Friday, October 30, 2009
Bill Tieleman joins Evan Solomon's CBC News Network show Power & Politics on blogger panel today at 3:40 p.m. BC time
The CBC has hired blogger extraordinaire Kady O'Malley, who will be on the panel, along with Parker Donham of the Contrarian hailing out of Sydney, Nova Scotia, Evan and myself.
Today's topics include anti-Olympic online action as the 2010 Vancouver Games torch arrives in Victoria to be greeted by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Premier Gordon Campbell and zombie protestors - no, I'm not kidding.
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Could delay of trial throw out Basi-Virk case? Ontario Court of Appeal overturns delay of trial case with BC Legislature Raid implications
On Wednesday the Ontario Court of Appeal made a ruling that could have significant impact on the Basi-Virk, BC Rail corruption case, increasing the likelihood it will actually go to trial.
The Ontario Court of Appeal overturned a lower court judge's decision to stay charges against five drug squad police officers because of the "unreasonable" delays in bringing their case to court.
"There was no unreasonable delay in this case. This complex case proceeded at the pace contemplated and dictated by the parties," the three member panel of justices decided.
"Admittedly, 56 months is a lengthy period of time, but it was not unreasonable These are very serious charges."
"This case proceeded slowly, but it also proceeded at the pace dictated by its complexity and the actions of all the parties," Justice David Doherty, Justice Marc Rosenberg and Justice Michael Moldaver wrote in their decision.
"Far from this being a case where the vast majority of the 56 months passed because of the Crown's failure to make full disclosure, virtually none of the time can be so characterized," they wrote. "This was a complex case that required and would require significant expenditures of court time."
[The five officers were charged in January 2004 with attempting to obstruct justice, perjury, assault and extortion. They are accused of falsifying notes, robbing and beating drug dealers, and conducting illegal searches between 1997 and 2002.]
In other words, 56 months delay - almost five years - is not sufficient for a stay of charges in a complex case.
Given that there are literally "millions" of pages of evidence in the Basi-Virk case and that there is an outstanding appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada by the Special Prosecutor over the issue of a "secret witness" with still no decision and that there have been issues of Parliamentary privilege, solicitor-client privilege and cabinet privilege, I highly suspect that "complex" doesn't begin to describe this case.
There's still another potential wrinkle - the defendants, backed by the Toronto Police Association - their union - may seek leave to appeal the case to Canada's highest court - the Supreme Court of Canada.
At the time the case was stayed, the NDP opposition was furious in the Ontario Legislature.
Does this sound familiar: "It's despicable that the biggest corruption investigation in the history of Canadian policing was thrown out because of unreasonable delays."
That was NDP Member of the Provincial Parliament Peter Kormos when the case was originally thown out of court for delay.
I can easily hear BC NDP MLA Leonard Krog saying nearly the same thing if Justice Anne MacKenzie were to toss the Basi-Virk case - but this decision, if upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada - makes that unlikely.
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
Key Basi-Virk Crown witness Brian Kieran back in communications & public affairs business but says no connections with BC government
Former lobbyist turned Crown witness offering communications and PR advice
By BILL TIELEMAN, 24 HOURS
A former lobbyist who is now a key Crown witness in the B.C. Legislature Raid corruption trial has opened a new business providing communications and public affairs advice, including “monitoring the provincial legislative agenda”.
But Brian Kieran said in an exclusive interview with 24 hours that he is neither lobbying the B.C. Liberal government nor has any clients with connections to it.
Kieran and Erik Bornmann were partners in Pilothouse Public Affairs, a company whose offices were raided by police in December 2003 at the same time the B.C. Legislature was searched.
Court documents allege that Bornmann and Kieran provided money and benefits to former B.C. ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk in exchange for confidential government information about the $1-billion sale of B.C. Rail. Pilothouse had been retained by OmniTRAX, one of the bidders.
Bornmann is also a key Crown witness and neither he, Kieran nor OmniTRAX face any charges, nor have the allegations been proven in court.
Kieran Communications advertises a wide range of services on its website, including media relations, crisis communications and public affairs but Kieran says he is “very much in semi-retirement” and that the firm was set up about a year ago.
“I carry no clients with any connection to the provincial government,” Kieran said in a phone interview from his Pender Island home.
That doesn’t surprise NDP MLA Leonard Krog.
“I’d be astonished if Mr. Kieran was doing business with the government,” Krog said. “I doubt the world will beat a path to his door.”
Kieran says he hopes the trial will begin as planned in the spring.
“I’d love to get into court and tell my side of the story,” he said. “I’ve been waiting to get this all behind me.” Kieran has previously said search warrant information might “lead to assumptions” that would not be made if the full facts were available but has not elaborated.
Kieran also said he has not talked to Bornmann in about five years and has no idea when the trial might begin.
“I haven’t heard from the Crown ever in the case. I’m pretty much in the dark,” he said. “If it goes ahead in the spring I’d be very, very pleased.”
Krog, critic for the Attorney General, blames the B.C. government for the delays in the trial.
