Monday, May 31, 2010

Fight HST citizens Initiative petition reaches 10% minimum in all 85 BC ridings! Over 600,000 voters say No to HST!

Fight HST citizen Initiative petition has obtained 10% of voter signatures needed in each of BC's 85 ridings

I am very pleased to pass on this exciting news - what some commentators said was absolutely impossible has been achieved - and with over a month left to go in the Fight HST citizens Initiative campaign!

More than 600,000 British Columbians have signed the Fight HST petition.

When I first proposed an Initiative campaign in a 24 hours/The Tyee column back on August 18 of 2009 to stop the Harmonized Sales Tax announced by the BC Liberal government just the month before, I knew the odds could be daunting against success.

But I also knew that this was a "Field of Dreams" type situation - if you build it, they will come.

And that's exactly what British Columbians of all political persuasions - and none - have done. This is the most grassroots, shoestrings, low-budget campaign I have ever been involved with - and the results are incredibly gratifying.

It started with my Facebook protest group NO BC HST - now the second largest Facebook group in BC, behind only the Vancouver Canucks, with over 126,000 members. And then it simply took off into the stratosphere, despite all odds and most predictions.

Congratulations are due to former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm first and foremost. His determination and energy are what has made Fight HST so successful from the beginning.

Lead Organizer Chris Delaney has done an outstanding job as well, ensuring that this campaign stayed on track from the beginning and keeping folks from very different political backgrounds all aiming at the same target - the HST.

Our secret weapon has been Provincial Organizer Cheryl Baron - who has whipped the horses and kept all our Regional Organizers, Riding Captains and even Provincial Strategy Team in line from the beginning. Cheryl has been incredible.

Add in fundraising and organizing genius Sal Vetro, website coordinator Rainer Schmoll, Regional Coordinators Brad Slade and Chad Moats and literally more than 7,000 dedicated British Columbians who volunteered as canvassers and in other roles and you have an unbelievable Fight HST team!

Here then is an historic news release from Fight HST - thanks for your support and keep getting those signatures - the HST can be beaten!

* * * * *

News Release

Monday, May 31, 2010

Fight HST petition reaches 10% requirement in all 85 ridings

600,000 signatures province-wide, 71 ridings pass 15% or greater threshold, including Vancouver Quilchena.

Vander Zalm calls on Premier Campbell to conduct a “free vote” to repeal HST

Port Coquitlam – Fight HST lead organizer, Chris Delaney, says the petition to repeal the HST broke 600,000 signatures province wide this past weekend, and crossed the 10% minimum signature threshold in all 85 electoral districts. He says 71 ridings have hit 15% or better, including Finance Minister Hansen's own riding of Vancouver Quilchena.

Delaney says organizers are on track to achieve 15% or more signatures in the remaining 14 ridings by the end of next week. “This report represents only 70 of 85 ridings, with a number of ridings not reporting this week, and others still tabulating results from the weekend. We should make our internal 15% target in all ridings by the first or second week of June.”

Fight HST leader, Bill Vander Zalm, is urging Premier Gordon Campbell to conduct a free and open vote to repeal the HST when the petition Bill is presented to the legislature later this fall.

“We are calling on Premier Campbell to allow his MLAs to vote according to their constituent’s wishes to repeal the HST. With so many Liberals in weak ridings where they are certain to be Recalled if they vote against the petition, it is only fair to allow them the chance to save their political careers,” said Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm said that the Initiative Act was designed to reflect public opinion on issues of major importance to British Columbians. Not allowing MLAs to vote in support of their constituents wishes would be completely contrary to the spirit of the legislation.

“When Premier Campbell was first elected in 2001, he put out a paper stating he would overhaul the Recall and Initiative Act to make it more workable. He also committed himself to the concepts of direct democracy, transparency, and greater accountability to voters. In fact, he said repeatedly that his government would be the most transparent and accountable in the history of BC,” said Vander Zalm.

“Many people do not believe him anymore. They think he deliberately deceived people just to get their votes, since he never followed up on any of those promises.”

Vander Zalm points out that the premier’s recent comments regarding the HST petition have sent conflicting signals.

“He has admitted he now knows that British Columbians oppose his tax. He has agreed to allow the process to go forward, and to abide by the Initiative Act. This gives the impression that he’s going to listen to the people. But he recently told his friends in big business he will deliver on his promise to transfer the entire sales tax burden from them to consumers. He can’t have it both ways.”

