Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Brad Zubyk's strange political trip to the right

I've known Brad Zubyk for quite a long time - since he first went to work for the Mike Harcourt NDP government back in 1991.

I've also worked with Brad several times - he is an affable and humorous guy to spend time with who has a lot of experience in NDP politics as well as working on other campaigns around the world. He ran former NDP MLA Corky Evans two NDP leadership campaigns and worked for Vision Vancouver's winning campaign last fall that resulted in Mayor Gregor Robertson's election.

That's why I am extremely disappointed with Brad's strange political trip to the right - and particularly with his most recent work in the provincial election for the Independent Contractors and Businesses Association.

The ICBA and president Phil Hochstein have been arch enemies of both the labour movement and the NDP for years and one of the BC Liberal Party's largest donors.

In the 2009 election the ICBA acted as the proxy bad cop for Gordon Campbell, running a series of radio and television ads attacking the NDP and particularly leader Carole James.

So it was with considerable shock that I read Sean Holman's report on Public Eye Online that Zubyk had worked with the ICBA during the election on their anti-NDP campaign.

I contacted Zubyk by email to offer him the opportunity to respond and received this reply:

Brad Zubyk: "I offered general advice to a number of organizations on how I would run an $150,000 campaign. They included a CFS local, an environmental group, business groups and an ad company. That is what my business does."

Here's how the ICBA described their campaign:

* * * * *

The Independent Contractors and Businesses Association (ICBA) of BC today launched a new series of television and radio ads and a new phase for their online Vote Smart BC campaign by taking dead aim at the lack of change within the NDP and drawing clear links between the current NDP led by Carole James and the economically destructive NDP governments of the 1990s.

“Carole James talks about a new, more moderate NDP, but she has surrounded herself with staff, MLAs and candidates who were the architects of the debacle in the nineties, and we will show that,” says ICBA President Philip Hochstein. The new ads compliment a new campaign on the
Vote Smart BC website with the theme “All in the Family.”

ICBA is taking a stand in the May 12th election campaign
to prevent a return to the NDP that directly attacked independent, family-owned construction businesses with policies like union-only hiring, pension suspension legislation, and badly hurt the economy. Hochstein says that unlike the campaigns of COPE378 and other unions, the Vote Smart BC campaign will be fact-based and defensive in nature.

Votesmartbc.com will point out the connections between today’s NDP and senior members of NDP administrations of the 1990s by profiling one senior NDP official every day. Hochstein calls this ‘the resume Carole James does not want people to see.’

* * * * *

As disturbing as it is that Zubyk would have no problem giving Hochstein his best advice, in a way, I shouldn't be too surprised.

Zubyk also acted recently as an expert witness on behalf of the BC Liberal government in its defence of Bill 42 - the "gag law" that restricted spending prior to and during the provincial election.

Zubyk had been the NDP's director of candidate support in the 2005 election campaign - now his role for the BC Liberal government's defence was to describe how unions support NDP efforts.

Zubyk told the Globe and Mail's Justine Hunter he had no problem testifying for the BC Liberals: "I agree 100 per cent with the government, the idea that money equals voice is dangerous to democracy."

Zubyk's key role in the past NDP campaign and his willingness to help his former opponents was useful to the government.

"I was impressed with the evidence of Mr. Zubyk," Judge Frank Cole wrote in his 127-page decision.

Zubyk also acted as spokesperson for the federal Liberal Party in the 2008 election, including when they put out the dirt on NDP candidate Julian West, who was forced to withdraw from the race in Saanich-Gulf Islands as the Liberals tried to win with Briony Penn against Conservative Gary Lunn.

Here's an excerpt from The Tyee's coverage:

* * * * *

“If Jack Layton's not willing to vet his candidates, we will,” said Brad Zubyk, the director of communications for the Liberals B.C. campaign. “We make no apologies. If they're not going to do due diligence on their people, we'll do it for them.”

The NDP's
Julian West withdrew from the race in Saanich-Gulf Islands today after a 12-year-old story resurfaced about inappropriate behaviour at a youth conference. Some media reports have said Liberal party officials raised the story. Posters on some internet sites have blamed Zubyk personally.

