Was it a sign from God?
On Easter Sunday morning in North Vancouver’s Edgemont Village, I happened upon a Coast Mountain Bus bus parked outside the United Church. The bus was wrapped in an advertisement for the Jim Pattison Auto Group’s Jim Pattison Lexus Northshore. (TransLink reported $9.3 million in total advertising revenue for 2013.)
Jim Pattison Lexus Northshore is one of many car dealerships in the empire of British Columbia’s richest man who is also the celebrity endorser of the Mayors’ Council’s Yes campaign that urges you to vote to raise the Provincial Sales Tax from 7% to 7.5%. The Lexus lot and showroom are located at the Northshore Auto Mall, along with Jim Pattison Toyota Northshore, Jim Pattison Hyundai North Shore and Jim Pattison Volvo of North Vancouver. Northshore Auto Mall also advertises on TransLink buses, with the slogan “Life is Short. Drive a New Car.”
Pattison’s name appears throughout the $6 million-and-counting Mayors’ Council advertising campaign because the tycoon has agreed to chair a committee to oversee public funds, if voters consent in the mail-in plebiscite by May 29. The terms of reference for that committee don’t include any requirement for Pattison to hold a public meeting.
But, I digress.
The bus outside the church advertised for a 2015 Lexus RC AWD from Pattison’s Lexus dealership, “starting at $54,000.”
This is proof that Pattison truly believes in the power of TransLink… as a mobile advertising medium on which to flog luxury cars.
Reporter Jon Woodward’s March 31 story for CTV News Vancouver on the results of GPS maker TomTom’s annual congestion survey included man-on-the-street interviews at a Chevron fuel station. One of those interviews happened to be with a provincially registered lobbyist for Chevron.
Watch it here and look out for the two-minute, 14-second mark, where a man I recognized as Gabe Garfinkel says: “I’m going to vote yes because I think it’s just too congested. I’d rather have time at work or with my family or my friends than waiting in my car.”
“The comments I made during the CTV report last week reflect my personal opinion and are in no way connected to my employer or client,” Garfinkel told me. “I was approached by CTV while I was filling up my car as a private citizen.”
Said Chevron’s Adrien Byrne: “Chevron retains a neutral perspective on the Metro Vancouver transit plebiscite. The interviewee you reference is speaking on his own accord and not on behalf of Chevron which has no viewpoint on the transit plebiscite.”
Why might Chevron be neutral?
According to this November 2012 presentation, Chevron’s Burnaby refinery relies on oil from the Kinder Morgan pipeline and is a major supplier to the Coast Mountain Bus Co. fleet. If the Yes campaign wins, that fleet would be expanded and, theoretically, Chevron would get a bigger order for fuel. But, if another 0.5% is slapped onto the PST, Chevron would have to charge Jane and John Q. Driver more for many items stocked in the Town Pump convenience stores.
Things are simpler for one of Garfinkel’s other lobbying clients, Port Metro Vancouver. It is the biggest industrial supporter of the Yes to Better Transit and Transportation campaign. Port vice-president Marko Dekovic, the noted Conservative and BC Liberal backroom strategist, was seconded to work on the Yes campaign.
Workers took a break from fixing SkyTrain cars and put down their tools to hear Moore’s campaign spiel.
A source told me that anyone who wanted to ask Moore a question had to submit the question in advance for approval. Moore did not respond for comment.
Confab in Hogtown
Interesting timing for this convention in Toronto.
It is described as the “first opportunity for the Canadian transit industry’s leading lawyers, construction and engineering firms, lenders, consultants, government agencies and cities to gather in one room, focus on what is happening across the country and discuss the issues that are shaping the transit industry’s future.” Tickets begin at $1,995, plus tax.
The dates? May 27-28. The Metro Vancouver plebiscite mail-in period coincidentally ends May 29.
Speakers include Larry Blain, the former boss of the B.C. Liberal government’s privatization and private/public partnerships agency PartnershipsBC. Blain is now senior director of KPMG’s Global Infrastructure Advisory. KPMG’s name appears on a report commissioned by City of Vancouver and University of B.C. that Mayor Gregor Robertson used in his campaign for a Broadway subway.
Who else will have the podium? SNC-Lavalin vice-president of pre-construction services and urban transit systems Ron Aitken, former Canada Line CFO and current Transportation Investment Corporation director Donald Fairbairn of DFC Consulting, PartnershipsBC CEO Amanda Farrell, and Lecia Stewart, president of The Stewart Group.
Stewart is a B.C.-registered lobbyist for Compass supplier Cubic Transportation Systems. Once upon a time, she was the NDP-appointed head of the Millennium Line project but got the boot when the BC Liberals came to power in 2001. She went on to be a Bombardier vice-president and SNC-Lavalin associate.
Stewart describes herself as a “Strategic Transportation Infrastructure Consultant, Bid & Pursuit Strategies & Stakeholder Strategies consultant” and her group includes current and former TransLink associates, such as Ian Wardley and Debbie Parhar. She donated $550 to Vision Vancouver in 2014.
I’ll go out on a limb here to speculate that TransLink’s expansion plan will be a major topic of conversation at both the podium and the bar during this blue-ribbon event, attended by folks who see the biggest chance in Canada right now for career advancement and corporate profits if the taxpayer-funded, $7.7 billion, 10-year plan gets the green light.
Do you have a news tip on TransLink? Contact me in confidence via bob (at) bobmackin (dot) ca