Email us at

info(at)londoncouncilofcanadians(dot)ca

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Joan Russow's Presentation to the CRD CALWMC


Procurement must not be yet another act of negligence.

Joan Russow PhD
Presentation to the CRD, March 10, 2010

There is a long history in Victoria, of negligence on the part of the CRD and of other authoritative figures. Particularly, from the CRD engineer, Michael Williams, who in the 1980’s authored a pale blue pamphlet with the poetic title "To the sea"- essentially he argued that, in Victoria, dilution was the solution to pollution. His work was eagerly supported by years of so-called academic research by two University of Victoria professors, Dr. Derek Ellis and Dr. Jack Littlepage, and regrettably their work was affirmed publicly by Dr. Shawn Peck, the then Deputy Provincial Health Officer
[even today he is still involved with his anti-treatment campaign coined "will haste make waste] and even endorsed by the illustrious leader of the Western Concept Party when he made spurious claims that "Nature already provides us with an effective, inexpensive and environmentally beneficial treatment system.
Then in the late1980s Dr. Tony Boydell conducted public hearings for the CRD on Sewage, and at every hearing he was told by most of the citizens that there must be some form of sewage treatment; yet when there was a 1990 referendum, there were three options, one of them to do nothing. So here we are now in 2010, and there is even an anti-treatment group formed to still urge the CRD, the Provincial Government and the Federal Government to do nothing and there are even different levels of government, ignoring the evidence of P3 failures, still pushing for P3s, and we as citizens are still before the CRD declaring that we want sewage treatment, and we don¹t want P3s. I have tried to unravel the convoluted decision-making process related to procurement, and I asked a not-to-be named official about the process. I was told that the Federal Government will not do anything until the Province commits -- probably that is code for committing to P3s. I was then told that, before there would be a commitment for provincial funding, there is a requirement under the Capital Asset Management Framework, that public sector agencies must investigate alternatives for capital development, including the P3 option to "design, build and operate". When I asked about the degree to which citizens' views will be taken into consideration by the Provincial Government, I was told that the CRD report following the public hearings, along with an investigation report, would form the basis for the Provincial decision. The investigation Report, however, is being done by Ernst and Young, whose firm has not only been embroiled in lawsuits (see Google “Ernst and Yonge” and lawsuits, related to fraud, breech of trust and negligence, but also appears, because of Ernst and Young’s pro-P3s, to be in conflict of interest, and does not have the sufficient expertise to address the issues of social and environmental impacts.
(See attached note about the various lawsuits related to Ernst and Young). In 2002, Ernst and Young launched, with a former Employee of Arthur Andersen’s firm, an Environmental Advisory Services practice within its Real Estate Advisory Services group. It is obvious that due diligence on E and Y was not carried out.
Jim Lloyd in his presentation to the CRD stated the following: "Ernst & Young is working on more P3 deals than any other financial advisory firm in the world and last year won the most P3 engagements, according to Tim Philpotts, who leads Ernst & Young’s Canadian Initiatives for P3s". The question then arises would the Provincial Government be able to allow or be prepared to allow public concern to prevail, and support the public¹s call for Design-Bid-Build, as well as the public’s opposition to P3s? It is, however, clear that the BC Government has made a firm commitment to P3s. In their Partnership BC document, the BC Government proclaims that P3s are the growing trend in Canada in the development and maintenance of public infrastructure, and then expounds on the virtues of the P3s. Now what happens if the CRD and BC Government actually listen to
citizens’ concerns? What can the Federal Government be expected to do or be able to now do? Can the Federal Government be expected to or be able to support a potential CRD, and Provincial Government opposition to P3s? In Infrastructure Canada is the following statement:
"The benefits of using P3s include: access to private-sector capital and expertise; faster completion of projects; and the transfer of risk to the private sector. In Canada, the Federal Government is taking a leadership role in developing P3 opportunities by establishing the P3 Fund. This fund will support innovative projects that provide an alternative to traditional government infrastructure procurement.” In addition, in recent years there have been several trade agreements which have resulted in a requirement for open sourcing: Internal Trade Agreement, involving all of Canada, the TILMA involving BC and Alberta, the WTO Procurement clause involving the US for a period of time, and more recently the Comprehensive Economic Agreement Negotiations (CETA) involving the European Union which is in between the 2nd and 3rd negotiating round. ...The next three rounds will tackle progressively more difficult issues of procurement, investment, etc
The WTO procurement agreement will permit companies like Bechtel Corporation (see Democracy Center report on Bechtel in Latin America)
The CETA could allow for a company like Veolia or Suez to seduce the provincial and Federal Governments into embracing P3 proposals. (see attached recent revelations about Veolia’s fiasco in Bruxelles, and the case against Suez’ exploitation of developing states (see Global Day of Action, Latin America, against Suez) . Thus will the biased Provincial and Federal Governments keep demanding more research and the P3-prone private sector keep lobbying, until finally the concerns of the citizens will be trumped and the P3s, victorious, and then the citizens will be given the option;
either you agree to P3s and receive Provincial and Federal funding or you oppose P3s and through taxes bear the cost.
So in April will all three levels of government continue to be negligent, being seduced into P3s, and will the people be condemned to live with the consequences, OR will there be the political will to seriously respect the will of the people. Citizens have a legitimate expectation that elected officials will opt for serving the public good.
[This presentation (and all of the others published in this blog) was made at a public hearing, so all of it is in the public domain. The Council of Canadians is publishing it as a public service in order to allow as many citizens as possible to read it and comment on it in a free and democratic process.]

