Tuesday, October 31, 2006

BC Legislature Raid - Shocking New Revelations

BC Leg Case Lurches to Life

Defence cries foul as 85,000 pages of evidence pile up.

View full article and comments here http://thetyee.ca/News/2006/10/31/LegCase/

By Bill Tieleman

Published: October 31, 2006


Like a Frankenstein monster on the eve of Halloween, the seemingly dead case of the police raid on the British Columbia legislature nearly three years ago sprung to life in B.C. Supreme Court Thursday with a series of shocking revelations.

The new information came through a pre-trial application for disclosure filed by defence lawyers for David Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi -- all former government aides facing serious charges of breach of trust and money laundering.

Allegations and questions

Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough made an extended presentation that lasted through the day and included these allegations and questions:

  • Why wasn't the $1 billion B.C. Rail sale to CN Rail cancelled after a smaller deal to privatize the B.C. Rail Roberts Bank Port Subdivision -- worth about $70 million -- was stopped in 2004 when RCMP warned provincial Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon that the process was compromised by leaks of confidential government information?

  • That key Crown witness Erik Bornman made a 25-page statement to police on the very day of the police raids on the legislature and Bornman's home -- December 28, 2003. Bornman is now a key Crown witness in the case.

  • That Premier Gordon Campbell and then-Finance Minister Gary Collins were electronically monitored by RCMP when they talked on a cell phone used by David Basi.

  • That RCMP were twice denied a "digital number recorder" warrant to monitor Basi's cell phone by a judge on the basis of parliamentary privilege but then applied a third time and only succeeded by not disclosing to the authorizing judge the earlier denial of warrants or the reasons for the denial.

  • That the defence had been unable to obtain "weekly reports to Inspector Zack conducting a review into media leaks" in the case, leaks that resulted in significant publicity that "had a profound deleterious effect on the fair trial rights of these accused persons."

  • That to date there has been a massive disclosure of more than 85,000 pages of evidence from the investigation.

  • A question asking how Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino could be unaware that key RCMP notes from lead investigator Corporal Andrew Cowan and a "Sergeant Buerk" were not provided: "Given that Sgt. Buerck is present for the April 5, 2004, meeting between Sgt. Finner and Cpl. Cowan wherein Sgt. Finner's notes indicate that a discussion is held and an agreement is made that Bornman will be treated as a witness? Is there a more important meeting?" reads part of a letter sent by McCullough to Berardino on August 27, 2005, but only released Thursday.

  • That the special prosecutor has "declined to provide defence council (sic) with a comprehensive inventory of all materials in the possession of police in respect of this investigation."

  • That the Basi-Virk case involved beleaguered RCMP Commissioner Giuliano Zaccardelli, with the defence requesting a copy of a "memo and approval" from Zaccardelli.

Roberts Bank key to case?

It is important to note that none of the statements, questions and allegations made in court or contained in the 20-page application for disclosure by the defence have been proven.

And indeed Special Prosecutor Berardino objected strongly at one point in the proceedings and noted that he will be making a full reply regarding the defence allegations in his own statement later this week.

But what the application does do is outline the defence's extreme frustration with what it says is a lack of disclosure of information needed to defend Basi, Virk and Basi against very serious criminal charges that could send them to jail.

Perhaps the most politically charged element of the defence presentation involves the cancellation of a B.C. Liberal government plan to privatize the B.C. Rail Roberts Bank Port Subdivision.

The bidders included many of the same corporations vying to buy B.C. Rail -- OmniTRAX -- the U.S. firm that hired Erik Bornman and Brian Kieran of Pilothouse Public Affairs as its lobbyists -- in a consortium with Burlington Northern and Santa Fe, Canadian Pacific and CN.

New info dislodged

Allegations previously released in search-warrant information-to-obtain documents claimed that documents pertaining to the B.C. Rail Roberts Bank privatization deal were passed by David Basi to Bruce Clark, a federal Liberal Party in B.C. executive member and brother to then-deputy premier Christy Clark.

The ITO documents also alleged Bornman and Kieran paid David Basi and Bob Virk nearly $30,000 in exchange for confidential information on parts of the B.C. Rail deal.

There's finally a lot of new information coming out thanks to the defence application -- but it's the trial that is still scheduled to start on December 4, 2006, that will answer the many questions surrounding B.C.'s most fascinating political scandal case.

