Sunday, January 14, 2018

NO BC Proportional Representation Society brings together political opponents to fight Pro-Rep in BC fall referendum

Bill Tieleman and Suzanne Anton - at CBC Radio launch day

No to Proportional Representation in BC

I am pleased to share our first news release of the campaign to stop Proportional Representation in BC and keep our current electoral system - First Past The Post - that has served British Columbia well. 

NEWS RELEASE                                                                Wednesday January 10, 2018

Former Attorney General Suzanne Anton, ex NO-STV President Bill Tieleman, and retired veteran deputy minister Bob Plecas set up new society to fight Proportional Representation in 2018 vote

Former BC Liberal Attorney General Suzanne Anton, long-time BC New Democrat Bill Tieleman – who successfully led opposition to the Single Transferable Vote electoral system in the 2005 and 2009 provincial referenda, and Bob Plecas, who served as a deputy minister in multiple portfolios under several BC governments – have formed the No BC Proportional Representation Society and serve as its three directors.
Bob Plecas
The Society will work to defeat any proportional representation system proposed for the fall 2018 referendum schedule and support the current First Past The Post electoral system that has served BC well.

Anton, Tieleman and Plecas say that proportional representation systems put political parties ahead of voters; are confusing; cut directly accountable locally-elected representation – especially in rural areas – and promote extremist parties who can hold the balance of power in perpetual minority governments, and decide who governs, and with what policies.

“Proportional representation electoral systems put parties ahead of people,” said Anton.  “Pro-rep systems where 30 to 40 per cent of elected officials come from a party-chosen list means that party bosses choose legislators and not people. Those legislators are not from geographic ridings and are not accountable to citizens.”

Tieleman says the rise of extremist parties in Europe is aided by proportional representation, since as little as 1 per cent of the vote is enough to elect legislators.

“Our First Past The Post electoral system forces winning candidates to gain the support of their ridings and be held directly accountable to them or face defeat,” says Tieleman.  “But proportional representation systems allow parties with extreme positions of the right or the left to be elected with a tiny percentage of votes – and then use that validity, legitimacy and platform to further their cause.”

Plecas says his experience working with governments ranging from Social Credit Premier Bill Bennett to NDP Premier Glen Clark showed him that the First Past The Post system serves British Columbia well, whatever their politics.

“Our current electoral system encourages parties to gain broad-based support and take into account all regions of the province and all perspectives – or face defeat,” Plecas said.  “It is particularly important that non-urban voters have locally elected representatives who they can hold responsible – and ensure their interests are not lost in a rush to gain urban votes.”

Tieleman and Plecas both helped organize opposition to the Single Transferable Vote proposed in the 2005 and 2009 referenda, building a wide coalition with support from all political perspectives.  In 2005, STV was narrowly defeated but in 2009 after a much more significant public debate, voters strongly rejected STV, a form of proportional representation, by 61 per cent to 39 per cent.

Tieleman, who also helped lead opposition to the Harmonized Sales Tax that was eliminated in a 2011 referendum, warns that the 2018 electoral system referendum will be a difficult test for those who support the First Past The Post.

“The requirement in 2005 and 2009 that 60 per cent of voters approve of such a fundamental change is now gone and only 50 per cent plus one could give us a disastrous electoral system with endless minorities, backroom deals and unaccountable politicians forever,” Tieleman said.  

“We have our work cut out for us to defeat proportional representation and not end up like Italy, Israel, Austria or other countries where the electoral system promotes extremists and damages democracy.”

Anton agreed, saying the No BC Pro-Rep will encourage British Columbians from every perspective and community to join together to reject proportional representation.

“I’m pleased to work with Bill Tieleman because this referendum is too important for partisan politics,” Anton said. “We will be building a strong, non-partisan team that supports our current electoral system and rejects a system that puts parties ahead of people.”

Plecas, Tieleman and Anton say No BC Pro-Rep will seek to be the official proponent group opposing proportional representation and supporting First Past The Post in the provincial referendum, and that they support equal public funding for both sides.

“Voters need to hear the arguments for and against proportional representation and First Past The Post in order to decide for themselves what’s best for BC,” Plecas said. “The most effective way to do that is by the government ensuring fair, adequate and equal funding to both sides for public awareness campaigns, as well as sponsoring debates around the province.”

Monday, May 08, 2017

Green Party Votes Could Elect Christy Clark – You Only Get One Shot – Do Not Blow This Opportunity!