“The delay goes right to the government. Production of documents and provision of information is directly this government’s responsibility,” Krog says.
This story appears in 24 hours newspaper and online Thursday October 29, 2009
Talk about getting your political frustrations out in public - California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has sent a shocking letter to the state's Legislature that tells its members to F-off.
After vetoing a bill that would have provided funding to San Francisco for waterfront restoration, Schwarzenegger sent a letter to the Legislature explaining his action - and then some.
As you can see below, the message is very clear:
To the Members of the California State Assembly:
I am returning Assembly Bill 1176 without my signature.
For some time now I have lamented the fact that major issues are overlooked while many
unnecessary bills come to me for consideration. Water reform, prison reform, and health
care are major issues my Administration has brought to the table, but the Legislature just
kicks the can down the alley.
Yet another legislative year has come and gone without the major reforms Californians
overwhelmingly deserve. In light of this, and after careful consideration, I believe it is
unnecessary to sign this measure at this time.
A spokesperson for the governor said it was a "weird coincidence" but a professor of statistics calculated the odds - which would be 5.5 chances of happening in 5 trillion!
But did Arnie simply react to provocation? Apparently.
Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, a San Francisco Democrat, recently heckled the governor at a Democratic gala here after Schwarzenegger spoke at the event.
Ammiano, an openly gay member angry at cuts to AIDS programs, called the governor a "liar" and reportedly told him to "kiss my gay ass".
Ammiano is a stand-up comedian who played himself in the film Milk, about the San Francisco politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk who was assassinated by another city councilor.
Surprisingly, Ammiano suggested it shows Schwarzenegger and his staff "have a sense of humour."
"I think it was very creative. They probably think they are even now and it's time to bury the hatchet," Ammiano said.
Which all goes to show that BC has a long way to go to live up to the "California of the North".
Meanwhile - BC Premier Gordon Campbell is still in Arnie's good books as the leading proponent of P3s in North America - Public Private Partnerships.
Monday, October 26, 2009
I'm torn about whether to leave town or hang around. What are you doing?
By Bill Tieleman
"Should I stay or should I go now? If I go there will be trouble. An' if I stay it will be double. So come on and let me know!"
- The Clash
Should I stay -- in Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games -- or should I go -- and get the heck out of town?
I'm pondering that question right now, like thousands of other people in Metro Vancouver.
Will the Olympics be an outrageously expensive, insider-only, corporate celebration of advertising where civil rights are quashed and ordinary people's lives disrupted by traffic snarled just so big shots can speed around the city?
Or will the Olympics be Vancouver's finest moment, with the world coming together in peace to witness amazing athletic feats, sports drama, international arts, ending with a tremendous boost to our economy?
I really don't know.
I still support the Olympics, having voted "yes" in Vancouver's February 2003 referendum. Even if only for the job creation, economic development and international profile, they are well worthwhile.
But stay or go? Here are the arguments:
This is likely the only chance in our lifetimes to experience a Winter Olympic Games at home -- a unique opportunity.
It will be a global party like no other. The city will be buzzing with international guests, celebrities and media attention.
Since we're paying for the Olympics, massive overruns and all, we might as well get our money's worth.
The Olympics are a huge advertising event where sports take a back seat to pushing the products of corporate sponsors paying millions for that right.
Rules to protect Olympic sponsors are so draconian that the B.C. Civil Liberties Association is taking Vancouver to court, alleging its bylaws violate the Canadian Charter of Rights.
Ticket prices lean towards outrageous -- $1,100 each for the best seat in B.C. Place for the opening ceremonies, $775 for the closing and men's ice hockey finals, and $525 for ice dance gala. There are modestly-priced tickets down to $25 but for cheap seats for cross-country skiing or biathlon.
But hey, don't worry about the prices. You can't get most tickets anyway! Popular events are long sold out, and for many events 70 per cent of the seats go to corporate sponsors, Olympic "family," politicians and big wigs.
Of course, legal scalpers are standing by to help -- with those $1,100 tickets now going for up to $6,000 each!
Gold medal traffic gridlock. Vancouver will be hell off wheels as security concerns and games transport demands mean street closures and elimination of parking.
Dedicated Olympic-only lanes will ban local drivers on large sections of major streets like Broadway, Burrard, Cambie, Georgia and Hastings from Feb. 4 to March 1 -- 24 hours a day, seven days a week!
Help me out here.
So what to do? Go to Mexico for two weeks? Even Bellingham?
Or party up with the world and enjoy all the attention while splurging for a few events or just drinking with an international crowd at the live sites?
I can't decide without your help -- check my website poll on whether Vancouverites should stay or go at the top right of this page and also vote at the 24 hours newspaper poll on Tuesday October 27.
Here's information I just received from Moms On The Move about a province-wide day of action on Wednesday October 28 against these cuts, including funding for autism programs.
* * * * *
MOMS on the MOVE
Moms urge Premier to honour promises to BC’s kids
18 communities join provincial day of action against children’s cuts
OCT 28, 2009: — In 2001, Gordon Campbell promised to stand up for BC’s vulnerable children as a priority. Months later, he ordered 23% cuts to children’s programs. In 2005, the Premier outlined five Great Goals – #3 was to “build the best system of support in Canada” for children with special needs and those at risk.
