Friday, February 27, 2009

Kevin Falcon's A Bridge Too Far - $3 billion Public-Private-Partnership Port Mann bridge deal collapses! BC taxpayers to go it alone

Breaking news - BC Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon's much-vaunted $3 billion Public-Private-Partnership deal to build a new Port Mann bridge has collapsed - leaving BC taxpayers to pick up the entire project.

Falcon announced late Friday that the province could not reach a deal with a private consortium that was going to build the new 10-lane bridge - with a rapidly expanding budget that jumped from $1.5 billion to $3 billion in just eight months.

“We would've liked to have gotten to an agreement," said Falcon. "We had a memorandum of agreement, but ultimately we were not able to come to closing terms, and that's just life."

Falcon claims that any cost overruns or construction delays will be the responsibility of Peter Kiewit and Sons and Flat-Iron Constructors Canada, the two contractors.

But the news has drawn fire from both the NDP and the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

"If you can't get financing for this kind of a project, where there's a guaranteed source of revenue over a lengthy period of time, what project can you get financing for?" said NDP Finance critic Bruce Ralston. "So we're back to government financing, but we've been delayed for years by this minister's stubborn insistence on doing it a different way, which has completely failed."

Canadian Taxpayers Federation BC director Maureen Bader calls the government's approach "too risky."

"If it's too risky for a private sector company then it's also too risky for the taxpayers," said "So I think now is not the time to be going forward with these projects — to increase the debt even more than what we are already looking at. "

After an initial all private deal also fell through, BC announced it was going to provide one-third of the financing while a group of private developers was slated to provide the remaining two-thirds.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

BASI-VIRK - NDP wins access to 8000 pages of documents related to BC Rail privatization in Supreme Court of BC decision today


The New Democratic Party opposition won a big legal victory in BC Supreme Court today when Justice Elizabeth Bennett ruled that they - and the public - could have access to 8,000 pages of government documents related to the privatization of BC Rail.

The documents contained in 15 binders had been obtained by defence counsel for three former BC Liberal government aides facing corruption charges connected to the 2003 BC Rail deal - David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.

The documents will take some time to photocopy but should be available in the court registry by this afternoon.

UPDATE - The government documents ordered released by the court will not be available until Thursday due to the length of time needed to photocopy them.

NDP MLA Leonard Krog said outside court that the public deserved to see details of what he called a "giveaway" of BC Rail before the May 12 provincial election.

"We're getting 15 binders of documents that hopefully will cast some light on what I believe is the giveaway of a crown asset that led to criminal charges," Krog said.

But Krog said the BC government could release far more documents if it chose to, including two more binders of BC Rail company information that Bennett today declined to release to the NDP.

"The body that is holding back documents is the government of British Columbia," he said. "BC Rail can release those documents if they wish. The fact that this case has gone on so long is entirely the fault of the provincial government."

Krog said the Gordon Campbell government was using "entirely political" moves to keep the facts from the public.

"Bleak House by Charles Dickens doesn't begin to compart to this fiasco," Krog concluded, referring to the classic novel about a long-running legal dispute that was a criticism of the British judiciary system at the time.

A shorter version of this story will run in Thursday's 24 hours newspaper.

UPDATE 4:20 p.m.

The successful NDP legal application was brought to court by lawyer Mike Mulligan. In court Mulligan told Bennett that: "There should be a presumption of openness in court, including pre-trial hearings."

Bennett was unimpressed, replying: "This courtroom has been very open. There have been very few publication bans. Disclosure [of evidence to the defence] is not something the public generally has access to."

Defence lawyer Michael Bolton, representing David Basi, argued successfully in court for the exclusion of two documents in the 8,000 pages.

"It's communication between a lobbyist and Mr. Basi with regard to some Liberal Party matters," Bolton told Bennett. "It has relevance to these proceedings - I can tell from the date of it."

"I have concern with it being available prior to the trial because it affects Mr. Basi's right to a fair trial," Bolton said. This particular document will be relevant to cross-examinatino of one of the key Crown witnesses."

Bolton did not mention any names but former BC lobbyists Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, partners in the now defunct Pilothouse Public Affairs, are both testifying for the Crown and are alleged to have provided benefits to David Basi and Bob Virk in exchange for obtaining confidential government information. Neither Bornmann nor Kieran face any charges.

Bornmann and Kieran were retained as lobbyists by OmniTRAX, one of the two bidders for BC Rail. OmniTRAX has denied any knowledge of their actions and is not under investigation.

Bolton also received Bennett's approval to have a second document removed from the release.

"Binder 3, Tab 3, page 29 is a discussion between Mr. Basi and his previous counsel, Mr. Considine, regarding his employment," Bolton told the court. "It would not normallly be released under the Act. It involves employment history."

Outside court Bolton said that the information obtained by defence counsel through FOI requests that will be made public has much to do with the BC Rail privatization.

