Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Here's your chance to beat the hell out of Facebook!

My friends Rob Cottingham and Alexandra Samuel of Vancouver's innovative Social Signal - a social networking firm - are giving you a great chance to beat the hell out of Facebook.

They are in the running agains Facebook for a "Webby" award for Change Everything, a social justice website they created for VanCity Savings Credit Union.

It's a great chance to support a local business up against a behemoth which should lose simply for the reason that it wastes so much of our time! Or just for creating Funwall alone!

Anyway, that's my rant.

Go to Social Signal and link over to the Webby Awards there, register and vote.

But do it now - the deadline is May 1!!

It will make you feel better.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Tieleman endorses Gregor Robertson for Vision Vancouver mayoralty nomination

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday April 29, 2008

Gregor's the one


The supreme quality for leadership is unquestionably integrity. With-out it, no real success is possible, no matter whether it is on a section gang, a football field, in an army, or in an office.

- U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower

Vancouver needs a new mayor who will inspire the city, instead of infuriate it.

Vancouver needs a new mayor who will give citizens a sense of hope for a better future, instead of a feeling of hopelessness.

And Vancouver needs a new mayor who is passionate about solving our worst problem - the disgraceful homelessness that leaves those most in need with the least to deal with it.

Gregor Robertson is the right person for that job.

Robertson has impressive credentials - currently Vancouver-Fairview NDP MLA, he has also been a successful and progressive businessman who co-founded Happy Planet juices and an organic farmer.

What's more important, is simply Robertson's integrity and sense of public service. He gave up a respected business to get into provincial politics, not because of ambition but out of a deep anger at Premier Gordon Campbell's attacks on social programs and the environment.

After meeting Robertson years ago, I was so impressed that I urged him to run.

I'm still impressed, especially with his fighting for compensation for Cambie Street merchants whose businesses have been devastated by Canada Line construction, and for people with mental disabilities who faced eviction from Hampton Court, their long-term home.

Now Robertson seeks Vision Vancouver's nomination for mayor, and at a critical time.

As he said about homelessness in launching his campaign: "In the midst of our affluence, we see soul-crushing poverty on a daily basis that is deplorable."

Meanwhile, Non-Partisan Association Mayor Sam Sullivan has been such a disappointing failure that his longtime colleague - NPA councillor Peter Ladner - is challenging Sullivan for that party's nomination.

"Overall I feel the mayor has lost the confidence of voters," Ladner says.

Robertson faces two contenders for the Vision Vancouver nomination - Coun Raymond Louie and park board commissioner Allan De Genova.

Louie is a good councillor but was part of the acrimonious 2004 split within the Coalition of Progressive Electors that saw he, then-mayor Larry Campbell and councillor Tim Stevenson leave to form Vision. To win, Vision Vancouver and COPE must bring together centre-left voters, a real challenge for Louie.

De Genova was a veteran NPA commissioner before a bitter split with Sullivan. He has considerable experience but cannot easily attract the centre-left votes needed to win either.

Gregor Robertson has none of that past history and is the best choice to take on Sullivan. If you agree, visit his website: before the May 15 Vision Vancouver nomination sign-up deadline.

BC environmental groups go to Victoria to praise BC Liberals as leaders for introducing carbon tax

It is disappointing to see this news release from some of BC's leading environmental organizations, who are in Victoria today to praise the BC Liberal government for its "leadership" through introduction of a so-called carbon tax.

I believe this is in fact simply a gas tax that will have no impact on climate change or reducing global warming but will definitely reduce the income of ordinary British Columbians, particularly in the northern and rural parts of the province.

The gas tax will start at 2.4 cents a litre in July and rising to 7.2 cents in 2012. If you want some idea how ineffective that will be, consider that gas prices have gone up about 15 cents a litre in the last two months.

But more importantly, this gas tax is a disguised corporate tax cut paid for by you and I. It is decidedly not revenue neutral, as Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Carole Taylor have claimed.

As I said in a previous 24 hours column:

When you take the $1.8 billion to be generated over three years from the allegedly neutral carbon tax and follow the money trail, it pays for tax breaks that go to the B.C. Liberals' business supporters.

A full $415 million goes to cutting the corporate income tax rate from 12 per cent to 10 per cent by 2011.

Another $255 million is the cost of reducing the small business tax from 4.5 per cent to 2.5 per cent in 2011.

And then banks and financial institutions get a $220-million tax break because the corporate capital tax will be eliminated.

