Friday, October 28, 2011

Barinder Sall guilty plea bargain in Kash Heed election overspending case: $15,000 fine, 1 year probation, 200 hours community service, no jail time

BC Liberal MLA Kash Heed's 2009 election campaign manager Barinder Sall avoided a jail sentence Friday afternoon but was fined $15,000, put on one year's probation and ordered to perform 200 community service hours in the Vancouver-Fraserview election overspending case.

Sall admitted to six violations of the Elections Act in a guilty plea bargain deal that saw serious Criminal Code obstruction of justice charges dropped that could have seen him sentenced to up to 10 years in jail. 

UPDATE #1 - And in a new development tonight, CBC TV is reporting that Sall told them up to $40,000 in additional elections expenses were unreported to Elections BC.  In an exclusive interview with CBC, Sall says: "I have accepted full responsibility for my actions and errors. But I did not act alone."

Heed's lawyer David Gruber denies Sall's charges, CBC reports.

UPDATE #2 - The South Asian Link Newspaper is reporting it has obtained copies of emails allegedly between Heed and Sall that have Heed: "demonizing everyone from Liberal MLA Mary McNeil to former police chief Jamie Graham and former fellow VPD colleague Jim Chu" but it has not published those emails. The Link also reports that Sall makes claims in an exclusive interview about the $6,000 paid to Sall and campaign worker Sameer Ismail from government constituency office funds after the election.

The charges came after Heed's campaign printed and distributed a vicious and inaccurate leaflet trashing the NDP but didn't report the costs - which exceeded election spending limits.  Sall and Khanna also admitted they lied to RCMP and Elections BC investigators when contacted about the leaflet and other expenses.

Heed was never charged with any offences but admitted to overspending and was fined $8,000 but allowed to keep the Vancouver-Fraserview seat he narrowly won over NDP opponent Gabriel Yiu by less than 800 votes.

UPDATE #3 - Oct 31 - NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu has requested Elections BC start a new investigation into the Kash Heed 2009 election expenses based on media reports from the CBC and the allegations of Barinder Sall that up to $40,000 in election spending was not accounted for. And the Vancouver Sun has a front page story today repeating Sall's allegations and detailing Sall's long relationship as an advisor to Heed.  Yiu's full letter to Elections BC is at the bottom of this story.

Barinder Sall speaks to media after sentencing - Bill Tieleman photo
NDP MLA Bruce Ralston & 2009 Vancouver-Fraserview candidate Gabriel Yiu - Bill Tieleman photo
Co-accused Dinesh Khanna, owner of the mailing firm that distributed the leaflet, was fined $6,000, put on probation for 90 days and ordered to perform 50 hours of community service after pleading guilty to three Election Act violations.

But no explanation was made in any of the proceedings about two cheques worth a total of $6,000 paid to Sall and campaign worker Sameer Ismail from Heed's government funded consituency association account a month after the election campaign.  Heed signed both cheques, $4,000 to Sall and $2,000 to Ismail, with his lawyer David Gruber telling 24 hours newspaper that Heed "understood the cheques to be for services rendered to the constituency office."

Judge Joe Galati told Sall and Khanna that: "That they should consider themselves fortunate in the outcome of this case.  Both of them, but especially Mr. Sall, had taken actions to circumvent the laws."  But Galati said he took into account that both men had no criminal record, showed remorse, were of past good character and had pled guilty, making a three week trial unnecessary.

Yiu said outside Provincial Court in Vancouver that he was "very disappointed in the sentence" while NDP MLA Bruce Ralston said the case leaves Heed's legitimacy as an MLA in doubt.

"The laws were broken outrageously," Ralston said.  "Voters must be asking themselves if it was a fair election."

Yiu was even more critical about the whole situation.

"This is a sad precedent for democracy in BC - will the RCMP actually spend the time to investigate Election Act violations in the future?"

In Court, Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson outline the details of the plea bargain and how Crown and defence counsel had agreed to a Statement of Facts in the case.

The charges came after a complaint from the NDP when a Chinese-language leaflet appeared in the riding falsely claiming that the party would legalize cocaine, heroin and prostitution as well introduce a "death tax".