But Mr. Campbell has again forgotten his promise to create a legacy of strong, safe and well-supported children.
So on Wednesday, Oct. 28, we’ve invited British Columbians to help us remind Premier Campbell of his promise to BC’s vulnerable children. So far, 18 BC communities have joined the Provincial Day of Action coordinated by MOMs, a volunteer support network for families of people with special needs.
While BC enjoyed record budget surpluses, waitlists for critical services that support vulnerable children in and out of school grew longer.
Now the Premier is cutting millions from core programs, including autism, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD), mental health, infant development, supported child development and Aboriginal programs.
Specialized staff are being lost, with one program given just a month to wrap up. Front-line children’s agencies were forced to cut $3.6 million more.
A further $32 million is being cut from essential Ministry roles for monitoring, oversight and support to assure children’s welfare and safety. And yet another Ministry re-structuring will further strain the capacity to support vulnerable children.
There was no risk assessment or advance public discussion of these cuts. Apart from a token increase for one small sub-group (700 children with autism under age 6), savings will not reduce waitlists or improve access for the vast majority – i.e. for tens of thousands of children with special needs who are still waiting.
Provincial organizations for people with disabilities, children with special needs and families have protested the cuts.
Professionals represented by the Health Sciences Association of BC strongly denounced funding cuts and the loss of autism programs. Desperate parents have pleaded to save these programs, noting the huge strides their children have made and the strong evidence base for efficacy and long-term savings.
“The Infant Development Program is what saved me,” says Cyndi Gerlach, the mom coordinating a North Vancouver action on Oct. 28. “I want other parents to benefit just as I did.”
Premier Campbell’s cuts to children’s programs are just a matter of priorities. His revised budget commits $14 billion to capital projects. Alberta spends twice as much on autism despite fewer children and is not cutting programs despite a deficit twice as large as BC’s.
“Our children can’t speak out or fight back against these cuts,” says Cher Sherwood, the mom who helped organize several groups in Greater Victoria. “It is our job as parents and citizens to speak up for them.”
And it is Premier Campbell’s job to honour his promises to BC’s kids by protected and rebuilding vitally important supports and services.
“We know that British Columbians don’t want to see BC’s budget balanced on the back of our most vulnerable children,” says Vancouver mom Dawn Steele, who will be leading another group on the Burrard Bridge. “We’re urging him to join us by standing up and doing what he knows is the right thing to do.”
Details of local actions, local contacts, background info & updates: MOMs:
Friday, October 23, 2009
Gold medal-winning snowboarder to run for Liberals in next election in Okanagan-Coquihalla
By BILL TIELEMAN, 24 HOURS
Bill Tieleman and Ross Rebagliati - Joyce Thayer photo
In an interview Thursday with 24 hours, Rebagliati admitted he has a tough uphill climb against Day, the Minister of International Trade who won 58% of the Okanagan-Coquihalla vote in the October 2008 election.
“I’m used to lofty climbs,” said Rebagliati, who won gold in Nagano, Japan in 1998. “I don’t really feel I’m running against Stockwell Day as much as I’m running for the riding – to give voters an option.”
Rebagliati, 38, said he will use social media to connect with young people who don’t vote to defeat Day, 59, a former Canadian Alliance leader.
After Rebagliati’s Monday nomination – there are no other candidates – expect a classic sports battle – world champion snowboarder versus Sea-Doo riding politician – Day once rode the personal watercraft in a wetsuit to a news conference, gaining huge publicity but pundit disdain.
Rebagliati knows that despite his world-wide name recognition he faces a tough competitor. The 2008 Liberal candidate came in 4th, behind Day, the NDP and even the Green Party – and Day has won four elections in the riding.
For me, it’s tapping into my demographics – the 18 to 40 year-old range,” Rebagliati says. “Stockwell is able to win with very few of the potential voters and I want to get out non-voters with a massive web, Twitter, Facebook and social media campaign.”
Rebagliati said he isn’t worried that the Conservatives will attempt to target him over his Olympic win because he was briefly denied the gold medal after testing positive for traces of marijuana – which he blamed on second-hand smoke.
“I’m not concerned about it – it’s old news and I’ve deal with it for over a decade,” Rebagliati says.
Rebagliati will focus his campaign on key national issues like jobs, health care, the environment and homelessness, he said, but also on native concerns such as the Conservative cancellation of the Kelowna Accord developed by the Paul Martin Liberal government.
The world-famous snowboarder currently lives just outside the riding in Kelowna with his wife Alexandra and new son Ryan Enzo but says he is house hunting in Okanagan-Coquihalla.