Don't vote for this guy .....and get Christy Clark instead!
BC Green Party leader Andrew Weaver
BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark
"You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow 
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime"

- Eminem - Lose Yourself

By Bill Tieleman 

Let’s cut to the chase – Christy Clark and the BC Liberals could be narrowly re-elected on May 9 – if enough people who desperately want to get rid of her vote for the Green Party instead of their local BC New Democrat Party candidate.

And then the BC Liberal machine fueled by corporate cash will roll on for another 4 years of abuse – of the environment, people with disabilities, those on social assistance, workers at minimum wage, Metro Vancouver and Victoria renters who will never be able to buy a home or even rent one for long – you name it, people will suffer big time.

And Christy Clark will Cheshire Cat smile at you all the way.

That’s what’s at stake – and there is little time left to avoid a potential political disaster.

Fact: the Green Party has one seat and could possibly win a couple more – if it can win more than 35% of the vote in some ridings.

Fact: the Green Party is polling at somewhere between 14% and 19% province-wide.

Fact: the BC NDP have 35 seats and are polling at about 40%.

Fact: the BC Liberals have 47 seats and are also polling at about 40%. But the advantage goes to the BC Liberals -- they have more seats, more money to spend and the benefit of incumbency.

To defeat Christy Clark it will take the BC NDP to win 10 more seats – and that’s net seats – any seat they lose takes away from those net 10.

I’m not going to question Andrew Weaver and Green candidates any more than I already have – there are serious concerns about whether they care if Christy Clark is re-elected or not – see my The Tyee column to read about their many serious contradictions.

But I will say Weaver has run a good campaign – good enough that it might unfortunately just let Christy Clark sneak back into power by encouraging enough voters to case a Green ballot in ridings that the BC NDP simply must win or hold to have a chance to defeat the BC Liberals.

In those ridings a Green vote will not elect a Green MLA – it will ensure the elections of a BC Liberal MLA who will be led by Christy Clark.

If you are concerned about the environment, if you are upset with the Christy Clark government’s cheerleading support for hunting grizzly bears, for oil tankers, the Kinder Morgan pipeline, LNG, Site C – it’s a long list – then you owe it to yourself to think carefully about your vote on May 9.

If you also care about Christy Clark’s pay for play politics, about the unlimited corporate and foreign donations to the BC Liberal Party that have given it a huge advantage – think carefully.

If you are concerned about the lack of integrity in the BC Liberals – a party led by a campaign manager who is facing criminal breach of trust charges in Ontario for her alleged role in deleting government records while serving as deputy chief of staff to a former Liberal premier – watch this hard hitting independent video – the toughest look at BC Liberal charges and convictions – from the Better Government BC Society – and think carefully about your vote.

You may not like our electoral system but it’s the candidate with the most votes who wins – and with three parties it’s a zero-sum game.  If you take away your vote from the NDP candidate and give it to the Green candidate, unless that Green can take 38% or more of the vote – you are helping a BC Liberal win.  It’s that simple.

It's also important for potential Green Party voters to check out the BC NDP platform - because there are a lot of similarities - including a commitment to end corporate and union donations in politics - a change that simply has to happen to end the ability of any party to unfairly influence both elections and government policies.

And if you don't believe me, check out the same math from Martyn Brown, the former chief of staff to Premier Gordon Campbell - who now wants Christy Clark defeated. As Brown rightly says: 

"Four more years wasted: that will be our sentence, if we split the vote for change, instead of standing together for new NDP government that might liberate the change we all want, green and orange alike.

Friends: don't do the crime if you can't bear the time."

It's all down to the wire now -- and as Eminem said: 

"Look, if you had, one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted. In one moment
Would you capture it, or just let it slip?"

This is your one shot - your opportunity to defeat the Christy Clark BC Liberals and it takes a vote for the BC NDP to do it – don’t let this chance slip.

Bill Tieleman is a former NDP strategist whose West Star Communications firm has clients in labour, business, not-for-profits and First Nations.


Saturday, May 06, 2017

Warren Kinsella's despicable and defamatory attack on BC NDP unbelievable but aimed to help Christy Clark BC Liberals

Warren Kinsella makes defamatory, despicable and untrue attack on BC NDP in desperate effort to support Christy Clark BC Liberals
Warren Kinsella - Christy Clark - BC Liberal backer
By Bill Tieleman 

Warren Kinsella has launched a defamatory, despicable and unbelievable attack on the BC NDP as the provincial election draws to a close - a desperate effort to support Christy Clark and the BC Liberals.