Related Tyee stories:
Erik Bornman: 'Spiderman' in a Web of Intrigue
Leg Raid Case: New Charges, New Questions
Premier Scrambles to 'Restore Trust'
Raids: How Big a Scandal?

The Fishy Green Conspiracies of Dr. Patrick Moore

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column - News, Views & Attitude

Tuesday October 31, 2006

Green conspiracies


We need to work hard together until the anti-aquaculture activists are forced into the corner where they belong.
- Patrick Moore

I don't like farmed Atlantic salmon.

It tastes bad and open net-cage farming is environmentally disastrous for our Pacific wild salmon stocks.

So I was very skeptical when Patrick Moore spoke at hearings of the provincial Special Committee on Sustainable Aquaculture in Vancouver earlier this month. Moore is the former Greenpeace founder who is now a paid mouthpiece for the fish-farming industry.

But I was still amazed at Moore's wacky views.

A host of reputable scientists have outlined how sea lice from salmon farms kill wild salmon, notably in the Broughton Archipelago.

In a study published Oct. 2 in the U.S. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, biologist Alexandra Morton and other scientists found that sea lice from fish farms kill large numbers of wild juvenile salmon that migrate past - up to 95 per cent.

Not good enough for Moore.

"There isn't scientific proof about sea lice from farms causing a decimation of pinks," Moore said Oct. 18. "As a matter of fact, the number of pink salmon that have been spawning in the Broughton in the previous 15 years would argue the opposite - that, if anything, salmon farms have somehow managed to increase the number of pink salmon spawning in the Broughton."


But Moore didn't stop there. He accused renowned scientist David Suzuki of "shaking down" restaurants to stop serving farmed salmon.

"David Suzuki and others have succeeded in cajoling and otherwise intimidating restaurant owners and chefs in B.C. into taking farmed salmon off their menus. I have personally spoken to an owner of a major restaurant in downtown Vancouver who recounted to me how he was shaken down in this operation," Moore testified.

I can just see the 70-year-old Suzuki in a fedora and black pinstripe suit, threatening restaurateurs John Bishop or Hidekazu Tojo or Rob Feenie, who serve only wild salmon.

But Moore didn't confine his outrageous statements to salmon farming.

"There is no definitive scientific proof about human-induced climate change," Moore said. And if you dispute climate change: "You get called names like a climate denier. They do that in order to associate it with denying the Holocaust."

So when Moore denounced beleaguered commercial fishermen as a "vested interest" it was too much for Scott Fraser, NDP MLA for Alberni-Qualicum.

"I think you have a vested interest," Fraser said. "I take some offence to the suggestion that the people that have come to make submissions here are necessarily a vested interest. Because that's a conspiracy theory."

Shake downs, vested interests, climate change deniers - in Patrick Moore's wacky world the conspiracies all make sense.

Hear Bill Tieleman Mondays at 10 a.m. on CKNW's Bill Good Show. Visit Bill's 24 hours columns online at: http://vancouver.24hrs.ca/Columnists/NewsViewsAttitude/

Monday, October 30, 2006

Norman Spector, the B-word and me on CKNW

Monday morning on CKNW's The Bill Good Show my political pundit colleague Norman Spector made news instead of commenting on it.

Discussing the ongoing and seemingly endless Peter MacKay-Belinda Stronach story, Norman went way over the top.

"You know, I'm not in politics. I can say it. I think she's a bitch. It's as simple as that. And I think that 90 percent of men would probably say she's a bitch for the way she's broken up (retired hockey player) Tie Domi's home and the way she dumped Peter MacKay. She is a bitch," Norman said.

I immediately objected:

"Well Norman, I think you're taking a lot of liberty there. We don't know what happened in the Tye Domi case. We do know that she broke up with Mr. Mackay. And we don't call (Vancouver South MP) Ujjal Dosanjh or (Liberal leadership candidate) Bob Rae or others with names like that. So I don't think that's a fair characterization. I think it's fair to say you don't like her politics. And I don't either personally. But I think that crosses the line, myself."

But Norman dug in and repeated and amplified the comment.

I respect Norman's views generally, even though I often disagree with them. After all, Norman has a very Conservative and Social Credit background, having worked at the highest staff level for Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and Premier Bill Bennett.

But it's not right to use such pejorative terms on the radio to describe anyone.

