Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Explain BC Liberals addiction to gambling? Simple - follow the money! And the lobbyists!

Why BC Liberals love gambling
- Jeff Kubina photo

Watch the big money -- and the big players.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday July 27, 2010

By Bill Tieleman

"A B.C. Liberal government will stop the expansion of gambling that has increased gambling addiction and put new strains on families."

- B.C. Liberals New Era promise, 2001

Hope you didn't bet on that one!

But why has the B.C. Liberal Party done a complete 180-degree turn from strongly fighting gambling when in opposition to presiding over a massive expansion of gaming?

Why did the B.C. Lottery Corporation introduce its PlayNow.com addictive online gambling site -- which immediately crashed -- in the same week we learn it was fined $670,000 by federal financial regulators for 1,020 violations of the Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act on casino transactions over $10,000?

And why won't minister responsible Rich Coleman fire Michael Graydon, the $383,000 a year CEO of the B.C. Lottery Corporation?

Simple -- follow the money. And the lobbyists.

This government has a gambling addiction second to none -- it cannot stay away from the blackjack tables and slot machines because it desperately needs the money just to pay off its bad debts -- B.C.'s massive $1.8 billion deficit.

Preach abstinence, bet the house?

When it comes to gambling, Premier Gordon Campbell neither knows his limit nor plays within it -- he needs to apply for "problem gambler" status so he'll be banned at the casino doors.

Campbell preached like an evangelical revival-tent pastor against gambling when the New Democratic Party was in office -- praying for an end to this scourge on humanity.

But once in power, Campbell became a sinner, expanding all forms of gambling in order to increase net government revenue by 265 per cent -- from $414 million in 2001 to more than $1.1 billion today.

Meanwhile, who is the top lobbyist for Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, the large gambling company that runs several B.C. casinos and horseracing tracks as well as other operations across the country?

Who is the lobbyist with an undertaking from Great Canadian that started in August 2005 and continues through until April 2013?

Why it's Patrick Kinsella, the B.C. Liberal Party's former election campaign chair and co-chair in the 2001 and 2005 provincial votes, the most influential backroom guy in the business and a man who has donated more than $77,000 either through his Progressive Holdings or Progressive Strategies businesses to the party since 2005.

Casino makes things 'cosier'

Kinsella -- also a well-known horse owner with entries running at Hastings Racecourse nearly every weekend -- summarizes his business on the B.C. Lobbyists registry as: "Casino operations in partnership with B.C. Lotteries Corporation."

Just to keep things even cosier with the provincial government, who did Great Canadian hire in May to become senior vice-president of operations?

Why Vic Poleschuk -- the former CEO of the B.C. Lottery Corporation, who was terminated with $603,000 severance after a report from B.C. Ombudsman Kim Carter found a "lack of scrutiny for the 99 per cent of the winning [lottery] tickets and 80 per cent of the prize money paid out for wins under $10,000."

And who did Public Eye Online discover was scheduled to meet Poleschuck repeatedly in 2006 and 2007? Yes, lobbyist Patrick Kinsella.

'Whacked' by money-laundering guardian

The only bad bet the B.C. Liberals made was to wager against the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada, the federal regulator that guards against money laundering.

And the B.C. Lottery Corporation lost badly. It was fined $670,000 for violating the reporting rules 1,020 times -- but kept it secret until CKNW's Brett Mineer got the scoop.

It turns out the B.C. Lottery Corporation was also the only provincial gambling authority to be whacked by FINTRAC.

While Graydon calls them "administrative" breaches, FINTRAC wasn't impressed.

FINTRAC says 20 per cent of all money-laundering and terrorist-financing cases in Canada in 2008-2009 involved casinos, where criminals and bad guys pay cash to buy chips and then cash in for a legitimate casino cheque after minimal play.

You can see just how seriously the B.C. Lottery Corporation felt about the need to prevent money laundering here -- because last year it increased the maximum weekly online gambling limit from $120 to a massive $9,999 -- just one dollar short of FINTRAC's reportable minimum $10,000.

PlayNow adds to losing streak

Then there's the PlayNow.com fiasco -- the new online gambling site B.C. Lottery Corporation aimed at making $100 million a year from that crashed shortly after it was launched.

The B.C. Lottery Corporation initially claimed it was overloaded with so many happy gamblers that the system couldn't handle it -- but five full days later the truth came out.

PlayNow.com suffered 134 "data crossovers" that meant players could see other players' personal financial data online -- and even make bets with their money.

All in all, a disastrous record for the luckless B.C. Liberals.

And let's be clear -- I'm not opposed to gambling.

I've even bet and won money placing wagers on Kinsella's own horses at Hastings Racecourse, while subsidizing government revenues through buying lottery tickets.

But I am opposed to rank hypocrisy and gross incompetence, something that is always a sure bet with this government.


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fire BC Lottery CEO Michael Graydon now! Online gambling fiasco and federal Proceeds of Crime money laundering fines demand it

Gambling is big business for the BC Liberal government

- Martin McKenna photo

BC Lottery Corporation CEO Michael Graydon should be fired immediately by the provincial government - for cause and without severance.
The reasons are extremely obvious - but don't bet on the BC Liberals doing the right thing.

