Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Christy Clark would be a highly questionable BC premier - Basi-Virk case ensure that alone

Christy Clark on air - Stephen Dyrgas photo

Hard Questions for Christy Clark

If she runs for Lib leader, she'll face tough queries about Railgate and the HST.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee online column

Tuesday November 30, 2010

Bill Tieleman

"Don't be fooled -- Christy Clark doesn't want to be mayor of Vancouver -- she wants to be premier of B.C."

- Bill Tieleman, 24 hours, Sept. 20, 2005

Christy Clark would be highly questionable as British Columbia's next premier.

And while as a talk radio host Clark may be adept at asking tough questions, answering them as a BC Liberal Party leadership candidate is much more difficult -- and perhaps politically fatal.

Clark claims she will
"think very hard" about running for the nomination on her week off from radio station CKNW AM 980 duties as the afternoon talk show host.

But the only likely reason she wouldn't jump into the race is if contenders like George Abbott and Kevin Falcon have already sewn up too much of the BC Liberal caucus support and business community money needed to win.

If she does run, those asking the questions won't be as easy to cut off as a belligerent caller to her show.

And Clark's past political history will come back to haunt her along with four years of on-air commentary on a wide range of issues and her losing attempt to win the Non-Partisan Association's mayoralty nomination against Sam Sullivan in 2005.

Railgate and Bruce Clark

Start with questions about her role in the B.C. legislature raid case, involving the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail to CN Rail in 2003.

For example, Christy, what is your position on holding a full public inquiry into the strange circumstances that saw the political corruption trial of former BC Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk suddenly halted by a guilty plea bargain?

Were you going to be a witness in that trial? Do you agree with the government paying Basi and Virk's $6 million legal fees?

Oh wait, it doesn't matter, because as premier, Clark would have to excuse herself from any cabinet discussion about an inquiry.

Why? How long have you got?

At the same time police conducted the unprecedented raid of the B.C. legislature, they also executed a search warrant on the home of Bruce Clark, Christy's brother and a one-time fundraiser for her campaigns.

According to an agreed
statement of facts from the Crown and defence at the surprise end of the trial, confidential government information obtained from Basi and Virk was found by police at Bruce Clark's home and office.

Clark was a lobbyist working for the Washington Marine Group, which was a bidder on a second part of the BC Rail privatization, the sale of its Roberts Bank Port Subdivision, a spur line worth up to $70 million.

The RCMP advised then transportation minister Falcon to cancel the sale because it was "tainted" by the leak of confidential documents. Bruce Clark was never charged with any offences.

The statement of facts reads: "With respect to Count 10 of the Indictment and in relation to the Port Subdivision bidding process, the RCMP seized a number of documents from Bruce Clark's office and residence, which Basi and Virk disclosed to Bruce Clark between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 28, 2003."

"Two examples of the documents that Basi and Virk improperly disclosed to Clark are:

"a) The draft Request for Proposals for the Port Subdivision bidding process, which was received by Clark prior to the RFP being finalized by the Evaluation Committee; and

"b) A 'confidential presentation' made by TD Securities to the Evaluation Committee dated Oct. 14, 2003 containing a detailed economic analysis of what BC Rail considered to be the value of the Port Subdivision."

Would she have been a witness?

But that's just the tip of the Basi-Virk iceberg when it comes to Christy Clark's conundrum.

Clark was deputy premier to Premier Gordon Campbell throughout the BC Rail privatization and was a highly probable potential witness in the trial.

She and ex-husband Mark Marissen, a key federal
organizer for ex-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin and former leader Stephane Dion, had a home visit from the police after the raid. The police were looking for information about Basi and Virk and Marissen has made clear he cooperated fully -- there was no search warrant.

Defence lawyers alleged in Basi-Virk pre-trial court
hearings that Clark may have been a cabinet source of information for Pilothouse Public Affairs, the lobbying firm run by Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran that was retained by BC Rail bidder OmniTRAX.

Both Bornmann and Kieran became Crown witnesses and were not charged with anything, despite admitting to police they provided money and other benefits to Basi and Virk in exchange for confidential government BC Rail privatization information.

"Pilothouse internal briefing notes appear to reveal sources in cabinet. Bornmann clearly had certain cabinet sources," Basi's lawyer Michael Bolton told Justice Elizabeth Bennett, the former Basi-Virk case judge, on June 4, 2009.

"For example, Christy Clark may have been the source within cabinet -- certainly Mr. Bornmann was in contact with Ms. Clark," Bolton alleged.
Bolton's allegations are just that -- they were never proven nor tested in court, since the trial ended long before any witnesses could be cross-examined or evidence introduced.

But Bornmann's long connections as an executive of the federal Liberal Party of Canada's B.C. branch, including strong links to fellow executive member Bruce Clark, are well documented, as are his connections to the BC Liberal Party and role as a provincial lobbyist.

And then on July 20, 2009, justice Elizabeth Bennett, the former Basi-Virk case judge,
ruled that emails between Pilothouse lobbyists and Christy Clark were "likely relevant" and must be disclosed to the defence.

"The Crown concedes that any email communication between the lobbyists and Christy Clark, Richard Neufeld, Gary Collins, Judith Reid and Paul Taylor are likely relevant," she noted in her decision.

"Ms. Clark was the deputy minister and may have expressed concern over the CN Rail dealing at a cabinet meeting. Further, there is some evidence that indicates that she may have had some dealings with Pilothouse. Emails of Ms. Clark relating to the divestiture of BC Rail and the sale of the Roberts Bank, as well as any contact with Pilothouse, are likely relevant," Bennett’s disclosure ruling continued.

All of this may have been an impetus for Clark to lawyer-up for the first time in the lengthy pre-trial hearings, retaining John Esson to represent her in court starting in Aug. 2009.

Media manipulations

Then there's the so-far unconfirmed
rumour that Mike McDonald, the former BC Liberal caucus communications director, will be Clark's campaign manager. McDonald, now a consultant, appears regularly on Clark's show and is husband to Jessica McDonald, Campbell's former senior deputy minister.

But McDonald also has his own connections to the Basi-Virk case.

Again, according to unproven
allegations made by defence lawyers in pre-trial hearings, McDonald was involved in supervising Basi's stacking of paid phony callers to radio talk shows, ironically including CKNW.

Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough on April 23, 2007 read from what he told the court was a police transcript of a call between Basi and McDonald.

"'Dave's asking Mike if he wants to make some calls to CKNW after the MLA is on,'" McCullough alleged. 

Justice Bennett interjected: "Is this a Liberal MLA?"

McCullough: "Yes."

Bennett responded, to laughter in the court: "I should have known that."

At another point McCullough alleges that McDonald and Basi
discussed how Basi would organize calls to attack former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm during a radio appearance.

"Dave says they are going to give Vander Zalm a rough ride. [Mike] tells Dave to be careful, they don't want the phone numbers showing up from [government lines in] Victoria. Dave replies, 'Star 67, man,'" McCullough read from what he said was a police wiretap summary. (Star 67 refers to a caller identification blocking option.)

And there's much, much more to the tangled web of the Basi-Virk case that no doubt Clark would prefer was left undisturbed.

But with the trial concluded, there is no restriction on the media or others asking questions.

She's a fan of the HST

Plus, there are more unexploded bombs in Clark's recent past -- such as her steadfast defence of the despised Harmonized Sales Tax and her support for the overwhelmingly rejected Single Transferable Vote in 2009.