It's not appropriate to publicly call a female Member of Parliament a "bitch" for any reason.

And what Norman cites as his reasons to denigrate Stronach are only allegations in the Tie Domi case - allegations Stronach has denied - and certainly not informed comment.

I don't frankly care what Belinda Stronach does in her private life - I care what she does as a legislator and what values she espouses that affect all Canadians.

Norman should reconsider his ill-considered comments and apologize to Stronach.

Since this morning, the B-word battle has become a national news story on CTV National and BC CTV, www.publiceyeonline.com , www.warrenkinsella.com, www.bourque.com and other websites.

If you want to hear this controversial segment, go to www.cknw.com
and go to the Audio Vault and click on Monday October 30 at 10 a.m. - then go to about 10:28 a.m. for the initial comments, followed after the news by callers on both sides of the issue.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Campbell drops BC privatization bombshell

BC Premier Gordon Campbell has dropped a privatization bombshell - all provincial government projects over $20 million will be P3s - public-private partnerships - "unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise."

Campbell's new rules will mean a huge boost in the number of P3s in BC and a welcome handout to scads of BC Liberal-friendly corporations eager to help separate taxpayers from their hard-earned dollars.

The announcement was made Friday at the Union of BC Municipalities conference in Victoria, where Campbell told local government officials that P3s are the new standard.

"There's one caveat and you're going to be hearing this a lot from me in regards to capital projects in the years ahead. We're going to insist on that one condition: Take a hard look at how that project might be built as a public-private partnership," Campbell said.

"We know P3s save money, transfer risk and add great value through design innovations and private sector ingenuity," Campbell claimed, despite much evidence internationally and here in Canada that P3s can be disastrous for taxpayers and governments as corporations cash in.

For example, the new P3 Abbotsford hospital is a classic example, as Murray Dobbin detailed in the Georgia Straight.

"Access Health Abbotsford, a private consortium created by several transnational corporations, was the only bidder. During the bidding and negotiating stage of the project, capital costs rose nearly 70 percent, from $211 million to $355 million. The yearly service payments to the P3 consortium doubled from $20 million to almost $41 million per annum, and total costs for the 33-year operational contract skyrocketed to nearly double as well, from $720 million to $1.4 billion," Dobbin wrote on December 29, 2005.

Surprisingly, the NDP opposition doesn't seem to have grasped the huge significance of Campbell's decision - that's the only way to explain the lack of a news release when one might expect them to scream blue bloody murder. NDP MLA and finance critic Bruce Ralston is quoted in the Vancouver Sun that Campbell's announcement is not a big change in direction.

Perhaps equally surprisingly, a former BC Liberal candidate is sounding a warning.

Saanich Mayor Frank Leonard understands that local government can finance a major project much more cost-effectively than a corporation - government borrowing power will always beat the rates that even a big multinational can get.

"I have a huge bias -- I don't think finance should be done by the private sector," Leonard is quoted as saying Saturday by Vancouver Sun columnist Vaughn Palmer.

Leonard is right but Campbell is already insisting that the province will only provide one-third of the funding for the much-needed Victoria sewage treatment plant if it's a P3.

And Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon is saying the same thing for the delayed Evergreen rapid transit line for the Coquitlam area - P3 or piss off.

CUPE BC Secretary-Treasurer Mark Hancock is also sounding the alarm in a news release that was ignored by the Sun.

“The premier has now said to municipalities, in effect, ‘you no longer get to decide how your infrastructures are built - Partnerships BC will decide for you’," said Hancock. “Well, it might be a great day for bankers and investors, but it’s a lousy day for municipalities who have just lost even more of their already dwindling autonomy.” See: http://www.cupe.bc.ca/3637

Yes, the Premier's ideologically driven insistence on P3s means bad news for the rest of us.

And it brings to mind the old adage - Follow The Money.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Tieleman praises BC Conservative MPs!

Rare Tieleman praise for some BC Tory MPs for voting in favour of Anti-Scab legislation

Congratulations to the following Conservative Members of Parliament who yesterday voted in favour in second reading of a private members bill, Bill C-257, which would prohibit the use of scabs - or replacement workers - in labour disputes.

While most Conservatives voted no - including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and all BC Tory cabinet ministers - others stood up for workers, resulting in the vote passing by 167 to 101.

Next stage is third and final reading.