The statement of facts also says Sall arranged for $5,900 worth of radio advertising on Fairchild and AM 1320 - Chinese radio stations - and disguised the expenditure as third party advertising by two persons who did not sponsor the ad.  Sall paid for the ads through his business.

Sall's lawyer Richard Peck made a lengthy statement about the significant negative impact the charges had on Sall's reputation and ability to earn a living.

"This has been terribly depressing for him. He was on the cusp of signing a very significant consulting contract when this broke - he did not get the contract. He has not been employed since April 2010, has incurred substantial debt, spent his life saving and some of his RRSPs and has been shunned by organizations he was involved with," Peck said.

Wilson agreed in his summation, explaining in part why he agreed to the sentencing deal.

"Mr. Sall has become a pariah in the community," Wilson said.

Khanna's lawyer David Unterman also said his client, owner of North American Mailing, has suffered since the events of May 2009.

"His business has become terrible as a result," Unterman said, noting that Khanna was "relatively unsophisticated with regard to the Elections Act."

Sall and Khanna were both given two years to pay their fines.

UPDATE #3 continued - Letter to Elections BC from Gabriel Yiu requesting new investigation into Kash Heed 2009 election expenses:

Gabriel Yiu's letter to the chief electoral officer.

30th October, 2011
Dr. Keith Archer,
Chief Electoral Officer
Elections BC

PO Box 9275 Stn Prov Govt
Victoria, BC V8W 9J6
Dear Sir,
Re: New revelations concerning excessive spending by Kash Heed’s 2009 campaign

As a candidate who participated in the 2009 provincial election in Vancouver-Fraserview, I am writing to make a formal request for a new investigation into the supplementary report filed with Elections BC by the BC Liberal Party candidate Kash Heed on September 28, 2011.

On October 28, Kash Heed's campaign manager Barinder Sall revealed on CBC TV news , that the campaign he managed in 2009 exceeded the statutory spending limit by some $40,000, seven times the amount ($5,578.90) which Heed had declared in his recently filed supplementary report.

As you may be aware, Special Prosecutor Peter Wilson concluded and released his investigation report on April 2011 into Heed’s campaign report filed on August 7, 2009, while Chief Justice Bauman delivered his judgment on August 31, 2011.

Based on the serious allegations made by Sall, and on other information I have obtained through various sources, I respectfully submit that there are reasonable grounds to question the truthfulness of the supplementary report filed by Kash Heed on September 28 with Elections BC.

According to the Elections Act, Section 226, filing a false or misleading report is a serious offence, on commission of which “the member ceases to hold office and the seat of the member becomes vacant.”

In order to uphold public confidence in the integrity of our democratic system, I hereby request that Elections BC launch a new investigation into the supplementary report recently filed by Kash Heed.

Sincerely yours,

Gabriel Yiu
New Democratic Party Candidate
Vancouver-Fraserview 2009 BC Election

Thursday, October 27, 2011

FRIDAY: Guilty plea expected from MLA Kash Heed's campaign manager Barinder Sall in 2009 election over-spending case - details here Friday afternoon

Kash Heed & Gordon Campbell in happier times
Crown & defence agree on $15,000 fine, 200 hrs community service, no jail for Barinder Sall in Kash Heed election overspending case. Judge to rule shortly.

Sall lawyer Richard Peck says Sall now "a pariah" and has "suffered greatly" from publicity in case.

Co-accused Dinesh Khanna in Kash Heed overspending case could be fined $6,000 & 50 hrs community service - judge to rule on plea bargain.

BC Liberal MLA Kash Heed's campaign manager Barinder Sall and mailer Dinesh Khanna are expected to enter guilty pleas on Election Act and Criminal Code offences Friday afternoon in Vancouver Provincial Court, Room 514 in front of Judge J. Galati at 2 p.m. at 222 Main Street in Vancouver - and you can find full coverage here.  [NOTE: I was wrong earlier in saying the case would be at BC Supreme Court.]