So if Clark finally admits she wants to be premier, expect her opponents both in and out of the BC Liberal Party to turn her candidacy into a walk in the hurt locker.


Monday, November 29, 2010

EXCLUSIVE: RCMP lead investigator Kevin deBruyckere denies allegations force wants Basi-Virk material destroyed

David Basi, centre, Aneal Basi, right & Bob Virk, farther right, face media after their trial suddenly ended with a plea bargain - Bill Tieleman photo

RCMP officer denies force wanted Basi-Virk material destroyed

Exclusive interview with 24 hours newspaper


24 hours Vancouver/QMI AGENCY

A lead RCMP investigator in the political corruption trial of two ex-B.C. Liberal government ministerial aides strongly denies claims the force wants material disclosed to the defence destroyed to frustrate a possible public inquiry.

Superintendent Kevin deBruyckere said in an exclusive interview with 24 hours that allegations the RCMP wants to get back information disclosed to lawyers for David Basi and Bob Virk in order to make it disappear are totally false.

“It’s nonsense. It’s just ridiculous,” de Bruyckere said. “The Crown discloses material and at the end of the trial recovers that material.”

Basi friend Mike Geoghegan claimed last week police were pressuring Basi to cooperate with what he said is their intention to regain trial materials in his possession and destroy it.

But deBruyckere flatly rejects that.

“There’s lots of material given through disclosure to these guys that they have no right to have,” he said.

If a public inquiry is called, the over one million pages of government and police documents disclosed will still be available, deBruyckere said.

“The disclosure material stays on our file for the legislated retention period, which in this case is at least 10 to 12 years, before any consideration is given to destruction of records,” he said.

A veteran Vancouver lawyer agrees that returning disclosure material is standard practice.

“On a general basis, the defence sometimes provides an express undertaking to return disclosure materials at the conclusion of a criminal matter,” said David Layton. “This sort of undertaking is not unusual in cases involving sensitive material.”

Basi and Virk made a surprise guilty plea bargain last month, admitting to fraud and breach of trust charges and receiving two year less a day house arrest sentences for leaking confidential government documents in the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail to lobbyists for a bidder.

The government also agreed to pay their $6 million defence fees charged since the investigation became public in December 2003 with an unprecedented police raid on the B.C. Legislature.

Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton declined comment on the issue.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Elections BC rejects Recall application to remove BC Liberal MLA Ida Chong as "too wordy" by counting MLA as 5 words!


That's my view of what happened late Wednesday when the Recall application to remove BC Liberal MLA and cabinet minister Ida Chong from office was rejected by Elections BC's Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James.

Why? Because it had too many words after he insisted that "MLA" was actually 5 separate words - "Member Of The Legislative Assembly" and that "HST" was 3 words - "Harmonized Sales Tax".

That meant that the Recall application with a maximum of 200 words went from under 200 to over 200 - forcing Oak Bay-Gordon Head proponent Michael Roy Hayes to resubmit the application and to make all 150 plus canvassers resubmit their own applications to be registered to take signatures!

This bureacratic insanity is a clearly outrageous effort to delay the Recall campaign that was set to being immediately.

Fight HST leader Bill Vander Zalm is now demanding the resignation of Craig James - a call I support completely. This is the last straw in a long list of James' actions that have been entirely prejudicial to the Fight HST citizens Initiative and now Recall campaign.

The full Fight HST news release is below.

BREAKING NEWS: Elections BC alleged to have changed the rules around word count after November 23, when the application had already been submitted! See Paul's comments and link below at 10:27 p.m
UPDATE November 26 - Globe and Mail newspaper confirms that Elections BC changed rules on how word count would be conducted!

November 26, 2010

Elections BC changed rules after recall application was submitted


From Friday's Globe and Mail

'This is the kind of thing they do in banana republics': Fight HST spokesman

Elections BC rejected a Fight HST recall application as too lengthy - but did so using rules that were drafted after it received the application.

The rejection has led recall organizers to suggest the province's chief electoral officer deliberately thwarted their attempt to get approval to launch a petition to oust a Liberal MLA who supported the harmonized sales tax, and should step down.

While Elections BC has defended its new rules - which pushed the Fight HST application over a 200-word limit by counting the acronyms MLA and HST as eight words instead of two - recall organizers expressed concern that they were not included in the application form when they downloaded it from Elections BC's website.

"It's a total joke. This is the kind of thing they do in banana republics ... when they don't want to have elections or they don't want people to win. And we're doing it right here in Canada," said Chris Delaney, an organizer of the Fight HST campaign.

Mr. Delaney made the comments on Thursday after learning Elections BC had rejected Fight HST's application for a recall in the suburban Victoria riding of Oak Bay-Gordon Head.

Universities Minister Ida Chong is the first target of anti-HST activists' campaign of recalls against Liberal members of the legislature.

Mr. Delaney said organizers were never told MLA and HST (harmonized sales tax) each counted as more than one word.

Fight HST submitted its application on Monday.

The document outlining the changes was uploaded to the Elections BC website on Wednesday afternoon.

A cached view of the site shows it wasn't part of the recall petition application package as recently as Tuesday.

Elections BC said Craig James, the province's chief electoral officer, was unavailable for comment on Thursday.

But a spokeswoman said Fight HST organizers were told after the application was rejected that the new rules would be put on the website this week.

When asked why organizers wouldn't be made aware of the new rules until after their application was submitted, she said: "Before the application had been submitted, there had been no need for a policy. No recall application in the past had ever come close to the 200-word limit. It hadn't been an issue."

When asked if an unforeseen problem could arise when Fight HST resubmits its application, the spokeswoman said Elections BC follows provincial legislation in all its decisions. She declined to comment on whether instituting such rules after the fact reflects negatively on the non-partisan, independent office.......
* * * * *



Vander Zalm: Elections BC decision to reject Recall application for Oak Bay-Gordon Head based on “too long word count” continues pattern of obstruction and incompetence

DELTA – Fight HST Leader Bill Vander Zalm is calling for the resignation of Elections BC Acting Chief Electoral Officer Craig James in the wake of his decision to reject the application for Recall by Oak Bay-Gordon Head proponent Michael Roy Hayes on the basis that the Recall statement attached to the petition application is “too long”.

Vander Zalm says in a letter to Recall proponent Hayes, James said he considers the words “MLA” and “HST” to be not two words, but a total of eight words (Member of the Legislative Assembly and Harmonized Sales Tax) on each reference, resulting in the application statement exceeding the 200 word allotment.

“This simply continues the same pattern of obstruction that has characterized Elections BC since Craig James was appointed by Premier Gordon Campbell to take over. If there were restrictions on acronyms, that information should have been given to the applicants at the time they were handed their application. But it wasn’t because Craig James obviously made it up yesterday when he decided this would be another way to serve his BC Liberal masters by trying to sabotage the Recall petition. It is outrageous!” Vander Zalm said.

Colin Nielsen, the Lead Organizer for the Oak Bay-Gordon Head Recall says he has also been told that since the application was rejected, over 150 canvasser applications must also be re-done and re-signed.

“This is a deliberate attempt to blow us out of the water before the Christmas break. All Elections BC had to do was call us up and let us know there was a ‘technical glitch’ and we could have easily fixed it. But James is doing everything he can to try to thwart the democratic process rather than facilitate it. It’s like he’s making up the rules as he goes along,” Nielsen said.

