Privatised Law Enforcement Trampling On Our Justice System
Orwell's 2009: How Privatisation Of Law Enforcement Threatens Our Civil Liberties
Orwellian science fiction? Not exactly, since the mold has already been cast with BPCPA, or the Business Practices & Consumer Protection Authority, now renamed "Consumer Protection BC", about whose operations and M.O. I've had the misfortune of having first-hand experience.
The name was reportedly changed to "Consumer Protection BC", since a survey revealed that the public had no idea about what BPCPA was, or what they did, which is not exactly a complimentary view of consumer protection in British Columbia.
BPCPA was created right under our noses in 2004 by the so-called “free enterprise” Liberal government of the Province of British Columbia to regulate funeral services and the travel industry. When was the last time you complained about your undertaker or travel agent?
In 2004 the Liberal government of British Columbia decided that it was not worth the government’s while to protect consumers, so it abolished the Consumer Services Department and the Travel Registrar’s Office. Ignoring protests by travel agents and the Official Opposition, Rich Coleman, the Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, passed on the power and authority of government to the Business Practices & Consumer Protection Authority. Rumour has it that certain civil servants were retired with attractive packages to be rehired by BPCPA and another privatised government authority at salaries that they couldn’t have dreamed of in public service. At that time I wrote to the government and BPCPA to request this information under the Freedom of Information Act, but I was stonewalled. BPCPA told me it would be an intrusion into the privacy of their corporate citizens.
"Consumer Protection BC" has collected, at gun point, millions of dollars from travel agents that the government would not have been able to with the public oversight over government departments. A couple of executives that have no experience in the travel industry play the prosecutor, judge and, the appeal judge, and as I found out the hard way, they don't want to hear about lawyers or your legal arguments. A travel agency that disputed their decision was shut down before it had a chance to seek legal recourse and its 24-year-old business was destroyed.
BPCPA is independent in exercising its policing and judicial powers and commands private sector wages, but it is happily dependent on government assistance for its operations. The government has subsidized BPCPA since 2004, and they are now looking for other lucrative sources to expand this "non-profit" venture, such as dipping their fingers into other unregulated or underregulated businesses. If you think you will finally get some relief from ripoffs that really hit your pocketbooks, forget it. They need easy targets that are not protected by powerful lobbies in Victoria.
On March 11th I wrote to the Honourable Rich Coleman to clarify a few issues about the act that created BPCPA such as their powers of search and seizure, practice of unlawful entrapment and public accountability, as well as the question of executive remuneration. I also asked him to clarify if BPCPA is an administrative tribunal, since the law seems to be deliberately ambiguous on that issue. He hasn't replied. In George Orwell's farm of 2009 we're not supposed to ask such questions.
As a justice of the Federal Court observed, government's job should be done by the government, and not by proxies.