Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Basi-Virk defence applies to have Justice Elizabeth Bennett retained as trial judge despite her promotion to BC Court of Appeal

Basi-Virk Exclusive

Defence wants Justice Elizabeth Bennett to stay on case – but Special Prosecutor wants new judge appointed quickly, sparking battle in court

Justice Elizabeth Bennett also predicts no Supreme Court of Canada decision on secret witness appeal until end of October

By Bill Tieleman

24 hours newspaper

Defence lawyers for three former B.C. Liberal government aides facing corruption charges related to the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail told a B.C. Supreme Court judge Tuesday they want her to hear the trial despite her promotion to a higher court.

But Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino made it clear that he wants a new trial judge appointed to replace Justice Elizabeth Bennett as soon as possible, setting up a difficult decision for either Bennett or her superiors.

Bennett’s appointment to the B.C. Court of Appeal was announced on May 15 but she has stated she will finish off some pre-trial disclosure applications in the case.

Michael Bolton, representing former B.C.Liberal ministerial aide David Basi, told Bennett in court that the defence will request that she stay on as the trial judge.

“I just want to be clear – we will be making an application that you continue to be the trial judge – it’s rather unprecedented,” Bolton said. “We’re concerned about the amount of time that’s gone into presenting evidence on our applications.”

But Berardino disagreed.

“The Crown’s position is that a new judge should be appointed. Bifurcating the process is a prescription for delay,” he said, adding that the rules of the court give Bennett the discretion to decide to continue or to not make that decision herself.

Bennett acknowledged the dilemma she faces after more than 100 days of pre-trial hearings on complex issues over three and a half years in a case where more than 300,000 pages of evidence have been disclosed.

“The problem is I’m the only person who knows best how to proceed,” she said. “Matters that I am seized off – if I walked away that would delay a trial considerably and I’m not prepared to do that.”

Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm will meet with all parties June 4 in a pre-trial conference to discuss the case.

Bennett also told the court she guesses that the Supreme Court of Canada will not make a critical ruling on Special Prosecutor’s appeal on the issue of secret witness testimony until the end of October, a decision which could possibly mean the case does not proceed.

“I don’t think you’re going to get a ruling from the Supreme Court of Canada till the end of October – I’m just guessing,” she said.

Pre-trial hearings will resume on Thursday May 28 at 10 a.m.


Brad Zubyk's strange political trip to the right

I've known Brad Zubyk for quite a long time - since he first went to work for the Mike Harcourt NDP government back in 1991.

I've also worked with Brad several times - he is an affable and humorous guy to spend time with who has a lot of experience in NDP politics as well as working on other campaigns around the world. He ran former NDP MLA Corky Evans two NDP leadership campaigns and worked for Vision Vancouver's winning campaign last fall that resulted in Mayor Gregor Robertson's election.

That's why I am extremely disappointed with Brad's strange political trip to the right - and particularly with his most recent work in the provincial election for the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.

The ICBA and president Phil Hochstein have been arch enemies of both the labour movement and the NDP for years and one of the BC Liberal Party's largest donors.

In the 2009 election the ICBA acted as the proxy bad cop for Gordon Campbell, running a series of radio and television ads attacking the NDP and particularly leader Carole James.

So it was with considerable shock that I read Sean Holman's report on Public Eye Online that Zubyk had worked with the ICBA during the election on their anti-NDP campaign.

I contacted Zubyk by email to offer him the opportunity to respond and received this reply:

Brad Zubyk: "I offered general advice to a number of organizations on how I would run an $150,000 campaign. They included a CFS local, an environmental group, business groups and an ad company. That is what my business does."

Here's how the ICBA described their campaign:

* * * * *

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) of BC today launched a new series of television and radio ads and a new phase for their online Vote Smart BC campaign by taking dead aim at the lack of change within the NDP and drawing clear links between the current NDP led by Carole James and the economically destructive NDP governments of the 1990s.

“Carole James talks about a new, more moderate NDP, but she has surrounded herself with staff, MLAs and candidates who were the architects of the debacle in the nineties, and we will show that,” says ICBA President Philip Hochstein. The new ads compliment a new campaign on the
Vote Smart BC website with the theme “All in the Family.”

ICBA is taking a stand in the May 12th election campaign
to prevent a return to the NDP that directly attacked independent, family-owned construction businesses with policies like union-only hiring, pension suspension legislation, and badly hurt the economy. Hochstein says that unlike the campaigns of COPE378 and other unions, the Vote Smart BC campaign will be fact-based and defensive in nature.

Votesmartbc.com will point out the connections between today’s NDP and senior members of NDP administrations of the 1990s by profiling one senior NDP official every day. Hochstein calls this ‘the resume Carole James does not want people to see.’

* * * * *

As disturbing as it is that Zubyk would have no problem giving Hochstein his best advice, in a way, I shouldn't be too surprised.

Zubyk also acted recently as an expert witness on behalf of the BC Liberal government in its defence of Bill 42 - the "gag law" that restricted spending prior to and during the provincial election.

Zubyk had been the NDP's director of candidate support in the 2005 election campaign - now his role for the BC Liberal government's defence was to describe how unions support NDP efforts.

Zubyk told the Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter he had no problem testifying for the BC Liberals: "I agree 100 per cent with the government, the idea that money equals voice is dangerous to democracy."

Zubyk's key role in the past NDP campaign and his willingness to help his former opponents was useful to the government.

"I was impressed with the evidence of Mr. Zubyk," Judge Frank Cole wrote in his 127-page decision.

Zubyk also acted as spokesperson for the federal Liberal Party in the 2008 election, including when they put out the dirt on NDP candidate Julian West, who was forced to withdraw from the race in Saanich-Gulf Islands as the Liberals tried to win with Briony Penn against Conservative Gary Lunn.

Here's an excerpt from The Tyee's coverage:

* * * * *

“If Jack Layton's not willing to vet his candidates, we will,” said Brad Zubyk, the director of communications for the Liberals B.C. campaign. “We make no apologies. If they're not going to do due diligence on their people, we'll do it for them.”

The NDP's
Julian West withdrew from the race in Saanich-Gulf Islands today after a 12-year-old story resurfaced about inappropriate behaviour at a youth conference. Some media reports have said Liberal party officials raised the story. Posters on some internet sites have blamed Zubyk personally.

“The Liberal Party did that,” Zubyk said, though he denied deserving credit himself. “It's all public domain. Quite frankly, we don't apologize for it. None of this is particularly hard to find.”

* * * * *

All in all, very disappointing.

Zubyk obviously is pretty comfortable with his new role but I find it rather sad.


BC NDP MLAs take 29% pay raise, lose moral high ground

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours & The Tyee Column

Tuesday May 26, 2009

NDP Grabs 'Obscene' Pay Raise

That's what James called the 29 per cent pay hike when Libs took it.

View Tyee article and comments here


By Bill Tieleman

It is easier to fight for one's principles than to live up to them.