Nielsen says he and proponent Hayes plan to return immediately to Elections BC on Thursday with the revised petition application and the existing canvasser applications to demand that the application process be facilitated.

“Enough is enough. This has got to stop. There is no reason to make us waste weeks trying to re-do all of the canvasser application again. It is like we are living in some sort of banana republic run by corrupt officials,” said Nielsen.

Vander Zalm says the latest decision by James is part of a pattern of obstruction regarding the Fight HST group. “The Acting CEO was appointed by the government, not the BC Legislature. He does not enjoy the independence and support required to be effective in this critical role as guardian of the democratic process.”

Vander Zalm says that since taking office, Acting CEO James has made a number of questionable decisions that have led many in the public to conclude he is not acting independently of the BC Government, as follows:

» James ruled that a BC Liberal government web site which contained dozens of HST advocacy videos at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars did not qualify as “Initiative advertising” even though the web site by Fight HST did.

» When the petition to end the HST was completed and validated, James refused to forward it to the Standing Committee of the Legislature as required by the Initiative Act, forcing the Fight HST proponents to get the Supreme Court to order Elections BC to submit the petition, at a cost of tens of thousands of dollars to private citizens.

» James has undertaken a major overhaul of the Elections BC management structure, including firing deputy Chief Electoral Officer Linda Johnson, a 28 year veteran of the agency who also happened to rule against the BC Liberal government’s planned mailout during the petition.

» James sent intimidating letters to over 2,000 British Columbians, including numerous elderly citizens who accidentally signed the Initiative petition twice, threatening them with two years in jail and $10,000 fines only one week before Recalls were set to begin and over three months after the petition had been counted and validated.

» James has gone on record as saying that a referendum on the HST will take between one year and nine months to conduct, even though entire province wide elections have been held in the past within 4 weeks of a government giving notice to EBC that it has dropped the writ.

“Now he is telling the people of Oak Bay-Gordon Head their application for a Recall has been rejected because common acronyms like HST and MLA are actually eight words. It would be laughable if it weren’t so serious,” said Vander Zalm.

“This time he has gone too far. We call on Craig James to admit he has lost the confidence of the people of BC and done irreparable damage to the independent reputation of Elections BC, and resign. Failing that, we call on the premier to remove him and we call on the entire BC Liberal caucus and all of the potential leadership candidates to immediately denounce this charade,” Vander Zalm concluded.


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BC enters The Year of Living Politically Dangerously - BC Liberals and NDP both at risk

The Year of Living Dangerously - the great 1982 movie starring Mel Gibson & Sigourney Weaver directed by Peter Weir

Expect serious casualties as Libs and New Dems deal with internal fights

Bill Tieleman's
24 hours/TheTyee column

Tuesday November 23, 2010

Bill Tieleman

"We vote with our actions."

- Benjamin Shield, author

Welcome to British Columbia's year of living politically dangerously.

Over the next 12 months there will be serious electoral casualties coming in as both the BC Liberals and New Democrats deal with significant internal battles.

Those struggles were in full public view last week, with ex-cabinet minister Bill Bennett laying out a totally devastating portrait of Premier Gordon Campbell as an abusive bully who gets literally spitting mad at any questioning of his supreme authority as leader.

And the BC NDP engaged in full conflict over Carole James' leadership at the party's provincial council meeting last weekend, with James supporters unsurprisingly defeating a motion calling for a full leadership convention next November.

But James failed to convince nearly 40 per cent of her caucus to publicly endorse her when questioned by media.

That followed the sudden resignation of NDP caucus whip Katrine Conroy on Friday, a news conference with NDP MLAs Jenny Kwan, Lana Popham and Claire Trevena all in attendance to give Conroy support and decline to voice the same for James.

At the root of both the BC Liberal and NDP problems are strikingly similar issues -- is there any room for democracy and dissent within political parties?

And do leaders have the right to demand absolute loyalty of individual MLAs who are elected by voters -- not the party?

Elites and anti-elites

The challenges now faced in both parties are not unique to British Columbia at all -- neither is the province simply a wacky place for politics.

Central to both is the concept of elite domination of politics versus direct democracy.

In Toronto, anti-elite candidate Rob Ford simply devastated elite politician George Smitherman -- a former Ontario Liberal deputy premier -- in the election for mayor.

In the United States, the Tea Party movement has gained huge traction even as it clearly has no coherent policy prescription for the country other than anger at existing politicians.

And right now, that's enough.

Here in B.C. we've seen the incredible public response to the direct democracy citizens' initiative campaign of
Fight HST -- which I am involved with -- against the hated Harmonized Sales Tax.

And we'll soon see if the Fight HST-organized recall campaign against BC Liberal cabinet minister
Ida Chong in her Oak Bay-Gordon Head riding to add pressure to end the HST gets traction when it begins this week.

Grassroots anger at the HST has already driven Campbell to resign and his party to nosedive in popularity.

Even without an initiative process available in Ontario, Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty -- who also introduced an HST there at the same time as in B.C. -- appears headed for a disastrous defeat in the next election.

The consequence of anti-elite anger at the leadership of both the governing and opposition parties in B.C. is clear: the controversial Campbell could be forced from office by his caucus prior to his planned departure when a new leader is chosen by the BC Liberals on Feb. 26, 2011.

And James could see her party fracture both at the caucus and membership level even before a Nov. 2011 NDP convention holds a scheduled yes or no review vote on her continued leadership.

Papering over torn feelings

This week saw transparent efforts to paper over significant splits in both parties.

Campbell loyalists, especially women, have been trotted out to say the premier may have been
"very, very tough man to work for" -- as former deputy premier Christy Clark put it -- but no, they all say, he never abused me.

Bennett's alleged mistreatment and his former BC Liberal colleagues' response to it are eerily reminiscent of the old Monty Python television show
skit about gangster Dinsdale Piranha and how he terrorized his thugs but fear forced them to deny it.

Presenter: Another man who had his head nailed to the floor was Stig O' Tracy.

Interviewer: I've been told Dinsdale Piranha nailed your head to the floor.

Stig: No. Never. He was a smashing bloke. He used to buy his mother flowers and that. He was like a brother to me.

Interviewer: But the police have film of Dinsdale actually nailing your head to the floor.

Stig: (pause) Oh yeah, he did that.

Interviewer: Why?

Stig: Well he had to, didn't he? I mean there was nothing else he could do, be fair. I had transgressed the unwritten law.

Interviewer: What had you done?

Stig: Er... well he didn't tell me that, but he gave me his word that it was the case, and that's good enough for me with old Dinsy. I mean, he didn't want to nail my head to the floor. I had to insist. He wanted to let me off. He'd do anything for you, Dinsdale would.

Interviewer: And you don't bear him a grudge?

Stig: A grudge! Old Dinsy? He was a real darling.

Whatever the truth of Campbell's intimidating behaviour, his 15 per cent income tax cut announced on television Oct. 27 disappeared faster than Bennett's photo on the party website.

Even traumatized BC Liberal MLAs realized that their new leader would get no credit for the tax reduction but they would be left with an annual $600 million hole in the budget, something likely to force unpopular public service cuts.

Yellow banner

In the NDP's case, James' supporters at provincial council made a show of giving out yellow scarves with a large embossed letter C, indicating support for the leader.

