Sunday, February 08, 2009

Is Michael Ignatieff giving federal Liberal Party control to Paul Martin-Stephane Dion forces? Why is Bruce Clark running big donor Laurier Club?

Some federal Liberal Party activists are wondering if and why new interim leader Michael Ignatieff is giving back power to key players who backed Paul Martin in the internally bitter and divisive leadership battle with Jean Chretien to become Prime Minister.

And they are asking questions, quietly and privately, about why controversial Liberal
Bruce Clark is chairing the high dollar donor Laurier Club in BC, among other roles in fundraising for the party.

Laurier Club is made up of Liberal Party members who give $1100 per year in a single donation or through monthly installments.

And according to federal Liberal sources, the Laurier Club's paid administrator is Forrest Parlee, a senior associate at the Burrard Group, the communications and strategy firm run by Mark Marissen, Martin's former BC lieutenant and then National Campaign Manager in former federal Liberal leader Stephane Dion's surprise successful 2006 leadership campaign and National Campaign Co-Chair for the devastating October 2008 federal election.

Clark will presumably be front and centre on Tuesday February 10, when - as reported by my 24 hours colleague Sean Holman of Public Eye Online - federal Liberal Party presidential candidate Alfred Apps visits Vancouver for an exclusive breakfast with members of the Laurier Club at the law offices of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, as well as a grip and grin at the Labatt Beer Institute on Monday February 9.

Apps, a Toronto partner of the firm, is running against Ontario party president Mike Crawley for the position. Crawley is also CEO of a private Ontario-based wind power firm, AIM Power Generation.

Bruce Clark has an interesting past, including a

major connection with the BC Legislature Raid and the corruption charges trial of three former BC Liberal provincial government aides - David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi, a role as the major Paul Martin fundraiser in BC when the former Finance Minister moved up to Prime Minister, as well as serving on the executive of the federal Liberal party's B.C. wing, a stint lobbying against anti-smoking regulations and a job as CEO of money-losing Canada Payphone Corporation.

In the BC Legislature Raid case, Clark is alleged by police in Information To Obtain search warrant applications to have received government documents from Basi pertaining to a second BC Rail privatization, the proposed sale of BC Rail's Roberts Bank spur line for up to $100 million.

According to a police search warrant ITO sworn by RCMP Corporal Andrew Cowan, the residence of Bruce Clark -- then a federal B.C. Liberal executive -- was searched because:

"I believe that CLARK received documents pertaining to a Request for Proposal and presentations regarding Roberts Bank. I believe that CLARK has had meeting with BASI. I believe the items sought will be found at..." then giving Bruce Clark's Vancouver home address, the ITO concludes.

It should be stressed that the ITO contains unproven allegations that have never been tested in court.

B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon cancelled that sale in March 2004 after being told by the RCMP that the process had been compromised by the leak of confidential information to a bidder.

Clark's home was searched by police in December 2003, along with the BC Legislature, the home of David Basi, and the home of Erik Bornmann - the provincial lobbyist for OmniTRAX - the losing BC Rail bidder - who is now the Crown's key witness against Basi, Virk and Aneal Basi. The offices of Bornmann's now-defunct firm, Pilothouse Public Affairs, were also searched by police.

Bornmann's partners at Pilothouse were Brian Kieran, the former Province political columnist turned lobbyist - another key Crown witness, and Jamie Elmhirst - a past federal Liberal Party of Canada BC branch president and former aide to BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell and former BC Liberal cabinet minister turned federal Liberal MP Joyce Murray.

And Clark's sister is former BC Liberal Deputy Premier and Education Minister Christy Clark, while his brother-in-law is Mark Marissen.

David Basi was a key Paul Martin organizer in BC, blamed personally by former Chretien federal cabinet minister Herb Dhaliwal for organizing the takeover of his then Vancouver South riding association in one of the nasty battles of the war between the party's titans.

It should, of course, be pointed out that neither Bruce Clark nor anyone else mentioned here save Basi, Virk and Basi face any charges in regard to the BC Legislature Raid case, though it is highly likely Clark will be a witness in the trial.