Rebagliati has been involved in real estate, promotional work, construction and has a book on snowboarding titled “Off The Chain” coming out in November. He also works with a number of charities, including Big Brothers, the Make A Wish Foundation and Kids Help Phone.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Don't let Premier Gordon Campbell cut public libraries! Join Bill Tieleman at event tonight at Vancouver Public Library
Please join me and authors Caroline Adderson, Carellin Brooks, David Chariandy, Larissa Lai, Stan Persky and moderator Dan Gawthrop at Vancouver Public Library Thursday October 22 at 7:30 p.m. for “Public Libraries – Keep Them Local” – an event supporting adequate funding.
Each person will receive one drink ticket. B.C. beer and wine will be served, in keeping with the local theme.
Please RSVP Mike DePaoli at email@example.com or Alexandra Youngberg at firstname.lastname@example.org as this is a registration required event.
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Conservative Transportation Minister John Baird keeps writing me letters - about Michael Ignatieff - what gives?
Of course, he must also really dislike federal Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff - because that's what both letters are about.
And even though I complained to the Honourable John about wasting taxpayers' money mailing me the last time he had the urge to poison pen Iggy for making self-important statements, Baird has done it again, this time about possibly raising taxes.
Now this strikes me as a bit rich, since Prime Minister Stephen Harper's government will itself be raising my taxes next year if they are successful - along with the BC Liberal government of Gordon Campbell - in imposing a 12% HST in British Columbia.
So what if Iffy might raise my taxes! John, John, John - you and Stephen working with Campbell WILL raise my taxes!
The extra 7% from the HST will not only mean I pay more for restaurant food, haircuts, airline tickets, massage therapy, etc, but I also have to charge my consulting firm clients an extra 7% for nothing! And my landlord will charge me an extra 7% on my rent!
If you read this blog, you know I'm no fan of Iggy or Iffy if you prefer.
But when it comes to raising my taxes, there's one federal political party that's already made it clear that's exactly what they're going to do to me - and the name of that party is Conservative.
And their plans to whack me with the HST are definitely not iffy - they're dead certain about it.
So Honourable John - save all us taxpayers the postage - stop writing to me - because every time you do it only gets you deeper in trouble.
And don't take offence, but I don't want a pen pal who only sends me more bad news at my expense.
CIimate Cover-Up - new book exposes Big Oil and corporate cover-up to avoid action against climate change
Big Oil's Big Buy: Climate Change Denial
Tuesday October 20, 2009
By Bill Tieleman
Victory will be achieved when… media “understands” (recognizes) uncertainties in climate science [and] media coverage reflects balance on climate science and recognition of the validity of viewpoints that challenge the current “conventional wisdom”.
- American Petroleum Institute
Imagine you have a product that will in the long-term prove fatal or at least terribly damaging to everyone who uses it
You want to keep making the obscene profits associated with its sale but worry that when people learn how devastating it is, you’ll be out of business.
Solution: spew out more contradictory information than a squid squirts ink while under attack and count on a befuddled, underfunded media to help sow confusion.
But how to sucker the media?
Ah yes, write big cheques to “astroturf” organizations and “scientific experts” to question the conclusions of most scientists while hiding the corporate funding and connections as deep as possible.
It worked for Big Tobacco for years – and now Big Oil and other business sectors who don’t want tough action on climate change are doing the same thing.
James Hoggan’s new book Climate Cover-Up [Greystone Books] is a must-read for anyone concerned about the biggest, most pervasive effort ever at manipulating the media by some of the world’s largest and most powerful corporations.
Why, I’d even recommend it highly to my 24 hours colleague Alex Tsakumis, who has ripped Hoggan and CKNW AM 980 radio host Bill Good for two weeks straight about the issue for allegedly not providing “balance” on climate change.
[Disclosure – Hoggan and Good are friends of mine and I appear on Bill’s show every Monday – but Alex is a friend too.]
Let’s leave aside the science on climate change because Hoggan’s book - and website DeSmogBlog.com - is really about how a vast conspiracy has been undertaken by corporations opposed to reducing greenhouse gases and pollution to convince the media and public that everything is just fine.
Hoggan’s book - and website DeSmogBlog.com - are really about how a vast conspiracy has been undertaken by the corporations most directly affected by any attempt to reduce greenhouse gases and pollution to influence the media and public that everything is just fine.
Hoggan and co-author Richard Littlemore provide reams of evidence from around the world about the conspiracy – and it is not an understatement to call it that – that provided tens of millions of dollars to shadowy organizations to fight climate change regulations.
For example, the Competitive Enterprise Institute twice sued the U.S. government trying to block release of its National Assessment of Climate Change.
Who got $2 million in funding from Exxon? Why, the CEI, which also got money for its climate change activities from – wait for it – Ford and General Motors.
CEI actually produced TV commercials celebrating burning fossil fuels and producing carbon dioxide actually titled: “They call it pollution, we call it life”!
And Exxon spent over $20 million since 1998 fighting climate change with “balance”.
But the cover-up strategy Hoggan reveals is sadly still working.
In Sunday’s Province newspaper was an angry op-ed by retired professor Timothy Ball – a front man for an astroturf group called “Friends of Science” about teachers “indoctrinating” students about climate change, not giving “balance”.
Ball recently spoke to a luncheon in Calgary for Friends of Science – a group which also brought Viscount Christopher Monckton of Brenchley from England to Vancouver earlier this month to explain why climate change is a hoax.