"There are a huge volume of documents that will illuminate aspects of the BC Rail deal - it doesn't affect the fair trial rights of Mr. Basi," he said in an interview.

The court adjourned until the next pre-trial session, scheduled to being March 9 with arguments over parliamentary privilege issues and disclosure of documents.

Lawyer Frank Falzone will be representing the Speaker of the BC Legislature, the Clerk and the Conflict of Interest Commissioner.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Forget the Oscars! Here are the Academy of Political Pundit Arts and Sciences awards to local, BC and federal politicians!

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 24, 2009

And the award goes to ...


The Academy Awards are obscene, dirty ... no better than a beauty contest.

- Dustin Hoffman

Welcome to the Academy of Political Pundit Arts and Sciences award ceremonies!

The Oscars were Sunday night but the achievements of local, B.C. and federal politicians are being awarded right here and now!

Our first category: The Best Unbelievably Out Of Touch Performance By A Provincial Politician.

The envelope please ... and the winner is: WALL-Y - the story of an animated B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal who fails miserably to deal with crimes committed by an overwhelming amount of human garbage on the streets of Metro Vancouver.

Our next category: The Best Urban Disaster Movie.

And the winner is: Milked, about how anout-of-control civic politician - played by former Non-Partisan Association Vancouver Mayor Sam Sullivan - takes taxpayers to the cleaners by having city council secretly finance an out-of-cash developer building the Olympic Village.

Don't miss the big- budget blockbuster sequel - titled Olympic Village of the Damned - starring Vision Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson and a cast of millions - opening for two weeks in February 2010!

Speaking of the Olympics, our next category is Best Totally Underestimated Expense Claim.

The winner - Slumdog Billionaire, starring Colin Hansen as the B.C. Finance Minister who inexplicably budgets only $175 million for Olympic Winter Games security costs - and then acts completely shocked when the real total turns about to be $1 billion! An unbelievable performance!

Moving along, our next category is Best Non- Supporting Actor In A Crime Drama.

And the winner is The Slow Reader, with an absolutely unconvincing performance by Solicitor General John van Dongen as the politician who is supposed to be B.C.'s top cop during a gang war with thugs shooting up shopping malls in broad daylight.

Van Dongen won with monotone speeches about getting tough on crime, without actually taking any action.

Next up: The Best Unelected Government We Never Had award.

And the winner is ... Revolutionary Road, about a radical attempt to take over the government of Canada without actually winning an election!

It stars former federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion in his last public role, with New Democratic Party leader Jack Layton in a supporting role and Bloc Quebecois leader Gilles Duceppe in an uncredited cameo appearance.
And our last category - Best Taxpayer Fantasy Story.

The winner is ... Debt - with Kevin Falcon starring as the B.C. transportation minister whose new Port Mann bridge project doubles in price to $3 billion in just eight months - without a single shovel touching the ground! Amazing!

Falcon's sequel, For Whom the Bridge Tolls, has a special admission price of $3 to get in - and $3 to get out as well!

And that's our show - good night!


Thursday, February 19, 2009

NDP Opposition lawyer asks Basi-Virk judge to release FOI documents related to BC Rail privatization

A lawyer representing the New Democratic Party Official Opposition has asked BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett to release up to 8,000 pages of documents that defence lawyers in the BC Legislature Raid have obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

Lawyer Mike Mulligan appeared in court Thursday to ask Bennett to release to the opposition documents lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the three former BC Liberal government aides facing corruption charges - have received through FOIs.

Bennett appeared unhappy with Mulligan's request, saying that it could disrupt trial proceedings but agreed to consider it. She is expected to make a ruling on February 25, after Robert Deane, a lawyer representing BC Rail, has an opportunity to review the material and see if his client has any objections to its release.

While Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough said nothing in 15 binders of FOI documents would jeopardize his client's right to a fair trial, both the defence and Special Prosecutor were opposed to Mulligan's application, saying it would require many hours of photocopying.

I was unable to attend the pre-trial hearing today but have been informed about the proceedings from reliable observers.

There are also accounts online from the Vancouver Sun's Neal Hall and Robin Mathews of Vive Le Canada and The Legislature Raids blog.

NDP MLA Leonard Krog said in an interview with me this evening that the information it has requested could shed light on what happened in the BC Rail deal.

"The opposition is hopeful that some of the truth about the sale of BC Rail will come to light as a result of this application," Krog said. "British Columbians deserve to know the truth before the May 12 election."

Arguments on release of other FOI-requested documents continues in court this week and next.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Outrageous gang violence demands action from Attorney-General Wally Oppal and BC government - stop the killing!

Police at scene of latest shooting death Monday morning - young woman gunned down with 4-year-old child in back seat at 10 a.m. in Surrey
UPDATE TUESDAY - Another young man shot to death in a hit on Fraser Street in Vancouver!