“The Liberal Party did that,” Zubyk said, though he denied deserving credit himself. “It's all public domain. Quite frankly, we don't apologize for it. None of this is particularly hard to find.”

* * * * *

All in all, very disappointing.

Zubyk obviously is pretty comfortable with his new role but I find it rather sad.



G West said...

Why sad Bill? Brad's hardly the first guy who discovered he liked money more than morality and craved
Influence more than he cared about values.

Don't waste a moment trying to understand such characters...just be glad he's gone: And gone to a place where he'll find lots of kindred souls - the only question I'd ask him is where all the money in the Liberal coffers comes from each election cycle; and why that largesse doesn't corrupt the process a lot more than a few thousands of union dollars does.

Good riddance to bad rubbish! And Mr Justice Frank Cole ought to know better - once upon a time he DID know better. Now THAT is sad!

Anonymous said...

Maybe Mr. Zubyk's strange transformation is linked to his new relationship with Brian Kieran. Something he may come to regret as things unfold.

BC Mary said...

There's a behavioural science theory half-remembered from univerity studies. It goes as follows:

An oppressed people -- realizing that the enemy is too powerful to overcome -- will turn against one another.

That line has haunted me since May 12, 2009 when the Progressives pushed back hard against a hydra-headed adversary. Brought them to a standstill.

Instead of resting, and taking pride in the brave fight scored against a virtual wall of oppression, no, progressive people began to turn on one another: calling for Carole James to step down. Expressing outrage about a boring NDP campaign strategy. Stuff like that, while the Double-Crossing Premier gets 4 more years to destroy rivers, lakes, oceans, fish ...

I dunno, Bill. Zubyk's strange politial trip could, in my view, fit right into that profile of citizens overwhelmed by the adversaries. God knows, there were adversaries:

*Public Affairs Bureau,
*Bill 42,
*The branch of Gordo's Gang masquerading as the Green Party,
*The Construction & Road-builders' Assoc. thinking only of the jobs involved,
*Gordo's Gang itself.


Norm Farrell said...

Zubyk is not the first, nor will he be the last turncoat. Youthful idealism shrinks away in time and Mr. or Ms. Ethical Activist becomes either pragmatic or unprincipled, depending on the observer's point of view.

Ex Greenpeace member Patrick Moore is an example from years ago and Tzeporah Berman from months ago. These clowns seldom admit to cashing in; they generally profess high minded purposes behind the change. Ms Berman didn't hesitate to interfere with some anonymous logger's livelihood but now claims ethical high ground when she works on behalf of the river despoilers.

Anonymous said...

In the old-days Brad was a frequent running dog lackey working for the Paul Martin team in Victoria.

He used to march arm in arm with Senator Mark and his Lordship David Anderson so Brad going over the Dollar-Side is no surprise.

Wait a year and Brad will be a guest-lecturer supporting Junk Science at the Fraser Institute.


Anonymous said...

What’s said is that you choose to attack Zubyk because unlike you he is actually respected in circles outside of the leftist NDP Union dominated lemming club.

The fact that he can also land paying work in the real world instead of being a has been political hack also speaks volumes for his character and abilities as well.

Basically I smell an envious personal attack launched by a jealous wannabe media consultant.

Anonymous said...

@ sensitive sniffer above... LMFAO

Rod Smelser said...

To put it as mildly as possible, an interesting article. Very interesting.

After Zubyk's role in the NDP Federal candidate implosions of last Fall, I was personally worried about any suggestion that come this Spring Zubyk would be back on the NDP's side provincially. I frankly thought that would amount to a security risk.

I think it's about time that investigative reporters got to the bottom of the attacks on Julian West, in particular the Brownhill-Gnyp press release that the commercial mass media and some in the NDP heirarchy accepted uncritically as The Truth.

David St. Hubbins said...

It's called political opportunism. It's very common in politics. Especially among so-called communications and PR professionals.

