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NDP wants control of BC Ferries back, but not its debt

The B.C. New Democratic Party's platform released today calls for “ending the privatization of B.C. Ferries”, but NDP finance critic Bruce Ralston said that doesn't mean returning the government owned private company to Crown Corporation status.

The problem is B.C. Ferry Services Inc. has racked up over $1.2 billion in long term debt since Gordon Campbell's Liberal government restructured the company in 2003. The government still owns the company's controlling share, but debt accumulated by B.C. Ferries does not appear on the government's books.

“We wouldn't want to transfer it back onto the books,” said Ralston.

The NDP's plan would raise the province's debt by $3.1 billion over the next two years beyond the increase already planned by the B.C. Liberal government. Swallowing B.C. Ferries' debt would increase that significantly.

In 2005 the NDP platform advocated making B.C. Ferries a Crown Corporation again.

“That's not the commitment this time,” said Ralston. “The concern is less about the form than the actual accountability . . . How it's structured, that would be the subject of review.”

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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