In fact, minister responsible Rich Coleman has already rejected the idea of firing the $383,000 a year CEO.

The current situation is a complete embarrassment for the province - the BC Lottery Corporation has been fined a massive $670,000 for more than 1,000 violations of the federal Proceeds of Crime and Terrorist Financing Act - an amazing story broken by CKNW AM 980 reporter Brett Mineer.

It doesn't get much worse than that!

But it does at the BC Lottery Corporation - they deliberately misled the public for days about the crash of its controversial online gambling program PlayNow.com - finallly confessing that it wasn't because of the stated "tremendous customer response" - as BC Lottery VP Kevin Gass said.

It was actually because of a "data crossover" that allowed some players to access other players money and financial information!

And it happened 134 times - but no public word until Thursday - five days later.

Then we discover that the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada -- FINTRAC -- fined BC Lottery Corporation because it misfiled 1,020 reports for casino transactions over $10,000.

Hmmmm - let's see - who would likely be making such transactions? Lemme think - yes, there are four possibilities:

- Really lucky gamblers

- Really rich gamblers

- drug dealers laundering money

- terrorists laundering money

You figure out the odds as to which ones are most likely for over 1,000 transactions.

I'm going to stick to Lotto 6-49 - where I know I won't win the big prize but at least I'm laundering money to health care and education - not organized crime or terrorism!

Lastly - a bit of ironic humour - if you want to check out Michael Graydon's background on the BC Lottery Corporation website, Microsoft Explorer posts this ominous warning:
"There is a problem with this website's security certificate.

The security certificate presented by this website was issued for a different website's address.

Security certificate problems may indicate an attempt to fool you or intercept any data you send to the server."

No kidding Microsoft - you got that right!


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

"Liberalizing" BC Hydro - top BC Liberal party insiders take spin control of Crown corporation - from Olympics to FOIs power flows from the Party

BC Hydro Vice-President - and BC Liberal operative - Susan Yurkovich

How BC Hydro was 'BC Liberalized' by parachuting Party into power

Top BC Liberal Party operatives help spin Olympics and Site C Dam

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday July 20, 2010

By Bill Tieleman

"I can tell you that the sooner we eliminate patronage in the province, the better off all of our public institutions are going to be."

- Gordon Campbell, as opposition leader, March 26, 1997

Top BC Liberal Party political strategists and supporters have taken over key positions at BC Hydro, and the results at the province's largest Crown corporation have become clear in the last several months.

Sixteen senior managers, all making over $100,000 a year, were seconded to do low-level jobs like selling tickets for the Vancouver Olympics, as I reported exclusively last week in 24 hours.

Who will pay for BC Hydro sending 67 employees at a cost of at least $2.48 million to work on the Olympics for up to five years? BC Hydro customers will, through higher electricity bills.

Why would BC Hydro give up so many staff to subsidize the Olympics? Could it be because people like Susan Yurkovich and Steve Vanagas are top BC Hydro executives who also happen to be key B.C. Liberal Party operatives?

Yurkovich was senior vice president, corporate affairs and was also responsible for BC Hydro's 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games operations until this month. She is now VP responsible for the Site C Dam project.

Key Liberal spin doctors

Yurkovich was also a member of the B.C. Liberal Party's secret central 2005 election campaign committee. And in the past year alone she has donated $1,450 to the B.C. Liberals.

Vanagas is BC Hydro's director of communications and public affairs and reported directly to Yurkovich. Vanagas came to BC Hydro straight out of Premier Gordon Campbell's office, where he was deputy chief of staff responsible for communications.

Both Yurkovich and Vanagas were parachuted into BC Hydro headquarters in 2006 after the provincial election.

Yurkovich has strong federal Conservative Party ties, having worked under the Brian Mulroney administration for B.C. cabinet minister Tom Siddon. She also sits as a provincial appointee on the University of B.C. board of governors and the Vancouver Coastal Health Authority.

Yurkovich was also a Canfor vice-president, serving under the term of Canfor president David Emerson, later a turncoat MP who switched from the federal Liberal to Conservative party in order to stay in a cabinet minister job.

Vanagas is a former staffer at the right-wing Fraser Institute and former reporter at the defunct BC Report conservative newsmagazine.

FOI requests now sent upstairs

But just in case the BC Liberals didn't have enough ability to spin BC Hydro affairs with two of their most loyal followers in charge of communications, they went even further.

A government "letter of expectation" issued in April orders BC Hydro to provide it with all freedom of information requests before releasing them -- no doubt including my FOI that revealed a $140,000-a-year manager was seconded by BC Hydro to be a "Ticket Representative" during the Olympics and that a $137,916 a year manager worked as a "supervisor, event services."

The letter of expectation has led the non-profit B.C. Freedom of Information and Privacy Association to ask that B.C.'s information and privacy commissioner investigate possible political interference in FOI requests.

Friends on the board

The BC Hydro board of directors has also been stacked with top B.C. Liberal Party supporters.

From Jamie Brown, president of Canaccord Financial subsidiary Canaccord Genuity and son of long-time BC Liberal donor Peter Brown, to Larry Blain, the premier's top privatizer of public services as CEO of Partnerships BC, to BC Liberal donor and former BC Gas CEO Stephen Bellringer, the party is well-served at the directors' table.