Moreover, it's not like the divide between the increasingly centrist NDP and the increasingly centrist BC Liberals represents much of a "trip" - especially for a PR hack.

You can be sure if the NDP wins a landslide victory in 2013, people like Zubyk will be among the first knocking at the "socialist" door, eagerly offering their services.

Rod Smelser said...

[i]You can be sure if the NDP wins a landslide victory in 2013, people like Zubyk will be among the first knocking at the "socialist" door, eagerly offering their services.[/i]

David, I certainly hope any such knocks will go unanswered. Philosophies of left, right and centre are hardly the only selection criteria, and most often the least useful.

I was unaware of Brad Zubyk's federal Liberal affiliations until last fall, when I learned of it from NDP campaign officials. I was quite surprised and it showed. They assured me this was nothing new, it has been going on for several elections.

As I said above, given the personality politics that came out in last October's contest, the destruction of three NDP candidates using essentially old stories, raised suspicions with me.

If the person who conducted those smears of NDP federal candidates were to be hanging around the BC NDP office some months later, what would he really be looking for? Could it be more ammunition for the next federal election?

Anonymous said...

Whats sad is that you cant get down off your myopic NDP high horse.

The NDP has become a regressive political party, advocating for dead ideology and backwards public policy.

Anyone with half a brain would flee that sinking boat.

You cant change the world if you are never in power, and with the way the NDP is run, they will never hold government again provincially, and certainly not federally.

Wingnuts like yourself make membership in the NDP embarassing to any reasonable individual.

Anonymous said...

@ reasonable person above... hahaha. Please Brad, stop the trolling.

Rod Smelser said...

Anonymous 11:56Wingnuts like yourself make membership in the NDP embarassing to any reasonable individual.Was this directed at me? Assuming it was, fine, but what did I say that was nuts? I am opposed to McCarthyist political tactics wherever they appear, and in last Fall's federal election there was a fair bit of that coming from the Liberals in BC, under Brad Zubyk's direction. How does that make me a wingnut?

BTW, is the following anonymous poster right in suggesting that Anon 11:56 is none other than the subject of this story?

Anonymous said...

Sincking ship?
The NDP may well be sailing to victory in Nova Scotia next month.

Anonymous said...

You're disappointed that Zubyk revealed that a federal NDP canadidate may have inappropriate exposed himself to youth?

Wow Bill, you amaze me every day!

DPL said...

I don't know Zubyk so really can't say if he has shifted right or not. But it seems some folks named Anon sure don't like Tielemans position on just about anything and get insulting as well. Do those folks not know that their computers have a specific address even if they don't have the gonads to use some name beyond Anon. People who take positions should be willing to say who they are or have no position at all. I recall some wizbang who used a government computer to contradict the policy of the folks he worked for.He got into a dualling email with little old me who was smart enought to copy the arguemnts over to his boss. Didn't take long to run him to ground. Free speach is great but there are limits and some go beyond limits often

Rod Smelser said...

Anonymous 10:09You're disappointed that Zubyk revealed that a federal NDP canadidate may have inappropriate exposed himself to youth?I cannot speak for anyone else, but I am disgusted by the McCarthyist smear that was used to destroy the candidacy of a highly qualified individual.

Having read the press release prepared by two very hard-nosed Green Party politicos who claimed to be witnesses to the events of many years ago, I am intrigued to put it very mildly. It's very, very carefully worded (lawyered?) and contains some perfunctory political material that is completely out of place in a statement from an actual victim.


IOWs, it has no more credibility with me than an affadavit from Rachel Marsden, witnessed by Anita Braha. I believe that the commercial mass media have a lot to answer for on this one, since they ran with that press release uncritically and without any real scrutiny. They did that because ruining the NDP's chances was part of their continuing editorial agenda, and they just didn't care about damage to individuals and their careers.

I asked one of BC's supposed star reporters about that and he just blew me off, saying if the candidate has been working for several years at his day job he'll have no problem going back there no matter what kind of damaging publicity he and other reporters dumped on the guy during the election. A real great attitude, alright.