Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Mayor Sam's Strike in Vancouver - A flawed strategy, a lot of bull

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday July 31, 2007

Clueless Sam's strike show


However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.

- Winston Churchill

An unnecessary strike. Hundreds of thousands of citizens without services. Thousands of workers without paycheques.

And all because of a mayor who stuck to a flawed strategy to bash unionized workers even as the garbage piled up around his own office.

Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan has made a total mess of a simple labour relations exercise - keep bargaining and remain flexible.

So now it's Sam's Strike.

As Vancouver enters week two of a walkout by inside and outside city workers, it's clear Sullivan both provoked and prolonged the dispute.

Consider the facts: Sullivan forced Canadian Union of Public Employees Local 15 members to vote on a "final" city offer.

Then, despite an overwhelming 89 per cent rejection vote, Sullivan told them to reconsider, that they had to accept his proposed 39-month term to get past the 2010 Olympics, and that there would be no further moves by the city.

And he insulted workers by falsely claiming they wanted to disrupt the Winter Games.

Despite this, CUPE Local 15 booked hotel rooms for negotiations - but the city wouldn't talk.

Faced with no bargaining and no other options, the union struck.

But in a "What, me worry?" response worthy of a Mayor Alfred E. Neuman of MAD Magazine, Sullivan brazenly told the Globe and Mail newspaper that settling the civic strike was not his "top priority" as mayor.

Well, what the hell is?

Maybe Sullivan and his Non-Partisan Association councillors top priority actually could be found at last week's city council meeting.

Unbelievably, NPA councillor Kim Capri actually introduced a notice of motion that all city-run food facilities use only eggs from organic, free-range chickens!

Well cock-a-doodle-do, Chicken Lady - wake up and smell the coffee - if you can over the stench of garbage - and get to work on settling the strike!

Fortunately, other mayors and councillors aren't as clueless as the NPA.

Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie reached a deal with CUPE workers, a five- year contract that goes well past the 2010 Olympics and the 2009 civic election. No strike.

Burnaby Mayor Derek Corrigan and Surrey Mayor Diane Watts are also expected to announce contracts there shortly. By staying at the table and being flexible, other municipalities are reaching collective agreements without strikes or a disruption of services.

Sullivan told reporters that the city had raised the idea of a five-year contract but the unions had rejected it.

Not true, said Mike Jackson, president of CUPE 1004. "I think he's a weasel," Jackson said of Sullivan.

Perhaps, but when the mayor is more concerned with chickens than a strike by city workers, you know it's all bull.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Tieleman guest hosting CKNW's The World Today this afternoon - Monday July 30 - from 3 to 7 p.m.

I'm very pleased to fill in for Jon McComb and guest host CKNW's The World Today from 3 to 7 p.m. today - Monday July 30.

I hope you can tune in for a great show or go to www.cknw.com and listen online.

Friday, July 27, 2007

BC Green Party Leadership candidate Ben West calls Tsawwassen Treaty a "terrible model" for settlement, disagrees with Green Party, Interim Leader

BC Green Party leadership candidate Ben West is calling the treaty between the Tsawwassen First Nation and the provincial and federal governments a "terrible model" and is disagreeing with the position taken by both the Green Party and Interim Leader Christopher Ian Bennett.

In a news release issued this afternoon West says both the BC Liberal Party and the opposition BC NDP are "missing in action" on the importance of preserving farmland.

But West does not comment directly on a BC Green Party news release sent today that congratulates everyone involved with the Tsawwassen treaty or comments by Bennett that he applauds the treaty.

Here is the text of West's news release:

Ben West – Leadership Candidate

For Immediate Release: July 27th, 2007

Poverty vs. Pavement: Tsawwassen Treaty A Terrible Model For Future Treaty Process BC Government Taking Advantage of Native Desperation to Advance Unsustainable Development

VANCOUVER – Green Party of BC leadership candidate, Ben West, says the recent Tsawwassen treaty is deeply flawed, and a terrible model for the future of BC's treaty process.

He says a richer offer that truly respects the Tsawwassen people, BC farmland and the environment, is necessary. West says the BC Liberals are taking advantage of legitimate native desperation for a better future, to advance unsustainable developments like the Gateway project.

“Gordon Campbell has forced British Columbians into the perceived position of being either pro-farmland or anti-native, and that's not right and it's not leadership” said West. “The government is taking advantage of legitimate Native desperation for a better future, to advance unsustainable projects like the Delta Port expansion - something that's not supported by local communities.”

West takes issue with the terms of the treaty deal, specifically the inclusion of 207 hectares of prime ALR farmland that will instantly revert to the Vancouver Port Authority in exchange for financial compensation to the Tsawwassen people, before being paved to make way for the province's planned Delta Port expansion.

“The Tsawwassen people could have been properly compensated without taking prime farmland out of the ALR, paving it, and then paying them for it,” said West. “Members of the legislature need to come back to the table with a richer offer that truly respects, and properly compensates the Tsawwassen people; an offer that ultimately secures a more sustainable future for the province and that offers a fair and sustainable model for the future of BC's treaty process.”

West points out that if the treaty is approved in the provincial legislature, it will represent a huge blow to the sustainability and food security of British Columbia at a time when food and climate change experts are stressing the importance of local food production.

“The opposition NDP and the BC Liberal party itself are missing in action at a crucial time in the future of the province. How can we pretend to have a real strategy for the climate crisis when we're paving over what little farmland we have left for the sake of an unsustainable development project?”