Here are the Conservative MPs who get a tip of the hat from me:

Ron Cannan - Kelowna-Lake Country
John Cummins - Delta-Richmond East
Nina Grewal - Fleetwood-Port Kells
Richard Harris - Cariboo-Prince George
Colin Mayes - Okanagan-Shuswap

I also salute all BC MPs from the New Democratic Party and the Liberal Party who voted in favour of Bill C-257.

And congratulations to the Canadian Labour Congress and its affiliates who have worked so hard on this bill and the previous attempt that failed by just 13 votes in the last Parliament.

The use of scabs or replacement workers has been banned provincially in Quebec and BC for many years as a means of reducing the length and bitterness of labour disputes. Ontario had anti-scab legislation under the NDP government but it was repealed by the Mike Harris Conservative government.

For more information on the vote go to:


And for more info on anti-scab see:


Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Was Garth Turner's blog too much for Stephen Harper?

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column - News, Views & Attitude
Tuesday October 24, 2006

A Blog Too Far for Harper?


There is no more independence in politics than there is in jail.

- Will Rogers

Call it A Blog Too Far for expelled Conservative Member of Parliament Garth Turner. Or call it GarthBlogistan, after the outspoken politician was exiled from the Tory caucus for allegedly leaking secrets on his website or for being too critical of his colleagues.

But whatever you call Turner's sudden departure, you can be guaranteed the man who made the call was Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

And what an amazingly dumb call it was.

Once upon a time most Conservatives belonged to the Reform Party and they believed MPs should be independently minded and listen to the views of their constituents, not take orders from the party.

Now all they do is play follow the leader.

Garth Turner's crime was to speak out, speak up and not kowtow to the party establishment. What's shocking for a Conservative MP is that Turner not only actually thinks for himself, he also says what he thinks.

And Turner defends himself ably, stating that he didn't break caucus confidentiality. He convincingly argues the real reason he got the boot was for criticizing the Conservatives' "green" plan and utterly worthless Clean Air Act.

"The legislative centerpiece of the Conservative autumn is a disappointment on the scale of a Rolling Stones concert. I mean, what were the policy wonks at Environment thinking?" Turner now says.

Before expulsion he even video interviewed Green Party federal leader Elizabeth May about climate change on his website, www.garth.ca.

It's deep green stuff like that that makes a party leader/control freak like Stephen Harper see red. And when Doug Finley, the Conservative's national party director, showed up for the first time ever at the Ontario MP caucus meeting where the decision was made to turf Turner, it was obvious that Harper had ordered the hit and sent in an enforcer.

So the minority government party that bent over backwards to convince then-Liberal MP David Emerson to cross the floor for one more vote throws away another one and ditches a guy who has always been a Conservative. Hell, Turner was even a Brian Mulroney cabinet minister at one point.

With brilliant strategy like this it's no wonder that the Tories are now tied with the leaderless Liberals, according to a Strategic Counsel poll - each with 32 per cent nationally - while the Conservatives have dive bombed from 30 per cent to just 16 per cent in Quebec.

I'd call that being seriously blogged down in the polls.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Will Bill Bennett fire BC Liberal Party's Kelly Reichert too?

BC Liberal Party Executive Director admits same American political consulting connections that Junior Minister of Mines Bennett criticized BC NDP for

Minister of State for Mines Bill Bennett has dug himself into an impressively deep hole - so deep you might almost call it a mine -- except for the fact that he will never strike gold. It actually appears he has struck out.

You will recall that Bennett launched an ill-advised attack on the BC NDP for using evil American political consultants to sabotage Premier Gordon Campbell's Conversation on Health.

Only problem - Bennett admitted to the media he had absolutely no proof except that some NDP staff types had been to a political consulting conference in Washington, D.C.

But as a column I wrote in March 2005 outlined, Premier Campbell's Chief of Staff Martyn Brown was also there. Whoops Part 1.

Now my 24 hours newspaper colleague Sean Holman has revealed on www.publiceyeonline.com that Kelly Reichert, Executive Director of the BC Liberal Party, owns a company that is a member of American Association of Political Consultants. That would no doubt be the group that evil American political consultants belong to. Whoops Part 2.

As Holman put it: "Mr. Reichert isn't just a party apparatchik. According to information published in Campaigns & Elections magazine in 2004 and 2005, he's also president of Strategic Outlook Inc. - a company belonging to the American Association of Political Consultants membership roster. And the vice-president of that firm is none other than Liberal information director Hoong Neoh."