Bill Tieleman’s
24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 17, 2009

Play your role in ending the violence


This violence is unanswerable. The fact these people are out on bail, it's unanswerable. It's an outrage.

- Steve Brown, anti-gang violence advocate

Understand one thing clearly about the B.C. government's announcement of measures to fight gang violence last week: The only reason anything happened is because of you, the public.

The heat on B.C. Attorney General Wally Oppal - the guy who said two weeks ago that our "streets are safe" - got so seriously turned on that now he's talking about "an unparalleled wave of violence" - and it's about time.

B.C. Solicitor General John van Dongen said Friday: "No more gangs. No more guns. No more innocent victims."

Great news, but it won't happen - not with the $69 million over three years to add 168 "police specialists" and 10 extra prosecutors the government is promising.

Ending gang violence is a lot tougher than holding a flashy news conference and showing off assault rifles seized the past few years.

Gangsters facing serious gun and drug charges have to be kept in jail, not on bail.

Judges have to impose tough sentences for gun crimes and gun possession, not accept plea bargains that let criminals out of jail in weeks or months.

Prosecutors have to resist plea bargains and convict criminals on serious charges that draw longer custody time.

Premier Gordon Campbell, Oppal and van Dongen have to take continuous action - not just when deadly shootings occur.

And you - the public - have to keep the pressure on politicians until they do the right thing.

So I am thrilled that since last week's column almost 1,000 people have joined my Facebook online protest group called: "Where's Wally? BC Attorney General Oppal has 30 days to end gang violence."

It's inspired by Steve Brown, whose brother-in-law Ed Schellenberg was gunned down execution-style in the October 2007 Surrey apartment massacre - an innocent victim along with Chris Mohan - both in the wrong place when drug-related gang violence erupted.

Steve has spoken out against the lack of government action - and gave Wally Oppal until March 7 to do something.

So go to and type the title in the search box to get there.

Here's how public pressure works: NDP MLA Mike Farnworth proposed on Jan. 22 that body armour being used by gangsters be made illegal. Van Dongen then called Farnworth's idea: "Grossly simplistic ... politics and grandstanding."

"I don't know what difference Mike Farnworth's private member bill would make," van Dongen concluded.

But on Friday what was one key part of the government's seven-point plan?
Outlawing body armour.

That's why I urge you to keep the heat on the B.C. government to end gang violence.

Send Wally Oppal a message
- the clock is ticking on the 30 days Steve Brown gave him.

Former Vancouver NPA Mayor Sam Sullivan sends friends an email and makes a prediction on NPA Councilor Suzanne Anton

Former Vancouver Non-Partisan Association Mayor Sam Sullivan is making the rounds electronically, drumming up support for his rather late defence of the disastrous Olympic Village deal.

His Honour is sending an email - reproduced in full below - to political supporters and passing acquaintances saying he could no longer remain silent.

Sullivan promotes the good NPA-oriented folks at the City Caucus website - where his "editorial" can be found.

And Sullivan interestingly predicts that lone NPA gunwoman, Councilor Suzanne Anton, "may" send you a note the he hopes you will "find useful."

Can't wait for that one!

Here is Sam Sullivan's email message - as received today by one contact:

* * * * *


I have refrained from making political comments since leaving office but felt it necessary to weigh in on the Olympic Athlete's Village subject a couple of weeks ago.

My editorial can be found on, a website that is doing a good job of bringing a different point of view to city issues. Here's my view on this topic...

Councillor Suzanne Anton has a tough job as the only opposition member on City Council. She may send you a note which I hope you will find useful.

Best regards,

Sam Sullivan


Thursday, February 12, 2009

BASI-VIRK - BC Liberal MLAs caucus sends lawyer to block FOI disclosure of MLA communications

MLA talks not public: Lawyer


February 13, 2009

A lawyer representing the B.C. Liberal MLA caucus made a first appearance Wednesday at the B.C. Legislature raid case, asserting that communications between MLAs are not subject to disclosure from a defence Freedom of Information request.

Lawyer Ed Montague told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett that his appearance was solely due to an FOI request filed in July 2007 by lawyers representing David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - three ex-government aides facing corruption charges related to the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail.

Kevin McCullough, Virk's lawyer, said the FOI requests will ultimately be determined by Bennett, not the FOI Commissioner, because criminal charges are involved.

"Mr. Montague's clients took the position that their documents were not subject to FOI," McCullough said.

Montague said his "only involvement is regarding FOIs that may involve communications between members [of the Legislature]."

Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton disclosed that another defence FOI includes demands for cellphone records and datebooks of cabinet ministers and government staff.


The pre-trial hearing on FOI records resumes on Thursday February 19 for two weeks in BC Supreme Court.


