partnerships b.c. made a number of recommendations
directly related to the olympics, and the project needs       to increase the flow of knowledge between the city and
to be completed by the fall. The city urgently needs the      Vanoc and their partners between the provincial and
money to refinance this bad deal. The current lender is       federal governments.
charging them an 11 percent interest rate, and rates have        Vanoc created a village advisory committee to
gone down much, much less since then.                         oversee the completion of both the Vancouver and
   The reason we're here today on a Saturday, of course,      Whistler olympic villages. The city's project manager
is that the city of Vancouver is looking for the authority    Jody andrews, who this week resigned, met weekly with
under the Vancouver charter to borrow more money to           Vanoc's project manager. Mr. andrews also provided
ensure the completion of this project. The costs of the       monthly written reports to Vanoc. Vanoc's finance
project reportedly have risen from $750 million to $875       committee, according to its public minutes, regularly
million. The funding sources so far include $317 mil-         received the reports on both venues.
lion from Fortress and $100 million from a loan from             The co-chairs of Vanoc's finance committee, who
council.                                                      reviewed and considered those reports through this
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                                        13479

period, remain today ken Dobell, who reports to the                 "My office's two previous reports, issued in 2003 and 2006, con-
Premier, and the ceo of the b.c. olympic secretar-                clude that british columbia's share of the full cost of the games
                                                                  is considerably higher than the $600 million figure that has
iat, who reports to the Minister responsible for the              often been quoted. Further, in the absence of full disclosure by
olympics. Former city manager Judy rogers was and is              the province, each report highlights significant risks that could
also a member of the finance committee and was con-               result in higher costs to the province by the time the games are
                                                                  finished….
sidering those reports.
                                                                    "Fundamental differences of opinion between the government
    What was happening at the city through this reporting         and my office remain unresolved…. i share my predecessor's view
period? in May and June of 2007, city manager Judy                that the full cost of staging the olympics should include a num-
rogers reported to council that the Millennium group,             ber of items that are not included in the official budget. in addi-
the developer of the village, was in anticipatory default.        tion, i share my predecessor's concern that the risks associated
                                                                  with some of the costs and revenues have not been adequately
in other words, they were running out of money.                   disclosed. Should these risks come to pass, the cost of staging the
    under the various signed agreements, the city had             games could escalate considerably….
an obligation to share this information with Vanoc.                 "i have but one recommendation — that the government
Vanoc in turn, through its finance committee, shared              expand its definition of games-related costs to include all items
                                                                  that are reasonably attributable to hosting the 2010 olympic and
the information with the province, the Premier and the            Paralympic Winter Games and report publicly on these costs and
minister. So let there be no doubt. The b.c. liberal gov-         the risks associated with them."
ernment had to have known what was going on from the
start, but they refused to share that knowledge with the         Deputy Speaker: Member, can you keep the com-
people of british columbia.                                     ments relevant to the bill.
    as the spring of 2008 turned into the fall, the prob-
lem had escalated. in april of 2008 the city's auditors            J. McGinn: Thank you, Madam Speaker.
reported publicly on the financial risk of the project and         bill 47, the bill that we're discussing, puts our money at
to the city's taxpayers. Millennium ran out of money.           risk as taxpayers in Vancouver and in british columbia. in
The financier escalated its demands and was facing              fact, this is a big concern that we're here today to discuss.
deep financial trouble. There followed a range of com-          The people of british columbia deserve accountability
mitments by the city of Vancouver to underwrite both            on this issue. They want the government to come clean
the developer and the financier in order to complete the        and to stop ducking any accountability on this issue.
development on time.                                               i want to tell a story. Yesterday i was walking down
    but it didn't work. taxpayers were put on the hook          the street in my constituency, just over at 6th and Maple,
without their knowledge for hundreds and millions of            and i ran into a couple of ladies that stopped me. Their
dollars in overruns and carrying charges. The final bill of     names were Mary and evelyn. both Mary and evelyn
this is still not known, and we end up here today provid-       are women in their 80s, and they're women that helped
ing the ultimate commitment — an open-ended waiver              to build this province. They're women who have seen
allowing the city of Vancouver to borrow as much as it          hard times and have lived through them, women who
wants to complete the village.                                  have worked hard all their lives and know the value of a
    The people in my riding want the Premier to come clean      dollar, and women who value honesty and integrity and
about the true cost of the olympics rather than to avoid        expect that from their government.
responsibility and accountability. This bill, bill 47, has no      Well, i told them that we were heading back to
accountability built into it and no dollar figure attached to   Victoria for this special session, and Mary had asked me
it. People tell me that they're sick and tired of the govern-   to deliver a message to the Premier on her behalf. i note
ment playing with numbers and keeping them in the dark.         that he's not here, so perhaps his esteemed colleagues
The people of Vancouver-Fairview — indeed the people            will pass….
of british columbia — deserve better. They deserve to
know the truth about the true cost of the olympics.               Deputy Speaker: Member, you cannot refer to
                                                       [2215]   whether a person is in or out of the house.
    Since 2003 the campbell government has been ignor-
ing warnings from the b.c. auditors General that the               J. McGinn: oh. Thank you, Madam Speaker.
true cost of the 2010 olympics is much higher than the             Well, this lady Mary told me what she thought of all
$600 million figure often quoted by this government. in         the goings-on right here in the legislature. She said, in
reality, the overall cost of staging the olympics is closer     her words, it was foolhardy — what was happening. She
to $4 billion at minimum. The government completely             asked me how we got into such a mess, and she was
lacks any credibility on this.                                  worried about her grandchildren and her great-grand-
    in a letter dated December 2008 to bill barisoff,           children and whether they will have to bear the costs of
auditor General John Doyle states that he will not be           these olympics and the overruns that have happened by
releasing his expected report of the olympic costs, and         the negligence of this government and of the previous
i'd like to quote the auditor General from his letter.          city government.
13480                                          british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

   She said that she felt it showed a real lack of priorities     Deputy Speaker: Member. Member, you do have to
from the government and from the Premier. her friend            be relevant to the bill.
evelyn decided to pipe in. She asked how the province
could seem to find $365 million to replace the roof at b.c.        J. McGinn: Thank you. in debating this bill, bill 47,
Place Stadium and for any associated renovation costs, yet      what it's really about is setting priorities. it's about the
at the same time they seem not to be able to find money to      true costs of the olympics, and it's about pressing the
solve the homelessness crisis that has hit our city and our     government to come clean on those costs. it's about
province, or how there's not enough money for afford-           helping the city of Vancouver cope as best it can with
able housing for seniors in our community, how they felt        the mess given to them by the Premier's friends on the
grateful because they happened to live in affordable….          previous council.
                                                      [2220]       it's also about accountability and trustworthiness,
                                                                and it's about respect. it's about respect for Vancouver
  Deputy Speaker: Member, please sit down.                      taxpayers, respect for people like Mary, for evelyn, for
  Minister of environment.                                      their grandchildren. Surely the people of Vancouver and
                                                                the people of british columbia deserve at least that.
   Hon. B. Penner: Madam chair, i appreciate your
previous interventions and directions to the member.               J. Horgan: it's a pleasure to take my place today in
it appears she's not been heeding your directions, and          debate of bill 47, the Vancouver charter amendment
i just encourage you to remind her that talking about           act, 2009. i'm looking very much forward to the next 30
a stadium is not talking about what this bill deals with.       minutes where i try to outline the views of myself and
This bill does not deal with the stadium that the member        my constituents on this piece of legislation.
just referred to. it deals with the housing project.               Members will know — at least the members on this
                                                                side of the house will know — that we've had very
   J. McGinn: i understand that this bill does deal with        limited opportunities to provide scrutiny on some of
the housing development in my riding, in Vancouver-             the issues that were being debated today. The olympic
Fairview and southeast False creek. it does, and it also        village project in Vancouver, the centre of this piece of
deals with issues of priorities and a lack of priorities that   legislation, could well have been addressed in budget
my constituents expressed to me yesterday. They felt that       estimates some nine months ago — the last time this
there was a lack of priorities by this government.              house sat, save five days this fall.
   They're concerned because our population is aging,              Members will recall that the standing orders were
and like them, they need homes — affordable homes.              amended and changed and that the time allowed to
Most of the homes that are being built right now for            scrutinize the estimates and get to the root of the finan-
seniors in this province cost about $5,000 a month. So          cial issues that are trying to be amended and rectified by
they are just concerned and worried about how the               amending the Vancouver charter could well have been
government seems to be able to bail out and essentially         canvassed at that time.
write a blank cheque to the city for this project while at                                                          [2225]
the same time not have money for other much-needed                 We've heard today members talk about the history
projects. So they were just asking me about that, and we        of this project. We've heard members talk about where
had a good discussion. as mentioned, it's an issue of           it went wrong. What were the challenges with finan-
priorities is what Mary and evelyn said.                        cing? What was Fortress's role? Why was Millennium
   These are wise women, as i mentioned. They're well           selected? Why did the nPa team— the Premier's former
into their 80s. They have lots more experience and know-        civic team — make these decisions? Who was involved
ledge than anyone in this room has, really, about what it       in those decisions?
means to be a civil society and what it means to take care         These are the questions that would have been asked,
of people. it's about building safe and affordable homes        should have been asked, could have been asked had
for people who need them or ensuring that seniors have          this house sat last week when this issue became public.
access to long-term care beds and other supports they           These are the questions that could have been asked were
need or that students have access to affordable educa-          we not here in an extraordinary session on a Saturday
tion or that parents have child care when they need it.         talking about a bill, in all three stages, based on a very
                                                                modest presentation from the Government house
  An Hon. Member: back to the bill.                             leader. but here we are. We're trying to make some
                                                                sense of this.
   J. McGinn: Thank you.                                           it's all well and good, and i've heard some interven-
   in doing so, some of the other priorities are around         tions from members on the government side. i've heard
building public transit to ensure that people have access       some rabble-rousing from members of the executive
to transit to reduce their carbon emissions.                    council concerned that we've somehow ruined their day
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                                            13481

by coming to this place to hold them accountable for           the informed arguments that we're hearing today, they
amending an act and basically writing a blank cheque           would assume that what we're doing today is providing
for the city of Vancouver to rectify a problem that was        unlimited borrowing powers to the city of Vancouver.
created by a lack of oversight or at least a lack of public    That's what the public thinks based on the headline they
access to the decision-making processes that led to these      read in the newspaper today — the journal of record
contracts being let and guarantees being provided.             in british columbia, The Vancouver Sun. That was the
   i know that members on the other side don't like to         headline.
hear anecdotes. They don't like to hear about what the            let's go a little bit further to the editorial in The
people in my community are saying about these issues.          Vancouver Sun today. "What's Going on With the
That's profoundly unfortunate, because it seems to me          olympics" is the headline, and i'll read from that editor-
one of the reasons we are here is to bring the voice of the    ial, hon, Speaker, if i may.
people who elected us to this place to look at legislation          "With the benefit of perfect hindsight, it is easy to say that Van-
that's been brought forward hastily and now is being              couver city council mishandled the olympic village project. it
                                                                  was viewed entirely as an opportunity to reap benefits for the city,
debated hastily.
                                                                  with little appreciation of the potential risk to taxpayers. it is also
   it's now 25 minutes past 10 o'clock on a Saturday night.       unfortunate that Mayor Sam Sullivan failed in 2007 to tell Van-
on a normal day i would be at home watching the last              couver taxpayers that council had taken on liability for $190 mil-
bits of Hockey Night in Canada, like most good british            lion loan guarantee to Fortress investments and the responsibility
                                                                  for completing the olympic village project."
columbians, enjoying some time with my family. but no.
instead, i'm here in this place doing my job, which is         absolutely relevant to the debate we're having today,
holding the government accountable for the decisions           absolutely relevant to this legislation.
they are making in the interests, allegedly, of all british                                                           [2230]
columbians.                                                       So ordinary citizens in the city of Vancouver today,
   This morning, before i came to the legislature, i was       picking up the journal of record, see a headline that
at an economic development event in my constituency            says that today, in this place, now with hindsight, we are
of Malahat–Juan de Fuca in the community of langford.          debating in one day all three stages of a bill that will allow
There were about 250 people there. i would like to have        unlimited borrowing powers. That's the perception. The
spent the whole day talking about the challenges we            minister may disagree with that conclusion, but that's
face in a changing and shifting economy. i would like          the perception in the public mind right now.
to have been there to contribute and participate in that,         They turn to the editorial page, and they learn that
but instead i'm here debating, in all stages, a bill brought   they have been kept in the dark about a funding process
forward in urgency by this government.                         that will put them at risk, put their tax base at risk and
   The people at that economic development summit              cause them to have to find more money in a downturn
today were pleased to see me, but they also understood         in the economy to pay for their basic needs. The city of
that i was going to the legislature today. They under-         Vancouver has a big problem on its hands.
stood that something was going on.                                i'd like to echo the comments of my colleague from
   if you listen to the members on the other side with         columbia river–revelstoke in offering my sincere con-
respect to bill 47 and the amendments to the Vancouver         gratulations to our former colleague Mr. robertson, the
charter that we're discussing today, you would assume          new mayor of Vancouver. i wish him great success over
that they think — they really truly believe — that the         the coming term to try and resolve the mess that the
people of british columbia have some idea what we're           nPa council left to him.
talking about. i want to just put some context around             i certainly will also echo the comments of the leader
that, if i may, and i'll do nothing less than just reference   of the opposition that based on the arguments i've heard,
the headlines in today's press.                                based on the bill that's before us, i will be supporting it
   i think it's important, and i'm hopeful that the min-       at second reading and look very much forward to some
ister and the chair will indulge me in this because the        reasoned defence from the minister as to why we're
public, the people of british columbia, are probably           giving a blank cheque today. i'm certain he'll be able to
watching Hockey Night in Canada right now, not watch-          do that at committee stage.
ing us debate this legislation. i am hopeful that they are.       That's the context. The members on the other side,
but if they got up this morning and picked up their daily      when we have raised issues around confusion in the
newspaper, i want to just read some of the headlines           public mind…. The minister said today again, in his
they would have seen, the framing of the debate that's         debate, that the total cost of the olympics is 600 mil-
taking place in this house right now.                          lion bucks. That may well be, in the minister's mind, the
  "legislation expected to allow unlimited borrowing           actual cost of the olympics — 600 million bucks.
Powers" was the headline in The Vancouver Sun today,              it doesn't include the olympic secretariat. i'm hopeful
referencing bill 47. The public perception based on that       that the ioc will come and talk to the government about
headline…. had they not the opportunity to listen to           that. using the olympic name apparently is a problem if
13482                                          british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

you make pizza in Vancouver, but it's okay if you're a            Deputy Speaker: Member, are you making a point of
secretariat in the government of british columbia. Don't        order?
consider it a cost to the olympics. unlike the olympic
village, the olympic secretariat is not a cost; 600 million       S. Simpson: i am discussing the point of order raised
bucks — that's it. all up.                                      by the minister. it's debate on a point of order. i believe
   "Don't worry about it, hon. taxpayer." That's what           that's allowed.
they're saying. That's what the people on that side of the
house continue to believe. i would call that delusional,          Deputy Speaker: no, no debate on a point of order.
but i'm charitable. i'm generous on a Saturday night. it's
now 10:30.                                                        S. Simpson: Point of order, please.
    i don't want to leave the government with the impres-
sion that i don't hold anything but goodwill for them             Deputy Speaker: Make your point of order.
in their future, but they are living in dreamland if they
think the public truly believes that bill 47 is just a little      S. Simpson: The rules around order as i understand
housekeeping matter. "We'll just kind of tie this up.           them — and i'm looking for clarification — say that it's
nothing to see here, folks. Pay no attention to the people      quite relevant to speak about issues where relevance will
in the pointy buildings."                                       come later in the debate. it's very clear to me that that's
   We're here today, based on what i heard in langford          what we're doing here, and somebody should pay atten-
this morning, to write a blank cheque for the city of           tion to that.
Vancouver. now, it's an urgent matter, because it said so
                                                                  Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.
in the letter. it said so in the letter from Mr. robertson.
                                                                                                                    [2235]
it's an urgent matter, and i heard the house leader refer
to that. it's an urgent matter.
                                                                                   Debate Continued
    i know that the Minister of community Development
will be aware that in 2007 the Minister of Forests
                                                                   J. Horgan: had the minister cared a whit about the
— without any consultation, without any thought to
                                                                people of southern Vancouver island, he would know
compensation to the people of southern Vancouver                that the relevance that i was getting to with respect to the
island — allowed Western Forest Products to release             urgency of bill 47 was that the capital regional district
private lands from a tree farm licence.                         this month, based on two years of very, very botched his-
                                                                tory that the member for Saanich north and the islands
   interjection.                                                is well aware of, has asked the Minister of community
                                                                Development in an urgent way…. They may well not have
   J. Horgan: now, this is relevant. if the minister will       written the word "urgent" five times in a letter, but they
take his place for a moment. it has to do with the urgency      approached the Minister of community Development
of the Municipalities enabling and Validating act,              and are seeking a MeVa to try and address the foul-up
which i know the Minister of community Development              of a piece of policy on that side of the house.
is aware of.                                                       it's absolutely relevant to bill 47, because the reason
                                                                we're here today on a Saturday at 25 minutes to 11 is
   Deputy Speaker: Member, please. Sit down, please.            because they're botching the biggest capital project in
                                                                Vancouver right now, which is the point of this bill.
                      Point of Order                               My concern is that the Minister of community
                                                                Development was quick to respond to a serious and sig-
   Hon. B. Penner: i've reviewed the two sections of            nificant and real concern in the city of Vancouver. but
the bill that the member should make himself aware of.          those on that side of the house seem indifferent to the
nowhere at all does it refer to anything to do with forest      challenges and concerns their policies are raising in the
lands or to anything else to do with municipal enabling         capital regional district.
legislation.                                                       now, i think that's relevant. i think it's relevant, cer-
   he seems to be criticizing the ruling of the Speaker         tainly, to my constituents. They've sent me to this place
that this matter is urgent. We were told that this is the       to represent their interests. They've sent me today to
bill that we're debating tonight. i would strongly suggest      debate bill 47, which is an amendment brought forward
to the member that he restrict his comments to the bill         by the Minister of community Development, and i'm
itself.                                                         just advising the minister in debate at second reading
                                                                on the principles of why it's urgent that we address chal-
  S. Simpson: Just in regard to the minister's point of         lenges and concerns in a downturn in the economy for
order, i took the opportunity….                                 communities right across british columbia.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                      british columbia Debates                                             13483

   i'm saying that the people in the capital regional dis-       ies to the member for Vancouver–Point Grey. That may
trict feel abandoned. The people in the Metro Vancouver          be well and good for people on that side of the house,
area are delighted and pleased that we're here today to          but it's not good enough for people on this side of the
try and solve the mess that Sam Sullivan created at the          house.
behest of ken Dobell and the member for Vancouver–                  i was elected to come here and debate the issues of the
Point Grey's buddies, and that's fine.                           day. When the people of Vancouver pick up their paper
   i'm confident that when the member for Vancouver–             in the morning, they don't know what the heck's going
Point Grey takes his place to debate this bill and speak         on in this place. The government thinks that's all right.
in favour of writing a blank cheque to make up for the           They think that's okay. They're mushroom farmers. keep
mess that his buddy Sam Sullivan has left for our buddy          everybody in the dark. We'll have a great harvest.
Gregor robertson…. i'm confident that the member for                i think they're in for a rude awakening. it will come
Vancouver–Point Grey and, if we're lucky, the member             on May 12, 2009, when they take their arrogant road
for Vancouver-Fraserview will join the member for                show to the people of british columbia. The response is
Vancouver-Quilchena, the three remaining members                 going to be: "i don't know what the heck you people do in
from Vancouver. i don't know if there'll be three remain-        Victoria. i don't really care, but stop wasting my money."
ing after the next election, but there are three today.                                                              [2240]
   i'm hopeful that they'll all join in the debate and they'll      Most of my constituents, over the past six months,
all justify to their taxpayers why it is that we're sitting      have lost a quarter of their savings. The value of their
here at 25 minutes to 11 on a Saturday night taking away         homes has gone through the toilet. Yet we're here today
the rights of Vancouver citizens to vote in a referendum         potentially increasing the risk to taxpayers in Vancouver,
on borrowing up to $800 million — $800 million.                  potentially increasing the risk to taxpayers right across
                                                                 british columbia, and the government thinks it's okay
  interjection.                                                  to do it in 24 hours on a Saturday.
                                                                    They think that's okay. That's fine. i'm okay with that.
   J. Horgan: now, i hear the sleepy member from                 We have standing orders, and i guess that when i heard
Saanich saying that we should vote against this bill.            the Government house leader read a letter, i thought:
absolutely not. That's not the point.                            man, that's good research — brilliant. brilliant stuff. he
   This is not 1933. it's not the Weimar republic. This is a     was rewarded by what we've got going right here, right
democracy. We have rules in the place, and normally we           now.
take three reasonable days to vote on legislation. That's
what we normally do.                                               interjection.
   We're not doing that today. We're doing this all three
stages in one day. We're heading towards midnight.                 Deputy Speaker: Member.
We're probably going to be here until six o'clock or
seven o'clock in the morning talking about this bill, and           J. Horgan: apparently, the auditor General is not
that's fine. The Speaker has ruled on that. i'm delighted.       relevant to the finances of british columbia. i've heard
i couldn't be happier. i couldn't be happier because it          that from members of the executive council when
demonstrates the arrogance of this government. Seven             others have mentioned it, and i did hear a very eloquent
and a half years, and the rot is starting to show.               and impassioned denial by the member for Vancouver-
   We are here because of a colossal screwup by                  Quilchena, the renewed Finance Minister.
Mr. Dobell, by the Vanoc board, by the Finance                      i think it's important, again, in terms of the context of
committee, by all the people appointed by the Premier            why we are here debating bill 47. The people in my com-
of this province. now we're here, and it's supposedly just       munity want to see capital projects accelerated in the
a minor housekeeping thing. nothing to worry about,              downturn of the economy. Malahat–Juan de Fuca is one
folks. eight hundred million bucks — what's that among           of the fastest-growing regions on southern Vancouver
friends? nothing. chump change. chump change to the              island. There's a lot of pent-up economic frustration
realtors in Vancouver.                                           right now because they can't seem to free up capital
   We've heard from the member for Vancouver-hastings.           from the province or the federal government to realize
We heard from the member for Vancouver-Fairview. i'm             some public projects.
looking very much forward to hearing what the member                Yet at an economic development conference in my
for Vancouver-burrard has to say, as well as the member          community today, i was taken away to come here and
for Vancouver-kingsway.                                          rush something through in the dead of night so that the
   This is a profoundly important issue to the people of         Premier could go back to Vancouver and say: "Pay no
Vancouver. i don't want to diminish that one whit. but           attention. everything's fine. it's all fixed. and oh, by the
the people in my constituency, the people in columbia            way, it's Gregor's problem. let's blame Vision Vancouver."
river–revelstoke — they didn't send us here to be toad-          absolutely outrageous.
13484                                         british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   ken Dobell, the man of many hats, apparently had too       pal chaos in the capital regional district. i don't see any
many hats on to tell the government of british columbia       emergency session for that. i don't see a bill to be thrown
that the olympic village was going in the tank. Maybe         through all in one day for that.
one less hat might have helped there. The dunce cap is                                                              [2245]
apparently what the member should get Mr. Dobell for             i've got to say to my constituents: "Well, just wait until
this.                                                         Vancouver gets its fill. Wait till the Premier's pet projects
   imagine if you live in the city of Vancouver. i can        are taken care of. Wait till he dumps a whole bunch of
only imagine, but i've heard from Fairview; i've heard        responsibility on the taxpayers of Vancouver, and then
from hastings. These are taxpayers. These are their           maybe he'll come and help us out.
constituents.                                                    Part of me says: "Thanks for nothing. We don't really
   When the member for Vancouver-Fairview tried to            need the help if this is what you get — amendment to
tell a story about one of her constituents' thoughts on       the charter; $800 million more in debt because the man
bill 47, the environment Minister was quick to hop to         of many hats forgot to tell the Premier that their pre-
his feet and say: "What's the relevance of what taxpay-       ferred developer, Millennium, and their preferred hedge
ers think? What's the relevance of that?" absolutely          fund, Fortress, and intrawest kind of made a mistake
unbelievable.                                                 along the way, kind of didn't really follow the market
   When i looked at the bill this morning…. i've              the way we folks.
often said that i have a lot of time for the Minister of         My friend from Fairview's 80-year-old friends are
community Development, although it's been a long day,         paying attention to the market, because they're trying
and i can understand that his temper is a bit short, and      to feed themselves and pay the rent and look for where
some of his comments have been, i believe, uncharac-          they're going to be in their senior years. not so if you're
teristic of him. That's fine, because this is a passionate    buying condos at False creek.
place. We bring forward our arguments, sometimes elo-            heavens to betsy. That's what i've got to say to this. i
quently, sometimes in a ham-fisted way. i'd like to think     think that's parliamentary, isn't it? i didn't say "crock." i
i'm kind of halfway between ham and halfway between           know i can't say "crock," hon. Speaker, so you don't have
eloquence. That's my opinion. i'm sure the members            to correct me on that. but heavens to betsy.
have a different opinion on the other side.
                                                                 interjection.
  Hon. I. Black: Which half are we seeing now?
                                                                 J. Horgan: it was Snagglepuss who said: "heavens to
   J. Horgan: i'll leave that to Port Moody to figure out.    Murgatroyd." That was a trivia question the other day. i
   The challenges we have when we leave this place…. i        bet you not everyone in the place knew that. i know the
understand that the member for Vancouver-Quilchena            member for Surrey–White rock knew that. heavens to
doesn't want us to talk about it. "it's 600 million bucks;    Murgatroyd.
that's it. Pay no attention to the olympic secretariat. Pay     another one of the headlines that of course caught
no attention to the Sea to Sky highway."                      my attention — again, trying to understand how
   one of my friends said to me: "That's quite an eco-        the public is viewing the actions and activities here
nomic development policy the b.c. liberals have. a            in the pointy buildings today…. The Vancouver Sun
highway to Whistler — fantastic. Fantastic unless you         on Thursday, noted columnist Vaughn Palmer. The
live in the kootenays, unless you live in the north coast,    headline read: "Security budget Games Mean another
unless you live on Vancouver island. Then it doesn't do       Games embarrassment." another games embarrass-
a whole lot for you."                                         ment — what are we to make of that? What is the public
                                                              to make of that?
  [h. bloy in the chair.]                                       We come into this place. We're well informed. We get
                                                              briefings from our staff, and certainly, the members on
   So when i come into this place and i have to debate        the government side have got a $36 billion corporation
at second reading the principles of bill 47, i have to        over there. They're well informed. but ordinary citizens
say to myself: "Well, how the heck am i going to make         — they'd like to see some light shone on these issues. They
amendments to the Vancouver charter relevant to the           would expect — certainly, the people in my community
people in my community? how is it relevant to them,           expect — that the legislature of british columbia, from
when they want a MeVa, a municipalities enabling and          May until January, would have sat for more than six days,
validating act, as quickly as possible to make amends         one of which is a Saturday in January all night long, to
for a decision made by the Minister of Forests two years      avoid questions and scrutiny.
ago?                                                            That's what the taxpayers in my constituency expect:
  There was downzoning in the capital regional district.      accountability from me as their representative. but more
There was a lawsuit. There's an appeal. There's munici-       importantly, they can ignore me. They can discount me.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                            13485

They don't have to vote for me ever again, but they expect                         Point of Order
 the government of british columbia to come clean on
 what the true costs of the olympics are. no more blank          Hon. B. Penner: The previous chair had to admonish
 cheques for the member for Vancouver–Point Grey.             this member a couple of times about relevance. i know,
     Pet projects are fine if you're not playing with some-   looking at the two or three sections in this bill, that
 one else's money, and it's time that the member for          there's no reference to forest management practices or
Vancouver–Point Grey took his place in this debate and        reports of the auditor General to do with matters other
 fessed up to what he knows, when he knew it. When            than the olympics.
 did ken Dobell tell him that Sam Sullivan had booted            hon. chair, i respectfully request that you remind
 this ball all the way across False creek? When did ken       the member to constrain his remarks to the two or three
 Dobell brief Jessica McDonald, the deputy to the Premier,    sections of the bill.
 and when did the Premier know that the taxpayers of
Vancouver were potentially on the hook for an $800 mil-         Deputy Speaker: Member, please continue. i won't
 lion real estate venture in the worst market we've seen      read what the Speaker read earlier, but if you could
 in 70 years? When did that happen? We would like to          direct your remarks to the…. i know that the bill is very
 know that. The taxpayers of Vancouver would certainly        narrow, but direct it to that portion of the bill we are
 like to know that.                                           discussing. Thank you.
     When i started my comments, i referenced my friend
 from columbia river–revelstoke. like myself, he comes                           Debate Continued
 from a rural part of british columbia. of course, mine
 is kind of a suburban-rural constituency, but nonethe-           J. Horgan: i will do my level best to speak to bill 47,
 less, we have people in our community that like to come       the Vancouver charter amendment act. again, as a
                                                               member from outside of the Metro Vancouver area, as
 to Vancouver. They like to go shopping. They like to see
                                                               i bring my thoughts to this debate on behalf of my con-
 maybe relatives. Maybe their kids are trying to find work
                                                               stituents, i believe i have to shape them in a way that
 in the big city. They are now becoming taxpayers.
                                                               they'll be understood back home.
     our extended families and people in our community
                                                                  i think all of us, as we speak to legislation, particu-
 are going to Vancouver, and they're potentially going to
                                                               larly a piece of legislation that's confined to the city of
 be going to Vancouver to enjoy the olympics. i know
                                                              Vancouver…. if we don't live there, we have to bring other
 i'll be watching it on my television, but that's just the
                                                               experiences to the debate, but i'm absolutely mindful of
 way it goes. a lot of people are looking forward to the
                                                               the Speaker's ruling and your admonition, and i will do
 olympics. i am one of them.
                                                               my level best to speak to the olympic village site.
     however, what i want from the government of british          in so doing, i would like to go back to some of the
 columbia — what the people in my community, what              comments that the public would have seen in their mor-
 the people from columbia river–revelstoke want — is           ning papers today, again trying to understand what it is
 accountability. i don't see accountability in a bill that     we're doing here as we amend the Vancouver charter
 says: "here's a blank cheque, Vancouver. try and fix Mr.      and not provide a municipal enabling and validating act
 Sullivan's problem. and oh, by the way, if it goes badly,     for the capital regional district, which is of more import-
 we're going to blame Vision for the whole damn thing."        ance to my constituents, certainly, than this.
 outrageous. absolutely outrageous.                               however, in today's Globe and Mail: "olympic Village
     i can't for the life of me understand why it is that      Problems ask Some never-again Questions." So again,
 members on the other side of the house don't have             the public, as they're looking at what we're doing today
 the time for the auditor General. We have selected the        with respect to the amendments to the Vancouver
auditor General. a bipartisan committee selected him           charter, are confused. i know that the minister will
 from a range of candidates. he issued a report again on       say that the debate from this side of the house is doing
 the Western Forest Products lands, and the Minister of        nothing to inform those citizens. Well, had we had the
 Forests, who was so concerned about debate, so con-           opportunity to have reasoned debate over the course of
 cerned about anecdotes from constituents and from             three days, then maybe we might well have been able to
 taxpayers concerned about escalating costs for the            shed some positive light on that.
 olympic village…. he was so concerned that he said:              When we look at what the Globe and Mail had to
"We don't want to talk about that."                            say…. The Globe and Mail said in their lead story today:
                                                     [2250]   "how Did Things Go So Wrong?" how did things go so
     When the auditor General pointed out the glaring          wrong? i'll just read from that. it says: "by last fall the
 and egregious mistakes in the forest policy that the min-     developers were in the soup." That's charitable. "Fortress
 ister is going to correct me on, he said he didn't know       had stopped lending the money, construction bills could
 what he was doing. When the auditor General….                 only be met with an extraordinary $100 million advance
13486                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

from the city, and today an emergency session of the           the state of mind of the public as we sit in this place?
legislature is being convened to provide Vancouver with        We're here virtually alone.
the power to borrow hundreds of millions of dollars to           Thank goodness for hansard. Thank you very much
prevent the project from going belly up."                      for being here, keeping a record of this.
    in the soup, belly up — that's what the public is read-
ing about the debate that's going on in here today. That's       Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.
the public perception of what's happened — in the soup
and belly up.                                                    J. Horgan: am i out of time, hon. Speaker? Thank you
   The Minister of community Development: "Just a              very much. i look forward to the municipal enabling act
housekeeping thing. nothing to worry about. everything         tomorrow.
is going to be fine." broad parameters. no limits on how
much, what instruments are used in section 2 of the               Deputy Speaker: The member for Vancouver-burrard.
act.                                                           if i could remind the member to direct his remarks to
   The member for Vancouver-Quilchena, the only                the portion of the bill.
Vancouver member from the government side to
speak to this bill so far…. i know that the member for             S. Herbert: When i came into Victoria last night, there
Vancouver–Point Grey will stand in his place and offer         was a deep fog. Many here today had trouble getting here
an eloquent and passionate defence of Sam Sullivan and         because of this fog. as i awoke this morning in Victoria,
the nPa's botching — into the soup, belly up — the             our capital was enveloped in this fog, a deep murkiness
olympic village that we're discussing here in bill 47. i'm     where you could not even see across the street. Much of
certain of that. i can't wait.                                 b.c. has been in this deep murkiness lately. Whether it's
    i'm hopeful that at about five or six in the morning       kamloops, Prince George, burnaby, comox, Vancouver
the member for Vancouver–Point Grey will take his              or rural b.c., we have all been unable to see because of
place and proudly declare: "hey, it's not my fault. it was     this fog.
Sam." better yet: "it was Gregor. blame Gregor." Thank             i speak now of the fog and murky haze that sur-
goodness for Gregor robertson. Thank goodness for              rounds the olympics and the backroom deal that led
Vision Vancouver.                                              to this olympic village fiasco, which has caused the
   Thank goodness for Vision Vancouver. The end of             debate we're having today on bill 47 — a fog made up of
nPa — the only thing that's greater than that is the end       olympic boosterism, doublespeak, passing the buck and
of the b.c. liberal Party, which is going to happen on         utter fabrication.
May 12, 2009. You know why? because they have the                 This b.c. liberal fog needs to be cleared. The make-
arrogance to bring forward bill 47 on a Saturday, when         believe that everything is fine needs to stop. our people
no one's paying attention. They're watching the hockey.        deserve much better. it is our money that this govern-
                                                    [2255]     ment is spending, after all.
    today was the nicest day we've had in a month. Some            Please, Mr. Premier, turn the fog machine off, and tell
of us went on holidays. Some of us went to the sun, some       us the real answers. come clean on the real olympic
of us went to hawaii, but i shovelled snow. Then i started     costs.
filling sandbags. That's what i did with my summer                 now, i'd like to let the hon. Speaker know that the fog
vacation. The nicest day we've had in a month, and we're       cleared briefly today here in Victoria. The sun burnt it off,
in here instead of in our constituency talking about the       just as i hoped the people of british columbia's concern
challenges that we face in a downturn in the economy.          would burn off this government's arrogance and foggy
                                                               complicity in hiding the true cost of these games. The
  interjection.                                                Premier has a real opportunity to come clean on the real
                                                               cost of the olympics tonight, and maybe we'll hear that a
   J. Horgan: it was good exercise. i didn't lose any weight   little bit later. Maybe at 5 a.m. the fog can be lifted.
as a result, but that's my problem, not the minister's.            i think it was then Social credit opposition leader
   i know that the minister is anxious to hear more            bill bennett who said, "not a dime without debate,"
about the municipal enabling and validating act that's         and went on to champion the people's rights to know
desperately needed in the capital regional district and        for months. The same principle rings true today. our
will put his mind to that as soon as we finish with bill 47.   people — my fellow british columbians, my constitu-
i'm hopeful that bill 48 will come tomorrow morning in         ents — are now on the hook for billions in olympic
an urgent manner so that we can dispense with it in one        spending, with probably at least a billion in cost over-
day — all three stages — to do something, finally, for the     runs. but the Premier says: "There are no cost overruns
people of the capital regional district.                       for the olympics." The fog descends again.
   i want to go through some of the clippings again,               i'm here today to speak in support of bill 47, the
because i do believe that it's absolutely relevant. What's     Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009, and i do it
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                                      13487

because taxpayers in Vancouver need this change. as            government has not learned and has failed to do — to
a taxpayer in Vancouver myself, i don't like it that my        watch out for his interests.
municipal government has had to go to this distance. i            When i attended a tourism function the other night, i
don't like it that my government has to be in this situa-      spoke with a number of people who identified themselves
tion to ask us here in the legislature to waive the rules      as former friends of the government, who asked me why
for referendum, to sidestep them, but that's the reality. i    i thought the government would schedule a session on
don't like that this amendment has to exist, as it strips      a Saturday and why the government would not be frank
taxpayers of their rights to decide what their local coun-     with taxpayers about the other projects in similar situa-
cil spends their money on, in this case.                       tions to the olympic village, projects which have gone
   but as my fellow members have noted, the b.c. liberal       massively over budget and they are on the hook for.
farm team of the nPa and Mr. Premier's friends Sam                i don't know why the government thinks they know
Sullivan and Peter ladner stuck us all on this hook when       best, why they think hiding the real numbers is better
they agreed to put no conditions on their agreement to         than being forthright. could it be because they know
spend the money with this hedge fund and Millennium.           the people of b.c. will not stand for billions of their
                                                     [2300]    dollars spent on the Premier's pet projects when home-
   We need this amendment in Vancouver to reduce the           lessness has gone up, when we're the worst in terms of
exposure faced by Vancouverites. Private borrowing             child poverty?
costs of 11 percent are crippling the city's ability to pro-
vide the crucial services Vancouverites pay for. instead,        Deputy Speaker: Member. Member, i'm going to read
that money is being shipped out the door to investors          what the Speaker said earlier this evening or today.
on Wall Street. This is not right, but it's consistent with        "as stated earlier, the bill has been carefully drawn to cover a
programs this government has watched over. We need               situation in Vancouver brought to the attention of this house by
this amendment to stop the bleeding.                             the mayor of Vancouver. as such, it is neither a throne debate nor
                                                                 a budget debate permitting the widest possible range of discus-
   When this problem came to light, i went out onto the          sion, but it is a second reading debate relating to the narrowly
streets, into the community centres, the bars, the seniors       drawn bill presently before the house. i would ask all hon. mem-
centres, the coffee shops to speak with my constituents          bers to bear this in mind when commenting on this legislation
about what they thought, to allow them to have the               during the second reading debate."
debate since they were not allowed to vote in a referen-          So i would ask the member to withdraw his remarks
dum. i would like to share some of their concerns with         following the Speaker's instruction.
this house.
   i heard from rodney, who said: "Why is it that you             S. Herbert: i'm not sure about withdrawing my
can have a special session to bail out a failing luxury        remarks, because…. i'll just continue, hon. Speaker.
condo deal, but you never had a special session to deal           could it be because the people that i was speaking
with the highest child poverty rate in this country?" he's     to are upset that this bill has to come to the house, that
right. The priorities of this government are out of touch      they're upset that the government wasn't watching out and
with where the people of british columbia are. bill 47         working with their partner at the municipal level to make
has people concerned.                                          sure they were not going to be on the hook for these costs?
   i spoke with John, who said that what has happened          Yeah, i think that's the reason they're upset. They're upset
with the olympic village is all too typical of this gov-       that this government has not been open and accountable
ernment and its priorities. he spoke of the convention         with their partners and has not worked with their partners
centre cost overruns of $500 million and how much              to make sure these kinds of situations do not arise.
he wanted that money back to support programs at St.              unfortunately, bill 47 is necessary because of this gov-
Paul's hospital and to deal with the homelessness crisis       ernment's lack of accountability and openness, because
in our community. he spoke about how odd it was, in            this culture of secrecy that this government is famous
his words, "that the government responds when fancy            for has permeated all the olympic projects in this city,
condos are on the line but not when people on Davie            including the olympic village.
Street burn to death."                                            instead of being open and accountable, the govern-
   again, these are my constituent's words in Vancouver-       ment in Vancouver tried to hide the problems in the fog,
burrard — a constituent who wants real answers and real        but we in b.c. know that there are more problems like
action for the challenges facing him and his family today.     this hiding in the dark shadows. Devastation is waiting.
he told me that he's happy that the mayor has shed the         We hear the coins being poured into the great money pit
light on this deal. he's happy that it's being debated         of cost overruns — our coins. i'm talking of hundreds
here today, because he needs answers, and he wants the         of millions of loonies and toonies pouring out and — in
government to take action. he's glad that we're able to        the case of bill 47, what we're trying to stop here, cur-
do that today, but he's concerned about what this bill         rently, in the olympic village — going to Wall Street.
means and about what it's teaching us about what the                                                                [2305]
13488                                          british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