Tieleman guest hosting The Sean Leslie Show - on CKNW Saturday July 28, 3 to 5 p.m. on AM 980

I am pleased to fill in for Sean Leslie this Saturday July 28 from 3 to 5 p.m. on CKNW AM 980 or www.cknw.com

Here's the lineup:

3 p.m. - Rod Mickleburgh, Globe and Mail reporter, on the several labour disputes going on in BC, including the Vancouver City strike and the forestry worker strike around the province.

3: 30 p.m. - Margot MacMillan, Staff Lawyer for West Coast Environmental Law on the Burnaby oil spills and the potential for oil spills if BC approves offshore oil and gas drilling.

4 p.m. - Harold Steves, Richmond City Councilor, farmer and agrologist, on the Tsawwassen First Nation treaty and the removal of Agricultural Land Reserve farmland that will follow.

4:30 p.m. - Allan Weisman, author of a new book titled The World Without Us, which is a look at what the earth would be like without human beings on it.

Please tune in and call in!

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Jamie Elmhirst lobby contract with Canadian Springs owners has ended

A lobbying contract between Jamie Elmhirst, a key witness in the breach of trust trial of former BC ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk, and Aquaterra Corporation, owners of Canadian Springs bottled water, has ended.

That lobbying contract, first reported by me in 24 hours and on this blog, became additionally controversial when it was learned that Elmhirst was also working with a number of major BC environmental organizations.

Elmhirst today confirmed by email that his three-month contract with Aquaterra Corporation has concluded.

That information was conveyed to me by a poster to this blog - thanks for the tip.

Elmhirst was subpoenaed to testify in the trial expected to begin this fall. He was partners in Pilothouse Public Affairs, the lobbying firm, with key Crown witnesses Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran.

Bornmann and Kieran are alleged in police documents to have provided bribes to Basi and Virk in exchange for confidential government information on the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail. Pilothouse represented OmniTRAX, a U.S. bidder for BC Rail at the time.

BC Green Party Interim Leader also supports Tsawwassen First Nation treaty which removes farmland from Agricultural Land Reserve

BC Green Party Interim Leader Christopher Ian Bennett applauds all involved in Tsawwassen First Nation treaty; does not object to removal of active Delta farmland

In response to an emailed question from me today about whether the BC Green Party has taken a stand on the Tsawwassen treaty, Interim Leader Christopher Ian Bennett replied that he "loves" and "applauds" the agreement ratified in a vote by the TFN yesterday.

Regrettably in my view, the Green leader's position brings political party unanimity to support for the Tsawwassen treaty and its removal of 207 hectares of prime farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Premier Gordon Campbell is of course a signatory to the deal and BC NDP Leader Carole James today said her caucus supports the deal and its upcoming passage in the BC Legislature.

It appears that no political party is willing to champion protection of farmland in the face of treaty negotiations.

Here is that email correspondence with Green Party Interim Leader Bennett. No news release from the Greens had been received by time of this posting:

Tieleman: I can see no position taken by the Green Party on the Tsawwassen First Nation treaty or the vote in favour by the TFN yesterday. Does the Green Party have a position?

Bennett: We'll be issuing a statement on it shortly in fact, Bill.

Personally -- I love it and applaud it. Great work by all sides to work this through. I couldn't be more impressed with the leadership on all sides.

Our official party position will be posted online shortly pending our Aboriginal Affairs advisors/critics final notes.

We'll keep you posted!

BC NDP Leader Carole James supports flawed Tsawwassen Treaty despite removal of farmland for Deltaport container expansion

Sadly, the BC New Democratic Party has given up its historic role of defending farmland in order to support the flawed treaty between the Tsawwassen First Nation and the provincial and federal governments - a treaty that allows the removal of 207 hectares of prime farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

Having repeatedly refused to take a position prior to the Tsawwassen First Nation vote yesterday, today NDP Leader Carole James issued the following news release supporting the treaty and promising full NDP MLA support in the Legislature for passage of the treaty.

James supports the treaty despite understanding the intention of the Tsawwassen First Nation to turn the farmland over for container storage expansion at Deltaport at Roberts Bank, a point she even acknowledges in the news release. Any doubt about what will happen to that farmland is dispelled by viewing the Tsawwassen First Nation's agreement with the Vancouver Port authority.

This unfortunate decision by the BC NDP is one that may have grave consequences not only for the future of BC farmland but for the future of the party.

- - Bill Tieleman

Here is today's BC NDP news release:


NDP Favours Expanding Prince Rupert Port to Save Fraser Valley Farmland

MEDIA RELEASE http://bcndpcaucus.ca

For immediate release
July 26, 2007

VICTORIA – NDP Leader Carole James today congratulated the Tsawwassen First Nation on the ratification of their treaty and said the NDP will support the settlement through the provincial approval process.

“The Tsawwassen people have taken an historic step forward, ratifying a treaty after years of honest and persistent effort at the negotiating table,” said James. “It’s my hope that this treaty marks a new beginning for the Tsawwassen people and for treaty-making in British Columbia – a process stalled for years by Gordon Campbell’s confrontational and divisive referendum.”

James said that all British Columbians benefit from lasting treaty settlements like the Tsawwassen agreement, providing a lasting framework to grow the economy and to achieve equality and justice for First Nations.

