The Sleaze Factor

With increased private interests under the BC Liberals, BC Ferries is being run more like a pleasure cruise than the essential provincial transportation system it is.

What do Stephen Harper, Rob Ford, the Senate Conservatives and the privatization of BC Ferries have in common? The sleaze factor. When public servants use public money for their private desires that often break the law, sleaze steps in. Our ferry service was just fine under the NDP. Then the BC Liberals sailed in on their self-righteous condemnation of the “Fast Ferries”. This mistake in judgment by the NDP was just such small potatoes compared to the threatened collapse of our entire ferry system under the BC Liberals. 

BC Liberals are 3p’s nuts. You remember 3p’s? Public, private partnerships? A truly slick way for private enterprise to take over public assets, and make a private profit with no risks because the government always pays (us). The public ferries were a truly prized asset of BC under the NDP because the ferry system was treated as an extension of public highways. While transportation as a whole is now slowly being commandeered under these 3p’s partnerships by private firms since the BC Liberals came into power (notice more tolling of bridges and highways), it is in our BC ferry system that we can most readily see the wreckage that their policies bring. 

What one first noticed when private interests took over our public ferry system in 2003 was the removal of the Queen’s portrait from the ferries. While I am no great fan of the Monarchy the removal of the portraits gave me a sense of foreboding. This sense of disquiet heightened when suddenly it seemed the trip back and forth from Vancouver Island to Vancouver was billed more as a pleasure cruise than simply transportation.

Indeed, now there was a special section set aside where for ten dollars one could enjoy the ride without having to mingle with the masses. Messages were offered over the loudspeaker; one could have their nails done and other spa like amenities. Other cruise ship goodies were offered, too, but it seems there were few takers. Most riders still thought of the ferry system as transportation, they primarily just wanted to get to the other side of a large expanse of water. So the ferries became ever more expensive. 

What to do when ridership is down because of the price of tickets, when prices must go up still more because ridership is down? Of course. Cut routes, cut trips, cut senior citizens. Bring on the slot machines. We have to make a profit here. Sure, traveling casinos would be good. And can a licensed bar be far behind? Maybe a few dancing girls? Sleaze, sleaze, sleaze.

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