The Basi-Virk political corruption trial resumes the day after Thanksgiving. Be still my beating heart.
One assumes there will be further evidence of the astonishing sense of moolah entitlement displayed by BC Rail executives and directors, many of whom were appointed to the profitable, publicly owned railway shortly after the provincial Liberals swept to office in 2001.
Nothing wrong with giving someone big bucks to run a railroad, but once BC Rail's main operations were sold to CN in late 2003, breaking a Liberal election promise, the dollars continued to roll on down the line.
Even though BC Rail dwindled to just a short spur track and some real-estate assets, with a mere 30 employees, president and CEO Kevin Mahoney took home … let's see: $421,397 in 2005, $622,701 in 2006, $676,644 in 2007 and $488,582 in 2008, according to financial statements attested to in court by former board member Brian Kenning.
Mr. Kenning himself amassed about $225,000 in director's fees for sitting on the board of the rump railroad from 2004-2009.
Not to mention the tens of thousands of dollars for corporate suites at Canucks and B.C. Lions games, private golf club memberships and admission to a mysterious but pricey "lunch club."
But the best was … get this. Before they hired on, BC Rail executives negotiated lucrative severance packages for themselves, in case the railway were sold.
And, lo and behold, guess who recommended to the government that BC Rail be put up for sale? Why, these same railway executives. Nice work, if you can get it.
Earlier this year, Mr. Mahoney and executive vice-president John Lusney collected severance packages totalling a cool $595,000.
Little of this is new, but hearing it all pieced together in court is a sobering experience. As the tragic F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote: The rich are different from you and me.
Premier Campbell on the idiot box
Premier Gordon Campbell is going on the idiot box later this month for a "state-of-the-province" address. Maybe, if we're lucky, he will reprise his recent, prolonged metaphor comparing the Liberals' trotting out of the HST to a botched pairs figure skating routine involving himself and Finance Minister Colin Hansen. "We threw the HST up in the air, and we promptly fell on our faces."
But I can't help wondering, who wore what sequins, and what about that perfectly executed double flip? Perhaps the problem was the choice of music.
Over to you, dear reader. For the next Hansen/Campbell HST pairs routine, what music should they skate to? The Taxman by The Beatles is an obvious choice. Or Can't Buy Me Love. But you can do better than that. Suggestions welcome.
Unfortunate simile of the week goes to the Ministry of Forests and Range. After a long, hot summer battling an onslaught of fierce forest fires that swept across many regions of the province, the ministry proudly proclaimed, in a press release: "Our expertise is spreading like wildfire!" Ouch.
On female competitors
Lots to be thankful for as Thanksgiving approaches (not living in North Korea would be high on the list), so let's go out on a positive note.
I paid a visit to the sumptuous Richmond Olympic Oval the other night. It felt good, and not just because of the magical walk along the dusk-enshrouded Fraser River, complete with rowers in the dark, to get there.
There's something about seeing 10-year-old girls, from a rainbow of diverse cultures, clutching hockey sticks and lugging bulky equipment bags that warms the soul.
Truly, one of the great advances of the past 25 years (besides the dwindling importance of bookstores and the rise of UFC) has been the emergence of girls and women as natural participants in all recreational sports.
When I was failing to grow up, girls were considered fragile flowers by the sexist thinkers of the day, unfit for the wear and tear of physical exertion involved in such activities as hockey, soccer and long-distance track. The few girls who did play hockey were looked at strangely, and, if memory serves, they wore white figure skates.
On the track, only in 1960 did the Summer Olympics allow women to compete in an event longer than 200 metres. Now, iron woman competitions are commonplace.
Out in Richmond, I asked 10-year-old Hannah Shihundu, still glowing from her hour-long practice, how she liked hockey. "It's great," she said, with a huge smile. "I just started, and I love it."