    bill 47 is necessary because of this culture of boost-      delayed, finally bringing us back today, Saturday, so as to
erism i spoke of earlier. now, i'm going to quote the           escape question period and scrutiny.
Premier on the cost of the convention centre in my                  he calls us back today and waives the rules so proper
constituency because i think it relates to the culture of       scrutiny by our citizens has no time to happen. one
boosterism which has unfortunately led to the devasta-          million bucks of Vancouver taxpayers' money in delays
tion we're seeing with the olympic village project. he          so that the Premier and this government can escape the
said, when asked about the $565 million price tag in            opposition and the public scrutiny — shameful. but this
2004, that it would be the final cost. "count on it. There      is par for the course with this b.c. liberal government.
are contingencies built into this project, and it's going to        i noted earlier today when the Finance Minister rose
be run professionally. That's it. kaputski. Done."              in debate, the Minister responsible for the olympics,
   "That's it. kaputski. it's done." Well, we now know that     and spoke in this house defending the government's
that was far from the truth, and the costs have radically       decision to ignore all three reports of the auditors
increased to upwards of $900 million for the convention         General — two reports, because one's not made public
centre, just as we've seen the costs increase again and         — in the past number of years and the opposition's call
again in the olympic village.                                   for coming clean about the real cost of the olympics,
   as my friend lindsay always says, toughski shvitski.         which would show that british columbians were on the
She claims it's Polish. i don't believe her. She says this in   hook for millions, if not billions, more for the olympics
relation to this problem. She says the money is already         than the government claims, because of faulty business
gone, and we'll never get it back for use in our commun-        models, lack of scrutiny and cost overruns like we've
ities because of a lack of accountability and because of        seen in the olympic village.
a lack of openness and proper management. toughski                 This shroud of obfuscation, doublespeak and make-
shvitski. This project had the same sort of secrecy, the        believe continues. i heard the Premier say: "no. 1, there
same sort of lack of accountability, as the olympic vil-        are no cost overruns in the olympic village" and "There
lage, which brought us here with bill 47.                       are no cost overruns." Then he said, when his staff
    i want to return to what the Minister of community          reminded him that there were indeed cost overruns on
Development — community services, as i've heard it              Vancouver's olympic village: "There are no cost over-
called — said when he spoke in support of this bill. he         runs for the olympics."
said that the Premier heard about the city of Vancouver's                                                           [2310]
olympic village massive cost overruns from the mayor                i served as a commissioner with the Vancouver board
on January 5 and was told that the city needed some             of parks and recreation, partners with the provincial
sort of charter change. he said that the Premier asked          government on a number of olympic projects, includ-
him to look into this. he said the Premier asked that the       ing the hillcrest curling centre, trout lake and killarney
council have a resolution requesting this change, even          rinks, parts of the olympic village. i seem to remember
though the mayor had made clear he needed action and,           a number of cost overruns on those olympic projects.
i assume, had council's support. it is a massive majority,      Just to make sure, i contacted commissioner loretta
after all, for Vision Vancouver.                                Woodcock. She told me that the cost for the projects has
   Then the Premier waited. The minister and the                increased from $80 million to $119 million. it's about
Premier, from what i can tell, didn't draft a bill, didn't      $39 million in overruns.
do their due diligence. They waited. For every day they             now i know the Finance Minister for Vancouver-
waited, it cost $87,000 of Vancouver taxpayers' money           Quilchena and the Premier for Point Grey — of course,
— every day. The Premier and the minister for commun-           i mean the members for Vancouver-Quilchena and
ity services knew that the council was going to pass this       Vancouver–Point Grey — will say that these are not
motion. The mayor had indicated as such and made it             olympic costs, just as they say the olympic secretariat
very obvious that this was a big deal and needed their          is not an olympic cost. They will pump out more rhet-
help.                                                           orical fog that the olympics have nothing to do with
    Did the Premier, did the minister draft the bill then?      the skating centre that's been redeveloped now for the
no. as far as i can tell, they waited, costing more and         olympics.
more. Then after getting the motion passed at council,             The city taxpayers would not have taken this cost on
they waited to call the house back until today, because         now without the olympics. i know that because i was
they needed to get a bill drafted. So my assumption is          there when we made that decision. Yet the government
that the bill was not put together before the Monday vote       continues to claim no cost overruns.
at council — even though nine out of the ten councillors            When the olympic village is facing massive cost
are Vision Vancouver and coPe, who are very much                overruns, which is the reason we're here today, you'd
affiliated with the mayor, as i know — 12 days after being      think the b.c. liberals could admit that the taxpayers
made aware of Vancouver's need. That's $87,000 a day            are in the thick of it. it's the same taxpayer. Whether
for 12 days — over a million bucks because the Premier          it's Vancouver taxpayers or british columbia taxpayers,
Saturday, January 17, 2009                  british columbia Debates                                              13489

we're paying the same taxes in Vancouver for those pro-        i get nervous about statements i hear from the gov-
jects — bigger, way more than this government claims.       ernment. i get nervous because this lack of scrutiny, this
The government needs to get that into their heads. These    lack of accountability, which has led to bill 47, is just
are olympic costs.                                          what we're seeing here today and we've been seeing for
   The government needs to come clean on the real costs     months and for years with this government. This is the
and have the auditor General be the auditor General         same sort of hedging that has led to the trouble with the
for the olympics as he has requested. What is the gov-      hedge fund in new York for Vancouver and its olympic
ernment afraid of?                                          village.
   i reference a Vancouver Province editorial: "The prov-      When you can't tell us what's really going on, when
incial government claims that taxpayers would not be        you don't believe the public has a right to know, some-
asked to pay more than $600 million as their share of       thing is very wrong in this province. When the Finance
2010 games costs has always been a sham." Their claim       Minister and the Premier dismiss the advice of three dif-
has always been a sham is what the Province says.           ferent independent auditors General, who are looking
   When the government is involved in what the Province     out for taxpayers' interests, the government has grown
calls a sham, i would hope the Premier and the members      really out of touch.
on that side of the house would sit up and pay attention,      as i've said, this is the attitude that led to the olympic
would sit up and speak truthfully about what's going on     village fiasco. it's also led to the convention centre, the
there. but instead we hear more boosterism and happy        curling venues, skating tracks, b.c. Place — the list goes
talk when the people of b.c. are asking for a government    on. if we cannot learn from Vancouver's problem, when
that will provide answers and listen to their concerns      are we going to learn? When are the taxpayers going to
and their priorities.                                       be able to look at us, look at all the Mlas here today and
   We hear denial that there's even a problem when what     trust that we are actually looking out for their interests?
we need is honesty, accountability and transparency.                                                                [2315]
We need a government and a Finance Minister that are           i'm calling for us to learn today from Vancouver. We
forthright with the people of british columbia — as the     should have learned this ages ago. i don't understand
mayor of Vancouver has done on the olympic village.         how the government can seem to believe that by hiding
   earlier the Finance Minister defended his govern-        costs and moving them from one place to another we're
ment's estimate of $600 million for the olympics — all      going to be able to deal with situations like this. We can't.
in, total cost. i turn now to what the minister said out-   if you cannot properly account for how you're spending
side of the house today about olympic security costs.       your money, it disappears, as we're seeing in Vancouver.
he was pressed to answer about the fact that no one         i as a taxpayer and my constituents — the member
believes that the security costs will continue to remain    for Vancouver-Fairview has mentioned it; Vancouver-
at $100 million when many experts expect security costs     hastings has mentioned it — we're seeing this happen
to be upwards of $1 billion dollars and have for years.     again and again and again, and it's got to stop. This is
   in the Globe and Mail today it reads: "When the min-     not right.
ister was asked if that would blow b.c.'s overall $600         i spoke earlier about the fog in our province. For hours
olympics budget, Mr. hansen hedged: 'i wish there was       now my colleagues have been trying to get the govern-
a simple yes or no answer to that question.'"               ment to clear the fog, to clear the air on these issues, to
                                                            come to terms with the fact that what's happened in
  Deputy Speaker: Member, you do not refer to other         Vancouver is happening to all the other olympic pro-
members by name, and i would ask you to keep your           jects in one way or another. but there seems to be a fog
remarks to the bill that we're discussing today.            inside this house. i heard an hon. member just yawn.
                                                            Maybe that's adding to the fog. i'll try to be more excit-
   S. Herbert: Thank you, hon. Speaker. i'm just refer-     ing for the hon. member.
encing what the hon. member said earlier today in the          There's a fog in the Premier's office, a fog that seems to
house on this question.                                     make it impossible for the public to get the real answers
  When the Finance Minister refuses to answer a basic       for the very real questions we have about bill 47 and
question, a question as simple as: will increased costs     what led specifically to bill 47 and the olympic village
for security compromise your promised $600 million          fiasco and the many other olympic projects that have
budget…?                                                    grown completely out of control. When i took a look
                                                            outside a little earlier, i noticed the fog had descended
  Deputy Speaker: Member. Member, please draw your          in Victoria again as well. i saw on the news that the fog
remarks directly towards the bill that we're discussing     had descended again across the province. unless we get
today.                                                      some real courage and some real integrity, i'm afraid
                                                            this fog is going to continue till May 12, when we will
  S. Herbert: okay.                                         clear the fog when this government is changed.
13490                                           british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   N. Simons: Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. it's          seems to me that the defensiveness and the denial indi-
now 11:16. i'm usually in my sixth hour of sleep.               cate that there's no lesson about to be learned. So i'm
   Due to pressing commitments, i'm in this house               wondering.
speaking on a bill that was revealed to us earlier today           i'm wondering why, first, there seem to be very few
so that we can contemplate a very important issue facing        members of the governing side who wish to weigh in
not just Vancouverites but british columbians in gen-           on this debate. Perhaps if they're standing up every few
eral. it's an issue of great importance because it, in some     minutes saying that we're not staying on topic, they
way or another, exemplifies other issues that british           could maybe bring us back and talk about what issues
columbians are worried about. My colleague from                 they think are central to this. how did we get here? What
Vancouver-burrard expressed it in very poetic terms             were the decisions that were made that led us to being
about the thickness of the fog and the lack of visibility       here on a Saturday night, even though we knew not just
that we see outside in the streets and a similar fog that       last December but in June somebody knew, and some-
seems to weigh on us in here.                                   body didn't say anything. That's a lack of accountability.
   unfortunately, this is a place where we're supposed to          We need to understand how that lack of accountabil-
get to the bottom of issues. it's a place where we're sup-      ity managed to sort of continue with no, or very limited,
posed to debate issues, to find out if there's an angle that    oversight that could have got us here earlier and perhaps
we haven't yet seen or if there's a perspective that hasn't     have saved the city of Vancouver more money.
been adequately explained. Maybe there's a misunder-               We got here because of a letter, a well-written letter,
standing that needs to be clarified.                            from the city of Vancouver to the Premier of the prov-
   This is about giving the city of Vancouver, finally with a   ince and the leader of the opposition, saying that we
responsible administration, with responsible councillors        need to get this done. We need to get this done soon.
— Vision, coPe and Green — influencing intelligent                 There was no doubt whatsoever, Mr. Speaker, that
decision-making and sweeping up a mess that was left            both sides of the house would want to make sure that we
for them, the legacy of the nPa, sometimes referred to          could clean up a mess. We can't turn a blind eye to the
as the farm team for the liberal government…. Well, we          fact that, really, the previous city administration landed
shouldn't have to be here to be discussing this.                us here. and it's perhaps the fact that the urgency was
   i'm pleased to be here. i'm going to support the legis-      repeated in that letter that the Premier decided to wait
lation. i think the mayor, my friend Gregor robertson,          a few extra days.
has already shown that he's leaps and bounds ahead of              if it was that urgent, maybe we should have been here
the issues, attempting to deal with the mess, as i men-         just a couple of days earlier. Was the legislation ready?
tioned, in a way that perhaps will rescue some of the           no. Did they know it should be ready? Maybe. how
boondoggles that have plagued the olympics so far.              long did it take? as the minister has pointed out, it's just
   how did we get here? how did we get to the point             slightly over a page. actually, you know, when you think
where it's 11:20 at night. Montreal won in a shootout ear-      about it, that's a lot of paper for the page.
lier. it seems like eons ago. i don't know what happened           Speaking of paper, you know, there are emergencies
with calgary and Phoenix, but something must have. i            throughout this province. There are issues that need to
was sitting in here wondering why i didn't have a pillow.       be discussed in great detail around the province. The
                                                                threat to the pulp and paper industry is one of them, but
   An Hon. Member: Phoenix won.                                 we don't see an extra session on that. no, no.
                                                     [2320]        This is covering up a little bit of an error that the farm
                                                                team made. unfortunately, it has this little…. There's
   N. Simons: Phoenix won. That's the most important            this perception in the province that maybe it's an indi-
information that anyone from that side of the house has         cator of a greater problem. Maybe it's an indicator of a
offered to us all day, and i appreciate it. i don't know the    larger systemic problem, and if we can just quickly get
score, but that's okay. if you tell me, i'm going to have to    it over with, like a child swallowing distasteful medicine,
correct myself and my earlier statement.                        everyone will forget, and we'll all get better. That's not
  This is about accountability, Mr. Speaker. This is about      the way legislatures are supposed to work.
legislation changing the act that tells the city of Vancouver      We're supposed to examine the problems. We're sup-
what it can and can't do. They need to borrow money             posed to discuss the problems, and we're supposed to
so that the taxpayers of Vancouver aren't on the hook           find solutions to those problems. but not in this cham-
for $87,000 a day because they're paying an 11 percent          ber, it seems. not in this chamber, which has found itself
interest rate. We have to be here to rescue, to put back in     maybe sitting six days since May 30 — six days since
order, to fix. That's our duty here. That's our duty.           May 30.
   but it's also our duty to figure out exactly what got us        What have we seen since May 30? We've seen the
into this mess in the first place and how we can prevent        devastation of the forest industry. We've seen industry,
things like this from happening in the future. So far it        and we've seen manufacturing going down. We've seen
Saturday, January 17, 2009                      british columbia Debates                                                  13491

housing starts drop. We've seen unemployment increase,           called the Vanoc secretariat that costs $41 million,
we've seen child poverty continue, and — what? — now             don't say: "That's outside the olympics." it's the Vanoc
we have an emergency because the city of Vancouver,              secretariat. nobody's believing it.
under its previous administration, made a blunder.                   it's troubling to me, because it essentially debases
                                                [2325]           the entire system we have — to insult the intelligence
                                                                 of british columbians in such a way. You know, people
   interjections.                                                ask: "Why are people cynical about politics? Why are
                                                                 they disengaged?" i wouldn't blame them if they're
     N. Simons: That's exactly what i was going to say.          not watching us right now. any other time, of course,
     So what we're finding here is that we're debating an        i expect everybody watching us on television, but it's
 issue on a Saturday night because of the nature of it           11:30 at night. That's understandable, but the cynicism
 being an emergency, an urgency.                                 that permeates the general population is not a mistake.
     i take great offence at that thought that we will only          We need to make sure that what we do in this house,
 discuss what the government thinks is urgent and not            the issues that we discuss and the problems that we cor-
 what the people of the province think is urgent. There          rect are the issues that the people of british columbia
 are many issues we should be discussing. bill 47. bill 47       want us to talk about and are the problems that the
 speaks directly to the fact that bad plans were made, that      people of british columbia want us to fix.
 bad decisions were taken. We're here as the legislature                                                                   [2330]
 to provide that oversight, to provide the debate.                   i'm pleased that the mayor of Vancouver and his staff
    You know, the problem inherent in this is that the lack      have found a way of remedying what is clearly an egre-
 of accountability was not a mistake. The lack of account-       gious error on the part of the former administration.
 ability, in legal terms, would be considered wilful — a             We haven't been in this house to talk about any of the
 wilful blindness to the problems that this whole system         issues around the olympics since May 30, 2008. have
 engenders. it is wilful blindness to the fact that there        i mentioned the economic crisis, the forestry crisis, the
 are systemic problems throughout the whole olympic              unemployment crisis, the child poverty crisis?
 financing situation.                                                Just because it's been five years that we've been the
    The auditor General…. not a member of the oppos-             worst in terms of child poverty in canada doesn't mean
 ition, not a member of any of the organizations that the        it's not still a crisis. i've seen the faces of these little kids
 government likes to ridicule, to put down or to dismiss,        who will tell you that it's a crisis, but they can't write a
 but the auditor General…. Three auditors General                fancy letter to the Premier. one day they will.
 have repeatedly stated that there should be independent            That's what i find most problematic. This bill, which
 oversight.                                                      provides the city of Vancouver with the authority to
    There should be independent oversight to this system,        borrow money in order to get a better deal for their
 and you know, perhaps we would have prevented this              citizens, is a rescue, but it's a rescue from a dangerous
 problem, perhaps, because certainly the people pro-             activity. it's like they've skied out of bounds. and you
 tecting themselves weren't about to release the fact that       know what? We're here to rescue them — pleased to do
 they were making mistakes. The people were doing what           it. but let's not make the same mistakes again.
 they did in order to hide the facts from the public, and           The problem is that we don't seem to be learning from
 it's a sorry state. The auditor General says it very clearly:   those mistakes. We see a government that's intending
"My office's two previous reports…conclude that british          these issues to be seen as small, unexpected, unpredicted
 columbia's share of the full cost of the Games is higher        little problems that will be dealt with on a Saturday night
 than the $600 million figure."                                  with a one-page bill, and that's the job of the legislature
     oh, Mr. Speaker, you know, there's nobody in this           of british columbia.
 province who believes that any more. The problem, when             There are 79 of us in here. Well, there usually are.
 the public loses its confidence in government…. Well,           There are a couple out of the room right now. So 79
 we'll see what'll happen May 12, but when they lose con-        Members of the legislative assembly representing all
 fidence in government, they find other reasons, and they        british columbians. We're not doing them a great ser-
 find other examples, and that's what we've done. There          vice by sitting here on one day — suspending the rules,
 are other examples showing how this government's lack           granted. but we could have been here earlier.
 of accountability is systemic to their style.                       We could have saved the taxpayers of Vancouver a
    You know, $600 million on the olympics. We know              little bit more money, and if we were here earlier, maybe
 that's what the Premier continually tells us is the cost:       we could have asked the government some other ques-
 $600 million. "Don't count the other things. They don't         tions, because they're awfully quiet about this. We know
 count." only he gets to decide what he wants to call            it's a style. it's a pattern. it's better not to answer ques-
 olympic spending. let's throw a little common sense             tions, better not to hear any questions in the first place.
 into the mix once in a while. if you've got something           but we have a lot of them.
13492                                           british columbia Debates                       Saturday, January 17, 2009

  An Hon. Member: They use closure to pass their                 a problem coming up. We've got a big issue coming up.
bills. We never sit anymore. They run it like a damn             When did we find out? earlier this month. The Premier
monarchy.                                                        must have known earlier. but his bad planning…. i
                                                                 remember walking into a store, or i think it was prob-
   N. Simons: it's like a monarchy. We never sit anymore,        ably in university somewhere, where you go in and get
and they use closure. You know, the members on the               your photocopying done or something. There was a sign
government side of this house would rather that govern-          behind a desk that says: "bad planning on your part does
ment disappeared. They would rather that the corporate           not constitute an emergency on mine." it's true.
executives figured out their little Millennium-Fortress             What we're here doing in an emergency session is
deals and solved everything themselves. but we have a            dealing with flubs and boondoggles. You know what?
responsibility in this house. We have a responsibility to        There are greater emergencies in this province. There are
the people of british columbia.                                  far greater emergencies in this province, and i'd like the
   So far the debate has looked like this. Members of her        Premier, and i'd like his cabinet and i'd like the members
Majesty's loyal opposition have pointed out the flaws            of the government side to recognize those one day.
of this government's plans, of their strategy and of their          it's getting pretty late. i can tell you that people on this
solutions. all they've done is stood up and tried to figure      side of the house sure know what the issues that british
out ways to shut us up. a point of order here, another           columbians are interested in. They know what british
point of order there. "You're off topic, you're off topic…."     columbians need, and they know it's not more of this
   Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue, and we should        — not more of this government, not more of their arro-
be examining every angle of it. The feeble defence of the        gance. one star. There are a lot of words for arrogance.
government's position offered by the Minister of Finance,        We could choose other words for arrogance, and each
who's saying, "oh, you know, we just disagreed with the          one of them works just as well.
auditors General because we don't like their categories,"           but you know what? to go back on script, it's like:
brings up — what was it? — the stop for the….                    why are they so arrogant? Why are they so out of touch?
                                                                 it doesn't help their cause even, because people smell a
  interjection.                                                  rat. They smell a rat. all of this trying to stifle debate, all
                                                                 of this distraction and obfuscation — that's cover-up. i'll
   N. Simons: Yeah. Section 3. For example, in the first         try to use smaller words for the members opposite.
auditor General's report that came out in 2006, there
were particular reports — a lot of costs. They didn't               interjections.
like referring to those many costs. You know, the feeble
defence that you can read in Hansard is an indicator to            N. Simons: it's an expression for the overexcited
all of us that if that's the best they can do, things are even   members across the way. We're now two pencil-lengths
worse than we thought. if that's the best they can do, it's      apart, and things get tense.
shocking.
   it's shocking but disappointing as well, because i think         An Hon. Member: Sharp pencils.
the people of british columbia deserve better. i think
they deserve better from this government. i think they              N. Simons: Sharp pencils indeed. never get
deserved better from the previous nPa administration             sharpened.
in Vancouver.                                                       it's just troubling to me that we have to be here.
                                                        [2335]   none of us would deny the residents of Vancouver the
   but people in my constituency are concerned as well.          opportunity to escape from the mess that they were put
We have friends, we have family, and we have brothers            into. but the rest of british columbians are asking ques-
and sisters in Vancouver. We have a connection with the          tions. They're asking questions of their members of the
largest city in this province. We care about what hap-           opposition, because we do listen to them. Those ques-
pens to those people there. We're in the rural part of           tions centre around other important issues to be talking
the province. Maybe our problems are a slightly smaller          about. or some say: "The olympics — is this just the
scale, a little bit further away, but they are as important      beginning?" i'm saying no, it's not just the beginning.
to us as this is to the people of Vancouver.                     We're well into the problems of the olympics. We're well
   but no, there's no emergency session for…. There's no         into them.
regular session for the people of Powell river–Sunshine             of course, as proud residents and citizens of british
coast, and that's a shame too. it's all about accountability,    columbia, we want things to go well for our province.
and it's all about credibility, and it's all about the absence   We want to showcase good things about the province.
thereof, in fact.                                                We want to make sure that people across the world, the
   nine meetings of the Vanoc board before December              25 billion people of the universe that the Minister of
9, 2008, going back to June 2007, saying that we've got          Finance said…. The ten billion people who are going
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13493

to be watching on their television sets…. i'm not sure           The Vancouver convention centre. i think that in
where the ten….                                                2002, the Premier said it was a central aspect of the
                                                               bid application. Well, now it's nothing to do with the
  interjection.                                                olympics. "nothing to do with the olympics. Sorry
                                                               about that."
  N. Simons: oh yes, the minister said ten billion               The Sea to Sky highway. You know, people could
would be watching. however many billion are watching,          actually have walked to the olympics if they wanted.
we don't want them to see….
                                              [2340]              An Hon. Member: it's good exercise. act now.

  interjection.                                                    N. Simons: act soon.
                                                                   renovations to b.c. Place. Those won't be part of the
   N. Simons: nobody wants to see failure. We all want         olympics — no, no.
to see success, but the way we get to that is by open com-         british columbians don't want to be fooled. They don't
munication, by accountability, by oversight, by carefully      want to be misled, and they certainly don't want more
examining the books, by allowing the auditor General           of the silence that government seems to offer on this
not to feel like a social outcast. he's got a job to do.       issue. They'd like their auditor General, chosen by the
   oh, but there's another example. every independ-            legislature, to do his job without interference in a manner
ent officer has had to fight this government in order to       that meets the needs of the people of british columbia.
maintain their independence, in order to maintain their        They'd like a government that's responsible enough to
integrity. and why is that? We should be grateful to have      sit more than five days since May 30. They'd like a lot of
outside oversight. We should be grateful to bring in the       things, and unfortunately, they're left wanting.
opinions of the experts.                                           Mr. Speaker, it's getting towards the bewitching hour.
  The representative for children and Youth and other          i turn into a pumpkin or something like that, or i find
independent officers have had to reinforce the message         a slipper. i can't remember what happens at midnight.
that government doesn't always do everything right.            Would that be me, or is that the other part?
The people of british columbia know that darned well.                                                                [2345]
They're fully aware of that.                                       With that, i just ask that this government take seriously
   My request to this government is to come clean on the       the issues that we have raised in this debate. take ser-
entire costs of the olympics. We're going to find out one      iously the warnings that we could learn from this fiasco
way or the other, unless there's just too much to reveal       — not hide from them, not hide it under a bushel. expose
and we wouldn't be able to handle it. but the silence          it. allow us to learn from it. allow us to get past it. help
just creates this uncertainty. The lack of accountability      the citizens of Vancouver. Don't forget the citizens of the
creates concern. neither is good for government, and           rest of the province. Support the city of Vancouver.
neither is good for the province. We should know.
   i was born in Montreal, and i was in Montreal during           R. Chouhan: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the oppor-
the olympics. i can tell you that my mother, who's now         tunity to talk about bill 47, because i think we are not
73…. oh, she better not read this. She's not going to          allowed to debate. There's not much to talk about with
read this Hansard. That'll be struck from the record. She      bill 47. There's not much in it.
paid off the olympics. i think it was last year. i think she      We're talking about an emergency session of this
paid taxes — and she does pay taxes — until last year on       legislature called on Saturday, on the weekend, to deal
the olympics. i've been in the big o. i've seen them try       with very important legislation. What we were given ear-
to stop the leaks in the roof or wipe home plate with a        lier today or yesterday, depending on the time…. There's
rag instead of a brush. it's not a pleasant….                  nothing much in it. i find very offensive the way this
  There are a lot of concerns that british columbians          has been dealt with, and my constituents in burnaby-
will have to anticipate. The mayor of Montreal said            edmonds also find it very offensive.
there was as much chance of running a deficit as of him           i have never received so many phone calls and e-mails
getting pregnant. Well, he's had sextuplets, according         and faxes regarding any subject. in the last couple of
to that. i just think that if people were as colourful in      days people have been calling. People have been sending
this province, perhaps we would have had a statement           e-mails. People have been sending letters. They're talk-
similar to that and we'd be talking about the Premier in       ing about how outraged they are about the government's
those terms.                                                   action.
   We have a $600 million cost that he has acknowledged           Many of the e-mails were sent to me. i'm going to
and a bunch of other costs that he should acknowledge,         read some of them, just to have a sample of the kind of
just for the sake of common sense and decency. own the         issue the people in burnaby-edmonds think they have
Podium has nothing to do with the olympics?                    been given.
13494                                                    british columbia Debates                         Saturday, January 17, 2009

  one e-mail came. it said — and i won't name my                         think it's maybe time to remind the members that we
constituents:                                                            are debating bill 47.
    "i'm outraged and appalled this government has recalled the
  legislature on the weekend. it is my understanding that there            Deputy Speaker: Member, please continue, and if
  will be no question period, as per the norm for the legislature,
  because it falls on a weekend.
                                                                         you can….
    "Given the nature of the crisis and the funding fiasco for the
  olympic village, plus other related financial matters that this gov-     interjection.
  ernment should be dealing with, i feel it is essential that a full
  discussion, debate, should take place in the house.                      Deputy Speaker: Member, would you please take
    "When will the arrogance of this government end? i urge you as
  my Mla to demand more time be given to full discussion and a
                                                                         your seat.
  complete debate of these issues."                                        Member, please continue and please keep your
                                                                         remarks towards bill 47.
  C. Evans: You've got smart constituents.
                                                                                               Debate Continued
  R. Chouhan: oh, it's not only one. There are quite a
few, you know.                                                              R. Chouhan: all these e-mails were sent to me in
  another e-mail:                                                        relation to bill 47 and this so-called emergency sitting
    "i'm shocked and appalled with the news that there will be no        of the legislature. So i think it's important that my con-
  question period in Saturday's sitting of the legislature. i would      stituents at least have the ability to ask these questions.
  like to know more information about the cost overruns and,             We know that we're not going to get answers, but at least
  more importantly, the true costs of the olympics.
                                                                         they would have some satisfaction that their issues were
    "i want to know why this government is running away and not
  telling british columbians the truth. taxpayers of this province       put in the house, although the government is doing
  deserve to know the truth, and it is time that the liberal govern-     everything…. That side of the house is doing everything
  ment allow a question period on Saturday.                              to stall, to deny, to refuse.
    "i do not believe that hosting the olympics is going to cost $600       however, i'm only reading the issues raised by my
  million, but yet the Premier refuses to answer the true costs or
  even include all olympic-related projects in this figure.
                                                                         constituents, and they deserve…. i'm here speaking on
    "We have seen the mess in the olympic village. What is the           bill 47.
  full amount that british columbians are going to be on the hook           okay, i'll skip that e-mail. i'll make a compromise.
  for? We have seen the ioc wonder if $175 million is going to           another e-mail. it says:
  be enough for security. i believe that we are going to exceed that         "i'm extremely concerned about the 2010 olympic overspend-
  amount, but i would like to know what the revised budget is and          ing. i'm hearing about and now understand that you will not be
  what british columbians are going to be on the hook for."                able to ask questions about this in the house when you are talking
                                                                           about this new bill."
  C. Evans: Yeah, good questions.                                        When he sent the e-mail, he didn't know the number of
                                                                         the bill, so i'm talking about bill 47.
  R. Chouhan: Very good questions, but when will we                          "as someone entering senior years and the daughter of a senior
                                                                           who experienced unnecessary challenges due to spending cut-
get the answers?
                                                                           backs, i have to ask: if you, my elected provincial representative,
                                                                           are not allowed to ask questions about the 2010 olympic fund-
  C. Evans: not tonight.                                                   ing, that has the appearance of being unchecked while some basic
                                                                [2350]     necessities for our vulnerable population are underfunded. how
                                                                           are we going to resolve this? how will that be addressed?"

  R. Chouhan: okay, then let's continue to ask                             Yes, we are talking about bill 47. but there are sen-
questions.                                                               iors, there are students, there are homeless people, and
  another letter:                                                        they're all asking questions. if this government is so
    "Sir, please pass on my outrage at the actions of this govern-       keen to provide a blank cheque without proper scrutiny,
  ment. calling the legislature back on a Saturday is yet another        without some debate, then we have to make sure that
  cowardly step on the government's behalf to avoid a democratic         those issues and their needs are also addressed. They
  question period. When will they come clean about what is going         have been neglected for so long.
  on with the olympics, the raid on the legislature and a host of
  other issues? The b.c. liberals' tenure in government has been
                                                                            i have so many other letters and e-mails to read.
  a continual assault on the democratic beliefs of the people of our     however, given the fact that we are talking about bill 47,
  province."                                                             which doesn't provide much substance in it…. So i'll just
                                                                         make a few more comments.
                         Point of Order
                                                                           An Hon. Member: about bill 47.
  Hon. B. Penner: i rise on a point of order. You've
been remarkably patient with the members for stray-                        R. Chouhan: about bill 47. We're talking about bill
ing way off topic from the sections in the bill, and i just              47 without many details. however, it's a very import-
Saturday, January 17, 2009                   british columbia Debates                                              13495

ant piece of legislation. it is affecting the outcome of     consultation in british columbia. The Premier can start
the Winter olympics. We are talking about building a         the process here before he goes to ottawa and talks
village where we are going to house those athletes who       about public consultation.
are coming from all over the world for ten days or two
weeks.                                                         An Hon. Member: he could consult with those
                                                             people who wrote those e-mails.
  An Hon. Member: a couple of weeks.
                                                  [2355]       R. Chouhan: There are so many people in burnaby-
                                                             edmonds who would like to talk to him. if not directly,
   R. Chouhan: a couple of weeks, and then what              they would like to talk to him through me, their repre-
happens? They're going to go away, and people from           sentative, but i'm not allowed to ask questions.
Vancouver are going to end up with a huge mess created         What we have seen over and over again is this govern-
by the b.c. liberal farm team, because they were so will-    ment's inability to manage these projects. now we are
ingly agreeing with the demands of the Premier in order      giving this money to complete the olympic village, but
to make him look good.                                       people of british columbia do not trust this government
   but the reality now is coming out, and more and more      and its ability to do that. Therefore, it's important that
people are realizing that the government's numbers that      we have the auditor General involved.
they were throwing at us — that it'll cost $600 million
and this number or that number…. People now know               An Hon. Member: i wish we did.
that it is not the correct number.
   We were told that this olympic village will cost only         R. Chouhan: i wish we did — yeah. even now, if we
$175 million. now it's at $875 million. We were told         had the auditor General involved, at least we would
the convention centre will be costing only $300 million.     have some hope that there would be accountability and
now it's over half a billion over budget.                    transparency. but they don't listen.
                                                                 if this government is so keen to protect the interests of
  interjection.                                              construction workers — which is very good; we should
                                                             all protect, all help construction workers — what about
   R. Chouhan: exactly. today we heard, when the bill        20,000 forest workers? What about health care workers?
was introduced, that we are talking about protecting         but they're not. They're just simply…. i think they don't
construction workers' jobs. i think there is a saying that   matter.
crocodile tears…. but this government has even pushed                                                              [0000]
a crocodile to be ashamed, with their arrogance, with           as i mentioned earlier, we were first told that the cost
their denials. We are talking here about bill 47, which      of this olympic village would be $190 million, and now
provides not much help.                                      it's $870 million. i guess Pinocchio is not just a fictional
   Why are we here in the house on the weekend? if it        character in a child's book. he's alive and well in british
was so urgent, if there was an emergency, we could have      columbia.
met many days ago. as my colleagues have pointed out,
we could have saved lots of money for the Vancouver            An Hon. Member: his nose is growing.
city council and Vancouver citizens — $87,000 a day.
                                                               R. Chouhan: i hope the nose is not growing that fast
  [k. Whittred in the chair.]                                and too big. it can hurt somebody.

  no, it wasn't suitable to come here early, because the       Deputy Speaker: Member.
government is so afraid that if we meet on a regular day,
there may be a question period. There may be some               R. Chouhan: We are here talking about bill 47. bill
questions asked, and some people may feel that govern-       47 does not provide much information, or anything. i
ment is not answering. i think we have seen, so far, that    don't know what more we can say about it, but people
government has never answered.                               are hoping to get some answers. They have so many
                                                             questions, and so far this government has failed on
  An Hon. Member: even when there are questions.             every account. Therefore, i urge this government to be
                                                             fair, listen to those concerns and provide some decent
   R. Chouhan: even when there is a question period.         answers. i know we won't get 100 percent complete
  a couple of days ago i heard and saw on tV the Premier     satisfactory answers, but some answers.
of b.c. applauding the Prime Minister of canada for             With that, i'm going to sit down and go back to
public consultations. Wow. i hope the Premier would          burnaby-edmonds to my constituents and tell them that
learn a lesson or two from that. We need some public         i tried, but i didn't get any answers.
13496                                          british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

   S. Hammell: it is an honour to rise in the house to            interjections.
speak on bill 47, the olympic village refinancing bill. it's
an honour because you get to give voice and put on the            Deputy Speaker: continue, Member.
record ideas you have thought about as you read and
listened to the debate and considered bill 47, the legisla-         S. Hammell: in fact, the olympic village is on the
tion that's been tabled here today.                             books of another government, and therefore, the prov-
   You know, being in government is very difficult.             incial government is not responsible or accountable for
There's a lot going on a lot of the time. Some of what is       it. it reminds me of the poses of the monkeys. hear no
going on is quite difficult to control, and being out of        problems. See no overruns….
control in government results in lots of unpleasantness,
like having to call back the legislature and having to            interjection.
pass a bill like bill 47.
   it results in criticism, and no government likes to             Deputy Speaker: Member. Member. every member
be criticized. no government likes to admit that some           of this house deserves an opportunity to be heard.
aspects of its world or its operation are out of control. So       continue, Member.
how do you stay in control and avoid the type of legisla-
tion like bill 47, which says in every line of the bill that        S. Hammell: You know, when you're interrupted like
this olympic project has gone sideways and that the tax-        that, hon. Speaker, you do kind of maybe have to go
payers of Vancouver are going to be left holding the bag?       back and kind of regroup and think through your train
   if you're faced with that kind of problem, there are         of thought again.
a number of strategies that any government could con-               So what is clearly being said from this side of the
sider. They would be considering some strategies for            house is that the olympic village is not considered
how to keep in control and maintain the proper face to          by the government as one of their projects. Therefore,
their public.                                                   they are not responsible for it. it is a cost, clearly, of the
   now, a government may choose to communicate like             olympics, but it is not one that the government is going
crazy with people to let people know what they're doing         to accept any responsibility for. it's off their books, and
— how they're spending the money, what their projects           it's on to somebody else's books. but so are a lot of other
are. You could be transparent and accountable and               things in the olympic world.
share the challenges and difficulties with those people            There's a lot of money off the books. The oval is off the
who you represent, always keeping in front of people the        books. another village is off the books. You can just go
costs and the benefits of the projects you're working on.       through lists and lists of other olympic costs that are off
You could engage the people, ask for their advice and           the books. Therefore, people, when they hear that the
look for input as you move through the work.                    olympics cost $600 million, don't believe it. They don't
   another strategy to deal with control would be to            believe it.
minimize any exposure you have, especially on compli-               it seems to me a fatally flawed strategy to go around
cated and multifaceted operations like the olympics. You        and say that the olympics only cost $600 million when
could limit the number of aspects that you are directly         people can count projects across the lower Mainland
responsible for, and in fact, you can deny responsibility       that cost a lot of money that they're going to pay for,
for aspects that you are clearly responsible for. in fact,      including sponsorships from crown corporations. and
you can have an olympic secretariat that is not a conse-        then to say that it doesn't cost the people any money is
quence or a cost of the olympics.                               just unbelievable, and it doesn't pass the nod test.
   This, i believe, is a strategy that the provincial govern-       People don't believe it. They throw their eyes in the
ment has adopted and, i think, a strategy that is fatally       back of their head, and they think that you're foolish,
flawed, because it doesn't pass the nod test of ordinary        that you're absolutely foolish. and you end up looking
people. The most glaring lack of a nod — in fact, throw-        foolish, and people don't believe you — don't believe
ing the eyes back — is continuing to tell people that the       you at all.
costs to the provincial government are only $600 million.           What the government has done is create all kinds of
That reasoning is so inside baseball that it is laughable to    structures that make any kind of responsibility for the
ordinary people.                                                olympics itself distant, and therefore, they don't have to
                                                       [0005]   accept responsibility, and they can use those structures
   if you look at the olympic fiasco…. now, i know the          to deny any kind of responsibility for it.
olympic village is not a particular project of the provin-          if you take a look at some of the structures — i thought
cial liberal government and is therefore not accounted          i'd share that with the members — there's a Vanoc
for anywhere in the liberal world of accounting to the          board. and although the government doesn't express
people in the province of what the olympics are really          any responsibility for it, it has…. The three members of
costing. it's off-book.                                         the Vanoc board are ken Dobell….
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                                13497

  interjection.                                                  So hon. Speaker, with that in mind, i take my seat, and
                                                               thank you for allowing me to participate in this debate.
  Deputy Speaker: Member, i would like to remind
you, please, of the spirit of the bill. if you could address      J. Brar: i rise to speak to bill 47, and i will speak to bill
your remarks to the content.                                   47, Madam Speaker, Vancouver charter amendment
                                                               act, 2009.
  S. Hammell: Yes, i'd be delighted to do that, hon.              The purpose of this bill is to amend the Vancouver
Speaker.                                                       charter to allow the city of Vancouver to borrow money for
                                                               the timely completion of the olympic village. The people of
  interjection.                                                british columbia love sports. They love the olympics. as
                                                               a former member of a basketball team, as a national player,
  S. Hammell: You know, you're being plain, ordin-             i love sports. i like the olympics. The people of british
ary rude. You're just being rude, and i…. You are being        columbia are proud to be the host of olympics 2010.
rude.                                                             in fact, hosting the olympic Games is a huge oppor-
                                                               tunity, and it's a huge honour to the people of british
  interjection.                                                columbia, to the people of canada and to the people of
                                                               Vancouver. but people are tired of listening to negative
  Deputy Speaker: order, order.                                stories about the olympics.
                                                     [0010]       People are tired of listening to stories about the lack
                                                               of funding for the olympic village. The people of british
   S. Hammell: The olympic village has been sort of            columbia are tired of listening to stories about the
mired or…. There's a shadow between the olympic                secrecy of the real cost of the olympics. The people of
village and other structures. What happens is that the         british columbia are tired of listening to stories about
structures are there, and the people on the boards —           the arrogance and the out-of-touch approach of the
such as Vanoc and the secretariat and all kinds of             Premier of british columbia about the olympics. People
other boards — clearly could see and understand what           demand accountability.
was going on in the olympic village.                                                                                   [0015]
   So although the government can say it's not their
project, it's not their responsibility, people who were                               Point of Order
connected directly to the government and the overall
responsibility such as the secretariat, which of course,          Hon. G. Abbott: This member began his comments
is not accountable for…. The olympic secretariat isn't         tonight saying that he would address himself to the
responsible, but they also had people who understood           matter at hand, bill 47. he hasn't remotely touched
what was going on with the olympic village.                    the subject matter of bill 47, and i would remind the
   The issue is how you treat your voters. The issue           speaker of Standing order 40, of which this is said. The
really is more about: do you take people into your             basic point is that parliament's dignity is impaired by
confidence? are you open and honest? Do you tell               time wasted in idle debate. Therefore, it is the duty of
them your difficulties? Do you share with them your            every member to confine his or her remarks to the sub-
problems? or do you create a maze of organizations             ject matter under debate.
that then you can move behind and then deny any                   i think the member should turn his attention to bill
responsibility for?                                            47 rather than waste the time of this house with rhetoric,
   all of us have our own set of values. all of us try to      as we've heard exclusively to this point.
work issues through the way we see the world. What i'm
saying, from my perspective on this side of the house, is        A. Dix: i'm happy to respond to another intervention
that it probably would have been a lot better for british      in debate disguised as a point of order. When this debate
columbians and would have been a lot better for all of         started, the decision was made by the Speaker to deal
us who need and want to have confidence in the whole           with all stages in one day.
process around the olympics to just make sure that
people understood all the costs.                                  interjections.
   i think people are genuinely willing and happy
to embrace the olympics. They think it's a great                 A. Dix: hon. Speaker, these are submissions to you,
opportunity for our province, but all they want is             so i'll ignore the members opposite.
the government to just be upfront and straight about
where there are problems, where they need extra help,             interjections.
what they can do, how they can participate or how they
can support.                                                      Deputy Speaker: Member.
13498                                         british columbia Debates                   Saturday, January 17, 2009