“Settling treaties requires compromise,” said James. “The treaty is not perfect for the Tsawwassen. Nor is it perfect for New Democrats and many other British Columbians who want to protect B.C. farmland. But, on balance, we support the treaty.”

James said that in the discussions she and NDP MLAs had with British Columbians there was significant concern about the use of food producing lands to support the Delta Port expansion. The Campbell government plans on tripling container traffic through that port by 2020.

“Gordon Campbell’s rigid commitment to expanding Delta Port puts too much of the remaining Lower Mainland agricultural lands – not just those included in the treaty – at risk. It also threatens the sustainability of Burns Bog,” said James. “It doesn’t have to be that way.”

James said the Province should invest in greater port capacity in Prince Rupert, sharing economic opportunity with rural B.C. and protecting food producing lands in the Fraser River delta.

She also called on the government to approach future negotiations of agricultural reserve land differently.

“I challenge the Premier to commit to the principles expressed in the Agricultural Land Commission Act in future treaty negotiations,” said James. “The Commission is the best place to determine which lands are removed from the ALR.”

-- 30 --

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Tsawwassen First Nations treaty opponent Bertha Williams requests United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights monitor and scrutinize treaty vote

I am very pleased to publish a letter sent July 23, 2007 by Tsawwassen First Nations treaty opponent Bertha Williams to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, asking for the UN to monitor and scrutinize the treaty vote to be held July 25.

Bertha Williams has sent me this letter and given her permission to post it. This is an important document and an effective criticism of the approach taken to this treaty vote by the BC and federal governments.

* * * * *

July 23, 2007

Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen
Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of Indigenous People of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
1211 Geneva 10 - Switzerland

Tsawwassen Traditional Territory

Dear UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, Dr. Rodolfo Stavenhagen:

My name is Bertha Williams and I am a member of the Tsawwassen First Nation and we are located just south of Vancouver and at the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal to Vancouver Island.

We have Aboriginal Title to our traditional territory and waters, which cover much of what is now Vancouver and reach all the way to Vancouver Island.

Our elected Chief and Council have been negotiating with the Canadian and British Columbia governments and have arrived at a Final Agreement.

This Final Agreement is based upon the Nisga’a Final Agreement and will extinguish the Aboriginal Title of the Tsawwassen peoples according to the Modified Rights Model.

I do not agree with the extinguishing our Aboriginal Title. My people are faced with a vote that could have a terrible impact on our Aboriginal Title and Rights and on our future generations.

I am writing you this letter to take issue both with the substance and with the procedure followed in this vote, since it does not even meet basic international legal standards.

As for the substantial aspect, I am sure you are aware of the negotiations ongoing under the British Columbia Treaty Process that aim at the extinguishment of our Aboriginal Title and Rights and their modification into very limited treaty rights.

It means that we will lose our inherent Title and rights and become assimilated into the mainstream legal system and our lands will fall under the jurisdiction and administration of the provincial and federal government.

As much as the Indian Act system was an instrument of segregation and economic marginalization of our people, at least the Indian Reserve lands were inalienable and could not be alienated by non-natives.

Under the proposed Tsawwassen Final Agreement all lands will then be registered in the provincial land registry and subject to property taxes and if our people are unable to pay the tax they will lose their family plots.

Supposedly a small amount of additional lands will be added to the Tsawwassen Land Base under the Final Agreement, but it is easy to foresee that within the first few years of the treaty a lot of the lands will be bought by non-natives, because the lands will now be on the open market.

Our people remain the poorest people in our territory, because we have not been given access to our territory and resources. The Tsawwassen Final Agreement will further enshrine this poverty because in it we will be forced to give up our inherent rights to our traditional territory and its resources, although these rights are all recognized and protected as indigenous and human rights under international law.

Now let me please address the very urgent procedural concerns to do with the way this vote is being conducted and forced on our people.

Firstly, not every Tsawwassen Indian Band Member will automatically be entitled to vote. Rather, we have to sign on to the so-called “treaty roll” or enroll as a Tsawwassen Member to vote regarding the ratification of the final agreement and constitution.

Many people feel that by enrolling they are indirectly underwriting a process many of them do not agree with. It is already being predicted that the government will use the fact that people have enrolled, as meeting the requirement of “free prior informed consent”.

Yet the majority of the people who sign on, have never read the agreement, nor do they understand the fundamental issues they will be voting on.

Also many of us feel pressured to get enrolled, so that our vote will be counted. It is not our “free” decision to get on the roll, but only those that get enrolled, will vote on the future of our entire nation.

I know there will be people who will take the principled, moral decision not to enroll, because they do not want to give any legitimacy to this illegitimate process.

There are no minimum enrolment numbers for the vote on the final agreement to take place and the agreement can be ratified by a simple majority.

Given that the vote will be on such a fundamental issue, namely our land rights and the provision for our future generations, and on our constitution, it is absolutely unacceptable to have such non-existent/low thresholds.

Usually constitutional votes require a minimum 2/3 threshold, both in terms of voter participation and approval by 2/3 majority. Even for our Indian Band to make a decision on transfer of one simple lot of land, we usually require such minimum participation in a general band meeting and approval by 2/3 majority.

In Canada in order to change the constitution, the requirements are even higher, in terms of the formula that requires participation of most of the provinces and qualified majorities within them. Of course this formula will not come into play when the federal and provincial governments will vote on the final agreement, because they treat it like a simple law and not like a constitutional law, although they will pretend that it takes away both our land rights and our sovereignty.

