Monday, June 30, 2008
VANCOUVER – Axe The BC Gas Tax – an online Facebook protest group created by political commentator Bill Tieleman – has signed up over 7,600 members in less than 3 weeks to fight the new provincial gas tax to be imposed on July 1.
Tieleman says the Facebook protest group he created to oppose Premier Gordon Campbell’s 2.4 cents per litre carbon tax on gasoline and other fuels has grown far beyond his wildest expectations since he proposed it in his weekly column in 24 hours newspaper on June 10.
“I am amazed at the incredible growth of the Axe The BC Gas Tax group on Facebook in such a short period of time,” Tieleman says. “It clearly shows how strongly British Columbians feel that the new gas tax is unfair, unnecessary and unacceptable.”
Tieleman said Axe The BC Gas Tax has primarily spread through Facebook with support from his column but absolutely no advertising.
“If you read the hundreds of comments on the Facebook page you can see that this is a grass roots protest against the BC Liberal gas tax that cuts across all political and regional differences,” Tieleman said. “People are really upset that Gordon Campbell does not seem to care about the cost of this new tax at a time when they are already struggling to deal with the radical market price increase in gasoline of more than 45 cents a litre since October 2007.”
Tieleman said he believes there is still a possibility that the BC Liberal government will reconsider the new gas tax because of the enormous negative impact it would have on individuals with no options to reduce their gas and heating fuel consumption and on the BC economy.
“Premier Campbell says he wants to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to fight climate change and most British Columbians want to do that too – but not when they don’t have real choices like available, affordable public transit and no way to reduce their heating costs,” Tieleman said.
Axe The BC Gas Tax can be found online at:
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
Carbon tax has no supporters around here
By BILL TIELEMAN
Friday, June 20, 2008
Basi-Virk defence alleges political interference allowed by special prosecutor, seeks audio tapes of Michael Smyth interview with Premier Campbell
By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist
Defence lawyers are alleging that the special prosecutor in a high-profile case where provincial government aides face corruption charges has “allowed political interference to occur.”
Those allegations Friday in B.C. Supreme Court highlighted a testy exchange between defence and Crown in the case of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi, who face charges connected to the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail.
Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton argued before Justice Elizabeth Bennett that a court approved protocol to restrict access to evidence seized in a 2003 police raid on the B.C. Legislature was violated by Premier Gordon Campbell’s then deputy minister Ken Dobell and that the special prosecutor was partially to blame.
“We do allege complicity on the part of the special prosecutor in allowing the protocol to be violated,” Bolton said.
Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough made similar charges, which will be heard when the defence argues its Charter of Rights application that could force Campbell to testify in court.
"Milady, I'll give you some food for thought. The Charter application alleges that they [the Crown] have allowed the political interference to occur."
An exasperated special prosecutor Bill Berardino told Bennett that “we haven’t got all the information” from the defence regarding their allegations, making it impossible to respond. Berardino declined comment outside court.
The defence has not filed any information regarding the allegations with the court that is available to the media or public.
And the defence revealed that it has requested an audio tape of an interview between Campbell and Vancouver Province columnist Michael Smyth which formed the basis of a February column where Campbell denied political interference in the case.
"My understanding is that the premier records every interview with the media," Bolton said.
Bolton said the defence has asked for a tape it believes was made by the premier’s office of the interview and also any tape of an interview by Smyth of deputy attorney-general Allan Seckel about the government’s role.
Berardino was not impressed with the defence's complaints.
"I"ve heard this before, where the defence have said all the documents are there - read the submission. We're punching at air," he told Bennett.
But McCullough fired back.
"The defence has always filed applications and submitted materials when we said we would. It rises in the east and sets in the west," McCullough said.
Government lawyer George Copley later told Bennett that there is no government audio tape of the interview with Seckel.
"The deputy did reply to Mr. McCullough's letter and said he did not record the interview with Mr. Smyth but the passages quoted by Mr. Smyth were correct," Copley said.
The pre-trial hearings resume July 14 with the defence filing a Charter of Rights application that could see Campbell, Dobell and other top government officials testify in court about the alleged breach of the protocol.
Meanwhile, no decision has yet been made by the BC Court of Appeal on a hearing that ended last week over the issue of whether defence lawyers can be present to hear information about a potential secret witness.
NOTE - A version of this story will run in 24 hours newspaper on Monday June 23.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Tuesday June 17, 2008
Anger fuels gas tax protest
Anti-tax Facebook group swells to 2,100
This stupid tax so targets the little guy....us mere 'mortals'.