Heed, the former solicitor general and ex-West Vancouver police chief, avoided losing his seat but paid a fine of $8,000 for exceeding Election Act spending limits in his narrow win over NDP opponent Gabriel Yiu in the Vancouver-Fraserview riding in the 2009 provincial election.

Heed's campaign was found to have overspent limits by about $4,000 when it printed and distributed a vicious and inaccurate leaflet attacking the BC NDP, claiming it would legalize heroin, cocaine and prostitution.

Heed won by less than 800 votes and despite his admitted Election Act violation was allowed to keep his seat when Elections BC declined to demand his resignation and a by-election.

Still a mystery, as detailed in my 24 hours news story - the $6,000 paid to Sall and election campaign worker Sameer Ismail by Heed's government-funded constituency office in the month following the election.

Heed signed a cheque for $4,000 to Sall and $2,000 to Ismail - but requests to Heed, his lawyer, Elections BC, the Special Prosecutor and Sall and his lawyer for reasons why these cheques were issued were never explained.   Yiu has called for a new investigation by Elections BC into the issue - but so far the organization in charge of elections has not responded.

It is unclear whether that mystery or other significant questions about this political scandal case will be answered in court - but check this blog for the latest!


Tuesday, October 25, 2011

BC Liberals imploding under Premier Christy Clark's leadership and fears of impending doom - 2 BC Liberal MLAs take shots at own government

Health Minister Mike de Jong, MLAs Randy Hawes, John van Dongen - before bridges were burned

Signs of BC Liberal Implosion

Why are backbenchers rebelling against Clark? They're watching their backs

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday October 25, 2011

By Bill Tieleman 
"If something such as an organization implodes, it is completely destroyed by things that are happening within it." 
- Macmillan Dictionary
The BC Liberals are starting to implode over dissatisfaction with the job Premier Christy Clark is doing -- and their own fears of impending doom.
The evidence became clear last week when backbench MLAs John van Dongen and Randy Hawes -- both ex-cabinet ministers -- took tough public shots at their own government.

Their rebellion was for good reason: the terrible treatment of adults with development disabilities by Community Living B.C., the government agency that's supposed to help them.

Instead, as first Hawes and then Van Dongen outlined, CLBC has been closing group homes and forcing the most vulnerable in society into new situations that they and their families don't accept.

The New Democrats had led the charge with story after story of dislocation and misery. Hawes and Van Dongen surprised all by backing up their political opponents rather than the beleaguered rookie minister, Stephanie Cadieux.

But behind the well-founded complaints is another story of frustrations with Clark finally boiling over in public.

Dropping in polls

Even BC NDP leader Adrian Dix heard about a tense meeting of B.C. Liberal MLAs last Tuesday, saying to Clark in the Legislature: "This isn't like the Liberal caucus where she can say: 'Shut up, or I'll call the election.'" Clark immediately denied Dix had it right but the damage done was obvious.

The reasons are many. A new Ipsos-Reid poll sees the BC Liberals falling seven points to 38 per cent, behind the NDP's 45 per cent despite leading them by two points in May. And despite Clark's charm offensive, 46 per cent already disapprove of her performance while 45 per cent approve.

That may reflect voters' views that Clark's performance as premier has been more of an extended photo opportunity than a demonstration of vision and leadership.

Perhaps nothing showed that more than her clamouring to get in front of cameras to hog credit for B.C.'s Seaspan winning an $8 billion navy shipbuilding contract last week.

Clark was deputy premier when the BC Liberal government encouraged B.C. Ferries to give a $540 million deal for three new vessels to Germany, badly damaging the provincial industry. But Clark showed no sense of irony in embracing the same company that was blocked from even bidding seven years ago.

It's hardly a surprise for a premier who has repeatedly flip-flopped on major policy issues from the Harmonized Sales Tax to an election call.

Leaky hull

Admittedly Clark had a tough challenge, facing a caucus where only one obscure MLA -- Harry Bloy -- supported her leadership bid.

But as van Dongen put it in February: "There's a reason, and a legitimate reason, why virtually all of the caucus worked for [other candidates]."

And that reason is becoming clearer to increasingly nervous BC Liberal MLAs.