  A. Dix: i'll just make this point. at that time the            The story of the olympics village is a prime example of
Government house leader read a series of letters that         mismanagement of the project related to the olympics.
focused on the importance of this bill to the olympic         The story of the olympics village is a prime example of
Games.                                                        the game of secrecy being played around the project
   What the member for Surrey–Panorama ridge started          about the olympics. The story of the olympics village,
this debate talking about was the olympic Games, just as      which is part of bill 47, is a prime example of the cost
the Government house leader did, just as the Minister         overruns — many projects related to the olympics. The
of Finance did. it was the ruling of the Speaker that,        story of the olympics village demands that the Premier
in fact, that element of it, that letter, was central to us   and the b.c. liberals must come clean on the total cost of
taking more than one stage of debate today.                   the olympics and the total cost of the olympics village.
   i think that the statements by the member from                i am more than happy to speak to bill 47, which talks
Panorama ridge are in order and that the comments             about the olympics village. once upon a time, the Premier
of the Minister of health are out of order. That's my         of this province told a story to the people of british
submission.                                                   columbia about the olympics village, which is part of
   hon. Speaker, i think that the comments of the             bill 47 — that the b.c. government; Vanoc, responsible
member are in order. i understand the comments you've         for organizing the olympics; and the city of Vancouver
made repeatedly for people to stick to the bill. That's       came together, and they reached an agreement to build
what the member was trying to do, and i think the point       the olympics village, and this is how it would happen.
of order raised by the Minister of health is not correct.        The Millennium group, the developer, is going to
                                                              build the olympics village. a Wall Street investor group,
  Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Members.                         Fortress, is going to finance the olympics village. it was
  Member, sit down, please.                                   sold to the people of british columbia by saying that tax-
  Members, before we proceed, i wish to remind the            payers are going to benefit from this because the burden
house that the Speaker has ruled on this. Within that         of risk has been transferred to a private company.
ruling was the clear instruction that debate would be            but now we know, on this Saturday, that this bill has
within the confines of the bill, and it was acknowledged      been introduced in the house because the people of
that this bill has a relatively narrow focus. i once again    Vancouver are on the hook. The people of Vancouver are
urge members to confine their remarks within the pro-         on the hook. in fact, the people of british columbia at
gram parameters of bill 47.                                   the end of the day are responsible for any funding short-
  continue, Member.                                           fall for the olympics village or any other cost related to
                                                              the olympics.
                   Debate Continued                              So people sure want to ask a lot of questions, and there
                                                              are a lot of questions. one of the questions that people
  J. Brar: i think when we come here and debate any bill,     are very, very concerned with is: when did the Premier
including bill 47, we debate the issues people of british     come to know about this? What we heard from the
columbia want us to debate, and that's what i'm doing.        Premier just a few days ago was that the new mayor of
  We are sitting here on Sunday morning now. We came          Vancouver, Gregor robertson, after his election, picked
here on Saturday evening to debate this bill, called an       up the phone and called the Premier just a few days ago.
emergency bill, and this is very clear. i have no doubt,      and the Premier was shocked to know that. Then the
and the members of this side have no doubt, that the          Premier started acting after that.
government chose to debate this bill on Saturday to              but let me tell you some facts about that, and those
avoid the questions of the people of british columbia.        facts will tell whether the Premier is telling the truth to
now, even today, whatever we debate here, members on          the people of british columbia, whether the Premier is
the other side are not willing to listen to that speech.      telling the truth to this house or if the story is some-
                                                     [0020]   thing different.
                                                                 The fact is that b.c. has three representatives on the
   Deputy Speaker: Member, Member. i asked you please         Vanoc board of directors — and ken Dobell. ken
to confine your remarks to the bill. now, proceed.            Dobell, a very close friend of the Premier, is part of that
                                                              board. in fact, he is the chair of the board's finance com-
   J. Brar: The people of british columbia want account-      mittee. The fact is that the province of b.c. guaranteed to
ability. This is a huge issue about the olympics village.     cover any financial shortfall of the organizing commit-
bill 47 talks about the olympics village. People of           tee for the olympic Games. The fact is that the village
british columbia want accountability. People of british       advisory committee that was set up in 2006 between
columbia want to ask questions. People of british             Vanoc and the city of Vancouver meets monthly to
columbia want to know what went wrong about the               make recommendations and decisions on the project.
olympics village, and that is within bill 47.                                                                      [0025]
Saturday, January 17, 2009                             british columbia Debates                                                         13499

   The city manager provides written reports to the                      province, each report highlights significant risks that could result
committee each month. The Vanoc project manager                          in even higher costs to the province by the time the games are
                                                                         finished."
meets with the city project manager weekly. The fact is
                                                                       This is the auditor General of british columbia.
that Vanoc reports to the Minister responsible for the
                                                                                                                            [0030]
olympics. The fact is that the Vancouver city manager,
                                                                          The cost as per the latest estimates by the auditor
Judy rogers, had been aware since at least June 2007
                                                                       General, by the opposition — by even one former min-
that there were serious financing problems with the
olympics village. The fact is that the former mayor and                ister, by even christy clark, who used to be part of this
the nPa council knew about this much before the last                   government just a few years ago…. The actual cost of the
civic elections.                                                       olympics now is not $6 million. it's actually over $6.8
   The fact is that in april 2007 Partnerships b.c.                    billion. That's way up from when we're talking about $6
reported that the Vancouver olympics village is cited as               million. The Premier continued to refuse to accept the
one of the five venues that posed a challenge to Vanoc,                reality that the cost of the olympics is not $600 million.
out of 15 venues reviewed. The fact is that the previous               People want to know what the real cost of the olympics
council of Vancouver approved a $100 million tempor-                   is. it's time that the Premier and b.c. liberals come
ary loan to cover the funding shortfall much before the                clean about the actual cost of the games.
last civic election.                                                      The other thing, probably, which is related to this bill
   but surprisingly, very surprisingly, one person in this             47 is the cost overruns. This project itself, from where it
province, who happens to be the Premier of the prov-                   began and where we are, is a day and night difference.
ince, was not aware of this. can the people of british                 one of the things this government always claims to be
columbia trust the Premier? The answer is no. The                      expert in is running a business. even if you want to run
people of british columbia cannot trust the Premier.                   a small business, people develop a business plan which
The Premier came to know about this only a couple of                   talks about the risk factors, talks about the cost overruns,
weeks ago, when this has been happening almost since                   talks about the funding shortfalls, talks about those
the middle of 2007.                                                    issues. People think it through even before they start it.
   This government has failed to take timely actions to                   but we are talking about a project worth $800 million
stop what happened in Vancouver around the olympics                    here, and the Premier is saying that the Premier came to
village. There could have been timely action, and one of               know about it only two weeks ago. The Premier, who is
the actions could have been that we would have come                    the captain of the organizing committee of the olympics,
back in this house last fall to debate this issue and find             was not aware about the cost, about the funding short-
a meaningful and a timely way out to fix this problem.                 fall around the olympic village. The people of british
That did not happen.                                                   columbia cannot trust that. it's time for the Premier
   if you want to summarize the whole story in one word,               to come clean and to tell the people the real story as to
that one word is "secrecy." The Premier is fully content               when the Premier became aware, and why the Premier
with the secrecy around the olympics — whether it's cost,              failed to take timely action.
whether it's cost overruns, whether it's the olympics                     cost overruns. talk about the convention centre. i
village. it's all about secrecy. People want to know the               think there have been a number of questions in this
answers to the questions people have.                                  house about the convention centre. The cost was about
   The other example that the people want to know is the               $400 million; now it's over about $900 million. That's
real cost of the olympics. That's a big story we have in the           where we are. it's more than double. The cost has gone
province, and that's actually an internationally famous                up. time after time we have been asking questions
story that the Premier has made. The Premier continued                 and….
to believe somehow that the cost of the olympics is
$600 million — $600 million only. The people of british                  interjection.
columbia don't believe that, members on this side of the
house don't believe that, and probably some members                     J. Brar: The minister on the other side is shouting at
on that side of the house also don't believe that, because             me. it's my turn.
they know the real cost.
   interestingly, the independent watchdog of this prov-                                        Points of Order
ince, the auditor General, does not believe that as well.
i would like to read a paragraph from a letter written by                 Hon. G. Abbott: i've been a member of this house
the auditor General to the Speaker himself. This is what               for some considerable time, and i think often what one
the auditor General says:                                              sees is frustrations that tend to boil over because people
    "My office's two previous reports, issued in 2003 and 2006, con-
                                                                       do not, even at times, make the most cursory attempts
  clude that british columbia's share of the full cost of the games
  is considerably higher than the $600 million figure that has often   to follow the rules of this house. We are guided in this
  been quoted. Further, in the absence of full disclosure by the       by Standing orders 40 and 43.
13500                                                  british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

    Standing order 40, as i indicated previously, says that              Deputy Speaker: Member, would you just remain
members should be relevant in debate. Section 43, and                 seated for a moment, please.
i'll quote it, just as i did quote section 40, says:                     i will just remind the house, once again, of the earlier
  "43. The Speaker or the chairperson…after having called the         remarks of Mr. Speaker, which do address the issue that
   attention of the house or of the committee to the conduct of a     was raised. it points out that the bill has been carefully
   Member who persists in irrelevance or tedious repetition, either
   of that Member's own arguments or of the arguments used by
                                                                      drawn to cover a situation in Vancouver brought to the
   other Members in debate, may direct that Member to discontinue     attention of this house by the mayor of Vancouver. as
   speaking…."                                                        such, it is neither a throne debate nor a budget debate
  This member — and i've been listening, i think,                     permitting the widest possible range of discussion, but
remarkably patiently to him, as have other members                    a second reading debate relating to the narrowly drawn
— continues to speak of irrelevant issues and claims                  bill presently before this house.
and nonsense, which is not only entirely specious but                    That was, of course, the message from Mr. Speaker.
entirely disconnected to bill 47.                                        continue, Member.
                                               [0035]
                                                                        J. Brar: i have some support on the other side, Madam
    S. Simpson: Well, i would refer to the Parliamentary              Speaker.
Practice in B.C., third edition, page 76. What the clause says          We're here to debate bill 47.
is: "a member is not at liberty, in rising to order, to review
the general tenor of a speech, but must object to some def-             interjections.
inite expression at the moment when it's spoken."
    i would suggest, among other things, that the minis-                 N. Macdonald: i just heard the minister, a member of
ter took an awful lot of leeway with that in suggesting               the executive, referring to a member here as a moron. i
frustration and suggesting comments that i think were                 think there has to be some level of decency, and i think
inappropriate to the minister.                                        the minister has forgotten that. The Speaker has talked
   The other thing i would mention is that if we go to                to the fact that we should be attempting to speak to each
page 74 of the Parliamentary Practice, it's very clear                other as adults. i would give you the opportunity…. in
under the discussion….                                                fact, i expect you to stand up and to apologize for that.

  interjection.                                                         Hon. K. Krueger: i withdraw, Madam Speaker.

   Deputy Speaker: Member, would you take your seat                      Hon. G. Abbott: While we're at it, perhaps the member
for a moment, please.                                                 for Powell river–Sunshine coast would wish to rise and
  There have been instances of rude and inappropriate                 withdraw his unparliamentary comment as well.
passages between members across this house, which i
would like to cease. Thank you.                                         N. Simons: i withdraw.
   continue, Member.
                                                                                         Debate Continued
   S. Simpson: i would refer to page 74 of the third
edition under "relevance in Debate." it's very clear,                     J. Brar: hopefully, we'll continue the debate as it's
and as the Speaker will know, second reading debate is                going on for the last few minutes.
meant to provide some latitude. i certainly know that                     We are talking about bill 47. let's be very clear. i think
the Speaker's ruling, the direction of the guidance of                it's okay to stand up and question the rules. it is abso-
the Speaker earlier today, was to be on point, but there              lutely not acceptable — the indecency and unethical
is room for some guidance. i would refer to: "that rel-               behaviour of any member in this house.
evance may not be immediately visible but may emerge                                                                         [0040]
later in a member's speech."                                              We are talking about bill 47. Think about this. We
                                                                      are approaching the olympics very quickly. We're
  interjections.                                                      approaching very quickly. one of the biggest projects,
                                                                      called the olympic village, where the athletes are going
    S. Simpson: i would suggest, hon. Speaker, once the               to stay, is at this point in time in trouble because the
comments from the other side stop so that you can hear                investor group has stopped making the payments. The
me, that the member has, in fact, been speaking to bill               city of Vancouver does not have the authority as per the
47. relevance is not breached by making references to                 rules of today to borrow money.
other matters and then coming back to the matter of 47.                   if that had been the situation in any private sector, i
it's not that tight a line. it never was meant to be. The             guarantee that ceo would be fired by the company. but
minister is simply wrong in his point.                                it won't be a long time that these members on that side
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                          13501

will be fired by the people of british columbia — just          So Madam Speaker, i would again ask you to direct
after a few months.                                           the members to keep their comments, which i'm sure all
   There are a number of outstanding questions that the       british columbians would like to hear, on bill 47.
people of british columbia want to ask and i just want                                                          [0045]
to list. The people have been approaching us to ask a
number of questions, particularly about this bill 47 and         S. Simpson: When we talk about what's involved here
the project we're talking about, and the olympics. of         and the order of this house, the continued interference
course, this is part of the olympics.                         by ministers and by those on the government side —
   The question we have is: why is the Premier continuing     interfering with the legitimate debate of members on
to tell british columbians that the cost of the olympics      this side — is unacceptable. i would ask that you deal
is just $600 million? how much will taxpayers be on the       with those matters, please, hon. Speaker.
hook for, for the olympic village?                               i would again refer to page 74, the "relevance in
                                                              Debate" section of the Parliamentary Practice, where
  interjection.                                               it very clearly says: "relevance may not be immediately
                                                              visible, but may emerge later in the member's speech."
   J. Brar: The minister on the other side has some           There is no question that this member has continually
trouble listening, but i will continue making my point.       referenced back to bill 47. he has continually talked
   When did the Premier first learn that the financing        about that, and he has interspersed other related and
for the olympic village was in trouble? Did the Premier's     relevant comments.
former chief adviser and a provincial appointee to Vanoc,        Frankly, that seems to me to not be outside the obser-
ken Dobell, keep the Premier informed on the olympic          vations and the directions provided by the Speaker
village project, and if not, why not? Did ken Dobell or       earlier today — by the guidance provided by the Speaker.
any member of Vanoc inform the Premier about the              i don't believe it breaches that. Members need to be
activities of the village advisory committee formed by        allowed to engage in debate. The minister and his col-
Vanoc, and if not, why not? Did the Premier, ken Dobell       leagues over here seem determined to undermine the
or any representative of the Premier's office or provincial   debate in this house, and that's unfortunate.
government ever advise the city against entering into the
risky financing arrangements with Millennium?                   Deputy Speaker: Member continues.
   Why did the Premier wait so long to take action on the
olympic village issue? What will be b.c.'s share of the         interjections.
extra security costs, which are reported to be increas-
ing by over $800 million? When will the Premier come            Deputy Speaker: continue, Member.
clean with the public on those costs? how many remain-
ing olympics projects in the city of Vancouver are over          J. Brar: i heard the word "focus" from the other side.
budget? When will the Premier come clean about the            That's what we're talking about. We need some focus,
true cost of the olympics?                                    because the olympic village cost…. The trouble we have
   The people of british columbia, of course — and the        at this point in time…. The time the government took on
people of Vancouver, particularly, in this case — are very,   that one is not acceptable to the people of Vancouver, to
very concerned. What we see in Vancouver is that there        the people of british columbia, because the government
are over 2,000 people who are homeless. They did not          failed to focus on the project. The government failed to
get help from this government for the last seven years,       properly manage the project. Those are the outstanding
but now we are talking about hundreds of millions of          issues.
dollars. We're talking about an amount of money which            The people of british columbia want this government
could have helped a lot of people who are out there and       to come clean about the cost of the olympic village.
sleeping outside in the cold weather.                         The people of british columbia want this government
   british columbia has the highest child poverty rate, and   to come clean as to when the Premier came to know
those children are asking questions about this project, as    about this and why timely actions were not taken by the
well, as to why they didn't get help from this government.    Premier. The people of british columbia want to know
                                                              why this government is not prepared to face proper
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: Madam Speaker, i rise on a point         scrutiny of this project.
of order. We've heard numerous times your request                People have those questions, and i think people there
to members speaking to bill 47 to keep their remarks          in Vancouver, the homeless people in Vancouver, do
focused on the bill. i don't know how many more times         have the right to ask questions. if these members are not
you can ask, and i don't know how much more disre-            prepared to answer those questions, that is their choice.
spect could be shown by members of the opposition by          but they do have the right to ask questions about this
not adhering to your request.                                 project.
13502                                         british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   The children of this province who live in poverty have     urgent basis, although i don't think that alone warrants
the right to ask questions to this government. it's their     sitting here at this hour of the morning.
choice whether they want to answer those questions or            if this were to do with a funding crisis for a condo
not.                                                          project in False creek, taxpayers.... if this were to do
   People of Surrey are concerned because of this project,    with a simple condo project in False creek, we wouldn't
i tell you. They are concerned because they were waiting      be here at this time having an urgent debate about it. it
for a new hospital — we have the minister here — for          would be a serious problem for the city of Vancouver to
the last eight years. now they're very, very concerned,       consider. it might even be a tragedy, but there would not
after looking at what's going on, whether they will ever      be a provincial interest in the matter.
get a new hospital. Those are the questions as a reflec-         The reason that we are here and considering this is
tion of this bill.                                            because it has to do with an olympic facility. it isn't
   i would like to conclude my comments. it is time for       simply the exposure of the city on the project. it's the fact
the Premier, it's time for the ministers, and it's time for   that we may not meet an olympic commitment unless
the b.c. liberals to come clean and tell the people of        we act to change the circumstances that exist today.
british columbia clearly about when in fact they came            it's that olympic deadline, the requirement that this
to know about the fiasco of the olympic village. it's         be ready in time for 2010 use that brings us here today,
about time that this government and this Premier came         and that's the driving force behind the legislation. it's
clean about the real cost — the true cost — as to how         the olympics and the government's role as overseer and
much the people of Vancouver are on the hook for on           as chief funder of olympic venues that's central to all
this project.                                                 our concerns here today.
   it's about time that the Premier and this government          it's only because it concerns funding for the key
tell the real cost — which is not $600 million, as per our    olympic venue that this bill is before the house at this
own auditor General. The real cost is over $6 billion. it's   time. The urgency in this matter is that the time lines
about time that the government and the Premier come           are now exceedingly tight. The financing for this third
out of the extreme arrogance and out-of-touch approach        party–delivered project…
and tell the reality so that people get to know the real         excuse me, Madam Speaker. My notes are out of
cost, what happened to this project.                          order.

   interjections.                                               interjection.

   Deputy Speaker: order, Members.                              Deputy Speaker: Member.
                                                   [0050]
                                                                D. Cubberley: …in which b.c. taxpayers have
   J. Brar: So, Madam Speaker, thanks for the opportun-       invested $30 million is now suspended.
ity and thanks to members on the other side for listening
patiently.                                                                         Point of Order

   D. Cubberley: i do appreciate having the opportun-            N. Macdonald: a point of order. once again, i
ity to address the important issues of olympic funding        would just ask the minister to have even the most basic
that are embedded in bill 47, almost as much as i regret      decency. he's been asked to observe that standard, and i
the need for this legislation at this time and the circum-    think that he should. So if we could direct this minister
stances under which we're forced to try and give due          to conduct himself appropriately, we can continue with
consideration to this bill.                                   the debate.
   i'm sure many are wondering why we're here on a
Saturday night — actually, it's now Sunday morning               Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.
— discussing issues relating to the funding and comple-          Members, i once again remind this house of the
tion of the olympic athletes village project. a case has      tradition, i guess, of heckling across the house, but to
been advanced — although not convincingly argued, to          remind members to use appropriate language.
my mind — that the halt of funding to the developer              continue, Member.
constitutes an emergency so serious that it requires the
suspension of the normal rules.                                                  Debate Continued
   certainly it is an urgent matter, though not so urgent
as to require forgoing democratic procedure — urgent             D. Cubberley: i was referencing the $30 million that
because it concerns timely completion of the key              taxpayers have invested in this project, the financing
olympic facility, the athletes village. That's why legisla-   for which is now suspended, which puts completion in
tors have been asked to consider changes to law on an         jeopardy and makes the resolution of the problem and
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                           13503

a return to active construction a matter of provincial             excessive secrecy about what we're doing, from secur-
interest.                                                      ity to add-ons to overruns, coupled with assurances that
                                                     [0055]    everything is on track…. all of it is highly reminiscent
   There are many difficult questions around this project      of Montreal. What should have been a success story
— all as yet unanswered — about the way it was set up;         in that city soured into a monumental debt carried by
about the P3 format mandated by this government and            ordinary taxpayers. none of us want that to happen here.
why a private sector–financing model that supposedly           but in order to prevent it, government needs to not just
transfers all risks to a private developer fell apart, a P3    hurry legislation past this house in the dead of night but
ownership model that resulted in inflated borrowing            rather to become accountable for its spending and how
costs; and now a complete suspension of capital supply by      it's being managed.
the offshore hedge fund, which appears to be insolvent.            Why are we here this morning considering a hurry-up
   how did that happen? and why don't members                  amendment to the Vancouver charter? it's pretty straight-
opposite have their own questions about that matter,           forward and clear. We're debating this bill because the
given their cheerleading for P3s? That's why we're rais-       olympic athletes village project is threatened by finan-
ing questions about transparency and accountability.           cing arrangements that have gone sideways, not just on
because taxpayers' interests are involved, not just those      the city of Vancouver and Millennium Development but
in the city of Vancouver — certainly those taxpayers are       on this government as well.
highly exposed — but all british columbia taxpayers,              These arrangements began going sideways, it turns
because they're the true payers for this and every other       out, months and months and months ago, and this gov-
olympic venue, and they haven't got a clue at this point       ernment and this Premier knew, or should have known,
what their total financial exposure is.                        from the ongoing reporting relationships that are sup-
   That's not their fault. They'd like to know, but they       posedly in place, that finances were going sideways. but
aren't allowed to know, because government keeps               it's that olympic deadline and our pride as a province in
hiding the ball. They'd like to know how the city got itself   meeting our obligations to the world that has brought
into this pickle. They want to know why the provincial         us here today.
oversight was aWol in the months leading up to this                Mark my words: it's no small change that's being
debacle. They want to know why it was that more dili-          contemplated in this house, however short that bill may
gence wasn't shown in the way the project was actually         be. it's an unfettered power to borrow at a magnitude
set up. We share the public's interest in those questions,     never enjoyed before or contemplated for a municipality
and we're trying to raise them in the context of this bill.    in british columbia, a power the city now must have
   What's at risk here is public confidence in what has        because of the poor provincial process that brought
been and should be a galvanizing idea that's above pol-        us to this place, a power the city needs and that i will
itics. but you know, there is a growing sense of concern       support giving the city because there's simply no viable
about the financial liabilities to be borne by taxpayers       alternative.
here, as costs escalate and overruns mount. There's                                                               [0100]
dwindling confidence in the way the olympic planning               it's a longstanding requirement in b.c. that local
and funding is being handled by this government, par-          governments considering borrowing over a defined
ticularly its refusal to come clean with taxpayers about       threshold are required by provincial law to give resident
how much is actually being spent.                              taxpayers the opportunity to express themselves on the
   This province has a long memory. We know how cost           proposed borrowing. Presumably this is a recognition
overruns and poor planning and poor reporting and              that local government might commit itself to a major
lack of accountability damaged the positive feelings of        investment without public agreement, that it could
Montrealers about their own olympics; how that vast            burden taxpayers unduly and that assent of the electors
megastructure, the olympic Stadium, ran up a $1.5              is necessary before proceeding.
billion debt, which the mayor of the day, Jean Drapeau,            i understand this very well, having a background in
claimed was no more possible than that a man have a            local government. it can feel quite fettering when you
baby; how that impossible debt that couldn't happen            want to get on with your project. if you want to borrow
took 30 years to pay off, longer than it would have taken      large amounts of money, you have to give the electors
to raise the baby a man couldn't have to full adulthood.       a chance to say yea or nay, whether it's by means of a
   The olympic Stadium was supposed to be the legacy           counter-petition process that eventually triggers a ref-
project that warranted holding the olympic Games, but          erendum if enough people sign it or a requirement to
we recall today how it turned into an enormous alba-           go directly to a referendum, which i believe is what
tross hanging around the necks of taxpayers, one they          the charter specifies. The electors in b.c. get a chance
have only just got free of in 2006 — 30 years later. People    to express themselves on borrowings at the local level,
here know the joke about the olympic Stadium being             and if they say no, the borrowing proposal is dead in
the big "o." That's o-w-e.                                     its tracks.
13504                                          british columbia Debates                       Saturday, January 17, 2009

   one of the things we're doing today in approving this        have a say in whether and how their tax dollars are
bill is lifting that requirement. That's the design of the      expended. Those rights are ridden roughshod over.
bill — the only way we can really respond, in fact, to the                                                             [0105]
urgent need to re-establish capital financing so that the          it's not enough, to me, to say, as the Finance Minister
olympic time lines can be met, so that our pride in our         did earlier today, that government is doing this quickly
athletes and our abilities as a province to keep our word       because (a) the city of Vancouver asked us to do it and
remain intact, so that our investment of at least $30 mil-      (b) because it's our obligation to give the city the tools it
lion in provincial money on behalf of all the taxpayers of      needs. i think it is our obligation to try to give the city, in
british columbia is protected and so that the taxpayers         this instance, the tools that it needs, but that's certainly
of the city of Vancouver can have their existing invest-        not usually the case in this legislature.
ments in this real estate scheme protected through the             i recall recently when the capital regional district
olympics themselves and, hopefully, beyond.                     wanted this government to move quickly to approve
   What we are doing is saying that the potential harm          zoning bylaw changes that would have enabled it to
of financial failure to taxpayers if this goes off the rails    protect itself from undesirable development impacts,
and the harm that would be caused to british columbia           impacts caused by this government removing tFl lands
through embarrassment to each and every british                 without any consultation or opportunity for a commun-
columbian for not completing what our government                ity planning process to occur. Government's response
committed us to doing, heaven forbid, is greater than           was not only not to move quickly and give it the tools
the harm of removing the normal right of Vancouverites          that it needed, but in fact to slow-walk the requested
to say whether they want to authorize this borrowing            changes so that the opportunity to effectively limit the
or not.                                                         damage was lost.
   i want to be clear here. i do support this in the circum-       So i think it's necessary in the house to do more than
stances we find ourselves in, but this is a major departure     simply raise the spectre of olympic deadlines and the
from public policy on local government borrowing. it is         potential failure to meet them, to propose significant
not a small change, and yet when the minister rose to           changes to law and then show no inclination to canvass
speak in support earlier today — i guess it was yesterday,      the impacts of those changes. So far i haven't heard a
technically — he didn't mention it, to my knowledge. he         word about that.
didn't elaborate on government's position on taking this           now, our Premier has said a few times that he's not
step, and it left the distinct impression that government       in any way, shape or form authorizing any kind of blank
was proceeding, as it has with the entire olympic enter-        cheque, that this is not another giveaway or a licence to
prise, lackadaisically, indifferently and without regard        print money, or an excuse to go further into overruns.
for the implications of what is being considered.               but if it's true that the Premier is concerned that we
   The implications are large. i know government wants          not issue a blank cheque, then surely we need to look
to see this done quickly and quietly — that's obvious in        more carefully at the implications of the olympic village
the lack of substantive comment from members oppos-             financing act, which would appear to place absolutely no
ite on the implications of this bill — so that the fiction      borrowing limits whatsoever upon the city with regard
that this government is an innocent bystander at a tragic       to something that is approaching a billion-dollar project
and unforeseen mishap that's happening to someone               — a billion-dollar project with a high level of risk, attrib-
else can be maintained.                                         utable to the volatility of current real estate markets in
   Perhaps that's why there's so little comment of              a very difficult and unpredictable global economy, risk
substance on the olympic village and its funding                that will continue to be in play despite any actions we
arrangements, because if you say nothing, it reinforces         take here today.
an impression that you knew nothing and you bear no                bill 47, the Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009,
responsibility for the situation we find ourselves in. but      decouples unlimited borrowing for the olympic village
that is clearly a fiction, and i think no legislature should    project from the ratepayers' normal right to have their
be lifting a significant limitation on the power of muni-       say in whether borrowing occurs or not. it does this
cipalities to freely borrow, a limitation that forces them      for one reason only, and that's to ensure completion
to have a connection to the will of voters. no legislature      of the athletes village, we hope. it does this in order to
should be lifting such a power lightly, and it seems to me      enable the city to take steps to address the failure of a P3
that that's exactly what this government is doing. it's lift-   arrangement that this government mandated be put in
ing it very lightly and without any evidence of sustained       place to accomplish the building of any olympic venue.
reflection on the implications.                                    Will this do it? Will this get us to our goal of having
   it also seems to me at the same time to be consist-          the key olympic venue ready on time for the arrival of
ent with the whole pattern of olympic management                the world's elite athletes so we can meet our contractual
and spending — the secretive mismanagement of the               obligations, keep our word and feel proud of our accom-
olympics, where the rights of the public to know and            plishments? We hope, but we don't know, because the
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                              13505

arrangements currently in place involve uncertainty of          oversight and rigorous monitoring that this bill fails to
funding. What we're hoping to achieve is that the city          supply provisions of any kind to keep taxpayers whole.
will be able to go the more traditional route for finan-            rights are being removed by this bill, and i think legis-
cing and get banks to lend the project the money based          lators should grasp that. it's not a small matter. Given
on asset equity.                                                that rights are being removed, it would seem entirely
   to rescue the situation, we're making a change we            appropriate to replace them with some guarantee in the
wouldn't otherwise contemplate. We're bypassing an              form, perhaps, of an arm's-length agent or agency, so
embedded form of accountability. Democratic scrutiny            that someone is identified and mandated to look out for
in the shape of votes on borrowing is a type of mandated        the electors' interests in the way this project is handled.
public scrutiny and accountability, and it's being lifted       That's a model that should govern all projects for the
in order to facilitate tight olympic deadlines and get this     olympics in british columbia.
project built so that the city and all of british columbia          We have the opportunity in these exceptional circum-
don't wind up with a massive black eye, a black eye that's      stances to embed it in this act. it's not in the act. You
ultimately going to be the responsibility — should it           know, where i come from — and i've heard this said —
happen, and we hope it doesn't — of this government.            it's not enough to say that another municipal election is
   We can see the need, given the situation we find our-        just three years away, the electors will have a chance to
selves in, to do this, but we have to ask how we got here.      sit in judgment on those who are in power today, and
The answer is that too much of our olympic funding is           that's enough of a check on what they do. if that were
not transparent to taxpayers, local or provincial. When         the case, we would have no controls on discretionary
we look at the way this legislation is drafted, it is indeed    borrowings by local governments. as the house knows,
narrow and targeted in order to increase the city's dis-        we have a very tight rein on those in british columbia.
cretionary borrowing power, and it could deliver very           We mandate that local governments must consult. They
appealing interest rates rather than the extortionate           must give electors the opportunity to say.
rates that have helped send this project sideways.                  now is the time that we have to provide for transpar-
                                                       [0110]   ency and openness and dealings with public money spent
   but the opportunity was there to recognize the fail-         on olympic venues, because oversight, hon. Speaker —
ures in planning and funding, a failure of government           and i'm sure you will agree with this — helps predispose
due to its disregard for taxpayer moneys, its refusal           prudence in borrowing and the use of borrowed funds.
to be transparent and accountable, and its lamentable,          it's a healthy thing, in other words. it's a sober second
lamentable arrogance and neglect of the real needs of           look at what people are thinking of doing. That gives the
communities to come clean and play on the up and up             taxpayer some comfort that people are not engaging in
with those taxpayers whose money is being spent. Yet            short-termism or not taking sufficient account of their
government refuses to do the right thing, which is to           interests.
mandate clear oversight and transparency around its                 i'd like to think that government is capable of amend-
expenditures.                                                   ing legislation in order to improve it. in fact, i think a
   i believe strongly that there needs to be a quid pro         government worthy of public confidence would be, no
quo of some kind in this legislation in order to justify        matter where the suggestion for change originated. but
the lifting of the right of electors to monitor and check       i also think that a government that's worthy of public
what their governors are doing, which is the right that's       confidence would come clean on its olympic spending
being suspended by this bill. There is no quid pro quo in       and that it would, without prompting, put in place over-
the bill as it's written. When i look closely at it, i don't    sight that would allow taxpayers to know that someone
see it.                                                         independent is there to look out for their interests in
   You know, it is a pattern of this government to prefer       seeing things happen on time and on budget.
to spend without scrutiny, so it's perhaps not surpris-             but you know, i'm not going to be holding my breath
ing that despite making a major change to one local             on this because this government resists any and every
government's powers of borrowing, and with a $30 mil-           suggestion not originating in the Premier's office. That's
lion provincial taxpayer investment in the project and          why, i think anyway, we've heard so little of substance
our collective pride on the line, this government has           from government members on this bill and its serious
neglected to put any form of financial oversight require-       implications. nothing to suggest to taxpayers, whether
ment into the bill.                                             they be in Vancouver or anywhere else in british
   Perhaps in government's haste to get the project             columbia, that government respects their right to know
done quietly and to get on quickly with pretending it           how their money is spent and for what.
has merely helped someone else solve their problem, it                                                               [0115]
simply didn't think to consider the need for this kind             That brings my remarks to a close for the moment,
of oversight. but i think it's more likely because this         except that i would like to say i really do appreciate the
government habitually sidesteps scrutiny and avoids             opportunity to speak to this. but i would like to reiterate
13506                                         british columbia Debates                   Saturday, January 17, 2009

before i close that it is a shame to find oneself talking     the record as being suspicious from the get-go regarding
about these things at this time of night. i do have to say    some of the projects that this government has been
that while i would agree with anyone who asserted that        involved in for many, many years.
there is a degree of urgency — in fact, even a high degree                                                        [0120]
of urgency about the need to debate these matters and            You know, when i address bill 47, Vancouver charter
resolve this issue in this house — there's a very thin case   amendment act, 2009, and when we look at the urgency
for arguing that we needed to suspend the rules and sit       here and particularly the letter from his Worship Mr.
all night in order to have a facsimile of that debate.        Gregor robertson, the mayor of Vancouver…. he makes
   i think personally that the bill would benefit from an     it very clear: "The city's commitment to delivering the
airing over a number of days. if government were to do        olympic village to Vanoc for the games has been
the job it's intended to do, we might find that through       placed at risk."
reflection, we choose to cultivate the bill and groom it         in his submission to the Premier and, of course, to the
and address its deficiencies. i believe i've made the case    leader of the official opposition here in the Parliament
that there are some deficiencies in this bill, and i would    buildings, he goes on to say: "The city of Vancouver is
hope that government would take account of my words.          committed to delivering the olympic village to Vanoc
Thank you very much for the opportunity.                      by the november 2009 deadline."
                                                                 and finally he says that the Vanoc deadline is nine
   G. Gentner: i rise from my slumber, like many of you       months away. "The olympic village is a central venue for
in this house have been maybe taking a little bit of a        the olympic Games. Just as important, when the games
moment of rest as we gather our thoughts under this cru-      are finished, the olympic village development will be a
cial bill 47, Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009.          permanent and remarkable place to live for many cit-
   before i begin, i'd also like to start off by congratu-    izens in Vancouver." So with that, to give reference to
lating the member from north Peace, the new Senator           why we're here, it's based on the project itself, which is
representing british columbia. i know that in our             certainly related to the urgent need of completing it in
caucus, we're not necessarily moved by the view of find-      time for the olympics.
ing a position in the Senate. but we do have a mayor             This may seem like a small act, but certainly its impli-
from the city of Vancouver who's also in the Senate, and      cations are enormous not only for local governments
somehow he was involved in some of this mess called the       and the taxpayers directly and indirectly in british
olympics, so i rise to congratulate the hon. member and       columbia but directly, of course, to the taxpayers of
just to note that his tenure there will be far more…. he'll   the city of Vancouver — the olympics and the nature
have to rise to the occasion there, because the unelected     of how the government carries about its projects and
Senate of canada sat for 70 days while this house last        its due diligence and oversight of such projects. That's
year sat for only 49 days.                                    what our debate here is really all about. i mean, there are
   i begin by bringing into context…. i want to start off     huge implications here. it doesn't just go relative to the
with some quotes regarding this project. i begin by saying    specific project. it's what it conveys more than anything
— and i quote: "This is one of the largest construction       else.
projects in british columbia's history. a project of this        local government is by virtue of the act, and by
size is an enormous opportunity but also an enormous          all local governments…. The charter, but the local
challenge. Done wrong, the olympics can wind up               Government act. Through their application of that
being a huge burden on taxpayers and another source of        act, all local governments are creatures of the province.
division." The person who made these statements also          We've seen how school boards have been shut down by
went on to say: "and the government's olympic plans           provincial governments. in fact, municipalities have
are already being overtaken by reports of spiralling cost     gone so far in debt that they've actually had to declare
overruns that are putting key projects at risk."              bankruptcy.
   i also quote: "rather than work to find the best solu-        i don't know if the house knows this — many may
tion for the lower Mainland..." the Premier "…wasted          not — but burnaby in the early 1950s had to do exactly
two years insisting — on ideological grounds — that the       that. The city of burnaby had to declare bankruptcy. it
raV line go ahead only as privatization projects and          was a major problem for the city then to try and deliver
without making adequate financial cases."                     its services to their citizens. Therefore, what came about
   and finally, i quote: "community involvement, busi-        was a tightening-up, tighter scrutiny on how we borrow
ness involvement and labour involvement today equals          money, particularly at the municipal level.
olympic success six years from now. The olympics                 The tradition developed where we would certainly
cannot be the private preserve of a few. They must become     look at a referendum. You would borrow. Through ref-
a common project for every british columbian."                erendum, you'd get a mandate from the people. recently,
   Those quotes were made by the leader of the                of course, over the last ten or so years we've also seen
opposition way back on May 10, 2004. We are well on           some levies that were applied, but there are specific
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13507

amounts of money which municipalities can borrow                  The province has provided a guarantee to the
without having to go to referendum.                             international olympic committee, the ioc, that it will
   We are certainly seeing a very, very different shift here.   cover any financial shortfall of Vanoc. That was a
You know, the referendums and the levies were a sure            commitment that was made long ago, and this cost, of
way of taxation, which had representation primarily             course, could rise if Vanoc is not successful in meet-
to the specific project. but now the game has certainly         ing its revenue or expense targets or does not build in
changed, namely because of a shoddy public-private              sufficient contingency to cover items it cannot control
partnership scheme that has been endorsed, if not pro-          — items such as inflation, exchange rate fluctuations, the
moted, by the province.                                         state of the economy, etc.
   in fact, all municipalities must go through a P3 pro-           So that was already built in, hon. Speaker. now, when
curement process for its larger projects, and the olympic       we look at some of the key findings in 2006 of the
athletes village project is just one of those projects. There   auditor General, negotiation on amendments to certain
is a filtering-through system that begins with the prov-        key venue agreements were not quite finalized, and it
ince, a recommendation to various municipalities that           was quite a concern back then to the auditor General.
are connected with the games.                                   The government certainly knew about this, but the gov-
   The bill gives unprecedented powers to what has been         ernment cast a blind eye in its religion, in its belief that
referred to as…. We call it the blank cheque. The media         the P3 projects were able to monitor itself, so to speak.
has certainly referred to it, and members of the house            The auditor General recommended that the province
have.                                                           work with Vanoc to help get all venue agreements
                                                       [0125]   in place as soon as possible and closely monitor
   if municipalities are creatures of the province, where       Vanoc's…
really is the scrutiny in this bill by the province itself?
There really is none. There is no scrutiny with this bill.        Deputy Speaker: Member. Member, relevance to bill
by granting Vancouver the right to borrow such huge             47.
substantial sums, it can incur huge liabilities, and
the question we have to ask ourselves is: who will be              G. Gentner: Thank you, hon. Speaker.
responsible? how will this provincial assembly rein in            …progress in managing construction of venues. This
governments who may go well beyond their means?                 was what the government should have done, but the
   hon. Speaker, we're here because of what has been            government didn't. The olympic athletes village respon-
known as urgency, and we had that debate earlier this           sibility lies with the province in the end, and the auditor
afternoon — determining what is urgent and what isn't           General was aptly pointing that out.
urgent. Yet we know that the government was well aware             in a report by Partnerships b.c. in 2006, it identi-
of the project for some time. We know, through various          fied that the athletes villages — both villages, of course;
processes, through Vanoc, which has a direct link to            Vancouver and Whistler — raised real concerns. The
the government. We know, of course, through the public          others are complex — the other project, an expensive
accounts procedure here in the legislature where we had         venue — which have inherent risks that Vanoc is in
an oversight looking into the matter, and we certainly          control of. So it was flagged back then by the auditor
had the Premier and his right hand, Mr. Dobell, who             General that there were real, grave concerns.
was involved with Vanoc.                                                                                             [0130]
   So there's no question in anybody's mind that this              Vanoc was to monitor the risk found within this
government was certainly involved in the affairs and            development. and what did the province do? it did
knew of what was happening for quite some time rela-            nothing. With the huge-salary bureaucrats, however,
tive to the olympic athletic village.                           of Partnerships b.c. — the ceo was making salaries
                                                                of close to half a million dollars — how could such an
  [S. hammell in the chair.]                                    agency with such largesse and so-called expertise miss
                                                                its due diligence since the olympic village did not meet
  What bill 47 really implies — that's a question we must       the litmus test?
here answer. it's about responsibility, the public duty            This project, the olympic residential project, this P3
to get to the bottom of how government money, your              project, simplifies the policy and priorities of what this
money, my money, the taxpayers of Vancouver, their              government really stands for. it was determined that the
money, the shift of priorities that have become, due to         Vancouver charter and perhaps the local Government
the fact that times are tight…. We are now entering a           act must be changed in order to address this.
major recession. We are looking into a fiscal world credit         So who is actually accountable for the outcomes of
crunch, so to speak, and it's making the market very tight.     such partnerships? it is, of course, the provincial liberal
unfortunately, though, that is now playing havoc not only       government. are the olympics there for athletes, or is it
internationally but on how we deliver the games.                more involved with the profit motive of P3s?
13508                                          british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