Interestingly, many of the group of federal Liberal Party activists who strongly backed Paul Martin in his successful efforts to force Jean Chretien out of the Prime Minister's office and later backed Stephane Dion's leadership bid after Martin resigned are now said to be moving into position of influence during Ignatieff's early days as interim leader.

Will Ignatieff put his own stamp on the BC Liberal Party of Canada organization? Or will the activists who have controlled the party since the early 2000s continue to run the show?

Interestingly, the Liberal Party's BC branch website still features photos of now-resigned leader Stephane Dion and promotes the discredited "Green Shift" carbon tax that helped sewer the Liberal campaign. It's a mistake the federal party website doesn't make.

Ignatieff's decision will have long-term repercussions either way, but count on the federal Conservative Party to target controversial Liberal Party connections in the next election if they are in positions of power.

For example, in January 2007 senior Tory John Reynolds slammed the federal Liberal Party for the "embarrassing" failure to remove its B.C. branch president Jamie Elmhirst after he was subpoenaed to testify in the breach of trust case against former provincial government aides David Basi and Bob Virk. Elmhirst was under subpoena to testify in the trial for three months before he resigned as president.

If the federal Conservatives are looking for a target of opportunity, Bruce Clark certainly provides lots to work with.

At last report, Clark is currently Vice-President of Green Island Energy Corporation, a firm that planned to convert garbage into energy in Gold River on Vancouver Island and sell it to BC Hydro. Originally pop singer Jewel was involved but she is no longer an investor.

Green Island Energy announced last year it was partnering with Covanta Energy, a major US firm involved in energy from waste projects. Interestingly, Public Eye Online reports that former BC Liberal Party President Andrew Wilkinson - also a former Deputy Minister to Premier Gordon Campbell - has registered as a lobbyist for Covanta in BC. And who was once a Vice-President at Covanta? None other than BC Ferries CEO David Hahn.

Clark's role as a lobbyist for the Lower Mainland Hospitality Industry Group drew fire from anti-tobacco groups, including AirSpace, because it vigorously fought a proposed Vancouver bylaw restricting smoking in the workplace in 1995.

The Lower Mainland Hospitality Industry Group, according to anti-smoking groups and the Vancouver Richmond Health Board, was funded by the tobacco industry.

The earlier Canada Payphone role also brought some interesting connections together around Bruce Clark.

As I wrote in a column for the Georgia Straight in 2004:

"Clark was CEO of a money-losing telecommunications company called Canada Payphone Corporation between late 1998 and late 2000, earning up to $115,000 a year.

Patrick Kinsella, the influential cochair of the 2001 B.C. Liberal election campaign along with Christy Clark, was a director of Canada Payphone from 1995 to 2001, as well as buying a private placement and having share options, according to Stockwatch.

The Progressive Group, Kinsella's consulting firm, also bought a private placement in Canada Payphone in 1996 and received shares for debt in 1999. Kinsella and his firm have given more than $50,000 to the B.C. Liberals since 1996.

Bornman was Canada Payphone's communications director in 2000 and 2001.

The Earnscliffe Strategy Group, a powerful Ottawa-based public- and government-relations and research firm, became "consultants" to Canada Payphone in 1995.

Earnscliffe was a "virtual parallel finance department" when Paul Martin was minister, according to the Globe and Mail, with the firm winning $1.6 million in communications contracts from the finance department from September 1993 until July 2002.

Earnscliffe partners David Herle and Scott Reid were both senior Martin political advisers who held enormous influence with the prime minister.

Canaccord Capital, whose CEO, Peter Brown, is a major supporter of Gordon Campbell, helped Canada Payphone with a brokered private placement of two million units, with shares valued at $1.40 each. Those shares are currently worth just nine cents apiece. Canada Payphone losses for financial year 2003 were $1.8 million while those reported for financial year 2002 were $5 million.

Canaccord donated more than $191,000 to the B.C. Liberal Party between 1996 and 2002.

Darcy Rezac, executive director of the Vancouver Board of Trade and B.C. Liberal political supporter, was another investor in Canada Payphone.