-- Psychologist Alfred Adler

In a week when it was announced welfare cases are up an astounding 47 per cent in British Columbia since last year, B.C. New Democratic Party MLAs said they are going to take the 29 per cent pay increase they strongly rejected in 2007.

After an election campaign where the NDP rightly attacked the B.C. Liberals for this province's shameful record of leading Canada in child poverty for five straight years, NDP MLAs will no longer be obligated to donate their wage hike to local charities.

And almost two years to the day when NDP leader Carole James raked B.C. Liberal MLAs over the coals in the Legislature for voting in an "obscene pay increase", she and her colleagues have reversed their position and will accept the salary increase from $76,100 to $98,000 and more.

All of this comes after the NDP caucus attempted in 2007 to imitate King Solomon and show wisdom by proposing to cut the baby in half -- saying they would accept a generous proposed pension plan but reject the wage increase.

A great campaign issue, booted

The alternative, I argued at the time, was to campaign against the entire package proposed by a B.C. Liberal-appointed elitist compensation committee and make it a major issue across the province.

After all, before the pension and pay proposal was hatched every MLA was making almost double the average annual B.C. wage of $41,500 -- and the $76,100 was more than what 90 per cent of British Columbians earned.

And MLAs were previously getting an RRSP contribution of nearly $7,000 a year -- that's over double the B.C. average of $3,000 -- and just 31 per cent of Canadians even have an RRSP.

But NDP MLAs couldn't resist the pension plan and, apparently, can't keep rejecting the salary hike either.

Charities are the big losers

So now they reap the disappointment of the many B.C. charities who collectively received over $485,000 between April 1, 2007 and December 31, 2008.

Sandy Bryce, executive director of Victoria's Mary Manning Centre, which helps child sex-abuse victims, says the NDP decision is "very unfortunate."

"I have no idea why the decision was made and nobody has talked to me about that. Any time there's any reduction in any kind of funding that we receive, it always has a direct impact on the level of services we can provide for children," she told the Vancouver Province.

Carole James and three other Victoria MLAs had been making donations, she said.

The pay and pension issue has now bit the New Democrats in the posterior three different times, first when they agreed to a backroom deal and then reneged under public pressure in 2005, again in 2007 and now with the final chapter.

James herself told the Legislature on May 17, 2007: "The B.C. Liberals have decided they actually don't care what the public thinks. They want that raise, every one of them wants that raise, and they're going to pass this bill."

And what will the public think now that NDP MLAs are doing the same?

But none of this is to say individual MLAs won't continue to give all or part of their salary to worthy charities. Likely some will and others won't, and if their constituents aren't happy it could be an election issue in 2013.

B.C. Liberals greedily jammed NDP

The B.C. Liberals are the scoundrels in this whole episode, refusing to allow any MLAs to opt out of the pension plan and keep their RRSPs or to decline the pay increase unless they gave up any raise permanently, ruthlessly jamming the NDP MLAs into accepting the overall package.

And the B.C. Liberals have managed to make the NDP MLAs the victims for trying to do the right thing while escaping criticism themselves, including Premier Gordon Campbell and his own 54 per cent wage hike -- a whopping $89,000 raise.

But the NDP's high road on MLA pay is now lost and the caucus needs to think a lot harder about how it deals with major public policies if it wants to win in 2013.


Monday, May 25, 2009

Attorney General Wally Oppal defeated in South Delta but absentee ballots still not counted; Charlie Wyse losing in Cariboo-Chilcotin

UPDATE - Absentee ballots now counted by Elections BC show Wally Oppal defeated by 32 votes - judicial recount still to come. Donna Barnett has also defeated Charlie Wyse by 88 votes.

* * * * *

Attorney General Wally Oppal now stands defeated in Delta South - Vicki Huntington ahead by 13 votes after recount but before absentee ballots counted

Wally Oppal has at this point lost his bid to become the BC Liberal MLA for Delta South and Vicki Huntington appears to have made history by becoming the first independent MLA elected since 1949.

That's the result of a recount today of all election day and advance polling ballots by Elections BC, which reverses Oppal's narrow two vote lead reported late May 12.

But there are still 918 absentee ballots remaining to be counted and following that, the probability of a judicial recount.

A recount has also cost New Democrat MLA Charlie Wyse his seat in Cariboo-Chilcotin, also reversing an election night win by 23 votes over BC Liberal candidate Donna Barnett and instead placing her ahead by 59 votes.

In that riding absentee ballots are also still to be counted.

Below is a news release from Elections BC issued this afternoon:

* * * * *


May 25, 2009

VICTORIA – The interim voting results in Delta South changed following a recount today.

Independent candidate Vicky Huntington now leads Liberal candidate Wally Oppal by 13 votes, with 918 absentee votes still to be counted in Delta South.

Oppal held a three-vote lead on election night May 12, but as a result of calculation errors made by voting officials, the results now stand at Huntington 9,626 votes, Oppal 9,613 votes.

In Cariboo-Chilcotin, the election night result also changed today after a recount. Liberal candidate Donna Barnett leads NDP candidate Charlie Wyse 5,791 votes to 5,732 votes, reversing a 23-vote lead Wyse held on election night.

Final count of absentee votes continues today in Delta South, Cariboo-Chilcotin and the 83 other electoral districts in the province.

Following final count, a judicial recount must be held in an electoral district if the difference between the votes received by the candidate declared elected and the second-place candidate is less than 1/500 or .2% of the total ballots considered.

An application for a judicial recount may also be made by a candidate in any electoral district on the basis that the votes were not properly counted or ballots were not correctly accepted or rejected.



Thursday, May 21, 2009

Improving BC's Legislature and Democracy - a guest column by Michael Geoghegan

My friend Michael Geoghegan and I don't always agree on politics - he is a BC Liberal Party supporter, for example, despite having been a BC NDP ministerial aide in the Legislature earlier in his career.

But I do appreciate his opinion and in this column from his own blog he makes a number of suggestions for improving democracy by making changes in the way the BC Legislature operates that are well worth discussion.

Your comments are welcome as always. You can also check his business website for information about his services.

* * * * *

Friday, May 15, 2009

Seinfeld election hands threepeat to Campbell

By Michael Geoghegan

It was in the end a Seinfeld election, an election about nothing.

The campaign started off with some high profile environmentalists slagging the NDP for its promise to end the carbon tax and ended with a plea from Campbell to re-elect his government to help see BC through the worst global economic calamity since the Great Depression.

Along the way we had Ray Lam resigning as an NDP candidate because of a few inappropriate pictures on Facebook and John van Dongen resigning as Solicitor General because of too many speeding tickets.

But in the end less than half of British Columbians could be bothered to vote in an election where they felt the choice was between cream of wheat and porridge.

The fact is that democracy is slowly dying in BC - from terminal boredom.

Thanks to the internet and various social media any politician who has ever said or done anything inappropriate or perhaps even interesting is finding themselves weeded out of the political process either before or during a provincial election campaign.