These business tax cuts more than dwarf the $440 million cost of the "Climate Action Dividend" every British Columbian will receive just once. And they go on indefinitely.

Environmentalists who support this gas tax should explain how people with no access to public transit, or limited access that does not meet their needs, and limited income will be helped by paying more for gas to drive the same distance while big business gets a tax cut. And how it helps to have those same big businesses pass on any extra costs from the gas tax to consumers as well.

The environmental groups' news release is below, unedited:

* * * * *

News release

April 28, 2008

B.C. environmental groups applaud carbon tax legislation

VICTORIA-- A coalition of more than 16 environmental groups from across British Columbia welcomed the introduction of the province’s landmark carbon tax into the Legislature today.

“We came to Victoria today to show our strong support for the carbon tax,” said Ian Bruce, a climate change specialist with the David Suzuki Foundation. “When it comes to action on climate change, B.C.’s decision to put a price on carbon emissions makes it a leader, and provides an exciting direction for the federal government and other provinces to follow.”

Finance Minister Carole Taylor introduced the Carbon Tax Act into the Legislature this afternoon. The bill will go through a debate before it goes to a vote likely by the end of the week.

Representatives from a coalition of environmental groups, including the David Suzuki Foundation, Sierra Club BC, Pembina Institute, BC Sustainable Energy Association and the Wilderness Committee, were on hand at the Legislature in Victoria to show their support for the bill and to encourage MLAs to vote in favour of the carbon tax.

“The carbon tax will help spur innovation, investment and jobs in B.C.’s clean energy sector,” said Cheryl Shuman, chair of the South Peace BC Sustainable Energy Association. “This could provide northern communities that have been hit hard by the effects of climate change with economic opportunities and a strong foothold in the economy of the future.”

B.C. has committed to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions 33 per cent by 2020. A carbon tax is a powerful economic tool that can help meet this target. But it will need to continue increasing beyond 2012 and be coupled with other strong measures.

“The carbon tax is one of many solutions required to fight global warming,” said Susan Howatt, director of campaigns with the Sierra Club BC. “A comprehensive climate change plan will include many other measures, including regulations to cap and reduce emissions from B.C.’s large industrial emitters as soon as possible.”
On behalf of:
BC Sustainable Energy Association, Better Environmentally Sound Transportation, Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society -- BC Chapter, David Suzuki Foundation, Dogwood Initiative, Ecojustice, ForestEthics, Georgia Strait Alliance, Greenpeace, Living Oceans Society, Pembina Institute, Sierra Club BC, Smart Growth BC, Society Promoting Environmental Conservation, West Coast Environmental Law, Wilderness Committee

- 30 -

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Compensation for Cambie Street merchants demanded of Premier Campbell before new transit projects proceed

My friend Susan Heyes, the indefatiguable woman who is leading the fight for compensation for merchants on Cambie Street who have been crushed by Canada Line construction for three years, and the owner/designer at Hazel & Co. clothing store, passed on this eloquent letter to Premier Gordon Campbell.

PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Rees - with thanks.

It's from Jillian Skeet, a community activist living in the Cambie areas who has been very supportive of the merchants' cause since the RAV Line to the airport began, and I am happy to pass it on to you, and urge you to also support their just claims for compensation.

* * * * *

Jillian Skeet

April 23rd, 2008

Premier Gordon Campbell

Legislative Buildings,Victoria, BC

Dear Premier Campbell,

As a Cambie resident, I have both experienced and witnessed the pain all along Cambie Street as a result of Canada Line construction.

I have spentmost of my life fighting against injustice in other parts of the world, butI never thought I would witness so much injustice on my own doorstep in Canada.

I have watched for two and a half years as businesses have died a slow and painful death.

Our corner store at Cambie and Marine stopped sellingnewspapers within months of construction commencing. Then they stoppedselling milk because it was going sour before it was purchased. Then they stopped restocking their shelves because they couldn’t earn enough to cover their lease.

For the last three weeks or so, they’ve stopped opening at all.

The owners are an immigrant family that was trying to make a go of it in Canada. While one family member worked long hours alone in the store, two other family members took on extra work elsewhere to try to keep the store afloat.

The corner store is next to an insurance company that after two years of sending out notices offering to come to their customers because it was so impossible for their customers to get to them, has now moved.

Next to them was a Sushi restaurant owned by another immigrant family. They made the ill-fated decision to open a new business on Cambie just before the decision to proceed with the RAV Line was announced.