  An Hon. Member: Yeah, what is the answer to that             got a million dollars on the table. We're supposed to
question, anyway? i've been wondering that. is it all          have these consortiums ready to go, but unfortunately,
about making rich people richer? What is it?                   they're not going to be around till 2010.
                                                                                                                      [0135]
    G. Gentner: it's certainly not necessarily about the          The whole financing is breaking down on a billion-
athletes.                                                      dollar structure, and the sad thing about it is that while
   amateur sport has changed over the last number of           we are seeing a blank cheque being signed off today
years. We have driven the olympics into such a position        relative to this olympic village, the residents in my com-
where our duty there has been lost to try and promote          munity are being expropriated for a P3 project called the
amateur sports. We are now more concerned with the             South Fraser perimeter road, with no understanding of
aspect of pushing profits from offshore consortiums who        what kind of money they're going to receive. Yet here we
are here to make money. now, i understand the need             are in Vancouver writing out a blank cheque to bail out
for incentives, but when you give away the store, which        a very messy situation.
the liberal government has done through its policies of           it's not fair. it's not fair to rural communities. it's not
P3s, we have to ask the question: what's happened to the       fair to my community. it's not fair to the residents in
accountability?                                                my community who live on a street called river road,
   That is why we are here tonight, because there is no        who are losing their homes — all because of a P3 that
accountability. it's been lost. The whole boondoggle was       did not go through proper consultation. in the same way,
to be swept under the carpet, but in the end the truth         the olympic village development — the Millennium
prevails. We're here tonight because we want to get to         development — also didn't go through a proper litmus
the bottom of this. We're here because this government         test relative to consultation, of course.
lacks accountability, it lacks accountability, and it lacks       We saw the big announcement. ironically, when the
accountability.                                                Prime Minister and the Premier had finished their big
   When we look at the nature of the P3s, it really was a      announcement regarding the South Fraser perimeter
sweetheart deal when the olympic athletic residence was        road, the media were on to it very quickly. The ques-
put together. Parent companies have very little liability.     tions they were asking, strangely enough, were about the
it's the taxpayer that in the end holds the liability. We're   olympic village.
the ones who must pay when, of course, these financial            i've been in this house now for three years. We've
structures collapse. What risk is there when in the end it     spent a lot of time talking about P3s. You know: "it's
always goes to the taxpayer?                                   been ignored. it has not been answered." in fact, when
   What do we have with the olympic village? We have           you approach the Main Street press, it's never really
bigger costs, bigger debt, bigger tax shelters and higher      talked about. but for the first time in a long time, since
taxes. There's little equity. There's little that was put      i've been witnessing what's been going on, we had the
down on this. it's similar to the situation we're now          mainstream press demanding answers from the Prime
seeing today in the united States with the credit crunch.      Minister of canada and the Premier of this province
The olympic village is an example of how a P3 goes             regarding how P3s work and why they're failing. They
wrong. in my community, we can look very nicely with           were asking the questions regarding the olympic village,
the comparisons of what goes wrong with a P3.                  and they were comparing it to the failure of the South
   The P3s — and this is what the athletic village is          Fraser perimeter road.
supposed to be about — were to design, build, operate,            it was quite amazing. We had 300 media people run-
maintain and finance the project. but i can tell you, we       ning around in this hangar at the Surrey Docks. The
went last Monday, and i witnessed all the hoopla around        Premier was there to make the big announcement, along
another P3 built on the same premise, and that was the         with the Minister of transportation, on how wonderful
South Fraser perimeter road. it was quite a big show. We       the South Fraser perimeter road was, but it immediately
had the Prime Minister there; we had the Premier, the          defaulted into this embarrassing situation called the
Minister of transportation, the Minister of international      olympic village.
trade to announce this wonderful project called the               The embarrassment is throughout the whole world. The
South Fraser perimeter road, built on the same premise         whole world now is standing and watching what is going
as the athletic village that we are now here discussing.       to happen to our olympics. it's embarrassing to know
   The South Fraser perimeter road, like the village, was      that there are other venues that are now in question.
built that they would transfer the risk on to the private         interestingly enough, when the Prime Minister
sector. unfortunately, though, the financing now is a          was asked whether the federal government would get
no go. The financing is no longer there. it has suddenly       involved in the bailout of the village, the Prime Minister
collapsed. The Prime Minister and the Premier were             was adamant that the federal government wouldn't pay
making a big announcement, a big hoopla, about how             a dime, because the liability is 100 percent that of the
this wonderful road is going to save the day, and we've        province of british columbia.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                               13509

   The question arises, of course: where is the Premier in        G. Gentner: Yes. Thank you, hon. Speaker. The
this? Why is our Premier not lobbying the federal govern-      architect of the olympic village, it's involvement with
ment like heck to come forward and give assistance to the      Vanoc…. Mr. Dobell, who was a director of The
city of Vancouver and all projects within the olympics?        canadian council for Public-Private Partnerships….
   regarding the South Fraser perimeter road, there's no       he was the Premier's chief adviser, and don't think for
accountability. it's another failure, and the government has   a second that Mr. Dobell didn't have any influence on
not learned from the olympic village fiasco. You look at the   how the olympic village came about and was certainly
South Fraser perimeter road. We're more likely looking at      just in the same manner regarding how we saw the huge
another 99-year lease, where we're supposedly supposed         expenditures regarding, of course, the convention centre
to transfer the risks to the private sector. Meanwhile the     that Mr. Dobell was involved with. We can see how his
government is out there preloading all up and down the         hand was involved with the olympic village and how it's
existing South Fraser perimeter road, the perimeter way.       also collapsed.
   if the government was here to transfer the risk onto           i mean, we are looking at the right hand of the Premier
the private sector, why is it that taxpayers are preloading    and his involvement. he certainly was involved in this
a road and bearing the risk and the liability itself? if       project. There's no question. certainly, we're now seeing
something goes wrong 50 years or 20 years from now on          the end result. it's as though the olympics, by this gov-
the road, the finger-pointing will obviously be towards        ernment, is being run as though it's another enron. it's
the provincial government, because it's the taxpayer           totally incompetent. We see a government that's arro-
who paid for the preload on very unstable lands.               gant. it's certainly not doing its proper due diligence. it's
                                                      [0140]   abandoned the public accountability. it's shown total dis-
   Yet we have a blank cheque to a municipality or a city.     regard and disrespect to taxpayers. it's reckless; it's sloppy.
Meanwhile, my constituents are getting gouged for a P3         here we are today with a huge situation that's going to be
project. not offering any money, they're being intimi-         foisted on the taxpayers of the city of Vancouver.
dated, and yet this P3 project gets a blank cheque.              This group across…. You want to talk of the Vancouver
   You know, this is the way of the future. We've seen         athletic village, hon. Speaker, we might as well start call-
something similar now with the Port Mann bridge. The           ing them the village people over there. They're the new
financing from Macquarie has collapsed. The global market      Village People. They got their own little disco gig going
and the international financing behind it have collapsed.      over there. They got their catchy tunes. They got their
   You know, we can also look at…. The government had          suggestive lyrics. They've got the appropriate costumes.
an opportunity before it got involved with the olympic         This is the new Village People.
village. it could have looked at what it did with hydro,
namely with accenture and all the new call centres that           Hon. K. Krueger: You're deep, brother. You're deep.
evolved because of it. but the accenture deal was based
on joint and several liability whereby in the end the lia-        G. Gentner: We're very deep. We're getting really
bility falls on all of us.                                     deep. We're going to get down to the bottom of this.
   now, we're looking to similar situations — P3 involve-      We're going to find out how this government is rip-
ments with iPPs. The abbotsford hospital — another             ping off the people of british columbia. We're going to
35-year deal where we will never know what the contract        get to the bottom of the olympics, and we're going to
looks like. it's the same secrecy that has clouded…. We        expose the menace that's running amok in the province
find with the olympic village…. it's the same business,        of british columbia — that's this liberal government of
the same old tired-out P3 projects — concepts that were        british columbia.
evolved out of the u.k. years ago. Most western nations                                                           [0145]
have woken up to the fact that they don't work.                   When you look at the new village people, they can run
   We can look at what's happened to the canada line.          around…. You kind of think about the six main culprits
That was a situation where the province assembled land         here. i mean the Premier. You think of the village people.
in richmond recently, and they wound up selling the            You think of the Premier. he's sort of like the biker run-
parking lot to a casino for next to nothing — just gave        ning around. We call him the leather man. he's the leader
the land away. now we're closing down a potential sta-         of the pack, and he's really not accountable to anyone.
tion that was supposed to be built by the partner, and            ken Dobell. Well, he's the cowboy roaming around
that was to accommodate some type of social housing,           the range, and he'll hit any campfire. his presence is felt
but that's collapsed as well.                                  everywhere.
   We're seeing the failure of financing for the evergreen
line, which was promised for many, many years. You know,          interjections.
we can talk about the architect of the athletic village.
                                                                  G. Gentner: it must be late, hon. Speaker. it must be
  Deputy Speaker: Member, relevance on bill.                   late.
13510                                        british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   You know, we're also looking at the former minister       a bill brought in by a guy i like, asked for by a mayor i
responsible for some of the projects — the construction      respect, about an event that i think everybody here loves,
of the convention centre, the overruns and the mainten-      and the total event sucks.
ance, the collapse, of b.c. Place. There's another guy                                                            [0150]
who's part of the village people.                               The debate debases what we are and what we do here.
   We in this house look at the accountability of this       The fact that we have to have the debate at…. it is now ten
development. to get specific to the issue; how is the        minutes to two o'clock in the morning. it's an appalling
partnership? how has it been arranged? These questions       insult to the people who will pay the bill. Good people
have not been properly answered. They have not been          asked for and bring in a piece of legislation to allow, to
presented to the house relative to this project. how have    accommodate, to create an event — the olympics — that
other olympic partnerships been arranged? These are          we all believe in, and it is an embarrassment to be an
questions we must get to the bottom of.                      elected politician and participate in this. how can this
   can any partner borrow money, leave governments           be? That's a massive contradiction.
indebted in order to purchase other acquisitions or              i'd like to try to explain that contradiction. in fact,
assets? Do we know for sure, by giving this blank cheque,    i think explaining that contradiction to the people at
whether or not the partner or any partner can continue       home, who i'm sure don't understand bill 47…. i hope
to borrow extra money and purchase acquisitions or           it is the purpose of this speech. how on earth did we get
assets? a blank cheque where taxpayers will be on the        here, with the good intentions of putting on an event, to
hook, and yet we have no idea what the code of conduct       host the world, which we believe in? how did we get to
is within that partnership.                                  this moment at ten minutes to two o'clock in the mor-
                                                             ning, trying to borrow a half a billion dollars to backstop
   C. Evans: i rise to speak precisely to the narrowly       a bunch of people who have walked from the project 90
focused issue of bill 47.                                    days from its supposed conclusion?
   but before i start talking about bill 47, you know, if        i'm pretty old, so this event sort of has antecedents in
i wasn't here, which i didn't intend to be, i would have     my political memory. We, one time, hosted the world
been at the 80th anniversary of my friend John Perkins       before — eh? remember expo 86? british columbia —
in the seniors hall of the village of nakusp, where…         in fact, the same town, the town of Vancouver — said to
                                                             the world: "come on here." how did we organize that?
  interjection.                                              We went and got a guy, Jimmy Pattison, and we paid him
                                                             $1 to manage the event, to put it on, to host the world, to
   C. Evans: You guys want to deal with him?                 make us proud in the city of Vancouver.
  …most of my friends would be tonight. So i would               i don't think they had to come….
like to open my remarks by saying happy birthday, John.
i know you can't see me, since this tV doesn't play in         interjections.
nakusp, but i wish i was with you.
   We are here talking about bill 47. bill 47 was               C. Evans: it's okay. let them rage. The people can see
requested by a mayor who i like and respect and was          who they are.
brought into the house by a minister who i'd like to            i don't think they had to meet at two o'clock in the
congratulate for having his job. i like and respect that     morning in 1986 in order to attempt to backstop what
gentleman too. The mayor of Vancouver is the only            Mr. Pattison was doing. i think maybe this time, when
politician i know where i ever walked into a farmer's        we're hosting the olympics, we did it a little different.
barn and in the loft was an "elect this man" sign for the       instead of getting a british columbian to work for
mayor of Vancouver. i don't know farmers that put up         $1, we decided to give this project to something called a
election posters for politicians, and i think it's because   hedge fund. We decided to turn the athletes village, the
the mayor of Vancouver was once himself a vegetable          part of False creek that we're going to put 850 people
grower in the Fraser Valley.                                 from the world in, into the hands of something called
   he's asked us to come here and to pass this bill, bill    a hedge fund from new York. not a british columbian
47. The minister who brought the bill into the house is      working for a dollar, answering to a Premier, coming in
a gentleman i respect because he got to be a minister by     here and being proud of it, but to a hedge….
sitting down there and actually saying what he thought          i kind of think the people at home at ten minutes
instead of what he was told to say — a rare commodity        to two in the morning might want to know why. how
in this house.                                               come? if it used to be that we could do it with a citizen
   bill 47 is about funding for an event, the olympics,      of our own province working for a nominal sum just
which i think we all love — especially the Winter            because he's proud to be a british columbian, how come
olympics. i remember sitting with my family and watch-       we turned it over to something they don't understand,
ing elizabeth Manley make canada proud. So we have           called a hedge fund, in new York?
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13511

   That is the function of this debate on bill 47. it's why,    and to participate in "funds using short-selling and other
not what. how on earth did we get here? The answer to          'hedging' methods…." This is the important part: "…
that question is that the present government, the liberal       other 'hedging' methods to increase rather than reduce
government, aren't Social crediters or new Democrats.           risk, with the expectation of increasing return."
They are a brand-new kind of administration in british             i wonder if the folks out there in british columbia
columbia that we've never seen before.                          understood that instead of hiring a british columbian
   The people who used to govern and sit in that chair          to do this project, we went to new York and got a firm
governed for us, governed this land, and believed they          that is in the business of increasing risk rather than
were responsible to the citizens at home watching, the          reducing it, in order to increase income. now, hedge
citizens who own this land.                                     funds are typically only open to a limited range of pro-
   We've got a government who has decided that its              fessional or wealthy investors. This provides them with
function is to sell this land, a government who has             an exemption, in many jurisdictions, from regulations
lost its sense of pride at being british columbian and          governing short-selling, derivative contracts, leverage,
has said to the world: "We're pretty sure that if you're        fee structures and the liquidity of interest in the fund.
from new York or bonn, Germany or tokyo, you can                   in other words, we are here debating bill 47, which
do it better than we can. We can't build our own ships.         is going to backstop a bunch of people who increased
We can't run our own railroad. We can't run our own             risk in order to get a better return on investment. Why?
electric company." We will sell the creeks and the rivers,      because of the ideological mindset of the folks who have
we'll lease the railroad for 999 years, and we'll get our       been governing british columbia for seven years, who
ships from Germany, because we no longer believe in             think that dealing with the robber barons of the world
british columbia.                                               is better business than trusting our own people. That's
    So if we can host the olympics, let's get something         what we're doing here at two o'clock in the morning.
called a hedge fund, from new York, to do what Jim             We're trying to figure out how to deal with the facts
Pattison used to do for $1. it is an ideological mindset        that we did a deal with the robber barons and they have
that none of the folks at home have ever seen before.           backed out.
What are we doing here at ten minutes to two in the                now, follow the money. bill 47 — we're here to debate
morning attempting to backstop strangers we will never          bill 47. Follow the money. What kind of a hedge fund?
meet, who have decided to abandon us in the building           Which hedge fund that increases risk…? Somebody
of the olympics to host the world?                              with a…. it's a great, beautiful name — Fortress
                                                     [0155]     investment Group. now, there's a George bush title if i
   hon. Speaker, i would like to help the folks at home.        ever heard….
i walked in here, and i've got to admit — i'm an Mla;              The Fortress investment Group. We gave a contract
i'm 61 years old — that i had no idea what a hedge fund         to the Fortress investment Group to build the athletes
is. i would bet that the majority of the members on the         village. Did you debate it in here, hon. Speaker? i know
opposite side who signed the contract to do the deal            i'm not supposed to ask you rhetorical questions. Did
don't know what a hedge fund is. i'm betting that of            any of you members ever come in here and say: "Should
three million people in british columbia, 99.9 percent          we or should we not give a contract to somebody called
of you could never afford to meet these people, never           the Fortress investment Group in new York to build the
mind do a deal with them.                                       athletes village for this event that we're all…"? i don't
    So i looked it up: what is a hedge fund? remember,          remember that debate. i remember secrecy. i remember
a lot of intelligent people say that when something's           people on the other side saying P3s are good because
going on that you don't understand, the way to figure it        they reduce government risk.
out is to follow the money. So who did we decide to do             at one minute to two we are here taking to the people
our contract with? We decided to do it with something           of british columbia all the risk that Fortress investment
called a hedge fund. That's not a bank or a credit union.       Group was allowed to avoid by the contract that they
That's not borrowing from your neighbour. it's some             signed in secrecy, without public exposure, with the
kind of an institution which is defined in the encyclo-         government of british columbia. Who is Fortress
pedia, Wikipedia.                                               investment Group? it's "a new York–based asset man-
   it says that a hedge fund is "a private investment fund      agement firm which manages private equity hedge
open to a limited range of investors that is permitted by       funds and real estate and railroad-related investments,
regulators to undertake a wider range of activities and         with announced plans to move into casinos and horse
other investment funds. it also pays a performance fee          racing." oh, those are good guys for the athletes village
to the investment manager. as the name implies, hedge          — the real estate and railroad company with announced
funds often seek to offset potential losses in the princi-      intentions to move into casinos. There are some folks
pal markets they invest in by hedging their investments         who will take our risk off our hands, eh?
using a variety of methods, most notably short-selling"                                                              [0200]
13512                                          british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

     i don't think, had we debated that in the house before      the city of Vancouver the right to borrow the money to
 we signed the contract, there'd be a single person from         backstop the robber barons.
 either side who would have said: "oh yeah, that's better            i guess i think that if the people of british columbia….
 than a british columbia bank or a canadian credit union         every time we come in here, we, from our perspective
 or the b.c. people. let's get a horse-racing company and       — and the folks that govern from theirs — debate this
 see if they'll build our athletes village." and now we're       idea of the public ownership and public initiatives and
 debating bill 47.                                               projects against the private.
     let's follow the money to see how we got here. What                                                                [0205]
 could possibly be the connection of Fortress investment             i've been doing this ever since they sold b.c. rail and
 Group to the people of british columbia, to the people          sold off land in the tree farms and tore apart b.c. hydro
 we represent? Well, i guess there is a connection. if you       and ordered ships from Germany. it goes on and on and
 follow the money, you find a connection. The connec-            on — over in Maple ridge, trying to stop them from
 tion would be that in 2006 Fortress investment Group            bisecting the farm with the German P3 road. but every
 bought a company called intrawest.                              time i raise it, what do the ministers get up and say?
     now, who's intrawest? let's follow the money. in 1986           come on. Shout it out. You say: "You stupid socialist.
 intrawest acquired blackcomb Mountain. ten years later         We have to do this to reduce the people's risk." every
 intrawest acquired Whistler Mountain to form Whistler-          single time we raise the issue, members in the govern-
 blackcomb, which is the venue of the 2010 olympics.             ment say: "P3s are the way to reduce risk."
 Follow the money. We did a deal with a hedge fund, who i            it is now five minutes after two, and we are here taking
 submit on the record are the robber barons who are essen-       on half a billion, maybe $800 million worth of debt for
 tially responsible for the speculation in the world economy     the city of Vancouver to backstop private industries' risk.
 that has created the crash we're experiencing right now.        it is dishonest to say that the P3, the private process that
    We did the deal with Fortress, which it turns out owns       led us to Fortress, protects the people against risk. We
Whistler-blackcomb. Then, in a development that defies           are here. This entire debate is the legislature of british
 understanding, Fortress decides that it's too broke to con-     columbia embracing to our bosom the risk that private
 tinue to advance the money to build the athletes village,       industry has reneged on, paying usurious interest rates
 but it's still rich enough to own Whistler-blackcomb.           to them every day until we take it back.
     now, at two minutes after two, we are here debating             From this day on there should never be another min-
 bill 47. What does it say? i submit that what it says is        ister or Premier with the gall to stand up and say that
 that the people of Vancouver are going to backstop the          the P3 process, the private industry process, absolves
 company that is hosting the olympics. i submit on the           the people of risk, because the government — that gov-
 record here, at two minutes after two, that there is not        ernment — has brought us here today to take the risk
 even a contract with these robber barons that guarantees        back to the people because the new York hedge firm no
 that we'll hold the olympics at Whistler-blackcomb.             longer sees a profit.
    We are being asked, in the narrow confines of bill 47,           hon. Speaker, i think that it's unparliamentary to say
 to assist the good mayor, written by the good minister,        "lie," so i'm going to say that for seven years the people
 to give the right to borrow to the people of Vancouver          who governed this province have been mistaken. and
 to backstop a new York company that owns Whistler-              now, tonight, they will understand, because they are the
 blackcomb and hasn't agreed yet to let us hold the              people who are bringing in the bill, asking the people to
 olympics there.                                                 take back risk.
    When i was a little boy, one day at church the minister         You will understand the mistake that you were led
 was at the front giving a sermon about usury. i was a           to, and in future you will understand that the people
 little boy. i didn't have the slightest idea. i went home       of british columbia can manage their own affairs, run
 and said to my mom: "Mom, what's usury?" She said: "it's        their own railroad, build their own ships, run their own
 a sin." i said: "Yeah, but what's it mean?" and she said:       power company and create electricity from their own
"Well, that's kind of like when you loan some money to           creeks and rivers. it is wrong to say to the people of b.c.
 your friend and charge him more than 10 percent."               that by privatizing contracts, we off-load risk, because
     i was a little boy. i believed my mom. i've thought ever    we are here at your request, taking it back and giving it
 since that usurers were those crooks you see on late-           to the city of Vancouver.
 night movies or the bad guys you read about in the bible.           how much? What's it going to cost them? bill 47 —
 it turns out that the usurers are the Fortress investment       let's speak to the bill. how much is it going to cost them?
 co. The city of Vancouver is paying them 11 percent on          is it going to cost them $250 million — the people of
 the money that Fortress refuses to advance to finish the       Vancouver? is it going to cost them $300 million? What
 contract on the village they agreed to build.                   is the function of bill 47 here? is it $500 million? is it
    at five minutes now after two we're all coming here          wrong for an Mla to stand here and say: "We're debat-
 to vote on the narrowly written nature of bill 47 to give       ing the thing. What's it worth?"
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13513

   hon. Speaker, let them heckle. let them shout. let          the world, and those people don't have to return that
them write it down. What's it worth? how much risk             venue to the people of british columbia. if this was your
are we taking back tonight and giving to the people of         landlord, they'd lose the property. They could not renege
Vancouver? is it a buck and a half?                            on the loans without losing the property.
   let the record show that nobody is shouting out an             in this case bill 47 says that we're going to backstop
answer. let the record show that they don't know. They         them, and they still get to own blackcomb Whistler —
don't know, hon. Speaker. We off-loaded the risk, and          that chunk of british columbia. i submit, hon. Speaker,
it turned out they can't make a profit, so we're taking it     that every single person on that side and the Premier
back.                                                          and all the people that work for him should understand
                                                               that to ask the robber barons of the world to relieve us
  interjection.                                                of risk is folly.
                                                                  as of this day everybody should understand that we
  C. Evans: ah, let him go. it's two o'clock in the mor-       put our hand on the hot stove of privatization and P3s,
ning. it makes no sense. i can talk over him.                  and we've been burned, and it's over. if those folks don't
                                                               figure it out in about four months' time, they won't work
  interjection.                                                here anymore. The people of british columbia know that
                                                               they've been burned once, and they don't want to have
  Deputy Speaker: Member. Member.                              it happen again. This lesson will either be learned and
                                                               understood by those folks, or those folks will become
    C. Evans: We took a beautiful project that i want to       irrelevant in british columbia.
build. You want to build it? i think everybody here wants
to build it. i want to see the canadians in the olympics,         R. Austin: it is a privilege to take my place and make
and i want to see our neighbours and friends around the        my views known in this important debate for bill 47, the
world come here and say: "This is a beautiful place. This      amendment to the Vancouver charter. Perhaps, more
is a beautiful society. look what they did."                   appropriately, it should be called the b.c. legislature's
                                                      [0210]   assistance to solve what is undoubtedly the first official
    but in secret, without coming in here and talking          olympic overrun.
about it, somehow or other we decided to give a $500              This bill will assist the city of Vancouver to be able to
million, $800 million, a billion-dollar deal to some           borrow possibly up to $450 million — we don't know;
people in new York that you never met, the ministers           there's no cap — in order to complete the olympic ath-
who are over there never met, i never met and the people       letes village for the 2010 olympics.
of Vancouver never met. and then we said to them: "oh,            now, in the past few months quite a few of my con-
it's okay, you guys. if the rules change, we'll pay you 11     stituents have made comments to me and asked me
percent on your money."                                        questions such as: "Where are we exactly with these
    i read the records. in the last five years they were       olympics?" or "boy, it seems like we are really in a mess
making, at times, 30 percent on their investment because,      with this one. how much are these olympics going to
of course, they're those professional and rich people that     cost us all?"
play with hedge funds. You know, if they were our class           Those are extremely valid questions, particularly
of people, we'd call them gamblers. but of course, they're     when you consider that my constituents live a minimum
professional people, so they're investors.                     of 18 hours' drive from Vancouver or a two-hour plane
   Then all of a sudden around the world those gamblers        ride that costs an average of 600 bucks return. My con-
screw up the world economy with their speculative              stituents wonder, while many are still very excited about
mortgages and their speculative stock values and by            this province holding the Winter olympics, what exactly
essentially gambling with money they don't have. and           this is going to do for us and, perhaps more importantly,
crash; it comes down. and all of a sudden the hedge            how much we are going to have to pay for this.
fund doesn't have the money to keep its word.                     i think it's important to give a little clarity and con-
    now, hon. Speaker, if this was happening in your life,     text so that all of my constituents and those who are
if this was your landlord, your landlord couldn't say to       awake watching this in the middle of a Sunday morning
you: "oh, i can't pay the mortgage anymore, but you still      or those who will later access Hansard to find out what
have to pay me rent."                                          bill 47 is all about can get a good idea of what we are
    in this legislature on this morning we are agreeing to     debating and voting on, as the expenditure of millions of
bill 47, which says that we will allow the city of Vancouver   dollars of taxpayers' money deserves the due diligence
to backstop the debt, to borrow a sum of money which           of this house.
no one knows — more than a buck and a half and maybe                                                                [0215]
as much as $800 million — to backstop a company that,             We debate many things in this house, but i think that
it turns out, owns the venue on which we hope to host          when we are considering spending millions of dollars of
13514                                            british columbia Debates                           Saturday, January 17, 2009

other people's money, they deserve to know why we're              b.c. liberal government. Just yesterday on cknW the
doing it and whether it is a worthwhile expenditure.              Premier stated: "no. 1, there are no cost overruns on the
   bill 47 is necessary because of decisions that were            olympic village. What there is, is there are some chal-
made by the previous council that represented the city            lenges in terms of one of the opportunities to finance it,
of Vancouver. until last november, when the municipal             but there are no cost overruns."
elections took place, the city was run by a mayor, Sam               The Premier later called to clarify his earlier com-
Sullivan, and the civic party that backed him — the nPa,          ments, and i quote again: "Sorry. What i meant to say
or non-Partisan association. now, at this point many of           was there are no cost overruns for the olympics. Sorry
my constituents may be wondering how a political party            if that came out the wrong way. i apologize for that, but
can call themselves such a thing, perhaps an oxymoron if          you know, the olympics are on budget, and i think that
ever i heard one, but that is a discussion for another day.       they have done a very good job." When the Premier of
let's just say that this is the official farm team for the b.c.   the province is so out of touch that he does not even
liberals at the municipal level, and leave it at that.            know what is going on with one of his pet projects, it's
   This group decided that they would give a guarantee to         no wonder that my constituents are wondering what's
the company building the olympic village, Millennium              going on.
Development, when their funders, an american hedge                   This whole debate around bill 47 to allow Vancouver
fund, which we've all heard about from my hon. friend             to borrow up to $450 million, or whatever is needed
here, decided to stop making payments to this important           to finish the athletes village, reminds me of the cir-
project because the developers were going over budget.            cumstances that the poor taxpayers of Montreal went
We would not be here discussing bill 47, firstly, if this         through with the Summer olympics of 1976. Who can
was not an olympic venue of great importance and if               forget the mayor of the day, Jean Drapeau, saying to the
this former council had not, essentially, put the ratepay-        citizens of that fine city when discussing the building of
ers of Vancouver on the hook when the project started             the main olympic stadium, and i'm paraphrasing here:
to go sideways.                                                   there is no more chance of this going over budget than
   it had originally been budgeted at $750 million, but           of a man giving birth to a baby.
when Millennium began going over budget, Fortress                                                                       [0220]
said: "no more." That put this whole project in jeopardy.            Well, as we all well know, that metaphorical man
as a result, the former Vancouver city council met in             gave birth to an entire baseball team, and it took the
camera and decided that they would give a completion              ratepayers of Montreal 30 years to pay back that debt.
guarantee and advance Millennium up to $100 mil-                  in this solution to Vancouver's problem which we are
lion that they had squirreled away in a fund for future           here debating — bill 47 — i fear that the ratepayers of
developments.                                                     Vancouver may be in for a heck of a ride when all is said
   now, all of these decisions, hon. Speaker, were made in        and done.
secret behind closed doors, something that most british               Getting back to Mayor Drapeau's comments, i think
columbians are expressing great concern about. i think            that this bill 47 is just the beginning of an entire family
that people are not becoming in any way anti-olympics,            of cost overruns here in british columbia as a result
but they want to see decisions made in public, and they           of liberal mismanagement of these various olympic
want to know how much this is going to cost them. bill            projects or, as the government likes to say, the various
47 is the solution asked for by the city of Vancouver to          olympic envelopes.
enable them to borrow the difference between what has                 i would like to think that the legacy of these olympics
already been given by Fortress investment in the city             would fall into the fantasy land that the Finance Minister
and the cost of completing this project.                          spoke of earlier today, or late last night:
                                                                      "When i hear members of the opposition talking about the tax-
   i should mention at this point that the project is
                                                                    payers and the city of Vancouver being faced with costs in the
now estimated to cost about $875 million. i say "about"             hundreds of millions — or somebody said $875 million — that is
because no one really knows what the end cost is going              absolutely an exaggeration, because what the objective of the city
to be, but at least the new mayor, Gregor robertson,                of Vancouver is, is to make sure that there is no financial cost to
                                                                    the taxpayers of the city of Vancouver as a result of this project. it
who has inherited this mess and the result of gross mis-
                                                                    is by us passing this legislation today and giving the city the pow-
management, is trying to be as forthright as possible with          ers that they have requested that we are going to do our part in
his constituents by estimating this project at $875 million.        assisting the city of Vancouver in minimizing those risks."
now, this is $125 million more than the original estimate.        This, coming from the Minister responsible for the
That is called an overrun. it's important to know this            olympics, just shows how out of touch he is when the
term, as this is just the first olympic overrun that we will      figure of $875 million came from the city manager of
be dealing with as we get closer to the 2010 olympics.            Vancouver, Miss Penny ballem who one assumes knows
   i might point out that many of my constituents have            what the real situation is.
expressed concern to me, as they are getting mixed                   in fact, let me go further and explain how the min-
messages from the Premier of this province and the                ister thinks this overrun will not fall on the ratepayers
Saturday, January 17, 2009                                british columbia Debates                                                       13515

of Vancouver. he's assuming that the condo market                         sight over these budgets, and for goodness' sake, let's be
will rebound after the olympics and that the sale of                      upfront with british columbians and come clean with
these condominiums will return all that the taxpayers                     what's going on.
have shelled out. it is just this kind of head-in-the-sand                                                                   [0225]
thinking that has put the whole world economy into the                       here's what auditor General John Doyle has said in a
tailspin that we are witnessing.                                          letter to the Speaker of the house:
   if this is how he is handling the olympic budget, how                      "My office's two previous reports, issued in 2003 and 2006,
                                                                            conclude that british columbia's share of the full cost of the
can we have any confidence in his managing of the                           games is considerably higher than the $600 million figure that
province's overall finances? The minister, hon. Speaker,                    is often been quoted. Further, in the absence of full disclosure by
is like a broken washing machine: he's so stuck on spin                     the province, each report highlights significant risks that could
that he can't even come clean. What bill 47 brings to the                   result in…higher costs to the province by the time the games are
                                                                            finished….
attention of all british columbians, not just those of my
                                                                              "Fundamental differences of opinion between government and
constituents, is just that.                                                 my office remain unresolved…."
   They want this Premier and this government to come                       he goes on to say:
clean. They want to know: "look, how much are these                           "i share my predecessors' view that the full cost of staging the
olympics going to cost, how are we going to pay for                         games should include a number of items that are not included in
                                                                            the official budget. in addition, i share my predecessors' concern
them, and will the benefits be worth all of this?" That's
                                                                            that the risks associated with some costs and revenues have not
all they're asking. but instead we get secrecy, stonewall-                  been adequately disclosed. Should these risks come to pass, the
ing or just sheer pigheadedness in sticking to a public                     cost of staging the games could escalate considerably."
number that everyone of average intelligence knows is                     as a result, that is why we are here today.
just pure fantasy — $600 million is what the Premier has
said time and time again.                                                    Deputy Speaker: Member, remember to be relevant
   come on, Mr. Premier. come clean with the public.                      to bill 47.
Please don't treat us with contempt as if we're all half-
wits. The auditor General has already put out reports                        R. Austin: certainly, hon. Speaker.
that clearly demonstrate that many of the initial budget                     So we established that the olympics are going to be
items are already well over budget.                                       a heck of a lot more than the government's assertion of
   once again, let me quote the Minister responsible for                  $600 million.
the olympics:                                                                The next question to ask, after dealing with all of this
    "Within the $600 million envelope that we have to live up to our      mismanagement, is: what does this mean for the tax-
  obligations for the staging of the games, we have half of the $175      payers in general? Well, as i'm constantly told by this
  million — the provincial share for security. We also, within that
                                                                          government, governing is all about choices. if you spend
  $600 million, have remaining about $76 million of contingency.
    "i have no reason to expect at this point that more has to be allo-   money on one thing, then obviously, it isn't there to be
  cated for security, but we do have a $76 million contingency to         spent on something else.
  deal with unforeseen costs that may arise in the remaining three           So once we have paid for the security in the olympic
  years."                                                                 village, all the venues, and let's not forget the new roof
That's from the Minister of Finance and Minister                          of b.c. Place — did i mention that that is just over $350
responsible for the olympics.                                             million? — what will the total be? We don't know, as
   Well, hon. Speaker, as we discussed, bill 47, which as                 this government refused to share any bad news with the
i've already pointed out is just the first of many overruns               people of this province, but estimates by independent
the taxpayers of this province will be facing….                           analysts think that these olympics could be as high as
   let me just send a quick message to the Finance                        $2.9 billion to $3.5 billion and counting.
Minister. The most recent reports in the Globe and Mail                      Just think what we could do with this money. For my
and Vancouver Sun have the rcMP saying that the                           constituents, living in places like terrace and kitimat, it
security costs of the 2010 olympics will be anywhere                      would mean that for a mere pittance of this total — just
from between $400 million to a billion dollars.                           the crumbs that fall off the table — we might have had
   let me say that again, just in case british columbians                 our kids in a regular five-day school week instead of
did not read the papers on that day. The security costs                   a modified one — a school week that all other british
may be as much as a billion dollars. What we are seeing                   columbians enjoy, where teachers don't have to stress
now — and the Finance Minister alluded to this earlier                    themselves to teach a curriculum that has ever more
in his speech last evening — is that there are negotiations               challenges in a shorter time.
going on as we speak between the province, the federal                       Maybe parents don't have to figure where their chil-
government and the rcMP as to how those costs will                        dren go, with extended christmas holidays and spring
be allocated.                                                             breaks. Maybe they can sleep a little longer instead of
   So why don't we have these discussions in public?                      having to get up so early before travelling long distances,
let us permit the auditor General to have some over-                      in some cases, to get to school. if we did not have to deal
13516                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

