Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Basi Virk - new defence disclosures rock Gary Collins, Bruce Clark and others

New allegations made by defence lawyers in Basi Virk BC Legislature raid case touch top levels of provincial and federal Liberal Party insiders

Lawyers defending David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi in the BC Legislature raid case have filed an application for disclosure with BC Supreme Court that makes a number of stunning allegations.

Among those allegations - and a caution as always that these are merely allegations that have not been yet raised in court, let alone proven - some amazing claims.

  • That top RCMP investigator Inspector Kevin DeBruyckere was at the time of the Legislature raids the brother-in-law of BC Liberal Party executive director Kelly Reichert.

  • That Reichert was leaked information that key Crown witness lobbyist Erik Bornmann had received immunity from prosecution in exchange for testifying against Basi, Virk and Basi in the trial.

  • That former BC Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins met with U.S. executives Pat Broe and Dwight Johnson from failed BC Rail privatization bidder OmniTRAX at Vancouver's Villa Del Lupo restaurant to alleged tell them they would get a "consolation prize" of the Roberts Bank superport spur line. That second privatization process was cancelled by the government after the RCMP told officials it was "tainted". Collins yesterday denied that claim and said he would like RCMP videotape surveillance released to clear his name.

  • That Bruce Clark, brother of former BC Liberal Deputy Premier Christy Clark and himself an executive of the federal Liberal Party of Canada - BC, had offered bribes to David Basi in an unrelated matter, according to key Crown witness lobbyist Erik Bornmann. Clark has told the Globe and Mail that he has already been investigated and cleared by police in that matter.

The application also alleges Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino has not provided Basi, Virk and Basi's lawyers with the evidence they need to prepare the defence case.

Much, much more on this and other disclosures in the very near future.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Premier Gordon Campbell's Heart Transplant Explains Political Change of Heart

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 27, 2007

Have a heart, Gord


Politics is largely a matter of heart.

- British Conservative politician R.A. Butler

24 hours has learned that Premier Gordon Campbell's shocking political change of heart on key issues like helping the homeless, fighting climate change, improving welfare and settling aboriginal land claims has an equally shocking explanation.

In the past year Campbell has literally had his heart changed - the premier has received a heart transplant - and from a deceased New Democratic Party activist!

B.C. Liberal Party insiders have confirmed the closely guarded secret - Campbell's recent dramatic move from hard right to political left is the result of his receiving the heart of a young woman who had been heavily involved in the NDP and social justice issues.

The stunning news explains moves by Campbell that have confounded political pundits and even his cabinet colleagues.

"Campbell's been wackier than Britney Spears on crack," exclaimed one cabinet minister speaking on condition of anonymity. "I half expect him to show up at the Legislature with his head shaved and Paris Hilton on his arm!

"First he sucked up to the aboriginals and then the bloody environmentalists," the shaken minister said. "But when he jacked up welfare rates I knew it just wasn't the same premier who slashed and burned government for years - something was deeply wrong with Gordon."

The premier's behaviour mystified other supporters. Phil Hochstein, president of the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association, which has donated over $250,000 to the B.C. Liberals, described the recent B.C. budget as coming from a "left-wing government".

Doctors who performed the emergency surgery sometime last year warned that the new left-wing heart might cause side- effects but they were overwhelmed when Campbell began reading Karl Marx's Das Capital while recovering in hospital.

"You know, some of this stuff about the bourgeoisie and workers seizing the means of production really makes sense to me," Campbell reportedly told worried surgeons.

In a desperate medical effort to reverse the effects of the left-wing heart transplant, a group of right-wing politicians donated blood to Campbell.

Former Alberta Premier Ralph Klein volunteered immediately but his blood had to be politely rejected when tests showed Klein still had a disturbingly high residual level of alcohol months after he quit drinking.

Fortunately, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, former Reform Party leader Preston Manning and Campbell's brother Michael all donated blood to temporarily right the left-leaning premier.

And the B.C. Liberal cabinet minister still believes Campbell can completely recover.

"Now that I know what's happened I only hope Gordon can be re-transplanted with a new right-wing heart - otherwise, his premiership is over," he said. "Unless Campbell wants to keep his new heart, switch parties and replace Carole James."