BC Liberals internal polling shows them 9% behind New Democrats - Dave Hayer, Pat Bell, Shirley Bond headed for defeat, even Kevin Falcon in trouble

UPDATE - Mustel poll shows dramatically different results - BC Liberals ahead of NDP by 16% with 52% to 36% lead.


Internal BC Liberal Party polling results obtained just days ago have created a panic amongst cabinet ministers and MLAs - because the poll shows that the BC Liberals are 9% points behind the New Democratic Party, according to a very reliable source.

My source also told me today that this polling shows that both Prince George cabinet ministers, Forestry Minister Pat Bell in Prince George Northand Education Minister Shirley Bond in Prince George-Mount Robson, would lose their seats if the numbers held up.

Also headed for defeat - Surrey-Tynehead MLA Dave Hayer, who allegedly trails the NDP in his riding by 18%.

Perhaps most shocking is a riding result showing Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon in a neck and neck race with the NDP in Surrey-Cloverdale.

The BC Liberal polling also indicates its MLAs in the Burnaby-North and Burnaby-Willingdon, John Nuraney and Richard Lee are in serious trouble, along with Kamloops-North Thompson cabinet minister Kevin Krueger and in the riding of Kamloops, where Claude Richmond is retiring.

My source indicates that gang shootings, Olympic costs and the troubled economy outside Metro Vancouver and Victoria are all taking their toll on BC Liberal fortunes.

If true, the internal BC Liberal polling is another indication of a volatile political climate in the province.

Ipsos-Reid reported in November 2008 that the BC Liberals were at 44% versus the NDP at 35% and the Greens at 16%.

A Mustel poll in November had the Liberals at 44%, the NDP close behind at 42% and the Greens at 12% - but a more recent January Mustel poll put the Liberals up to 47%, the NDP down to 33% and the Greens at 16%.

Then there's the Angus Reid Strategies poll - which on November 15 put the NDP ahead at 44% against the Liberals with 39% and the Greens with 11%.

That result followed on the heels of the NDP winning two Vancouver by-elections, with Spencer Herbert taking previously Liberal-held Vancouver-Burrard and Jenn McGinn retaining Vancouver-Fairview for the NDP, formerly held by now-mayor Gregor Robertson.

An August 2008 Angus Reid Strategies poll also had the NDP ahead, by a margin of 41% to 38%, with the Greens at 14%.

Ahead? Behind? It's anyone's guess with anyone's poll but one thing is certain - if the BC Liberal Party's own internal polling shows then 9% behind with an election 89 days away, get ready for a lot of government announcements - and a lot of panic.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Where's Wally? Attorney-General Wally Oppal given 30 days to take action on gang violence in Metro Vancouver or face call to resign

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 10, 2009

Stop the gangs


People need to know our streets are safe.

- B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal, Feb. 4, 2009

Gangsters killed Kevin LeClair with submachine gun fire and riddled cars with stray shots in a Langley IGA store parking lot Friday in broad daylight.

Raphael Baldini, linked to B.C.'s worst gang massacre, was shot dead in Surrey's crowded Guildford Mall parking lot last Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Breanna Kinnear was shot to death in a car in Coquitlam the same day.

Last Monday, James Erickson was gunned down in a Whalley apartment.

And on Jan. 27, Andrew Cilliers was shot to death in his driveway in Surrey.

Yesterday, a 28-year-old was shot several times in an IGA parking lot at Broadway and Arbutus.

There is a murderous gang war raging in Metro Vancouver, the public is at grave risk and where's Wally?

Does the B.C. government's Attorney-General actually think our streets are safe?

People are being shot to death in public places by criminals acting with complete impunity.

Citizens are at risk - why isn't more being done by Oppal and the B.C. government?

What will it take - because already too many innocent victims have died.

That's why Steve Brown has given Oppal an ultimatum: Do something to end the violence within 30 days or he will campaign for the Attorney-General's firing.

Brown has been deeply scarred by violence.

His brother-in-law Ed Schellenberg was servicing a fireplace in a Surrey apartment when gangsters arrived and shot him execution-style, along with four occupants who were involved in the drug trade and another innocent victim - young Chris Mohan, a neighbour who accidentally happened on the scene.

Ironically, Baldini rented the apartment Schellenberg died in. Now he's dead too and the killers remain free.

"I've lost my patience with Wally Oppal," Brown told me Saturday when he publicly gave Oppal 30 days to find a solution or else.

"If Wally Oppal can't find a way to stop the gang slayings and the murder of innocent victims who are in their way, then he should resign as Attorney-General or be fired by Premier Gordon Campbell," Brown said.

Brown is furious that gangsters facing serious charges are let out on bail and commit more violent crimes.

"We're demanding answers - why are all these criminals running loose?" he said.

I agree. It's time for British Columbians to tell Oppal that the lack of action to make our streets safe again for citizens is totally unacceptable.