with overruns such as the one we're discussing here in         look at the Premier's pet projects in the lower Mainland,
bill 47, maybe we could have the appropriate number of         where billions of dollars have been spent.
staff in our seniors care facility.                                                                                 [0230]
                                                                  in conclusion, let me return to the Finance Minister's
  Deputy Speaker: Member.                                      comments of yesterday where he argues quite forcefully
                                                               that previous auditors General had been unfair to his
  R. Austin: Yes, hon. Speaker?                                government by including spending that was not part of
                                                               the olympics. an example would be the upgrade to the
  Deputy Speaker: excuse me. take your seat, please.           Sea to Sky highway. This cost over $700 million when
                                                               all was told and done, but according to this government,
                     Point of Order                            that was not a part of the olympic expenditure as it was
                                                               just a routine road improvement.
   Hon. K. Falcon: a point of order. look, we recog-              We are actually expected to believe that this govern-
nize that the Speaker must give latitude to some of these      ment spent that kind of money upgrading a road to a
discussions, but when the member opposite is speak-            ski resort just as a matter of fact. Well, i don't believe
ing about issues completely unrelated to this one-page         that my constituents are suckers for a line like that. They
bill, bill 47, and he's talking about schools and fund-        know, and everybody knows, that if we had not made
ing and parents, it is getting just a little bit beyond the    the commitment to host the 2010 olympics, there is no
pale. i would ask the Speaker to please remind again, as       way that any government would have spent that kind
Speakers have done, the members opposite to actually           of money on a road to a ski resort. So at least have the
speak to the one-page bill, bill 47, that we're here to        decency to come clean with all of us and admit the true
debate.                                                        costs to the olympics and the cost to everybody.
                                                                  For my part, as the member for Skeena, i have to say
  interjection.                                                that i would have had other priorities such as health care,
                                                               education and economic development opportunities for
  Deputy Speaker: Just a minute, Member.                       northwest b.c., and we should have let the private sector
                                                               take on more of the risks, the risks that are now falling to
   D. Routley: it's clear that the speakers have brought       the taxpayers of this great province — or at least, to the
the comments back to relevance and, indeed, have used          taxpayers of Vancouver.
these metaphors in order to accurately debate the bill            Thank you for the opportunity to make my thoughts
in question. That is the spirit of the standing order, so      clear on this bill, and i look forward to hearing some of
i think the speaker's comments have been well within           the answers to the more detailed questions that will be
the range of relevance that is required by the standing        asked in committee stage.
order.
                                                                  G. Coons: We're here today at this special session
  Deputy Speaker: Thank you, Member.                           of the legislature to deal with the bill, bill 47, because
  Member for Skeena, would you please keep your                the city of Vancouver has requested that we move for-
remarks relevant to bill 47.                                   ward on this very important issue. The leader of the
                                                               opposition has acknowledged the importance of this
                   Debate Continued                            legislation. The special request to the government asks
                                                               that we in this house "protect the interests of taxpayers
   R. Austin: Thank you, hon. Speaker.                         as we put in place a financial plan for completing the
   if we did not have to deal with overruns such as the        olympic village project."
one we are discussing here in bill 47, maybe we could             now, the opposition intends to support bill 47 but not
have the appropriate number of staff in all kinds of other     without the full debate and scrutiny that is required. bill
areas in our society.                                          47, for those still up at this hour at 2:30, is a bill which
  When i visit Vancouver in the future and look at             allows through this legislation for the necessary finan-
places such as b.c. Place with the new roof, when i see        cing arrangements in order to complete the athletes
the eventual athletes village — and i'm sure it will be        village project. it allows the city to borrow and lend the
beautiful once it's built — and when i ever get to drive       funds required to continue with the construction of the
by the incredible speed skating facility in richmond,          athletes village.
these are the things i'll be reminded of — the important          This village is one of the numerous cornerstones of
things that the people of Skeena have forgone in order         the olympic bid that was put out to taxpayers and to
for this government to pay for their mismanagement of          the public. unlike this government, we don't believe
these Winter Games. While we have witnessed the com-           that support comes at the price of scrutiny. Mlas are
plete neglect of the north for the last 7½ years, we can all   in this legislature today, away from their constituencies,
Saturday, January 17, 2009                   british columbia Debates                                            13517

away from the inquiring minds of those in our ridings,       says must occur. This bill, bill 47, arises from the ashes
because of a lack of scrutiny from this government.          of this government's unaccountability.
   With an election set for May 12, many voters will be         now, i remember a key promise of this Premier. it's
watching how the olympics are being managed. in my           his promise of "the most open and transparent and
riding on the north coast, whether it's in Prince rupert,    accountable government in canada." This was accord-
on haida Gwaii in the nass Valley or down on the cen-        ing to a brochure issued by the b.c. liberals in the year
tral coast, they're sick and tired of this government and    2000, in the new era in the public service.
this Premier who won't come clean on the true cost of           our illustrious Premier didn't stop there. he echoed
all the olympic spending.                                    that, if government followed this approach, you may not
   by the end of the day, no matter how long it takes,       always agree with its decisions, but you would always
bill 47 will get passed, but the provincial government is    know how those decisions were made. but here we are
ultimately responsible for olympic spending, and this        today, or tonight, having bill 47 put to scrutiny due to
side of the house will do what it can to make sure that      the most secretive government we have ever seen in this
there's a full debate, full accountability and scrutiny of   province.
the actions of this government. We're going to do every-        We're here to debate and scrutinize bill 47, an
thing we can to make sure that questions that are on the     amendment to the Vancouver charter allowing the
minds of my constituents and all british columbians get      city to borrow an unlimited sum of money so financing
answered.                                                    arrangements are there to complete the village. as we've
   The Minister of Finance earlier today…. i guess he felt   mentioned, it's not a complicated piece of legislation. it's
obligated to add his thought to the debate, and he talked    a small amendment. but as british columbians are find-
about — and this is a quote — "They're using so much         ing out, this bill has great implications for all taxpayers
misinformation. Misinformation is spreading so much          and for the olympics.
fear among british columbians." i assume that he was            if we actually analyze the reasons for having bill 47
talking about the debate in the house, coming from this      placed before us today, we can see that there is a concern
side. i guess that it's the dreaded fearmongerers coming     to all british columbians. We had a culture of govern-
out of the closets again.                                    ment secrecy, lack of scrutiny and extreme arrogance,
                                                    [0235]   both at the city level with the nPa, the farm team of the
   You know, just as a reiteration from a letter from the    Premier, and here in Victoria with his government.
Minister of transportation about two or three weeks             This philosophy practised by this government closed
before the Queen of the North sank, the Mla referred         the door on citizens and treats taxpayers like they are
to the member for the north coast, the ferry critic, as a    a cash cow for the Premier's olympic cost overruns
fearmongerer, because there were concerns about safety       — a philosophy that has brought us here to help the
issues and the viability of the vessels travelling in the    Vancouver taxpayers cope with potential financial crisis
northern waters.                                             and help them out of the financial chaos they inherited.
   but in reality, the misinformation and fear that the         Despite the fact and the attempt to deny this fact, the
Minister of Finance brought up is a result of this gov-      Premier must take the full responsibility for this boon-
ernment's actions in dealing with olympic costs. This        doggle and for having this session to deal with the bill
Premier has taken the pride and the integrity of hosting     before us today, bill 47. The truth is that this government
the olympics as his own pet rock, his to hold close to his   knew exactly what was formulating with the olympic
chest, to P3 it to death and to be the most secretive, the   village — the failures of their P3 agenda, the cover-up
most arrogant and the most unaccountable Premier this        of their actions, the secrecy that festered within the
province has ever had.                                       Premier's office and the lack of due diligence that must
   now, bill 47, which british columbians are trying         accompany all public spending.
to understand through this one-pager…. british                  now again, if we recall the Minister of community
columbians want and expect a government that is open,        Development's earlier statement in reference to this bill,
transparent and accountable. The public interest must        that the province "would move quickly to conclude the
come first. but this government continues to refuse to       necessary due diligence so that the provincial govern-
come clean on the full cost of the olympics, and that's      ment could make an informed decision on the matter…."
the worst kind of arrogance.                                 We are questioning: where was the due diligence with
   now, the Minister of community Development ear-           this liberal government?
lier today stated in his opening that the province "would       Well, back in the brochure developed by the Premier
move quickly to conclude the necessary due diligence so      in 2000, he acknowledged that an open government
that the provincial government could make an informed        policy could actually prove annoying at times. and this
decision on the matter."                                     is another quote: "We know this transparency would
   That is the crux of this situation — the lack of infor-   not be without political embarrassments. but we believe
mation to make that informed decision that the minister      government should not shirk from making tough deci-
13518                                         british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

sions in public…. it's time to put public interest ahead      the city manager, Ms. rogers, reported to council that
of partisan interest."                                        the Millennium group, the developer of the village,
                                                     [0240]   was in anticipatory default. What this really means,
   clearly, we see a well-earned gold medal performance       hon. Speaker and those watching out there, was that
by the Premier for deception and secrecy. it should be        Millennium, the P3 partner, was running out of money.
noted that a letter to the privacy association at the time    The well was running dry. no bucks; it sucks. That's why
from the Premier, who was then the opposition leader….        bill 47 is before us today.
he said that open government is a hallmark of free and           now, the city — and the liberal-backed nPa; the
democratic societies. This is a quote. "When govern-          Premier's farm team — had an obligation to share
ment does its business behind closed doors, people will…      this information with Vanoc, and Vanoc, in turn,
believe that government has something to hide," he            through its finance committee, shared information with
wrote in a letter to Darrell evans of the privacy associa-    the province, the Premier and the minister responsible.
tion. "Secrecy feeds distrust and dishonesty. openness           So let there be no one out there doubting what hap-
builds trust and integrity," stated the Premier.              pened. This government had to have known what was
   now, why do we believe that the Premier and this           going on right from the very start, at least 18 months
government must take full responsibility for this boon-       ago. but, believe it or not, they refused to release or share
doggle? Well, the facts are there for all to see. They set    that information with the people of british columbia,
up a series of reporting provisions to ensure that they       especially when the problem was escalating.
would know. i believe that it's valuable at this point to        in april of 2008 the city's auditors reported publicly
review some of those provisions and the time line of          on the financial risk to the projects and to the city tax-
how we got into the position to have bill 47 placed in        payers. Then Millennium, the P3 partner, ran out of
front of us today.                                            money. Fortress, the financier, a new York hedge fund in
   So in the middle of 2006, Vanoc came to both the           financial trouble, intensified its demands, and there fol-
province and the feds asking for more money. both gov-        lowed a range of commitments by the city of Vancouver
ernments demanded due diligence reports as a condition        to underwrite both the developer and the financier in
of considering this request. The due diligence report and     order to complete the development on time.
the subsequent one prepared by Partnerships b.c. made            We're here today because obviously that did not work.
a number of recommendations to increase the flow of           taxpayers were left out to dry without their knowledge
knowledge between the city, Vanoc and the partners            of hundreds of millions in overruns and carrying char-
in the two levels of government — the provincial gov-         ges, and the final bill for taxpayers in Vancouver still
ernment and the federal government.                           isn't known.
   The pathway of information starts heading right to the                                                            [0245]
Premier's office. Vanoc then created an olympic village          here we are today with bill 47 in front of us, provid-
advisory committee to oversee the completion of both the      ing the means to allow the city of Vancouver to borrow
olympic village in Vancouver and in Whistler. as we know,     as much as it wants to complete the olympic village.
the city's project manager, Jody andrews, who this past       and the Premier still insists that this isn't a blank cheque.
week resigned, met weekly with Vanoc's project man-           he's mistaken on that. This bill, bill 47, has no dollar
ager and provided monthly written reports to Vanoc.           figure attached to it. The Premier needs to come clean on
Vanoc's finance committee, according to its public min-       the olympics, and bill 47 must drive the debate about all
utes, received regular reports on both of the venues.         the olympic costs.
   This is where it gets interesting, hon. Speaker — and         british columbians expect oversight and account-
for those out there still awake at 2:35. The co-chair of      ability for all olympic spending. They do not want an
Vanoc's finance committee, who reviewed and pains-            olympic-sized blank cheque for this Premier's personal
takingly went over these reports, is ken Dobell, who          projects while b.c. remains number one in canada
still reports to the Premier and to the ceo of the b.c.       for child poverty for the fifth straight year and home-
olympic secretariat, who reports to the minister respon-      lessness runs rampant in every community in our fair
sible for the olympics.                                       province. We're the best place on earth for child poverty
   again we all remember ken Dobell — the Premier's           and homelessness.
former deputy minister, the Premier's friend and insider         now, as mentioned earlier, the Millennium group, the
and his right-hand man. again, who recently pled              developer of the village, was in anticipatory default. The
guilty to one count of violating the provincial lobbyists     P3 partner was running out of money. This is why bill 47
registration act.                                             is before us today, this one-pager that we've been debating
   but now, also in the chain of events leading to why        for well over ten to 12 hours. i would be remiss if i did not
we're here today for bill 47, we have city manager Judy       comment on this government's love affair with P3s. This
rogers who was and is a member of the finance com-            is another reason that we find ourselves in this house, the
mittee getting these reports. in May and June of 2007         people's house, discussing and debating bill 47.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                            13519

   recently the Minister of transportation, when talk-           i have this concern with this bigger picture, because
ing about the twinning of the Port Mann bridge and            in Prince rupert there will be up to 3,000 people with no
the delay due to financial problems of the chosen P3          doctor. it's estimated that once the Green clinic closes
consortium, said emphatically: "The bottom line for           and shuts its doors forever next month, it will leave
the province of b.c. on P3s is that we can't be happier.      2,000 to 3,000 people without a family doctor. Stewart
They've been exceptional for us."                             residents wonder why $365 million will go to renovate
   What is happening within this government and their         b.c. Place when they are told that their community will
P3 push…. P3s are being aggressively pursued through-         have no doctor in the next month or so.
out british columbia in spite of a lack of evidence that         First nations communities suffer dismal conditions
they are a superior option. They are less cost-effective,     as far as housing, poverty, suicide rates…. They look
less timely and less transparent than traditional govern-     forward to the larger picture, where they are treated in
ment procurement. time and again P3 projects across           a way that was promised in this government in the new
the country have failed to shelter taxpayers from cost        relationship. all they have seen is the same old, same old
overruns. taxpayers in Maple ridge; brampton, ontario;        liberal treatment.
and Penticton truly know it. We all know it from the                                                              [0250]
ubcM in Penticton, where we saw the convention centre            Parents, students and teachers are seeing and feeling
way behind schedule and costs rising substantially.           the impacts of 177 schools closing. a recent report in
                                                              Prince rupert: "School closures Scarring city Students,
   interjection.                                              Say teachers." it points to deteriorating conditions fol-
                                                              lowing school closures.
   G. Coons: i would hope that the members on the                i'm talking about the larger picture because the
other side would take the opportunity to rise and debate      Minister of community Development talked about the
bill 47.                                                      larger picture. he wanted to talk and comment on the
                                                              larger picture before the house today. i believe that if
   interjection.                                              the minister who brought forward the bill wanted to talk
                                                              about the larger picture before the house today, we have
  G. Coons: hon. Speaker, the Minister of community           the right and the opportunity to push forward for our
Development referenced Vancouver city councillors….           constituents and to do our due diligence and look at the
                                                              conditions.
   interjection.                                                 We look at the dysfunctional, chaotic, stressful con-
                                                              ditions that are happening in districts where schools
  Deputy      Speaker:      Member.      Member,       it's   have been closed. That needs to be accounted for by this
inappropriate.                                                government.
                                                                 i have a vision, as does the Minister of community
   Hon. K. Falcon: i withdraw.                                Development. The minister said: "The athletes village is
                                                              just the beginning of that vision." The minister's vision
    G. Coons: Thank you, hon. Speaker. Thank you,             also encompassed "employing over 1,500 workers every
 Minister.                                                    single day with family-supporting jobs." not quite the
    The Minister of community Development, in ref-            same as: "i had a dream."
 erence to Vancouver city councillors, stated earlier:           i also have a vision, a vision similar to the minister's.
"council members are accountable directly to their elec-      My vision is that we must drive towards putting the
 tors." This is why we're here in this house, looking at      20,000-plus forest workers in this province back to work.
 and debating bill 47 — so that we can be accountable to      We have to strive to ensure that we have a sustainable
 those who elected us to scrutinize, to hold this govern-     forest industry, not just a round table. My vision, as i
 ment accountable for their actions.                          look forward to Port clements, which recently, with the
    coming from rural b.c., the old liberal heartland,        Western Forest Products shutdowns, lost 100 jobs in its
 my constituents shake their heads and question what          community, affecting 50 households…. it's devastated
 is happening with olympic funding, with P3 projects,         the community.
 and why the secrecy. There is a larger picture before           The mayor, who had a management position with
 the house today, and i'd like to comment on this larger      Western Forest Products, may have to leave his job as
 picture that must be portrayed for those up at this hour,    mayor. he is one that deserves answers on olympic
 close to 3:00 a.m. My constituents on the islands of haida   spending and this government's priorities.
 Gwaii, the central coast and around Prince rupert have          The Finance Minister talked about the auditor
 real concerns about the larger picture and the billions of   General's comments. "The other thing that the member
 dollars of secret amounts being spent by this Premier on     for Surrey-Whalley talked about was a guarantee." he
 the olympics.                                                wanted to clarify the auditor General's financial costs
13520                                          british columbia Debates                          Saturday, January 17, 2009

that may result from the olympic and Paralympic                    "There are a number of legal routes through which, in our opin-
Games. What he said was: "What the province of british           ion, responsibility for games costs could be shifted to the prov-
                                                                 ince. The province has guaranteed to the ioc that it will cover any
columbia has agreed to is to guarantee that the ioc              financial shortfall of Vanoc. This cost would arise if Vanoc is
would not have to take responsibility for any costs. but         not successful in meeting its revenue or expense targets or does
that doesn't mean the province automatically picks up            not build in sufficient contingencies to cover items it cannot con-
all those costs."                                                trol, such as inflation, exchange rates, the state of the economy,"
                                                                 etc.
   now, i'm not too sure about british columbians, but
                                                                 now, we also have the December 2008 letter from the
who should they believe? Should they believe b.c.'s
                                                               auditor General, John Doyle. he says — and i'd like to
independent auditor, who i will refer to in a minute, who
                                                               quote this:
serves the people of british columbia and their elected
                                                                   "Specifically, i share my predecessor's view that the full cost
representatives by conducting independent audits and             of staging the games should include a number of items that
advising how well government is managing its respon-             are not included in the official budget. in addition, i share my
sibilities and resources? or should british columbians           predecessors' concern that the risks associated with some costs
                                                                 and revenues have not been adequately disclosed. Should these
believe the minister that follows the whims and direc-
                                                                 risks come to pass, the cost of staging the games could escalate
tions of his master, the Premier?                                considerably."
   Since 2003 this government has dismissed legitimate             "i'm not issuing a full report. i do not consider it necessary to
concerns raised by three consecutive auditors General.           detail yet again ground that has already been covered. but i have
The main points of disagreement between the govern-              one recommendation that expands its definition of games-related
                                                                 costs to include all items that are reasonably attributable to host-
ment and the auditor General have been with respect to           ing the 2010 olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and report
the definition of what is considered an olympic cost and         publicly on these costs and the risks associated with them."
to what extent the province is responsible, too, for any         This whole process in front of us today and the bill
additional olympic costs incurred by other parties.            before us — bill 47 — falls right on the lap of the Premier.
   all three auditors General have claimed that the prov-      his secrecy, his lack of accountability, his personal push
ince is not including other olympic costs to taxpayers         for his pet projects have put us in this position. he must
in the $600 million figure, including municipality costs,      come clean on all the olympic costs.
medical costs, Sea to Sky, the convention centre. The first       openness is a better policy than secrecy. now's
two reports also agree that the province has additional        the time for Mr. clean to show his books to british
risk because it is sole guarantor of the games.                columbians and break the news of how much the games
   The Minister of Finance got up, thought it was import-      are actually going to cost all of us.
ant to clarify things about the auditor General. i'd like         in conclusion, i'd like to just end with a quote from
to comment on the 2006 auditor General report. That            three years ago. This is Vaughn Palmer, The Vancouver
was in September.                                              Sun, February 2006. This is a quote:
                                                     [0255]        "The liberals bought the whole package: games, venues, high-
   The auditor General back then said: "our review of            way, convention centre, transit line, all of it.
Vanoc's venue capital cost estimates, however, indi-               "For those keeping a running tab, the convention centre expan-
                                                                 sion is already 24 percent over the original budget, the transit line
cates there are risks that may result in additional costs
                                                                 is 27 percent higher, and the venues have jumped 23 percent.
to the province." These potential additional costs are set         "With opening day still four years away, does anyone think
out and explained in his report. "Going forward, we feel         we've heard the last of this? and the bronze medal for gullibility
there are some key points the province should consider           goes to…."
further": ensuring effective management and oversight,         That's where it ends.
ensuring effective marketing and hedging, enhancing               So, i value the opportunity to discuss bill 47. i hope
accountability and transparency, and considering pos-          this drives this government to be accountable, to open
sible unfunded games costs.                                    up the books and to put out the true cost of all olympic
   Those costs — that are not included in the $600 mil-        venues and the costs.
lion — would include the Vanoc secretariat, at $41                                                                [0300]
million; cultural legacies, at $20 million; the callaghan
Valley road, at $20 million; the b.c.-canada house, $6           D. Routley: We're here today — actually, this mor-
million; the pavilion in beijing, $11 million; the para-       ning…. it's 3 a.m. Sunday morning, but on Hansard i
lympic centre in kimberley, $4 million; own the Podium         suppose it's still Saturday afternoon, given the fact that
2010, $10 million; social legacies, $10 million; canada        the government wanted to ram through this bill in one
line stop at athletes village, $8 million; Vancouver           day. That one day will stretch into Sunday, 3 a.m. now. i
convention and exhibition centre, at least $833.2 mil-         hope people are still up watching.
lion; Sea to Sky highway upgrade, $790 million.                  We're here to discuss bill 47, the Vancouver charter
   We're looking at billions of dollars as far as costs that   amendment act, 2009, which might be more accurately
are not included that the auditor General thought would        described as the "cover the olympic overrun act (no. 1)"
be appropriate to include. he also continued to say:           or "save the Premier's flagging olympic credibility act."
Saturday, January 17, 2009                      british columbia Debates                                               13521

   The stated justification of the act is in order to save the   hook for any overruns from the olympics could make
taxpayers of Vancouver money that they would other-              such a comment. So here we are writing a blank cheque
wise pay through usury interest rates to Fortress, the           to save the Premier's flagging credibility. We're asked to
hedge fund which financed the olympic village in the             suspend the rules to save another bungled triple-P.
first place. other justifications were given by the house           The Premier reacts quickly to erase headlines that
leader on introduction of the bill and by the minister.          threaten his pet projects while he dawdles and does
                                                                 nothing elsewhere. after the removal of lands from tFl
   [h. bloy in the chair.]                                       46, the crD asked for simple adjustments to allow it to
                                                                 control the development of those lands, and this govern-
    We were reminded of the workers, lest we forget those        ment did nothing. There was no response. This was a
 thousand-plus workers who would be put out of work if           similar request to bill 47. it was a request in order to
 we didn't approve this bill. it's funny that there wasn't an    manage its affairs to see a change in legislation, and it
 emergency debate over the time that we lost the 20,000          wasn't granted. but in this case, we see fit to have emer-
 forest workers in this province or even this past week,         gency debate.
 when we lost mill after mill on Vancouver island. but                                                                  [0305]
 here we are in an unusual weekend sitting with urgency.            We want the Premier to come clean about these
What about the fall sitting? That would have been an             issues. bill 47 fails to do that. in its simplicity, it white-
 opportunity to discuss olympic costs and the financing          washes over all of these issues. We've seen debate stifled.
 structures that were in place.                                  We've had six days of debate since May, including this
    When did the Premier know about this? That's a ques-         Saturday-Sunday debate.
 tion that i'm asked all the time by my constituents — on           This government can't see that people are beginning to
 the street, in the coffee shops, by those who come into         laugh at them. They don't see that the people are crying
 my office seeking help for the troubles they're having.         over their own losses. They don't hear that, and it's not
When did he know? When will the Premier take his                 reflected in bill 47, because arrogance clouds their vision.
 place in this debate and explain this to us? i'd like to        They believe that pet projects like this project and others
 know what he's afraid of.                                       in the lower Mainland related to the olympics, like
    Former leader of the opposition Dave barrett cried           the convention centre are pet projects, bumper sticker
 out, "not a dime without debate," and now, through this         sloganism.
 bill, we find out that in fact, this province is potentially       They've promised transparency, and yet what we
 on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars in over-        see are overruns and secrecy. it was only through the
 runs. in fact, the original cost of the Vancouver olympic       revealed secret information that the people of Vancouver
 village was pegged at $750 million. The whole reason            found out about the original $100 million loan, and all
 we're here is that Fortress saw a $125 million overrun,         of this information was available to the Premier. There
 and now it's pegged at $875 million.                            were at least nine meetings of Vanoc which brought
    This is hard to accept when we heard the Premier just        forward the possibility of a default, and yet no action
 a few days ago, on January 16, saying on cknW: "(1)             was taken.
There are not cost overruns on the olympic village."                So here we find ourselves debating bill 47 through the
    i wonder why Fortress decided to pull their financing.       night Saturday and Sunday, when so much opportunity
 it seems an unusual thing for a Premier to do in the face       was wasted. So much time was wasted, when this prob-
 of that much information. "What there is," he said, "is         lem could have been dealt with. and at $87,000 per day,
 there are some challenges in terms of one of the oppor-         over a million dollars has gone through the cash register
 tunities to finance it. There are not cost overruns. it's       of the Vancouver city coffers, since the Premier admits
 going to be a great, sustainable neighbourhood in the           that he knew of these problems.
 city of Vancouver."                                                My constituents ask: how much? They ask: "how much
    The Premier later called back to clarify his remarks.        are we in for with these olympics?" They ask when the
"Sorry. What i was saying was there were no cost over-           Premier will come clean with the numbers. bill 47 fails
 runs for the olympics." Yeah, that's it. i think that's         to do that. a debate over the weekend fails to offer us
 what he meant. "Sorry if that came out the wrong way.           the question period opportunities to ask those questions
 i apologize for that, but you know, the olympics is in          and have them answered, if indeed any questions were
 on budget, and i think they've done a very good job.            answered in question period.
They've contributed, i think, almost $30 million to the             again we see debate stifled by members who stand
 olympic village. i'm not fully cognizant of all the details     up and try to restrict the opposition's ability to debate
 of what's going on at the olympic village, but there have       this bill and the olympic overruns. i invite any of the
 been no cost overruns for the olympics."                        members opposite to stand up and join the debate. if
    it's hard to believe that the Premier, responsible ultim-    they want to defend the position of the Finance Minister,
 ately for the olympics, that put this province on the           spoken here and spoken everywhere in this province
13522                                             british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

over previous months, that the olympics are going to               act. They failed to act because they didn't want to risk the
cost $600 million, in the face of a hail of statements from        fact that the bungled project might be rejected in a ref-
the auditor General to the contrary, i'd invite them to            erendum and that our own responsibility as a province
stand up and do that.                                              might be engaged and that the broader responsibility of
   They've promised accountability, and yet our con-               the taxpayers of the whole province would be revealed.
stituents see bulkheads placed between them and the                  They failed to take the earliest opportunity to come
accountability of their government — a lack of account-            back to the house when they knew they would be asked
ability versus the accountability measures that bill 47            by Vancouver city council and even the opposition to do
removes from the people of Vancouver. it becomes                   so. That cost the taxpayers of Vancouver over a million
necessary to dispense of these because of the failure of           dollars — that failure to come back prudently when they
the financing arrangement for the olympic village, and             knew what was happening and to come back during
the failure is directly related to the overrun.                    the week when we could have a schedule which would
   The province, as the auditor General has pointed out,           include question periods that could hold this govern-
is ultimately responsible. again, my constituents — who            ment accountable for these overruns. That was a failure.
struggle with issues of forest workers having lost jobs, of
poverty, of education services they can't get — ask: how             interjections.
much? bill 47 doesn't give them any answer, nor does a
government that refuses to stand and join the debate.                 D. Routley: Yet, even in this setting — in an emer-
   This is all made necessary by the bungling of the party         gency debate that runs through Saturday night and into
across the aisle, which has instituted financing arrange-          this morning, now 3:12 in the morning — they still
ments that are failing, that do not provide an accountable         heckle and stand and try to stifle debate. This is unfortu-
measure of the true costs of the olympics that can be              nate for the people of b.c., and this is what they have for
measured by the constituents we represent. bill 47 fails           a responsible government.
again to give them the answers they need.                             They ask me on the streets of my community: "When
                                                                   did this Premier know?" They ask me, "how much are
  An Hon. Member: Why are you going to vote for it,                we in for?" and i can't answer them, except to quote the
then?                                                              auditor General.

   D. Routley: We're asked why we would vote for it.                 Hon. K. Falcon: name two people that asked you
because this government has put us in a box, along with            that.
this financing deal, with only one way out to save the
taxpayers of Vancouver exorbitant usury interest rates.              Deputy Speaker: Members, will you please allow the
Surely it would be better….                                        speaker to have the floor.
                                                 [0310]              continue, please.

  interjection.                                                       D. Routley: They ask me when they will hear from
                                                                   their Premier on this issue. They ask me when he will
    D. Routley: The member across the way says that                stand in this legislature and state clearly to them what
it's the current mayor. clearly, it was the former mayor,          the true costs of the olympics are, rather than ignoring
Sam Sullivan, and the nPa-dominated council, the farm              that hail of statements from three successive auditors
team of the liberal Party. They made it necessary for us           General which clearly tell him and the whole province
to stand here and dispense with those rights of scrutiny           that his figures are grotesquely wrong. My constituents
of the people of Vancouver as the only option to save              want me to ask: "how much?" but there are no answers
so many tens of thousands of dollars per day in interest           coming back.
payments.                                                             They won't tolerate debate. They won't succumb to
    it's so unfortunate that bill 47 or some other legislative     scrutiny. Just think of the fall session — a few days. a
construct couldn't have been brought forward months                calendar that they set in stone and that they cracked.
ago, when the Premier first learned of the possible default           The triple-Ps, the public-private partnerships, were
or, indeed, even a few weeks ago, when it first became             supposed to disperse risk from the public. now, through
clear that the default was possible, that Fortress was pull-       bill 47 and through the statements of the auditor
ing their financing and that we would be asked to come             General, we see that they have done exactly the oppos-
back to this house to debate just such legislation.                ite. They have concentrated the risk in the hands of the
   The right of the public to a referendum on this issue           public without the possibility for the public to engage in
is necessarily being removed because when this govern-             a debate through their opposition members or through
ment first heard the words "anticipatory default," they            their city council and know exactly how much money
failed to act. This bill is directly a result of that failure to   they're committing to.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13523

   That is an absolute failure. The former Finance Minister,    questions that british columbians have about the cost
in her comments around the raV line, another project            overruns. We're trying to get anyone on the government
made necessary by the olympics but not included in              side to be accountable and come clean about the true
any costing, said that perhaps it was not the best model.       costs, but this arrogant government refuses to answer a
She said that there was very little control for the funder,     single question.
questioning public-private partnerships as an adequate             What contempt for the taxpayers of b.c. That is
model for these large projects.                                 clearly the case — a case of contempt for the taxpayer. it
                                                      [0315]    is clearly untrue that the Premier didn't know until just
   Yet this government doesn't listen because they're so        a few weeks ago, when in at least nine Vanoc meet-
deeply committed to the fallacy that the olympics will          ings the prospect of anticipatory default was brought
cost this ridiculous figure, $600 million, when every-          forward. clearly, the Premier knew or at least should
one — three successive auditors General, numerous               have known.
accountants throughout this country and columnists                 even in the light of this crisis, our Premier continues
who have studied the books of the olympics — tells              to quote Gabriel Yiu, in an outright counterfactual
them it's absolutely not true.                                  insult to the wisdom of british columbians, an outright
   We are here debating bill 47 because there has been          counterfactual insult to the wisdom of the people i rep-
too much secrecy around these deals. There has been too         resent and those members represent, who stand in our
much secrecy veiling the true proportion of the liability       offices with their struggles and ask us: "how much? how
to the people of Vancouver and to the people of british         much is being spent on the olympics?"
columbia. The original announcement of the overrun                 Yet bill 47 and none of the previous sessions and none
and the $100 million loan that the people of Vancouver          of the statements by the ministers and certainly no one
didn't know about was greeted with absolute shock, and          standing in debate from the government side have pro-
people in rural b.c. who have felt abandoned through            vided us those answers. We ask again: how much? What
the failure to act to save their forest industry, the failure   are the numbers?
to respond to so many issues, including the educational                                                             [0320]
small school closures, are innumerable.                            Very slim, this bill. Very slim. no numbers, even on
   it's a long list, and i'm sure i'd be ruled out of order     the degree of borrowing power. it's a blank cheque. but
for reading through it. but they know that that original        this is a government that's used to getting its own way,
$100 million surprise was just a peek under the sheets.         and when people get their own way and feel unchal-
We're here because this government refuses to listen,           lenged and feel entitled, they become arrogant.
and the results of their not listening have invariably             Despite all of that, the Premier and the Minister
been tragic. They have ignored warnings about these             responsible for the olympics, the Finance Minister,
financing arrangements — everything from these finan-           continue to insist that everything's okay and that the
cing arrangements to deregulating the forest industry.          games are on budget. They defy this hail of statements
one cost hundreds of millions of dollars potentially; the       from our auditors General — three in a row — who
other cost dozens of lives.                                     have told them they're wrong. They know better. They
   This is the result a government achieves when they           insist the total will be $600 million or less. b.c. asks:
fail to listen to warnings, prudent warnings. They fail to      how can this be?
act in the public interest. We're here on Saturday night,          it's not surprising that they defy the auditors General
Sunday morning now — 3:17. We're here because of two            when you consider how they responded to the auditor
weeks of inaction since it became obvious the city would        General's report on the removal of the lands from tFl
make this request.                                              46 — with an outright attack on the auditor General.
   We're told they needed time to draft a bill. Well, they      So why should we expect them to respect the opin-
had the time, and $1 million later their urgency to avoid       ions of the auditors General when it comes to the
scrutiny brings us here. The Premier says he only became        costs of the olympics or the security of the financing
aware of the default a few weeks ago. My constituents           arrangements?
doubt that. There is a great deal of cynicism in this prov-        because of secrecy and because we haven't been
ince about this Premier and about this government and           told the truth, we find ourselves here debating bill 47.
about these commitments around the olympics, and it's           Fortress pulled out because of a $125 million overrun,
so unfortunate that something that should have been so          yet even tonight/this morning the members on the other
positive has diminished to something that has become            side defy that and continue to claim that the project is
so negative and has created such a degree of cynicism           on budget. This is orwellian.
amongst people who are struggling.                                 if the people feel that they cannot believe the most
   new Democrat Mlas have been in this chamber all              basic things they're being told by their government, this
day and all night long, starting at noon Saturday and           is the breeding ground of the kinds of cynicism that
going to Sunday morning, demanding answers to the               becomes the worst toxin in our civil society. if people
13524                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

don't believe their responsible government is telling          b.c. still writing cheques to pay the debt? Will that be
them the truth, there's something very wrong, and              what the ad sounds like? or will it be something that we
there's something very wrong in b.c. right now. There's        can be proud of, that we shared in the burden of, know-
something very wrong.                                          ing what that burden was?
   They ask: when did their Premier know? and their               it appears that the former is true — that in fact it
Premier won't join the debate to explain himself. This         will read more like the credit card ad. "b.c. — 20 years
is a situation that the province faces at a time of eco-       after the olympics and still paying." That's why our con-
nomic crisis, that imperils us to the tune of billions, yet    stituents, mine and yours, ask us again and again and
the Premier won't join the debate. in fact, he and his         again: "What are the costs? how much? Somebody tell
government stifled the debate by calling us here on the        us. Didn't we elect a government that's responsible to
weekend. They stifled the debate through the narrowness        us? can't we ask them the question of how much, or are
of this bill, which fails to address their real concerns.      they not able to tell us? are they afraid to tell us, or can
   We asked the Premier and the b.c. liberal govern-           they not tell us? either way, how does that represent a
ment to come clean. My constituents asked: "how                responsible government?"
much? What are the numbers? how much are we on the                it's all about believability and credibility. if people
hook for?" no one's answering — silence — because you          believe their government, if their government maintains
know what? i would wager that they don't know. and if          its credibility, it may weather such a storm. but with
they do know, they're certainly afraid to tell us, with an     this unfortunate display of secrecy and hidden figures
election only 114 days away.                                   and secret deals, the people fail to have their questions
   Their triple-Ps, public-private partnerships, and their     answered and their call for a responsible government.
off-balance-sheet accounting are enron-reminiscent.               When the leader of the opposition came to ladysmith
This is why our financing system has failed — because of       and cowichan last week to visit seniors, those seniors
secrecy, because of a manipulation of what should be a         were losing their homes — cowichan lodge and lodge
credible structure. but they have brought discredit to it      on 4th, which is in peril. Those seniors built this prov-
by not sharing information with the people, by failing to      ince, and they ask simple questions. They ask: why did
fully disclose the liability the people face.                  the Premier take his eye off the ball? Why did he not
   This bill only compounds that, because this bill only       take care of the fundamentals, the education of their
serves a single purpose: to erase one headline. Members        grandchildren, their own care? Why did he fail to do
on the government side, the people you represent expect        that? Why did he take care of his own pet projects at
more of you. They expect more of their responsible gov-        their expense?
ernment, and they will answer you for that in 114 days.           The term is legacies now, but what about "legacies
                                                      [0325]   later"? The legacy later will be debt and lost opportunity.
   look at the track record — the convention centre, half      it will be legacies left to us that we have dishonoured
a billion dollars over budget. and then we see this, bill      through arrogance, through a lack of consideration,
47, essentially confirming that the athletes village is $125   through a failure to disclose and through a fear of scru-
million over budget. Yet we still have these ridiculous        tiny, which pretty much characterizes the b.c. liberal
claims — on time and on budget. Yeah. no one believes          government.
you. i can't imagine how you believe yourselves.                                                                     [0330]
   Mr. Dobell, the overseer of so many of these pro-
jects, the Premier's buddy. his record of billion-dollar           Hon. K. Falcon: i appreciate the opportunity to spend
overruns and cover-ups while the province struggles            a few minutes speaking on the bill, because i think that
with poverty and job loss. bill 47 doesn't bring him to        we have listened to many, many lengthy, long speeches
account, doesn't bring the Premier to account, doesn't         talking about almost everything but the actual bill that
explain a thing to the people we represent.                    we're here to discuss. i heard the last speaker talking
   Think of the Montreal olympics — 30 years to pay            about how he needs questions answered. You see, the
off that debt and a permanent stain on the memory of           nDP are puzzled, as they so easily are, and they need
those olympics. in fact, it's made them a joke, hasn't it?     questions answered, and they're concerned that they're
Something that people are proud of was made a joke             not getting the questions answered. So i thought i would
by exactly this kind of covering up of overruns. if that       help the members opposite a little bit, because i think
government were responsible, they would stand in front         that this might help.
of the people and tell us truly the cost and let us grapple       You know, it is confusing, i must say, as a member of
with that reality along with them and do the best we can       government, to find ourselves here listening to the nDP
with it. but they're afraid to be honest with the people       filibuster a bill that they are going to actually be voting
about the true costs.                                          for. it's rather a remarkable situation. i mean here we
   Will the legacy of the 2010 olympics be another credit      have a situation where the leader of the opposition
card ad? Vancouver, 20 years after the olympics, with          writes a letter. She says that it's urgent. it must get done.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13525