From top to bottom, when it comes to BC Hydro the real power flows from the BC Liberal Party.


Friday, July 16, 2010

Would you pay $140,000 a year to an event tickets seller? Give up a $145,000 a year manager for 5 years? BC Hydro did for 2010 Olympics!

BC Hydro put high-priced $100,000+ managers to work on 2010 Vancouver Olympics - as ticket sellers, drivers and other "joe jobs"

Friday July 16, 2010

24 hours exclusive

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

Would you pay an employee $140,000 a year to sell event tickets?

That’s what BC Hydro did for the 2010 Olympic Games when they seconded a senior manager to be a “Ticketing Representative” for $11,637 per month for three months, according to documents obtained exclusively by 24 hours through a Freedom Of Information request.

Another seconded BC Hydro employee making $137,916 a year worked as a “Supervisor, Event Services” for the Vancouver Olympics and a third making $127,296 annually was “Manager, Transportation Facilities”.

In total BC Hydro seconded 67 employees making between $21.64 an hour and $12,084 a month for up to five months at a cost of at least $2,487,000. Sixteen of the 67 make over $100,000 each at BC Hydro.

NDP MLA John Horgan called the high-priced Hydro help “outrageous”.

“It’s outrageous that they would be paying $12,000 a month for a ticket representative,” Horgan, NDP energy critic. “It seems to be a misuse of BC Hydro expertise.”

Horgan also questioned how well paid BC Hydro senior managers could be seconded for extended periods of time.

“If they were expendable then, what are they doing now?” Horgan asked.

The highest paid seconded employee – at $145,000 a year – was a “Principal Engineer” who served as VANOC “Energy Director” – for nearly five years, from September 2005 to April 2010.

The value of that donated time alone exceeds $675,000.

Other senior managers also appeared to be doing “joe jobs” well below their expertise, according to the FOI.

A BC Hydro “Project Manager” paid $119,000 a year was seconded to VANOC to be a “Fleet Coordinator”, as was an “Energy Manager” making $115,000 a year and a “Senior Environmental Coordinator” making $89,000 annually.

Details of FOI request obtained by 24 hours of BC Hydro staff seconded to the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games

A BC Hydro representative declined comment, instead referring 24 hours to the provincial government. Calls to the ministry of finance and BC Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Secretariat were not returned by deadline.

Some of the seconded BC Hydro employees doing what appears to be the same job had widely varying rates of pay. In addition to the $140,000 a year manager there were other employees working as “Ticketing Representatives” who were paid $56,556 and $53,352 a year.

Other BC Hydro seconded managers appear to have been doing Olympic jobs similar to their own, with “Project Manager 2” serving as “Venue Energy Manager” for the games at $111,000 a year – but for two and a half years.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

You gotta be kidding! BC Liberals unbelievable on HST ads, Olympic costs, budget deficit

Premier Gordon Campbell in full red-mittened madness!

Hey Gordo, You Gotta Be Kidding!

Overspending unbelievable on pro-HST, Olympic and 'You Gotta Be Here BC' ad campaigns.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday July 13, 2010

By Bill Tieleman

"What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself."

- Abraham Lincoln

You gotta be kidding!

As we hear endless new B.C. government radio ads promoting the hated Harmonized Sales Tax, B.C. Finance Minister Colin Hansen actually
claims he doesn't know how much they cost.

Nor does he know the price of a pro-HST government
flyer to hit your mailbox shortly.

That would be the same Colin Hansen who claimed the total costs of the 2010 Olympics would be just $600 million -- and last week admitted that was very wrong, even as he continued to fudge the numbers.

While Hansen actually straight-facedly
says B.C. spent only $925 million, he doesn't count the $2 billion Canada Line, the $880 million Convention Centre, the $800 million Sea-To-Sky highway upgrade or even the $30 million upgrade to B.C. Place stadium and hundreds of millions of other hidden costs.

And it's the same Hansen who swore that B.C.'s pre-election budget deficit was only $495 million -- when it was actually $2.8 billion -- only five and a half times bigger.

After cutting $833 million in spending, Hansen now
says the budget deficit is $1.8 billion -- but he won't reverse cuts to community mental health or arts programs -- or drop the HST.

All hail the premier!

But leave Hansen's shredded credibility aside and get back to the television set.

In Olympic disclosures last week, Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger
admitted that the "You Gotta Be Here" winter games ads cost a staggering $37 million.

And as 24 hours' own Bob Mackin
reported exclusively Friday, freedom of information requests show that the B.C. Liberal government's propaganda wing -- the Public Affairs Bureau -- was manipulating those taxpayer dollars to promote Premier Gordon Campbell.

Two undated government Olympic marketing plans Mackin obtained say a key target audience is "voting age" British Columbians and called for "special premier-focused promotions, handouts and premiums."

Hmmm, I wonder which premier the PAB focused on promoting? The red-mittened maniac who hogged every Olympic camera he saw?

Public money for public relations

Lest there be any doubt, just check out the B.C. government's "You Gotta Be Here" Olympics website.

Click on the page heading titled "
The Premier" and you'll see that Campbell gives North Korea's Kim Jong Il a run for his money as the most egomaniacal leader in the world.