- Kathie McDiarmid Dierk, Vancouver, on Facebook
As the price of gas at the pumps continues to rise, Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Carole Taylor are starting to sweat.
That's because when their crazy new carbon tax is added to already outrageously high gasoline prices, Campbell and Taylor will likely be responsible for B.C. crossing the unreal threshold of regular gas costing you $1.50 per litre.
And that's a big reason why our "Axe the B.C. Gas Tax" protest group on Facebook has grown in one short week from me being the only member to about 2,100 members. [NOTE - Make that 2,400 members as of early afternoon!]
So if you think the new gas tax of 2.4 cents a litre starting on July 1 should be dropped - please go on the Internet to www.facebook.com and join this protest.
Just type in "Axe The BC Gas Tax" - no periods after B or C - and you'll be there. Or search my name. [NOTE: Unfortunately you need to use the capital letters as I have as well.]
If you aren't a Facebook member, it's free and easy to join.
But Facebook isn't the only place where British Columbians are fighting the gas tax.
The NDP is launching its own campaign against the gas tax, with MLA John Horgan saying: "The new tax is unfair, is hurting consumers and public services, and won't reduce greenhouse gases. It's time for Gordon Campbell to scrap the tax and provide real solutions."
The Canadian Taxpayers Federation also is against the gas tax.
"This so-called revenue neutral carbon tax will be anything but neutral for individuals, businesses and industries," says CTF B.C. director Maureen Bader, adding that the government has "lost its way."
The Vancouver Province newspaper said in an editorial headline: "Campbell must back off gas tax."
Dozens of northern B.C. municipalities have passed resolutions denouncing the gas tax as unfair.
"The last thing the trucking industry needs is higher fuel costs and more fuel taxes," says Canadian Trucking Alliance president David Bradley.
The gas tax means more expensive food, since much of ours is trucked in.
And it means other cost increases, some of which are already coming before the gas tax has even been imposed.
Taxi rates will jump 3.5% in July to cover rising fuel charges, while BC Ferries is looking at another fuel surcharge as well.
But what's really driving the protests is the simple fact that since October 2007, gas prices in B.C. have gone up 45 cents a litre! Check out those increases for yourself at the website www.vancouvergasprices.com
And as Kathie said on my Facebook group, it's the little guy who will be hurt by this stupid gas tax - let's get more people telling that to Gordon Campbell!
B.C. GAS TAX FACTS
- B.C.'s new carbon tax will increase gasoline prices by 2.4 cents per litre July 1 and increase each year until it reaches an extra 7.25 cents per litre by 2012
- The tax applies to a variety of carbon-based fuels, including gasoline, diesel, heating oil, natural gas and propane
- Statistics Norway reports that country's carbon tax - the highest in the world and five times higher than B.C.'s starting tax - has only reduced CO2 emissions by 2 per cent since 1991
- The B.C. government will raise an additional $1.8 billion over three years with the carbon tax
- A one-time $100 "Climate Action Credit" cheque B.C. residents will receive from the government in June will cost $440 million
- Most of the remaining extra revenue pays for tax cuts, with $415 million going to cut corporate taxes and $255 million to cut small-business taxes, and tax cuts for individuals along with a low-income tax credit
- Federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion plans to propose a national carbon tax, which is supported by the Green party and opposed by the Conservative and NDP parties
- Ontario, Alberta and Saskatchewan have all rejected the idea of a provincial carbon tax while Quebec has a one-cent-per litre tax that applies to petroleum companies directly.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
UPDATE - Gregor Robertson wins on first ballot!
I will be at the Vision Vancouver mayoralty vote all day Sunday June 15 - working hard to elect Gregor Robertson as Vision's candidate in November.
If you are a Vision Vancouver member I encourage you to come out and vote for Gregor.
The vote is at the Croatian Cultural Centre, 16th and Commercial Drive (3250 Commercial Drive) from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
If you need a ride or have questions call: 604-637-8800
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The Tyee reports possible deal between Raymond Louie and Allan De Genova in Vision Vancouver mayoral contest
The news comes as Louie has sent out a media advisory saying he will make a "special announcement" at City Hall on Friday at 10:30 a.m.
In a story headlined "De Genova to Boost Louie?" Paulsen interviewed key players from all campaigns and drew these comments from the De Genova and Louie teams:
"I think there's always been a lot of synergies between our camp and Raymond's camp. A lot of them have been brought about by some of the actions that the Gregor camp has taken," said Ian Bailey, who manages the De Genova campaign.
"I haven't been told. But given all the comments out there in the past several months, I'd be surprised if it wasn't Raymond," said Neil Monckton, who manages the Louie campaign.