If we ever wanted to change the constitution of the Tsawwassen First Nation again after the initial approval it would also require a 2/3 majority of members voting in a referendum. The same applies to the guarantees that have been set out by the band council to try to get people to sign on to the agreement.

The guarantees have to do with social services and monies that will be paid out to members on the basis of the final agreement, but it is clear that they are not rights and simply promises that will be abandoned once they run out of money.

Right now a lot of additional money is being put on the table, because the Canadian and British Columbian governments are extremely nervous about the out come of the vote on the Tsawwassen Final Agreement which will take place on July 25th, 2007 at the Tsawwassen First Nation.

The provincial government just allocated millions of dollars to first nations to promote the final agreements and engage in PR work.

With some of these monies the Tsawwassen First Nation has published a “Survival Guide to the Tsawwassen First Nation Final Agreement 2007”.

This Survival Guide is supposed to be a quick compilation of what is contained in the extensive Final Agreement. I am providing a full copy of this document.

I would like to reference some very key items that raise very serious question about the legitimacy of this vote. Under “Members Benefits” two cash incentives to voters are stated.

In particular it states that “each elder over 60 will receive $15,000, shortly after ratification day” and “approximately $1,000 per member on Effective Date”.

I feel that these cash incentive are a bribe to vote YES to the Final Agreement. These are the cash guarantees that are written right into the agreement and that are openly promoted, but I know that there are additional monies paid out just to get people to vote on this agreement.

As already set out above, the vote will take place without meeting basic requirements for such a fundamental, constitutional vote.

People are not informed about the real content of the agreement they are voting on, but rather the provincial government is paying for the preparation of propaganda material that points to the few mainly cash incentives of the agreement, but fails to point out all the downfalls, such as the extinguishment of our Aboriginal Title to our territories, the loss of the tax exemption and the long-term loss of programs and services that will all result in the further impoverishment of our people.

Such an important vote should be held following basic principles for constitutional votes and should be monitored independently.

After all, our people are the poorest people in our traditional territories and poverty can be and in this process is being used to manipulate our people to give up their most valuable goods: their land and their resources.

Our people continue and will continue to live under third world conditions. Taking into account the potential for manipulation under these circumstances, a similar vote in a developing country would be subject to election monitoring and international scrutiny to ensure that minimum procedural guarantees are met, no cash incentives are offered, no threats are made and that there is no election fraud.

None of these international standards and principles are met in the context of the Tsawwassen vote, actually the governments are providing the cash incentives and additional sums through PR campaigns.

I therefore implore you, as the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights and fundamental freedoms of indigenous peoples, to closely monitor and scrutinize this vote and to raise concerns regarding the failure to meet basic international standards for constitutional votes and for dealing with indigenous rights, with the government of Canada and at the international level.

Please feel free to contact me if you require any further information.

I will also take the liberty to keep informing you about the process as it will unfold in the next days that are so crucial to my people.


Bertha Williams

Tsawwassen First Nation Member

CC: Luis Rodríguez-Piñero Royo, Human Rights Officer
The Right Honourable Steven Harper, Government of Canada
The Honourable Gordon Campbell, Government of British Columbia

Tsawwassen First Nation members can save farmland by voting no on Treaty; BC Liberals fail province, BC NDP does nothing

Tsawwassen nation should reject vote


Let's face it - we are all here to stay.

- Supreme Court of Canada Chief Justice Antonio Lamer, on Delagmuukw aboriginal rights decision, 1997

The Tsawwassen First Nation can do the province a huge service tomorrow by voting "no" to its proposed treaty with the provincial and federal governments.

The best reason to vote no is because this treaty would remove 207 hectares of prime farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve to be paved to park shipping containers at the Roberts Bank Deltaport.

Not only would Deltaport expansion make land around the Tsawwassen Reserve even more polluted, noisy and visually blighted, it could also increase opposition to treaties.

But more importantly, B.C. farmland is disappearing, making the province increasingly dependent on foreign sources for fruit and vegetables.

A recent B.C. Agriculture Ministry report states that to just maintain our current level of growing 48 per cent of the food we eat, B.C. farmers will have to increase production by 30 per cent by 2025 and boost irrigated farmland by 49 per cent.

We are indeed all here to stay and we all need farmland for our food. But how, when the B.C. Liberals give up farmland for industrial use?

Ironically, Premier Gordon Campbell has gone from vigorously opposing the Nisga'a treaty to expensively promoting the Tsawwassen deal.

The province flew 40 Tsawwassen natives to Nisga'a territory, spent $400,000 on communications to sell it to band members and promised elders $15,000 cash each if it passes.

At this rate, Campbell will be known as Big Chief Blank Cheque.

But New Democratic Party leader Carole James has also been a huge disappointment, promising twice to take a position on the Tsawwassen Treaty and twice reneging. Where does the NDP stand?

While NDP MLAs Guy Gentner and Corky Evans publicly oppose removing farmland, other NDP politicians dodge the issue, even though it was Dave Barrett's NDP government that created the ALR in 1973.

They shouldn't. It is not contradictory to support resolving aboriginal land claims in general while rejecting this deal in particular simply because of the farmland sell-out.