They were just getting established when the road was torn up in front of them and all access routes were blocked. They struggled for months before going bankrupt.

The story is the same up and down Cambie. These are not just businesses – they are livelihoods and lives.

The stress and pain that has been caused by the cut and cover construction has affected not just businesses or business owners, it has hurt entire families – some of whom may never recover.

At least one business owner who was under financial stress had a heart attack and died – and another has publicly admitted to contemplating suicide.

I simply cannot believe the callousness of your government in turning its back on these small business owners and their families.

I personally feel great shame at the way in which they’ve been discarded by your government. I’ve heard all the arguments about businesses coming and going and short term pain for long-term gain, but none of this applies to the Cambie corridor.

What has happened along Cambie is beyond devastating. There is no long-term gain for the many businesses that have lost everything and disappeared, or for those on the verge of losing everything.

I’ve also heard you and your ministers insist that the Canada Line is not your project, that you are just one of the funders. I’m sorry but the factsshow otherwise.

There would be no Canada Line if you had not interceded and forced city councillors to vote and revote the issue.

As a funder of the project, your government bears responsibility for it. It simply defies logic to argue otherwise – government responsibility goes with the money.

I note that while various levels of government have admitted that serious mistakes were made along Cambie, they only do so to reassure other communities that the Cambie mistakes will not be repeated.

It’s well past time your government admitted that grievous errors were made in the handling of the Canada Line construction, and you set about trying to remedy the financial damage and consequent stress by fully compensating small businesses and others for their losses.

You might also consider providing a letter of responsibility that these business can use to try to restore their credit ratings and their relationships with their suppliers and other businesses with whom they have dealings.

There should also be a commitment from your government that if future projects cannot be undertaken without serious damage to businesses and residents, then compensation must be built into the budget.

If that makes the project too expensive, then the project should be altered or shelved.

Premier Campbell, all the flower baskets and banners in the world cannot heal the terminal wounds down the Cambie corridor. Businesses are continuing to die a slow and painful death with each and every passing day,while families are being torn apart by extreme stress.

This situation mustbe remedied immediately. This is a crisis.

I look forward to your prompt and compassionate response.

Sincere regards,

Jillian Skeet

cc. media, all MLAs , MP's, TransLink Board,Vancouver Mayor and Council , citizens

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Ross Rebagliati reaches settlement in lawsuit against CTV's "Whistler" television show

I am very pleased to announce that Ross Rebagliati, the Olympic gold-medal winning snowboarder, has reached an out of court settlement in his lawsuit against the CTV program "Whistler".

Ross's lawyer Joyce Thayer has done a formidable job on his behalf to get this resolved.

Ross is a genuine nice guy and working with him as a client was great. I wish Ross and his wife Alexandra all the best with their new ventures in Kelowna.

Here is their news release regarding the settlement.

* * * * *

Ross Rebagliati
First Ever Olympic Gold Medalist in Snowboarding


Thursday, April 24, 2008


VANCOUVER, BC – CTV Television Inc., Boardwatch Productions Inc., Uphill Productions Inc. and Kelly Senecal offer settlement in favour of first ever Olympic Gold Medalist in snowboarding, Ross Rebagliati, in lawsuit over television show “Whister”.

In 2006 Ross Rebagliati took legal action against CTV Television Inc. and producers of the television show “Whistler”, charging misappropriating of personality and defamation. Rebagliati, who won a gold medal in the first ever snowboarding competition at the Nagano Olympics in 1998, said the television show “Whister” misappropriated his image.

“I am the only Canadian Olympic snowboard gold medalist, with blue eyes, blonde hair who lives in Whistler,” Rebagliati said. “The similarities between my personality and the central “Whistler” program character Beck MacKaye are obvious.”

“I am glad I was able to get my message out, as I have worked very hard on my image since returning home from Nagano. I am grateful that CTV has taken this matter seriously and I look forward to working more closely with them in the future”, said Rebagliati.

Along with coaching his international RASTA camps (Rebagliati Alpine Snowboard Training Academy), Ross lends his time to multiple charities including the upcoming Westside Cycling Classic with Trevor Linden (Vancouver Canucks) and Axel Merckx (Tour de France competitor and Olympic Cycling Medalist) to support cancer research in BC on June 1st in Vancouver [media conference for event on May 1st in Vancouver].

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Celebrate Earth Day today with BC grown food and wine!