But there's another reason for caucus members like Van Dongen to be rebellious -- because they are being challenged for their party nominations.

Abbotsford city councilor Moe Gill has announced his intention to take the Abbotsford South nomination away from Van Dongen. And with support from Health Minister Mike de Jong and his recent leadership campaign member signups in the Fraser Valley he could succeed.

Gill was ready to go for Van Dongen's political throat until Clark bowed to caucus and polling pressure by cancelling plans for a fall election. Now Gill will seek re-election to council but refuses to give up on replacing the former solicitor general.

Sultan’s swat

BC Liberal MLA Ralph Sultan is also a target, and he knows it. In April Sultan sent a letter to West Vancouver-Capilano party member telling them apparently out of the blue that he would be running again.

But 10-year veteran Sultan had already heard the rumours that either Pamela Martin, the former BC CTV anchor and current Clark staffer, or outgoing West Vancouver Mayor Pamela Goldsmith-Jones would be vying for the nomination.

So Sultan's surprising letter said he was "pledged" to help Clark succeed but then he slipped a stiletto into her side.

"You, as one of the 1,900 members of the BC Liberal Party in West Vancouver-Capilano, were more inclined to favour Kevin Falcon and George Abbott but now is time to rally around our new leader and our new premier," Sultan wrote. Nice of him to remind members just how unpopular Clark was in the riding.

West Vancouver-Sea to Sky MLA Joan McIntyre is also rumoured to be feeling unloved by the Clark loyalists, with North Shore News columnist Trevor Lautens predicting last month that Goldsmith-Jones didn't seek re-election as mayor because she hopes to replace McIntyre.

Cummins on strong

Other BC Liberal MLAs are less worried about losing their nominations to internal competition so much as they fear the surging strength of BC Conservative leader John Cummins in traditionally safe seats, including in the Interior, Okanagan and North.

Cummins is now at 12 per cent, up two points since May and 10 points since the 2009 election when they ran less than two dozen candidates. Cummins is also creating a viable network of constituency associations and attracting former Reform Party Members of Parliament to his cause, with Jim Hart and Paul Forseth seeking nominations while Randy White chairs a key election committee.

Cummins also has a formidable campaign manager in Hamish Marshall, a federal Conservative who did polling for the business group that backed B.C. Finance Minister Kevin Falcon's BC Liberal leadership campaign. Marshall has deep roots with the federal Tories and honed his public opinion skills working with Angus Reid Public Opinion.

And scared BC Liberal MLAs can't be happy Clark approved amazingly inept party radio ads and a website called "Can't Trust Cummins" that ostensibly attacked Cummins but actually gave him both credibility and name recognition.

Deficit thinking

Surprisingly, it took until Sunday for the BC Liberal Party to launch an attack on Clark's principal opponent, Dix and the NDP. A sensationalistic website titled "Can't Afford Dix" talks about "Dix's Deficit" at a time when the current Clark government is -- wait for it -- running a big deficit.

Another section talks about Dix "Doubling Political Staffers" under the 1996 government of NDP Premier Glen Clark -- but Clark herself has gotten in trouble with boosting the size of the premier's office, including hiring Pamela Martin as an "outreach coordinator" for $130,000 a year with a very vague job description.

Clark wisely delayed an election call that would likely have led to a stunning defeat. But so far she has not used that borrowed time to solidify her leadership or satisfy her caucus critics. Just the opposite, as Hawes and van Dongen proved last week.

With Cummins' increasing popularity and with some BC Liberal MLAs staring at the possible loss of their nominations, it's not hard to see unhappy veterans like Van Dongen considering a jump to the BC Conservatives.

Those MLAs who have always aligned themselves with the federal Conservative Party were troubled by Clark's sterling federal Liberal Party background, making that leap a shorter one.