Well over half of 34 photos feature -- guess who -- Campbell glad-handing and mugging his way through the Games.

World visitors likely can only wonder if Campbell is either Canada's most decorated Olympic champion or the unelected strongman of the province.

And like any good strongman, Campbell ruthlessly uses public money for political purposes.

Eager to capitalize on Olympic fervour, Campbell's PAB enlisted B.C.-born celebrities for the original "
You Gotta Be Here" ads.

Actress Kim Cattrall, basketball star Steve Nash, singer Sarah McLachlan and actors Michael J. Fox, Eric McCormack, Ryan Reynolds were each paid $50,000 for the charity of their choice to appear briefly on screen promoting B.C.

You gotta stop!

Now it starts all over again with a new summer B.C. tourism "You Gotta Be Here" campaign running endless and expensive ads during the World Cup and prime time shows.

How much will all that cost to convince British Columbians what they already know -- that this province is great? Don't even ask.

One thing is clear -- from the extra HST costs to the wasteful publicly-paid pro-government ads -- You Gotta Get Gordon Campbell's red-mitten hands out of our wallets!


BC Liberal-geddon? Will Gordon Campbell take party to Eve of Destruction? New poll - BC Libs 23%, BC NDP 46%

Premier Gordon Campbell in February dress rehearsal
for BC Liberals total freefall in polls - popularity now zip

The imposition of the Harmonized Sales Tax by Premier Gordon Campbell has led the BC Liberal Party to the political Eve of Destruction a new Angus Reid Public Opinion poll shows.

The BC Liberals have dropped another 3% to just 23% in the poll, taken after the HST was implemented on July 1, while the BC NDP is at 46%, the Green Party at 14% and the BC Conservative Party at 8%.

The most disturbing news for the HST-backing BC Liberal MLAs? That 67% of their voters would sign a Recall campaign petition to remove them from office while only 16% of BC Liberal riding voters would definitely not. Recall can begin in mid-November.

The HST is clearly killing the Campbell government - 76% oppose the tax, 75% would vote against it in a referendum and 73% say they will be either severely or moderately impacted by the HST personally. Only 4% expect no impact.

70% of the 801 respondents to the poll also say they will eat out in restaurants less because of the HST, 62% will cut back on sporting events and concerts, 60% will reduce going to the movies and 55% will buy fewer newspapers and magazines.

For Campbell himself, the news is even more grim. 72% of respondents have a worse opinion of the premier after the last three months - just 1% have a better view.

NDP leader Carole James isn't immune from criticism despite her party's 46% standing however, with 18% of respondents saying their opinion of her has worsened versus 10% who say it has improved.

Green Party leader Jane Sterk has also dropped 3% in respondents' opinions.

The political ramifications of the HST on BC politics are clearly significant and with no end in sight.

The fallout from the poll continues.

Angus Reid Public Opinion VP Mario Canseco says the BC Liberal fall since the May 2009 provincial election is stunning.

"This shows they've lost half of the voters that they had in the last election, which is a monumental decline," told CTV BC.

And Global TV's Victoria Bureau Chief Keith Baldrey -
writing in the Surrey Now - says that former BC Liberal Finance Minister Carole Taylor is warming up in the wings to take over from the hapless Campbell.

"Of all the potential heirs to Gordon Campbell's leadership, only Taylor can separate herself from the current government, particularly over the issue of the HST," Baldrey writes


Mayor Gregor Robertson swears after meeting - city in shock!

Fffff....ing shocker! Mayor Gregor Robertson swears after meeting!

Time for everyone to break into a rousing chorus of "It's a small town after all" - Vancouver's mayor uses the F-word - and it was caught on tape!

Here's another stunner - I've personally heard him use it - more than once! Really!

Presumably it's a slow news day in the city where a former mayor - Sam Sullivan - said: "I like the fact that people underestimate me. You know, they pat me on the head and then I rip their throat out."

That would be the same Non-Partisan Association mayor who as a city councilor helped a drug addict buy crack and consume it in his van. Now that`s news!

It's hardly surprising that Robertson and councilors Tim Stevenson and Heather Deal would make negative comments in private about some speakers at a public meeting who oppose their position - every politician of every political party hates to be criticized and blows off steam afterwards.

That the mayor and councilors didn't realize an audio tape was still running after the city council television cameras were off - and that it was discovered and publicized by the West End Neighbours group - is what's new.

And it is regrettable that Robertson, Stevenson and Deal made the comments - they have rightly apologized.

But to make this into a cause celebre and predict the demise of the "potty mouthed mayor" is classic NPA-City Caucus.com over the top spin.

An outraged Mike Klassen even wrote: "Vision Vancouver have the earmarks of a one-term administration" based primarily on this story!

Sorry Mike and fellow travellers but one F-bomb does not an election make.


Monday, July 12, 2010

Bill Tieleman "Nominated for Deletion" on Wikipedia

Bill Tieleman isn't ready for Wikipedia "deletion" just yet!

It's not every day that one learns that you have been both discovered and "Nominated for Deletion" in the same month by Wikipedia !