You can send that message to the B.C. Liberal government by joining my new Facebook protest group:

Where's Wally? BC Attorney-General Oppal has 30 days to end gang violence.

Just go to and type in Wally Oppal in the Search box to get there - or click on the Where's Wally? link above.

If you aren't on Facebook, you can easily join.

But please - send a message today: Help stop the killing now.


Sunday, February 08, 2009

Is Michael Ignatieff giving federal Liberal Party control to Paul Martin-Stephane Dion forces? Why is Bruce Clark running big donor Laurier Club?

Some federal Liberal Party activists are wondering if and why new interim leader Michael Ignatieff is giving back power to key players who backed Paul Martin in the internally bitter and divisive leadership battle with Jean Chretien to become Prime Minister.

And they are asking questions, quietly and privately, about why controversial Liberal
Bruce Clark is chairing the high dollar donor Laurier Club in BC, among other roles in fundraising for the party.

Laurier Club is made up of Liberal Party members who give $1100 per year in a single donation or through monthly installments.

And according to federal Liberal sources, the Laurier Club's paid administrator is Forrest Parlee, a senior associate at the Burrard Group, the communications and strategy firm run by Mark Marissen, Martin's former BC lieutenant and then National Campaign Manager in former federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion's surprise successful 2006 leadership campaign and National Campaign Co-Chair for the devastating October 2008 federal election.

Clark will presumably be front and centre on Tuesday February 10, when - as reported by my 24 hours colleague Sean Holman of Public Eye Online - federal Liberal Party presidential candidate Alfred Apps visits Vancouver for an exclusive breakfast with members of the Laurier Club at the law offices of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, as well as a grip and grin at the Labatt Beer Institute on Monday February 9.

Apps, a Toronto partner of the firm, is running against Ontario party president Mike Crawley for the position. Crawley is also CEO of a private Ontario-based wind power firm, AIM Power Generation.

Bruce Clark has an interesting past, including a

major connection with the BC Legislature Raid and the corruption charges trial of three former BC Liberal provincial government aides - David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi, a role as the major Paul Martin fundraiser in BC when the former Finance Minister moved up to Prime Minister, as well as serving on the executive of the federal Liberal party's B.C. wing, a stint lobbying against anti-smoking regulations and a job as CEO of money-losing Canada Payphone Corporation.

In the BC Legislature Raid case, Clark is alleged by police in Information To Obtain search warrant applications to have received government documents from Basi pertaining to a second BC Rail privatization, the proposed sale of BC Rail's Roberts Bank spur line for up to $100 million.

According to a police search warrant ITO sworn by RCMP Corporal Andrew Cowan, the residence of Bruce Clark -- then a federal B.C. Liberal executive -- was searched because:

"I believe that CLARK received documents pertaining to a Request for Proposal and presentations regarding Roberts Bank. I believe that CLARK has had meeting with BASI. I believe the items sought will be found at..." then giving Bruce Clark's Vancouver home address, the ITO concludes.

It should be stressed that the ITO contains unproven allegations that have never been tested in court.

B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon cancelled that sale in March 2004 after being told by the RCMP that the process had been compromised by the leak of confidential information to a bidder.

Clark's home was searched by police in December 2003, along with the BC Legislature, the home of David Basi, and the home of Erik Bornmann - the provincial lobbyist for OmniTRAX - the losing BC Rail bidder - who is now the Crown's key witness against Basi, Virk and Aneal Basi. The offices of Bornmann's now-defunct firm, Pilothouse Public Affairs, were also searched by police.

Bornmann's partners at Pilothouse were Brian Kieran, the former Province political columnist turned lobbyist - another key Crown witness, and Jamie Elmhirst - a past federal Liberal Party of Canada BC branch president and former aide to BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell and former BC Liberal cabinet minister turned federal Liberal MP Joyce Murray.

And Clark's sister is former BC Liberal Deputy Premier and Education Minister Christy Clark, while his brother-in-law is Mark Marissen.

David Basi was a key Paul Martin organizer in BC, blamed personally by former Chretien federal cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal for organizing the takeover of his then Vancouver South riding association in one of the nasty battles of the war between the party's titans.

It should, of course, be pointed out that neither Bruce Clark nor anyone else mentioned here save Basi, Virk and Basi face any charges in regard to the BC Legislature Raid case, though it is highly likely Clark will be a witness in the trial.

Interestingly, many of the group of federal Liberal Party activists who strongly backed Paul Martin in his successful efforts to force Jean Chretien out of the Prime Minister's office and later backed Stephane Dion's leadership bid after Martin resigned are now said to be moving into position of influence during Ignatieff's early days as interim leader.

Will Ignatieff put his own stamp on the BC Liberal Party of Canada organization? Or will the activists who have controlled the party since the early 2000s continue to run the show?