That would be Whoops Part 3 - another BC Liberal staffer also connected with the evil American political consultants.

So to recap - Premier Campbell's top staff person and two top staff people in Premier Campbell's BC Liberal Party are confirmed as doing what Junior Minister Bennett says is terrible that the NDP is doing - associating with evil Americans.

Will Whoops Part 4 be when Bennett returns to a well-deserved seat on the backbench?

Stay tuned.

Will Bill Bennett demand Martyn Brown be fired?

Bill Bennett, not the former Social Credit Premier but the current BC Liberal Minister of State for Mining, is making a name for himself in the last few days.

That name is "bonehead."

Bennett accused the nefarious BC NDP of planning a campaign of "dirty tricks" against Premoer Gordon Campbell's Conversation on Health and that they would be advised by "American strategists" who might be "Democrats or Republicans".

Yikes! but the only problem is that Bennett has no evidence. Except this:

Bennett told Province reporter Ian Bailey in today's edition that some New Democrats have been to Washington for seminars, "where they were trying to teach people about how to practise politics in a more effective and negative way."

So I guess Bennett's next step will be to demand Premier Campbell fire his own Chief of Staff Martyn Brown - because Brown has been doing the same thing, as I reported on March 10, 2005 when I was writing for the Georgia Straight.

In a column asking if the BC Liberals were engaged in the controversial political strategy of "push polling" I reported the following:

"And now questions are being raised about the potential involvement of Martyn Brown, chief of staff to Campbell.

U.S. political consultant Cathy Allen said in an interview with the Straight that the controversial Liberal push polling may also be part of a sophisticated new electoral strategy called “micro targeting”, where a variety of techniques are used to focus on specific voters in a riding.

Allen said that when attending the American Association of Political Consultants conference in Washington, D.C., on January 22, she ran into Brown at a session on micro targeting.

Andy Orr, the Liberals’ executive director of communications in the public-affairs bureau, returned a call from the Straight to say that the B.C. Liberal party paid for Brown’s attendance at the conference, but he declined to comment on Brown’s possible involvement in the Liberal push polling. Orr added that Brown would be taking a leave of absence to work on the upcoming election campaign."

So, over to you Premier Campbell - and my advice is that you should fire someone - and it should be Bill Bennett!!

[You can see the whole Straight column at: http://straight.com/content.cfm?id=8750 ]

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

More questions afoot on BC Legislature raid case

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column - News, Views & Attitude
Tuesday October 17, 2006

More questions afoot


As we acquire more knowledge, things do not become more comprehensible, but more mysterious.

- Dr. Albert Schweitzer

Did the RCMP approach the federal Liberal Party of Canada in B.C. in March 2005 looking for information regarding the Paul Martin leadership campaign in connection with the upcoming B.C. Legislature raid trial?

Did the RCMP visit LPC B.C. headquarters itself in their search for more documents to be used in the trial of former provincial B.C. Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk? Or is all of the above a red herring rumour that never occurred?

One thing is clear - neither the federal Liberal Party nor the RCMP want to talk about it.

24 hours contacted both the RCMP and the LPC B.C. after getting a tip from a source that the police had an interest in some aspect of the Paul Martin leadership campaign in B.C. as part of their investigation - and that it happened well after Basi and Virk were first charged with breach of trust in December, 2004.

But like so many other aspects of this troubling case that began with a police search of the B.C. Legislature on Dec. 28, 2003, answers are very hard to come by.

"The party at this time - we're not going to comment on the issue," LPC B.C. Executive Director Mark Grant told me last week. "Because it's a matter that is under investigation we're not prepared to comment. If the RCMP wants to comment on it, it's up to them."

But guess what? They don't.

"I spoke to the commercial crime people and they tell me it's an ongoing investigation with no other details," said RCMP spokesman Corporal Pierre Lemaitre. "We don't discuss any ongoing investigation basically to not have any effect on the investigation."

One can only hope that eventually all will come out when Basi, Virk and Aneal Basi, David's cousin who is facing money laundering charges, have their day in court starting Dec. 4.

David Basi was a federal Liberal leadership supporter of Paul Martin and connected to other leadership campaign backers, including lobbyist Erik Bornman, who will be a crown witness against Basi.