I have often agreed with Kinsella views but his Huffington Post column "10 Reasons I Want The B.C. NDP To Lose" is a scurrilous, unsubstantiated and unfair attack that needs a factual rebuttal.

Kinsella - a lifelong federal Liberal who worked for the BC Liberals in the 1996 losing provincial election - where I was communications director to BC NDP Premier Glen Clark  - is welcome to his opinion, but his over the top, mostly fact-free column is outrageous. Start with:

Reason 3 - "Election '96".  Kinsella makes this totally unsubstantiated claim about the 1996 election:  "The NDP won because they had gerrymandered the province while in power. Period." and to "prove" it links to a BC Hansard page that actually dates to 2007 and features BC NDP MLAs complaining about BC Liberal changes to the independent Boundaries Commission report - changes that the BC NDP said were wrong.  

As current BC NDP leader John Horgan put it then, the BC Liberal legislation amounted to: "Blatant interference by the Premier in the work of an independent commission."   That would be former BC Premier Gordon Campbell - who Kinsella greatly admires and who he claims offered him the job of his chief of staff, which Kinsella declined.

In fact, the BC Liberals lost the election because they ran a poor campaign despite coming in with a huge lead in the polls.  And because Campbell's campaign manager was caught out discussing a backroom deal with the Social Credit party in the final days of the campaign that would have seen most Socred candidates drop out except for their leader to help elect BC Liberals, who would withdraw from the Socred leader's constituency to let him win.

The BC Liberals also lost because they were going to slash health care and education funding, privatize BC Rail and reduce the number of seats in Northern and rural BC.  That was a rallying cry for the new right-wing Reform Party of BC, who won 2 seats and 9% of the vote.

Kinsella's whining about winning more of the popular vote echoes Campbell's at the time - but our electoral system is based on the number of seats won, not across the province vote totals, as both know well. 

Reason 4 - "Creeps" - the most outrageous thing Kinsella writes:  "The B.C. NDP were the sleaziest, dirtiest, scummiest opponents I'd ever encountered in a campaign. While we had a few Young Liberals to help set up events, for example, Glen Clark's B.C. NDP could rely on the assistance of big union guys to help them -- and, occasionally, interfere with our events." 

No facts, no details, not a shred of evidence - just an ad hominem and defamatory smear job by Kinsella.  

In fact, the BC Liberals in 1996 - as in the 2017 campaign - sent around a truck to follow the BC NDP campaign bus to try to disrupt media events constantly.  It was a desperate move that backfired but it there was only one party doing it - the BC Liberals.

I disagreed then and now with much of the BC Liberal campaign tactics but I've never described them in the offensive, derogatory and untrue way Kinsella does.  He owes the BC NDP an apology for this part alone.

Reason 7 - "Scandal" - clear defamatory, without any evidence and offensive.  I will risk repeating a libel only to dispel each factually inaccurate claim.

Kinsella wrote: "As we B.C. Libs had predicted, the Glen Clark NDP turned out to be the most corrupt provincial government in modern Canadian history. They stole from charities (Google "Bingogate"). They were linked to bribes (Google "Hydro-gate"). And, of course, there was the deck that killed off an NDP Premier (Google "Glen Clark," "deck" and "act of folly"). The B.C. NDP treated the provincial treasury like it was their personal piggybank. Their name was synonymous with scandal."

First - the NDP governments of Mike Harcourt from 1991 to 1996 and Glen Clark from 1996 to 1999 were elected long after the "Bingogate" scandal had occurred and had nothing to do with Mike or Glen.  Former NDP MLA Dave Stupich, now deceased, pled guilty to fraud charges in 1999.

Second - it was NDP Premier Glen Clark who in 1996 appointed former Supreme Court of BC Chief Justice Nathan Nemetz to investigate the Nanaimo Commonwealth Holding Society scandal - far from covering anything up, Justice Nemetz launched a comprehensive review.

Third - it was BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell who shut down the Nemetz commission! Was the commission getting too close to other parties' past dubious fundraising activities?  We will never know. 

Fourth - allegations of being "linked to bribes" are highly defamatory - and untrue!  The "Hydro-gate" case Kinsella mentions did not involve bribes but did involve undisclosed BC Hydro investment in a Pakistan power project.  Glen Clark swiftly fired both the chair and CEO of BC Hydro just weeks before the election - and won that vote despite "Hydro-gate".