De Genova, who was also interviewed, claimed that the Vision Vancouver executive had not treated him fairly:
"The Tyee: So you are steering your supporters to a specific second-choice candidate?
De Genova: "Absolutely. Absolutely."
The Tyee: "Who is that candidate?"
De Genova: "You'll see on Sunday. It will be quite obvious."
The former Non-Partisan Association member was more blunt about why he had made this decision.
"Because I was not happy in the balloting process and how things shook out... I have nobody on the executive that represents me. I wasn't even able to have an observer there... the executive is made up half of Gregor's people and half of Raymond's," De Genova said.
"This is my chance, now, to align myself with what I think is important for
the party. At the end of the day, this is what's right for the party," he added.
De Genova said he had neither met with nor informed the candidate he will support. And he denied that his pending announcement will contradict his previous promises to "leave it up to the membership" to make their second-choice decisions."
Vancouver Sun reporter and blogger Frances Bula also reports late Thursday that:
"I hear from highly placed people that the Louie campaign and the De Genova campaign are preparing to tell each of their sets of supporters to mark the other candidate as their second choice in Sunday's Vision Vancouver preferential ballot."
Bula also defended her posting from complaints by Louie campaign manager Neil Monckton that his side are not telling supporters to vote De Genova as their second choice.
Said Bula: "However, as you all know, even though I may not be naming sources, I don't put out rumours that don't come from credible sources."
As many readers will already know, I have endorsed Gregor Robertson as the best choice for Vision Vancouver mayoral candidate to defeat the NPA.
Vision has over 13,000 registered members who will be eligible to vote at the Croatian Cultural Centre this Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Political operatives want to stay secret, new witness named who sought anonymity at Basi-Virk BC Court of Appeal hearing
By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist
5:30 p.m. - Several “political operatives” and an individual with information about key Crown witness Erik Bornmann and the Liberal Party have all tried to shield their identities from the public in the B.C. Legislature raid case, the B.C. Court of Appeal was told Wednesday.
The new information came from defence counsel testimony in a hearing over a secret witness in the trial of three provincial government aides facing corruption charges.
Special Prosecutor Bill Bearardino is asking the court to overturn a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that defence lawyers be present to hear the testimony of a secret witness in the trial of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.
Basi’s lawyer Michael Bolton told a three-judge panel that several potential witnesses have attempted to remain unnamed.
“Someone who has material evidence – one of the political operatives there are so many of who have requested anonymity – the defence will have no opportunity for response in providing a full defence,” Bolton said.
And Aneal Basi’s lawyer Joe Doyle named another potential witness who was denied secret status.
“Mr. Jas Sekhon wanted to be a police informant,” Doyle said. “He goes on to describe details about the Liberal Party and Bornmann – I won’t go into that.”
Outside court Doyle declined to identify Sekhon further or confirm exact spelling of the name or say which Liberal Party – federal or provincial – he was referring to.
Former provincial lobbyist Erik Bornmann is the Crown’s key witness in the case.
Berardino defended the Crown’s position on the secret witness request.
“If we could give the court a three to four minute synopsis it would be crystal clear why defence counsel should be excluded,” he said.
Berardino argued that Justice Elizabeth Bennett, the presiding judge in the BC Supreme Court case of Basi, Virk and Basi, had erred in ruling the defence lawyers could be in the courtroom to hear testimony about the secret witness from police.
"There is no evidence for the trial judge to make such a finding," Berardino said. "The Crown has never said this is not a clear case of a confidential police informant....we have refrained from it."
Berardino also said the defence had exaggerated the degree of secrecy that would result from the witness giving testimony in the absence of counsel for the accused.
"All of the information at the in-camera hearing - without identifying the informant - would be disclosed to the defence," he told the court.It appeared initially that the three-person panel of judges might issue an immediate ruling late in the afternoon.
Chief Justice Lance Finch told the courtroom that he, Justice Ian Donald and Justice Catherine Ryan required a break because: "We're not quite clear howe we're going to do this."
But after a 25-minute recess Finch came back to say that judgment in the three-day hearing would be reserved, with no timeline for that decision.
BC Supreme Court Justice Bennett will hold a case update on June 20 and is scheduled to reconvene the pre-trial hearing on June 30.
It is unclear whether the Court of Appeal will issue a decision before either date or whether it could have an impact on the BC Supreme Court proceeding.
NOTE - A shorter version of this story will appear in 24 hours newspaper on Thursday.
Tuesday, June 10, 2008
Basi-Virk: BC Court of Appeal hears explaining why witness should be secret would take one hour to explain; role of RCMP Inspector DeBruyckere raised
By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist
The B.C. Court of Appeal heard Tuesday it would take a police officer an hour to explain complex reasons why a witness should remain secret in the case of three provincial government aides facing corruption charges.