But that's what's going on over at Wikipedia, the online "Free Encylcopedia" that is "written collaboratively by largely anonymous Internet volunteers who write without pay" as they redundantly put it.

First of all - I appreciate the author who put up the short piece on me and what I do and have done - thanks for that.

Second - what have I done to deserve deletion in less than four weeks!

Honestly, I have no idea. You can try and decipher how Wikipedia works through various conversations between the editors and authors via the links above but it's all a bit of an Alice In Wiki-Wonderland to me.

The article is accurate, though it combines a number of odd and varied points about my brilliant career to date while missing others.

I have had absolutely nothing to do with creation of the Wikipedia article, do not know the author or any editors and am not lobbying to keep it online.

But I do think my readers might find it interesting that my potential 15 minutes of fame on Wikipedia could already be up - and the article might be deleted because it is apparently "vanital" - a word that does not appear to exist.

I'm guessing it's a Wiki-derivative of "vanity" and hopefully not of "venal" but who knows?

Since I had nothing to do with its appearance, the "vanital" charge seems, well, immaterial.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Basi-Virk trial takes break till September 13 after hearing just one witness!

Well, that's that - one witness testifies and the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid trial goes on vacation till September 13!

Unbelievable in my view.

I was unable to attend today due to my car accident but nothing happened anyway, as Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun and Keith Fraser of the Province reported.

"We'll see you September 13. Enjoy your summer."

With that, B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie dismissed the jury.

Allan Wallace of CIBC World Markets - which handled much of the BC Liberal government's $1 billion privatization of BC Rail to CN Rail in 2003 - was scheduled to testify today but will presumably be the second witness on September 13.

But just don't count on it.


Have government officials lost their marbles? Rename Stanley Park? Ignore voters on the HST?

Stanley Park's Lost Lagoon
- stevenleenow photo

Rename Stanley Park? These Are Crazy Days

An empty gesture won't truly help First Nations. But our politicians don't want to do the real work.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/TheTyee column

Tuesday July 6, 2010

By Bill Tieleman

"Why, this is very midsummer madness."

- William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

Has everyone in power gone crazy?

That's the only logical explanation for a government gone mad, ignoring both common sense and the people who elected them.

First the B.C. Liberal government thumbs its nose at the public and imposes a new Harmonized Sales Tax despite an unprecedented 705,643 voters signing the Fight HST petition against it.

And then the federal Conservative government spends over $1 billion to protect the G20 summit -- and can't stop a handful of black clad vandals from taking hammers to businesses in downtown Toronto.

The latest foolishness -- considering renaming Vancouver's world famous Stanley Park as "Xwayxway" -- the name of an ancient aboriginal village once located there.

The Squamish First Nation is behind the idea and Tourism Vancouver likes it.

'Pretty cool'

B.C. Tourism Minister Kevin Krueger says it would be "a pretty cool thing to do."

Vancouver City Councillor Ellen Woodworth calls it an "excellent suggestion" even though she admits to never having heard of "Xwayxway" till last week.

The Vancouver park board and city council will discuss it, but the decision is up to the federal government.

Here's my input -- no bloody way-way!

It's been Stanley Park since it was named after Canadian governor general Lord Frederick Stanley in 1888.

There's no need for a knee-jerk, bleeding heart liberal gesture that won't improve the lives of First Nations members one bit.

This is political correctness gone mad -- shall we rename Vancouver too?

After all, it was named after British Captain George Vancouver, who first visited here in HMS Discovery in 1792 -- despite the area's obvious aboriginal origins.

We could rename just about every street in the city too -- in fact, we could rename British Columbia.

Let's make a real difference

Here's a better idea. Instead of debating renaming Stanley Park, let's find a way to help more aboriginal students graduate from high school.

The current completion rates are appallingly low -- just 49 per cent in 2009 versus 79 per cent for all students -- despite continual provincial government lip service to improving them.

Why aren't B.C. aboriginal students graduating? The answer is simple according to Grand Chief Stewart Phillip, president of the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs -- poverty.

"The vast majority of our people live far below the poverty line. Those conditions aren't improving, they are getting worse," Phillip said late last year.

So let's do something truly significant, as opposed to paying lip service by a name change that won't change reality for First Nations students or people but will make lots of people angry.

But the "culturally sensitive" are having a field day feeling guilty for bygone colonialism that none of us were remotely involved in.

Don't get me wrong, I support fair settlement of aboriginal land claims, compensating those who experienced the horrors of residential schools and celebrating native culture.

First Nations have yet to take their full rightful place in society, but symbolic feel-good gestures are nothing but a meaningless substitute for real action.

And after all, let's remember that Canada -- the name of our great country -- is based on the Huron-Iroquois word for village -- Kanata.


Monday, July 05, 2010

Tieleman survives car accident on way to Basi-Virk trial

Hi all - just to let you know why there is no afternoon report from me on the Basi-Virk trial.

I am just back from St. Paul's emergency room - my car was T-boned by a Ford F150 pickup running a red light as I was on my way to BC Supreme Court this afternoon. I was going full speed at the time and had no warning or possible way of avoiding a dramatic collision.

I was checked out for possible heart attack due to strong chest pains but am okay, other than bloodied legs and sore chest and neck from the impact .

