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When corporate leaders make the case for privatization, they cite the Fraser Institute as if it were a credible source. Yet they discount anything the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives or the Parkland Institute might say as biased. So it’s great when we can throw back at them a quote or two from a publication as staid as The Economist, a respected British newsweekly.

Commenting in its July 3 edition in an article entitled “The rail billionaires”, the conservative magazine says, “The privatisation of British Rail has proved a disastrous failure.”

It goes on to say, “This privatisation has been a catalogue of political cynicism, managerial incompetence and financial opportunism. It has cost taxpayers billions of pounds and brought rail travellers countless hours of delays.

The scandal of rail in Britain is the gulf between the opulence of the rail companies and the oppression of their passengers…The promised investment of [C$66 billion] by Railtrack, which owns the track and the stations, is a sham – almost two-thirds of it is routine maintenance.”

So next time you’re told of the glories of British Rail, ask if they’ve read The Economist’s reviews.