Political implosions are incredibly destructive -- and they always start from within.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Susan Heyes loses right to appeal to Supreme Court of Canada - her victory for small businesses hurt by Canada Line construction on Cambie Street overturned permanently

Statement from Susan Heyes, Cambie Street merchant, on Supreme Court of Canada dismissing her application for leave to appeal

Susan Heyes speaks with Shaw TV show host David Berner
My friend Susan Heyes got the worst possible news today from the Supreme Court of Canada - it refused to allow her to appeal a BC Court of Appeal decision that overturned her historic victory in BC Supreme Court.

That victory forced the consortium of big businesses who ruined her small business and dozens of others through disruption of Cambie Street traffic for years to construct the Canada Line rapid transit project to Richmond and Vancouver International Airport.

Susan had the guts and determination to take on the Canada Line construction corporations in BC Supreme Court and won - a $600,000 settlement and an important precedent - that you can't ruin someone else's livelihood by claiming it's all for the "public good" - compensation had to be paid.

That decision was overturned by the BC Court of Appeal and now the Supreme Court of Canada has accepted it being thrown out.

The Supreme Court of Canada gives no reason for dismissing the application, as is its practice, but the reasons why this is terribly wrong are lengthy.  Here's Susan's view.

From Susan Heyes:

Today, the Supreme Court of Canada dismissed my application for leave to appeal.

This is a dark day for democracy in Canada.  By refusing to hear this case, Canada’s highest court has decided that corporations have more rights than small businesses and citizens.

Small businesses are the economic backbone of our country and are the heart of our communities. The Supreme Court of Canada has decided that we don’t matter.

With this ruling, the Supreme Court has given corporations a blank cheque. It has ruled that corporations undertaking megaprojects in Canada are not legally compelled to tell the truth, even when the consequences for citizens and small businesses are as severe as they were with the Canada Line project.

This decision allows corporations to profit at the expense of citizens and small businesses.

The ruling calls into question the integrity of our judicial system including the ruling of the BC Appeals Court. Cut and cover construction for the Canada Line had been ruled out in the Cambie Village in all the materials made available to the public. Yet the case was overturned, with the project claiming that even though they caused a nuisance, they were authorized by statute to do so.
Under the law, this defence of Statutory Authority can only be used when no other less disruptive option is available, and cost cannot be a factor.

We all know that not only was there a less disruptive option, that of a bored underground tunnel, but it was the project, until the secret switch to cut and cover. A bored underground tunnel was the only option presented to the public for the Cambie Village area.

Corporations should be compelled to tell the whole truth, but the Supreme Court of Canada has determined that small businesses and citizens have no legal right to expect truthful information that would allow them to take measures to protect themselves from harm.

For 6 years, rectifying this colossal injustice has been my priority, in the public domain and through the courts.

The legal system has let us down. This is not the Canada I know and love.
This case personifies the worldwide outrage at corporate greed, and abuse of government power.

We as citizens, must continue to demand that our rights are upheld, against all odds.

Susan Heyes

Monday, October 17, 2011

Billionaires back Occupy Vancouver and Occupy Wall Street protests against growing income inequality!

Billionaire Warren Buffett isn't bluffing - mega-rich should pay higher taxes!

Unlikely Ally of Occupy Movement: Billionaires

The world's richest offer their surprising two cents on widening wealth disparity and Occupy Wall Street's relevance

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column
Tuesday October 18, 2011
By Bill Tieleman 
"There has been class warfare going on. It's just that my class is winning. And my class isn't just winning, I mean we're killing them." 
- Warren Buffett, world's third richest man
When billionaires complain about the growing income inequality between rich and poor, you know that the Occupy Vancouver protest that started Saturday just makes sense.

When the third wealthiest man in the world -- Warren Buffett -- says the United States government should stop "coddling the super rich" like him and raise taxes on millionaires, you know something is dramatically wrong.

When Bill Gross, who runs the world's largest bond fund -- the $1.2 trillion Pacific Investment Management Co. -- says that the Occupy Wall Street protest is an unsurprising reaction to the class war started by the rich against the rest of us, you know this is not situation normal.

And when Laurence Fink, who runs BlackRock Inc. -- the world's biggest asset manager, with $3.7 trillion invested -- says protestors spreading the Occupy message around the world have a point, look out.
"These are not lazy people sitting around looking for something to do," Fink says. "We have people losing hope and they're going into the street, whether it's justified or not."