There were also buttons with "Doer. Dexter. James." -- a reference to former Manitoba NDP premier Gary Doer, who lost three elections before winning government for 10 years and current Nova Scotia NDP Premier
Darrell Dexter, who had two election losses before becoming premier in 2009.

But the strategy backfired when sharp-eyed media were immediately able to identify 13 caucus members pointedly not wearing the yellow scarves -- and not responding to James' angry speech calling for party unity.

Those familiar with the
provincial council also know it is traditionally dominated by supporters of the leader and has never voted to break ranks with any of them in the past -- even when NDP premiers Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh were in the direst of straits with the public.

So James still faces a challenge to restore unity to the fractious caucus -- and calling MLAs who disagree with her "selfish" prior to the vote wasn't wise.

Downward indicators

Despite that provincial council vote against a full leadership convention next year, the NDP remains in serious financial difficulty with a shrinking membership and falling polling results.

A Mustel Group
poll released Friday showed the BC Liberals rebounding after Campbell's resignation announcement to 37 per cent, just five per cent behind the NDP's 42 per cent -- which is the same level of support it achieved in the 2009 election.

And Mustel said James' personal approval has dropped nine per cent since September to 33 per cent, putting her just a point above Campbell's 32 per cent.

(Those numbers differ with the last
Angus Reid Public Opinion Poll before Campbell quit, showing the NDP at 47 per cent versus 26 per cent for the BC Liberals but with James having just 25 per cent personal approval to Campbell's 12 per cent.)

Move up the convention

Ultimately, the only resolution of the NDP's leadership question can come from the general membership of the party -- not the provincial council.

The solution offered here last week is even more salient now. The provincial council should move the scheduled party convention and its planned leadership review vote on James from Nov. 2011 to early March.

The constitution allows it, the circumstances demand it.

It may be painful to deal with contentious delegate selection meetings where James' leadership is the primary issue in all 85 B.C. ridings.

But if not, it will be absolutely excruciating trying to deal with a split in the caucus and party if the BC Liberals cleverly call a provincial election after their new leader is chosen next Feb. 26 -- and before the November NDP convention.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

BC NDP Provincial Council votes against full leadership convention but caucus remains divided over Carole James

BC NDP caucus gets together for drinks tonight - Lucia Sofo photo

The BC NDP Provincial Council did exactly as expected today, voting against resolutions from dissenting riding associations who called for a full leadership convention in November 2011 instead of a scheduled review of leader Carole James.

Delegates voted 97 to 18 against the leadership convention resolution, whose passage would have forced James to compete for her existing job next November. Instead delegates to the next party convention will have a simple yes/no vote on whether she has their support.

But while James and her supporters claim this ends debate over her leadership, it simply does not.

First, 13 members of caucus are unhappy with her decision to personally expel Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson without consulting them. That caused Norm Macdonald to quit as Caucus Chair last month and Katrine Conroy to quit as Caucus Whip on Friday.

Resolutions dealing with that issue were ruled out of order Saturday.

Second, the party's problems - as detailed here in recent days - can't be voted out of existence by Provincial Council. There is no magic wand available to whisk away troubling realities that led to this situation.

Carole James has a continually low personal approval rating with voters - Angus Reid Public Opinion puts it at 25% with the NDP at 47% while a new Mustel Group poll released Friday has James' approval dropping 9% to 33% with the NDP at the same 42% they obtained in the 2009 election.

And the Mustel polls shows the beleaguered BC Liberals gaining 4% with the announced resignation of Premier Gordon Campbell - whose own approval rating Mustel puts at 32%, just a point less than James despite his horrendous year of mishaps.

There has been a continual effort by James' supporters to claim any concern about her leadership is an "old guard" revolt or that it is "sexist" or that it is influenced by "BC Liberal" spin and that the past two election losses were due to the "party office" or the "campaign team" or whatever - anything but the actual leader of the NDP .

That, of course, is pure nonsense.

Those caucus members who are not wearing yellow cheerleading scarves or "Doer Dexter James" buttons handed out today in an offensive way of trying to intimidate frank discussion of party problems have one overwhelming concern - they don't want to lose the next election.

James ill-considered decision to describe those dissenting MLAs as "selfish" won't help solve the problem.

Their concerns are shared by many party members and NDP supporters - and unfortunate number of whom have let their memberships lapse and their donations dry up, creating a shrunken and financially debilitated organization.

No vote by 115 Provincial Council members can solve these problems.

Remember - no past Provincial Council or Executive did anything critical even when the Mike Harcourt, Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh NDP governments were headed for the electoral cliff.

Today is no different. Honest differences and divergent views have to be fairly addressed or the party will remain divided.

Telling those with legitimate concerns to shut up and salute the flag has never worked anywhere - it definitely won't work with the BC NDP.


Friday, November 19, 2010

Katrine Conroy quits as BC NDP Caucus Whip - supported by Jenny Kwan, Lana Popham & Claire Trevena

Katrine Conroy

The BC NDP was rocked this afternoon with the resignation of NDP MLA Katrine Conroy as Caucus Whip, with MLAs Jenny Kwan, Lana Popham and Claire Trevena attending a news conference in Victoria in support of Conroy.

None of the four women MLAs would state that they support NDP leader Carole James' continued leadership when questioned by the media. Public Eye Online's Sean Holman has extensive raw video of Conroy's news conference and also James' session with media.

CKNW AM 980 reported at 5 p.m. that NDP MLAs Guy Gentner, Doug Routley and Robin Austin also today declined to state public support for James.

Conroy said she resigned after five years as Whip and at a cost of $20,000 a year in additional salary because she had lost the confidence of the leader and caucus but it is clear her move is another response to James' personal expulsion of Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson from the caucus in October.

The appearance of veteran MLA Kwan along with Popham and Trevena is the most public expression of the split in caucus over James that blew up after she tossed Simpson without consulting Caucus Chair Norm Macdonald, Conroy or the caucus executive.

Simpson had made mildly critical comments about James' speech to the Union of BC Municipalities on a Williams Lake community website, saying it lacked detail or inspiration.

He refused to publicly apologize for his comments and James' supporters claimed Simpson had been "bad mouthing" the leader for a long time and therefore he had to go.

On CKNW AM 980 this evening Simpson told host Jon McComb that Conroy had been working for six weeks on an agreement where he would return to caucus but that the talks had failed this week, leading to Conroy's decision to resign as whip.

A clearly angry James said she was "drawing a line in the sand" over party infighting about her leadership and expected the issue to be decided at the NDP Provincial Council meeting Saturday in Victoria, where a number of resolutions calling for a full leadership review are to be debated.

"Our party has done this before and somebody has to stand up and say enough, and that's what I'm doing, I'm saying enough," James told media.

"Does the party want to continue this kind of in-fighting? Do they want to continue to tear each other apart?"

"The public of British Columbia must be scratching their head about politics right now. They must be wondering about what is going on."

"There are clearly some people in the party who are not happy with that. There are people who would rather have those old kind of divides. Well, that's not me," James said.

But despite James' hope that the NDP Provincial Council will resolve the matter Saturday once and for all, that's extremely unlikely.

The Council is likely to reject those resolutions calling for Simpson's reinstatement and a full leadership convention next November based on its past support for James - although that is far from certain.

The reality is that until the membership has a decisive voice the split cannot be resolved.