Excluding farmland to expand Deltaport is a B.C. Liberal invention. It's using the Tsawwassen First Nation's legitimate treaty interests to get a huge benefit for businesses that want port expansion.

But Tsawwassen First Nation members can easily fix all politicians' mistakes by voting "No" on Wednesday and demanding a treaty without the loss of farmland.

Here's hoping.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Tsawwassen First Nation member Bertha Williams speaks out against Tsawwassen treaty with federal and provincial government in new YouTube video

Tsawwassen First Nation member Bertha Williams says the provincial and federal government are wrongly manipulating the July 25th vote on the Tsawwassen treaty with taxpayer money.

Williams is outspoken in her criticism in the new YouTube video. She says it is inappropriate that 40 Tsawwassen band members were flown at government expense to Nisga'a territory to observe the Nisga'a Treaty in operation.

More on the Tsawwassen treaty issue in my 24 hours column on Tuesday July 24.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip blasts BC government as "unethical" over sell job for vote on Tsawwassen First Nation treaty

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday July 17, 2007

B.C. desperate in Tsawwassen vote


In the old days you might have used a Hudson's Bay blanket, some musket shot, a new suit for the chief and a bit of rum. Not much has changed. Today's Indian agents simply have newer trinkets and nicer suits but they are still up to their old tricks.

- Bertha Williams, Tsawwassen First Nation treaty opponent

Grand Chief Stewart Phillip is condemning as "unethical, inappropriate and totally unacceptable" B.C. Liberal government efforts to convince Tsawwassen First Nation members to vote yes in a July 25 treaty referendum.

Phillip, president of the Union of British Columbia Indian Chiefs, was reacting to news that the province is sending 40 Tsawwassen members on a trip and promising $15,000 cash for some elders if the treaty passes.

"They're interfering with the vote. I think it's inappropriate, unethical and totally unacceptable what the government is doing," Phillip told 24 hours in an exclusive interview. "It's to buy their yes votes."

Phillip says the government is desperate because if the vote fails, the $1-billion treaty process is dead. To date not a single treaty has been reached.

Aboriginal Relations Minister Mike de Jong confirmed that 40 Tsawwassen members will fly to the Nass Valley to discuss the existing Nisga'a Treaty with Nisga'a members and that about 20 elders will get an immediate $15,000 each if the treaty passes.

B.C. is spending $400,000 on communications to sell the treaty, including hiring Counterpoint Communications' Bruce Rozenhart for ratification work.

Phillip, whose UBCIC represents 30 to 40 per cent of B.C. first nations who reject negotiating treaties, said recent Supreme Court of Canada decisions have "completely eclipsed the treaty process" which extinguishes aboriginal rights and title for "woefully inadequate land and cash."

And earlier this year Prince George's Lheidli T'enneh First Nation voted to reject a $76-million treaty.

In addition, the Huu-ay-aht First Nation on Vancouver Island has a treaty vote on July 28. Huu-ay-aht members are also being flown to Nisga'a territory.

That's why the B.C. and federal governments are pulling out all the stops to win the Tsawwassen vote, Phillip said.

"The government is absolutely desperate to salvage this process, to see this treaty pass," he said.
Phillip says per capita payments to individual Tsawwassen members, including several who live in the United States, are wrong because they don't give the community the financial resources needed for a sustainable economy.

"The Tsawwassen are going outside the community to band members in the U.S. - they have no interest in community or programs there. They're being co-opted to vote yes for a cash payment," he said.

The Tsawwassen treaty is already controversial because it will strip 207 hectares of farmland from the Agricultural Land Reserve to expand the Roberts Bank port terminal's container shipping.

Now it's becoming even more divisive.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

NDP MLA Leonard Krog files complaint on lobbying against Basi-Virk witness Jamie Elmhirst; Elmhirst calls it "baseless"

NDP asks for investigation by Lobby Registry boss David Loukidelis into whether lobbyist Jamie Elmhirst had registered as required

Nanaimo NDP MLA Leonard Krog is asking for an investigation into the lobbying activities of Jamie Elmhirst, who is a subpoenaed witness in the breach of trust and fraud trial of former provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk.

Elmhirst is also the former partner of key Crown witnesses Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran at the defunct Pilothouse Public Affairs. Bornmann and Kieran are alleged in police documents to have bribed Basi and Virk to get confidential government information about the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail while Pilothouse represented OmniTRAX, a bidder.

But Elmhirst told 24 hours reporter Dharm Makwana that the NDP complaint is "baseless".

Krog's complaint, based on a story first reported in 24 hours and this blog on Wednesday July 11, alleges that Elmhirst, did not register provinciallywithin 10 days of beginning to work for Aquaterra Inc., owners of Canadian Springs bottled water company.

Elmhirst told Makwana that he registered as a lobbyist months after beginning work for Aquaterra, but that his role with the group before that was strictly municipal.

“As far as I understand the rules, it’s appropriate because if you’re lobbying provincialofficials you register and if you’re not, the work that I did at the municipal level is not covered by the lobbyists’ registry,” Elmhirst said.

But Krog maintains that the Lobbyist Registration Act may have been violated and is asking Information and Privacy Commissioner Loukidelis, who is responsible for the Lobby Registry, to investigate.

“The act is very explicit,” Krog said in an NDP news release. “A consultant lobbyist must register within 10 days of entering into a contract to lobby on behalf of a client. We know from comments made by Mr. Gara Hay, Vice-President of Operations for Canadian Springs, that Mr. Elmhirst undertook to lobby the Campbell government on behalf of that company more than three months ago, yet Mr. Elmhirst only registered his lobbying activity commencing July 1st.”