Speaking at the right-wing Fraser Institute think tank with a presentation titled: “Apocalypse Cancelled; The Overheated Hype behind Global Warming,”
Monckton outlined who is behind the wrong-headed efforts to fight climate change and why:
"The Left have never liked democracy. They hate democracy," Monckton explained. "Every time they get the chance, they destroy it. They hate the West. They hate our prosperity. They hate our freedom."
Ironically given Ball’s appearance, it was
Province columnist Ethan Baron who reported that Monckton says unsound climate change science threatens to send us "back to caves without even the right to light a fire."
But Baron wryly asked why an apparently intelligent person would question the consensus of all but a few climate scientists and, having heard Monckton speak, concluded the reason was: “Whacked-out, far-right ideology, combined with an ego the size of the Antarctic ice sheet.”
Fortunately there’s a ready and verifiable antidote to corporate spin doctors who want you to be confused about climate change – pick up a copy of Hoggan and Littlemore’s Climate Cover-Up and check the facts for yourself about who’s behind fighting common sense for corporate profits – it’s undeniable.
* * * * *
Please join me and authors Caroline Adderson, Carellin Brooks, David Chariandy, Larissa Lai, Stan Persky and moderator Dan Gawthrop at Vancouver Public Library Thursday October 22 at 7:30 p.m. for “Public Libraries – Keep Them Local” – an event supporting adequate funding.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Beat the HST - pay for your funeral now! BC government outlines "transitional" HST rules - death may be only escape
"Example 1: In May 2010, a person enters into an agreement to purchase furniture. Under the agreement, the person takes delivery of the furniture in July 2010, makes 12 monthly payments between July 2010 and June 2011, and receives ownership of the furniture when all the payments have been made. The HST would apply to the sale of the furniture."
That's a pre-HST purchase where you don't pay in advance. But what about if you pay the full price in advance of July 1 but don't actually take possession until after July 1? Surely that can't be subject to the HST?
Oh yes it is!
Here's another BC government example:
"Example 2: In June 2010, a person pays for a sailboat, but the sailboat will not be delivered, and ownership will not be transferred, to the person until August 2010. The HST would apply to the sale and the supplier would account for the B.C. component of the HST in the GST/HST reporting period of the supplier that includes July 1, 2010."
How about your gym membership? If you pre-pay before July 1 what happens?
Oh yeah, feel that burn - you pay the HST.
"Example 14: In June 2010, a person purchases a four-month membership in a fitness club for the months of June through September 2010. The HST would be payable in respect of three of the four months of the membership (i.e., on 75 per cent of the total consideration)."
Canucks fans can also start putting aside extra money for tickets to games after July 1, 2010 no matter when they buy them, says the BC government:
"Example 16: In May 2010, a vendor sells tickets to a professional hockey game that will take place in October 2010. The HST would apply to the sale."
Perhaps most frightening for those contemplating buying a new house or apartment, the government says it hasn't quite figured the rules out:
"Information about the transitional rules for new residential housing in B.C. will be provided in the coming months."
As I wrote in my column in 24 hours and The Tyee this week, the high cost of the HST keep mounting as we learn more about what will be taxed an extra 7%.
Be afraid, be very afraid! And don't believe the hype about the HST benefitting the economy - this will be an expensive disaster for consumers as $1.9 billion in costs is transferred to them from big business - the only ones who will profit from this mess!
If you don't like what you're reading here about how the HST will affect you and your family - do something about it!
Join Fight HST - the grassroots group started by former Premier Bill Vander Zalm that I am supporting, along with people from every political persuasion or none at all.
And join my Facebook protest group - NO BC HST - which has over 127,000 members - that's more than the Vancouver Canucks Facebook page!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
The next pre-trial hearing will start October 19th for a scheduled five days to deal with BC Rail company documents, in particular email backups that might be recovered but at some significant cost - so who would pay it?
There is also a session on October 23 on scheduling standing applications.
NOTE TO ANONYMOUS 4:32 p.m. Saturday - got your message and will investigate your comments as a news story in 24 hours next week - please feel free to provide more info if you have it. Can't post what you suggested in the form you provided it but stay tuned.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
BASI-VIRK: "Millions of pages" of evidence now available in BC Rail case, after 17 of 20 BC Liberal MLA email backup tapes recovered
Defence still hopes to find more recoverable email backup tapes
By Bill Tieleman, 24 hours columnist
A defence lawyer in the B.C. Rail corruption case said Tuesday that with news 17 of 20 backup tapes of emails from B.C. Liberal MLAs have been recovered from possible deletion, there are now “millions” of pages of evidence for the long-delayed trial.
Michael Bolton, representing David Basi – one of two ex-B.C. ministerial assistants facing corruption charges – said outside B.C. Supreme Court that information disclosed Tuesday means: “There are now millions of pages of documents.”
But Bolton isn’t happy one email back up tape for September 2003 cannot be recovered and two more may also be useless.