Well known 24 Hours columnist and blogger Bill Tieleman has suggested that voting be made mandatory in BC.

As someone who has voted in every election I strongly object to that idea.

If you give people bland campaigns and politicians that aren’t allowed to say or do anything interesting then why should we be surprised when more than half the electorate doesn’t bother to vote?

The people who aren’t voting are sending a very strong message to the politicians; the problem is they aren’t listening. The public want MLAs who are actually allowed to do the job of representing their constituents

In Delta South Attorney General Wally Oppal is only at present two votes ahead of Independent candidate Vicki Huntington.

In that riding both the NDP and Green vote collapsed, not because Huntington is left wing but because the people that generally vote for these left wing protest parties saw a chance to send someone to Victoria who would actually represent their interests rather than the interests of the Premier or the leader of the Official Opposition.

We need to revitalize parliamentary democracy in Canada and get more power back to the hands of voters and MLAs.

First of all every party leader should have to face a recorded vote of confidence once a year from their caucus. That would make the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition far more mindful of the concerns of their fellow MLAs.

Secondly all cabinet appointments should be approved by caucus. Thus if a cabinet minister runs roughshod over backbench MLAs they may find themselves vetoed out of cabinet the next time a cabinet shuffle goes up for approval.

Independent votes should be made the norm not the exception.

Imagine a Premier and cabinet that actually had to make sure the legislation they were proposing had the support of a majority of MLAs in the legislature rather than it just being a foregone conclusion. Also the parliamentary rules need to be changed so that unless it is the final vote on the provincial budget or a specific non confidence motion a defeat would not result in the government having to call an election.

Private members bills which are at present token statements of intent should be referred to legislative council that can rework them into proper legislation and time set aside for votes on these bills when they are brought back to the legislature. This might in turn lead to more bi-partisan support of legislation.

All of the aforementioned would greatly increase the functionality of the legislature and once again enable MLAs to do a much better job of representing their constituents and the collective interests of our province.

One thing the Premier could also do is pass legislation stating that whenever a vacancy occurs in the Federal Senate that a province wide election will be held to fill that position.

I am sure that is a move that Prime Minister Stephen Harper would support and once firmly established as a precedent would eventually result in other provinces following suit and us actually having a democratically elected Senate in Canada.

Finally we need to make it much easier for referenda to happen here in BC. According to a recent Vancouver Sun poll 65% of British Columbians support the decriminalization of marijuana. So let’s have a vote on it.

I am sure there are many other issues people might also want to see put forward in a province wide referendum.

The fact is that unless or until we flow some democratic power out of the Premier’s Office and back into cabinet, our MLAs and ultimately ourselves as citizens, voter turnout will continue to decline and deservedly so.

Mike Geoghegan is a government relations consultant who can be reached via his website at http://www.bclobbyist.com/ or on twitter at bclobbyist


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The death of STV - an analysis of the failed referendum campaign

Bill Tieleman: Why STV failed in B.C.

By Bill Tieleman, President, No STV

May 19, 2009

Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.

- Sun Tzu, 544-496 BC

The single transferable vote failed for multiple reasons.

The proposal of the Citizens’ Assembly to replace our current first-past-the-post electoral system with STV was always fraught with peril, but it was only narrowly defeated in the 2005 referendum nonetheless, receiving 58 percent of the votes but needing 60 percent to pass.

And British Columbians for BC-STV released a poll on April 15 stating: “Voters are giving a big thumbs up to electoral reform with 65 per cent saying they will vote for BC-STV in the upcoming referendum.”

But on May 12 just under 39 percent of voters supported STV, while 61 percent backed FPTP.
So what went wrong this time? Lots.

In brief: the giant STV ridings scared off voters, as did the incomprehensible STV voting system.

The fact that the only two tiny countries that use STV as a national electoral system—Ireland and Malta—had a track record going back to the 1920s that often contradicted the cheery claims of the BC-STV proponents didn’t help.

And British Columbians for BC-STV ran an unfocused campaign that attempted to replicate the approach major parties use in an election.

The yes side hired staff, rented offices, purchased 10,000 lawns signs, ran phone banks, lined up celebrity endorsements like David Suzuki, former B.C. Liberal deputy premier and now talk-show host Christy Clark, and former premier Bill Vander Zalm, and put an amazing 5,000 volunteers on the campaign.

British Columbians for BC-STV also raised probably $200,000 or more from supporters across the country and brought in high-profile advocates from Alberta, like Rick Anderson, the former senior advisor to Reform Party leader Preston Manning; Ontario, like feminist commentator Judy Rebick; and even former grunge rock star Krist Novoselic, the bass player from Nirvana.

British Columbians for BC-STV deserve full credit for their commitment to an energetic campaign that pulled out all the stops.

But you can’t sell a bad idea no matter how hard you try. And tactics are not strategy.

No STV, the official group funded by the province to oppose STV and defend FPTP, took the completely opposite approach.

No STV ran a disciplined campaign based on polling research and focus groups conducted by Ipsos Reid to direct its television, radio, and print advertising and messaging.

There were no staff, no offices, no lawn signs, no endorsements, no phone banks, and no outsiders brought to B.C.

Each side was provided with $500,000 for their campaign by the province and all available funding—including the less than $20,000 raised separately by No STV—was used to maximize the advertising buy.

The majority of the funds were put into television, with the remainder spent on print and radio, including some in ethnic media.

The entire ad buy was concentrated in the final two weeks of the campaign leading up to the May 12 vote.

That’s because our polling showed that, as of March 30, 60 percent of all voters had no idea the on STV referendum was happening just six weeks later!

We knew that voters wouldn’t start thinking about STV versus FPTP until the last part of the campaign.

We also know that because voters already had great knowledge of FPTP and its simplicity, there was no need to explain the current system.

But explain STV? Well that’s a different and very long story.

In 2005, there were no proposed STV riding maps created for the referendum, so voters had no real idea how their existing single-member constituency would be replaced by a multi-member riding.

And post-election research showed most voters never understood STV but voted for it anyway—probably as a protest vote after the lopsided B.C. Liberal win in 2001, when they took 77 seats to the NDP’s two.

This time, the independent B.C. Electoral Boundaries Commission provided clear maps that showed how reducing the 85 ridings down to 20 enormous one would look—and it wasn’t pretty.

The new STV ridings were often absurd.

The proposed North Island-South Coast STV riding stretched from Tofino and Ucluelet on the west coast of Vancouver Island, east to Comox, north to Port Hardy and then jumped over the Georgia Strait to include Sechelt, Gibsons, and Powell River!

And the proposed Cariboo-Thompson STV riding would have stretched from Quesnel in the north down to the United States border!

Once many voters realized that their communities would not only share MLAs over a far-flung area but that they might not have anyone representing them, their minds were made up to reject STV.

It also helped that ridings would have up to seven MLAs and 350,000 people, making it easy to argue that would take away local accountability and responsibility of MLAs to voters.