Elmhirst is a former President of the Liberal Party of Canada (BC) and was Ministerial Assistant to Water, Air and Land Protection Minister Joyce Murray in the Gordon Campbell government before becoming a partner at Pilothouse with Kieran and Bornmann. Pilothouse's offices were searched by police at the same time of the December 28, 2003 search of the BC Legislature.

“Mr. Elmhirst has a long history of working with the people inside the Campbell government, and I can appreciate that his knowledge might be important to those seeking to capture the government’s attention,” said Krog. “But the public has every right to expect that lobbying, whether on behalf of a corporation or any other interest, be conducted in a transparent way.”

Krog says that New Democrat Leader Carole James has introduced a motion to compel government to amend the Lobbyist Registration Act to ensure greater accountability in the industry, including a code of conduct that would hold lobbyists to specific standards and protect the public interest from abuse.

“I’m asking the Commissioner to review Mr. Elmhirst’s activity specifically on behalf of Canadian Springs as well as any other lobbying he may be conducting on behalf of other clients that he has yet to register for,” said Krog.

Krog says that in May, Loukidelis found that the premier’s advisor, Ken Dobell, had not filed lobbying activities within the deadline set by the Act

Thank you! More than 31,500 visits to Bill Tieleman's blog in first half of 2007!!

I want to thank everyone who has visited my blog - it is greatly appreciated!

And even more thanks to the many visitors who have commented on the items posted here!

Google Analytics statistics show that from January 1, 2007 to June 30, 2007 this website has had more than 31,500 visits.

We have also had more than 10,000 unique visitors in that time period. And going back to October, 2006 when this blog started, there have been almost 40,000 visits and over 12,000 unique visitors.

I am honoured that you have visited my modest blog and will keep working hard to make it worthy of your attention.

Sincerely - Bill Tieleman

Tieleman guest panelist on Public Eye Radio today at 9:15 a.m. on CFAX 1070

I will be a guest political panelist on Sean Holman's excellent Public Eye Radio show Sunday morning from 9:15 to 10 a.m. on CFAX AM 1070 in Victoria.

You can also listen in online at www.cfax1070.com anywhere.

I will be joining Sean's regulars Alex Tsakumis and Bob Russell on the show, talking about the Saanich-Gulf Islands Green Party controversy over running or not running a candidate, the new Vancouver Convention Centre's massive overruns, the departure of Deputy Minister of Finance Tamara Vrooman for VanCity Credit Union, the upcoming Tsawwassen Treaty and Canadian military spying on peace activists opposed to the Afghanistan mission.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Canadian Springs spokesperson says company was unaware of Jamie Elmhirst role in Basi-Virk trial, work with environmental groups

Aquaterra Corporation, the firm which owns bottled water company Canadian Springs and has hired Jamie Elmhirst as its lobbyist in British Columbia, was unaware of Elmhirst's role as a subpoenaed Crown witness in the breach of trust and fraud trial of David Basi and Bob Virk.

Gara Hay, Vice-President Operations for Canadian Springs, said today he was also unaware of Elmhirst's role as a strategist for an umbrella organization of prominent BC environmental groups called Priorities for Environmental Leadership.

The story was published exclusively today in 24 hours newspaper and also on this blog.

Hay said he "didn't even know about" Elmhirst's involvement in the Basi-Virk case, which is still hearing defence applications before the full trial begins.

Elmhirst was formerly partners with lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran at Pilothouse Public Affairs. Bornmann and Kieran are alleged in court documents to have provided Basi and Virk with bribes in exchange for receiving confidential government documents about the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail.

Pilothouse, whose offices were searched by police in December 2003, was representing OmniTRAX, one of the bidders at that time.

Hay also said he was unaware of Elmhirst's contract with Priorities for Environmental Leadership, a group that includes Greenpeace, Sierra Club - BC, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation and other prominent organizations.

"We hired him three months ago," Hay said. "I'll have to look at this and digest it."

Hay said Elmhirst was hired as a lobbyist on environmental issues.

"He's doing some work for me on government regulations in Western Canada," Hay said.

Hay complained that information in the 24 hours story was inaccurate regarding Aquaterra's ownership.

Hay says Aquaterra Corporation is the owner of Canadian Springs, not "Aquaterra Inc" as is listed on the BC government's Lobby Registry.

Hay also says Danone sold Canadian Springs to Birch Hill Equity Partners, which owns Aquaterra, last summer.

However one of Canadian Springs own websites still lists Danone as the owner, which is where I sourced the information, as does Industry Canada's website.

Hay was unable to return my messages yesterday.

Birch Hill Equity Partners is a private equity fund with $1.7 billion in capital under management and 23 partner companies. It was formed when a group of TD Bank employees left the firm and raised $850 million in initial capital.

Birch Hill invested $65 million last month in Vancouver-based Creation Technologies, an Electronics Manufacturing Services (EMS) provider and expert in manufacturing complex electronics.

According to a June 2006 news release Birch Hill also invested in Bio Agri Mix: "Bio Agri Mix is a Canadian industry leader and the largest supplier of medicated feed additives for the animal health industry in Canada."