Fifth - Glen Clark was acquitted of a breach of trust charge in the so-called "Casinogate" affair after a neighbour who had made a casino license application allegedly did renovations for the premier without charging fully for them.  Clark had been forced to resign after it was revealed he was under police investigation.

Clark - to his great credit - worked his way up from a manager position in the Jim Pattison sign division to become President and Chief Operating Officer of the entire organization -  with revenue of $9.6 billion it is Canada's second largest private company.

The only criminal activity by a BC Premier in history was when Gordon Campbell was caught in Maui drunk driving, spent the night in jail - the first premier ever to put Canada in such an embarrassing situation - and was fined $1,350 for the offence.  "Mr. Campbell is sufficiently embarrassed and ashamed for what he did, as well he should be," said Maui District Judge Reinette Cooper.

And if Kinsella wants to talk about scandals - how about the fact that Christy Clark's BC Liberal Campaign Director Laura Miller was hired despite facing criminal breach of trust charges in Ontario this fall, where police allege she was involved in deleting government records relating to the $1.1 billion gas plant cancellation when she was deputy chief of staff to then-Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty.  

And Brian Bonney - a BC Liberal operative and ex-communications director in the BC Liberal government's multicultural ministry - also faces a criminal breach of trust charge later this year for alleged activities while in government.

BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark

And the list goes on much longer - so much so that a new group called the Better Government BC Society launched a very tough 1 minute online video that's received over 33,000 views and thousands of Facebook shares.

Reason 10 - "John Horgan" - Kinsella makes far too much of an offhand comment made by the BC NDP leader in a radio debate and then launches into this smear: "He has been incoherent, policy-wise. He has no self-control, and he has no understanding of even basic economics -- and how to keep the strongest economy in Canada strong. He would be an unmitigated disaster for British Columbia."

In fact, Horgan released a fully-costed BC NDP platform last month that uses the BC LIberal budget financial data for all its calculations.  Horgan has been a strong opposition MLA since 2005 and worked in the BC NDP governments before that in several senior positions - including as chief of staff to interim BC NDP Premier Dan Miller.  

Kinsella is free to criticize Horgan or the BC NDP platform - but try doing it on the facts and with counter arguments, not simply ridiculous rhetoric.

Bill Tieleman 
All in all, the veteran political operative Warren Kinsella does neither his reputation nor his chosen Christy Clark BC Liberals any favours with a defamatory, wildly inaccurate and very unfair column of insults to his opponents.  You would think by now he'd know better.

Bill Tieleman is a columnist for 24 Hours Vancouver and The Tyee online.  He runs West Star Communications, a Vancouver strategy and communications consulting firm.  Tieleman was Communications Director to BC NDP Premier Glen Clark in the 1996 upset election win and also Strategist for Fight HST, the grassroots organization that forced and won a binding referendum to eliminate the BC Harmonized Sales Tax.  Fight HST was led by former Social Credit Premier Bill Vander Zalm. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Why I am voting to Re-Elect Lily Grewal to the VanCity Credit Union Board of Directors

Lily Grewal and her son
Vote to Re-Elect Lily Grewal to the VanCity Credit Union Board of Directors

I am pleased to again endorse Lily Grewal for re-election to the VanCity Credit Union Board of Directors!

As a former VanCity director, I am particularly keen on good people being elected to the Board of Canada's largest credit union - and the one I do business with professionally and personally - and Lily Grewal is definitely one of those people.

Voting starts Tuesday March 28 and ends and I hope you will cast a ballot for Lily Grewal - who has done a fine job in her first term as a Director the last three years, including serving as Chair of the Human Resources Committee.

It's important that the VanCity Board reflect the diversity and experiences of our entire community - and Lily has helped do that at this very important financial institution: 

Lily is the first South Asian woman elected to the VanCity Board and is also representing the needed perspective of those members who live south of the Fraser River - as a Delta resident.

Lily also brings her strong background of working with immigrant communities, unions, non-profits, social justice, cooperatives and much more. She has a Masters in Social Work with 15 years experience working with communities and non-profits and have spent the last 10 years in government working to help immigrants make BC their home.

Lily has also served on the boards of several other organizations, including the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, the Vancity Community Foundation and the Boys and Girls Club of Delta/Richmond. 

