The Columbia Journal
P.O. Box 2633 MPO,
Vancouver, British Columbia,
Canada V6B 3W8
Theatre and Music
BC Rail Sale Sidetracked
Jim Lipkovits and
The BC Liberal government’s move to sell BC Rail,
already marred in
scandal, has taken another hit as newly leaked documents showing a
secret deal to sell railroad lands to the Canadian National Railway for
just one dollar have come to light.
addition, the documents, obtained by the NDP
opposition, say the government is planning to do this under a one
thousand year lease agreement with the company.
"The scheme to sell BC Rail was already under a considerable cloud of
suspicion due to the police investigation of key BC Liberal officials
and allegations by rival bidders of leaks of confidential information,"
said BC NDP leader Carole James, adding that the privatization deal
should be halted because of the scandals. ”In addition, the leaked
sections of the agreement allow -- after just five years -- for the
sale of public land under rail lines to CN for one dollar. These lands
include very valuable waterfront properties between North Vancouver and
The Liberals had repeatedly promised during the 2001 provincial
election campaign that they would not sell off BC Rail if they formed
the next government. Shortly after they were elected, they began the
process to do just that.... continued
Jobless Rate Climbs as BC Economy Lags
The number of people out of work in B.C. was up last month – to 7.9 per
cent from 7.3 per cent in January.
The monthly Statistics Canada report says B.C. lost 36,000 jobs in
February, with the retail and construction the hardest hit.
In Vancouver, the unemployment rate rose from 6.2 per cent in January
to 6.3 per cent in February. Victoria's jobless picture also
– from 5.5 per cent in January to 5.6 per cent last month.
“The largest employment loss in British Columbia was in retail trade,
and may be the result of weaker consumer spending over this past
holiday season,” Statscan said. “Employment also dropped in
construction, following consecutive monthly declines in housing starts.
The employment decline in February pushed the unemployment rate up by
0.6 percentage points to 7.9 per cent.”
Despite a brief increase in job creation in the last quarter of 2003,
Statscan reports show BC’s economy has been slowing down relative to
the rest of the country, with unemployment continuing on an overall
rise, mostly among men.
BC was also hardest hit by rising youth unemployment, now at 14.1 per
cent. Despite the usual pre-Christmas hiring spurt among youth, the
report says youth faced a dismal job climate for all of last year—the
worst being in BC.
Nationally, the unemployment rate held steady at 7.4 per cent, with the
loss of more than 21,000 jobs. Economists had been looking for an
increase of at least 15,000 jobs.... continued
Liberals Under Fire as Wait Lists Jump Again
CPP News Service
The number of British Columbians waiting for surgery has taken another
dramatic jump, NDP Leader Carole James said today. According to the
government’s own figures, the number of British Columbians on waitlists
has grown to 77,222, or 25% more than in June 2001 when the BC Liberals
“There is no denying these numbers. The BC Liberals have run out of
excuses,” said James. “Under the Campbell government, more British
Columbians than ever are languishing on health care wait lists.”
James said the most dramatic increase is the number of British
Columbians waiting for orthopedic surgery, where wait lists have jumped
by 66% since June, 2001. Ophthalmological wait lists have increased by
more than 16%; ear, nose and throat surgery by more than 15%; and
urological surgery by more than 45%.
“Health care where and when you need it was the promise, but longer
wait lists are the reality,” said James. “After almost three years in
power, it’s time for the Liberals to admit their health care agenda is
failing British Columbia".... continued