“Of course it’s troubling,” Bolton said. “[But] there’s a considerable body of material we’ll be getting that wasn’t originally thought recoverable.”
In court lawyer Frank Falzon, representing the B.C. Legislature’s Speaker, Bill Barisoff, as well as the Clerk and Conflict of Interest Commissioner, said 17 back up tapes of emails from 15 current and former B.C. Liberal MLAs have been restored “at considerable expense”.
Falzon told Justice Anne MacKenzie that forensic experts are still working to see if tapes for emails from December 2003 and July 2004 can be recovered as well.
In court Kevin McCullough, representing co-accused Bob Virk, told MacKenzie it was critical to learn what could still be recovered from email backup tapes.
"You need to know, the defence needs to know what's recoverable," McCullough said. There's still a lot apparently not recoverable."
Basi and Virk alleged gave confidential government documents about the $1 billion privatization of B.C. Rail to lobbyists for a losing bidder, allegations which led to an unprecedented police raid of the B.C. Legislature in December 2003.
The court hearing, just the second in front of Justice MacKenzie since she took over from longtime case judge Elizabeth Bennett, saw a total of 15 lawyers in attendance.
Among the lawyers in court were John Esson, representing former BC Deputy Premier Christy Clark - now a CKNW talk show host; Clark Roberts, representing former BC Finance Minister Gary Collins - now a Vancouver corporate executive, was online by telephone from Victoria; Ed Montague, representing the BC Liberal MLA caucus; plus almost full teams from the Special Prosecutor and defence.
One interesting observer in the gallery, in full robes, was George Macintosh - the veteran lawyer at Farris & Co. who has previously represented key Crown witness Erik Bornmann - the former Pilothouse lobbyist retained by BC Rail bidder OmniTRAX who allegedly received confidential government documents about the privatization from David Basi and Bob Virk in exchange for benefits.
The hearing resumes Wednesday.
A version of this story will be published in 24 hours Vancouver newspaper on October 14, 2009
Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column
Tuesday October 13, 2009
By Bill Tieleman
Consumers will pay more — there's no getting around it. The truth is it is a shift in taxation.
- Stephen Spector, Certified General Accountants Association of B.C. president
How much will the B.C. Liberals’ Harmonized Sales Tax cost you?
If Premier Gordon Campbell isn’t stopped, consumers will pay $1.9 billion a year in HST, with the revenue going to big business, not public services.
But how much more would you personally pay if the B.C. sales tax on previously exempted goods and services jumps from the 5% GST to the 12% HST?
Let’s look at some of the new HST costs.
The food and non-alcoholic drink portion of restaurant meals jumps 7%. If you spend $100 a month, add $84 extra HST a year.
Watch TV? On a monthly $60 cable bill, HST adds an extra $50.40.
Surf the Internet? At $50 a month, the HST adds $42 a year.
Belong to a gym? Play golf? Watch the Canucks? You can add 7% more on all of these.
Gym fees of $40 a month would mean an extra $33.60 a year. The HST on two tickets to a Canucks game for $142 is $9.94. Play weekend golf at the University of B.C. eight times for $560 and add $39.20 HST.
Love theatre? Spend $300 on tickets, add $21 in HST. Catch a movie? At $12.50 a ticket, going once a month will add $10.50 in HST annually.
Got a phone? And cell phone? If you spend $100 monthly on both – and good luck! – that means an extra HST charge of $84.
Subscribe to a daily newspaper [when 24 hours is free]? The Vancouver Sun and Province daily delivery annual rate of $530 will mean over $37 extra HST.
Have a dog or cat? If Fido or Fluffy need serious veterinarian help, a $1,000 bill will be $70 more with HST.
But enough small stuff – let’s spend some real money.
How about that big trip to Europe next summer? Airline tickets for two - $3,000. Experience – priceless. New HST charges - $210.
Buying a brand new home? Houses and apartments priced under $400,000 get an HST rebate but 40% of all sales in B.C. cost more than that.
So for an $800,000 house, Vancouver Real Estate Direct estimates you’ll pay a whopping extra $36,140.
And don’t forget real estate commission fees go up from 5% to 12% HST.
Own a condo? All building maintenance as well as property management firm fees will get an extra 7% HST too.
Even death can’t cheat the HST - funeral services go up an extra 7% too!
And this is only a partial list. Unfortunately, the B.C. government website on HST for some strange reason doesn’t even have all these examples, let alone a complete list.
But if you’ve had enough of harmonization go to www.FightHST.com and sign up. And join my 127,000 member NO BC HST protest group on Facebook as well.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Three days are set aside for this hearing and I will be there as much as possible, filing reports here regularly.
For those unfamiliar with the case - former BC Liberal government ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk face corruption related charges for allegedly leaking confidential government information about the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail in 2003 to lobbyists acting for OmniTRAX - one of the bidders - in exchange for benefits. Aneal Basi, a former government communications officer, also faces money laundering charges connected to the alleged bribery.
CN Rail was the ultimately successful bidder in what defence lawyers have alleged was a tainted process - allegations backed up by the fact that CP Rail and Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway both backed out of their respective bids before the final announcement, privately citing an unfair bidding situation in correspondence that has since become public.