Interestingly, the Liberal Party's BC branch website still features photos of now-resigned leader Stephane Dion and promotes the discredited "Green Shift" carbon tax that helped sewer the Liberal campaign. It's a mistake the federal party website doesn't make.

Ignatieff's decision will have long-term repercussions either way, but count on the federal Conservative Party to target controversial Liberal Party connections in the next election if they are in positions of power.

For example, in January 2007 senior Tory John Reynolds slammed the federal Liberal Party for the "embarrassing" failure to remove its B.C. branch president Jamie Elmhirst after he was subpoenaed to testify in the breach of trust case against former provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk. Elmhirst was under subpoena to testify in the trial for three months before he resigned as president.

If the federal Conservatives are looking for a target of opportunity, Bruce Clark certainly provides lots to work with.

At last report, Clark is currently Vice-President of Green Island Energy Corporation, a firm that planned to convert garbage into energy in Gold River on Vancouver Island and sell it to BC Hydro. Originally pop singer Jewel was involved but she is no longer an investor.

Green Island Energy announced last year it was partnering with Covanta Energy, a major US firm involved in energy from waste projects. Interestingly, Public Eye Online reports that former BC Liberal Party President Andrew Wilkinson - also a former Deputy Minister to Premier Gordon Campbell - has registered as a lobbyist for Covanta in BC. And who was once a Vice-President at Covanta? None other than BC Ferries CEO David Hahn.

Clark's role as a lobbyist for the Lower Mainland Hospitality Industry Group drew fire from anti-tobacco groups, including AirSpace, because it vigorously fought a proposed Vancouver bylaw restricting smoking in the workplace in 1995.

The Lower Mainland Hospitality Industry Group, according to anti-smoking groups and the Vancouver Richmond Health Board, was funded by the tobacco industry.

The earlier Canada Payphone role also brought some interesting connections together around Bruce Clark.

As I wrote in a column for the Georgia Straight in 2004:

"Clark was CEO of a money-losing telecommunications company called Canada Payphone Corporation between late 1998 and late 2000, earning up to $115,000 a year.

Patrick Kinsella, the influential cochair of the 2001 B.C. Liberal election campaign along with Christy Clark, was a director of Canada Payphone from 1995 to 2001, as well as buying a private placement and having share options, according to Stockwatch.

The Progressive Group, Kinsella's consulting firm, also bought a private placement in Canada Payphone in 1996 and received shares for debt in 1999. Kinsella and his firm have given more than $50,000 to the B.C. Liberals since 1996.

Bornman was Canada Payphone's communications director in 2000 and 2001.

The Earnscliffe Strategy Group, a powerful Ottawa-based public- and government-relations and research firm, became "consultants" to Canada Payphone in 1995.

Earnscliffe was a "virtual parallel finance department" when Paul Martin was minister, according to the Globe and Mail, with the firm winning $1.6 million in communications contracts from the finance department from September 1993 until July 2002.

Earnscliffe partners David Herle and Scott Reid were both senior Martin political advisers who held enormous influence with the prime minister.

Canaccord Capital, whose CEO, Peter Brown, is a major supporter of Gordon Campbell, helped Canada Payphone with a brokered private placement of two million units, with shares valued at $1.40 each. Those shares are currently worth just nine cents apiece. Canada Payphone losses for financial year 2003 were $1.8 million while those reported for financial year 2002 were $5 million.

Canaccord donated more than $191,000 to the B.C. Liberal Party between 1996 and 2002.

Darcy Rezac, executive director of the Vancouver Board of Trade and B.C. Liberal political supporter, was another investor in Canada Payphone.

The Neighbourhood Pub Owners' Association of BC chose Canada Payphone as its official payphone supplier in December 1998. The executive director of the association was then Brenda Locke, now Liberal MLA for Surrey­-Green Timbers."

Ignatieff faces some difficult choices in BC - but that's what being leader of a federal party and wanting to prove you can be prime minister is all about.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Basi-Virk - Courtroom confusion explained, hopefully; new dates clarified and Special Prosecutor team member becomes Queen's Counsel


I attended this afternoon's brief BC Supreme Court hearing in Vancouver where Victoria developers Jim Duncan and Tony Young face corruption-related charges that allege they paid former BC Liberal ministerial aide David Basi $50,000 to assist them in removing land from the Agricultural Land Reserve for a housing development.

Appearing for the Crown was Andi Mackay, a member of the Special Prosecutor's team in the BC Legislature Raid case against Basi, Bob VIrk and Aneal Basi.

The matter was put over in an extremely short administrative hearing until March 18. No explanation was made as to why the hearing was in Vancouver but it is to be noted that Duncan and Young's lawyers, Richard Peck and Jeff Campbell, are both based here, as are all members of the Special Prosecutor's team, including MacKay.


Today's BC Supreme Court docket for the Vancouver courts shows an apparent appearance there at 2 p.m. today in the case of former BC Liberal ministerial aide David Basi on breach of trust charges related to allegations of removing land from the Agricultural Land Reserve.