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday April 22, 2008

Celebrate, don't beat yourself up


Celebrate what you want to see more of.

- Author Thomas J. Peters

Today is Earth Day - celebrate it with some of the enormous range of good harvest grown in British Columbia.

Don't beat yourself up about how bad things are - instead, enjoy some of our province's fabulous food and wine.

There's always another day to listen to David Suzuki light his hair on fire about the environment and then buy a carbon offset credit for the smoke it produced!

Today, have a British Columbia feast from our good earth to remind you how lucky we are - and how critical it is to protect not just our small corner of the planet but the whole thing.

Nothing will remind you of that like a great meal, with the ingredients coming from our own province.
And it's important, because British Columbia currently produces only 48 per cent of the food we eat, according to a B.C. Agriculture Ministry report.

Even to keep at that level, the province needs to raise production by 30 per cent in the next 17 years just to keep pace with population growth.

The best way to encourage government at all levels to preserve and increase farmland - and remind ourselves too as we rapidly replace farms with housing and industry - is to savour products we grow here.

Start with some excellent B.C. wines from Vancouver's backyard.

Lotusland Vineyards in Abbotsford organically grows grapes in the Fraser Valley without pesticides or chemical fertilizers, and their wines are delicious. David and Liz Avery produce great Gewurztraminer, Chardon-nay, Pinot Gris, Merlot and Pinot Noir you can buy at their winery or retail outlets.

Township 7 Vineyards and Domaine de Chaberton in nearby Langley also both produce some tasty wines made from both local and Okanagan Valley grapes.

Then on to dinner. One option - head to one of the many excellent restaurants in Metro Vancouver emphasizing cuisine based on B.C-. produced food.

My favourite - Bishop's in Kitsilano, where local food pioneer John Bishop boasts one of the most highly awarded fine dining establishments in Canada, with almost everything on the menu grown, raised or fished in B.C.

Cooking at home? Granville Island Market, Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver and New Westminster Quay all have loads of B.C. products.

And visit your local farmers' markets, which open soon, or the winter farmers' market this Saturday from 10 till 2 at Vancouver's Wise Hall.

What to eat? Everything from B.C. spot prawns, fresh Queen Charlotte Islands halibut, Fanny Bay oysters, Fraser Valley duck and Mayne Island venison to morel mushrooms, fingerling potatoes, Qualicum artisan goat cheese and heirloom tomatoes, and much more.

But whatever you do, celebrate Earth Day with something that comes from right here in British Columbia - cheers!

POSTSCRIPT - Determined to walk my talk, I enjoyed a delicious BC food meal at Vancouver's Pair Bistro on Tuesday night. You can read all about it - and more - at my wine blog - Wine Barbarian.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Death threats in Canada show what democracy and human rights advocates face in China

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday April 15, 2008

Remember China's dissidents


You must never be fearful about what you are doing when it is right.

- Rosa Parks, American civil rights activist

I have deeply underestimated the amazing courage of democracy and human rights advocates in China, who stand up fearlessly to overwhelming repression and heartless punishment.

That understanding came last week, when I received three death threats by e-mail over Tuesday's column outlining the Chinese government's crackdown on activists leading up to the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

The death threats, which are under investigation by the Vancouver Police Department, were the culmination of a series of increasingly vicious and sometimes stunningly obscene e-mails received following the column.

What prompted such vitriol?

My suggestion that perhaps boycotting China, not just the Olympics, would be an appropriate response to the violent Chinese military repression in Tibet, ongoing attempts to denounce the Dalai Lama, increasing human rights violations, efforts to isolate Taiwan and attacks on Falun Gong practitioners.

But if it's offensive to threaten me for simply being an outspoken columnist in Canada, what do you call what happens daily to Chinese citizens who attempt to oppose a dictatorship?

Think about Ye Guozhu, a housing rights advocate serving a four-year jail term because he applied for permission to hold a demonstration against forced evictions and demolition of property in Beijing to make way for Olympic construction.

Amnesty International reports that Ye Guozhu was convicted of "picking quarrels and stirring up trouble" after his restaurant and home were seized without compensation.

Amnesty says Ye is reported to have been tortured by being suspended from the ceiling by the arms and beaten by police before his trial. He was also beaten with electro-shock batons in Chaobai prison, Beijing.