Thank goodness there were no pedestrians anywhere near because my rental car ended up completely on the sidewalk - anyone there would surely have been killed. The car - rented while my wife's vehicle is being repaired - is severely damaged but I am lucky that the passenger side was hit rather than the driver side and that I could limp away from the crash.

So no Basi-Virk reporting for me today - I was on my way to BC Supreme Court when I was taken out of the play!

Ironically and not for the first time when I have been unable to attend court, legal arguments kept the jury out of the courtroom and therefore proceedings unreportable due to the publication ban.

The second witness in the trial, Allan Wallace of CIBC World Markets - which handled much of the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003 - is expected to begin testimony on Tuesday, according to my colleague Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun.

I am unsure if I will be there yet - I am definitely feeling the crash results tonight - but will try if possible.


Thanks to all who have posted, emailed, called or Facebooked to wish me well - it is very much appreciated.

I am currently resting at home, taking more drugs than Michael Jackson and recuperating for the day. I cannot attend the Basi-Virk case at BC Supreme Court today - perhaps Wednesday if I'm feeling better.

Fortunately my colleagues Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun, Keith Fraser of the Province and likely a reporter from the Globe and Mail will be there today, along with others and citizen observers. I will try to link to those stories when they are online - you can also check The Legislature Raids run by BC Mary for updates and links.

And I just now see that Neal is reporting the trial has yet again been delayed by lawyers arguments, so the witness won't show up before 2 p.m. - and I wouldn't hold your breath on that either.



Fight HST launches legal action to kill the Harmonized Sales Tax - no taxation without representation

Noted lawyer Joe Arvay meets with Bill Tieleman, Bill Vander Zalm and Chris Delaney Monday prior to filing a Petition in BC Supreme Court to have the HST ruled unconstitutional.

This morning Fight HST launched a legal action to have the Harmonized Sales Tax ruled unconstitutional by the BC Supreme Court.

The Petition to the Court was filed by noted lawyer Joe Arvay - who many will know was the lead lawyer in the successful court action launched by the Hospital Employees Union after the BC Liberals' Bill 29 ripped up legally binding collective agreements in order to privatize health care services.

In that case the BC government was ordered to pay $75 million in compensation and retraining to affected employees.

The full Fight HST news release is below.

Please note that the "Petition" referred to is not the citizens Initiative petition but a legal term.

* * * * *

News Release

Monday, July 5, 2010

Vander Zalm launches legal challenge to HST in BC

VANCOUVER – In what might be described as the second of a one-two punch, former BC premier Bill Vander Zalm today filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the HST in B.C.

The Petition filed in the B.C. Supreme Court seeks an order quashing the OIC that authorized the government to enter the Agreement with the government of Canada that purports to impose the HST in B.C. and a declaration that such Agreement is a nullity and of no force and effect.

The essence of the Petition is that the provincial Cabinet has unlawfully imposed a tax on the citizens of B.C. without legislative authority.

If the lawsuit is successful the HST will not apply in British Columbia.
Vander Zalm explained, “It’s a simple argument that relies on the basic principle that there can be no taxation without representation or without the consent of the people. And that representation and consent can only come from having the HST debated and voted on in the provincial Legislature, and that has not happened in B.C.

”Fight HST lead organizer Chris Delaney says the lawsuit represents the second of a three phase strategy to repeal the HST in BC, which includes the Initiative petition that garnered over 700,000 signatures and was filed with Elections BC last week, as well as potential Recalls starting in November.

"What is at issue in both the petition and the lawsuit is the democratic process," said Vander Zalm. "Gordon Campbell mocked the democratic process when he deceived voters in the last election by promising not to bring in an HST and then immediately reversed course after the election.”

“Then Campbell and BC Finance Minister Colin Hansen avoided the democratic process altogether by entering into a secret deal with Prime Minister Stephen Harper and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty to create the HST without legislative approval,” Vander Zalm said.

Vander Zalm has retained Joseph Arvay Q.C., of Arvay Finlay Barristers to handle the case.

"That the Crown cannot tax its people without the express authorization of the Legislature is something that has been established for centuries and traces its roots to the English Bill of Rights of 1689 and is reaffirmed in the Constitution Act 1867," said Arvay.

Arvay said that he hopes the Court will hear the challenge as soon as possible this summer.

Delaney says he expects the Vander Zalm challenge to be heard and decided before the lawsuit that was filed last week by the various business associations who are trying to stop the Initiative petition.

“We had hoped that the resort to the court would not have been necessary had the Initiative process been allowed to run its course and the legislature repealed the HST.

But once the pro-HST ‘business association’ decided to use the courts to attack us, then it only made sense for the court to now hear the fundamental question of whether the HST can be constitutionally imposed by the Province,” said Delaney.Vander Zalm described the lawsuit as “the showstopper”.

“If we win here it is all over for Campbell’s HST. One way or the other the government will have to face the music for having imposed the HST in B.C.," Vander Zalm concluded.

To view the legal documents filed today in the BC Supreme Court see: http://www.arvayfinlay.com/ and http://www.fighthst.com/
Vander Zalm Statement


Basi-Virk - no news is bad news again Monday - legal arguments exclude jury - and reporting

Further delays in hearing the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid trial's second witness give evidence today as legal wrangling starts again.