And the different sized ridings—seven members in the Victoria area but just two in Peace River country—meant dramatically different percentages of the vote were needed to elect an MLA.
And the further you were from Victoria, the more votes you needed to send an MLA there.

That also meant the degree of proportional representation provided by STV—not a strictly proportional system even in optimum circumstances—would range from some in Victoria to next to none in smaller rural ridings.

Secondly, the complex STV vote-count system simply could not be explained in less than 10 minutes.

Here’s just one part of the 12 steps required for an STV election, according to the Citizens’ Assembly’s technical report: “If a candidate on the first count gains more than the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, the candidate is declared elected, and the number of votes in excess of the number of votes needed to be elected (the surplus) is recorded.

All of the elected candidate’s ballots are then re-examined and assigned to candidates not yet elected according to the second preferences marked on the ballots of those who gave a first preference vote to the elected candidate. These votes are allocated according to a ‘transfer value.’”

I could explain how the “Weighted Inclusive Gregory method” works for redistribution of the surplus of the vote, but you get the idea.

The proponents for STV argued you can easily rank your choices 1, 2, 3. But the math involved showed you would have no idea what happened to your vote—because there are far more mathematical combinations possible than there are 6-49 lottery pick possibilities!

These are powerful arguments against STV, but there were even more.

It became obvious to many voters that STV would increase, not decrease, the power of political parties.

The huge STV ridings would mean a need to reach far more voters in a 350,000-person STV riding than in a single-member riding of about 50,000 people, making candidates even more dependent on political parties to get their names and message out.

And claims that smaller third parties and independents could be more easily elected under STV were shot down by the cold hard facts of politics in Malta.

In that STV country, Maltese voters have failed to elect a single third-party candidate since the 1960s and no independent since the 1950s. Ouch.

Finally, the Citizens’ Assembly had recommended that if adopted, STV be kept for a minimum of three elections—that’s 12 years, running to 2025—before considering any changes.

For those who support true proportional representation like that under the mixed-member proportional system, the STV lock-in would have likely meant no chance of adopting a better system.

In the end, the weight of negative arguments against STV became overwhelming for a strong majority of voters, and its 58 percent support in 2005 evaporated into just 39 percent on May 12.

The future of electoral reform in B.C. is unclear, but what is certain is that STV is now dead.

BC NDP strategy failed in 2009 election campaign - #1 issue - the economy - avoided

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours & The Tyee Column

Tuesday May 19, 2009

NDP future cloudy in shadow of loss


This is today's 24 hours newspaper column, which is also in The Tyee.

NDP Blew the Campaign

Party's slogans, and strategy, were incoherent. Learn from this.

By Bill Tieleman

Thus, what is of supreme importance in war is to attack the enemy's strategy.

- Sun Tzu, 544 - 496 B.C.

What was the New Democratic Party's strategy to defeat B.C. Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell?

How was it different from 2005? And why did it fail again?

These are the tough questions NDP MLAs, and activists must ask themselves immediately if they are to have any chance to win in 2013.

Several errors in its 2009 election efforts are already crystal clear.

Any party that uses not one, not two, but three main slogans in a 28-day campaign is in serious jeopardy.

Yet the NDP started off with the social work-sounding -- "Because Everyone Matters", then switched to the retro "Take Back Your B.C." -- at best, a call to return the province to the people.

It was an easy target for the right-wing Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, the well-funded B.C. Liberal proxy enforcers, to run ads saying: "Yeah, way back!"

Then the final NDP campaign slogan: "Eight Years of Gordon Campbell Is Enough!"

And not content with three different slogans, the NDP also blended and merged them into other variants, like "Take Back Your B.C. Because Everyone Matters" or "Eight Years Is Enough -- Take Back Your B.C.!"

This was not a good sign for the campaign.

Too much negativity

Neither was the absence of a positive policy focus in the platform.

Ask voters and the two things they would probably cite as the key NDP promises were increasing the minimum wage from $8 to $10 an hour and axing the carbon tax.

Both had positive appeal but neither had the salience to either mobilize potential NDP voters or change minds. And they were well-known positions months before the election.

Most disastrously, the NDP studiously ignored the number one issue on voters' minds -- the economy -- despite enormous available ammunition.

B.C. led the country in jobs losses in March with 23,000 and lost 63,000 from January to March, disastrous numbers that should have been the focus of hard-hitting NDP ads -- but they weren't.

Case of Premier fear?

The NDP appeared scared to take Campbell on -- and let him even go so far as to publicly criticize the party for not having the backing of any business groups!

Did the NDP respond that they didn't want Campbell's bankrollers on their side?

That B.C. shouldn't trust the multinational corporations whose greed and mismanagement had brought the world to the brink of economic disaster?

Of course not. They shrugged it off.

Instead, the NDP ads featured health care, post-secondary tuition, education, the B.C. Legislature raid scandal, privatization, homelessness, transit cuts, raw log exports and, oh yeah, job losses.

The result -- NDP voters stayed home, unmoved by a listless campaign.

The NDP dropped 80,949 votes in 2009 compared to 2005 and this election had just 26,375 more votes than its winning total in 1996.

The Liberals won with just 63,000 more total votes than the NDP province-wide.

And a far better strategy.

View full article and Tyee comments here:


Friday, May 15, 2009

Justice Elizabeth Bennett gone from Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid case! Promoted to BC Court of Appeal today

BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett will no longer preside over the longest political corruption case in British Columbia history.

Bennett was today promoted to the BC Court of Appeal, meaning a new justice must be appointed to oversee the case against former BC Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk and former government communications aide Aneal Basi in connection with the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003.

The case is still in the pre-trial stage, with a series of defence applications for disclosure rulings still to be heard, as well a wide-ranging defence application to have the charges thrown out of court.

And both the defence and special prosecutor teams are awaiting an important decision from the Supreme Court of Canada on whether it will uphold Bennett's ruling on secret witness testimony - a decision upheld by the BC Court of Appeal but appealed to the country's top court by Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino.

Berardino told Canadian Press today that Bennett's departure will not slow down the case further.

CP reports that Berardino said Bennett sent a memo assuring all sides the change won't cause more delays in a case that began with a high-profile police raid of the provincial legislature in December 2003.

"The trial judge's memorandum confirms, in my view, that her appointment to the Court of Appeal will not affect the timing of the case," Berardino told CP in an interview.

Berardino couldn't discuss what Bennett said in her memo.

* * * * *


The Vancouver Sun's Neal Hall reports today that David Basi's defence lawyer Michael Bolton is surprised but not alarmed that Bennett has been promoted off the case - and that in an unusual move, she will continue to hear some of the pre-trial applications.

"It's unusual in a situation like this where there has been extensive pre-trial motions," defence lawyer Michael Bolton told Hall.

"She will continue hearing part of the case," he added. "She has a very good grip on the case."

* * * * *

My understanding from legal sources is that judges apply to fill vacant positions, as opposed to being approached about an appointment.