I proposed in my 24 hours/The Tyee column this week that the Council move the scheduled November 2011 convention - where a leadership review vote will be held - to March in order to ensure resolution one way or the other before a possible snap election could be called by the new BC Liberal leader, who will be selected by February 26.

The questioning of James' leadership is based on her failure to win two consecutive elections, her falling personal approval rating in polls and the secret payment of a full-time salary to NDP President Moe Sihota, first disclosed here.

Another blow came with news that the
BC Liberals' have risen to within 5% of the NDP in a new Mustel Group poll released today that was taken after Gordon Campbell's resignation.

James has also been criticized here and elsewhere for focusing on obtaining support from BC's business community while failing to build the party's falling membership and finances or articulate a progressive alternative to the BC Liberals.

Give James credit for consistency at least.

Despite internal fighting on Thursday she was speaking to the Surrey Chamber of Commerce, where she told a luncheon meeting that: "I commit to you, that you will have a partner in a New Democratic government. Our dialogue must continue, so that you know what we expect from you and you can tell us what you need and expect from us..."

But for now, James needs to worry about her partners in the NDP caucus and membership, a partnership that is in serious jeopardy.


BC Liberals drop Gordon Campbell, rise in polls to within 5% of BC NDP in Mustel Group poll - 42% NDP to 37% BC Lib

BC NDP slogan in 2007 - Dooq photo


Premier Gordon Campbell's resignation has quickly narrowed the gap between the BC Liberal Party and the BC New Democrats, according to a poll just released by the
Mustel Group this morning.

With Campbell heading out of the picture, the BC Liberals are now at 37% popular support while the BC NDP is at 42% - the same level as they held in the May 2009 election.

The Green Party is at 10%, the BC Conservatives at 9% and "Other" at 3%.

The poll is not good news for BC NDP leader Carole James in two ways: in addition to the NDP holding the exact same 42% it had in Mustel's last poll in September 2010 despite all the BC Liberal disasters, James personal approval rating has dropped 9% from 42% to 33% since September.

That's likely primarily due to fallout over her expulsion of Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson from the NDP caucus.

Gordon Campbell's approval rating is only a point behind James at 32%, a drop of 2% since September. The poll of 502 British Columbians took place Nov 4-15 by telephone and had a 4.4% +/- accuracy rate.

The approval rating and party support polling differ considerably from the most recent Angus Reid Public Opinion poll released November 5 which put the NDP at 47% and the BC Liberals at 26% but that online poll of 807 voters was completed before Campbell announced his resignation and had a +/- 3.5% accuracy rate.

James approval rating in that poll had fallen to 25% from 27% and Campbell's had risen from 9% to 12%.

Mustel Group polls have generally shown somewhat lower NDP and higher BC Liberal support levels than Angus Reid or Ipsos-Reid polls, explained in part by different methodology. And of course each poll is taken with different respondents at diffrent times.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Premier Campbell continues scorched earth campaign against own BC Liberal government by reversing 15% tax cut; Bennett calls him an "abusive bully"

The pyromaniac premier surveys his handwork after torching cabinet minister Bill Bennett and the 15% income tax cut in just one day

Has Premier Gordon Campbell gone nuts?

Or is Campbell simply a long-term psychopath who has finally been exposed?

This is wacky even for British Columbia!

First Campbell threw Energy Minister Bill Bennett out of cabinet for suggesting in public that the premier step down rather than continue on until his successor is chosen.

Then Bennett held a stunning, unprecedented news conference this afternoon in which he called Campbell an abusive, intimidating bully who swore and spit at him during a caucus meeting.

And then Campbell cancels the 15% income tax cut he announced just weeks ago in his October 27 television address, a last ditch effort to boost his failed fortunes. Campbell surprise cut of the tax cut came, he claimed, to give options to his successor to chart government policy.

But overshadowing it all were Bennett's stunning accusations.

"I’m tired of the bullshit that goes on politics and I’m really tired of the way that Gordon Campbell thinks that he can just run on people," Bennett told astonished reporters.

"He can run on me, I’m a tough guy, I can take it. But I’ve seen him do it to other people in caucus, you have almost a battered wife syndrome inside our caucus today, inside our cabinet, it’s really sad and all the man has to do to give the B.C. Liberal party a chance to renew itself is to leave,” Bennett said.

"I think you are all aware he is a very, very intimidating human being and does have a temper, does talk to people disrespectfully in caucus - I've seen him do it dozens and dozens of times," Bennett told reporters.

"He got so angry at me.. that he actually spit in my face," Bennett recounted about a time he criticized Campbell over a caucus retreat.

"He's not a nice man," Bennett said. "He's not a nice man."

The disclosures by Bennett echo similar comments about Campbell's abusive behavious behind closed doors towards Elayne Brenzinger, a first-term BC Liberal MLA who made the mistake of criticizing Campbell in a caucus meeting.

"Fuck you too, Elayne," Campbell reportedly told the Surrey-Whalley MLA in front of her shocked colleagues.

Brenzinger told the Globe and Mail in 2005 she quickly learned that "in caucus you couldn't stand up and challenge him, it just wasn't done."

But, as the Globe's Mark Hume reported, Brenzinger wasn't one to sit meekly by, and when she got a chance to send a zinger at Mr. Campbell, in a caucus meeting, she did.

What happened next shocked her.

"It was late on a Tuesday night. We were all tired. One member was talking about a fundraiser and the Premier made some comment to the effect that he didn't remember it or if he wasn't there it didn't happen.

"I just said, and it was meant to be funny, 'You know Gordon, it isn't all about you.' It got a big laugh.

"He got up and walked along, like he does when he's on stage, and then he said it. 'Fuck you too, Elayne.' People laughed a bit but I think most were shocked. I tried to be tough and not show how I felt. But when I went out to the car I was crying."

Ms. Brenzinger said the Premier later apologized to her, but their relationship quickly deteriorated, until she became convinced she wasn't wanted in the party, and last year walked away.

"I challenged him and he made me into an example to caucus. You've got to understand, it's a whole different world inside Gordon Campbell's party. It's a cult," she said.

Today British Columbians got another glimpse inside that cult - and it isn't a pretty sight.

UPDATE 1: Bill Bennett says he regrets using the "almost battered wife" analogy to describe caucus and cabinet's response to Premier Gordon Campbell bullying approach.

And Campbellis denying that he is a bully.

"You really don't hold a party, a caucus and a cabinet together for 17 years by being a bully. You do it by respecting the input of your colleges, by encouraging conversation and debate, encouraging ideas to be brought forward and bringing these together to make decisive actions to improve the quality of life for British Columbians," he told the Victoria Times-Colonist's Rob Shaw.

UPDATE 2: I recalled overnight that during the BC Legislature Raid pre-trial hearings, defence lawyers for David Basi and Bob Virk alleged in court that Campbell had blown another gasket complete with F-word tirade.
Here's what I wrote in April 24, 2007:

In the highly controversial allegation related to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail, Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough said B.C. Liberal Party Executive Director Kelly Reichert was taped by police in a call to Basi on Oct. 28, 2003, discussing a situation where Premier Campbell's Press Secretary Mike Morton sat with OmniTRAX, one of the companies bidding for the rail company, along with their lobbyists from Pilothouse Public Affairs, at a Liberal fundraising dinner.

"Reichert says he gave Gord a three-page memo on Saturday. Gord was yelling at Reichert because Mike Morton had fucked up. There was a dinner where Mike Morton is positioned with OmniTRAX -- he's at the Pilothouse table," McCullough said.