We must act on this quickly — all the urgency in the           we've got to invent them — the fevered imaginations of
world. The Premier does that. The government responds          the socialists at work again, trying to find the failure
to that. We come in here to deal with it, and what do the      where none exists.
nDP do? They're going to filibuster it, and then they'll          but let's also call the William bennett bridge. Why
vote for it at the end. it's a strange thing, but neverthe-    not call that an olympic expense? i move we call the
less, that's the way they want to do it.                       William bennett bridge an olympic expense. Why not?
    So what i'd like to remind the members of is a few         There will be people coming over the William bennett
things. First of all, they talk about the olympics being       bridge to the olympics. and by God, it was built 108
over budget, and they go on. This is their new favourite       days ahead of schedule and on budget — another very
line, you see. They have to try and find a way. They're not    successful P3.
happy unless they've got bad news, so they're trying to           So what do the nDP do? They say: "Well, now we have
find a way. What do we have?                                   a project in Vancouver." it's not a provincial government
    We've got a $600 million venue budget. This is an          project. it's a city of Vancouver project. in fact, it has
olympics where, for the first time in as long as anyone        very little to do with the olympics. it's actually a massive
can remember, all of the venues are completed on sched-        real estate development that Vancouver's been planning
ule, on budget, a year ahead of the actual olympics.           for a long time.
   Then what do the nDP do? They say "Well, though,                                                                  [0335]
you forgot about the auditor General, because the                 You know, they keep talking about the nPa council.
auditor General said that the Sea to Sky should be             What about larry campbell's Vision council? Their
included as an olympic expense." okay, i'll tell you           fingerprints are all over this. Where is the nDP talking
what. let's include it as an olympic expense. i'm happy        about that? i am kind of confused. They have selective
to call it an olympic expense, because you know what?          memory about these.
if the nDP, in their fevered imaginations, believe that           So now they talk about that project, and you know
the whole Sea to Sky highway was built for a two-week          what they say? They start talking about it as a P3 pro-
event, that's okay, even though we announced it before         ject. You know, i got news for the nDP. That's actually
the actual announcement of british columbia getting            the antithesis of a P3 project — a project where the city
the Sea to Sky games. i'm actually okay with that.             assumes the schedule risk, assumes the construction risk,
    let's call the Sea to Sky an olympic project. but you      assumes the market risk. That's actually not a P3, nDP.
know what? it's a $600 million project that's being deliv-     Sorry, a P3 is where you transfer those risks, and might
ered ahead of schedule and on budget, and if they want         i give you a number of P3 examples? because, again….
to call it olympic, go ahead.                                  and i want this on the record because the nDP keep
   Then there's the other one the auditor General              talking about the failure of P3s.
referred to: the canada line. okay, we have an honest             So Mr. Speaker, let me just make it clear — 20 projects
disagreement. The auditor General says we should count         representing $10 billion of value that have been under-
the canada line as an olympic cost. okay. Well, that's a       taken as P3s, characterized by two things: every single
fascinating suggestion. The fact is that not a single ath-     one of them delivered either on or ahead of schedule, or
lete will be using the canada line. The olympic station        on or under budget. That is the record of P3s in british
won't even be open for the athletes. but i'll give it to the   columbia. So i felt it was important…. The members
nDP again. let's call it an olympic cost. i'm happy to         opposite were talking about how they needed these
say that. So we'll call it an olympic cost. but once again,    answers. Well, they just got their answers: 20 projects,
it's a project being delivered ahead of schedule and on        $10 billion of capital, every single one of those P3 pro-
budget. i'm quite happy to have it called olympic. but         jects on schedule, on budget.
you know, i don't know why we stop there.                         They talk about a project that isn't even the province's
    Why don't we call the kicking horse canyon an              project. it's the city's project. The city enters into a deal
olympic? There will be visitors coming across the              that a lot of people would say: "What the heck kind of
kicking horse from the rest of canada. i guarantee you         deal was that?" no question about it. and there's lots
that a bunch of them will be coming to the olympics.           of finger-pointing you can do on councils and previous
let's call the kicking horse an olympic. Why not? let's        councils, but the issue here now is that they have come
call it an olympic project. and what about the William         to the province, and they've asked for help and for sup-
bennett bridge?                                                port to help them deal with what is without question a
    by the way, the kicking horse canyon, you might            very difficult deal that they've entered into. it doesn't
remind yourselves — a P3 — was delivered 18 months             make a lot of sense to a lot of people.
ahead of schedule and under budget. The nDP won't                 The province and the Premier are responding to
talk about that. oh, gosh, no. They can't talk about that,     that, and we thought that the opposition was going
because, see, that's a success. in the nDP world we can        to respond to that. at least that's what it sounded like
only talk about bad things, and if there are no bad things,    when the leader of the opposition's letter was read into
13526                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hansard. She talked about urgency. She talked about            legislature a very rare and unique opportunity, indeed,
getting this done quickly, and that's exactly what we're       to provide oversight on infrastructure cost overruns
doing, and yet i have sat here, as have so many members        related to the olympic Games.
of this house, and listened to hours and hours of abso-           bill 47, in disclosing the difficulties that the city of
lute drivel that is not even referencing this one-page bill    Vancouver faces with financing their shared olympic
that we are actually here to discuss.                          commitments, is shedding light on b.c. liberal over-
   So i appreciate the forbearance of the Speaker to           spending and hidden deals on a whole host of other
allow myself the opportunity to just put at least a few        projects the province is bound up with. i think we
minutes of actual facts on the table, and i would hope         owe a debt of gratitude and thanks to the new mayor
that the members opposite might find it in themselves          of Vancouver, Gregor robertson, and his council, for
to stop filibustering a bill that they are actually going to   taking a very different approach in this regard from his
be supporting.                                                 nPa predecessors and the b.c. liberals.
                                                                  Vancouver is now facing up to and disclosing to
   R. Fleming: i appreciate the opportunity to follow on       their taxpayers the full details of a troubled project that
the government's, i think, third speaker in this entire        involves significant public funds. With the passage of
debate. i appreciate the Minister of transportation            this bill, the hard work, in fact, for the city of Vancouver
inventing a straw dog and putting on the record once           will move to another phase, a phase where they will have
again this government's interest in attacking the auditor      to manage the incredible risks that still lie ahead for the
General. he threw all kinds of projects in there that          olympic village project.
the auditor General has never included in his reports.            now, that is a very, very different approach from the
i should say three auditors General, in their disagree-        one that this government has taken on disclosing the
ment with this government about how it fails to disclose       complex agreements and the hidden commitments of
systematically to b.c. taxpayers the true and total cost       all kinds that they have made in other olympic-related
of the olympics….                                              projects.
   i would have liked to have heard some answers.                 under new leadership the city of Vancouver has very
instead of talking about the kicking horse Pass, i             clearly said to their taxpayers that they will provide
would have liked to hear that member address the               full and open disclosure about the obligations and
auditor General's longstanding disagreement with this          about the difficulties that the city faces. Within days, in
government about, for example, the $170 million of,            fact, of forming a new administration, the mayor and
according to this government, unrelated olympic costs          council provided information to the public about the
that include things like the $47 million for the Winter        olympic village project for the first time. information
Games Secretariat. That's not included or disclosed as         about Millennium Development, information about the
an olympic cost. The auditor General says it should be,        financier Fortress investment has been available on the
and i think common sense would suggest that. it's in the       website and to the public, to the citizens of Vancouver,
name, for heaven's sake, of that organization. or the $21      for a matter of days now.
million that this government has spent on pavilions in            The previous government kept these matters hidden.
turin and beijing.                                             They met in camera. They failed to disclose. They told
   Those aren't considered olympic Games costs, and            inquiring taxpayers to mind their own business, and
the minister didn't care to comment on that, nor the $15       that was the attitude that that nPa government took.
million from the crown corporations that are flowing              Does it sound familiar? it's the attitude we hear from
money into the revenue of these games — $15 million            this government. it was a refreshing approach, and it's
from b.c. hydro, $15 million from b.c. lotteries corp.,        in stark contrast to this government. Vancouver, at least,
$6 million from icbc. So there's $170 million worth            is living up to the principles of open and accountable
of costs and incidentals like that that the Minister of        government. They're not just promising it, but they're
transportation didn't bother to address. he invented a         delivering it.
straw dog, and he brought in all kinds of projects in his         it's 2009, and british columbians have been waiting
very brief remarks….                                           since about 2002 for this government to come clean about
                                                   [0340]      projects they committed provincial taxpayers to, and
                                                               they're growing tired of it. So tired, in fact, that maybe
  B. Ralston: Very focused on the bill, though.                instead of waiting until long after the 2010 games have
                                                               come and gone and have been paid for, instead of waiting
  R. Fleming: it's true. he did focus very strictly on bill    to find out what the true cost to taxpayers are provincially
47 and was instructive to all members on that matter.          for the winter games, maybe voters will just wait until
  So let me begin my remarks on bill 47 and join my            May 12 of this year to send a message in that regard.
colleagues, at least on this side of the house, in provid-        The olympic village is illustrative of public-private
ing some scrutiny in speaking to a bill that has given this    partnerships and those kinds of agreements gone wrong.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13527

This is a government that believes in P3 procurement as        the idea was that what goes up 20 percent a year in real
 a matter of ideological faith. i think the important ques-    estate can never come down. That's how the olympic
 tion behind bill 47 is: how do agreements that promise        village became "free."
 something for free, which is what the olympic village            Where's that free venue now? it's here in front of us in
 was, become a source of tremendous risk and cost over-        the form of bill 47. it's a risk pegged by city officials at
 run to taxpayers?                                             $875 million, and it could go much higher — perhaps as
    The dynamic at the olympic village project is not just     much as $1.2 billion for a 1,100-unit housing and com-
 in play in Vancouver; it is in play in b.c. liberal infra-    mercial development. We know it could go much higher,
 structure and venue agreement projects across british         because bill 47 places no cap or ceiling on what the city
 columbia. a big part of the answer to the question of         may have to borrow or mortgage to get hold of a pro-
 how this deal went wrong rests with this government's         ject that is dying in the jaws of a failing developer and a
 ongoing, totally noncredible charade that the total cost      hedge fund financier — a financier which, thanks to the
 of the 2010 Winter Games is $600 million. now, very,          previous nPa councillors, September 2007, is charging
 very few people buy into this charade — fewer and fewer       a triple-a credit-rated city interest rates not dissimilar
 every day. Perhaps not even a majority of government          to a credit card.
 members believe it any more, from the looks on some              The important part to acknowledge in bill 47 is that,
 of their faces.                                               indeed, the city is between a rock and a hard place, and
    certainly, british columbians don't believe it. The        legislators on both sides will no doubt weigh that when
auditor General has never believed it. Three of them           they cast their votes on this bill. The city is obligated
 have not. in fact, the last three have suggested that the     to meet the deadlines imposed upon them by the 2010
 true cost of hosting the olympics is somewhere north          olympics. The new mayor and council are not running
 of $2.5 billion, and that was before we gathered here on      from their responsibilities, but they're throwing their
 this weekend to discuss the olympic village debacle that      energy into trying to rescue what they can from a very
 has been exposed.                                             bad situation. i think we have to appreciate that that is
                                                     [0345]    indeed the situation.
    The fact that nobody believes this charade seems to           The very definition of a bad situation is illustrated in
 have absolutely no effect on the Premier. he won't listen     many of the factors of the olympic village agreement.
 at the best of times, but he is so heavily invested in this   a bad situation is when you have to pour more money
 myth — the $600 million charade — that he can't change        into what may be the most expensive per-square-foot
 now. The chance of him doing that before an election:         development in b.c. history — $800 a square foot for this
 never.                                                        project now. a bad situation is when you are obligated
    now, it's interesting, because i mentioned that fewer      by olympic time lines to slog on and keep to deadlines
 and fewer people subscribe to and buy the liberals' $600      to finish a project when the value of the asset this time
 million charade on the olympics. Maybe that's why this        next year may be worth 25 percent less than it is today.
 very week a former leading member of the b.c. liberals        That is what the real estate forecasts suggest.
— one very familiar to those members there, who sat on            but the hand that's been dealt to this new council
 those benches — has had the following insights about          means that they're going to have to decide on a strategy
 this government's lack of forthrightness with taxpayers:      that reduces their considerable exposure to the great-
"i think there comes a time in politics when you have to       est degree that they can. now perhaps it's going to be
 come clean and say, 'hey, listen, i know no one believes      a long-term buy-and-hold strategy. Perhaps that's their
 me now,' and you have to be highly attuned to when            best option, but at 11 percent interest from Fortress
 people actually start laughing at you." Who said that, Mr.    investment, that's simply not plausible. Something will
 Speaker? That was christy clark this week, speaking to        have to give. You cannot pursue a buy-and-hold strategy
 exactly this issue.                                           at credit card interest rates like that.
    What the government's $600 million olympic charade                                                              [0350]
 made imperative was to take major cost commitments               let's put this in context. if this were simply about a
 and items in the Vanoc bid book and make them dis-            city redeveloping a brownfield site without an olympic
 appear. That's how we got to this olympic village mess.       venue time line imposed upon it, the city would have
 So the athletes village, which is essential to staging the    an array of options at its disposal to limit its exposure.
 games and housing a great number of the estimated             it could take a lower-risk, more patient approach to the
 7,000 olympic athletes who will be here in a year's time,     development. it could respond differently if the developer
 became a small, tiny grant line item instead of an integral   that they partnered with got into trouble, which this one
 and realistically costed, properly risk-managed venue.        has. if the city were not bound by time lines, it would
   "The condos and the waterfront development will pay         possess much greater negotiating strength.
 for themselves," went the logic. "They'll maybe even             now if the troubles that the olympic village finds
 make a profit," was the suggestion by the Premier, and        itself in sound familiar, that's because it's similar in its
13528                                         british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

dynamic to this government's trade and convention             said clearly to government — that he needs more infor-
centre expansion project. That project was also a pris-       mation. he needs more disclosure to him to be able to
oner of olympic time lines, and like the olympic village,     adequately investigate spending and report to the tax-
the convention centre was found by the auditor General        payers. he's been frustrated in his activities to do his job
to be a project rife with mismanagement, poor cost            as an independent officer and report to the people of
containment, no risk mitigation and failure to properly       british columbia.
disclose escalating costs.                                       now i'm going to set aside the $600 million charade
   remember, the convention centre went to treasury           of the government's olympic budget for a moment. let's
board six times on its way to doubling the original           consider this. Since late September 2008 to December,
budget of $450 million to $900 million, where it stands       the global financial crisis saw the elimination of $47
today. The auditor also found improper governance,            trillion of wealth. We've seen the collapse of commod-
as well, and there are elements to suggest that that is a     ity markets, we've seen massive bailouts of financial
factor in the olympic village fiasco.                         institutions in most industrialized countries, and we've
  actually, though, a better comparison of the shocking       seen real estate devaluations, mortgage foreclosures and
cost revelations of the olympic village is another, more      insolvencies not seen in decades — and maybe not since
recently announced provincial project. i'm speaking of        prior to the Second World War.
the b.c. Place upgrade.                                                                                            [0355]
   in the Vanoc bid book, b.c. Place is budgeted for a           Yet after all that has gone on in the world, according to
$2.5 million upgrade. last week that figure grew to $365      the government's press release: "The b.c. Place upgrades
million. now there's not going to be any bill 47-style        will still be paid by the sale or lease of lands around b.c.
debate about $365 million of provincial tax dollars that      Place. approximately 1.4 million square feet of residen-
were announced respectfully to the b.c. taxpayers in a        tial and commercial space will raise revenues in excess
Pavco press release issued on a Friday before the week-       of $100 million." This is from a press release released last
end. That was the government's way of disclosing and          week by the government.
breaking the news about $365 million of unanticipated            in other words, they are suggesting that the busi-
expenses, much of which are related to hosting the            ness model that has failed for the olympic village is
olympics.                                                     still valid and will be pursued to make the b.c. Place
  The b.c. Place upgrade is important to bill 47 for          upgrades free to taxpayers. in other words, everything's
this reason. it shares exactly the same business model        fine. The b.c. liberals are saying that condos will still
as the olympic village. it was a project that was again       pay for everything. They're bullish on real estate even
supposed to be free. The major difference today is that       as Vancouver's housing developers slash prices and try
the city of Vancouver…. as i mentioned, the difference        and reduce inventory and as economists talk about steep
between the behaviour of the province and the city of         housing price cuts.
Vancouver is that the city is actually coming clean with         bill 47, requested by the city of Vancouver, is at least
their taxpayers, and they're saying: "Guess what. it's not    honest in the face of facts. i wish we could say the same
going to be free any more. There are real costs, and there    thing about this government. You know, it's not every
are real risks to the city."                                  Saturday that we're in here potentially approving billions
   every time costs go up on provincial projects, the         of dollars of new debt for taxpayers. i know government
Premier and the Finance cling even harder to the idea         members have expressed anger that opposition mem-
that the budget is $600 million in its entirety for staging   bers have sought fulsome debate on this bill.
the games. That risks eroding public confidence in the           They keep saying that it's a one-page bill. it's a one-
games themselves. When the b.c. liberals say over and         page bill, yes, that took the attorney General five days to
over again that $175 million is enough for security for       write, so that either says something about the attorney
the games, when everybody knows how laughable that            General or the complexity of the bill. it's a one-page bill
is…. and in my definition of "everybody," i include           that has implications for billions of dollars, and this gov-
police chiefs, security experts and senior federal defence    ernment wants to treat it lightly.
personnel.                                                       When they get into trouble like on b.c. Place upgrades
  They've suggested time and time again for years now         to the tune of $365 million, they put it out in a press
that a more realistic security budget will be between         release on a Friday and hope nobody will notice. When
$400 million and even as high as $1 billion. This govern-     they get into a disagreement with the auditor General,
ment has not disclosed or updated that figure in years.       they let it run for years. They pick a fight with the prov-
Do you think they will before the May election? not a         ince's top accountant, the independent accountant that
chance.                                                       works for the people of b.c. through this legislature.
  What's really disturbing about this government's               i'm actually surprised that the Minister of community
not-so-subtle attacks on the auditor General is that the      Development took a mere four minutes to introduce the
auditor has made it clear time and time again — he has        bill, considering the valuation of this legislation. he
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                                          13529

took no instruction from the Vancouver experience             We can't serve the interests of taxpayers by working in
to talk about his own government's situation and risk         secret. That's the lesson of the olympic village. Secrecy
on a number of projects. he made no remarks, and he           doesn't make for good agreements. hiding information,
made no reservations of the open-ended borrowing and          continuing to cling to absurd budgetary charades and
indebtedness that could face the city of Vancouver. as a      basing business plans on speculation and wishful think-
former mayor, i thought he might have done so.                ing is a recipe for financial disaster.
   Similarly, the Finance Minister's contribution to            With that, i thank you and take my place in this
this debate was once again to attack the province's top       debate.
accountant and repeat his arguments against the taxpay-
ers' independent watchdog, the auditor General of b.c.           A. Dix: it's really an honour to enter into this debate
he also attacked the opposition for even daring to show       at four in the morning at the halfway point of the
that there are connections that this government has to        second reading debate to, i think, address issues of real
the planning, to the support and to the influence that        concern to our constituents in Vancouver, in Vancouver-
his government has actually had on the olympic village        kingsway, and across british columbia.
agreement.                                                        over the last days and weeks, i've had the occasion to
   i've heard some heckling over there about various          receive many letters from constituents, property taxpay-
councillors in the city of Vancouver, and it's stagger-       ers, taxpayers in the city of Vancouver, who are to their
ing when you look at the connections between this             dismay encountering a debt for which they are respon-
government, its planning, its directives, its connections     sible and which they knew nothing about, a situation
through Vanoc. one minute they talk about a part-             that has developed over a period of time, a situation that
nership on the olympic village. The other minute they         this government knew or ought to have known about, a
point the finger of blame and say: "it has nothing to do      situation that their supporters in the city of Vancouver
with us." So that side, that government, is going to have     knew about and designed, and those constituents — and
to get its story straight, because they've introduced this    the reason i'm up in this debate and the reason i believe
legislation.                                                  they should be accountable in this debate — are sick at
   i don't think it's lost on anyone — the fact that ken      the thought that this could happen in their politics and
Dobell and Judy rogers not only hired each other and          their city. it is a serious situation.
worked on this project in the planning and oversight              now, a number of residents of Vancouver have
stages, but they regularly reported to this government.       written to me of different political persuasions across
So when members have asked questions about who                the political spectrum, people who see themselves as
knew what when to that side, particularly the Premier,        conservatives, people who see themselves, if they may
that's completely pertinent to this debate. it's completely   describe themselves, as even Marxists.
relevant, because we're not out of the glue yet on this          a constituent of mine who was a prominent candi-
project going forward. The olympic village deal was           date in a previous election, charles boylan, called me
between the Premier and his old political party, Sam          yesterday and said that he was opposed to this project
Sullivan.                                                     from the beginning when they cut social housing in this
   The leader of the opposition said at the outset of this    project. They cut the level of social housing. he was con-
debate that passage of this bill cannot and should not        cerned about this project from the beginning, and he
end debate about olympic costs. From this experience, i       wanted me to make sure that his voice was heard.
think we must leave this chamber with a plan to ensure            i received other letters, and i'll just read one, a por-
ongoing oversight and accountability for olympic              tion of one, into the record because we've had some
spending.                                                     letters written today. it's a very moving, personal letter.
                                                    [0400]    it's addressed, "hi," and then it says my first name, my
   Provinces and the canadian government are asking           christian name.
taxpayers to support stimulus packages. They're asking              if you're a taxpayer in the city of Vancouver, this was likely not
                                                                a great week for you. it's not very comforting to know that your
taxpayers in the upcoming budget to support extra-              city councillors approved a development deal for the 2010 ath-
ordinary infrastructure spending. i don't think you can         letes village that could leave everyone in the city on the hook for a
ask taxpayers for more when you haven't told them what          bill that might be as big as several hundred million dollars, nor is
they're going to pay for to date, not if you want to be         it very reassuring to know that because of the escalating cost, the
                                                                city's credit rating is now at risk as the Standard & Poor's has put
credible about it, and that's exactly what this govern-         the city on credit watch.
ment intends to do in February.                                     i've received many comments from the deal's supporters that
   They want to ask the taxpayers to take another leap          such a thing just wasn't possible, and now it appears it could be a
of faith when they haven't been honest and forthright           reality. however, if you don't live in Vancouver and are not des-
                                                                tined to become "an owner" at the athletes village, this news still
with them about what they've committed to date, bil-            wasn't good. The bungling at city hall meant increased scrutiny
lions of dollars in cost overruns and risk exposures to         on the rest of the bills for 2010, including a security budget that
stage the olympics. but other pieces of infrastructure….        has grown from $175 million to somewhere north of $900 mil-
13530                                                 british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

  lion. We can only hope that when the government reconvenes             The P3, the project that we're talking about in bill 47,
  the legislature next week, to deal with Vancouver's request         the P3 that we're talking about that's dealt with in this
  to increase its capacity to borrow big bucks, they will take the
  opportunity to finally come clean about what the real costs for     amendment to section 190.1 of the Vancouver charter….
  the olympics will be.                                              That amendment is about that project, and their answer
     Thanks for listening,                                            when they fail, when the projects fail, is to say: "oh well,
  christy clark                                                       it looks like a P3, and it walks like a P3, and it talks like
  The Christy Clark Show                                              a P3. but since it's a failure, we'll call it something else."
                                                     [0405]          That's the level of debate.
   across the political spectrum, people are expressing                  to summarize the government's message in this
concern about the situation. People are also express-                 debate — because they've had lots of comment about
ing concern across the political spectrum, beyond                     ours…. The Minister of Finance and the Minister of
partisanship, about the fact that their olympic Games,                transportation — they don't think much of three succes-
an olympic Games that should be a source of pride to                  sive auditors General. one wonders if liberal members
them, are going to cost way more than the government                  were on those committees that selected those people. So
suggests they are.                                                    they're against their colleagues' selection.
   What do we have beyond that? The auditor General….                                                                       [0410]
and it is, i think, interesting to note in this debate on                Three successive auditors General have said this isn't
bill 47, when we've had calls about this very important               the case. What the Premier is saying isn't the case, so we
issue….                                                               have…. Their contribution to this debate on bill 47 is to
   another member from somewhere else in the political                say: "Those auditors General — they're wrong, and they
spectrum said it pretty clearly in 1974. he said: "not a              seem to be bad people." Why? because they actually
dime without debate." Well, this debate is about 4.65 bil-            have taken a pocket calculator to the Premier's $600
lion dimes. That's what it's about. it is a march of dimes.           million promise. That's what they said — the Minister of
it is a huge debate, and they are complaining because                 Finance — in this debate on bill 47, on the clauses that
we are raising issues. They are complaining about the                 we're dealing with this in debate.
debate. They wanted to limit the debate so that they                     What it makes me think — and i hope this question
wouldn't have to face questions in question period.                   comes up tomorrow in committee stage — is that maybe
   This should be an occasion where that principle of pro-            the auditor General is the one who should be playing
tecting the interests of taxpayers should be paramount.               a role of oversight. This radical suggestion came from
We should be hearing from members on that side of the                 someone else who seems to like the auditor General
house. and what has the focus of the interventions from              — Peter ladner. Peter ladner is probably someone else
that side of the house been?                                          not that happy with the Millennium project right now.
   essentially, much of their attack, much of their com-              Probably someone else suggested they play a role.
ment, has been attacks not even on the opposition but                     Perhaps at the committee stage the government will
on the auditor General. how dare he? how dare he sug-                 explain why they chose not to have the auditor General
gest that there are issues around olympic projects? how               play a role to oversee what's going on in this debate —
dare he suggest that we're dramatically underestimating               to ensure that the public has adequate information, to
the cost?                                                             ensure that it's something more than a blank cheque.
   christy clark, people across the political spectrum,               Maybe they'll think of that at the time.
the auditor General — they all become persona non                         let's go down the list. We've got christy clark —
grata, their voices not counting in the debate, the second            doesn't know what she's talking about anymore. Three
they ask a question about the Premier's commitment of                 successive auditors General — they don't know what
$600 million for the olympics, which seems completely                 they're talking about anymore. My constituents — they
out of touch, completely out of touch, with the reality of            don't know what they're talking about anymore. That's
the situation.                                                        the list of people.
   as a citizen of Vancouver, as a taxpayer of Vancouver,                 but what we're seeing in this project, this P3 failure….
representing citizens of Vancouver and taxpayers of                   remember the logic of the Minister of transportation:
Vancouver, this is not a very happy day. There really is,            "if it's a failure, it's no longer a P3." he would get full-
and this bill indicates it, only one way out.                         time work in britain. That's what would happen.
   You know, it was fascinating. We should juxtapose the                 The thing is that at this moment here what we're
speeches — the thoughtful, i would say brilliant, speech              doing…. one of the key elements of the debates around
by the member for nelson-creston beside the speech of                 P3s…. remember, this is at the heart of what the gov-
the Minister of transportation. What did the Minister of              ernment's all about. They don't recall the pride which
transportation say? When it's a complete and utter fiasco             all british columbians felt when the 2008 champion
and failure, my answer: don't call it a P3 anymore. We'll            award from the canadian council for Public-Private
just change the name. oh, that's not a P3. That's not a P3.           Partnerships was awarded to our Premier.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                             13531

   he is a champion of this. he is a champion of the very      the $20 million. They just did it quietly a month or so
mechanisms that have put my constituents and his con-          ago. "We can't do anything with these P3s. We can't get
stituents on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars.     any projects off the ground. There's an election coming
This is what he's about.                                       up."
   We were there in 2006, when he spoke just down the              So $50 million became the threshold — two and a
street from here to the ubcM. What did he say? he said         half times. The Premier's mistakes don't get corrected
that all the projects over $20 million — all of them —         that way very often, though. no big press release on that.
should be P3s. That's what he said. They should all be         it's like the P3 that failed. it's very much like that. no
like the project we're dealing with here in bill 47, the       medals. no runs. no hits. no errors. Well, lots of errors,
P3 which shall not speak its name. That's what he said         actually.
in 2006.                                                          We, hon. Speaker, are going to, in the end, support this
   how long did that brilliant policy last? They can't         legislation. We're going to do it because we understand
get the projects off the ground. The 2005 promise on           that it's real people and real priorities in Vancouver that
Surrey Memorial hospital will still be a promise in 2009.      matter, that it would be shameful for Vancouver taxpay-
heck, i think he'll recycle it for 2013. oh, an opposition     ers' money, which should be going to important services
leader can make any promise he feels like, and he may          in Vancouver…. it would be shameful for those dollars
be making more in 2013. but i think what we're seeing          to go excessively to a new York hedge fund.
is a closing of the parentheses on this moment in b.c.             but this opening to get out of this debacle — this P3
history.                                                       debacle that bill 47 attempts to at least partly close, to
   What's this bill about, fundamentally? What are the         allow the city of Vancouver to jump through and maybe
clauses of this bill about, fundamentally, as you read         seek a little bit of relief for taxpayers — was available in
through them? it's the reason, with great reluctance, that     the spring session of last year. it was available in the fall
we have to go down this road, because our constituents         session of last year — four days, four long days. That's
are horrified about what happened with the olympic vil-        what we had: four days since May. This is day five, but
lage. They're asking themselves how a new York hedge           five is too many. it won't be six because this Saturday will
fund had so much power and could make so many deci-            last forever. it's the Saturday that never ends. it never
sions about our games. They were never given a choice          ends.
about that, and they're asking these questions.                    So why do we say that? Why do we say they should
   What is this about? What it's about, fundamentally, is      have known or they did know? Why do we say that?
something that's true in the case of every P3. it's not just   and the Minister of transportation…. he's the Minister
me that says it.                                               of transportation, and he spoke as if there was an acci-
                                                     [0415]    dent in the middle of the street, and he was some sort
   Think of a report by two academics who are not              of witness to that accident. "oh, gosh, there was trouble
opponents of P3s, who talk about their problems. Think         in Vancouver. oh, and i think it's all their fault, really."
of this when you think of the Premier saying that every        a minister who usually is quite quick to ascribe blame,
project over $20 million should be a P3: the high cost         it must be said. "it's all their fault." he threw in larry
of inducing a private partner to take on risk — check;         campbell's name. "i think he's a liberal senator who
the high cost of negotiating and/or policing deals when        is not a cabinet minister in this house. he's a senator.
priorities are so different for each partner; a company        So it's everybody's fault," he said. "it's larry campbell's
seeking profits and a government that wants the results        fault."
without appearing to spend much money; high finan-                Well, the Premier's party — and it is his party — took
cing costs, as private partners often pay higher interest      power in Vancouver. We're talking specifically about
rates.                                                         this proposal that's dealt with here in this amendment
   Well, what are we talking about? We know this to be         to the Vancouver charter that will come into force with
true: financing costs for P3s are higher. What are we          royal assent whenever that happens in the next few days.
debating? What has the Premier…? The Premier — who             This amendment happened on a project that was signed,
is some sort of international champion of P3s, who is          sealed and delivered by the nPa. and who rebuilt the
coming to this house and allowing the city of Vancouver        nPa? it was called the new nPa then — 1986.
to borrow money to take back this debt because it's too
expensive in the private sector — didn't protect them            interjection.
from the risk, didn't protect them from the costs.
   My constituents and his constituents — all of our             A. Dix: a young, fresh populace.
constituents in Vancouver — they're the ones on the               it is about this project. So let's take us through the
hook for this fiasco. They are on the hook for this fiasco     relationship between provincial officials and this pro-
that we've seen from the Premier, but this, hopefully, is a    ject, just so that we understand. We'll just go through it,
closing of the parentheses. The Premier has abandoned          because i think it's important to understand that that's
13532                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

about accountability. it's the project specifically dealt         october 2008. They authorize a hundred million dollars
with in this very specific piece of legislation. it actually   to pay construction costs, as Millennium is out of money. i
occurs within the development area dealt with in sec-          think that when the words "out of money" come in with a
tion 1. That's where the project occurs.                       P3, that's when, according to the Minister of transportation,
                                                     [0420]    a P3 ceases to be a P3. it's an extra "p." it's a P4.
   January 2006. Vanoc seeks additional funding from
the b.c. and federal governments. What happens? They             An Hon. Member: For "penniless."
required due-diligence reports.
   May 2006. Due-diligence reports make recommenda-               A. Dix: Penniless — exactly.
tion regarding stronger reporting of venue construction           now, we've had this situation since a new council was
costs and cost containment to senior levels of govern-         elected in Vancouver. Partly as a result of disgust across
ment. They knew or ought to have known. Their players          the city of Vancouver, not just in my constituency but
were on these boards. Their appointees were on these           in the member for Vancouver-hastings' and my col-
boards.                                                        league from Vancouver-Fairview's, my colleague from
                                                               Vancouver-burrard's, in all our ridings and, yes, in the
  interjection.                                                riding of the member for Vancouver-Quilchena, yes in
                                                               the riding of the member for Vancouver–Point Grey —
   A. Dix: oh, i'm happy to try and convince the member        all of our ridings in Vancouver.... Yes, in the attorney
across the way. come on over.                                  General's riding of Vancouver-Fraserview, indeed.
   april 2007. Partnerships b.c. reports on capital plan-         Disgust across the city led to a landslide election vic-
ning budgets for all olympic venues. report details            tory and new hope for the people of Vancouver. That's
enhanced reporting relationships between Vanoc, the            what happened, and it was partly as the result of the
city of Vancouver and the province of b.c. regarding           disgust with this deal. People in Vancouver are out-
all venue projects, including the Vancouver olympic            raged, and they want accountability put in place. They
village.                                                       want us to speak for them, and that's why members of
   i just want to remind everyone of another highlight         the opposition, led by our leader, the next Premier of
of the Minister of transportation's speech, which is           british columbia, have been raising issues in this debate,
very on point here, very on point, when he said: "really,      because it's important to remember what we could do
the olympic village doesn't have much to do. it's a tiny       with the money that we will not be able to use when this
piece of this project — just a tiny piece. it's a tiny piece   P3 became a P-nothing. What it could mean….
of this project." it has everything to do with this project.      When i walk the four blocks from my home to my
This is the olympic village project, but he says that it's     office in Vancouver-kingsway, i walk past the houses of
really a larger real estate development, and the olympic       people who may have to deal with this on their property
village…. it's just a tiny piece. This olympic Games           taxes. i walk past many people who weren't there three
thing…. it's just two weeks.                                   years ago, who are without houses, who should have
                                                               hope for the expenditure of money to solve and to pro-
  interjection.                                                vide housing for people who need homes in our city.
                                                                                                                     [0425]
  A. Dix: i think he's on the wrong end of the telescope.         There would have been, by the way, had the nPa coun-
absolutely.                                                    cil not come in, more of those homes in this package, in
  The Vanoc finance committee, co-chaired by ken               this deal, in this project. That's what they're looking for.
Dobell, who's reporting to the Premier, and annette               it's why we're voting in favour of this bill, because the
antoniak, reporting to the Minister responsible for the        taxpayers of Vancouver have many goals now. We have
olympics, now the Minister of Finance…. The report             a great city, but we have work to do. We have work to do
detailed expanding risks is made to the Vanoc finance          in terms of addressing issues of homelessness.
committee. There you go.                                          This fiasco…. Well, it shows the emptiness of the
  September 2007. completion guarantee for the full            P3 model. it shows the lack of accountability by this
$750 million loan approved by the city. May 2008. city         government, who seem to think urgency only matters
manager reports Millennium in anticipatory default.            when it applies to ramming things through this house.
There were monthly reports. There were monthly reports.        Those things matter, those political issues matter, but
This is an olympic venue — anticipatory default.               what matters most to us — it's why we're supporting this
  We were sitting in this legislature in 2008, and they        bill — are all of those people in Vancouver who need the
did nothing. They make it sound like they've never             support of government, who need high-quality services,
heard of it, that it happened on some other planet or in       who need a response to homelessness. They matter.
some other province. Maybe it was the government of               i think that's why, as we enter into a new phase of this
Manitoba's fault. They're nDP.                                 debate, members on this side will continue to be vigilant.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                       british columbia Debates                                             13533

We in british columbia deserve better than this. These            of defeating this unaccountable government and bring
 are our olympic Games; these are our projects. We                back accountable, responsible government to british
 deserve to be told the truth about how much they cost,           columbia.
 not spun some sort of line. We deserve to be told the                                                          [0430]
 truth about why the accountability of this project failed
 and not be told a lie.                                               Hon. B. Lekstrom: hon. Members, i want to thank
    We deserve to be able to ask questions of this gov-           you, and i would like to close debate on bill 47.
 ernment in question period, which has used its time in               i've now sat in these chambers for the last 14 hours
 this debate simply to attack the auditor General. Senior         and listened to the members of the opposition speak
 cabinet ministers — and all they have to say is to attack        at length about a wide range of issues. unfortunately, i
 the auditor General. one of them talked about a curling          think, for the citizens of our great province who have
 rink and the other about the kicking horse Pass. That's          also listened to this debate — i'm sure — i can't imagine
 what they talked about.                                          that they would have heard probably more than one hour
    We deserve better. That's why we want a question              at the most of debate that truly reflected bill 47. i'm also
 period, and that's why we had this effort by the govern-         shocked at the blatant disrespect that some members of
 ment to ram this debate through, to limit second reading         the opposition have shown to both the present and past
 debate. Well, i'm proud of members of the opposition             mayors and councils of the city of Vancouver as well as
 who have stood and spoken for the people of Vancouver            to the residents of the city of Vancouver.
 and the people of british columbia. it's their tax dollars           i've listened to the Speaker. i've listened to speaker
 at stake. it's their hopes, it's their dreams, and it's their    after speaker imply that we are here today because of
 olympics.                                                        something our government has done. i want to make
    These olympic Games do not belong to the Premier;             sure that the people of british columbia know the true
 they do not belong to his friends. They belong to all the        reason we're here today.
 people of british columbia, and i think that should be              The essential point that i made when i led the debate
 the principle going forward — that as taxpayers they             on this bill was that this bill is a response to an urgent
 should have a right to the information that they have            request by the city of Vancouver for legislative tools that
 over there. and one of the only ways they can get it is in       would enable the city to negotiate the best possible deal
 question period. it's one of the only ways they can get it,      for its taxpayers with respect to the development of the
 because a taxpayer….                                             athletes village. The city of Vancouver and the province
    can you imagine sending a letter to the Premier as            agree that what is in bill 47 provides the city with the
 a taxpayer in Vancouver-kingsway living on euclid:               essential tools it needs, but no more than it needs.
"Please tell me how much the olympic Games are going                  i heard the leader of the opposition state that they
 to cost." You'd get a response: "oh, you know, it's $600         would be supporting bill 47. i think that's commendable
 million. and the auditor General, don't listen to him."          and the right decision. What i have failed to understand
That's the response we've had this week. That's been their        is how the opposition can say they are supportive of this
 debate; that's been their response.                              bill and then speak for 14 hours about issues that had
    We've spoken about our constituents in every part             little or no relevance to the bill we are here to debate.
 of this province. We've talked about their hopes and                 i don't understand what benefit the opposition believes
 dreams. We've talked about accountability. We've talked          they have put forward during this debate, and i encour-
 about the need to avoid this ever happening again. We've         age the members opposite to read their own comments
 talked about the P3 model and how it failed in this case         and be honest with themselves about whether they feel
 and what taxpayers should say about that and learn from          their comments were productive in relation to bill 47.
 that. We've done the people's business.                          i would find it difficult to believe they could answer
    i'm proud of members of the opposition. We're going           honestly to themselves that they contributed positively
 to support this bill because we believe, we support the          to the debate.
 aspirations of people of british columbia, and we are                i also want to return to some of the other comments
 going to continue to put pressure on this government to          i made when i introduced the bill, and this will deal
 come clean. come clean with the facts; come clean with           with a number of accusations or comments that were
 the truth. tell us what these olympic Games are going            put forward by — and i qualify my statement — some
 to cost. We're going to do it. i can't wait.                     members.