BC Mary at the Legislature Raids points out to me that:

"The first two entries are identified only by the File Number 134750-1 -- the file number which was assigned to Dave Basi at his A.L.R. trial which began in Victoria last month.

Today's listing is in Vancouver Law Courts and is designated as "HMTQ vs Limited Access."

Here's what I have now been able to ascertain.

In fact the appearance is to be made by Victoria developers Jim Duncan and Tony Young, who also face charges in this case, in which the allegation is that Basi was paid $50,000 by Duncan and Young to help get land for their giant Sunriver Estates development in Sooke.

The hearing is likely to be merely to put over the case of Duncan and Young to a later date, as the Crown and defence have previously indicated in discussion in court that the intent is to combine the trial of all three men if possible.

Obviously the main and long-delayed trial of Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi on corruption charges related to the $1 billion BC Rail privatization is a complicating factor.

I am also told that the next date for an ALR case hearing for Basi is Friday March 6 in Victoria, where arguments will be heard on whether Basi should be committed to stand trial on those charges. Regular readers of this blog will remember that a preliminary hearing in front of Justice Ernie Quantz has already taken place in Victoria - this is the next step in the legal process.

On another note, the main event in the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid case returns with yet more pre-trial hearings - this time on defence Freedom of Information requests for evidence - starting on Tuesday February 17 for an estimated 2 weeks.

In addition to the regular cast of lawyers from the defence and Special Prosecutor teams, provincial government lawyer George Copley and BC Rail lawyer Robert Deane are expected to play prominent roles.

Lastly, congratulations to Special Prosecutor team member Janet Winteringham, who has been made a "Queen's Counsel" - a recognition of service and

The news release from Attorney General Wally Oppal states:

"The Queen’s counsel designation is an honour conferred on members of the legal profession to recognize exceptional merit and contribution. Successful candidates demonstrate professional integrity and good character and must be members of the British Columbia bar for at least five years."

Regarding Winteringham, it says: "Janet L. Winteringham of Vancouver has considerable experience both defending and prosecuting criminal cases. She also instructs on preliminary hearings and Provincial Court practice for the advocacy course at UBC’s law faculty."

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

BC Business leaders back Campbell Liberal deficits but hate much smaller NDP deficits or even surpluses!

Hi everyone - and welcome to the brand-new, back in deficit British Columbia - Gordon Campbell, Proprietor and previous record-holder of BC's largest deficit.

Is Campbell going for a largest deficit personal best on February 17? Could well be.

I don't argue for a minute against the need for BC to go into deficit - my complaint is that Campbell and the BC Liberals made balanced budgets into the political equivalent of the Rosetta Stone in a rigid ideological position that lacks historical perspective, economic understanding and just plain common sense.

By the way, Stephen Harper, come on down! You also win a prize!

The second thing that bugs the hell out of me is the endless parade of business leaders who are shameless in their political pimping for Campbell and the BC Liberals - business leaders who would be screaming blue bloody murder if a New Democrat government in exactly the same position did exactly what Campbell is doing.

From the Vancouver Board of Trade's debt clock and endless pontificating about the horrors of deficit financing we now have come to this.

"So what? It's a sensible response," Vancouver Board of Trade managing director Darcy Rezac said. "To suggest that the Government balance its budget at all costs in very unusual circumstances wouldn't be wise in our view. So I think the Government is doing a sensible thing."

Really Darcy?

Here's what Rezac said on November 22, 2000, when the NDP government was running a surplus - yes, my friends - a surplus of $1 billion:

"We note that the rapid rise in the provincial debt is worrisome. Debts incurred by funding general operating costs of government, which has happened during the '90s, ought to be avoided at all costs," Rezac said.

And what did Darcy say on September 23, 2002, when the BC Liberals ran the province's largest-ever deficit of $4 billion?

"We're impressed with the government's resolve to attain the goal of a balanced budget by 2004-05, and we support that...We congratulate the government of B.C. for moving quickly to take the measures they did with the 2002-03 budget," Rezac told reporters then.

Wow! So what indeed!

At least Gordon Campbell show some understanding that he has dramatically changed his tune.

"I know what I have said and I'm sure you've all got the clips," Campbell told reporters yesterday.

But for a lot of business leaders, the song remains the same - it's just who calls the tune that really matters!


Bill Tieleman interviewed by Erin Airton in City Caucus online publication

I was interviewed by Erin Airton, political commentator on the right side of the fence, for the new online publication City Caucus.

The article was posted today and here's a small sample - check it out:

Erin Airton interview with Bill Tieleman

3 Feb 2009

I sat down with Bill Tieleman, a well-known local political strategist, at a hip Kits eatery during Dine Out Vancouver in January. Our conversation was far-reaching, fueled by a glass or two of wine, Tieleman’s second love, after progressive politics.