Canada's one per cent issues

While B.C. Premier Christy Clark and federal Finance Minister Jim Flaherty were quick to say things are totally different in Canada than the United States, they are dead wrong.

The more than 4,000 protestors who gathered outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Saturday disagree, and for good reason.

The Occupy Wall Street movement points out that one per cent of the United States' population -- the mega-rich -- own a disproportionate 40 per cent of that country's total wealth. That's why this protest is aimed at helping the other 99 per cent.

But our country is not very different. A recent study found that just 3.8 per cent of Canadian families control 67 per cent of total household wealth.

Other studies have shown that Canada's top one per cent took home a massive 33 per cent of all income gains between 1997 and 2007.

Mega-rich wisdom

That's why we should listen when mega-rich managers like Buffett, who made $40 million in 2010but paid only 17.4 per cent income tax on it, Fink, who made $23.8 million last year, and Gross, who gave $33 million to charities last year and is worth $2.2 billion, warn about the gap between rich and poor.

"Class warfare by the 99 per cent? Of course, they're fighting back after 30 years of being shot at," Gross said on Twitter Oct. 12.

Fifty-billion-dollar man Buffett wrote a surprising editorial in the New York Times on Aug. 14, calling for a tax increase on the wealthy: "While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks.

"For those making more than $1 million -- there were 236,883 such households in 2009 -- I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more -- there were 8,274 in 2009 -- I would suggest an additional increase in rate," Buffett wrote.

Those dismissing the Occupy Wall Street movement, which originated from Adbusters culture jamming magazine based right here in Vancouver, are foolish.

The very wealthiest men in America aren't just worried about income inequality -- they are preoccupied with it.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Vancouver - up to 5,000 attend to protest corporate greed, income inequality

Outside the Vancouver Art Gallery

Who knew MLA Harry Bloy would be there?

Mainstream media don't get it? Helpful hints!

Marching up Howe Street - our Wall Street - all Bill Tieleman photos

Up to 5,000 people attend the Occupy Vancouver event in a lively show of support for Occupy Wall Street and opposition to corporate greed and growing income inequality in Canada.

The Vancouver event was one of dozens held around the world.

The crowd was a wide mixture of people - young and old, political veterans and newbies, union members and business owners, from a huge variety of causes.

The event was peaceful and, unfortunately, under-amplified - making it hard for a large portion of the crowd to hear a rather long list of speakers.

But no matter - the sun was shining and old friends were reconnecting.  Vancouver police were in good humour and barely a Vancouver Canucks jersey was to be seen.

Whether this movement amounts to anything long term remains to be seen but what is clear is that people are angry with an age old problem - the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer.

I'll have more to say about that - and some of the contradictions in our society - in my 24 hours newspaper/The Tyee column on Tuesday October 18 - watch for it!


Thursday, October 13, 2011

BC Liberal MLA & former Solicitor General Kash Heed's revised election financing report brings call for new Elections BC investigation

BC Liberal MLA Kash Heed

Kash Heed 2009 election campaign financing again called into question over $6,000 unaccounted for in new court-orderd amended financial report to Elections BC

NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu wants new investigation by Elections BC

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Thursday October 23, 2011


A former provincial NDP candidate is again raising questions about Liberal MLA Kash Heed’s previous election campaign and the financing of it.

Gabriel Yiu, who narrowly lost to Heed in the last election, is calling for a new investigation after a second election financing report filed last month by Heed did not account for or address $6,000 in post-election payments to two campaign workers.

“Elections BC has a responsibility to pursue this,” Yiu told 24 hours. “No explanation has been given why constituency account funds were used to pay the two campaign staff.”
Heed filed on Sept. 28 a new and amended election financing report as ordered by the B.C. Supreme Court in his campaign overspending case.

In August, Heed was fined $8,000 for violating spending limits by $4,000 in his Vancouver-Fraserview riding in May 2009 but was allowed to keep his seat in the Legislature. That overspending was separate from the two cheques, although both were part of the investigation of the Elections Act violations.