Unfortunately this case has faced repeated and lengthy delays, the most recent coming on Sept. 18 in B.C. Supreme Court. David Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton explained the latest delay in an interview.

"Basically the defence is still awaiting some disclosure and we requested some further time and the judge put the hearing over to Oct. 30," Bolton said, adding that there will also be an appearance on Oct. 20 to discuss trial scheduling issues.

Meanwhile, more questions, more mystery.

Hear Bill Tieleman Mondays at 10 a.m. on CKNW's Bill Good Show. E-mail Bill at: weststar@telus.net

* * * * *
Vancouver 24 hours published a column on Oct. 3, 2006 that mentioned the B.C. Securities Commission hearing into allegations involving Pacific International Securities Inc. We wish to make it clear that the B.C. Securities Commission dismissed all charges against Pacific International Securities and that the company was not found guilty of anything.

The reason mention was made of Pacific International Securities was simply to question the ability of the B.C. Securities Commission to adequately regulate the securities industry after spending millions of dollars on a failed investigation and hearing. We did not intend to suggest any wrongdoing on the part of Pacific International Securities and apologize if any readers drew a contrary inference as such an inference was neither intended nor warranted.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Ignatieff still the one to beat

MP Michael Ignatieff's comments on the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and allegations of "war crimes" in the bombing of Qana and loss of civilian life make for good news drama this week but don't change a central fact - Ignatieff is highly likely to win the federal Liberal leadership.

What's equally newsworthy in my view is Prime Minister Stephen Harper's allegations that almost all the Liberal leadership candidates are "anti-Israeli" in their attitudes.

This from someone who said the Lebanese invasion was a "measured response" by Israel in reaction to the kidnapping of two of its soldiers!

Ignatieff is in the front-runner's spot and unless he makes major errors - this isn't one of them - he should win quite easily. All of the other major contenders - Dion, Rae and Kennedy - have serious electoral deficits - and the Liberal Party believes in nothing at all except electability!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

The hypocritical little buggers

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Newspaper Column - News, Views & Attitude
Tuesday October 10, 2006

The hypocritical little buggers


Hypocrites kick with their hind feet while licking with their tongues.
- Russian proverb

At a time when we have learned that some U.S. social conservative politicians really are hypocritical little buggers, it seems appropriate to ask whether far too many elected officials are taking stupid pills.

Florida Republican Representative Mark Foley resigned Sept. 29 after it was disclosed that he had sent sexually explicit emails to male teenage legislative pages.

Congressman Foley is, of course, a classic hypocritical politician - this guy actually served as chairman of the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children and helped get a law passed that allows groups like the Boy Scouts to have access to FBI fingerprint background checks to help protect children.

Now it's likely that Foley's fingerprints will be in that database!

So you'd think that if senior Republican leaders had found out about Foley's follies he'd be bounced out of the party faster than Michael Jackson - but you'd be wrong. The New York Post reports that despite being aware of Foley's e-mails to a 16-year-old boy, Thomas Reynolds, chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, talked him into running again because he held a safe seat for the party. Brilliant.

Back here in Canada, nothing quite so slimy but pretty darned dumb.

Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper is making clear his government's priorities - cutting millions in funding for adult literacy and women's programs while considering introducing legislation that would protect the free speech of anti-gay religious leaders and businesses that refuse to serve gays and lesbians!

Let me get this straight - first of all the Conservatives will cut $18 million that helps adults learn how to read? I can't think of too many uses for my tax dollar that are not only more important but that will improve both lives and our economy.

And the Tories will axe funds that help women deal with issues like spousal abuse and poverty?
I must be confused - I thought we have Canadian soldiers risking their lives in combat so that people in Afghanistan can go to school to learn to read and to end the systemic discrimination that hurts women?

Silly me.

Secondly, did I miss it or are there thousands of gays and lesbians demanding to be married in Catholic or evangelical churches? Just guessing but I don't think so.

Are there DVD and video rental stores facing court action because they refuse to stock the last season of The L-Word? Not likely.

If anything, our federal government should be strengthening existing human-rights legislation that forbids a business to discriminate on the basis of race, gender, religion or sexual orientation. But that's too much to ask of hypocrites.

Listen to Bill Tieleman every Monday at 10 a.m. on CKNW AM 980's Bill Good Show or www.cknw.com E-mail Tieleman at: weststar@telus.net