Bennett was previously best known as the judge who acquitted former BC NDP Premier Glen Clark of breach of trust charges in 2002 over allegations concerning a casino license.

The official announcement of the appointment came - on the Friday afternoon of a long weekend - from the federal Conservative government - the relevant section follows:


OTTAWA, May 15, 2009 - The Honourable Rob Nicholson, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Niagara Falls, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced the following appointment:

The Honourable Elizabeth A. Bennett, a Judge of the Supreme Court of British Columbia, is appointed a Judge of the Court of Appeal for British Columbia. Madam Justice Bennett replaces Mr. Justice R.T.A. Low in Vancouver.

Madam Justice Bennett received her education at Simon Fraser University and went to Law School at the University of British Columbia. She was called to the Bar of British Columbia in 1982. Madam Justice Bennett was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 1994 and was appointed a judge of the British Columbia Supreme Court in 1997.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

BC Liberal election win sweet for Gordon Campbell, but signals bitter fights to come

Liberals win battle, need to brace for war


May 13, 2009

Last night’s win by the B.C. Liberals is a sweet personal victory for Premier Gordon Campbell – but it sets the stage for several coming bitter battles.

First and foremost, B.C.’s projected budget deficit of just $495 million this year in a time of economic crisis simply cannot be believed.

Instead, expect Finance Minister Colin Hansen to report that – surprise – things are much worse than he imagined in February, forcing severe cost cutting in public services and a larger deficit.

That news will end a relative truce with B.C.’s public sector unions and the overall labour movement, likely signalling a return to the major protests that marked the beginning of Campbell’s first rocky term in 2001.

The public sector’s strategy of signing long-term contracts that don’t expire until after the 2010 Olympics was the right move but the closing ceremony of the Games will mark the opening of a far more desperate contest between labour and the B.C. Liberal government.

Second, the B.C. Liberal Party instinctively knows that this is almost surely Gordon Campbell’s final term in office, triggering internal competition for his successor prior to the 2013 provincial election.

Will Colin Hansen – a liberal urban Liberal – have an easy ride to leadership or will suburban and rural conservative Liberals rebel, demanding a strong move to the right and out of Vancouver?

Third, the New Democratic Party will grapple with the question of whether to pursue leadership change in the wake of leader Carole James’ second spirited but unsuccessful attempt to dethrone Campbell.

Fourth and most dangerous for Campbell, will the B.C. Legislature Raid trial happen and start a dance of deadly skeletons in his closet? Co-accused former B.C. Liberal aides David Basi and Bob Virk have lots to say.

Count on one thing – B.C. politics won’t be boring.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

STV overwhelmingly defeated with 61% vote for FPTP! NO STV thanks BC voters

Thanks to everyone who supported the NO STV campaign and effort in the May 12 provincial referendum on electoral systems!

STV was overwhelmingly defeated as BC voted 61% in favour of our current First Past The Post electoral system versus 39% for STV.

The following is a news release on the results from NO STV, which I am honoured to be president of.

* * * * *


Official Proponent - NO to the Single Transferable Vote - May 2009 Referendum

NEWS RELEASE Tuesday May 12, 2009

NO STV pleased and relieved that Single Transferable Vote proposal defeated in May 12 provincial referendum

VANCOUVER – NO STV, the group opposing the Single Transferable Vote, is pleased and relieved that British Columbia voters have rejected the STV proposal in the May 12 provincial referendum on electoral systems.

NO STV President Bill Tieleman said tonight that voters have spoken clearly in the second referendum on the STV.

As of 11 pm Tuesday, the results stood at 61 per cent in favour of maintaining the current First Past The Post system.

“NO STV said throughout this referendum campaign that the Single Transferable Vote was a bad idea for British Columbia and tonight voters agreed,” Tieleman said. “Our strategy was to give voters as much information as possible about the problems with STV and let them decide for themselves – that worked.”

NO STV Secretary-Treasurer David Schreck said the vote marks an end to debate about STV.

“Whether the province continues with our current First Past The Post electoral system or considers other alternatives, it is clear that STV is no longer an option,” Schreck said.

Shreck said NO STV has no position as an organization on future discussion of electoral reform but that some of its supporters believe there are other systems better than either STV or FPTP.

“It is now up to the provincial government and opposition to listen to British Columbians and respond democratically and openly to their views,” he said.

NO STV Vice-President Rick Dignard gave credit to British Columbians for BC-STV for running a strong campaign and encouraging public debate about our electoral process.

“Regardless of the rejection of STV, this referendum has energized discussion of our democratic institutions and that can only be positive,” said Dignard, a former BC Citizens Assembly representative for the Sunshine Coast who disagreed with the Assembly’s majority recommendation of STV in 2004.

NO STV’s other directors include former Social Credit cabinet minister Bruce Strachan and Vision Vancouver city councilor Andrea Reimer, a former Green Party Vancouver school trustee.

Other active members include former provincial deputy minister Bob Plecas, former NDP cabinet minister Anne Edwards, former Citizens Assembly member Jyoti Gill, Trinity Western University political science professor John Redekop and business owner Paul Gill.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Bill Tieleman on CKNW AM 980 on BC Election night 7 p.m. on

I will be commenting on the election results Tuesday night from 7 p.m. on CKNW AM 980 with host Sean Leslie, Michael Smyth, columist from the Province newspaper and CKNW talk show host Christy Clark.

Tune in on your radio or online for not only the latest results but analysis from our great panel and the talented staff of reporters and broadcasters of CKNW!

Thinking of watching TV? Turn off the sound and turn on CKNW!


Time to make voting mandatory in BC provincial elections - like in Australia

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday May 12, 2009

Time to invoke compulsory voting


We are comfortable with compulsion in other walks of life, such as jury duty or the requirement to educate our children. Surely our democracy is valuable enough to deserve a similar level of backing.

- U.K. author Ben Rogers

Today is provincial election day - and far too many citizens will not exercise their democratic right to vote.

So I believe it's time B.C. and Canada moved to compulsory voting laws, where all voters are required to vote or face a penalty for not doing so.

It may surprise you to learn that 30 countries representing 10 per cent of the democratic world have compulsory or mandatory voting laws.

Of those, 19 enforce those laws by fining or penalizing any eligible voter who refuses to cast a ballot.

Australia is perhaps the most prominent country with compulsory voting and at a time when voter participation is declining around the world no matter what type of electoral system is used, more than 90 per cent of Australians have voted in every national election since the law was introduced in 1924.

Compare that to B.C. where voter turnout was just 58 per cent in 2005 and fell from a high of 78 per cent in 1983 to just 55 per cent in 2001. From the 1920s through 1980s voter participation was regularly in the high 60 per cent to low 70 per cent range.

Australia is far from alone in making voting compulsory. Other countries with similar laws that are enforced include Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Greece, Luxembourg, Mexico, Peru and Turkey.

And Italy, the Netherlands, Bolivia, Costa Rica and Thailand are among other nations that have mandatory voting laws but do not enforce them.