In his ruling in the case, B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman concluded that Heed had “acted in good faith in these matters” but that “responsibility for the conduct of the campaign rests ultimately with the candidate.”

Bauman, however, did not specifically address the matter of the cheques.

The $6,000 in payments were made June 24, 2009 from Heed's government constituency office account: A $4,000 cheque to campaign manager Barinder Sall and a $2,000 cheque to campaign worker Sameer Ismail, both co-signed by Heed.

RCMP Sergeant John Taylor alleged in a search warrant application Oct. 22, 2010 those payments were “reasonable grounds for believing” Heed might have committed breach of trust by using such funds for “political purposes,” which is prohibited.

Heed was never criminally charged in the case.

His lawyer, David Gruber, told 24 hours by email that: “At the time Sgt. Taylor swore in a 93-page search warrant application on October 22, 2010, Mr. Heed had not been asked any questions by the RCMP concerning the cheques to Mr. Sall and Mr. Ismail referred to therein.”

“We were asked to provide Mr. Heed’s evidence on October 27, 2010, and provided it to the RCMP on October 28, 2010 which was that he understood the cheques to be for services rendered to the constituency office. That evidence was considered by the RCMP and by the special prosecutor, Mr. Peter Wilson, Q.C.”

When asked for an explanation about what the cheques were for, Gruber pointed to the April, 2008 statement by the Criminal Justice Branch, which states “there is insufficient proof that ... Mr. Heed knowingly made payments to campaign staff for election-related purposes following the 2009 General Election.”

Gruber continued: “As such, Mr. Heed considers the matter closed, and does not anticipate any further legal action.

But neither Gruber nor Heed explained what the cheques for were for.

Elections BC told 24 hours the special prosecutor declined to recommend charges but declined further comment. 

The RCMP deferred to the special prosecutor.

However, Wilson also declined comment, referring to the same statement from the Criminal Justice Branch quoted by Heed’s lawyer.

Heed’s campaign admitted violating Election Act spending limits when it anonymously distributed a flyer to thousands of voters making false claims about the NDP and was fined $8,000.

Neither Barinder Sall – who faces criminal charges connected to the overspending but unrelated to the cheques – nor his lawyer Richard Peck responded to requests for comment. 

Sall and co-accused Dinesh Khanna are to appear in court Oct. 28, where guilty pleas are expected by the Criminal Justice Branch.


Monday, October 10, 2011

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column - delayed - I'm on assignment

Bill Tieleman at Wrigley Field, home of the Chicago Cubs, this June.
Once again, the Cubs are out of the playoffs! Photo unrelated to my column.

Just a note to loyal readers of 24 hours Vancouver newspaper and The Tyee online that my regular Tuesday column will be delayed, as I'm on assignment on a big story.

UPDATE - watch for my column Thursday in 24 hours and The Tyee!


Tuesday, October 04, 2011

The Hypo-Christy of BC Liberals & business allies on municipal auditor-general when BC Auditor-General calls provincial bookkeeping "unacceptable"

BC Liberals anything but accountable as Auditor-general rips them over honesty, but Premier Christy Clark says it's municipal governments that need auditing
Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday October 4, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity."

- Andre Gide, 1869-1951

At its best, political hypocrisy can be nothing short of astonishing.

Last week Premier Christy Clark set the gold standard for hypocrisy by calling for an auditor-general of municipal governments at the same the provincial auditor-general ripped her BC Liberal government for "unacceptable" accounting practices going back years!

Clark told delegates to the annual Union of B.C. Municipalities convention that her government would proceed with a new auditor-general for cities and towns, despite their opposition over a total lack of consultation.

But over in Victoria, provincial auditor-general John Doyle was telling the real story -- about Clark's government itself not reporting the books honestly to taxpayers.

Doyle pointed to a lack of transparency about over $80 billion worth of B.C. government contracts in private-public-partnerships or P3s, ranging from independent power producers to construction of the new Port Mann Bridge.

"In the auditing profession, a qualified audit report is a rare occurrence: it indicates to the users of the financial statements that some of the information is not auditable or is misleading," Doyle said.