Monday, February 26, 2007

Tieleman Guest Hosting Nightline BC tonight - Monday February 26 - on CKNW & Corus Radio Network

I will be guest hosting Nightline BC tonight from 7 to 9 p.m. on CKNW AM 980 and the Corus Radio Network throughout British Columbia, filling in for a snowbound Mike Smyth who is trapped in Toronto! What a fate.

And you can also listen online at

Tonight's hot topics:

7 p.m. - What happens if the Fraser River floods Fraser Valley? We'll talk to Province columnist Brian Lewis, who has been spearheading a series of articles in that newspaper.

7:30 p.m. - The growing issue of violent girls - what causes it and what can be done? We hear from Anita Roberts of SafeTeens.

8 p.m. - The childcare crisis - the Conservative government's decision to end federal child care funding represents a $455 million loss to BC over the next three years - BC Minister of State for Child Care Linda Reid talks about what the province is doing.

8:30 p.m - Sea lice and fish farms. Craig Orr of the Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform talks about the connection.

Tune in, call in, be heard.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

BC Budget - You're Paying Through The Nose For It

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 20, 2007

The budget circus


It's clearly a budget. It's got a lot of numbers in it.

- George W. Bush

If British Columbia's Legislature was a small town carnival, today's annual provincial budget would be the cheesy midway, with games where you spend $30 to win a prize worth a buck.

And taxpayers would be the rubes and marks so easily separated from their hard-earned money that they go home thinking they're big winners.

So step right up, ladies and gentlemen, and try your luck!

B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Carole Taylor is the head carny, delivering a budget this afternoon intended to fool you into believing, as one bank's television ads tell us, that: "You're richer than you think."

Well, you're not. You paid through the nose for the B.C. government's surplus of somewhere near $3 billion.

And that extra $885 million the generous Taylor has already said she will spend on your health care? Yep, she picked your pocket without you even noticing!

But what a great smile and, unlike last year, Taylor probably won't wear new $600 Gucci's to distract rubes from the con.

Here's just some of the ways you have already been fleeced before you even get to the carnival.

Medical Services Plan Premiums - These were increased by a whopping 50 per cent in 2002 by the B.C. Liberals and never reduced.

That means each year you give the government an extra $468 million dollars over the $954 million it collected in 2001/02, for a whopping total of $1.42 billion a year. And you still get patients lying in hospital hallways.

Post Secondary Fees - Got a college student in your family? Gee, that's too bad, because tuition is over double what it used to be.

University, college and other post secondary institution fees have jumped dramatically under the B.C. Liberals, from $452 million in 2001/02 to $985 million this year, a big $533 million hike.

Fuel Tax - You are paying a lot more for fuel, thanks in part to an almost forgotten tax grab by the government in 2003. That's when carnival ringmaster Premier Gordon Campbell told us B.C. needed a 3.5-cent-a-litre increase in gas taxes.

It helped fuel tax revenue jump from $659 million in 2001/02 to $945 million this year, a tidy $286-million "gas and dash" at the pumps - at your expense.

Liquor Distribution Branch - Taxes driving you to drink? Pay up again! Booze income has grown by $157 million since 2001/02, a happy hour boost of 25 per cent.

Why? Perhaps because a bottle of Hogue Cellars cabernet/merlot from Washington sells for just $6.99 in their state liquor store and a whopping $13.99 here at home.

So watch out today for the government's hand in your pocket!

Hear Bill Tieleman Mondays at 10 a.m. on CKNW AM 980's Bill Good Show. Website at:

Friday, February 16, 2007

Tieleman in Mexico till February 24

Buenas dias amigos y amigas!

I am travelling in Merida, Mexico - back February 24.

More posts then.


Bill Tieleman

Monday, February 12, 2007

The BC Liberal Throne Speech - what it should but probably won't say

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column

Tuesday February 13, 2007

BC Liberal Throne Speech today – what it should but probably won’t say


Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results not attributes.

- Peter Drucker

Tuesday is Speech from the Throne day in British Columbia, an occasion of pomp and circumstance as well as pomposity and circumvention of important issues by weasel words.

As usual for all political parties – the throne speech will be full of platitudes and worthy goals but lacking in details or commitment.