The Neighbourhood Pub Owners' Association of BC chose Canada Payphone as its official payphone supplier in December 1998. The executive director of the association was then Brenda Locke, now Liberal MLA for Surrey­-Green Timbers."

Ignatieff faces some difficult choices in BC - but that's what being leader of a federal party and wanting to prove you can be prime minister is all about.


Anonymous said...

You may also note that Ignatieff himself is not eligible for membership in the Laurier Club because (according to a TV news report this weekend) unlike Chretien, Martin, Dion and Bob Rae, Iggy did not donate any of his own money to the Liberal Party of Canada last year.

Another fine post, Bill.

Anonymous said...

It appears the currently impoverished BC aging army of "Marissenite Jugend" have found a new source of funding to tie them over until they can get back on the Federal trough.

This "lifeboat of pork" is no other than the Gordon Campbell re-election campaign which currently has lots of neo-con dollars to spread around over the next few months in its holy crusade to save BC from Socialism.

So many of the Gritty names you write about Bill will be showing up on the Campbellite order of battle in the near future.


Anonymous said...

Effectively since late 1997 there has been no Liberal Party of Canada in British Columbia.

In the fallout of the APEC 97 public relations mess the Martinites lead by Mark Marissen and Co. purged almost every Liberal who did not sign on to the Martinite reign.

After eleven years of Martinite-Dionite Anarchy in BC . . . "Count Iggy" is faced with the reality that if he wants to do anything in this province he has to deal with these closet neo-cons.

Marissen's crowd and his fellow-travellers in the BC media are as true to Liberal values as Gordon Campbell is, so Iggy has a real rough road ahead.


Anonymous said...


You're not that great.

Anonymous said...

One thing you failed to mention was that both Bruce Clark and Mark Marissen were supporters of Ignatieff's bid to become the leader to replace Dion, and would have had their hands full with that leadership race if there was an actual contest.

If they supported Bob Rae or Domenic LeBlanc, they might have been shown the door, but it's pretty hard to kick out the people who are helping you.

Anonymous said...

Bruce Clark & Mark Marissen having lost their last two meal tickets (Martin & Dion) are permanently on the hunt for anything with a open wallet, public or private sector.

So for these or any other failed Martinite Running Dogs to now support Count Iggy means nothing, since if Dick Cheney offered them a bit of pork they would be out there spinning for keeping Gitmo open.

You have to understand for this crowd the issues are neither Left, Right nor Centre . . . it all revolves around the personal-acquistion of money and power by any means "without having to break a sweat while doing so".


Anonymous said...

Things will never change for the Liberals as long as this incestuous group is still pulling the strings.

Anonymous said...

Clark and Parlee are helping fundraise, how does this constitute handing over control?

Your hate for these people is perplexing.

Anonymous said...

Well ... I was just beginning to think more kindly toward Michael Ignatieff ... but now this sleazy old gang is climbing back onto the bandwagon.

This can't be good news either federally or provincially.


Anonymous said...

More! More! MORE!

Love the stories about 'Spiderman' Bornmann!

Anonymous said...

To the first poster: Not only did Iggy not donate to the LP, but he had to take out a membership to run in his liberal safe riding AND don't forget this guy did not pay any taxes in Canada for 36 years.

Anonymous said...

Well Bill, let us also remember that Erik Bornmann made serious allegations regarding Bruce Clark.

Anonymous said...

Bill, you neglected to mention a very significant point that has already been documented in a Gary Mason column. Most notably that Bornmann accused Clark of bribing Basi and Virk. Clark was quoted in the Mason column stating that accusations were made but they were proven to be false.

Spider man spider man, our friendly neighborhood spiderman!!

Anonymous said...

Superb story. Superb detail.

The Pundits' Guide said...

It's not technically possible to claim that Michael Ignatieff did not donate to the Federal Liberal party based only on the party quarterly submissions for 2008. It's only true at this point in time to say that he did not make any donations big enough to exceed the reporting thresholds for any of the 4 quarterly submissions.

Once the 2008 annual reports are released in the summer, it could turn out that Mr. Ignatieff had contributed as much as $800 to his party.

On the other hand, it's mathematically impossible for him to have contributed the maximum amount of $1100 to his party and not appear on at least one of the quarterly returns.