   [k. Whittred in the chair.]                                      [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]

   how long is it until the session on February 10? it's            The negotiations with respect to the financing of
days away. i can't wait, and i really can't wait till the start   the athletes village are now, and have always been, the
of this election campaign when we start down the road             responsibility of the city of Vancouver. The province is
13534                                          british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

not involved in those negotiations and has never been              With that, i will move second reading.
involved in those negotiations. The city is account-                                                                 [0440]
able for those deals, and it is governed by a legislative
framework that provides the appropriate accountability            Second reading of bill 47 approved unanimously on a
mechanisms for it to be accountable to its taxpayers.           division. [See Votes and Proceedings.]
    certainly, some hon. members have suggested that
the government should have been much more deeply                   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i would move that the bill be
involved in these negotiations. When you look at the            referred to committee of the Whole house to be con-
record of the city of Vancouver in creating what is             sidered forthwith.
widely acknowledged to be one of the most livable cities
on earth, and when you put this in the context of our              bill 47, Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009, read
approach to local government — which is that local              a second time and ordered to proceed to a committee of
governments are accountable to their citizens — i think         the Whole house for consideration forthwith.
it is fair to say that we accept, and the city of Vancouver                                                     [0445]
accepts, that they are responsible for this project and
that they are committed to deliver this project on time.                    Committee of the Whole House
   Though we have heard a great deal from the hon.
members today, the essential point is that we are giving                       VancouVer charter
the city of Vancouver what it needs to negotiate the best                      aMenDMent act, 2009
deal for its taxpayers that will enable it to deliver the
athletes village on time, and it will enable it to keep the       The house in committee of the Whole (Section b) on
1,500 people working on the site employed. That is what         bill 47; k. Whittred in the chair.
this bill is all about.
   What i find most interesting is that many of the               The committee met at 4:47 a.m.
comments…. We're here to represent the people of our
constituencies in this province, but we're here to give            on section 1.
them the information on the bills that are before us. i
must say, unfortunately, i didn't see that. i heard a great         B. Ralston: Dealing first with some questions about
deal of talking, and i honestly believe — i do honestly          the language chosen and the location of the amendment
believe — that the members opposite think they were              within the Vancouver charter. it's placed in part 3 of
doing their job. i honestly believe they weren't, and i          the charter, which deals with the council and its gen-
think that's fair to say.                                        eral powers. More specifically, the amendment has been
                                                      [0435]     placed after section 190 of the charter, which is entitled
    i heard they were concerned that when i introduced          "council may acquire property."
the bill, i didn't spend enough time talking about the              can the minister explain why the amendment was
bill. i guess, unlike members of the opposition, i haven't       introduced into part 3 of the charter?
run into a single person in my talks about politics that
says: "You know, what i really wished would happen is              Hon. B. Lekstrom: Possibly just before i begin to
that i could hear the members of the legislature talk at        answer the questions, i'd like to introduce my staff. Joining
greater length about nothing." i heard a lot of that, and       me, i have Dale Wall, nicola Marotz, talitha Soldera and
that is unfortunate.                                            Meagan Gergley, for the information of the members.
    but, Mr. Speaker, i am encouraged that after 14 hours          The member has asked why it would be in part
of debate at second reading, which i believe is probably        3. There was discussion. We looked at it. it was felt it
the second-longest amount of time the opposition has            would best fit because of similar, i guess, issues that are
spent debating at second reading in the session — and           dealt with just after section 190 in the act, and legisla-
i think i can confirm that, but i will check…. i still, and     tive counsel, in looking at it, felt that was where it would
for reasons beyond my understanding, fail to understand         appropriately fit.
where this 14 hours of debate has allowed, from what i've
heard, the people of british columbia any better under-            B. Ralston: Well, my question, then, to the minister
standing from what the opposition has put forward.              arising out of that…. it suggests to me that the scope
    it's unfortunate, particularly with regard to the fact      of the amendments is broader than what's described as
that we're about to vote on this bill. and with all that i've   the urgent and extraordinary need to provide the city
heard — unless you heard the leader of the opposition           with the authority to borrow money in this particular
earlier say they were going to support this bill — you          circumstance.
would be hard-pressed from the comments we heard to                Would the minister not agree that the scope of the
realize that they are going to support it.                      amendment by that placement of it in the charter is
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                             13535

in fact broader and gives the city broader powers than        — indeed, this was never put to a referendum — and yet
the powers required to simply deal with this particular       the city has incurred a liability of the dollar value of the
situation?                                                    entire project, which in some estimates is up potentially
                                                [0450]        as high as $850 million.
                                                                                                                   [0455]
 Hon. B. Lekstrom: no, i wouldn't agree. The place-              if the purpose of a referendum is to enable some
ment of the section does not change the scope.                democratic scrutiny of that kind of decision, it seems
                                                              nonetheless that the city has placed itself in that position
   B. Ralston: Well, the council has thus far advanced        without a referendum, without that kind of scrutiny.
a payment guarantee, using the authority ostensibly              So i'm wondering, as part of the process of due dili-
granted to it by the charter, of $190 million. i'm looking    gence, whether the minister was satisfied that, in fact,
at the notes to the consolidated financial statements of      the city of Vancouver had the lawful authority to enter
the city of Vancouver on page 21. in addition to that, the    into those arrangements.
city provided a completion guarantee, which it's agreed
may cost or run…. Some estimates are as high as half a          Hon. B. Lekstrom: Thank you to the member for the
billion dollars.                                              question. We had no reason to dispute the Vancouver
   it would seem that in the absence of this amendment,       law department's view of their existing authority.
the city at least purported to have the authority to place
the interests of the city at some financial risk to that          B. Ralston: Well, again with respect, that didn't answer
dollar amount. That was all done without a referendum.        the question. What due diligence did the minister and
So i'm wondering: is the position of the minister that        the ministry undertake beyond accepting the word of
this amendment is required to retroactively approve the       the Vancouver law department? Was there any scrutiny
actions of the council, or not?                               of legal opinions? Was there any discussion in drafting
                                                              legislation? Was there any consideration of retroactiv-
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: no, this is not retroactive. The         ity in order to make legal arrangements that might have
actual existing agreements that they entered into were        dubious legal validity?
under existing powers provided to them under the char-            obviously, if you're dealing with these kinds of entities
ter as it exists, and the amendments are for the forward      such as Fortress or Millennium where there's a real ten-
negotiations and contracts that they're looking to enter      sion, the possibility of litigation, all those angles would
into.                                                         presumably be considered. i would think it important
                                                              if, as the minister has said, the goal of the province is to
   B. Ralston: as part of the consideration in drafting       assist the city and assist the taxpayers of Vancouver….
this bill — which i understand took a number of days          Surely as part of that effort, these kinds of inquiries
to do, notwithstanding the fact that, as we've heard          would be undertaken and the minister would be able to,
repeatedly in the second reading debate, it's a very brief    here in the legislature, report on them.
bill; but obviously it took some days to draft this bill
— was part of that process a consideration or not as to         Hon. B. Lekstrom: Vancouver's counsel, includ-
whether the city had the legal authority to carry out the     ing external counsel, were confident about existing
commitments that it has made up to date, absent this          authority for the current agreements that they were in.
amendment?                                                    They were not confident for financing new agreements
                                                              on a go-forward basis. We discussed the full range
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: Vancouver actually did not have          of legal and legislative issues with them on what was
any concerns or worries. They actually worked on this         needed.
and, under the charter, had the existing authority to do
what they have done for the contracts that they did enter        B. Ralston: When did the minister first become
into already.                                                 aware that amendments to the charter to assist the city
                                                              of Vancouver might be necessary?
  B. Ralston: but i don't think…. With respect to the            When did that discussion begin?
minister, that's not my question. as part of the due dili-                                                    [0500]
gence that the minister and the ministry engaged in as
part of the preparation of this bill, were the minister and     Hon. B. Lekstrom: it would have been roughly ten
the ministry satisfied that the city of Vancouver had the     days ago, not tuesday past but the one before — tuesday
lawful authority to enter into the financial obligations      or Wednesday.
that it did?
  it seems to me, and any member of the public who's            B. Ralston: i take it from that that the minister is
looking at this, that there was no referendum provision       confirming that this concern wasn't passed on to him in
13536                                          british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

mid-December, at about the time that we are told these           Hon. B. Lekstrom: Yes, there was no borrowing
discussions between the mayor and the Premier were             incurred for this, so the $100 million protective advance
initiated. is that correct?                                    that you've just spoken to was not a loan. They had their
                                                               own money to deal with that.
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: When i became aware of it was
the question you asked, and i've answered. it would have          B. Ralston: Perhaps the minister then can clarify — i
been roughly ten days ago, not tuesday past but the one        have part of the Vancouver charter here: what defin-
before — or Wednesday.                                         ition of "debt" is he referring to in the charter, and where
                                                               is that found in the Vancouver charter?
   B. Ralston: The minister has said that the ministry,
on his behalf, was satisfied with the legal opinion offered       Hon. B. Lekstrom: Debt is not a specifically defined
by the city of Vancouver and by external counsel.              term in the Vancouver charter.
   Did the minister have his staff review those opinions
prior to accepting them, or was the representation of the         B. Ralston: Well, i suppose for the purposes of this
city simply accepted without any further examination or        exercise and for the city of Vancouver, that may be
discussion by the ministry or the minister?                    convenient.
                                                                  is it the view of the minister and the ministry that
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: our staff did review, as well as           funds advanced — as in the mayor of Vancouver in his
had extensive discussions with Vancouver.                      letter, which has been tabled and forms part of the debate
                                                               on this bill — or protective advances to the contractors
   B. Ralston: in section 242 of the Vancouver charter,        working on the site were not obligations for which the
there are certain exceptions to requiring a referendum.        city expected to be repaid and, therefore, were debts
reading from section 242(1): "except as otherwise              owing to the city?
provided in this or any other act, the council shall not                                                           [0510]
contract any debt, the full payment of which is not pro-
                                                                  Hon. B. Lekstrom: again, to the member, for the
vided for in the estimates adopted for the current year,
                                                               question: there was no borrowing involved in this. The
unless a by-law authorizing it has been passed with the
                                                               city used its own money to deal with the issue of the
assent of the electors."
                                                               protective advance as well as the financial guarantee.
   Subsection (2) goes on to enumerate a series of
exceptions, (a) through (d). can the minister advise,
                                                                  B. Ralston: in the notes to the consolidated finan-
with the assistance of his officials, which exception to
                                                               cial statements of the city of Vancouver — the annual
the referendum requirement did the arrangement of the
                                                               financial report of 2007…. on page 21 there's a note. it
payment guarantee of up to $190 million and the com-           says: "as the city's guarantees are in addition to those
pletion agreement — which potentially had a liability of       provided by Millennium, the exposure of the city is pri-
the full value of the project, taking it up to the full $850   marily dependent on the extent to which marketing of
million…? Which of these exceptions to the referendum          the market project is successful prior to the due date of
requirement did those actions of the city fall into?           the loan. in the case of default, it is expected that the city
                                                     [0505]    will assume the completion of the market project and
                                                               become responsible for repaying the loan."
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: The questions that the member                 That language would seem to me to imply an obliga-
has referred to for section 242. neither the $100 million      tion, a debt owing. Would the minister not agree that
protective advance nor the $190 million financial guar-        that language would fall, by any rational construction,
antee was a loan, so section 242 would not have applied.       within the ambit of the term "debt"?
They did not incur debt.
                                                                 Hon. B. Lekstrom: over to the member asking the
   B. Ralston: Just so that i understand that, and maybe       questions: the city has strongly felt that it had the existing
someone who chose to read this or refer to this at a           authority to enter into the existing agreements. That is
later date understands that. The obligation, the pay-          how that was dealt with. circumstances have changed.
ment guarantee of $190 million, including the funds            We're dealing with something different under bill 47.
that were advanced — the mayor of Vancouver refers to
that; i believe he has a term, "protective advances" — is        B. Ralston: Well, with respect, that's really not an
through the funding of protective advances to the con-         answer to the question. if that's the best we're going to
tractors working on the site.                                  get, i suppose we'll have to deal with that.
   So in the view of the minister, those don't constitute        The very purpose, the very essence, of this very
debts incurred on behalf of the city. is that correct?         narrowly constructed, very narrowly focused bill —
Saturday, January 17, 2009                             british columbia Debates                                                           13537

we've heard that repeatedly from the minister — is to                  have undertaken this obligation without having gone to
relieve the city of the obligation to go to referendum in              referendum.
order to incur debt. it seems to me, in looking at this, by
any rational construction of the arrangements that we                    Hon. B. Lekstrom: The view of the law department is
have here, that the city already incurred that debt with-              that 242 does not apply. There was no contracting of debt.
out going to referendum.                                               certainly, the city does not need to seek elector assent to
                                                    [0515]             spend cash that they have without incurring the debt.
   now, the minister can choose to just brush that aside,
but the purpose of this very narrowly constructed bill is                B. Ralston: Well, that's why i asked the question
to relieve the city of that referendum obligation.                     about what definition of debt was being relied upon, and
   if the city has already acted without going to referen-             the minister's answer, as i recall, is that the Vancouver
dum, and the minister accepts that the actions of the city             charter doesn't specifically define debt. but it's clear
were lawful, why are we here? Why was the legislation                  here in these financial statements, and i'm going to read
necessary? i think that's a very important question that               again from the city of Vancouver annual financial report
the minister should be able to answer: why are we here?                2007, page 21:
Why are we here if the city undertook those actions,                       "as the city's guarantees are in addition to those provided by
incurred that debt, that liability, without going to refer-              Millennium, the exposure of the city is primarily dependent on
endum already?                                                           the extent to which the marketing of the market project is suc-
                                                                         cessful prior to the due date of the loan. in the case of a default, it
                                                                         is expected that the city will assume the completion of the market
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: it's unfortunate if you think we                    project and become responsible for repaying the loan."
choose to brush aside. We don't do that, and hopefully,                   So regardless of whether the city goes to a third-party
you will listen to the answer. What we have is that on
                                                                       lender itself and borrows money and then owes it to
the first two agreements that you have put forward and
                                                                       that third-party lender or assumes an obligation in the
spoken about — on the $100 million protective advance
                                                                       event of default of Millennium — it would seem to me
and the $190 million financial guarantee — the city had
                                                                       it really is a distinction without a difference — the city
the financial wherewithal to deal with those without
                                                                       becomes liable to pay that debt to a party external to
going to incur debt. circumstances have changed. That
                                                                       the city.
is what puts us here today in the legislature to deal with
bill 47.                                                                  it would seem to me that the taking on of that obli-
                                                                       gation is the taking on of a debt and by any rational
  B. Ralston: Well, let me go back to the notes to the                 construction ought to be caught. i don't see it in those
consolidated financial statements, the city of Vancouver               exceptions in section 242, so i'm wondering what the
annual financial report:                                               response of the minister was because, as we know, this is
    "in order to facilitate the completion of the market project in    a very narrowly focused bill, and the sole purpose of the
  time for the 2010 Winter Games, the city, as landlord under the      bill appears to be to relieve the city of the referendum
  ground lease portion of the agreement, has provided security to      obligation when incurring debt.
  the market project lender for complete construction financing —
  the 'loan' — that is in addition to the security provided by Mil-       if the city has already done that and the minister is
  lennium. The city has provided a completion guarantee which          telling the house that the city of Vancouver believes
  obligates it to complete the market project in time for 2010 Win-    they had the legal authority to do that, then i'm wonder-
  ter Games, should Millennium be unable to complete, and has
  subordinated the balance of the purchase price — approximately
                                                                       ing why we're here and why this very narrowly focused
  $170 million — and has provided a payment guarantee of up to         legislation for this specific purpose was necessary.
  $190 million, plus interests and expenses, should Millennium be
  unable to fulfil its obligations to the market project lender. The      Hon. B. Lekstrom: i will reiterate that for the issues
  city's obligations and rights associated with this security extend
  until the loan is repaid."                                           that he refers to originally — on the protective advance
   So what's clear is that there's an obligation on the part           or the financial guarantee — the city was not in a pos-
of Millennium to the lender, and the city has stepped                  ition of contracting debt for that. i think what he is
in through these arrangements to support and backstop                  referring to and reading from the financial statements
those arrangements. in other words, by any reasonable                  is really a contingent liability, which is not debt. if debt
construction, the city has incurred a financial obligation.            would be on the face of the…. it would be on the face of
it owes the debt if Millennium is unable to perform; it                statements, not just in the notes.
owes the money.
                                                     [0520]              The Chair: Member, before we go on, i wonder if you
   My question remains the same then: would the minis-                 can just help me clarify what you are discussing. The
ter not agree that the city of Vancouver appeared to have              recent line of question appears to be on section 2 rather
undertaken this obligation pursuant to…? i'm not sure                  than section 1. i wonder: are you finished with section 1?
what power in the Vancouver charter, but it appears to                                                                    [0525]
13538                                          british columbia Debates                      Saturday, January 17, 2009

   B. Ralston: oh no, not at all. i've got a number of ques-    development there is a specific area that's going to be
tions on section 1. if i strayed into section 2, i apologize.   and designated to be the athletes village development.
Section 1 is entitled "Financing in relation to Southeast       The geographic boundaries that are described in subsec-
False creek development," so i had understood that              tion (1) in the definition of "development area" describes
my questions were within the ambit of the amendment             the area referred to the athletes village development.
that's contained in section 1, if that's of any assistance                                                           [0530]
to the chair. i hope it is. i'd understood that my ques-           is the intention of the minister that this bill would
tions were captured by the subheading of this particular        apply to the whole of the Southeast False creek develop-
amendment, 190.1. Does that assist the chair?                   ment project or specifically to the athletes village alone?

  The Chair: Thank you.                                           Hon. B. Lekstrom: The athletes village is a compon-
                                                                ent of the Southeast False creek official development
   B. Ralston: in section 1 the development area is             plan. This — what we are referring to in bill 47 — as laid
described as an area, and there are some geographic             out in the development area, is strictly relating to the
boundaries that are mentioned: an "area of the city             athletes village, not the broader development plan area.
bounded on the north by False creek, on the south by the
southerly boundary of 1st avenue, on the east by the east-         B. Ralston: Well, i'll take it from that explanation that
erly boundary of ontario…and that boundary's northerly          the note to section 1, then, is not terribly helpful.
production to False creek, and on the west by the west-            i suppose i raise this because…. The lawyers there
erly boundary of columbia Street and that boundary's            will be able to assist the minister on this, i hope. it's been
northerly production to False creek." The explanatory           some time since i read Driedger on the Construction of
note for section 1 refers to: "…undertake borrowing and         Statutes, but as i recall, sometimes one of the aids to con-
other financing arrangements in relation to the described       struction of statute by a court, should there be litigation,
Southeast False creek development project."                     is some of the explanatory notes in the legislation that
   What i understand is that the area that's described in       may shed some light on the drafter's intention.
section 1 corresponds to the smaller area covered by the           So it seems to me that this is potentially material. it
athletes village, part of the development for which the         may seem slightly obtuse to the non-lawyers, but at
city has issued a completion guarantee. The Southeast           least that's how i recall some of the aids to construction
False creek development project is bigger, and it encom-        of statutes that are referred to in cases. My suggestion
passes a broader geographic area. i think that's the thing      would be that the minister make it very clear here in the
that the Minister of transportation was talking about in        house that the explanatory note is erroneous and that
his very eloquent remarks on this very narrowly focused         it shouldn't be used should this matter ever have to be
bill.                                                           interpreted by a court.
   i appreciate that the explanatory note is not part of           Given the fact that there is a hedge fund involved,
the bill per se, but it does appear to be confusing and         given that there is high-stakes negotiation and given
suggests some confusion on the part of the drafter. So          that there's a massive debt, one can well imagine the
could that be clarified, please?                                possibility, certainly, that there may be litigation. Since
                                                                this is the narrowly focused legislation that's purporting
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: The legislation applies only to             to assist the city of Vancouver, i would hope and think
the 17-acre site of the athletes village as defined as the      that the minister would want to make it very clear what
development area and does not form part of the larger           powers are being conferred upon the city of Vancouver
designated Southeast False creek official development           in this particular circumstance.
plan, covering about 80 acres.                                                                                         [0535]

  B. Ralston: So i take it from that concession from              Hon. B. Lekstrom: The legislation is clear about the
the minister that the explanatory note is misleading and        powers it confers, and the explanatory note is accurate.
inaccurate. is that correct?
                                                                   B. Ralston: "The explanatory note is accurate." Did i
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: actually, the explanatory note fits         hear that correctly? Well, then let me continue.
well with the legislation. it speaks to the relation to the        The development project is defined here in the next
described Southeast False creek development project.            paragraph, and there's "includes the acquisition, dispos-
                                                                ition, development, use or construction of property in
   B. Ralston: Well, i'm afraid the minister's answer           the development area and of personal property related
mystifies me. as i understand it, the southeast False           to any of these."
creek development project is a broader, basically a                The "development project" words, those two words,
larger piece of land, and in that Southeast False creek         are the same words that are described in the explana-
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13539

tory note that describes the Southeast False creek             using that choice of word. The word "include" doesn't
development project. i see some potential confusion            exclude land in the broader development project, which
there. apparently the minister doesn't, and he's content       would seem to be by that use in subsection (1) a poten-
to leave it.                                                   tial interpretation.
   Would the minister not concede that the repetition of          i appreciate the haste with which this might have been
that language in this section may lead to confusion and        put together. i know there were only several days, appar-
should be clarified here in the legislature just in case, in   ently, to draft this legislation. i'm concerned about that
the event that this matter does at some point wind up in       choice of language and what it may mean for subsequent
court and is subject to a judicial interpretation?             interpretations of this. Given the amount of financing
                                                               that may be resting on this legislation, i think we have
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: no.                                       an obligation here to scrutinize it thoroughly and to
                                                               make very sure that this legislation is sound.
   B. Ralston: Well, i'd ask the minister, then, if he            i'm concerned by that choice of word. Generally, my
would consider explaining his answer. i appreciate that        recollection of my time studying statutory interpretation
brevity is sometimes the soul of wit, but i think we           was that words are deemed to have been chosen by the
might benefit from a slightly more fulsome explanation         legislature for a specific purpose, and meaning is attrib-
from the minister as to what reasons he has for giving         uted to them. its intention is ascribed to the legislature
that answer.                                                   in its choice of words. The choice of "includes" here
                                                               seems to me to be ambiguous, and i'd appreciate the
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: When you look at the legislation          comment of the minister on that.
under "development project," as you read it, it really
relates and says clearly that it is the property in the            Hon. B. Lekstrom: to the member: we are satisfied
development area, and the development area is defined
                                                               that the development project definition is clear. The
above that. So hopefully that clarifies it somewhat for
                                                               issue really is "includes" — i think it's what the member
the member.
                                                               is looking at — and that refers to activities such as acqui-
                                                               sition, disposition, etc. it is not expanding the scope of
   B. Ralston: Well, i suppose i'm concerned by…. The
                                                               the land covered.
language includes those powers to deal with property in
the development area, but it doesn't confine them to the
                                                                  B. Ralston: i want to turn now to questions on sub-
development area — at least, as i read it.
                                                               section (2). There may be other colleagues who have
   i mean, i appreciate that this is a very narrowly drawn
                                                               further questions on subsection (1), but i'll leave that
piece of legislation, but it doesn't seem — at least, on
my reading of it — to exclude those powers beyond the          to them in the fullness of time to ask those questions.
development area, as it's written. The reference in the        Subsection (2) lists the activities that the city may engage
note to the development project, which refers to the           in with respect to the financing, and there are a number
broader Southeast False creek development project, i           of powers that are granted should this legislation, as it
would suggest with the greatest respect to the minister        most certainly will, pass.
and his learned staff, may lead to some confusion. So i'd         i'm interested in asking some questions about this
appreciate the minister's comment on that.                     subsection (2). Given that this subsection….
                                                                                                                     [0545]
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: hopefully, we can reach an under-
standing on this. The development project does not refer         interjections.
to the broader 80 acres. it is referring to the property
in the development area, and the development area is              B. Ralston: i'm pleased to acknowledge the support of
defined as the 17 acres of the athletes village.               my colleagues, but it is somewhat distracting when i'm
   i am not trying to sidestep your question. That is about    engaged in this discussion of a very narrowly focused
as clear as i can make it. hopefully, that has answered        bill that requires some concentration.
your question.                                                    but given that the legislation provides to the city this
                                                     [0540]    range of powers, i return to my previous question. Did
                                                               the city and the previous council have the legal authority
    B. Ralston: Well, the choice of language here is the       to enter into all the arrangements made regarding the
"development project includes," and then it talks about        finance of the athletes village development, given that
 the acquisition, disposition, development and use of          this amendment would appear to confer on the city
 property in the development area. So it includes those        some additional powers that it would appear not to have
 potential uses of property in the development area, but       had up until the drafting and, one supposes, the passage
 it would seem to me it doesn't confine itself in that by      of this amendment?
13540                                             british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

   Hon. B. Lekstrom: as i spoke about earlier in one of            the borrowing power of the city. The way in which
the member's earlier questions and possibly even before            that's calculated is the — i'm reading from section 236
i follow through with my answer, i do want to thank the            — "aggregate of the debt so contracted shall not at any
member for his clear focus here, as he stated, on this             time be increased so as to exceed twenty per centum of
legislation. The city did not have to incur debt or borrow         the total assessed value of such real property calculated
to deal with either the protective advance or the finan-           upon the average assessment for the two years prior to
cial guarantee. They had the financial wherewithal to be           the year in which the bylaw is passed…."
able to do that.                                                                                                         [0555]
   circumstances have changed, which has led us here                  now, we've had some very recent discussion about
today on behalf of the city of Vancouver's request. but if         assessments here in the legislature, so obviously i'm
the city had the financial wherewithal today to deal with          sure that would be factored into that.
the changing circumstances that they face, we would                   What i take this to mean — and perhaps the minister
not have to deal with this bill. unfortunately they do not,        can just confirm this — is that Vancouver may normally
and that is why we are here today debating this bill.              carry debt up to a maximum of 20 percent of the assessed
                                                                   value — or i should say liabilities, since the language is
   B. Ralston: Well, the reason i ask this question is that        liabilities in the section. is that correct — that Vancouver
section 242 of the Vancouver charter to which this pro-            may normally carry debt up to a maximum of 20 percent
posed section, 190.1, will be added confers a number of            of the total assessed value of the property in the city?
powers that are not presently in the charter. in particu-
lar, if i look at 2(a), it says "incur liabilities," which is, i      Hon. B. Lekstrom: That is correct, yes.
would suggest….
   i appreciate the advice that there's no specific defin-            B. Ralston: i'm advised — and looking at the financial
ition of "debt," but liabilities would appear to encompass,        report of the consolidated financial statements — that
in my reading of it, contingent liabilities. it's not speci-       Vancouver's long-term debt as of December 31, 2007,
fied that it's not contingent liabilities, and the language        was $514.5 million. can the minister advise, since the
then goes on: "…including by contracting debts by bor-             specific reference to section 236 is in this proposed sub-
rowing or otherwise under section 236 (1)."                        section, what percentage of Vancouver's assessed land
   i would suggest that this proposed subsection, or               values this represents?
190.1, is giving powers to the city on the basis of what              obviously, there's an issue, given the recent amend-
the minister has said it already has.                              ments to the assessment act, but i would accept — or
                                                        [0550]     think — that probably an average of the last two years
   So i'm wondering why it's necessary to reconfer those           would be acceptable. can the minister assist on that
powers on the city if it has those powers to incur con-            point?
tingent liability, as the minister has said, without this
amendment. This would therefore seem to me to make                    Hon. B. Lekstrom: The reference in (a) where it refers
section (2)(a) redundant.                                          to section 236(1) really is dealing with, when you read
                                                                   236(1), the point that says: "council may pass by-laws
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: What (2)(a) does is clarify the               for contracting debts…." That is what we're referring to
legislation to ensure that there is certainty in moving            in that.
forward, to deal with the circumstances that they are                The member's question as far as what is really the cap-
facing now. This is the certainty that the city needs in           acity or the future capacity for the city of Vancouver….
its discussions with prospective lenders. So hopefully it          We do not have that number, but i'm sure the city of
clarifies that and lays it out.                                    Vancouver would be better positioned to give you that.
                                                                                                                     [0600]
   interjection.
                                                                      B. Ralston: i suppose that's a bit regrettable, because
  The Chair: Member.                                               if additional authority is being granted to the city to
                                                                   borrow, yet there's a statutory limit that's set out in sec-
   B. Ralston: i apologize. i'm just so eager to get at this       tion 236(1), one would want to know whether the city is
narrowly focused bill once again. With respect, i don't            close to butting up against the upper limit and whether
think that really answers the question that i asked. but i         the work that we're doing here in this very narrowly
suspect that by mere repetition of the question, i won't           focused bill would require another statute to come back
get a better answer.                                               and pass an amendment to section 236(1) giving the city
   So in this section (a), it refers to section 236(1). in         authority to do that.
the Vancouver charter section 236 it refers to a limit                now, i've been given some advice by those people
of borrowing power, and it sets out specific limits on             who help me in this process, and perhaps i can run it
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                                          13541

by the minister and his staff. Maybe we can confirm my         whole debt shall be made payable within fifty years at
understanding of it just so that we're clear for the record.   most from the day on which the by-law takes effect."
The figure i'm given is that Vancouver's total assessments       Will this requirement be waived by the exceptions
are about $158 billion. That's the april-or-so 2008 value.     created by this bill?
The 2007 value was about $135 million. an average of                                                           [0605]
those is $146.5 million, and 20 percent of that would be
$29.3 billion. is that understanding correct?                     Hon. B. Lekstrom: no, section 238 will apply. nothing
   it would appear to follow the formula here, in which        in the bill will negate that application of section 238.
case it would suggest that there's ample room here. i
would expect that that would have been a step the minis-          B. Ralston: in section 239(2) it talks about the issue
ter and his staff would want to have taken as part of their    of securities to cover debt. Since this arises out of the
due diligence in bringing this bill before the legislature     proposed section 190.1(2)(a) — incurring liabilities,
to ensure that Vancouver did indeed have the capacity          including by contracting debts by borrowing — this
under that section to borrow, because the section is           would appear to arise. as i read the section, it states
described as the limit of borrowing power.                     that a special bylaw must be made to specifically pay the
                                                               annual interest and principal payments on a debt.
  [S. hammell in the chair.]                                     again, would this requirement be waived for debt
                                                               incurred as a consequence of this bill?
   So whether you do it this way or whether you go to
referendum and then pass the bylaw, there is an upper            Hon. B. Lekstrom: all rules in part 5 that would
limit that's placed in the legislation, here in section 236.   normally apply to a bylaw under 236 continue to apply,
So what i'd appreciate — just so that we're clear, for the     except for the elector assent portion.
sake of due diligence, that the advice that i've been given
is accurate….                                                      B. Ralston: The minister refers to the electoral assent
   as i know some members on the other side are wont            portion, section 242, which is the subject of my next
to point out, occasionally the very excellent standard of       proposed question. i just wanted to clarify section
research that we're provided with might miss a beat, so         242(2), and i'm referring here back to section 190.1(2)
i wanted to be sure in this bill that that understanding        (a): "incur liabilities, including by contracting debts…."
is accurate and that we wouldn't be passing something           Subsection (2) in this section sets out the exceptions
that would require us to come back in another special           to the referendum requirement. We've referred to this
session to correct a mistake that we should have dealt          earlier in our discussions.
with here.                                                                                                          [0610]
                                                                   i'm looking at subsection (2)(e). i'd appreciate the
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: We are satisfied that the city has          assistance of the minister in clearing up a potential con-
sufficient borrowing room. to answer your question, i           fusion. These are powers that are specifically exempted
believe your calculations or the method you're using is         from the requirement to go to referendum. it says:
correct. but as well, we don't believe that the number         "borrowing under any agreement made pursuant to sec-
that that would put out at the end of the day as to what        tion 192…."
could be incurred based on the assessed value is an                Section 192 reads:
acceptable level of debt for the city of Vancouver. i will          "The council shall have power to make the city a party (a) to any
note that that section was put in, in 1953.                       agreement to which under the terms of any act of the Dominion
                                                                  or the Province it is contemplated that municipalities may be par-
                                                                  ties and which the council deems will be for the benefit of the city,
   B. Ralston: Well, that might be a project for the min-         including an agreement to borrow money in any case where the
ister to pursue at some other time, but it wouldn't appear        act of the Dominion or Province authorizes or provides for the
to be, then, something that will stand in the way of the          lending of money to municipalities."
city of Vancouver in setting out to correct the problems       So that's the explanation of section 192.
left by the previous council that they're attempting to          but the reference in this section says:
                                                                    "…for the purpose of the development or redevelopment of
remedy.                                                           the False creek area or for creating housing (for the purposes
   Since we are talking about borrowing powers, in                of this section, the "False creek area" shall generally be all that
section 238 of the charter it talks about when debt is            area of land and land covered by…cambie Street and connaught
repayable. Since subsection (2)(a) refers to incurring            bridge on the east" — i don't believe the connaught bridge; in its
                                                                  old form it obviously doesn't exist anymore — "the south side of
liabilities, including by contracting debts by borrowing,         Sixth avenue on the south, burrard Street and burrard bridge…
it would appear that this question properly arises.               and the harbour headline on the north side of False creek on
   The section says when debt is repayable. This specific         the north)."
provision refers to debentures. They "shall be issued          That is an even broader area than the area referred to in
within five years after the passing of the by-law, and the     the Southeast False creek development project.
13542                                        british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

   i'm wondering, in the sense that it certainly encom-      those in both opening and closing as being sufficient to
passes the area that's referred to, why this wouldn't be     deal with the subject. but given that there has been, i
sufficiently broadly drawn and give the council the          would take it, fairly intense discussion between the city
powers that it needed to have in order to engage in the      and the province — and i appreciate the province is
financial discussions that it proposes to do.                not negotiating with either the developer or the hedge
                                                             fund — has the province been apprised of the options
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: Section 242(2)(e) is specific to an      open to the city of Vancouver as part of the process of
area — Southwest False creek. This was entered into,         developing this legislation?
has and is dealing with the southwest False creek, which                                                       [0620]
is…. The amendment was added in 1974. This relates
to the borrowing under an agreement under section               Hon. B. Lekstrom: We do know that Vancouver is
192(a), and the agreement is with the Dominion or the        in negotiations at this point. What we do know is that
province.                                                    we as the crown or as the government are not in those
                                                             negotiations, but what we have strived to do, in work-
   B. Ralston: Just for those of us who are not entirely     ing in cooperation with the city of Vancouver, is ensure
familiar with every street in the Vancouver map, per-        that we have provided the tools they need in bill 47 to
haps would this have been to facilitate the development      proceed with those negotiations and enter into the best
of what's now commonly called Granville island? is           deal they can on behalf of their taxpayers.
that what's referred to? i thought, upon initially read-
ing it, that it described the same area that we're talking      B. Ralston: i'm going to conclude — and the minis-
about in this particular very narrowly focused piece of      ter can respond if he chooses, if i'm wrong — that the
legislation.                                                 province is aware, as a part of the process of developing
                                                             these options without…. i understand that the province
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: The area that we have just referred     is not negotiating with either the hedge fund or the
to is immediately east of Granville island.                  developer and that it's the city's responsibility, but as
                                                  [0615]     part of the process of developing this piece of legislation,
                                                             the province is aware of the options open to the city of
   B. Ralston: now, again returning to proposed subsec-      Vancouver. i just wanted to confirm that.
tion (2). it does confer a broad range of financial powers      it would seem that the menu that's being proposed in
upon the city for the purposes of this development area.     section 2 would strive to cover off every possibility that
is the minister satisfied that…? are these the product       may arise in the course of negotiations to make sure that
of negotiations with the city, in the sense that the pro-    every option that the city chose or would care to con-
tective advances the mayor refers to and the completion      template as a potential solution was available and that
guarantee, all of these possibilities, are included within   they had the powers to carry those out by the process of
the ambit of the powers that are described and that any      these amendments.
other financial arrangements that the city contemplates         once again, i understand that the minister and the
are captured by all of these proposed powers?                crown provincial are not negotiating, but i do want to
   i suppose that since we're here for this purpose, i       establish that the provincial government and the minis-
think one would want to be assured that the powers           ter are aware of the range of options open to the city.
that are being given to the city are comprehensive and
meet their request and that the province is satisfied that     Hon. B. Lekstrom: We are aware of the types of
the legislature has the lawful authority to confer those     options that could be available to the city of Vancouver,
powers upon the city.                                        but what we have wanted to do here is make sure that
                                                             the tools are available to pursue whatever options they
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i do want to reiterate…. You men-       need to on behalf of their taxpayers.
tioned the issue of the protective advances, as well as
the financial guarantee. again, i want to point out that        B. Ralston: as part of that discussion — presumably
the city had the financial wherewithal to deal with that     at the deputy minister level or certainly at the senior
without going into debt or borrowing.                        official level, with advice to the minister — is the min-
   as to the question of subsection (2) under 191, yes,      ister, on behalf of the province, aware of the potential
this will meet the needs of the city of Vancouver. This      costs of options that are available to the taxpayers of
was developed in cooperation and consultation with the       Vancouver?
city of Vancouver staff.                                                                                        [0625]