EA: What do you see as the two biggest issues facing the City of Vancouver?

BT: Vancouver has two main issues, both are very inter-related.

The first is the different aspects of affordability in the city itself.

The second is dealing with poverty and low incomes. Both are very connected and are challenges that face Vancouver and the whole Lower Mainland. Affordability and housing prices go across the board.

If you look at cities like Geneva and Hong Kong, there is a limited group of people who lives there. Public policy steps need to be taken because most of us don’t want to live where there is just fine dining and expensive shops.

The other challenge is that our city has these increasing land values. These make it impossible for young people to be independent and impossible to have a city with a wide range of diverse and interesting people.

People working in Vancouver, like servers and cooks, are forced to live far away from their jobs. Vancouver is becoming an “executive city”.

EA: What can be done about affordability? There is a limited amount of “Vancouver” available.

BT: That’s right and that’s why we are seeing a disparate amount of people’s income taken up by rent and housing.

People might be shocked by me saying this, but former Mayor Sam Sullivan was right to talk about density – that’s the only way Vancouver can maintain diversity and affordability.

Poverty is related to affordability, but not 100%. We have a real continuum of poverty in Vancouver.

This starts with the true homeless, sleeping on the streets or accessing shelters. Our food bank use is overflowing. We also have couch surfers, occasional shelter users and those who are living in inappropriate or substandard housing.......Continued at
City Caucus


Marks. Rubes. Suckers. Chumps. Hicks. BC Liberals screw up bigtime on Mackenzie pulp mill and Port Mann P3 fiascos!

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 3, 2009

B.C. government blind to its own bad deals


"I wanted to puke in my corns flakes over this."

- Mackenzie pulp mill worker Carl Bernasky on toxic danger

Marks. Rubes. Suckers. Chumps. Hicks.

That's what the flim-flam men call people who are too slow, too dumb and too unsophisticated to figure out an obvious bad deal.

But in this province we call them the B.C. Liberal government.

Take two sterling examples.

First, the Mackenzie pulp mill holding 15 tonnes of deadly chlorine dioxide that had to be taken over by the government from a former convicted money-launderer whose company wasn't paying the few workers left there.

They kept the chemical tanks from freezing and rupturing, potentially killing 5,000 people.

The clean-up costs could be $30 to $50 million - all charged to taxpayers because the company that bought the mill, Worthington Mackenzie, isn't doing its job and has a single director living in Slovenia!

All big news to the B.C. Liberals.

Second, the Port Mann Bridge twinning project. B.C. Liberal Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon always sings the praises of public-private partnerships.

"With respect to the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge, there will be no federal or provincial dollars involved in the construction of that project," Falcon promised in April 2008.

But now B.C. is on the hook for one-third of the financing - about $750 million - because the vaunted P3 banks weren't willing to fund it.

Hello B.C. taxpayer! Can you spell "bailout?"

But Falcon is "thrilled" with the new taxpayer-financed deal because it "makes sense."

Let's see - Falcon said P3s are a good idea because the private sector takes the risk instead of taxpayers - but now taxpayers will pay for both the project, through tolls of $3 per trip, and also lend the risk-takers the money we didn't want to risk by doing it ourselves?

Talk about marks and suckers - with this kind of business acumen we can expect a lot more desperate P3 bankers to head for B.C.!

Back to the Mackenzie mill, where the B.C. government completely failed to protect the community or the jobs.

While a skeleton crew of workers have to be paid by taxpayers to keep the mill from freezing up, across the province the B.C. government has let 55 sawmills and pulp mills close in the last few years, throwing 25,000 workers out of work.

Ironically, the only time they've lifted a finger to save jobs was when forced to by a potential environmental catastrophe.

When the mill was bought, Forests Minister Pat Bell - whose riding it's located in - told the media: "So far, so good."

Not good enough for taxpayers - not by far.

These marks, rubes, suckers, chumps and hicks have a lot to answer for in throwing away our money.

UPDATE: You simply can't make things like this up - from tonight's online Vancouver Sun - I rest my case after just one day!

Port Mann price tag could hit $3 billion

The Port Mann Bridge and Highway 1 expansion project could cost as much as $3 billion, double the announced cost of $1.5 billion in 2006, Premier Gordon Campbell said Tuesday.

In a speech at the B.C. Economic Summit, Campbell said the Port Mann Bridge will be a “$2- to $3-billion project.”

When announced by Campbell in January 2006, the project was estimated to cost $1.5 billion. Accounting for general inflation, that would now be between $1.6 and $1.7 billion, although there were industry estimates as early as 2006 that construction costs would go up by 50 per cent or more by 2010.

Campbell, who was scheduled to officially unveil a design for the new bridge today in Surrey, did not elaborate Tuesday on any reasons for the change.....