Of course we now know that two of Pilothouse's partners, Erik Bornmann and Brian Kieran, are key witnesses for the Crown against Basi and Virk, while the third, former Liberal Party of Canada B.C. president Jamie Elmhirst, has been subpoenaed to testify in the trial.

NOTE: The above are obvious exceptions to this blog's general prohibition on use of the F-word - the facts require its use in these circumstances.
UPDATE 4 - Friday November 19 - BC Liberal MLA Kash Heed says Bill Bennett should remain in the BC Liberal caucus. Heading into today's caucus meeting Heed told reporters that he values Bennett's opinion and wants him to stay.

Premier Gordon Campbell fires cabinet minister Bill Bennett for insubordination - and telling the truth

Oh for the good old days.....handshakes instead of shanks!

Gordon Campbell fired outspoken Energy Minister Bill Bennett out of his cabinet this morning after Bennett told the media that Campbell should leave office and allow a caretaker premier to run the show.

The direct and insubordinate challenge to Campbell was the premier's only option, especially after Bennett had already publicly criticized Campbell's cabinet shuffle and reorganization of natural resources ministries just a few weeks ago.

Finance Minister Colin Hansen said today that the decision was made by the entire cabinet rather than Campbell - a possible first - and Bennett agreed.

"The cabinet has to operate as a team. It was obvious that Bill Bennett was not prepared to work as a member of that team and so cabinet as a whole made a decision that they would ask him to leave cabinet and he agreed," Hansen said.

Is it all part of Bennett's cagey plan to position himself as the "plain talking outsider with common sense" for a BC Liberal leadership run?

Or has Bennett once again shot his mouth off before thinking? This is, after all, the minister to flamed out in an ill-considered email to a constituent in 2007 that caused Campbell to toss him from cabinet for a period of time.

Mostly it shows the extremely bad feelings abounding in the BC Liberal caucus over Campbell's long goodbye that will now last until at least the end of February.

Unless, that is, Campbell is pushed out in a caucus coup before he causes even more damage to a party limping along at 26% support in the polls paying attention to a premier with only a 12% approval rating.

Bennett addresses the media in Victoria this afternoon - stay tuned to this space for more.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Can BC NDP leader Carole James win the next provincial election?

BC NDP leader Carole James speaks to media outside BC Supreme Court this summer

Whether BC votes next year or in 2013, the question looms large right now, with BC NDP provincial council meeting November 20-21

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee online column

Tuesday November 16, 2010

Bill Tieleman

"One of the true tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency."

- Arnold H. Glasgow

The battle over Carole James' leadership is not about the left versus the right within the New Democratic Party.

It's not about the old guard against the new.

The only question that is dividing New Democrats is simple -- can Carole James win the next provincial election?

With the announced resignation of B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell on Nov. 3, the NDP has to
resolve that question -- and there isn't much time.

It's overwhelmingly likely that the new BC Liberal Party leader and premier will repeal the fixed election date of May 2013 and announce she or he needs a mandate from voters rather than to govern for two years without electoral approval.

The new premier will also probably say they also want a mandate to negotiate the elimination of the Harmonized Sales Tax with the federal Conservative government, since the odds of the Sept. 2011 referendum on the HST being moved up to early next year increase daily.

That means the NDP doesn't have until 2013 to sort out its problems -- it may have only until next May or June if the new BC Liberal leader forces a quick election, especially likely if they get a major rise in the polls from the massive media attention that always surrounds succession of a premier.

The challenge for the NDP's provincial council at its meeting this coming weekend is to overcome what appear to be political lose-lose alternatives.

The knocks on James

The knocks against James' ability to win are clear and, for many political observers, compelling.

James lost the 2005 and 2009 elections to Campbell. Her personal approval rating is just 25 per cent according to a Nov. 5 Angus Reid Public Opinion
poll -- putting her 22 per cent behind the NDP's own 47 per cent support.

And there seems no doubt the NDP's high standing in the polls is primarily due to the BC Liberal government's imposition of the Harmonized Sales Tax, as well as public outrage at the sudden guilty plea bargain of former BC Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk in the B.C. legislature raid political corruption case.

James personal approval rating is now just 25 per cent according to an Angus Reid Public Opinion poll released Nov. 5 -- putting her 22 per cent behind the NDP's own 47 per cent support.

"Carole James actually lost points in the approval category this month, and keeps a negative momentum score, despite battling the most unpopular premier in the country," the Angus Reid news release noted.

"The problem for Carole James is that there is a lot of soft support for the NDP. People are disenchanted with the BC Liberals so they are parking their vote with the NDP," Angus Reid Public Opinion vice president Mario Canseco told the Vancouver Sun in October when her approval rate was 27 per cent. "But they are not convinced that Carole James is the right person for the job."

James approval has dropped from the 33 per cent she had in Nov. 2009 and is back at the same 25 per cent support rating she had in Aug. 2008.

Lower than Bush's lowest

Her standing is better than Campbell's abysmal 12 per cent current approval rating but falls below former U.S. president George W. Bush's 28 per cent personal approval level at the end of his term, and just above former U.S. president Richard Nixon's 23 per cent during the Watergate crisis.

And there seems no doubt that the NDP's high standing in the polls is primarily due to the negative actions taken by the BC Liberal government -- imposition of the Harmonized Sales Tax primarily, as well as the surprise guilty plea bargain of former ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk in the B.C. legislature raid case and the budget deficit that turned out to be six times larger than Campbell stated before the 2009 election.

The NDP is also in financial dire straits, with membership rumoured to be dropping to 10,000 or less. Even party officials said in July that the membership was 13,500 -- roughly the same level as in Nov. 2003, when James was elected leader.

Party president Moe Sihota was quoted as saying in executive minutes leaked to the media that the NDP was surviving on bequests from deceased members.

"We can't rely on people passing away," said Sihota.

And a significant number of NDP MLAs as well as members are angry that James expelled Cariboo North MLA Bob Simpson from the caucus Oct. 6 for mildly criticizing one of her speeches on a Williams Lake community website.

That includes Norm Macdonald, who resigned as caucus chair over the lack of consultation and the process involved in Simpson's personal expulsion by James.

These negatives have compelled at least five NDP riding associations to call for a full leadership convention in Nov. 2011 instead of current plans to merely hold a review vote on James' leadership.

Concern over James has also prompted former NDP cabinet ministers Corky Evans, Dale Lovick, Bob Williams and others to suggest publicly that she be replaced as leader.

Reasons to keep James

In any event, if there is no election before Nov. 2011 the NDP will hold a leadership review vote at its convention.

That means each delegate selection meeting in all 85 ridings will be dominated by the question of whether delegates vying to attend will go to vote for or against James continuing on as leader. For two to three months media will be filled with reports of the pitched battles in most constituencies.

Whether those calling for James to quit are successful or not, there is no question her leadership has been damaged.

But the arguments against changing the leader do also have salience within the NDP and beyond.

The New Democrats currently hold a commanding 21 per cent lead over the BC Liberals -- 47 per cent to 26 per cent, with the Green Party and BC Conservatives following with 10 per cent each.

Those results would give the NDP a massive landslide victory if they held up into the election.

And the
rise of the BC Conservatives -- who still have no leader chosen -- along with creation of the BC First Party by Fight HST lead organizer Chris Delaney, means that the right wing unity critical to the BC Liberals' election wins may be seriously split.

