Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals should be voted out of office in the upcoming election for breaking his promise not to sell BC Rail, several people said Thursday night at a citizens’ meeting.
Hours after Campbell was in Prince George to announce over $80 million in provincial funding for Prince George and the region, former Liberal support Ron East and columnist Ben Meisner spoke at the meeting, and called for a public inquiry into the 999-year lease to CN Rail.
“Gordon Campbell lied big-time, and he should pay the price in next month’s election,” East told about 150 people packed into a room at the Ramada Inn, and cautioned his audience to watch other Crown corporations – BC Hydro, ICBC, and BC Ferries closely.
“The day after the election, watch out,” he said. “It’s not so much selling off as it is selling (citizens) out.”
He suggested the deal could still be undone, based on raids on the legislature alleged to be connected with the deal.
“A contract based on fraud is not valid,” he said.
Meisner asked if there were any Liberals in the audience to justify the deal. No one came forward, and Meisner said he wished Prince George mayor Colin Kinsley were there to defend the deal.
Meisner blasted the deal, and denied the argument BC Rail was losing money, as the Liberals have suggested.
“That, pardon my vulgarity, is bull—-,” he said. “In its last year, it made $98 million (in profit).”
He also questioned who knew about the re-emergence of coal mining in Tumbler Ridge, leading to the shipments of coal by rail, and more business for the railroad.
“Who knew the deal was on its way?” he asked. “Did CN know it and keep quiet, or is the B.C. government that stupid? I think it’s a bit of both.”
He also suggested parts of the rail system would be shut down in coming years.
East told the audience they were shareholders in Crown corporations, and Meisner went further, telling them “unless you stand up and be counted, you’re no more than dust in the wind.”
The meeting, moderated by city councillor and pulp mill engineer Brian Skakun, followed two similar meetings in Williams Lake and Quesnel earlier this week.