For the definitive list of the cast of characters, go to my massive A-Z of the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid Case on this blog.
Friday, October 09, 2009
Anyway, the bigger question I had is this - why would the Honourable John want to send a poison pen letter at taxpayer expense with the message above.
Because when you live in a glass house it's not a good idea to throw stones.
Not that the Honourable John can't back up his Iggy quotes - here's the inside of the letter he sent me.
"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status..."
Or another one about protecting Alberta from Canada:
"It is imperative to take the initiative, to build firewalls around Alberta, to limit the extent to which an aggressive and hostile federal government can encroach upon legitimate provincial jurisdiction."
Or this quote about who votes for the Liberals:
“You've got to remember that west of Winnipeg the ridings the Liberals hold are dominated by people who are either recent Asian immigrants or recent migrants from eastern Canada: people who live in ghettoes and who are not integrated into western Canadian society.”
Perhaps the federal Liberals will send me a similar letter soon with these and other quotes about Stephen Harper - and I supply them to Iggy here for free.
But I'd rather that all parties talk a lot more about their policies and a lot less about their opponents' many and obvious failings.
And most of all - stop wasting my damn tax dollars mailing me junk I didn't ask for!!
Didn't you hear there's a recession going on?
Tuesday, October 06, 2009
October 7, 2009
"The leader of the Opposition spoke about us versus them. To me, what she said today makes us think the us versus them is the NDP versus business."
- Rick Jeffery, Coast Forest Products Association president on NDP leader Carole James
Let's be clear. Only one party has declared a class war, an "us versus them" in this province. And that's the B.C. Liberals.
Jeffery was reacting to James' call to cancel a planned corporate tax cut and instead put the $150 annual revenue towards public transit and environmental initiatives.
You'd think James was carrying a hammer and sickle red flag if you paid any attention to Jeffery's ridiculous reaction.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business's Brian Bonney was equally scathing: "I think it shows again she doesn't fully understand that it's not governments that are going to move us out of this recession, it's business in British Columbia that's going to do that," said Bonney, a former B.C. Liberal party organizer.
Do you really believe that, Brian, after even Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper has bailed out business to the tune of a $59 billion deficit?
Us versus them, indeed
But let's get back to the class war, us-versus-them battle that Premier Gordon Campbell launched upon his election in 2001 and continues to this day.
B.C. has the worst child poverty in Canada for six straight years, despite our enormous wealth -- because spending on social programs was slashed early and never restored to pay for corporate tax cuts.
A 25 per cent income tax cut in 2001 was followed by a temporary sales tax increase, a permanent 50 per cent increase in Medical Service Plan premiums, higher tuition fees, carbon and fuel taxes and other user pay taxes -- meaning a dramatic increase in regressive taxes that hurt low and middle income earners while the wealthy come out ahead.
No increase in the minimum wage for eight years and labour laws changed to make it much harder to join a union -- while the legal contracts of Hospital Employees Union members and other workers were torn up.
The fire sale giveaway of B.C. Rail for $1 billion to CN Rail -- coincidentally one of the B.C. Liberal Party's biggest donors.
The continuing export of raw logs. Woodworkers lose jobs, forest companies --who've collectively donated millions to the B.C. Liberals -- get cash.
And don't forget former Finance Minister Carole Taylor ending the corporate capital tax on banks -- her going-away gift worth $100 million a year -- before joining the TD Bank board, as The Tyee reported.
Or the privatization of one-third of B.C. Hydro to Bermuda-based Accenture and the semi-privatization of B.C. Ferries.
Then there's Campbell's Harmonized Sales Tax -- the largest ever transfer of wealth from consumers to big business -- $1.9 billion a year out of your pocket and into the coffers of giant corporations who bankroll the B.C. Liberal Party.
The extra 7 per cent HST charged on everything from haircuts to home repairs, with not a penny going to needed government services.
And an 18 per cent Medical Service Premium increase over three years will also hurt ordinary taxpayers.
Don't say I'm anti-business. I've owned an incorporated, profitable company for 11 years. But that doesn't blind me to the B.C. Liberals obvious us versus them approach -- or its disastrous results that amount to a declaration of class war.
Monday, October 05, 2009
Here's a Monday bombshell - Premier Gordon Campbell's senior deputy minister Jessica McDonald has quit effective Tuesday!
No reasons have so far been given beyond the usual "future career opportunities".
McDonald has been Campbell top government official since she took over from Ken Dobell in 2005.
Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel will take over from McDonald.
Interestingly, Seckel has played a significant role in the Basi-Virk - BC Rail case, dealing with a number of key issues about government disclosure of evidence.
Defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - the three former BC Liberal government staffer facing corruption charges over the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail - had made arguments in court that Premier Campbell may have "politically interfered" in the case.
But Justice Elizabeth Bennett strongly rejected those arguments earlier this year, including suggestions about Seckel's role.
“There’s not a scintilla of evidence that Mr. Seckel has acted improperly,” Bennett said in an oral ruling delivered April 30, 2009.