  B. Ralston: i appreciate that the minister has stressed      Hon. B. Lekstrom: We are not aware of the specifics,
in his very brief opening remarks and has referred to        but certainly, i think those questions, or that ques-
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                               13543

tion particularly, would be better asked of the city of           L. Krog: is that a statutory restriction, or is it a matter
Vancouver. We are not at the negotiations or involved in       of practice? are the taxpayers of Vancouver in a position
those, so the specifics would not be before us.                where they could get the best interest rate through the
                                                               Municipal Finance authority?
   B. Ralston: one option that certainly is available as                                                               [0630]
legislation…. i don't believe it's been used, but i'm won-
dering whether this was considered. Was designation               Hon. B. Lekstrom: by statute, they are not required
under the Significant Projects Streamlining act…? has          to borrow through the MFa, and by choice, they don't.
the minister considered the application of that statute to
this particular development project?                               L. Krog: The whole purpose of us being here is
                                                               around interest. The city of Vancouver, as i understand
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: The answer to the member's ques-          it, is paying 11 percent essentially because of the com-
tion is no, we have not.                                       plex nature of this arrangement.
                                                                  The whole purpose of this bill is to try and alleviate
   B. Ralston: as part of the general discussion with          payment of interest at a very high rate, presumably so
the city, has the province considered as a contingency         that the city of Vancouver can obtain borrowing from
how it might step in and alleviate some of the city's          other sources to complete this project, which is a neces-
risks? certainly, i appreciate the view that the minister      sary part of the olympics, with a much lower rate of
has taken, and i appreciate the interpretation that the        interest.
province gives to the relationship between the city of             So my question to the minister is: what is the cur-
Vancouver as a host city and Vanoc.                            rent interest rate that they'd be able to get through the
   but as the minister is aware and as had been discussed      Municipal Finance authority?
earlier in the debate, the auditor General is of the view
that the province would not necessarily, in his view, be          Hon. B. Lekstrom: nothing precludes the city of
able to rely on the strict legal liability but might incur a   Vancouver from entering into discussions with the MFa
broader liability that might require those steps on behalf     to seek the best possible deal they can get for their tax-
of the province were there a potential risk — not only         payer, or to enter into discussions with any other lenders.
the city's reputational risk but the reputational risk of      So hopefully that answers that. They are not precluded
the province.                                                  from speaking or dealing with the MFa. That would
   has the province considered at this stage engaging in       be discussions between the city of Vancouver and the
that kind of support to the city, and could the minister       MFa, if that's who they chose to speak to — or any other
advise the house on that?                                      lender as well.
                                                                  i'm sure that interest is going to be based on the
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: The city of Vancouver has not              amount of money required and so on. There will be a
requested funding from the province to complete the            number of factors that come into that, just as any lend-
athletes village. They have requested the flexibility and      ing institution would look at.
certainty provided by these legislative amendments.
                                                                  L. Krog: i am sure that the government of british
   L. Krog: Delighted to be able to rise and ask a few         columbia has…. one of its main purposes in this
questions of the minister. i know he's excited to be here      legislation is to try and alleviate as much of the taxation
responding to the important issues raised by this bill. can    burden for the citizens of Vancouver and potentially the
the minister explain to the house: what is the process that    province — but that's another line of questions — and
the city of Vancouver will go through in incurring debt?       alleviate as much risk as possible to reduce the amount
For instance, will it use the Municipal Finance authority      of money that they will be spending on interest, which
to issue debentures in relation to this project?               from the sounds of it has presently been going to foreign
                                                               lenders, benefiting foreign lenders as well.
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: Vancouver does not borrow through            My question to the minister: has the minister not,
the MFa, the Municipal Finance authority, as other muni-       either through his own ministry or the province itself,
cipalities in the province of british columbia do.             engaged in conversations with the city of Vancouver to
                                                               try and determine what the best possible way is and what
   L. Krog: i'm sorry, Minister. i didn't quite catch that     the cheapest possible way is of borrowing the moneys
last remark.                                                   necessary to complete this project?
                                                                                                                    [0635]
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: Vancouver does not borrow
through the Municipal Finance authority as other                  Hon. B. Lekstrom: i do want to go back to some-
municipalities in british columbia do.                         thing i said in one of my earlier answers to the previous
13544                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

member. We are not at the table in these negotiations.            L. Krog: Well, we are here to pass legislation that
What we have committed to do, in working with the city         enables the city of Vancouver to borrow money for this
of Vancouver upon their urgent request, is put in place        specific project, which is an integral part of the olympic
the tools they need for council to have the flexibility        Games. no place to sleep, no athletes come, no games —
to decide what the best business approach is that they         a fairly simple concept, nothing dramatic about that.
would like to pursue.                                                                                               [0640]
   We are not at the table in those negotiations. We have         a $500 million loan by the city at 5.1 percent interest
worked with the city of Vancouver to put forward bill          repaid over ten years would require weekly payments of
47, in the sense that it will give them the flexibility they   $1.2 million — $62.4 million annually. by the end the
deem that they need. certainly, the mayor stated that he       city will have paid $138.3 million in interest. if $500
wants to make sure the city can pursue the best deal for       million was borrowed at 3.62 percent over ten years,
taxpayers that minimizes financial risk, and this bill will    the payments would be $1.14 million — $59.3 million
allow that.                                                    annually — and by the end the city will have paid only
                                                               $96 million in interest.
   L. Krog: Well, the obvious question to the minister            That means that if the government of canada were
then is: if you're not at the table — and we're talking        able to lend the money to the city, the city would save
hundreds of millions of dollars of debt for the taxpayers      $3.1 million annually, or $31 million by the time the
of the city of Vancouver — are you not at the table by         loan was paid off, and presumably somewhat lower than
choice, are you not at the table because the city hasn't       the province. if the province did it…. Perhaps not quite
asked for your assistance, or are you not at the table         as good a rate as canada.
because the province of british columbia has no inter-            My question to this minister is: if we're here to pro-
est in this?                                                   vide assistance…. and that's what this bill is to do. This
                                                               is to provide assistance that isn't available otherwise
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: Very clearly and precisely,                — to provide assistance to the city of Vancouver by a
the answer is that the city has not asked for our              statutory change. We're talking about the taxpayers, and
participation.                                                 we're talking about a substantial number of the taxpay-
                                                               ers of the province of british columbia, probably half a
   L. Krog: i'm wondering if the government through            million arguably, in the city of Vancouver.
this minister or the Minister of Finance, looking at bor-         My question is: why are we taking this rather tepid
rowing costs, has suggested to the city of Vancouver that      step instead of stepping up to the plate and ensuring
it might be best if the province borrowed the money at         that the citizens of Vancouver don't end up paying more
its lending rate — which is obviously far better — and in      interest than is necessary in order to finance an integral
fact help finance this project, which is an integral part of   part of what is essentially a provincial project.
this whole olympic scheme.                                        This is the Premier's baby. We can talk about the
                                                               bid by the city of Vancouver and the city of Whistler,
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: Well, notwithstanding what we've          but this is the Premier's baby. So i want to know, on
heard for the previous 14 or 15 hours, this is — and i         behalf of the taxpayers: why isn't the province stepping
want to be clear — a Vancouver project. They have the          up to the plate and ensuring that the citizens of british
financial wherewithal to deal on this issue, enter nego-       columbia, the citizens of Vancouver and the taxpayers
tiations as they see fit, and that is how we see this. We      pay as little interest as possible in order to accomplish
have delivered on what they have asked our assistance          this end?
on, and the urgency of that assistance is contained in
bill 47.                                                          Hon. B. Lekstrom: We were not asked to provide
                                                               financial assistance for this project. rather, we were
  L. Krog: i'm informed that there's an article in the         asked by the city of Vancouver to provide the tools that
Times Colonist that indicated that the MFa had issued          Vancouver needs to put in place a sustainable financial
$400 million in debt at an interest rate of 5.1 percent.       arrangement that works for Vancouver.
They were very pleased with getting that. however, that's         i do want to reiterate and make sure that the member
148 basis points above what the government of canada           is clear, and clear for the public that are watching — i'm
can borrow at, which means that the government of              sure so attentively tuned to their screens. This is not a
canada borrows at 3.62 percent.                                provincial project. as much as we have heard members
  My question to the minister is: at what interest rate can    across the way try and imply that, again, this is not a
the government of british columbia borrow money?               provincial project.
                                                                  it's also been referred to numerous times by mem-
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i fail to see how that's relevant to      bers of the opposition as the Premier's pet project. i'm
this legislation.                                              sure that the mayor and council of Vancouver and pos-
Saturday, January 17, 2009                          british columbia Debates                                               13545

sibly the residents would take offence to that. This is a             proper and legal and statutory way that it's designed to
Vancouver project that they committed to deliver.                     be dealt with, they'd have a right to go out and vote on it.
                                                  [0645]              They'd have a say. They would have a direct say.
                                                                        They had a say in voting on the olympics. Surely
   L. Krog: Well, with great respect to the minister's                they're entitled to a say in the ordinary course of events
response, the province — even based on what the                       to setting the limit of expenditure, borrowing, whatever.
Minister of Finance says — is putting $600 million into               but this bill contains no such limit.
the olympic project. So i would think that constitutes                   So my question is: has the government received
a fairly substantial stake in that project, and to suggest            any assurances whatsoever, as it has a moral and legal
to this house that it is somehow not a provincial pro-                obligation to protect the citizens of Vancouver and the
ject and that this is strictly a city of Vancouver project            taxpayers of Vancouver…? has it received any indication
doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to this member nor                of what the upper limit is that the citizens of Vancouver
indeed, i suspect, to the taxpayers who are attentively               may face as a result of the passage of this bill?
watching the screen tonight.
   The provisions of this act contain nothing to limit                    Hon. B. Lekstrom: i do want to touch on something
the amount of liability that the city may incur in rela-              that the member raised. he talked about "under ordin-
tion to the athletes village project. That's my reading of            ary circumstances." i think it's fair to say the reason
this. i see nothing in here that says that the citizens of            we're here yesterday and now here Sunday morning is
Vancouver who would normally otherwise be able to                     that this is not ordinary circumstances we find ourselves
vote on this and know what liability they're taking on….              in, in trying to assist the city of Vancouver.
There's nothing in here to restrict liability. My question                                                                [0650]
is quite simply: why is there no provision to limit the                  You say that we are issuing a blank cheque. This legis-
level of liability the city may incur?                                lation is not a blank cheque. it's limited to the specific
                                                                      area in the project, but it provides Vancouver with the
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: at this point, to identify a bor-                 financing tools it needs.
rowing limit would be unworkable at this stage. There's                   it will have to go to the markets to raise the money it
no financing arrangement that has been finalized, so                  needs. The markets will look at what their ability to pay
such a limitation could defeat the purpose and really                 is, what assets are available to them in securing this loan.
hamstring the city in achieving the best possible deal on             So no, this is anything but a blank cheque, and i think
behalf of their taxpayers.                                            the member wholeheartedly understands how lending
                                                                      institutions operate.
   L. Krog: i believe i just heard the minister say that we
are giving the city of Vancouver, which is entirely a cre-               S. Simpson: i just want to step back to a couple of
ation of this legislature…. let's everyone understand.                questions that went on previously about how or where
The only reason the city of Vancouver exists is because               the city may borrow the money from. as i know, there's
this legislature passed an act, the Vancouver charter,                been some discussion here when we talked a little bit
that allows it to exist, just as every municipality in this           about the Municipal Finance authority, which, as the
province exists only because this legislature passed an               minister says, the city of Vancouver doesn't use.
enabling statute.                                                        but what we do know, of course, is that in terms of
    So what the minister is telling me, unless i'm mistaken,          preferential rates, of borrowing rates, the province of
is that we are giving a completely blank cheque to the                british columbia — certainly at this point, i think —
city of Vancouver to raise whatever amount of money it                probably has a better capacity to borrow than the city of
wants to in relation to the athletes village project — that           Vancouver does.
there's no upper limit.                                                  i could be corrected on the details around this, but
   i'm not going to be convinced by anything the min-                 i believe back last spring we adopted a piece of an act
ister might say that the reason we're here is because of              around the transportation investment act, i believe,
one letter from the city of Vancouver, dated January                  and it related mostly to the Port Mann. it was the cre-
13, addressed to the Premier and the leader of the                    ation of an entity, a crown or a public entity.
opposition. i think we're going to have to accept and                    Part of their role, i believe, was to assist with the
believe that there have been ongoing negotiation and                  private operators, the P3 partners — to work with the
discussions at the senior levels of the ministry, of the              P3 partners — to be able to get the best interest rates
provincial government, and the city of Vancouver staff.               possible to borrow money. now, that money was being
    Somebody must have some idea somewhere of what the                borrowed by the private operators essentially, or they
reasonable upper limit of this project is. is it $800 million?        were incurring the debt, and then the P3 partnerships
is it a billion dollars? is it $1.2 billion? is it $1.3 billion? if   were put in place. So it wasn't a question of the province
this were being treated and dealt with in the ordinary and            necessarily saying we're taking the debt on there.
13546                                           british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

   i guess the sense of the question i'm getting to is, well,       if the province could take half a percent or a percent
the obligation certainly needs to rest with the city of          off the book, that might look pretty good when you're
Vancouver for debt because the province isn't incurring          talking about half a billion dollars. So i just wonder
debt here, and fair enough. So it has to rest with the city.     whether that's something that the minister, as the minis-
   but is there an opportunity — and as the minister says,       ter responsible for local government, would entertain or
this is not a standard situation; it is a unique situation,      be prepared to discuss.
and there is a degree of crisis here that we've intervened          again, i want to be clear that in no way am i suggesting
in through this piece of legislation — for the province to       the province take any of the debt responsibility but just
make a determination about whether we have the cap-              look at a way to afford a lower interest rate because of
acity to borrow at a better rate on behalf of the city?          the province's borrowing capacity.
  They would incur the liability and the responsibility
for that debt, not the province, but we as the province             Hon. B. Lekstrom: Just a quick response to the
could get them a better rate to minimize the impact. has         thought that the member put forward — that we haven't
that been looked at, at all by the province?                     been proactive on this. i thought i'd heard for approxi-
                                                                 mately 14 hours that we may have been too proactive
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: i believe i've answered this to              and are here early on a Saturday and a Sunday rather
one of the previous members who asked the question.              than waiting until Monday.
Vancouver has not asked for financial assistance in this.           i do think we've been proactive on this file, working
What they did request was the tools to allow them to             with the city of Vancouver. but it wouldn't be appropri-
enter into financial negotiations to get the best deal. So       ate to speculate at this time. in the letter of January 12
we've had no requests from the city of Vancouver to              from Mayor Gregor robertson, he points out that we are
entertain what the member has put forward here.                  in the middle of urgent and delicate negotiations, so i'm
                                                                 certainly not prepared to speculate on what the member
   S. Simpson: i appreciate that, and i did hear the com-        is speaking to here as far as borrowing.
ment from the minister that the city has not made that
request of the province. There may be any number of                 S. Simpson: That's obviously a decision for the prov-
reasons for that. i imagine the first one is that they were      incial government and the minister to make as to where
looking to get this done so that they sort of had a place        they choose to pursue or not pursue this. i guess the
to start in terms of being able to talk about borrowing          observation i would make is that we did a little bit of cal-
money in any way, shape or form, because without a ref-          culation, looking at a $500 million loan and looking at
erendum they were in no place to have this discussion            what i believe that the city of Victoria borrowed through
until they got some enabling, until they got the amend-          the MFa a short time ago at an interest rate of about 5.1
ments that bill 47 affords them.                                 percent. They borrowed a package of money.
                                                       [0655]       if the city of Vancouver was getting that kind of inter-
   i appreciate that the province at this point has chosen       est rate and we compared that against what the federal
not to be proactive in this discussion with the city around      government borrows at — which is about 3.62 percent or
this question. but i've heard the Premier in comments,           something like that — just as a rule of thumb, on a loan
or at least i've read media comments of the Premier,             repaid over ten years the city of Vancouver, if they were
where he's referenced his discussions with the mayor of          able to do that, would probably save themselves roughly
Vancouver and said that the province was looking to be           $31 million through the difference in those kinds of
as supportive as it could be of the city to make this suc-       interest rates. So $31 million is a pretty real amount of
cessful, acknowledging that that didn't include taking           money, and i would encourage the minister to at least
on the debt of the city — that the city was going to carry       have some discussion with his colleagues about whether
its own debt, and so be it — but helping the city to be          that kind of at least preliminary discussion or explora-
successful in its initiatives.                                   tory discussions with the city of Vancouver might be in
   The question i have is: though the city hasn't looked at      order.
that, is this an option for the province to consider or to                                                           [0700]
make the offer to the city to look at as a way to minimize          We know the city is, based on what we've heard from
the interest-carrying charges of the city? if they're going to   city officials…. We know they're both looking at the
have to go out and take on the better part of half a billion     $458 million, or roughly something like that, for what's
dollars, i'm sure any offer the province could make to the       outstanding on the project.
city that would reduce their interest charges would prob-           They also, of course, are probably having to look at
ably be something the city would at least want to entertain      some money to get out of potential penalties, to get out
or discuss. They may choose not to do it for other reasons       of the 11 percent interest rates with Fortress — whatever
that i don't understand, but it seems like one of the options    that might be. Who knows? That'll be a matter of nego-
that they might not mind having on the table.                    tiation, presumably, between the city and Fortress.
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                                     13547

   i guess what i would encourage is that the province        market and financial risks associated with delivering the
see whether there's a way that they can support or assist,    village on time." but the completion guarantee obliges
maybe, on reducing those interest charges through our         the city to complete not just an athletes village but the
capacity as the province to do some borrowing around          specific market project proposed by Millennium.
that.                                                            in presenting this situation to council, rogers, i
   i believe that my colleague from nanaimo may have          suggest, ignores the increased risk to the Vancouver
asked this. i was out of the room for a few minutes, and      taxpayers of guaranteeing the completion of a specific
if he has asked the question, my apologies for repeating.     project that was dependent and is dependent upon sig-
The question i have relates to…. People in Vancouver,         nificant market returns — in other words, the condo sales.
i know, are very keenly interested in this. Maybe we'll       The city of Vancouver's financial statements are silent on
hear that it's up to the city to decide how to relay this     the city's commitments and exposure in relation to the
information.                                                  project after a completion guarantee is signed.
   has the province considered or assessed what kinds            Ms. rogers said:
of charges or what the cost might be to taxpayers for             "The guarantees recommended are less than the construction
the city to have to borrow the kind of money it's talking       financing being provided by Fortress and would only come into
                                                                play if there was a dramatic downturn in the Vancouver real
about? i suspect the province must have some idea in            estate market that jeopardized the marketing strategy of Millen-
broad terms of what the city needs to do to deal with its       nium. While these risks should not be discounted, the city should
obligations here in terms of the amount.                        continue to support Millennium, because the option of forcing a
   has the province assessed or come up with a range            default increases the city's risk rather than diminishing it."
of what this cost might look like to taxpayers in british     now, that's in her report. So my question is, referen-
columbia on their tax bills?                                  cing this section: does the authority conferred under
                                                              this section give the city the authority to enter into the
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: earlier on you started off talk-         completion guarantee?
ing about some issues there as to what we can consider
an assistance. certainly, our assistance to the city of          Hon. B. Lekstrom: The completion guarantee that
Vancouver through this legislature is through this bill       was entered into was done so under the existing author-
that's before us presently. i do want to thank the member     ity that Vancouver had. This legislation is not about past
for his advice on the other, but what we have before us       action but on a go-forward basis.
right now is….
   Your question really relates back…. i want to reiter-         L. Krog: My real question is: is the minister satisfied,
ate. This is truly a Vancouver project. We are not at the     in fact, that the city did have lawful authority without
table with those negotiations. i do want to ensure….          the passage of this section?
Particularly relating to the mayor's letter talking about                                                        [0710]
the very, i would say, delicate times they're in right
now…. i don't want to jeopardize that. but they are, and        Hon. B. Lekstrom: to answer your question, we
i'm sure all of us would agree, doing everything they can     have…. Vancouver's council, including their external
to ensure that they protect and minimize the risk to their    counsel, were confident about the existing authority to
taxpayers. i'm confident that they will achieve a deal that   enter the current contracts. What we're dealing with,
is satisfactory on behalf of the taxpayers they represent.    though, is a go-forward basis, and that is where they were
                                                              not confident that they could do that under the existing
   L. Krog: Judy rogers had recommended to the                provisions, and that's why we're dealing with bill 47.
former Vancouver city council that the city provide a
completion guarantee to Fortress in order to facilitate          L. Krog: it strikes me, when you look over the history
the financing. That completion guarantee obliges the          of this project, that Ms. rogers seems to have been push-
city to complete the Millennium Water project in the          ing the arrangements between the city and Millennium
event that the developer is unable to complete it.            that have exposed the city to rather dramatic risk.
   That recommendation is contained in a report dated            We have a city that owns a piece of land, prime real
June 22, 2007. it was presented to the council at an in-      estate in one of the most desirable, livable cities on the
camera meeting on June 26, 2007. The former council           entire planet, and yet somehow we're in a situation now
at that time voted in favour of issuing the completion        where they have entered into arrangements that poten-
guarantee and a $193 million loan guarantee to project        tially put the taxpayers at risk for hundreds of millions
lender Fortress.                                              of dollars and require them to do what we look gener-
                                                   [0705]     ally to the private sector to do, and that is to complete
   Ms. rogers said in her report: "under terms of the         construction projects of condos.
Vancouver athletes village agreement between the city            can the minister perhaps outline to the house or
and Vanoc, the city has accepted the construction,            explain: was Ms. rogers working on behalf of the city?
13548                                         british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

Was she receiving some direction from Mr. Dobell in             That being the case, can the minister this morning
setting up these arrangements? Was the Premier's office       stand up in this house and tell the citizens of Vancouver
involved at all in ensuring that the city of Vancouver        how much they're going to be on the hook for, for the
carried through to complete this project, which, i come       olympic village project?
back to, is an integral part of the olympic scheme?
                                                                 Hon. B. Lekstrom: With all due respect to the member,
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i would request as to what section       what you're asking is to say what are the exact costs, and
we are referring to here, so that i may look at that sec-     we should know that. i want to reiterate for the member,
tion of the bill.                                             as well as for the viewing public, that this is not a provin-
                                                              cial project. This is the city of Vancouver's project.
  L. Krog: Well, for the assistance of the minister, this       as well, i do want to reiterate comments from the
whole section deals with financing this particular project.   mayor of Vancouver in a statement that says: "We are in
What i want to know, in terms of arriving at this bill with   the middle of urgent and delicate negotiations." all of
these sections…. What does the minister know, or what         that will have to come together before, i'm sure, a final
did the government know, about the arrangements with          number will be available.
the city and Millennium? Did they have involvement in
ensuring that this project proceeded on the basis that it        L. Krog: With the greatest respect to the minister, it's
did, and if so, why?                                          rather like giving scissors to a small child. The previ-
                                                              ous council, the city of Vancouver, got the taxpayers
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: to your question. We began               of Vancouver into this mess. We are now here having a
this initiative, myself and my ministry, from when we         special sitting of the legislature in order to help clean up
received the urgent request from the city of Vancouver.       that nPa — non-Partisan association, founded by the
Myself or members of my staff were not involved in the        Premier of this province arguably; that new civic party —
negotiations per se, trying…. hopefully, i'm answering        mess. That's why we're here. That's why we've been here
your question, Member. but to be clear, the urgent            all night, to clean up a mess of a council.
request was sent to us. We acted as quickly as possible,         i think it's pretty incumbent upon this minister
and that's what puts us in the legislature today.             and this government…. When they're turning over
                                                              to the city council, the city of Vancouver, the author-
   L. Krog: it strikes me that the completion guarantee       ity to borrow, without limit — without a limit — any
may well have been to protect the interests of Vanoc          amount of money they have to in order to complete
rather than the Vancouver taxpayers. That's what it looks     the cleanup of this fiasco, i think it's incumbent upon
like. in order to make this scheme go forward, in order to    this minister to tell this house and to tell the people of
allow the olympics to be a success, Vanoc had to have         british columbia, and most particularly the taxpayers of
this project completed. Vanoc needed the city to do           the city of Vancouver, including the constituents of the
this. Vanoc's interests were being protected. and the         Premier, what they're going to be on the hook for.
city of Vancouver, the taxpayers of the city of Vancouver,                                                          [0720]
are on the hook. That's what it looks like to me.
   My question is: was the completion guarantee                  Hon. B. Lekstrom: i guess i would start with some-
intended to protect the interests of Vanoc or the inter-      what of a surprise that the member appears to be calling
ests of the taxpayers of Vancouver?                           the council of the city of Vancouver a small child. i'm
                                                   [0715]     sure they'll take that very well, Member, but i will let you
                                                              answer to them for that.
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: That is not a question i can answer         as well, you're asking some questions. i do want
related to this legislation.                                  to point out that i believe it was the member for
                                                              Vancouver-hastings that pointed out that the Vancouver
   L. Krog: Well, i'm sure that will come as a great dis-     city manager gave your caucus a briefing on this very
appointment to the taxpayers of the city of Vancouver,        issue, which was said in one of the comments. We didn't
who are no doubt interested in the results of the debate      receive that briefing, but we can check on that — okay?
that we're engaging in here this morning.                        but you asked the question: what will the taxpayer
  i've asked, on various occasions this morning, of the       be on the hook for? The information about this difficult
minister, around the potential costs of this project. With    situation faced by the city is not a secret. it is posted on
the greatest respect to the minister, he and this govern-     their website. Vancouver's goal and indeed our goal — i
ment and this legislature have a responsibility to the        believe all of our goals — is that the cost to the taxpayer
taxpayers of the city of Vancouver. There are no ifs, ands    and the risk is minimized to the fullest extent.
or buts about that. The buck stops somewhere, and i              We have worked hard to deliver a piece of legislation
suggest it stops here.                                        that delivers the tools that the city of Vancouver has
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                            13549

requested and needs to try and meet that requirement.            S. Simpson: i appreciate that the government was not
i believe they're a very responsible level of government      party to those discussions. i believe that that agreement
and will do everything they can to act in the best inter-     was part of an in-camera meeting of council. i think that
ests of their taxpayer.                                       they came to the conclusion of that, if i remember the
                                                              news reports correctly.
   S. Simpson: Just to correct the minister, if he was           What i'm trying to determine here is what the circum-
under the impression…. i know the comment that the            stances were that created the situation that required us to
minister is referring to. The briefing i was referring to     be here to deal with the Vancouver charter amendment
was observing the briefing that Ms. ballem gave to coun-      act. it would seem, and it's not unusual certainly around
cil, which was at the time…. i think it was the Monday        legislation, that you try to determine the reason why you
when she briefed council on the state of affairs. So it was   got to the place you got that required the legislation.
an observation of a public briefing that she gave to coun-       it's not unreasonable, i would think, that you want to
cil at that time. There was no other briefing.                have a little bit more than the city asked for it. That's
   Would the minister agree that the primary situation        a good reason to open the discussion — that the city
that created the problem we're in was, in fact, the signing   asked for it — without doubt, but it would seem to
of the completion agreement and the resulting circum-         me that it would also make sense for the province to
stances after the signing of the completion agreement         want to have some idea about how this all occurred. So
by the city in 2007? is that what got us? or what was the     that's the reason for asking whether that was one of the
catalyst to get us to the place where we're at, where the     considerations.
city had to come forward and talk to the province?               Maybe i'll ask a slightly different question. rather
                                                              than being sort of specific about the completion agree-
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: First, i want to thank the member        ment, because there certainly may be much more to it or
for his clarification on that point on the briefing.          something different is the issue….
  as to your question — very difficult. it would be
speculation on my part. This is really…. The city has           [h. bloy in the chair.]
been dealing with this to this point. it would be purely
speculative to comment as to the question you put for-           have the staff, the Ministry of community
ward to me. i don't think it would do either of us any        Development staff, the Premier's office or others in the
good for speculation versus a direct answer. i just can't     government, made any effort to determine what the cir-
comment on that.                                              cumstances were that put the city in the place where it
                                                              all of a sudden is having to come forward and ask the
   S. Simpson: i wouldn't want the minister to specu-         province for authority to borrow at least a half a billion
late about this. is what the minister saying, then, is that   dollars, by the sounds of things, if news reports are cor-
when the city came forward…?                                  rect — a significant amount of money — without the
                                                    [0725]    due process that every local government is obliged to
   Presumably, as i understand, they may have been            follow around referendum and around approval from
very preliminary discussions between the mayor and            their taxpayers?
the Premier, and then at some point not long after that it       The province, with bill 47, is going out on a limb here
ended up on the desk of the minister to deal with.            and saying to the city: "We're going to let you borrow
   nowhere in here did the minister's staff or other          more money than most municipalities would under
officials within the provincial government make some          normal circumstances without going through the due
determination or request information from the city as         process of talking to your taxpayers before you do it, at
to how this situation occurred? Was there no — i might        least this one time."
make the case — due diligence done there to come to                                                               [0730]
some idea of how they got there, the city got to where it        Didn't the minister have the sense or didn't the gov-
got to and what the circumstances were that put the city      ernment have some sense that, in fact, you should satisfy
in the place that it was in? none of that was done before     yourselves as to how this situation came about before
this move to this point?                                      you create a circumstance where you approve that and
                                                              you come forward with this legislation? Maybe it's the
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: Yes, we did receive the informa-         completion agreement. Maybe it's totally different cir-
tion, the same information the public received on the         cumstances that create that.
briefing as of Monday that was put forward by the coun-          Was there no due diligence on the part of the province
cil. as far as the agreements, we were not party to those     and on the part of the ministry to determine why the
agreements or involved in the discussions of the city         city got itself in this circumstance, other than the letter
that they have made to date.                                  from the mayor?
13550                                          british columbia Debates                     Saturday, January 17, 2009

   Hon. B. Lekstrom: Just to one of the comments the               What might those limitations be? if the council decides,
member had spoken about. i believe he indicated that           then they craft up a resolution that links any particular
this legislation may actually allow Vancouver to borrow        property? or what kinds of parameters might there
more money than they would normally be allowed. i              be? i mean, there are obvious properties that would be
want to make sure we're all aware that that is not what        associated that you could clearly identify. but are there
this legislation does. This does not increase that amount.     properties that the minister might envision that might
They still are bound by what the lenders will look at as       be of somewhat more vague a linkage, and is that, then,
far as what their ability is to repay. So the legislation      a matter of interpretation for the council?
does not do that.                                                  Should the council decide to do that and make those
  The circumstances that you refer to and have asked           decisions and pass such a resolution? Then if people in the
about are clearly on the public record and have been           city of Vancouver otherwise weren't sure that they liked
for some time. i've answered that previously. but i do         the fact that the city was going past the development itself
want to encourage the member that if you could bring           — because there will be people who will have some anxiety
your questions back directly to the legislation that we're     about this, i'm sure; i could think about our friends, the
debating, i am more than happy to try and address and          folks in places like the canadian taxpayers Federation,
answer the questions as they relate specifically to the        just as an example, who might have anxiety about this
legislation before us.                                         — at what point do they come forward and start saying
                                                               that the city has gone past its limits, that they're engaging
   S. Simpson: The point i made about borrowing was            properties that are outside of the purview of this?
the ability to borrow without referendum. clearly, this            Who interprets that, and how does that get interpreted
is going to allow the city of Vancouver to borrow money        if the council is passing resolutions, maybe appropriately
that they would not be able to borrow without going to         or not, when somebody wants to question what's associ-
referendum here. i accept that we're not going to get the      ated and what those limits are?
answers to these questions, or the answers aren't avail-                                                              [0740]
able, and so be it.
   looking at the bill, if we look under section 1(2)(c), it      Hon. B. Lekstrom: We're speaking about 190.1(2)(c),
says: "grant security by way of mortgage or other charge       which is really dealing with the granting of security. it's
on, or security interest in, property that is within the       designed to allow the city get the best possible interest
development area or that is identified by resolution of        rate and is strictly held to city-owned property as well
the council as property associated with the develop-           on that.
ment project."                                                    now, you did ask the question that council has the
   could the minister tell us what would constitute            authority to determine this. if they determined a piece
property associated with the development area?                 of property was associated, as it is worded in this legisla-
                                                               tion, a member of their electorate, of the city, would have
  Hon. B. Lekstrom: in response to the question, this          the option either politically — they have to be account-
would entail…. There may be property that is not dir-          able to their taxpayers — or legally to challenge that.
ectly on the site but would be an integral part of that           So we believe that the word "associated" will, hope-
development, such as the green energy system. That is          fully — and i believe will, as we have laid it out here
what this section is referring to.                             — deal with the question you have raised for the taxpay-
                                                [0735]         ers of Vancouver.

   S. Simpson: now, it says that this would be as "identi-       S. Simpson: in (2)(d): "take security by way of mort-
fied by resolution of the council." So would it be totally     gage or other charge on, or security interest in, any
at the discretion of the council to deem that a property       property." So is that determined by…? is it any property;
was associated with the development project, and if they       that's quite literally any property at all? it has nothing to
deemed it by resolution to be associated regardless of any     do with any relationship to the site at all?
other conditions, would that constitute being associated?
                                                                 Hon. B. Lekstrom: Yes, it does mean any property.
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: to answer, council's authority is         This is not granting security but taking security. So it
constrained by the word "associated," and it has to be in      does mean that.
relation to this project.
                                                                  S. Simpson: i appreciate that. but the reason i asked
   S. Simpson: i guess the sense of what constitutes           that, i guess, is because…. as we head down to (f),
associated…. again, that's pretty broad, it seems to me,       where it says you can "assign or otherwise dispose of a
particularly when it says it will be "identified by resolu-    right or interest, or security, taken under paragraph (d)
tion of the council."                                          or (e)…." on one hand, you can say that you can deal
Saturday, January 17, 2009                     british columbia Debates                                            13551

with any property, and then you could turn around then             R. Fleming: i wanted to ask the minister a few ques-
and essentially….                                               tions. Given that the province and the city of Vancouver
   My sense of this, and maybe i'll just step back, is that     have a long relationship and have been partners since
these particular clauses provide very broad latitude for        the inception of this olympic village partnership, and
the city of Vancouver to look at properties or assets in        also that the time to completion guarantees will prob-
much any way that they deem necessary in order to get           ably, when all is said and done and this deal is looked
the deal or package up the deal that they need to do on         at outside of these chambers…. The cost of completion
this land. So it provides a broad latitude.                     guarantees seems to be the source of where this deal
   So maybe, whether it be taking or granting of secur-         ran into major problems. it was a major cost driver. it,
ities, it provides a very broad latitude, particularly if the   in essence, distorted the financing arrangement for the
city, through council resolution, gets to deem what is          project.
an associated property. of course, as the minister says,                                                           [0750]
somebody could litigate that if they wanted to, or protest         i'm curious and would like to get the minister's com-
it — come to a council meeting and do what you do at            ments on why, in this very brief bill, there is no —none
council meetings. but that doesn't stop the city from           whatsoever, any — disclosure requirements included in
passing the resolution and moving forward until the             these amendments. i guess the question, really, for the
court or somebody else tells them they can't.                   minister is around disclosure and reporting require-
   So would the minister agree, that essentially — pro-         ments and the lack of them in this bill.
viding the council is willing to adopt resolutions — the
council has very broad latitude to engage pretty much              Hon. B. Lekstrom: There is nothing in this bill
any properties it wants, to be able to exercise its options     that precludes the disclosure requirements under the
under this act, to put the package together? if that's not      Vancouver charter. now, those would all still be applic-
the case, maybe the minister could clarify what options         able under this, whether it be the issue of open meetings,
aren't available, in his mind.                                  closed meetings — those types of things. hopefully, i'm
                                                     [0745]     addressing the member's question. i believe — and cor-
                                                                rect me if i'm wrong — he was wondering if this bill
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i do want to make sure that we all         would negate their need to live up to those requirements
in this house fully can differentiate the issue of granting     under the charter now. it doesn't do that.
the securities or taking the securities. i appreciate the
question. i believe i've answered the issue of granting             R. Fleming: actually, my question was: given the
the securities, so the issue really is the taking.              extraordinary nature of this bill and this amendment,
  The taking of security is, as you said, any property.         why hasn't the minister seen fit to include requirements
That is to secure the interest for the taxpayer of the city     for reporting and disclosure to the province and jointly
of Vancouver. That would be, as the city negotiated,            to the city of Vancouver?
whether they were the lender, per se. They would want               in particular, i'm thinking of information — that its
to take security in order to ensure that the risk was mini-     veracity is completely independent, that there be an
mized to the taxpayer of the city of Vancouver.                 independent audit function included in that…. because
                                                                i think that throughout this debate we've seen the need
   S. Simpson: i have one last question here, and then          for credible disclosure.
i think my colleague has a couple, and i'm just going to            in fact, there has been regular disclosure of informa-
bounce back. it's just a definition here. When we look          tion, if you want to call it that, by the province and by
under subsection (1), "development project" — i'm just          the city. That hasn't been the issue here. it's that the
looking for a definition — it says: "includes the acquisi-      regular reporting and disclosure that has been done
tion, disposition, development, use or construction of          to date on the olympic village project has been of the
property in the development area and of personal prop-          nature that everything is okay. clearly, we see now that
erty related to any of these." What is the definition for       it's not, because we're having this emergency debate and
this of "personal property"?                                    taking these extraordinary measures.
                                                                   The question, again, for the minister is: why did he
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: Personal property includes                 not contemplate and include in the legislation a require-
property that is not real property. real property means         ment for an independent assurance and reporting
things like land and buildings and the rights and inter-        requirements for disclosure to all interested parties in
ests in them. Personal property is movable property. in         this project?
a development project like the Southeast False creek                                                                [0755]
project, that may mean items needed to complete the
units — for example, construction materials, fixtures,             Hon. B. Lekstrom: Your question that you raise, really,
appliances for those units, and so on.                          is already covered under the Vancouver charter. local
13552                                          british columbia Debates                    Saturday, January 17, 2009

government, including Vancouver…. They must hire an            one of them. i think we're talking about a management
accounting firm as auditors. That's under Section 230 of       audit in what you're quoting me in the section of the
the act. Those auditors have duties to examine the books       charter. The private sector firms that are hired to do that
and transactions and must report out and investigate           function do report out to the mayor and council, but
under section 231 if necessary.                                they do not report out independently of the manage-
  The other one that i'm sure won't come as a surprise         ment letter that they present to the mayor and council.
— i think the members may have even spoken about this             i wanted to ask the minister the question again about
previously — is that Mayor robertson from the city of          the provincial responsibility and the opportunity that
Vancouver has committed to full openness and transpar-         appears to have been missed here to work out some-
ency, and we fully support that as well.                       thing that would have been satisfactory for both the
                                                               city of Vancouver and the province to provide oversight,
   R. Fleming: Well, i thank the minister for part of his      because we need to have oversight on this project, not
response. i definitely appreciate, as does he, the com-        just when we come in here on an emergency basis to
mitment by Mayor robertson to meet that standard.              amend the charter; we need it on an ongoing basis.
but, as the minister knows, governments come and go.              There have been a lot of concerns raised in this debate
This debt, this project, is going to be around for some        about the potential here for borrowing without limit.
time. Governments will change. Voluntary assurances            You know, there is no sunset clause in this bill, but i
by somebody who is trying to do the very best right now        think this side of the house is reasonably comfortable
are great for the situation we're in and for as long as that   that because it's a project-specific amendment that, in
individual and that council are in office, but we've had       fact, that is a sunset clause.
an opportunity here with this legislation to, in fact, have       but i wanted to ask the minister again: what assur-
requirements included that would call for veracity and         ances should the extension of the borrowing authority
independence and regular reporting, and it hasn't been         to the city have, additional to what is there now? What
done.                                                          requirements would he see fit to include for transpar-
   So the question again to the minister was: why wasn't       ency and fuller disclosure to both sets of taxpayers that
this considered? Why wasn't it put into legislation —          are put at risk with the olympic village?
reporting that would be for all parties, including the
province, which is not in the charter?                            Hon. B. Lekstrom: again, i do want to point out — i
   by the way, the function that he described is an inter-     believe you talked about a managerial audit or referred
nal audit function. i think what we're talking about here      to it — that section 230 is a financial audit under the
for the credibility of the city and for the assurance of       Vancouver charter, so we do want to do that.
both Vancouver and b.c. taxpayers is to have that as an          We believe that there is the proper oversight that is
external and independent audit function, which is cur-         there. The other one, of course…. and certainly, recog-
rently not there under the charter requirement.                nizing what you said earlier, councils do come and go.
   i again would put that question to the minister. Why        We have worked very closely with the city of Vancouver,
hasn't it been done in this legislation? There's a tremen-     their council, their staff, and there was no request to fur-
dous amount of anxiety. We're talking about a lot of           ther what you're talking about here. So we believe that
zeros here and the figure of money that could potentially      that oversight is there.
be put on the balance sheet of the city. it is missing in        You also had mentioned, and i want to reiterate,
this bill, and it's a glaring omission.                        that this is not a provincial project. This is the city of
                                                               Vancouver's project.
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i do want to correct the member.
he said that this was an internal audit that i referred to.       R. Fleming: i know we've had different discussions,
no, it is not. it is an external audit under sections 230      but i know there has been discussion around that coun-
and 231 that i quoted in the act. as well, i believe if you    cil table about precisely the questions i'm asking and in
see…. The member for Surrey-Whalley, i believe it was,         the campaign by both parties prior to the election of the
earlier was quoting from those external audit papers as        new mayor and council. So it is something that is in the
well. We believe that that oversight is there. i have gone     public realm that has been discussed around city hall
into discussion or, i guess, some depth as to explaining it.   and Vancouver. This isn't coming out of the blue.
We believe that is the oversight as well. They are account-                                                       [0805]
able to their taxpayers, and i think we've seen that.             i want to ask the minister again, though: given that
                                                    [0800]     these amendments are essentially removing the require-
                                                               ment to have the assent of the electors for the city to
  R. Fleming: Well, there are some cities in canada            take on this level of debt — given that that is removed
that have their own independent office of the auditor          — shouldn't there be some trade-offs, some additional
General, much like this legislature. Vancouver is not          requirements for transparency for reporting, for addi-
Saturday, January 17, 2009                    british columbia Debates                                           13553

tional levels of assurances that are provided to both sets      The house recessed from 8:09 a.m. to 8:27 a.m.
of taxpayers in this matter?
   and again, i would ask the minister if he could share                       Royal Assent to Bills
with the committee here why he found it apparently
unnecessary to engage in dialogue about a trade-off like        his honour the lieutenant-Governor entered the
that and to put in requirements in this bill for transpar-    chamber and took his seat on the throne.
ency and accountability.
                                                                Clerk of the House:
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i believe the member has asked            Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009.
the question two, possibly three, times. i have done my         in her Majesty's name, his honour the lieutenant-
best to provide you with the answer, and i don't think        Governor doth assent to this act.
anything will change.
   So if you have other questions relating to the bill, i'd     his honour the lieutenant-Governor retired from
gladly give you answers to that.                              the chamber.

  Sections 1 to 3 inclusive approved.                           [Mr. Speaker in the chair.]

  title approved.                                                Hon. M. de Jong: Mr. Speaker, i move that this house
                                                              at its rising do stand adjourned until it appears to the
   Hon. B. Lekstrom: i would move that the committee          satisfaction of the Speaker, after consultation with gov-
rise and report the bill complete without amendment.          ernment, that the public interest requires that the house
                                                              shall meet or until the Speaker may be advised by the
  Motion approved.                                            government that it is desired to prorogue the fourth ses-
                                                              sion of the 38th parliament of the province of british
  The committee rose at 8:08 a.m.                             columbia.
                                                                The Speaker may give notice that he is so satisfied
  The house resumed; Mr. Speaker in the chair.                or has been so advised, and thereupon the house shall
                                                              meet at the time stated in such notice and, as the case
                      Report and                              may be, may transact its business as if it had been duly
                 Third Reading of Bills                       adjourned to that date and time. and in the event of the
                                                              Speaker being unable to act owing to illness or other
              VancouVer charter                               cause, the Deputy Speaker shall act in his stead for the
              aMenDMent act, 2009                             purpose of this order.

  bill 47, Vancouver charter amendment act, 2009,               hon. M. de Jong moved adjournment of the house.
reported complete without amendment, read a third
time and passed.                                                Motion approved.

  Mr. Speaker: hon. Members, the lieutenant-Governor            Mr. Speaker: This house stands adjourned.
will be here in the precinct within the next ten minutes,
so we will just recess until such time as he gets here.         The house adjourned at 8:30 a.m.
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