And the Crown suggested charges against David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi might be dropped if it loses the secret witness appeal.
Virk’s lawyer Jim Blazina argued the court should uphold a B.C. Supreme Court ruling that defence counsel be present to hear the testimony with an undertaking not to disclose the secret witness’s identity.
Blazina told three justices that the secrecy reasons were extremely unusual.
“You’ve got to hear a police officer explain for about an hour why there’s an informant when usually it takes three sentences,” Blazina said.
To ban defence lawyers from hearing the testimony is “going too far in breaching the rights of the accused,” he argued. "I say the rights of an accused to a fair trial cannot be put aside just because of the issue of informant privilege."
It was also disclosed that references to the police informant came from the continuation reports of RCMP Inspector Kevin DeBruyckere. The defence has criticized DeBruyckere’s role because his brother-in-law is Kelly Reichert, B.C. Liberal Party executive director.
Blazina discussed DeBruyckere's connection to the secret witness in some detail in court.
"The court will see what's called a continuation report," from DeBruyckere, he said. "There's a black redacted area and a code. It will become apparent the vetting code is not the code used for a police informant."
Referring to another section Blazina said: "The five blank pages were only provided after the court's order for disclosure in June," referring to presiding BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett's sweeping order in June 2007 for disclosure of missing evidence to the defence.
On Monday special prosecutor Bill Berardino said the Crown would not breach informant privilege, opening the possibility of dropping the case if the court rules in favour of the defence. The Globe and Mail's Mark Hume reported that Berardino declined to elaborate on his statements outside the court.
Also revealed by Blazina on Tuesday was the fact that the evidence disclosed to the defence team has "swelled" to more than 300,000 pages.
The case continues Wednesday.
NOTE: A shorter version of this story will appear in 24 hours newspaper on Wednesday.
Tuesday June 10, 2008
Send Premier Gordon Campbell a loud and clear message that you're fed up with his carbon tax
Campbell calls it a “Climate Action Dividend” but I call it a blatant bribe – that hardly pays for one tank of gas.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Mark reports: "It is unclear whether the prosecution of Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi could continue without the evidence, which is contained in several restricted documents drawn from the notebook of the lead RCMP investigator in a case that involved an unprecedented police raid on the B.C. Legislature in 2003."
Every indication was that today's BC Court of Appeal hearing on the issue of whether a secret Crown witness should give testimony in the Basi-Virk case without the defence lawyers present would take place without the media or the public in the courtroom.
But that didn't turn out to be the case - and unfortunately I was not able to be present.
Canadian Press is reporting that Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino argued that BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett - presiding over the trial of David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi in the BC Legislature Raid case - erred in ruling that the defence lawyers could be present to hear the testimony of a secret witness, who has been described as a police informant.
Bennett ruled that the defence lawyers could attend the testimony, while media and the public would be excluded.
Berardino is appealing that ruling.
Berardino, CP reports, said that if Bennett's ruling was upheld it would have a "chilling effect" on all police informants.
"The negative consequences are too great," he said, adding that asking defence lawyers to sign an undertaking to ensure confidentiality isn't good enough.
The appeal continues Tuesday and Wednesday.
I hope to attend at least part of Tuesday's hearing.
Sunday, June 08, 2008
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
The Progressive Group's president is Mark Jiles, Premier Gordon Campbell's former constituency campaign manager.
The following are links to parts one, two, three, four, five and six of those documents.
Additional stories from today's paper are also online.
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
Full public inquiry needed into BC Liberal lobbying situation after 24 hours special report on Patrick Kinsella and firm
Tuesday June 3, 2008
Time to clean up Liberal lobbying
By BILL TIELEMAN
The act is clear. There's an obligation on persons who are lobbyists to register under the act.
- B.C. Attorney-General Wally Oppal, April 5, 2006
This province needs a complete independent investigation into the activities of key B.C. Liberal lobbyists, a full public inquiry into the business of lobbying the provincial government, and legislation to dramatically clean up the practice and protect the public interest.
That's the only possible remedy after the release in today's 24 hours of documents obtained by reporter Sean Holman through freedom of information requests to the Washington state government.
Those documents show that Patrick Kinsella - the most influential unelected player in the B.C. Liberal party - and his firm have represented the interests of several corporations, and even a foreign government, going back to at least 2003 without registering as a lobbyist as required by law.