Key Basi-Virk witness Jamie Elmhirst re-enters BC lobbying business for bottled water company, also working with environment groups

Key Basi-Virk witness signs up as lobbyist


A key witness subpoenaed to testify in the breach-of-trust trial of former B.C. government aides David Basi and Bob Virk has re-entered the provincial lobbying business.

Jamie Elmhirst recently registered as a lobbyist for Aquaterra Inc., which owns bottled water company Canadian Springs and is a subsidiary of Danone, a giant French bottled-water and dairy-products corporation.

CLARIFICATION - I have just heard from Gara Hay, Vice-President Operations for Canadian Springs, who says Aquaterra Corporation is the owner of Canadian Springs, not "Aquaterra Inc" as is listed on the BC government's Lobby Registry. Hay also says Danone sold Canadian Springs to Birch Hill Equity Partners, which owns Aquaterra, last summer. However one of Canadian Springs own websites still lists Danone as the owner, which is where I sourced the information, as does Industry Canada's website.

Hay was unable to return my messages yesterday for comment. See new posting for an update.

And perhaps surprisingly, given environmentalists' adamant opposition to bottled water, Elmhirst has also been hired as a strategist on provincial issues by Greenpeace, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee, the Society Promoting Environmental Conservation and other organizations.

Elmhirst was hired through an umbrella group called Priorities for Environmental Leadership. Matt Price, a group spokesperson, said members were unaware of Elmhirst's lobbying client.

"It's the first we've heard of it. We'll probably ask the people involved if they have any concerns on conflicts," Price told 24 hours.

Elmhirst is the former lobbying partner of Crown witnesses Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, who allegedly bribed Basi and Virk to obtain confidential B.C. Rail privatization documents.

Price said Elmhirst's involvement in the Basi-Virk case "came up but we didn't think it would materially affect what he's doing for us."

Elmhirst and Aquaterra Inc. could not be reached by deadline.

Price added that Elmhirst, a former B.C. ministerial assistant in the environment ministry, was hired "to get a different perspective from the other side of the fence."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Canadian troops dying bravely for hopeless mission in Afghanistan

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday July 10, 2007

Let's get out of A-stan already


The basic problems facing the world today are not susceptible to a military solution.

- U.S. President John F. Kennedy, 1962

Canadian troops are bravely dying for a hopeless cause in Afghanistan.

That sad truth can only be extremely painful for the families of all those soldiers killed on our country's behalf, for they fought believing their contribution would help Afghanistan.

But the reality is that six years after Canada's military began its mission Afghanistan is farther away from being a democracy, the Taliban are stronger than ever and the evil opium poppy trade that produces most of the world's heroin is bigger than ever.

Last week six more Canadian soldiers and an Afghani interpreter were killed in a giant roadside bombing, reminding us of our politicians' rash decision to commit troops that has cost 66 soldiers and one diplomat their lives.

And to what end?

Malalai Joya, Afghanistan's most popular female politician and certainly its bravest, was expelled in May from her elected parliamentary position by the many warlords and drug dealers who also hold seats.

Joya, 29, who has survived four assassination attempts, was removed for publicly criticizing the assembly as "worse than a stable".

In an interview with Reuters, Joya said she was expelled so she could no longer expose a "completely non-democratic parliament."

"Even inside of the parliament they threw water at me and they threatened me with death and one of them shouted: 'Take her and rape her'. They turned off my microphone," Joya said. And these are our allies.

Joya addressed the federal convention of the New Democratic Party September 2006. Her words sharply contrasted the jingoistic propaganda of Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper that claims great progress is being made in Afghanistan.

"I must tell you that unfortunately there has been NO fundamental change in the plight of Afghan people," Joya said. "When the entire nation is living under the shadow of gun and warlordism, how can its women enjoy very basic freedoms?"

"Unlike the propaganda raised by certain Western media, Afghan women and men are not 'liberated' at all," Joya concluded.

And then there's a new UN report that Afghanistan accounted for 92 per cent of the world's opium production, up from 70 per cent in 2000 and 52 per cent in 1996.

Lastly, a rejoinder to 24 hours columnists Erin Airton and Ian King, who pilloried NDP leader Jack Layton last week for reiterating after the six solidiers died that Canadian troops should be withdrawn immediately.

If anything dishonours our brave soldiers, it is to ask an elected representative of the Canadian people not to tell the truth, a truth that can save Canadian lives.

What kind of democratic values are we trying to export if our politicians are told not to freely speak their minds?

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Mayor Sam Sullivan's office registers ecodensity website through privacy firm that protects "confidential contact information from prying eyes"

July 5, 2007

Mayor's office snags domain Ecodensity.ca


Why did Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan's office have the website ecodensity.ca registered by a consultant using a privacy firm that says it protects "confidential contact information from prying eyes" instead of by city staff?

Vision Vancouver Coun. Raymond Louie calls it another example of "strange behaviour" by Sullivan.

But Sullivan's chief of staff Daniel Fontaine and the consultant involved say it's not an issue and that registration is being transferred to the city.

The move follows reports last month that Sullivan had personally filed a trademark application for "eco density." Sullivan says he will turn that copyright over to Vancouver.

Ecodensity.ca was registered last year through a company called privacy.ca, which says it "allows you to control what information is published about you."

Louie says Sullivan is "doing things off book, separate from the city."