Ye was then sent twice to Qingyuan prison for periods of "discipline", most recently in February 2007 for 10 months, apparently for trying to appeal his conviction. His son and brother were also arrested on suspicion of "inciting subversion,"

Think about Hu Jia, a Chinese dissident who fights for human rights and defends AIDS patients, displaced farmers and women opposing forced sterilization. Hu got three and a half years in jail for "inciting subversion of state power."

Ye Guozhu and Hu Jia are true heroes because they are not fearful about doing what is right, as Rosa Parks said.

It is an honour for me to write about their terrible treatment by the Chinese government and to encourage readers to voice their opposition through groups like Amnesty International. And I will not be silenced by threats.

The Chinese people deserve to live in a society where people like Ye Guozhu and Hu Jia are celebrated, not jailed and tortured. A great nation and culture will only flourish with democracy.

CanWest Global story on NDP fundraising features Tieleman donations but not CanWest Global contributions to BC Liberals

I found it very amusing to read my Sunday Vancouver Province newspaper on April 13 and find an article mentioning me as a 24 hours columnist and BC New Democratic Party contributor.

The story by CanWest News Services was about the NDP's success in raising money from individual donors through monthly contributions and its failure to obtain funds from BC's corporate sector.

To illustrate that trend, the unnamed reporter cited my monthly donations to the NDP and identified me as a columnist with 24 hours.

But what wasn't mentioned was telling.

First of all, there was nothing to tell readers that CanWest Global is a major contributor to the BC Liberal Party, Elections BC showing the company to have given a whopping $50,000 in the 2005 election year to Gordon Campbell's re-election efforts.

I wonder why that wasn't noted?

Second, ironically enough, I am the owner of a BC corporation who supports the NDP.

Lastly, the amount I am listed as giving monthly in the CanWest story was wrong - but it doesn't add up to $50,000!

Monday, April 14, 2008

Defence again alleges political interference by Premier Gordon Campbell in Basi-Virk BC Rail case

Defence alleges problems with disclosure of evidence related to BC Rail amounts to political interference by premier; more delays in case announced

The defence in the trial of three former B.C. government aides facing corruption charges is again alleging political interference by Premier Gordon Campbell in the case.

And defence lawyer Kevin McCullough suggested in B.C. Supreme Court Monday that it may take testimony in court by Campbell to find out why a government protocol for dealing with disclosure of evidence related to the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail was changed after being in place for three and a half years.

“These actions by the premier were a Charter breech and effectively amounted to political interference by the premier,” McCullough alleged, referring to the Charter of Rights.

McCullough argued that questioning Campbell in court may be necessary after government lawyer George Copley rejected a defence proposal to put questions in writing to the premier and other officials.

“The kind of questions would be: ‘Why did you change the protocol? Did you discuss this with, for example, Martyn Brown?’” McCullough asked, mentioning Campbell’s longtime top political aide.

McCullough, representing Bob Virk, and defence lawyer Michael Bolton, representing David Basi, also told Justice Elizabeth Bennett that further delays in disclosure of evidence have again forced the trial to be pushed back.

“Effectively between March 11 and today nothing has happened,” McCullough said, referring to the last court update session. “We have received nothing. Nothing.”

NDP MLA Leonard Krog, who attended court, said Campbell’s “stonewalling” on the matter is “jeopardizing this case."

"The public deserves to know why the names of their elected officials are linked to the B.C. Rail corruption case. Instead, the government is stonewalling. That’s not acceptable.” said Krog, critic for the Attorney General and Nanaimo MLA.

For the Premier to be mired in allegations of such a serious nature hurts public trust. And it further underlines the need for the Campbell government to come clean and stop hiding behind their privilege applications,” Krog said.

McCullough also told Bennett that questions raised by the defence around a deal with key Crown witness Erik Bornmann, a provincial lobbyist alleged to have provided Basi and Virk with benefits in exchange for confidential government information, will have to be dealt with in court after discussions with the Special Prosecutor.

"The Bornmann issue, I expect, is going to be litigated," he said.

The protocol issue came up after it was revealed that in May 2007 Campbell had assigned Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel to handle whether documents related to the sale of BC Rail should be released to the defence. In the three and half years prior to that the issue of privilege over cabinet documents had been handled by the secretary to the cabinet.

Seckel denied in February any political interference is involved.

Court will hold another update session at 9 a.m. on May 5.

A version of this story will be published in Tuesday's 24 hours newspaper

Tieleman receives death threats for 24 hours column on China & Olympics; Vancouver Police investigating, say emails came from China

Threats originated in China


24 hours' opinion columnist Bill Tieleman received three death threats via e-mail, one of which read, "I must kill you and your family," over his April 8 column taking issue with China's human rights record.