James also has the support of at least 12 of the BC NDP's 85 riding associations, based on media reports of positions they have taken.

Should the BC Liberals' new premier call a snap election while the NDP is still hotly debating James' abilities, leadership would become the central campaign issue to the NDP's serious disadvantage.

James' supporters correctly argue that her party leadership has never been challenged since she won it in 2003, although NDP constitutional provisions that required regular leadership reviews were removed and only reinstated last year.

And, at least privately, those who back James ask who could replace her and do a better job.

David Schreck, the former NDP MLA and advisor to NDP premiers Glen Clark and Ujjal Dosanjh sums up the argument simply:

"Some of NDP leader Carole James' opponents believe that Gordon Campbell's replacement will magically make the 25 point gap between the parties disappear so a snap election can be called and the BC Liberals can be rewarded with a new mandate a year or more ahead of the set May 14, 2013 election date," Schreck
wrote on his website.

"That's not the wishful thinking of the BC Liberal caucus; it's an argument advanced by a handful of New Democrats who want James to step down so she can be replaced with Lord knows who," he concludes.

Former NDP house leader Joy MacPhail also backs James and claims members are "thrilled" with her.

"Ordinary New Democrats are fine and happy and thrilled actually in many ways with Carole James' leadership," MacPhail told CKNW radio's Sean Leslie on Saturday. "So these people that are kvetching inside -- you know I don't know how serious we can take them. Has anyone put forward their name as a challenger?"

Three options

And so the NDP's dilemma looms large. Former respected MLAs on both sides of the issue of whether James should stay or go while riding associations also taking positions for and against.

Is there any solution that won't tear the party apart?

Three options seem possible, although none come without some pain.

First, those unhappy with James could agree to stand down their complaints until the Nov. 2011 review and let the party process take place as now planned.

But if the BC Liberals new leader starts winning back significant public support after taking office, the odds of an early election go up dramatically.

That means both the NDP's lead and its members' confidence that a review of James would take place before the next election start disappearing, to be replaced by panic -- that truce would quickly end.

Second, James could simply resign, either to leave the leadership or to contest it in a challenge to potential successors in the party. Either way, that would end a divisive battle over her continued leadership but leave her supporters angry she was pushed out.

The third solution is slightly radical -- for the NDP at least -- but has the advantage of being democratic and resolving the thorny issue much more quickly and effectively than any other option.

The NDP provincial council could simply vote to move up the date of the Nov. 2011 convention and its scheduled leadership review to early next year.

As the party constitution states: "Time and place of Conventions shall be determined by Provincial Council" on not less than 90 days notice.

That means the NDP convention could take place as early as March 2011.

With Premier Gordon Campbell now staying in office until well after Feb. 2011, when the BC Liberal Party holds a special convention to change its leadership elections rules, there seems no chance of an election earlier than the summer or early fall of next year.

Don't paper it over

If James passes the leadership review vote with a strong enough mandate to continue, the debate is over. If not, the NDP will have time for a leadership contest before the next election.

Whatever decision is made by the NDP provincial council this weekend, or by James or simply by individual members, the party has to find a solution it can not only live with but promote to B.C. voters -- and likely sooner than later.

Papering over the problems will fool no one.

And the consequences of failure to resolve internal differences will be felt far more by British Columbians in need who have been shamefully mistreated and neglected through nine years of Campbell government than by NDP MLAs and staff.

That's what ought to be considered the first and foremost priority for a party committed to social justice.


Fight HST launches Recall campaign to kill the HST; Oak-Bay Gordon Head Cabinet Minister Ida Chong first recall target

Bill Tieleman and Bill Vander Zalm discuss strategy outside BC Supreme Court

On Monday Fight HST launched its Recall campaign to end the Harmonized Sales Tax by announcing which BC Liberal MLAs will be targeted for Recall in the weeks and months ahead.

The following is the Fight HST news release:

* * * * *


Saanich North and Comox Valley canvassers to converge on Oak Bay to help blitz riding to Recall BC Liberal MLA & Cabinet Minister Ida Chong

VANCOUVER – Fight HST will launch the first of three initial Recalls to begin in Oak Bay-Gordon Head on November 22 to remove BC Liberal MLA and Minister of Science and Universities Ida Chong, says Fight HST Leader and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm says canvassers from neighbouring ridings Saanich North and the Islands and Comox Valley will team up with Oak Bay-Gordon Head organizers to create an army of over 600 canvassers to blitz the riding over a period of 4- 6 weeks to gather the 18,000 signatures needed to Recall the first of several BC Liberal MLAs.

“The plan is to hit the riding hard leading up to the holidays, take a short break at Christmas, and then finish the riding petition in the first and second week of January. Then we’ll send the same army of canvassers over to Comox Valley and Saanich North and repeat the process,” Vander Zalm explained.

Vander Zalm says a similar tactic will be used for Kamloops North and Cariboo Chilcotin where neighbouring canvassers will move in to assist in the Recalls in those ridings. “That way, we can move quickly to gather the huge volume of signatures necessary in a short period of time.”

Vander Zalm says if the HST is not removed by the time the first three Recalls have been completed, then two more Recalls will be added each month until the tax is cancelled.

“Its really up to the BC Liberal government. They can stop this whole thing by listening to the people who elected them by cancelling the HST.”

Vander Zalm says nearly 9,000 signatures were collected in Oak Bay during the Initiative petition using approximately 60 canvassers over 90 days without access to a voters list.

“With Recall, we will have nearly ten times that number to gather twice as many signatures in 60 days. Organizers have also developed a computer program to track signatures by polling station, street and house number so as not to overlap efforts. It will be a very efficient system.”

Fight HST Lead organizer, Chris Delaney, says there will be 5 phases to the Fight HST Recall strategy.

Delaney explained, “We will start in Oak Bay-Gordon Head in November. Then we’ll proceed to Kamloops North and Comox Valley in January. If the HST is still around after that, we’ll add Cariboo-Chilcotin and Saanich North in February. That will make five Recalls. If the government still isn’t listening, then we’ll add Maple Ridge and Vancouver Quilchena in March. If the HST is still around after those seven Recalls, then we’ll open the floodgates and add another eight or ten Recalls all at once beginning April 1 2011.”

Fight HST Strategist Bill Tieleman noted that unlike the successful citizens Initiative petition that gathered over 705,000 signatures this spring, under Recall rules Fight HST will have access to official Elections BC voters’ lists in each riding.

“Our efforts can be much more targeted and effective when we have those lists and can check off registered voters as they sign the petition,” Tieleman said.

Vander Zalm reiterated the Fight HST objective: “By moving incrementally, we are giving the government every opportunity to get rid of the tax and move on with the governance of BC. But if they continue to dig in and fight the voters as they have all along, then we’ll keep adding Recalls. This is a battle for democracy as much as it is to repeal a tax and there can only be one winner if democracy is to prevail in BC – the people.”