More later - but here is the news release from premier's office in full:
It is followed by McDonald's own letter to the public servic.
* * * * *
October 5, 2009
Office of the Premier
PREMIER CAMPBELL ANNOUNCES KEY APPOINTMENT
VICTORIA – Allan P. Seckel, Q.C., has been appointed Deputy Minister to the Premier, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the British Columbia Public Service, Premier Gordon Campbell announced today.
Seckel will replace Jessica McDonald who has been serving in that role since 2005. The appointment will be effective tomorrow.
Following six years as a deputy minister in the Premier’s Office and a career in the BC Public Service extending back to 1991, McDonald will move on to future career opportunities. A three-month period has been established to ensure a smooth transition.
In 2005, McDonald became the first woman to hold the position of Head of the British Columbia Public Service. Under her leadership the organization achieved a 10-point increase in employee engagement, along with its first recognition as one of B.C.’s Top 50 Employers and Canada’s 30 Greenest Employers. She has been recognized for her leadership in innovation and employee engagement, including the 2008 IPAC/Deloitte National Gold Award for Public Sector Leadership.
Seckel previously held the position of Deputy Attorney General since 2003, after many years in private practice with a major law firm in Vancouver.
As Deputy Attorney General, Seckel has held overall responsibility for the administration of justice in British Columbia, including support to the independent judiciary, prosecuting offences under federal and provincial statutes, drafting legislation, providing legal advice to government and representing it in litigation.
He is the author or co-author of two legal texts, “Estate Administration In British Columbia, A Solicitor’s Reference Manual” and “The BC Supreme Court Rules Annotated”. He is also a contributing author to the CLE Civil Trial Handbook.
* * * * *
Full text of Jessica McDonald’s letter to public service employees:
Thank You to the BC Public Service
Good morning. I am writing to you today to announce that I will be leaving the BC Public Service. I know this will come as a surprise, and I wanted to convey my personal thoughts directly to all of you.
I have served as a Deputy Minister to Premier Campbell for six years, more than four of which as Head of the BC Public Service. These years have been a constant source of great pride and it is difficult to imagine a more rewarding opportunity, not just as part of a career, but as a British Columbian.
A healthy organization is a constantly evolving one where new ideas and energy come together to chart a strong course forward. We have made great strides over the past few years, and I feel it is time to step aside and give the opportunity to another to continue this work.
This was not an easy decision. I considered enabling a change of leadership during the transition immediately following the election, but I found I could not take the decision to leave in the middle of impending workforce adjustment.
I felt it was important to see any job impacts through, continuing to work on finding every solution to minimize effects on employees.
I am proud of the intensive work we have done over the months leading up to the implementation of the revised budget. I can now leave my position knowing in my heart that every step has been taken to continue building a strong public service and avoid any unnecessary hardship for individuals.
While I am announcing my intentions today, I will remain available to assist my colleague and successor, Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel, over a three-month period to ensure a smooth transition.
I have no immediate plans for my future, other than to spend time with my family and consider the next phase of my career. Thank you for making the past six years so memorable and rewarding.
I have found my strength during challenging times in the inspiring work of individuals across the public service.
Thank you for the work you do every day, and for the values you uphold.
Friday, October 02, 2009
BC Ferries gives away 355 Vancouver Canucks tickets for free to employees - critic calls it "totally inappropriate"
By BILL TIELEMAN, 24 hours
Is B.C. Ferries giving away 355 free tickets to Vancouver Canucks' games to its employees a "totally inappropriate" decision that will mean higher fares or a "pretty normal thing to do" that helps improve ferry traffic?
And were the tickets "free" to B.C. Ferries or worth at least $13,000 if valued at Canucks' cheap seats price of $37, or over $25,000 at an estimated average ticket price of $71?
Those very different responses came after 24 hours obtained B.C. Ferries' documents showing that 355 employees got free tickets to Canucks' September pre-season games.
B.C. Ferries' CEO David Hahn told 24 hours the tickets cost the government-owned corporation nothing - because the Canucks offered them free as part of a roughly $400,000 annual advertising buy that promotes B.C. Ferries travel with GM Place signage.
But New Democratic Party MLA Gary Coons rejects that explanation.
"It's totally inappropriate. Nothing is ever free, especially when you're buying $400,000 in advertising you don't need as a monopoly," Coons said in an interview. "All this will do is affect fares and services to communities."
Hahn disagrees, saying B.C. Ferries reaches thousands of potential customers, especially with televised games.
"I think this is a pretty normal thing to do - it's not abnormal - it's normal that companies do this stuff. It makes all the sense in the world," Hahn said. "We have a monopoly but we don't have a monopoly on where people want to go."
"We can't spend millions on Olympic or broad-based advertising," Hahn said. "It's working pretty well."
But Coons still criticizes B.C. Ferries employee Canucks' ticket giveaway, saying it's like the $1 million annual salary Hahn makes, along with four other senior executives making between $485,000 and $562,000 - a cost that ferry customers must pay for through higher fares.
This story was published in 24 hours Friday