"I just find it offensive that threatening a journalist is an appropriate way to deal with an opinion they disagree with," he said.

Vancouver police told Tieleman yesterday the messages were sent from the same e-mail account inside China.

In response, Tieleman, who has received hundreds of responses to his column, pointed out people's right to voice opinions in Canada is not as apparent in China.

"If you were sending very negative e-mails, and postings, and letters, in response to a columnist in a Chinese newspaper you would have authorities knocking at your door and possibly taking you away," he said.

Tung Chan, CEO of immigrant settlement agency SUCCESS, condemned the death threats received by Tieleman.

Still, Chan said pundits who enter the debate should be mindful of feelings of nationalism that newcomers from China have for their homeland.

"People have a different visceral reaction to those kinds of issues," Chan said of columns such as Tieleman's.

Tieleman argued any public debate, no matter its nature, should always remain civil.

"When it crosses the line into obscenity-filled e-mails and then death threats, there's no place for that in any democracy," he said. "It's regrettable."


- I can kill you. you are wait!!!!!!!! (sic).

- I am in CKNW, I am normal Chinese. I must kill you and your family.

- Kill you! you clean your neck (sic), enjoy your last day, just wait, you will pay for this!

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Tieleman responds to critics of column on China Olympics and boycott suggestion

There has been an overwhelming response to my column in 24 hours newspaper on Tuesday titled "Let's boycott China altogether" and I want to respond to the many critics as well as make some additional points and answer questions.

First of all, let me make clear that I am not against the Chinese people. I oppose the actions of the Chinese government dictatorship and hope that eventually people in that country will have a real democracy, full human rights and civil liberties.

Second, I am deeply disappointed that many of those criticizing my column have sent me emails that can only be described as obscene and vicious. There is no place for such language and I will not respond to anyone who resorts to offensive words in place of reasoning and logic.

But I do welcome all posts and emails, including those that disagree with me vehemently, as you can see from some of the items below my column on this blog.

Third, to clarify, I personally do not buy products from any military dictatorship if at all possible, including China. This can be a challenge but I do not want my money helping to maintain an undemocratic government anywhere.

An interesting recent book titled: A Year Without "Made In China" by Sara Bongiorni, a reporter whose family did not buy any products from China for all of 2005.

And yes, I boycotted South African and Chilean products for many years as well. But I have not, despite the headline on my column, called for a Canadian government sanctioned boycott of China.

Fourth, no, I have not travelled to either China or Tibet. I believe there are more than enough credible and diverse sources of information to draw conclusions. I also have no interest in visiting dictatorships.

Fifth, there have indeed been many defective or contaminated products imported from China. I agree wholeheartedly with some postings that say the American or western companies responsible for importing them must be held to blame as well but that does not alter the fact that Chinese companies produced and exported them without proper quality control.

Sixth, the gratuitous insults aimed at the Dalai Lama are obviously copied from the Chinese government's laughable attempts to discredit a man the world recognizes for his non-violent approach and his humanitarian efforts.

Seventh, the status and history of Tibet as an independent nation is far from settled in China's favour, despite some of the claims of posters here and emailers. Tibet's future should be decided by Tibetans.

Eighth, many comments say: "Don't threaten or berate China or the situation will be even worse." Others say: "Trade with China will bring democracy and human rights." I disagree. These arguments are of great benefit to China and its interests but do not make sense, since the human rights situation has continued to deteriorate or fail to improve during a period when the world increased trading with China exponentially.

The other opponents of criticizing China are multinational corporations taking advantage of low wages, substandard working conditions and lax environmental regulations to produce goods there and boost their own profits.

Ninth, as one poster noted, Tibet is not Quebec. Quebec can democratically vote to leave Canada, separatists can openly run for both provincial and national office and can campaign for independence. Try that in Tibet and see what happens.

Tenth, China may claim Taiwan but that does not make it a province of China. Taiwan has an independent, democratically elected government. Taiwan's future will be decided by its own people, not the Chinese dictatorship.

Eleventh, some have said my opinions are "naive". So be it. Some also thought a prisoner named Nelson Mandela would never become the democratically elected President of South Africa in a vote by all citizens.

Twelfth, anyone who thinks the Olympic Games have no room for politics should do some research. China is using the Beijing Summer Games to attempt to legitimize its government and obscure criticism with a giant circus. However, I have not called for a boycott of the Games.