Anonymous said...

Michael has as much control over the Laurier Club as the Canucks coach has over season ticket holders. He can bench certain players if they are not performing the way he wants, e.g. Hedy Fry, Joyce Murray, but he has no control over the behavior of the fans, which is what Laurier Club members are, a Liberal fan club.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,

Your comments about me are puzzling to say the least. Perhaps I could clarify the facts for the record:

1. I have never been a member of the Liberal Party or any other party for that matter. Nor have I ever made a donation to any political party or even bought a ticket to a fundraiser.

2. Your comments about Canada Payphone are also puzzling. Yes, I was an investor years ago and lost money on it. And, I didn't know the CEO.

I would appreciate your editing the comments on your blog accordingly. Thank you.

Kind regards,

Darcy Rezac

Anonymous said...

Interesting tidbit from the ever effective Public Eye's Sean Holman: "Here's a fascinating factoid for those paying attention to former provincial Liberal campaign co-chair Patrick Kinsella. According to Election British Columbia, between 2005 and 2007, Mr. Kinsella's companies Progressive Holdings Ltd. and Progressive Strategies Ltd. donated $74,714.00 to the Liberals. But the party's most recent financing report - which covers the period from January 1 to October 29, 2008 - records no donations from Mr. Kinsella or those two firms."

Bill Tieleman said...

Thanks Darcy - I always strive for accuracy and am always willing to correct any mistakes, so I appreciate your comments.

I don't think I suggested you were a Liberal Party member, it was just an interesting collection of people around Canada Payphone - sorry you lost money on it, and it was not my intention to infer that those who invested were federal Liberals - Patrick Kinsella for one would be most aghast.

Anonymous said...

My God Bill. It looks like some folks who arn't called Anon, are reading your blog. The more the merrier especially if they can add to the debate. This story has a lot of twists and turns and you help sort out some of it.

I have no idea who "The Great Satin" is but at least he calls himself something that keeps his stuff from being thrown in the mix of anons. So really how would we know if she or he, is great or not.
The person does come up with a lot of information and for that we should all be gratefull.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bill,
Thanks for your prompt response. Could you could see your way clear to deleting your comments about me in this article? Don't seem to contribute much to your arguement, other than reporting that I was dumb enough to invest in a bad stock. Trust me, it hasn't been the only one.

Anonymous said...

most of the article doesn't contribute to any argument other than partisan-inspired musdlinging anyway. (ie. what does Canada Payphone have to do with the Liberal Party?)

The first couple paragraphs were kind of interesting like something you might find in a gossip column, but everything else was just cut and pasted from all of Bill's other innuendo-laded nonsense.

Why doesn't a journalist start trying to analyse every client Mr. Tieleman has served over the years and start making links to whoever might have an interesting story attached to them?

Anonymous said...

Cut-and-paste case in point:

"Earnscliffe partners David Herle and Scott Reid are both senior Martin political advisers who hold enormous influence with the new prime minister."

Oh really? We should tell Stephen Harper that.

G West said...

Curious, don't you think, that Mr Rezac is so relectant to admit to the company he keeps?

I wonder why.

And I'm certainly going to keep a copy of Bill's article and Darcy's strange reaction. As well as the submissions of a couple of other 'new' commenters who seem rather overly concerned with what a left-wing blogger is 'saying' about their habits and friends.

Strange indeed.

cheers Bill

Bill Tieleman said...

To Greater Satan - thanks for pointing out the inadvertent error on David Herle and Scott Reid - that has now been corrected.

I am always willing to correct any factual mistakes I make - and I'm obliged to those who point them out.

I have no editor here, no staff and often little time, so occasionally a error is made.

As to your other comments, you obviously don't like the content of my article - fair enough.

If you want to connect my clients to my reporting, go ahead.

If they have any complaint, it's that I can't write about my clients! I occasionally may mention them in passing in connection with a current event but I don't write about them because it's an obvious conflict of interest.

I do disclose my connections in some situations so my readers will understand where I'm coming from but I think most know I'm a left of centre commentator who owns his own business and calls it like he sees it.