But consultant Mike Klassen, who registered ecodensity.ca and other ecodensity URLs for Sullivan's office, says it was simply convenient to do it that way. And Fontaine says neither he nor Sullivan knew ecodensity.ca was registered through privacy.ca.

Klassen, who created Sullivan's Non-Partisan Association political website, notes that his company name was listed as registering the website, making it no secret he was involved.


Klassen said he "didn't know" why the Mayor's office asked his company, Thinking Cap Inc, to register the websites rather than doing it through city staff.

"I'm their trusted web guy and try to give them good service," he said. Klassen also runs Sullivan's personal mayoral website, which is operated by the city.

But city staff are capable of registering websites as well. An Internet search shows that Marianne Hammond, webmaster for the city of Vancouver, registered the domain name "ecodensity.mobi" for the city on June 26, 2007. [Mobi is a new website extension designed for mobile device websites.]

And two possibly enterprising individuals have also registered ecodensity website names.

Thomas McCallion, a Vancouver resident, registered ecodensity.info on March 31, 2007 while ecodensity.net was registered to Hugh Smith of White Rock on June 23, 2007.

Both Fontaine and Klassen said they have no idea who McCallion or Smith are and that neither is connected to the city or the NPA.

Klassen said there have been some difficulties transferring the ecodensity.ca website over to the city due to Internet registration processes but that ecodensity.com and ecodensity.org had recently been successfully transferred to the city.

Klassen was recently appointed to a volunteer position with the Vancouver City Planning Commission and according to his own personal blog, has been "a new media consultant to a host of election campaigns throughout the decade and managed political election campaigns for "a provincial cabinet minister" in 2005 and for "a candidate for Vancouver council".

Councilor Louie remains skeptical of the explanations on how and why ecodensity domains were registered, however, particularly the use of the privacy.ca service.

"I don't know why it would be necessary to hide the identity of whoever registers the website if the intent was always to transfer it to the city," Louie said. "The entire exercise by the mayor is a surprise not only to council but to the whole city."

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Key Basi-Virk Crown witness Erik Bornmann's "good character" hearing to become Ontario lawyer set for November 5 and open to public and media

The Law Society of Upper Canada will hold a "good character" hearing Monday November 5 into the application of Erik Bornmann, key Crown witness in the breach of trust and fraud trial of former ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk, to become an Ontario lawyer.

Law Society of Upper Canada Communications Manager Lisa Hall said today by email that the hearing to be held on November 5 in Toronto will be open to both the public and the media.

Hall said that both parties - the LSUC and Bornmann - consented to setting a Hearing Management Tribunal date of November 5 at a meeting on the issue Tuesday, as reported on this blog.

In November 2006 a previously-scheduled "good character" hearing was delayed due to the impending trial of Basi and Virk.

As I reported exclusively in 24 hours and this blog, the hearing into Bornmann's "good character" resulted from a complaint to the Law Society.

Police have alleged that Basi and Virk were bribed by Bornmann to obtain confidential government documents related to the $1-billion B.C. Rail privatization. Bornmann was a lobbyist for OmniTRAX, one of the bidders.

Bornmann's lawyers had wanted the media and public excluded from the originally-scheduled hearing or that a ban on publication of the hearing be imposed.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Vancouver Coastal Health FOI request on fired chair Trevor Johnstone vanishes

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday July 3, 2007

Promises disappear with sensitive gov't documents


There are a number of things that I think we do need to do to reinvigorate our public institutions, to re-establish trust in our institutions. Freedom of information is really one of the easier ones.

- Gordon Campbell, July 22, 1998

No, Premier, freedom of information is not "one of the easier ones" - not for you.

Today I am filing a complaint with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner because an FOI request I made to Vancouver Coastal Health Authority on January 30, 2007 has yet to be fulfilled.

Why? I suspect it's because I asked for politically embarrassing correspondence surrounding the firing of Trevor Johnstone, chair of Vancouver Coastal Health by Health Minister George Abbott, for allegedly being unable to deal with a $40 million deficit.

That firing prompted the resignation of Fraser Health Authority Chair Keith Purchase, a big B.C. Liberal supporter.

So I wanted any communications between Johnstone and the government, to figure out what happened.

But five months later I have yet to get one scrap of information, over two months past the legislative requirement to respond.

Regrettably, this is standard. Last year in this column I detailed another FOI request that took a ridiculous 17 months.

Despite outrageously violating the FOI Act, the government official responsible simply wrote: "I apologize for the delay in responding."

I also discovered in 2004 that I had been "red flagged" for special attention by government, an honour also accorded to several other journalists and political activists that can delay FOI requests because ministers and political staff are notified.

So this time I want a ruling from Commissioner David Loukidelis. I want the information I requested and I want it now. I want the rules to be followed as they are written. And I expect an apology and explanation.

Here's the FOI sequence of events: The request was filed January 30, 2007. On February 27 Vancouver Coastal Health said the information would come by March 13 - within the 30 business days the Act requires.

But in an undated letter received March 12, I was informed that Vancouver Coastal Health was extending the 30-day limit by another 30 days, as the Act allows, to April 25.

I received nothing by that date. On May 24 and 28 I left messages asking what happened. On June 8, I was told I'd be contacted on June 11. I've still heard and received nothing.

Ironically, my Vancouver Sun colleague Vaughn Palmer has published several columns quoting the same type of correspondence I've requested, without any parts censured.

That's because he didn't get it through an FOI request. It was leaked to him.