Thirteenth, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he is not "boycotting" the opening ceremonies but is obviously not attending without a given reason. He is diplomatically sending a message that is unmistakeable, as he did by meeting the Dalai Lama.

Fourteenth, I find it highly ironic that many posters who attack me have come to Canada from China - a place where they would find themselves quickly in jail for expressing opinions contrary to those published in a Chinese newspaper! Welcome to democracy and free speech, my friends.

Fifteenth, almost none of the approximately 100 or more negative emails and posts I received even mentioned the Amnesty International report on China's deteriorating human rights situation as the Olympics approach. Almost none could care less about the arbitrary jailing of Chinese citizens like Hu Jia who are standing up fearlessly for democracy despite the terrible price they must pay.

Contrast Hu's courage with many of my critics, who send vicious messages but hide behind fake email addresses or anonymously post their comments.

Lastly, I do apologize for an inadvertent error in referring to Chinese Ambassador to Canada Lu Shumin and Chinese democracy dissident Hu Jia on second references as Shumin and Jia, when it should have been Lu and Hu.

Once again, thank you for the attention this column has received and I will write in the near future again about China and the Beijing Olympics. All reasonable comments, against or in favour of my position, are welcome.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Olympic Games making Chinese repression worse, not better

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday April 8, 2008

Let's boycott China altogether


It is increasingly clear that much of the current wave of repression is occurring not in spite of the Olympics, but actually because of the Olympics.

- Amnesty International, April 1, 2008

Boycott the Chinese Olympic games?

How about we just boycott China?

A country run by a vicious military dictatorship should never have been awarded the 2008 summer Olympics in the first place - and that was before its repressive attacks on Tibet.

Despite pious claims by China's leaders that it would improve human rights and allow foreign journalists full freedom to report on the Olympics, the reality is that new crackdowns are doing exactly the opposite.

On Thursday, Chinese human rights advocate Hu Jia was sentenced to three and a half years in jail for "subversion." Jia is a cyber dissident whose popular Internet blog posted articles about Chinese human rights violations and corruption.

On Friday, the CBC sent a protest letter to Lu Shumin, China's ambassador to Canada, because its websites have been blocked by the Chinese authorities for months.

And CBC is actually the official Canadian broadcaster of the Beijing Olympic Games.

Then there is the ongoing Chinese effort to isolate and intimidate Taiwan, a democratic country it claims as its own property.

The extent of Chinese bullying can be seen in its successful pressure to ban Taiwan from the World Health Organization, an international body that states: "Health is a shared responsibility, involving equitable access to essential care and collective defence against transnational threats."

Except, that is, if China objects. And it doesn't stop at the WHO. China has even blocked Taiwanese reporters from being accredited to cover the World Health Assembly since 2004, despite objections from journalistic organizations.

Perhaps it's threatening to the communist dictatorship if Taiwan newspapers and television tell the country's 23 million people about illnesses like the avian flu that know no borders.

We mustn't forget Tibet, where the paranoid Chinese government blames the Noble Peace Prize winner, the Dalai Lama, for Tibetans protesting the ongoing occupation of their country.

Ambassador Shumin actually went on Canadian television to call the Dalai Lama a "liar" and compare Tibet's government prior to the Chinese takeover with the Nazis.

Perhaps Shumin would enjoy another TV appearance to explain his government's appalling treatment of Falun Gong practioners and other dissidents as well, but I doubt it.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rightly decided not to attend the opening of the Beijing Olympics to send a clear signal that China's behaviour is offensive to the world.

And if China, our second largest trading partner, retaliates? Yes, we'll just have to make do without poisonous lead toys for our children and contaminated food products. That will be tough.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Premier Gordon Campbell's new press secretary a surprise choice given controversy with Campbell in 1996 election campaign

I was completely surprised by the announcement Tuesday that TV broadcaster Bridgette Anderson had taken the position of BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell's press secretary.

Surprised because of a past controversy during the 1996 provincial election campaign, which Campbell narrowly lost to NDP Premier Glen Clark.

Anderson was then the Victoria-based political reporter for UTV [the station that has also been known as CKVU.] At that time I was Communications Director in the Premier's office and, during the election, campaign tour communications director.

On May 10, 1996 - just 18 days before the vote - Campbell made a bad attempt at humour on the campaign trail after being asked by Anderson about his lack of warmth and polls that found him personally a drag on the party.