Hopefully that will be resolved by this afternoon - stay tuned.


Thursday, July 01, 2010

Bill Tieleman unspins Premier Gordon Campbell's pathetic defence of the HST in BC newspaper opinion-editorials

Bill Tieleman unspins Premier Gordon Campbell's defence of the Harmonized Sales Tax, one line at a time.

BC Premier Gordon Campbell made his longest defence of the Harmonized Sales Tax in a 783-word opinion editorial article submitted - and duly printed - by many BC newspapers.

Like much of what the Premier and his government have said about the HST since he and Finance Minister Colin Hansen announced it would be imposed on July 23, 2009, his article is full of spin, misleading and incomplete statements and misinformation.

To provide an antidote to the Premier's sugary-sweet view of the HST, I have taken the liberty to annotate his article with my own debunking and fact-checking - so readers can judge for themselves whether the HST can be supported based on the Premier's arguments.

And even though the $1.9 billion a year HST has been imposed as of today - Canada Day for full irony - this article is HST-free.

* * * * *



By Premier Gordon Campbell

[And Bill Tieleman]

June 29, 2010

VICTORIA - July 1 is the first full day the Harmonized Sales Tax takes effect

Or if you prefer, is imposed without notice prior to the May 15, 2009 election, without consultation, without a vote and despite the overwhelming majority of British Columbians opposed

and I know that most British Columbians are concerned about what it will mean to them and for their family budget.

How about outraged?

I understand British Columbians from every region have expressed frustration and anger about how the HST was implemented.

Duh. Fight HST got a minimum 15% of all registered voters in every one of BC's 85 ridings to sign a citizens Initiative petition demanding elmination of the HST, with at least 11 ridings obtaining more signatures than your Liberal MLA got votes in the last election.

I know you have many questions for our government and for me personally.

Questions that should have been asked before the election.

Why did we say we were not considering an HST before the election?

Because we would have lost an election over the HST.

What made us change our position?

Because we had already lied about the size of the deficit - it wasn't $495 million - it was $2.8 billion!

Then we panicked - that's more than seat cushion money. So we called the federal Conservatives just three days after the election and begged them to give us the $1.6 billion HST "implementation" money.

Why are we bringing in the HST when much of the public opposes it?

Funny, that's what Blair Lekstrom asked me, before he quit the BC Liberal cabinet and caucus over the HST.

The answer is simple - because we don't care what the public think. If we did, we would have told them about the HST before the election.

We figure the public are too stupid and memory-challenged to remember the BC Liberals imposed the HST by the 2013 election.

How will the HST impact my family?

The average family will pay $521 more a year in new HST costs but many British Columbians will get hit far harder, according to the Statistics Canada study.

You deserve answers to all these questions.

But we're not going to give you them - that would be fatal!

Although you may not have seen much media coverage before last summer, combining the PST and GST to create a harmonized sales tax is something that has been discussed publicly for many years.

And soundly rejected each time by BC, including by my former Finance Minister Carole Taylor and my former Revenue Minister Rick Thorpe in the Legislature in 2008.

Federal governments - past and present - and business organizations - large and small across the province - repeatedly asked us to harmonize the PST with the GST because it eliminates unnecessary costs, reduces administration and is more transparent.

But not the public - who would get hosed by the biggest tax transfer in BC history, shifting $1.9 billion in HST costs onto consumers and off of my friends in big business. And those "unnecessary costs" simply getted downloaded onto the little guy who has to pay for it all.

Each time we were asked, we said we would not consider it for two primary reasons. First, it would eliminate B.C.'s ability to set our own tax rate.

And it still does - BC has given up its tax sovereignty to Ottawa for the most part.

Second, we wanted to be able to shape our tax regime with flexibility that would allow us to exempt certain goods and services from being taxable. It wasn't until last year that kind of flexibility was available.

As opposed to the Provincial Sales Tax, where we had complete and absolute flexibility to exempt any and all goods and services from provincial tax. That's why bicycles, restaurant food, vitamins and services like massage therapy, accounting, haircuts and much more were exempt.

Under the HST, BC can only exempt 5% of all taxable goods and services - so the extra 7% must now be applied to pay for shifting the tax onto consumers and subsidizing big business. Sorry suckers.

After the election, the Minister of Finance and I were informed that the Province's financial situation had deteriorated significantly.

Honestly, we never knew before that, even when noted economists like Helmut Pastrick of Central One Credit Union said our previous 2009 budget numbers were absurdly low. Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.

I asked officials to find a way to meet our budget targets without cutting core services.

Because I've cut core services so many times before.

By late May 2009, it was becoming clear that after months of discussion Ontario had negotiated new flexibility within the HST model.

Actually, it was becoming clear far sooner than that, especially after Ontario announced it was imposing its own HST in March 2009!

Through further discussions with the federal government, we learned of additional flexibility that would allow provinces to set their own tax rate, instead of adopting a national rate of 13 per cent. This allowed us to set our own rate at 12 per cent, the lowest in the country.

Wow! Great news that we could now tax you an extra $1.9 billion a year on things that weren't taxed before - but at Canada's lowest HST rate!

And it will never go up - I swear - trust me!

