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City Council -What does -innovative procurement options-mean?

By Peter Ewart

Wednesday, February 22, 2012 03:44 AM

By Peter Ewart

In December, Prince George Mayor Shari Green formed a “Select Committee on Business” to get the views of certain business people on the operations of City Hall. This Select Committee has just released its recommendations, and one of them, point number ten, calls for “ensuring” that the city is “open to innovative procurement options.”
So what does “innovative procurement options” mean? Some people might simply interpret this phrase as the PG municipal government finding some new ways to acquire goods and services of various kinds. But others, with good reason, might interpret it as code words for “contracting out” and “privatization” of city services.
In any case, the call for “innovative procurement options” comes right at a time when the Harper federal government is putting the final touches on a free trade agreement with the European Union, otherwise known as the “Comprehensive Economic  and Trade Agreement” (CETA). One of the aims of CETA is the “innovative practice” of making it easier for European multinationals to bid on “procurement” of municipal services in Canada.  According to recently leaked documents, the municipal services in question include water and other utilities.
The Albion Monitor explains that “France has been promoting so-called private-public partnerships [P3s] as a management model for the whole world.” However, it also notes that “this partnership is based on the so-called French school of water management which has given rise to numerous scandals of political corruption.”
Another “innovation” that many are concerned about is that CETA will restrict the ability of municipal governments to buy local and buy Canadian. According to some reports, multinationals are already lobbying different levels of governments in Canada to provide services that, in the past, have been publicly run. Under CETA, such forms of multinational “procurement” and privatization may end up being locked in stone.
For its part, the Harper government is requiring that federal infrastructure funding to municipalities be of the private-public (P3) kind (on the basis of the claim that other infrastructure funding envelopes have been depleted), thus imposing privatization on local governments. A recent attempt took place in Abbotsford with the water facilities there. However, in a referendum in November, voters rejected by a wide margin the P3 proposal to privatize these water facilities (74% against).
Is it merely a coincidence that the Mayor and her Select Committee are using the loaded phrase “innovative procurement options” right at this time? Surely, the significance of the phrase is not lost on them. Does it mean contracting out and privatization? Does it dovetail with the “P3” management model and the looming free trade agreement with the EU which is being aggressively pushed by the federal government? Just what services in Prince George are being targeted?
Some explanations are needed.
Peter Ewart is a columnist and writer based in Prince George, British Columbia. He can be reached at:

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WOW!! what a paranoid idiot!
If you can't defeat the argument, just insult the person making it.

In addition to his ad hominem attack, perhaps pgiscrazy could now give us a detailed explanation as to why Peter Ewert is wrong.
pgiscrazy stay classy
Canada is one of the last countries in the world that hasn't sold it's water rights to private interests yet. WE CAN'T LET THIS HAPPEN. Watch this documentary "Blue Gold World Water Wars". Do a google search it is available all over the net. It is not some cheesy back bedroom paranoid doc, this is made by a reputable company. If you think this can't happen in Canada, think again. harper is just the type of egomaniac to try to pull this off here. BEware.
I agree I read into the CETA deal awhile back and its depressing what they have planned for Canada. Essentially we will be a country run by multinationals out of Europe... a new form of colonization. The rights we enjoy now would be nearly wiped out and our democracy would be strung up and hog tied by the trade rules that would take precedence. Its really about signing away our democracy to bankers and globalist multinationals. I remember thinking that was the point I stopped supporting Harper and voting conservative... but to try and explain it to others is near impossible.

Free trade with Europe sounds great until you look into the details and realize it is not about free trade, but rather selling our government to multinationals. A process that breeds corruption and the insiders make out like bandits selling out their fellow citizens.

Europe today under the EU is essential the USSR tweaked a little bit... unelected bureaucrats now run whole countries (ie Greece and Italy)... democracy is dead in Europe and they want to bring that to Canada.

Great work Peter, I'm glad someone is onto this and aware.
IMO that is why the city wants water meters. It will come down to the rights for some multinational to guarantee their profits.
Sharon Green sounds more like a Harper want to be, every day.

Keep the infrusture and resources of the city, owned by the people, and contolled by the people. No contracting out. I am a tax payer, and not employeed by the city, if that means anything.
Thank you Peter! You should be syndicated. Where have all the investigative reporters, long time passing?

Now, what is the next step? This deserves a wider audience. Marketplace? The National? Cross Country Checkup? The Nature of Things?

This matter is deserving of a strategic plan.

deMOCKracy is in the balance!

Any good writer starts with doing good research.

In this case, the place a good writer would have started is the document which is referenced by the writer. I have conveniently linked that document presented to Council in open meeting this past Monday.

Point #10, the subject of the above article reads as follows.
“Ensure the City is open to ‘INNOVATIVE CONTRACT SOLUTIONS’ for projects with budget issues or constraints, outside the traditional procurement approaches.”

Point #10 then has a further explanation, which is the standard for that document, to clarify the meaning or add to the meaning. In this case that addition stated: “Confirm that when the City chooses to manage or construct a project, it is done to the same standard as bid documents. Publicly retender the work if standards are revised.”

Now let us compare that with the report above. It states: “This Select Committee has just released its recommendations, and one of them, point number ten, calls for “ensuring” that the city is “open to INNOVATIVE PROCUREMENT OPTIONS.”

The statement is in quotes. The least one should expect is that the words in quotation marks are identical to the words in the document the quotation is taken from. The only word shared with the document referenced is the word INNOVATION.

So the author then wonders what these words, which are primarily a figment of his overactive, paranoid imagination, could possibly mean. So he moves to the notions of “contracting out” and “privatization” of city services.

Given some of the people on the committee that are associated with the construction industry, and given the use of the word “project” rather than “program”, and having an awareness of problems that the construction community has had with the city’s bid documents on several occasions, and recalling recent history where the City had removed the construction management component from the construction of the plant on George and 2nd in order to save some money, one gets a totally different context within which point #10 was crafted.

But hey, that would be too simple and would not make for a good story, would it? Instead, we have an individual fly off the handle going to international conspiracy theories because those are the glasses through which several well known individuals on this site typically view the world.

I have no problem with such conspiracy stories. But, please do not lose your ability to relate to the local issues that are real, are a concern to the construction contracting community, and need to be addressed since the City has been known to not follow best practices when it comes to determining whether a tender call should be put back out to bid when a fundamental change has been made after bids are in, rather than negotiating with the lowest or preferred bidder. It takes time and effort to bid on projects. The construction industry is prepared to spend that time and effort if they feel that standard bid procedure is followed.

I think a call to Roz Thorn, a committee member, would have clarified the meaning of point #10 in this case.
Okay, I will admit that pgiscrazy put it much more simply than I did .... LOL
So, ammonra ... what do you think of my explanation of why Peter is wrong?