So what are the arguments in favour of demanding citizens exercise their vote?

First - mandatory voting forces every party to consider the needs of all voters in forming policies, reducing a focus on ideological, regional or other influences. All parties have to appeal to all voters, not just some.

Second - no government can show favour to special interests or only ridings it holds without fear of losing the following election.

Third - democracy is a privilege many have died for - it's not to be taken lightly.

Fourth - election results would reflect the views of the entire population, not just the 50 to 60 per cent who currently vote.

With compulsory voting there are exceptions for those who for religious reasons do not vote or those who cannot vote.

And spoiling your ballot in protest against all parties is still completely legal and not penalized.

It's time that all of us vote, to protect our democratic rights.

It's time for compulsory voting.

NOTE: I will be commenting on the election results Tuesday night from 7 p.m. on CKNW AM 980 with host Sean Leslie, Michael Smyth and Christy Clark.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Rafe Mair endorses Carole James and urges voting NDP in May 12 provincial election

The photo you never thought you'd see, the endorsement you'd never thought you'd read! Rafe Mair endorses Carole James and the NDP.

There have definitely been some surprising endorsements in this provincial election - Conservative MP John Cummins urging voters to defeat Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals, as first reported here, definitely shocked some.

And Cummins saying nice things about NDP leader Carole James and that he will vote for NDP MLA Guy Gentner in Delta North - as reported exclusively by Sean Holman at PublicEyeOnline and CFAX radio - made it all the more newsworthy.

But if Rafe Mair's endorsement of NDP leader Carole James is surprising it is also a logical progression and extension of Rafe's commitment to the environment.

The veteran broadcaster, Tyee columnist and former Social Credit cabinet minister under Premier Bill Bennett has worked tirelessly in fighting destructive run-of-river private power projects, as well as opposing the disastrous fish farms that threaten the very existence of our wild salmon.

Rafe has sent this note around on why he is voting NDP for the first time in his life - it's well worth a read.

PS: I took the photo above at a dinner celebrating the public service of retiring NDP MLA Corky Evans - not knowing at the time that Rafe would endorse Carole.

* * * * *

Hi Everybody, Rafe here.

I received an email from a man saying that he has a toughtime bringing himself to vote NDP and asked for my comment and here it is.

I hope you find it of interest.

Please pass this on to your address book so that we can provide information where the media will not.

Let me take a moment to answer your question which is one that has troubled a lot of people including myself.

When I was in government (1975-80) I was Minister, first, for Consumer and Corporate Affairs.

During that time I passed more consumer legislation than anyone before or since including licensing car dealers (with six of them in caucus setting their collective hair on fire) forced the banks to acknowledge and obey BC laws for the first time, forced serious reporting changes to the Vancouver Stock Exchanges for which they have never forgiven me, licensed Travel Agents and made them create a fund to bring home passengers stranded by bankrupt charter companies and so on.

As Environment Minister I stopped the government killing of wolves, stopped exploration for and mining of uranium and went to Seattle and negotiated the saving of the Skagit River from a raising of the Ross Dam, which Seattle was permitted to do under a 1941 deal with the BC government.

As Minister of Health I brought in the Homecare program and Palliative Care.

I tell you all these things because there is no way in the world I could have ever done these things for the public of BC had Gordon Campbell been Premier.

The political ground has shifted dramatically and the present day version of the old Socreds is, I think, the party Carole James leads.

I know that there are supporters of Ms James that are hard line lefties just as when I was with Bill Bennett there were supporters and indeed members of Caucus who were near fascists.

That sort of thing will always happen in a two party system.

If it were 1975 all over again, I'd support Bill Bennett (the best premier BC ever had, in my view); in 2009 I will support Carole James.

Now as to the point that Campbell "cleaned up the mess". Perhaps, but let's be fair and observe that the NDP were struck by the"Asian 'flu" and in fact balanced the budget in their last year.

It's also interesting to note that under the Liberals the Vancouver Convention Centre is over budget $400 million, more than double the cost of the "fast ferries".

For a fuller account of the Liberals financial record may I refer you to my forthcoming article, next Monday, in The Tyee.

Now let's look at 2009.

This election, for me, boils down toa single issue - the environment and the plans by Campbell to deface and destroy the province I was born in and love and where 7 out of 8 of mygrand children live.

The energy policy, in which no one but industry had a hand in formulating, will ruin an ever increasing number of rivers, not to look after BC's energy needs, but mostly, American requirements,

I have nothing against Americans and in fact have often been accused of being too lenient with them, but I don't want to see us sacrifice our environment rivers so they can preserve theirs.

This policy is government by the North America Free Trade Agreement and our experts tell us three things:

1. Once an American company has access to our water for any reason, it can use it for any reason, including selling bulk water exports.

2. Once an American company has tenure on a Canadian water and is using it, that tenure cannot be terminated either by contract or legislation.

3. Once we are exporting energy, we cannot reduce that supply to the US without reducing our own usage by a similar amount (this is the "Proportionality Clause").

Moreover, the profits which BC Hydro now pays into our treasury will go as dividends to shareholders of companies like General Electric, Ledcor and Axos.

BC Hydro, forced by this government to pay huge amounts for energy that they can't even break even with when they sell it, will bankrupt BC Hydro for which we paid a high environmental price 45 years ago but which has since then given us regular power at 1/10th the cost they pay in California.

Dr Marvin Shaffer at SFU calls this new business technique "buy high, sell low"!

If Campbell is returned we will be, like Bre'r Rabbit, stuck to the American Tar Baby.

There is but one other choice, vote NDP.

But will this not mean the financial ruination of the province?

I don't believe so for a moment. But let us assume for the sake of argument an NDP government made a balls up of the economy.

That can be repaired by a new government.

However, once we have established the Campbell Energy Plan for another four years that will be the end of BC Hydro and the end of hundreds of rivers. FOREVER.

I cannot allow that to happen without giving it the fight of my life.

I, a former Socred minister, with the same core values I had then, am supporting and will vote for Carole James.



Please take the time to look at http://www.saveourrivers.ca/ and get the bigger picture.

Pass this on to everyone in your address book that lives in B.C.


Why you should defeat the Single Transferable Vote on May 12 - Bill Tieleman in Vancouver Sun

Complicated STV takes away MLA accountability

By Bill Tieleman, Special to the Vancouver Sun

May 5, 2009

British Columbians are faced with an even more important decision than who to vote for in the May 12 election -- because a referendum on electoral systems could have far more long-lasting effects on our province.

Voters must choose between our existing first-past-the-post electoral system and a proposed Single Transferable Vote.

No STV, the official opponent group, has been strongly urging British Columbians to reject this complex, obscure and confusing electoral system that would take away the local accountability and responsibility members of the legislative assembly owe to voters.

The reasons are many.

STV would create enormous ridings of up to seven MLAs and 350,000 people that would take away local accountability and responsibility of MLAs to voters.