We were also offered new flexibility that would allow us to exempt products we felt would be important to families - children-sized clothing and footwear, books, motor fuel, diapers, car seats and a range of other products.

In total, just 5% of all potentially HST-taxed products - everything else goes up.

Besides, I already put a carbon tax on gas and fuel - did I mention it goes up 1.1 cents a litre today also?

But enjoy those non-HST diapers - you may need them when you see how many things the HST does apply to! Ha-ha - just kidding.

In addition, the federal government offered $1.6 billion in transition funding. That meant we could reduce the future debt we would pass on to our children and support increased funding to both health care and education.

Even though you - the same taxpayer - will pay $1.9 billion this year and forever, we thought getting $1.6 billion in a one-time-only payment was well worth it! After all, we have good financial management skills.

With those new conditions in place, we asked ourselves if the HST would strengthen the Province's economy as we move through the global economic downturn.

It won't, as it reduces consumer spending and discourages buying goods and services at a higher rate, but we did ask.

Would the HST allow our industries and small businesses to better compete internationally and within Canada?

Not really - the USA and China don't have an HST, while Alberta has no provincial sales tax and Saskatchewan and Manitoba have rejected the HST.

Would it create jobs?

Not in the restaurant industry, which fears losing up to $750 million in sales and thousands of jobs due to the HST on food, or the new home building industry, which will be hit by significant taxes on homes over $525,000, or other service industries where they will have to charge clients an extra 7% tax for nothing.

Would it give business the ability to pay higher wages and lower prices?

Sure - unless they just decide to keep the money for themselves. Nah - that would never happen.

Study after study confirmed the HST would do all those things. World-renowned economist Jack Mintz from the University of Calgary found that moving to an HST will create more than 110,000 jobs, attract over $11 billion in new investment, increase wages and lower prices.

We were so sure that we didn't even bother to commission any studies before decided to impose the HST. We hired Jack - after he wrote the same report for Ontario - and he went all out, producing a 13-page study! 13 pages! It's exhaustive - and it's the only one we ordered.

And it came out months after we made our decision.

Don't worry that a Manitoba government study of the HST found that it would impose significant harm to consumers and the economy - or that Mintz previously wrote a report for Ontario that said the HST would cost that province 38,000 jobs!

Those working in small business, forestry, mining, energy, agriculture, retail, transportation and construction will realize immediate and direct benefits.

Unfortunately, not one union representing workers in those sectors believes a word we or their employers say about the HST - but the owners - outside most small businesses which will suffer - are very happy!

For the rest of us, the stronger economy will mean more job opportunities, stronger communities and more revenues to support critical public services.

Unless the HST hurts our fragile economic recovery and the opposite happens, or unless you work in one of the thousands of businesses negatively impacted by the HST and lose income or even your job.

The HST, combined with our other tax reductions, will soon make British Columbia one of the most attractive places to invest and do business anywhere in the world.

Unless you own a restaurant, a barber shop, a massage therapy clinic, a consulting firm, build new homes or vacation homes, working in the performing arts or sports - where ticket prices jump 7%, are a doctor with a 7% business rent increase, run a funeral home or are an investment counsellor - 7% more for consulting clients, or a realtor - 7% more tax on your fees charged clients, or work in the travel or airline industry - 7% more on domestic travel, or - well, I could go on and on but you get my point!

I know many people feel like they are paying more and getting less.

Because it's true!

That's why over the last nine years our government has acted to leave more of people's hard-earned wages in their pockets. We've cut income taxes by at least 37 per cent for individuals since 2001, and British Columbians now pay the lowest personal income taxes in the country if you earn less than $118,000.

But we've also increased a wide range of user fees to make up for it - like jacking your BC Medical Services Premiums by 50% - and reduced or eliminated coverage for physiotherapy, massage therapy and other treatments.

And we refuse to increase the minimum wage despite over 8 years without a raise for the poorest British Columbians.

The after-tax size of an average British Columbian's paycheque today is considerably higher than it was in 2001. An individual earning $50,000 a year pays $2,012 less in provincial income taxes today. That's more than $2,000 for individuals to save or spend as they choose.

Until the HST kicks in that is - I'm taking it all back!

Cutting taxes has helped our economy stay strong enough that we've been able to make record investments into health care and education.

And you'll have noticed that there are no waiting lists for surgery anymore, no overcrowded emergency rooms anywhere in the province and every school district in BC loves us because there are no school closures or layoffs for teachers or staff! We done good!

The HST has not been good short-term politics.

My party is now at 26% in the latest polls, believe me I know! We are cooked!

But in the end, everyone has to decide whether they are going to do what is right or what is easy.

For me, giving a $1.9 billion to big business as my parting gift as I head out the door and leave the BC Liberal Party in ruins is quite easy - and expressing their gratitude to me afterwards is the right thing for them to do!

I believe the HST is the right thing for our Province's economy and for our children's future.

No one else does, but I do - and I'm still the Premier for a few more months. If they don't like it, your kids can move to Alberta or Washington state.

Change today will make us stronger tomorrow.

But not the kind of change that comes from the Fight HST Initiative or especially Recall!

Please don't Recall enough BC Liberal MLAs to force me to rescind the HST!