And while Lieutenant Governor Iona Campagnola delivers the speech on behalf of Queen Elizabeth, our official head of state, it is the backroom boys and girls in Premier Gordon Campbell’s office that actually write it.

All indications are that Campbell’s government will have lots to say about the literally hot topic of the environment but here’s what the throne speech should – and almost surely won’t – say:

* * * * *

“As we begin a new session of the British Columbia Legislature, our province is experiencing untold wealth but also unparalleled poverty.

It is deeply shameful that on the streets of every major city homeless people beg for spare change, sleep in the doorways and suffer needlessly when our economy is so robust.

We can easily see why homelessness has more than doubled - my government made draconian cuts to social assistance in our first term that reduced eligibility and benefits for our poorest citizens.

The Ministry of Human Resources budget alone was slashed - expenditures dropped from $1.93 billion in 2001-2002 to $1.37 billion this past year.

This has been a terrible mistake and your government apologizes for it.

Concurrently, this province will also reverse course to again become a leader in building social housing, so that no one need be without a warm, dry and affordable home regardless of their income.

To partially fund this work, we will introduce a sliding scale reduction in the provincial homeowner grant – so that those living in houses with values approaching $1 million will increasingly help those without shelter.

Many of the homeless on our streets are suffering from drug addiction. This government will begin a new initiative to dramatically boost drug and alcohol treatment programs.

Our promise will be that any British Columbian who wants to enter de-tox will be able to do so within 48 hours of making that decision.

This promise will not only be compassionate, it will be cost-effective. We pay daily for property and other crimes committed by the addicted.

And the health care costs of those who are addicted, including those who contract HIV-AIDS, hepatitis and other serious illnesses are both significant and avoidable.

We have made many grievous mistakes – today, we begin to correct them.”

* * * * *

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Calling Lorne Mayencourt! Pollsters phoning Vancouver Centre voters in effort to see if MLA Mayencourt can be the next Conservative MP

Controversial BC Liberal MLA Lorne Mayencourt may be the "safe" choice for federal Conservatives as their candidate for Vancouver Centre Member of Parliament to take on Liberal Hedy Fry.

There have been one or possibly two polling efforts undertaken in recent weeks in Vancouver Centre to gauge Mayencourt's support for a possible candidacy. Polling was continuing as of February 1 and some was done before that.

The poll asks a number of questions that help identify Mayencourt as the author of the "Safe Streets Act" - the private members bill that banned "aggressive panhandling" and squeegeeing cars at intersections and the "Safe Schools Act" as well.

Other questions include:

"What is your impression of the following politicians: favourable or unfavourable; somewhat or very?

Stephen Harper

Jack Layton

Stephane Dion

Gordon Campbell

Carole James

Hedy Fry

Svend Robinson

What party did you vote for in the last federal election?

What party did you vote for in the last provincial election?

Who do you intend to vote for in the upcoming federal election?

According to one alert reader the company involved is NRG Research, a company formerly known as Nordic Research which merged with Western Opinion Research.

Western Opinion Research was the pollster of record for Gordon Campbell's BC Liberal Party.

NRG Research Senior Vice-President Adam Di Paula told me by email today that:

"Company policy is that we can’t discuss who are clients are or what they may be polling on—unless of course they release that on their own accord."

But it's possible that there are two polls. The question is - who wants to know?

Obviously either the Conservative Party or Lorne Mayencourt, potential candidate - or both.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Resigned BC Liberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett proves himself a $25,000 bonehead

Ex-Minister of State Bill Bennett - bonehead once again

I've called BC Liberal cabinet minister Bill Bennett a bonehead before - and now he just had to go out and prove it again!

Bennett flamed out in an email with obscene language not to an NDP symp or union supporter but - bonehead play - to the president of the Fernie Rod & Gun Club!

And that misanthropic missive cost Bennett a cool $25,000 a year - the money he was collecting for being a junior Minister of State - in other words, Minister with Letterhead and not much more.

A tip of the hat to my 24 hours colleague Sean Holman, also of who first broke the story on Tuesday.

Obviously Bennett's exalted position got to his head because how else can you explain using language unfit for a daily newspaper to belittle someone who dared criticize Bennett.