She is committed to progressive values and social justice and I urge you to re-elect Lily.


Monday, November 21, 2016

With So Many Tragedies - and Now Election of Donald Trump - Is This The Biblical ‘End of Days?’

Is Donald Trump's election another sign of the End of Days?  Or a Nostradamus prediction?
The world seems to darken with every live-streamed horror. And then Trump won the U.S. election!  But consider this small empirical comfort.

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Vancouver / The Tyee column

July 19, 2016

By Bill Tieleman

“Whoa, thought it was a nightmare/Lo, it’s all so true,They told me, ‘Don't go walkin’ slow/Cause Devil’s on the loose.”

– “Run Through The Jungle,” Creedence Clearwater Revival

Are we living in the Biblical “End of Days” prophecy as terrorism, disasters and evil abound around the world?

The astonishing level of terrible violence and disturbing events have started to make many wonder if we are on the verge of a dark new era – or even the beginning of the end.

The signs are ominous: the horrific 84 deaths caused in Nice, France by a deranged man driving a big truck through celebrating crowds; a military coup attempt in Turkey with hundreds killed; black men shot by police during traffic stops and then revenge killings of officers in Dallas and Baton Rouge; millions of Syrian refugees fleeing civil war, with thousands dying in conflict; the Zika virus spreading from Brazil and threatening the summer Olympics; and much more.

Those recent events follow terrorist-style attacks in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida in June; suicide bombers at Istanbul’s Airport in Turkey in June and Belgium’s Brussels’ airport in March; two Canadians kidnapped and beheaded in the Philippines; and many more gruesome murders.

So far in July alone there have been over 90 reported terrorist incidents, on average more than five a day.

And many have been broadcast live to the world through social media – including tragic on camera deaths and bloody carnage – magnifying the effect.

UPDATE:  And as if that isn’t enough, the election of Republican Presidential candidate Donald Trump is being seen by some as part of the fabled prophet Nostradamus’s predictions 400 years ago!   

Nostradamus wrote: “The great shameless, audacious bawler. He will be elected governor of the army: The boldness of his contention….The bridge broken, the city faint from fear.”  Yikes!

It truly seems that the “devil’s on the loose” – but is it the “End of Days?”

What the writings say

The term and similar ones such as “End Time” or “Final Days” or “Eschaton” are used not only in Christian writings but also most other religions, including Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Rastafarianism and Norse mythology.

In the Bible, Jesus is quoted as saying to his disciples in Matthew chapter 24 that:

“You will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed, for this is something that must happen, but the end will not be yet.

“For nation will fight against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All this is only the beginning...”

Sounds grim.

And some fundamentalist Christians claim that: “We in 2016, are living in the end of time for this world as we know it. The Biblical signs are clear for all to see...”

But the Ragnarok – the Norse religion’s “doom of the gods” – is also pretty darn nasty.

Ragnarok is when the sun and moon disappear into cold and darkness, the Earth sinks into the sea, and both humans and gods perish in violent conflict.

And yet, in both these and other religions, the end of days are followed by rebirth – like Christ’s promised second coming – with a new, better world eventually emerging.

Some empirical comfort

For those of us not inclined to follow any religion, a more empirical, scientific analysis also brings some comfort.

The world has been beset by terrorism, war, plagues, earthquakes, floods and other catastrophes since its inception.

And while the current string of horrific incidents both human and natural is deeply disturbing, consider 20th century history for comparison.

The First World War began with an act of terrorism and ended with over 16 million dead, but it was merely a precursor to the Second World War, with between 50 and 85 million killed.

That century also saw the Chinese civil war – 8 million killed; the Russian revolution and war – 5-9 million killed; the Korean War – 1.2 million dead; the Vietnam War – 1.3 million killed; and dozens of other bloody conflicts that killed many millions more.

The 20th century also marked the introduction of the atomic bomb, chemical and germ warfare.

And in 1918, the influenza pandemic killed between 50 and 100 million people – three to five per cent of the entire world’s population – one of deadliest natural disasters in human history.

The 20th century also saw the rise of other deadly illnesses: HIV/AIDS, Ebola, avian flu and SARS to name a few.

So are we really at the “End of Days” when one applies some rational perspective to these apocalyptic events that humanity has survived? No, certainly not.

No matter how horrible the loss of life, how cruel the terrorist attacks, how scary the illnesses or how stunning the catastrophes – it’s worth remembering that the world has both seen and survived far worse.