In their own words in a proposal to work for Washington State, Kinsella, his company the Progressive Group and his partner Mark Jiles state that they have been working to "promote, convince and educate" the B.C. government, cabinet ministers and bureaucrats to get "outcomes" worth in excess of $1.5 billion in government contracts for their clients.
The situation stinks to high heaven.
The documents suggest the flagrant violation of many of the provisions of the Lobbyists Registration Act, passed in 2001. Kinsella does not appear anywhere in the public reports required by the Act.
And the B.C. Liberals have known all about it and done nothing for years, all the while meeting with Kinsella and his cohorts as they furthered their clients' interests and lined the Progressive Group's pockets with lucrative fees.
At the same time, Kinsella's company and his clients - like Canadian Forest Products - donated tens of thousands of dollars to the B.C. Liberal party.
This reaches right into the office of Premier Gordon Campbell, because Kinsella has been his closest adviser outside government, has co-chaired the B.C. Liberals' last two successful election campaigns and has helped raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for the party.
Attorney-General Wally Oppal's quote above came after this question in the Legislature from NDP MLA Rob Fleming: "Can the attorney general explain why Pat Kinsella, an extremely influential Liberal organizer and fundraiser working as a political consultant for a company like Alcan, has never registered as a lobbyist?"
It stinks even further because Campbell's own former senior deputy minister, Ken Dobell, was found guilty in court of violating the Lobbyists Registration Act earlier this year. And former B.C. Liberal cabinet minister Graham Bruce is currently the subject of an inquiry by the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner regarding lobbying allegations.
Nothing less than a full independent investigation and public inquiry will do.
This government's very integrity is at stake.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the three former provincial government aides facing corruptions charges related to the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail - joined with Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino in asking BC Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett to accept further delays in dealing with the 4-year old case.
There will also be a Charter of Rights application coming from the defence this month on the issue of calling witnesses such as BC Premier Gordon Campbell and Deputy Attorney-General Allan Seckel to testify about their roles in the disclosure of evidence in the case. The defence has previously alleged political interference in the case by the premier.
And New Democratic Party MLA Leonard Krog again raised the possibility that the trial will never be heard in court, calling on Campbell to promise a full public inquiry if the case is dismissed by Bennett.
Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough told Bennett that the Special Prosecutor is claiming privilege over about 2,200 documents - a claim that may take several weeks to sort through in court.
Outside court Basi's lawyer Mike Bolton explained that the privilege claim is not to be confused with the privilege claims of the BC government based on either cabinet privilege or solicitor-client privilege that have earlier been bones of contention.
"There's a variety of different claims," in the 2,200 documents Bolton said. "Pertaining to other investigations, solicitor-client privilege, relevancy claims and police work project privilege."
"It's completely separate from the cabinet solicitor-client privilege, different documents," he added.
That's one reason why Bennett agreed to the joint defence-crown request to put back the starting date for pre-trial hearings on the vetting of evidence related to the case, from the originally planned date of June 16 to June 30.
But the two sides did not agree on how long the vetting of BC Rail documents will take.
Bennett asked Berardino how long he anticipated it would require.
"As a general rule, subject to anyone here saying something, two to three weeks," Berardino replied.
"Very optimistic," McCullough immediately interjected.
He later suggested far longer. "I don't think it will take two to three weeks - the volume is substantial and I think it will take considerably longer," McCullough said.
McCullough also asked Bennett to schedule another case update hearing in mid-June.
"What I had hoped to accomplish," Bennett replied, "was to have the vetting completed by the end of the summer."
But even that may be a challenge, as a lengthy discussion of all parties' holiday plans proved.
After some vacation negotiations, it was determined that the court will sit June 30 for three days before Bennett takes off the week of July 7 to teach a judicial course. The hearings will then resume July 14 and run until August 15, when the court will not sit for three weeks as counsel take holidays, until September 8.
Bennett also agreed to McCullough's request for an update, which will take place on Friday June 20 at 9 a.m.
Outside the courtroom MLA Leonard Krog, critic for the Attorney-General's ministry, appeared somewhat exasperated at the extended proceedings and possibility of the case being dismissed.
"This government is still under the cloud of the raid on the BC Legislature after four years," he said. "If the case is thrown out, if the premier has any integrity he will call an immediate inquiry into this long, sorry tale."
Meanwhile, the action next shifts to the BC Court of Appeal on June 9, where an appeal by Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino will be heard.
Berardino hopes to convince the Appeal Court to overturn a ruling by Justice Bennett that would allow defence lawyers to hear testimony by a secret witness in the case.
That appeal is set for three days in court and is expected to take place completely in camera - in other words, no access allowed for the media or the public.
All in all, another great day in a case that shows little signs of ending anytime soon.