Following is the Fight HST Recall Strategy listing the targeted Constituencies and the order of Recalls:


Phase 1 Recall:

Oak Bay Gordon Head Recall Organizer: Colin Nielsen
Begin November 22 (application)
Start Recall November 26
Recall complete January 29

Phase 2 Recalls:

Kamloops North Recall Organizer: Chad Moats
Comox Valley Recall Organizer: Kathryn Askew

Begin Recalls January 3 – 7
Recall Complete March 7

Phase 3 Recalls:

Cariboo Chilcotin Recall Organizer: Eric Freeston
Saanich North and The Islands
Recall Organizer: Ryan Windsor

Begin Recalls January 31
Recalls Complete March 30

Phase 4 Recalls:
Maple Ridge Mission Recall Organizer: Corisa Nicole Bell
Vancouver Quilchena Recall Organizer: Colleen Garbe

Begin Recalls February 28
Recalls complete April 30

Phase 5 Recalls:

- Boundary Similkameen- Parksville Qualicum- Kelowna Mission- West Van Sea to Sky- Vernon Monashee- Kamloops South- Chilliwack- Langley- Kootenay East- Penticton

Begin Recalls April 1
Recalls complete June 1

Following are the results from Week Six of the HST Survivor Recall contest:

Recall Ridings
Sub total

All Other Ridings
Volunteers at Large


Monday, November 15, 2010

David Basi put on electronic monitoring for breaching conditions with TV interview

David Basi gets electronic monitoring for giving television interview and violating sentence conditions

By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist

A former B.C. Liberal government ministerial aide who received house arrest after pleading guilty to political corruption charges has been put on electronic monitoring for giving a television interview.

David Basi admitted in B.C. Supreme Court Monday breaching his sentencing conditions by doing an interview outside the home of Bob Virk, the other aide who also pled guilty in charges related to the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail in 2003.

Basi must wear an electronic monitoring device for six months and obtain advance permission from his supervisor to leave his home for permitted activities.

“These are onerous conditions – you understand that, don’t you Mr. Basi?” asked Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie.

Outside court political commentator Michael Geoghegan, a Basi friend, said the RCMP pressuring Basi to cooperate in what he said is their intention to regain evidence from the trial in his possession and destroy it, jeopardizing a possible public inquiry.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Wild week ahead in BC politics! BC Liberals, NDP, Fight HST, David Basi, Dianne Watts & more ahead!

BC politics will be explosive over the next week!

Just a warning to all political watchers to get ready for one of the wildest weeks we've seen in a long time in BC politics - and that's saying something!

We've just had Premier Gordon Campbell resign over the HST, continued fallout over BC NDP opposition leader Carole James expulsion from caucus of MLA Bob Simpson and Elections BC announcing the wording of the HST referendum question.

On Saturday the BC Liberal Party executive meets to set the date and rules for the leadership contest to replace Campbell.

On Monday at 10 a.m. in BC Supreme Court the sentencing conditions of former BC Liberal ministerial assistant David Basi will be reviewed after allegations they were violated.

On Monday at 11 a.m. Fight HST leader and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm will announce details of the Recall campaigns to be launched against BC Liberal MLAs to pressure the provincial government to kill the HST. Fight HST lead organizer Chris Delaney and myself will also attend.

Reportedly also on Monday, or possibly later in the week, Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts will announce whether or not she will be a candidate in the BC Liberal leadership race.

The following Saturday and Sunday November 20 and 21 the BC NDP Provincial Council will meet in Victoria to debate a series of resolutions supporting or opposing holding a full leadership convention in November 2011 instead of a planned leadership review vote then, as well as potentially other controversial issues.

All in all, a very busy week - and the above is only what we know of now - anything could happen in BC!

Stay tuned to this blog for more information and analysis as it becomes available.


Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Nine years of unmitigated hypocrisy - Premier Gordon Campbell's trail of broken promises

Premier Gordon Campbell promised to help kids - but broke his word with Canada's highest child poverty rates and more.

That's Premier Campbell's legacy after resigning. Just compare his words to his deeds.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday November 9, 2010

By Bill Tieleman

"My words fly up, my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts never to heaven go."

- King Claudius, Hamlet by William Shakespeare

Nine years of unmitigated hypocrisy.

That's the sad legacy left by B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell after he announced plans to resign when the BC Liberal Party chooses a successor.

Campbell deserves credit for serving many years as an elected official, no question.

But Gordon Campbell's record is a massive contradiction between the good intentions he claimed and the actual road to hell he paved for so many unfortunate British Columbians while his friends and backers waved from the steamroller.

Take Campbell's words and compare them to his deeds.

In the July 2001
Speech from the Throne, Campbell's newly elected government outlined its values and objectives:

"There are 10 overarching priorities: (1) a top-notch education system for students of all ages," the speech read.

But in his
televised address of October 27, 2010, Campbell admitted that after nine years in power: "Right now in British Columbia, one out of five Grade 4 students don't read, write, or have the math skills at the Grade 4 level. That's really not good enough for any of us."

And Campbell went on to confess: "It's always surprising to me when I hear that one out of three children are not prepared for kindergarten or Grade 1. We can and we will do better."

Surprising? Not good enough? You're the damn premier of the province! And you have failed those children.

That doesn't even include extensive cuts to education, including school closures, elimination of school librarian and teacher aide positions or ongoing battles with school boards, teachers and staff.

It gets even worse.

Campbell's other 2001 goals included: "(5) better services for children, families and first nations."

But in June 2010, Statistics Canada
reported that British Columbia had the worst child poverty rate in the country -- for the seventh straight year.

Not a surprise if you consider the numerous
attacks Campbell launched on social assistance recipients, like taking away their earnings exemptions so that every penny they made working was clawed back.

And perhaps the "better services" Campbell promised had nothing to do with his government, because as child advocacy group First Call remarked: "In 2009 alone over 80 per cent of B.C.'s food banks saw an increase in people needing food, and one-third of B.C. food bank users are children."

Of course, when you refuse to increase the pathetic $8 minimum wage over nine years while introducing an even lower $6 "training wage" for workers with less than 500 hours experience, you condemn those workers to poverty too.

Then there was Campbell's commitment to ensuring that politics are kept out of public service.

The 2001 Throne Speech promised that: "My government will act in this session to make good on its commitment to initiate merit employment legislation to ensure that British Columbians are being served by a professional, non-partisan public service appointed strictly on merit."

But last month Campbell's chief of staff
Martyn Brown, who has been the premier's top political advisor for 13 years, was appointed deputy minister of tourism.

Brown was
paid $170,544 in the last fiscal year and while we don't yet know his new salary, we do know that former tourism deputy minister Lorne Brownsey was paid $230,664 and that the average salary for deputy ministers in 2008 was $217,758.

It means that Brown -- Campbell's highly partisan political fixer -- likely got a $47,000 to $60,000 raise while the premier merely got the satisfaction of thumbing his nose at his own past principles.

But then, who's even counting the contradictions? Campbell also promised not to impose a Harmonized Sales Tax, swore that the B.C. deficit for 2010 was only $495 million, pledged not to sell B.C. Rail or privatize B.C. Hydro or rip up unionized hospital workers' contracts, and boasted he would lead the most open and accountable government ever and much more -- all broken vows.

Finally, Campbell's 2001 Throne Speech accurately sums up why Campbell ended up forced out of office as the most unpopular premier not just in B.C. history but that of the entire country, with a nine per cent approval rating that's
lower than U.S presidents Richard Nixon's during Watergate or Lyndon Johnson's during the Vietnam War.

"Public trust and confidence in government must be earned, not through words but through deeds," the BC Liberals solemnly

Campbell's legacy is the jarring discrepancy between his lofty words and his damning deeds, the culmination of nine years of hypocrisy.