7 comments:

Point Blank Creative said...

Hey! Check out this video about privatization of water and the Victoria sewage treatment plant.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQwN9cjwXF0

John Newcomb said...

Dr. Russow, who appears to have done zilch research on sewage treatment, appears to have used her CRD presentation as an empty diatribe to slight the important work of notable UVic researchers who HAVE done research on sewage treatment, the marine environment, oceanography, and public health.

She has thus wasted an opportunity for thoughtful, important criticism of the position that so many of us do hold: additional sewage treatment in the CRD will not provide significant environmental benefits, but will most likely create negative environmental impacts.

The sewage plant mega-scheme will very likely cost much more than the projected expense of a billion dollars.

Even if the Council of Canadians were in favour of this unnecessary sewage plant boondoogle, one might have expected them to ask the politicians how much of the procurement billion will be spent in Canada, and how much abroad.

If other sewage plants are an indication, there will be many happy German and American businesses who will see a lot of our funds going to their countries to buy the machinery, instrumentation and technology.

What an incredible waste! Unfortunately, too many of our CRD residents have been duped by those who are in favour of this unnecessary sewage plant mega-scheme.

However, when they realize how much is being spent, how many negative environmental impacts are being created, and how little this whole plant will deliver, they will be looking for those who have been guilty of promoting this ugly project.

I hope to still be around to point to organizations such as the Council of Canadians as having been all too eager to support it.

For more information:
aresst.ca
rstv.ca
victoriasewagetreatment.ca/ccost/
sites.google.com/site/sewageplantsvictoria/

Victoria Council of Canadians said...

The position of the Council of Canadians is simply that if sewage treatment is going to happen, it must be a public operation, with no private component. Period! As a group, the CoC makes no declaration as to whether or not sewage treatment should or should not occur.

Victoria Council of Canadians said...

Dr. Russow is expressing her own views here, as are all of the other presenters whose presentations are published here, as a public service. None of the presentations were edited or vetted by the Council of Canadians.

John Newcomb said...

Thanks for your replies, CoC Victoria.

As a public service, I offer you a link to the presentations made at the CRD sewage meeting of 24 March, by Dr. Shaun Peck, Stuart Hertzog and Bob Furber:
http://rstv.squarespace.com/

Victoria Council of Canadians said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Victoria Council of Canadians said...

Thanks for the link to other presentations. However, Stuart Hertzog's presentation has already been published in our blog, as well! He gets around...