British Columbia's 85 single-member ridings would shrink to just 20 under STV, meaning instead of having your own MLA in your current riding, you would have up to seven MLAs in a much bigger area.

In some cases that new STV riding is absurdly large -- Cariboo-Thompson STV riding would stretch from Quesnel all the way to the United States border!

And in other cases the STV ridings simply make no sense.

The proposed North Island-South Coast STV riding is bisected by Georgia Strait.

Voters in Sechelt, Gibsons, Powell River and the Sunshine Coast would share their MLAs with those in Tofino, Port Alberni, Port Hardy, Comox, Courtenay and other north Island communities.

Imagine the all-candidates meetings or party nominations -- or imagine how the riding's four MLAs would rationally divide their attention to the more than 200,000 people there stretching across the strait and hundreds of kilometres apart.

No longer would any of these ridings have their own MLA. Instead, voters would have a group of MLAs, none of whom would be responsible for any of the former single member ridings.

Nor would there be any guarantee of where MLA offices and staff would be located to deal with residents' issues.

And instead of local accountability, voters would get "government by committee" with a group of MLAs who may not come from parts of the riding or get along with other elected members.

Then there's STV's complicated "fractionalizing" of your vote using a mathematical "transfer value" formula that means you will never know where your vote really went.

The "weighted Gregory inclusive method" is how votes will be chopped up.

Here's just a partial sample of how the vote works, as described by the Citizens Assembly that recommended STV:

"If a candidate on the first count gains more than the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, the candidate is declared elected, and the number of votes in excess of the number of votes needed to be elected (the surplus) is recorded.

"All of the elected candidate's ballots are then re-examined and assigned to candidates not yet elected according to the second preferences marked on the ballots of those who gave a first preference vote to the elected candidate. These votes are allocated according to a 'transfer value.'

"The formula for the transfer value is . . . ."

There are 11 other steps involved in the count. And after that, the "Droop Quota" will determine how many votes a candidate needs to win election.

I am not making this up.

STV proponents say you can easily rank your choices 1,2,3 -- but the math involved shows you will have no idea what happened to your vote because there are far more mathematical combinations possible than there are 6/49 Lottery pick possibilities.

STV will also increase, not decrease, the power of political parties.

Candidates in large STV ridings would have to reach far more voters in a 350,000-person STV riding than under our current system with single member constituencies of about 50,000 people.

That makes candidates even more dependent on political parties to get their names and message out.

And smaller third parties and independents would face huge challenges trying to reach that many voters across large geographic areas.

Malta under STV has failed to elect a single third party candidate since the 1960s and no independent since the 1950s.

And Ireland, the only other country using STV as a national electoral system, features politics far nastier and more party-dominated than here.

Lastly, if STV proponents are correct, B.C. could have perpetual unstable minority and coalition governments -- a recipe for endless backroom deals between politicians and no leadership for our province.

Remember that if STV passes, B.C. will be stuck with it for a recommended minimum of three elections -- that's 12 years, running to 2025 -- before changes can be considered.

Vote to keep our current first-past-the-post system on May 12 -- and if you believe there are better systems work for that afterwards. Don't accept a disastrous STV system that won't serve British Columbia.

For more information: www.nostv.org

Bill Tieleman is president of No STV.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Environmentalist Dan Bouman takes Suzuki, Berman, Horter to task over support for BC Liberals and disastrous environment record

Longtime environmentalist Dan Bouman of the Sunshine Coast is circulating this message through emails around the province. I think Dan makes some excellent points and am reproducing it here for your interest and comments.

* * * * *

Dan Bouman

An Open Letter to BC’s Environmental Leaders:

Over the course of the Provincial election campaign, posturing from BC’s major environmental organizations has been embarrassing.

As the executive director of a regional conservation association with 20 years experience working with local governments and with the public on regional environmental issues, I wonder if my upper-level colleagues have gone completely daft.

Their campaigns to “punish” Carol James, or the “anybody but…” campaigns, or the one calling on the NDP to re-consider their position on IPP’s are just three examples of their misguided approach.

The Liberal government has used a common theme to address environmental policies; deregulation, public disempowerment, destruction of accountability, elimination of transparency, and disdain towards the democratic processes.

It started with the gutting of the BC Environmental Assessment Act and the conversion of the BC EA Office from one designed to safeguard the public interest, to one that only serves project proponents. This Act was once a key tool for assessing and mitigating climate change impacts -but is now little more than a source of orchestrated industrial advertising.

What happened to the Forest Practices Code Act under the Liberals tells a story: The old “prescriptive” code was replaced with a new “results based code” which is impossibly vague and unenforceable. As one example, a “result” specified by government is ‘the protection of drinking water’, unless this “unduly restricts the flow of timber”.

In the end, transparency and accountability in forestry -and participation of the public in forest planning- have been willfully destroyed. The Act now stands as one stark example of the supremacy of private interests at the expense of the public interest; the Liberal government’s legacy.

The Private Managed Forest Land Act (PMFLA) offers a similar illustration. A ‘Council’ of private landowners enforces the Act with no accountability to the public. A person can make a complaint but the Council doesn’t have to acknowledge the complaint or notify the complainant of an investigation (remember CNI’s instant municipality).

The complainant has no right to participate in, or even to be notified of, a hearing into the complaint. In the case of a finding against the landowner, the owner has the right of appeal.

The complainant has no such right. The whole process is remarkable for its starkly anti-democratic orientation. The PMFLA Council views its mandate to be the protection of forest landowners from the public, local government, and environmental regulation.

There are many other examples of legislation that has been passed to insulate private interests from public scrutiny; the Integrated Pest Management Act comes to mind, as does the new Health Act which has stripped away the powers of Local Boards of Health.

According to a West Coast Environmental Law survey in 2007, environmental law enforcement has been brought to a virtual standstill in BC.

This was achieved primarily through budget cutbacks to enforcement agencies like the BC Conservation Officer Service. Cutbacks have also been used to curtail the activities of most of the independent agencies of the legislature like the Forest Practices Board, the Ombudsman’s office and the office of the Auditor General.

The above are not esoteric legal issues. Community advocates see the loss of environmental assets as well as a constant parade of conflicts between private interests and the public. Meanwhile fish disappear, species-at-risk continue to drift toward extinction, drinking water sources are compromised, and carbon emissions continue to rise.

One approach that offered a comprehensive venue to address these and many other issues was Land and Resource Management Planning. Three regional districts, four municipalities and about thirty citizens’ groups in the Sunshine Coast Forest District campaigned strongly for this higher level of planning.

The Liberal government initially agreed to proceed, but reneged about a year ago when it became clear that land use planning could get in the way of private hydropower development. The Liberal government deliberately scuttled one of the most important tools to mitigate the effects of climate change due to opposition from private corporations.

The common theme of the Liberal Party is the well-orchestrated destruction of progressive democratic processes. In British Columbia we are seeing the rise of a plutocracy; government for the rich. My friends working in other social justice fields advise me that the same pattern of destruction of accountability, transparency and public empowerment has occurred in many other areas such as health, education, housing, poverty law, labour relations, social welfare, management of the judiciary etc.