Watching the 6 p.m. television news after campaigning had ended, our election team was stunned at the reports of Campbell's ill-advised comments and actions.

An accurate accounting of the incident comes from a Fraser Institute report on election coverage in the 1996 and 1991 provincial elections:

Part of the negative attention to Gordon Campbell resulted from his earlier interview with UTV reporter Bridgette Anderson. Just as Liberal leader John Turner before him was haunted by the "bum-patting" incident in 1984, Campbell was considered overly friendly in 1996.

Ironically the offending incident occurred when Anderson asked Campbell about his image problem: "Today in Kelowna, he was back on the campaign trail trying to reshape his image. But that image may have suffered a setback when I asked him about the new Gordon Campbell. . . .

Critics have said that you're not known as a very warm kind of human being. Are you trying to change that image?"

Campbell responded by putting his arm around Anderson and saying: "I sure am Bridge, no question about that."

Although Campbell apologized for his actions, the incident was reported on all three stations. BCTV's Keith Baldry went so far as to say on May 10, 1996: "On to another topic, Pamela. Of course a lot of attention was paid to Gordon Campbell's economic plan, but it was somewhat overshadowed by an event involving Mr. Campbell on the campaign trail in Kelowna."

While UTV and BCTV showed some restraint by placing this story after reports of the Liberal economic plan, CBC launched the night's news with the incident. In introducing the story, anchor Erica Johnson made this comment: "But no sooner had the Liberal leader taken his new image and tax plan on the road today than his campaign was on the defensive. One brief gesture almost derailed the day's closely scripted plan."

I remember the response of some of the female Clark campaign members at the time. "That's creepy," one said, while others were simply astonished.

The incident should not be overemphasized but it hurt Campbell with women voters at a time when the election battle was neck and neck.

Anderson, while obviously rattled by Campbell's actions, remained a professional journalist throughout and did not attempt to make more of it than the story that day.
Still, I shook my head upon hearing that she had gone to work as Campbell's press secretary.

I wish Bridgette well - she is not a political person in my view but the premier's staff are hired to defend the premier and improve his image - and that may be a real challenge.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Sudden John Les resignation raises many questions about how top cop secretly investigated for 9 months

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday April 1, 2008

No Les of a mystery


The solicitor general wasn't supposed to know. Nobody was supposed to know.

- Attorney General Wally Oppal on RCMP investigation of John Les

The sudden Friday afternoon resignation of Solicitor General John Les due to an ongoing police investigation poses more questions than a week's worth of the quiz show Jeopardy.

Questions like: How can B.C.'s minister responsible for policing be under RCMP investigation for nine months without his cabinet colleagues having a clue?

And how do unelected bureaucrats and police get to decide not only what, but when the public and elected politicians learn about possible allegations of impropriety against their boss?

Premier Gordon Campbell says he only found out when Les called to resign that the cabinet minister was part of an RCMP investigation involving land deals in Chilliwack in the 1990s, when Les was mayor.

Attorney-General Wally Oppal says he didn't know either until just before his officials issued a news release saying independent special prosecutor Robin McFee was appointed in June 2007.

The news release was only prepared after a CBC reporter asked if Les was being investigated.

That can't give anyone much confidence in B.C.'s unique special prosecutor system, which rightly removed politicians' ability to interfere with criminal investigations.

But it's ridiculous to allow B.C.'s top cop to be secretly under RCMP investigation when Les was dealing with critical decisions on policing, crime prevention, correctional services, lotteries, gaming, liquor and much more.

The system needs to be changed so that police and the special prosecutor have very limited time to make a decision to either continue the investigation and inform the public or drop it.

It's important to remember that Les has not been charged with any crime and hopefully will be cleared of any wrongdoing.

But how can the public have confidence in the justice system if it appears that authorities are unwilling to disclose that the man in charge of the police is himself being investigated?

It's also telling to look back at a previous example. On Jan. 27, 2003, John van Dongen, then B.C.'s agriculture, food and fisheries minister, resigned when he came under police investigation over allegations he informed a fish farm of an impending inspection.

Van Dongen said then: "I was advised last night by the premier, who was informed by the attorney general, that a special prosecutor will be appointed to assist the police investigation."

In a far less significant case, the attorney general learned of the investigation from his officials, told the premier and the minister temporarily resigned.

So how come B.C.'s top cop stayed on the job with police investigating him for nine months?

Good question.