In his email to Maarten Hart, Bennett wrote that: "It is my understanding that you are an American, so I don't give a shit what your opinion is on Canada or Canadian residents."

"As someone who has spent the past six years working my ass off for my constituents, I am not about to take that kind of bullshit from someone who, for all I know, is up here as an American spy who is actually interested in helping the US create a park in the Flathead," Bennett continued.

"I will continue to work for hunters and anglers in the East Kootenay as I always have and you will continue to be a self-inflated, pompous, American know-it-all.

Have a nice day.

Bill Bennett"

Bennett - obviously no relation to former Social Credit Premier Bill Bennett - is prone to gaffes.

In October of last year he accused the BC NDP of planning a campaign of "dirty tricks" against Premier Gordon Campbell's Conversation on Health and that they would be advised by "American strategists" who might be "Democrats or Republicans".

His "evidence"?

Bennett told Province reporter Ian Bailey that he had learned some New Democrats had been to Washington, D.C. for seminars, "where they were trying to teach people about how to practise politics in a more effective and negative way."

Of course, Bennett didn't realize that Premier Campbell's chief of staff Martyn Brown had been doing the same thing - attending seminars in Washington on political strategy and tactics.

Ironically, just a few days after the first Healthcare Conversation it's not the NDP who pull a dirty trick on the Premier but his own minister, Bill "Bonehead" Bennett!

Basi-Virk case key crown witness Erik Bornmann was guest at Canadian state luncheons for Chinese, Mexican Presidents in September 2005

Bill Tieleman’s 24 Hours Column
Tuesday February 6, 2007

A strange guest


The art of being a good guest is to know when to leave.

- Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh

Erik Bornmann, the crown's key witness against ex-provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk in their bribery trial, was a guest at official Canadian state luncheons in Vancouver for Chinese President Hu Jiantao and Mexican President Vicente Fox in September 2005, 24 hours has learned.

Police allege that Bornmann provided compensation to Basi and Virk in exchange for confidential government documents about the $1 billion BC Rail privatization deal in 2003. Bornmann was a lobbyist for OmniTRAX, one of the bidders.

Bornmann's Vancouver home and the office of his Victoria lobby firm, Pilothouse Public Affairs, were searched by police on Dec. 28, 2003, the same day they searched the B.C. Legislature.
In April 2005, 24 hours first disclosed that Bornmann had become the key Crown witness against Basi and Virk.

Former Liberal Party of Canada B.C. Chief of Staff Mike Witherly told 24 hours he was unaware why Bornmann was in attendance at both events, hosted by then-Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, or who invited him.

"No. I don't know. It was a large process," said Witherly, the former Chief of Staff for the LPC BC office who had also served as Martin's senior B.C. political advisor. Questioned further, Witherly only replied: "It was a large process."

Bornmann was a key organizer in B.C. for Martin's Liberal leadership campaign and a former LPC B.C. executive member.

Bornmann attended the luncheon for Chinese President Jintao on Sept 17, 2005 and Mexican President Fox on Sept 30, 2005. Both were held at the Westin Bayshore.

There also remain unanswered questions about Jamie Elmhirst, who resigned last month as LPC B.C. president but was subpoenaed to testify in the Basi-Virk case on Oct. 4, 2006.

Elmhirst was business partners in Pilothouse with Bornmann and Brian Kieran, who is also scheduled to testify for the crown against Basi, Virk in the April 2 trial.

Mark Grant, LPC B.C. Executive Director, told 24 hours by e-mail that the state luncheons: "Were not organized by the Liberal Party of Canada in B.C. I also want to point out that Mike Witherly was not in charge of LP CBC during that time."

Mark Marissen, who was federal Liberal Leader Stephane Dion's leadership campaign manager and now co-chairs the Liberal Party national election campaign team, said in an e-mail to 24 hours that he did not know about Elmhirst's subpoena to testify.

"I was first aware of it from your story in 24 hours," Marissen wrote. In response to a question whether he had at any point discussed the subpoena with Elmhirst, Marissen replied that: "Given that this is a matter before the courts, I did not feel it was appropriate to ask him about any details associated with his subpoena."