There is no backlash against ‘green power’ or climate change mitigation. But there continues to be a concerted assault against the rights of the public and against democratic process. The so-called backlash is really just people trying to defend their families and their communities against an empowered corporate agenda.

Unfortunately some misguided environmental elites have responded to this situation by trying to punish Carol James, by supporting Plutonic Power and General Electric, and supporting the re-election of the Minister of the Environment!

These are absurd responses that show BC’s environmental leaders are politically naive at best and likely just plain indifferent to peoples’ experiences under Liberal government.

Just to make my views perfectly clear, I believe the NDP is right to oppose IPP’s because environmental and social impacts have not been openly and properly considered.

However crass the NDP's messaging has been, they are also fully justified in opposing the Liberals' approach to climate change.

The Liberal government has been consistently imposing legislation without debate in the legislature and without public consultation that genuinely considers the impacts on all parties.

The NDP, which has always stood for democratic progressive principle in Canada, cannot possibly support fundamental change when it is brought forward in an authoritarian manner, and in a manner that protects the interests of the rich at the expense of the poor.

The NDP must oppose authoritarianism -no one would support them if they didn’t. This is a political reality that seems to have escaped the handful of myopically-focused environmentalists that speak for the likes of PowerUp and the BC Conservation Voters.

Unfortunately, Tzeporah Berman and Will Horter, et al., are incredibly out of touch with the concerns of the public and, as today’s polls show, have had limited or no measurable impact on voters.

We must not blame the NDP for our own failures to communicate. I fear to consider what may come if the Liberals prevail for another four years.

A progressive and democratic process offers us the best hope for creating effective and enduring responses to climate change. If we continue down the current authoritarian path, we will all be dead before any effective changes are made.

On Tuesday May 12, I’ll be voting with a perfectly clear conscience for the NDP; they are our best hope.

Thank you very much!

Daniel Bouman

Founding member

Sunshine Coast Conservation Association
Sunshine Coast Water First Society
Tetrahedron Alliance

Co-author - The People’s Water – The Fight for the Sunshine Coast’s Drinking Watersheds

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Two new polls indicate STV headed for defeat; Angus Reid Strategies & Mustel Group both say First Past The Post in clear lead

Two public opinion polls released Thursday indicate that the Single Transferable Vote is headed for defeat in the May 12 provincial referendum on electoral systems.

Angus Reid Strategies reports late tonight that our current First Past The Post electoral system is favoured by 55% of respondents versus 45% who want STV.

That represents an 8% drop in support for STV since the last poll conducted in late April by ARS.

The Mustel Group issued a poll earlier today that said 43% of respondents would vote for First Past The Post, 33% for STV and 24% were undecided.

The referendum rules require STV to be passed by a 60% majority and also have 60% of the 85 provincial ridings vote in favour by 50% + 1.

As you likely know, I am president of NO STV, the officially designated group opposing the Single Transferable Vote.

While I am obviously pleased with the results of these two polls, NO STV will continue to work hard right through until voting day to defeat STV.

You can read more about our position at the NO STV website, which also includes links to the British Columbians for BC-STV website.

Here are the relevant portions of the two polling firms releases:

Angus Reid Strategies


Awareness of the referendum on electoral reform has risen in the last week with only nine per cent of people “not aware at all” (-8), while those who are “very aware” have increased to 57 per cent (+12).

This rise in awareness seems to have lowered the chances of BC-STV being implemented in the next provincial election.

Support for the existing system is at 55 per cent (+8) while BC-STV attracts the support of 45 per cent of voters (-8).

Amongst those “absolutely certain to vote,” the existing system leads with 56 per cent.

The Mustel Group

Electoral Reform

Eligible voters are leaning toward the status quo when asked which option they are likely to choose on the referendum.

43% will vote for the existing system, 33% plan to vote for the BC-STV and 24% are undecided.


Conservative MP John Cummins urges defeat of Gordon Campbell and BC Liberals on May 12

John Cummins on why Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals need to be voted out of office on May 12

I don't always agree with federal Conservative Party MP John Cummins but I do respect his integrity and his willingness to openly disagree with his party and to stick up for what he believes in.

Cummins and I do agree on a number of things - particularly the need to protect British Columbia farmland, save BC rivers threatened by private power projects and end open net fish farms that are killing our wild salmon.

So perhaps it's no suprise that John Cummins is angry with the Gordon Campbell BC Liberal provincial government and its actions - but it takes real guts to say so in public before the May 12 election and tell people to vote to defeat Campbell.

And that's exactly what Cummins did today. I received the following email from his office and it is reprinted below in full.

* * * * *

John Cummins
MP Delta-Richmond East

I am a free enterpriser, a federal Conservative with deep roots in the Reform movement.

I cannot support Gordon Campbell’s Liberals in this provincial election because of their complete indifference to quality of life issues here in South Delta.

· The industrialization of irreplaceable farmland to serve the interests of Port Metro Vancouver.

· The construction of “industrial strength” power lines through Tsawwassen after an election commitment not to do so.

· The promotion of rail and road infrastructure for the Gateway program that gives no consideration to quality of life issues across the Lower Mainland but particularly in Delta, Surrey and Langley.

From a provincial perspective I cannot support Gordon Campbell because he is giving away and putting at risk the public assets of the province for which he is only the present custodian.

· Run of the River Hydro projects which will destroy the remaining wilderness areas in British Columbia and commits us to higher than market prices for the power generated.

· Campbell’s unequivocal support of net cage aquaculture has put at risk precious runs of wild salmon.

· The Recognition and Reconciliation legislation proposed by Mr. Campbell will give about 30 yet-to-be created native groups aboriginal title to over 95 percent of the province. These groups will have veto power over development and will receive the lion’s share of revenue that flows from what’s now Crown land, money that currently goes to the provincial treasury.

· The giveaway of the UBC golf course and other valuable properties to buy peace with native-agitators during the Olympics.

· Campbell’s sale of BC Rail at a discounted price to CN after adamantly denying during an election campaign that he would sell it.

The Gordon Campbell government has not been the prudent manager of the province’s fiscal affairs that his supporters would have us believe.

His ill-considered carbon tax will mean higher fuel costs for all drivers with commuters and residents of the interior and northern parts of the province taking the biggest hit. It is estimated that a long-haul trucker in B.C. will pay $6,000 a year in carbon taxes by 2012. Home heating costs will also increase with the biggest impact on the residents of the north and interior of the Province.

Cost overruns on the Trade and Convention Centre and Campbell’s disregard for the economic upset experienced by the Cambie Street merchants during the RAV line construction paint a picture of a detached Premier who cares little for how he gets there just as long as he gets there.

The Gordon Campbell Liberals would have us believe that only they are capable of governing British Columbia and managing its economy. That no longer works for me. A vote for the B.C. Liberals means they can continue to disregard our legitimate concerns with impunity.