"During the last 15 years, this office has issued qualified audit reports on the province's financial statements 12 times. For a government that strives for transparency and accountability, this is unacceptable."

Clark's answer to Doyle's body-slamming criticism: "Look over there! Municipal governments have no auditor-general! We're going to give them one!"

And even more amusingly, Finance Minister Kevin Falcon called the report a "somewhat esoteric debate on accounting principles."

Somewhat esoteric? B.C.'s auditor-general just called the government's performance "unacceptable"!

Oh, the coincidences!

But the hypocrisy gets better still, because two government allies made it even better.

First Phil Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, major BC Liberal Party donors, issued a poll just before Clark spoke to the UBCM that said the public supports a municipal auditor-general.

What surprising timing!

Then the Canadian Taxpayers Federation's B.C. branch comes out with its own support for reining in those evil municipal politicians with an auditor-general.

And to strike even more fear into city councils, the CTF is demanding they sign a "taxpayers pledge" to cut their own salaries if they increase property taxes beyond inflation without a referendum.

Who is promoting the CTF's cheesy demands? Why, none other than Jordan Bateman, the CTF's B.C. communications director who happens to be the former BC Liberal constituency association president for BC Liberal Energy Minister Rich Coleman! What a coincidence.

And then the Canadian Federation of Independent Business launches its own remarkably similar "taxpayers pledge" last week.

But amazingly, the ICBA, the CFT and the CFIB -- who are all so concerned about taxpayers -- have said absolutely nothing about the provincial government's "unacceptable" financial reporting.

And they all strongly supported the Harmonized Sales Tax despite their claims of concern for ordinary taxpayers, who voted to extinguish it in the August provincial referendum.

Could it be that the ICBA -- some of whose members are building the Port Mann Bridge -- doesn't want to criticize its biggest patron, the B.C. government? Nah!

Oh the omitted truths!

None of this stopped Non-Partisan Association mayoralty candidate Suzanne Anton and her team from immediately endorsing the CFIB pledge or the call for a municipal auditor-general.

And even more coincidence, my fellow 24 hours columnist Daniel Fontaine -- chief of staff to former NPA mayor Sam Sullivan -- pumped the ICBA poll just days after it was issued!

But let's see how both levels of government actually compare on accountability:

Municipal governments and school boards are required by B.C. law to balance their budget every year -- and that legislation was never repealed.

The BC Liberal government broke and then repealed its own balanced budget legislation, going $2.8 billion in debt.

Municipal governments must obtain the approval of taxpayers for all major capital expenditures in a binding referendum before proceeding.

The B.C. government has increased capital expenditures by $45 billion over the past 10 years -- all without a single referendum vote.

Municipal governments hold open council meetings on a mostly weekly basis where the public and media can attend. The B.C. cabinet holds weekly closed meetings where neither public nor media are allowed.

Municipal governments hold elections every three years on a fixed election date.

B.C. governments hold elections every four years on a fixed election date that the premier openly speculated for months she would break to call a fall election to her political advantage.

Municipal delegates voted overwhelmingly to reject B.C.'s idea of imposing an auditor-general on them without consultation, noting that position would be under the political control of the government.

The B.C. government has consistently ignored its own auditor-general's demands to make its books more transparent and accountable to the point that it is "unacceptable" to an independent officer of the Legislature.

The provincial auditor-general is an independent officer of the B.C. Legislature and does not report to the government of the day. The municipal auditor-general would not be independent and would be under B.C. government supervision.

I would have to say the local governments win this debate hands down.

Read the report

For those who really care about accountability, provincial auditor-general John Doyle's report makes for grim reading.

His section on "disclosure of contractual obligation" is nothing short of stunning.

"As Exhibit 7 shows, these contractual obligations have exceeded $50 billion since 2007, and increased to $80 billion in 2011," Doyle writes.

"Most of the 2011 increase is due to BC Hydro entering into long-term energy purchase agreements with independent power producers. However, few details on these agreements are provided by government," he drily notes.

For the BC Liberals and their friends to lecture anyone on accountability is unacceptable hypocrisy.