Vander Zalm says such promises to business beg the question, “Who does the premier answer to? The three million registered voters of BC, or a handful or wealthy businessmen who finance his Liberal party?”

“The Fight HST petition, with over 600,000 signatures from all 85 ridings, is Premier Campbell’s chance to show the people he wasn’t lying. It’s his chance to show he really does believe in democratic accountability and listening to voters. He can do that by cancelling the HST now, or at least allowing his MLAs a free vote,” Vander Zalm concluded.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pat Tieleman - my inspiration - has passed away

Pat Tieleman with son Bill - 1962

Dear friends:

I have lost my dear mother Pat Tieleman this afternoon - an inspiration all my life.

My brothers Ralph and Jack and I were with her when she passed peacefully from this world.

Thank you from my brothers, my wife Shirley, daughter Erin and all our families for your support during this difficult time when Pat courageously battled lung cancer.

Her amazing strength and her ability to maintain not only her composure but a wicked sense of humour right to the end will stay with us the rest of our own lives.

Pat Tieleman left this world a better place with her strong commitment to community and social justice while teaching her children well.

You who are on the road
Must have a code that you can live by
And so become yourself
Because the past is just a good bye.

Teach your children well

- Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young

Pat Tieleman - rest in peace - April 18, 1927 - May 26, 2010

The following is Pat Tieleman's obituary, which will be published in newspapers in Nanaimo, Tofino and Ucluelet on June 3rd & 4th.

Tieleman, Patricia

Pat Tieleman passed away May 26, 2010 with her sons Bill, Ralph and Jack at her side in the Palliative Care unit of Nanaimo Regional General Hospital after a short, courageous fight with lung cancer.

Pat was born on April 18, 1927 in Burnaby, much loved by parents Violet and William Baseley.

Pat attended David Lloyd George Elementary and graduated from Magee High School in 1944. She became a Registered Nurse in 1948, graduating from St. Paul’s School of Nursing and completed her post-graduate studies at the University of Chicago, specializing in obstetrics. She also worked in Chicago and Seattle, including at the Group Health Clinic cooperative.

In 1955 her sense of adventure led to nursing in Port Alice, Vancouver Island, where she met RCMP constable Harry Tieleman, the last navigator of the famous RCMP ship the St. Roch when it returned from Halifax to Vancouver through the Panama Canal. Pat and Harry married in 1956.

Sons Bill, Ralph and Jack were born as the family moved to Richmond, then Vancouver and later Abbotsford.

In 1972 the family relocated in Tofino, B.C. where Pat worked in the hospital, Co-Op store, and later the post office while Harry ran Tofino Motors and Happy Harry’s Restaurant. In 1989 they retired to Nanaimo, B.C.

Retirement did not slow Pat down – if anything she was more active as a volunteer. Pat worked with Nanaimo Planned Parenthood, the Thrifty Food’s Sendial delivery program, and to elect NDP MLA Leonard Krog and NDP MP Jean Crowder. Pat also belonged to a widows’ support group, a book club and was a generous donor to many worthy charities.

Pat was predeceased by Harry in 2000 and is survived by sons Bill [Shirley Ross], Ralph, Jack [Janice Porteous], granddaughter Erin Ross Coward, sister-in-law Col Vander Lee in Holland and many cousins around the world.

The family wish to thank all the wonderful staff at the Palliative Care unit, including Dr. Spry and nurses Carol, Annabelle, Angela, Penny, Georgina and Sandra – you made Pat’s final days the best possible and our time with her precious.

Also thanks to Dr. Digney, nurse Claire, Dr. Elekiaby, Pat’s GP Dr. Weisenburger and all others at NRGH who helped care for her. Special thanks to Pat’s friend Noreen Rourke, who was a godsend to her and our family in time of need.

We appreciate all who visited, sent flowers, cards and messages.

By her request there will be no service but Pat said: "Thanks to all my steadfast friends."

Pat and Harry loved Buttertubs Marsh – an amazing oasis of wildlife and nature – in the heart of Nanaimo, so those wishing to honour Pat’s memory can donate to: "The Nanaimo & Area Land Trust – Buttertubs – In Trust", at Nanaimo & Area Land Trust, #8-140 Wallace Street
Nanaimo, BC V9R 5B1.

Charitable tax receipts will be provided for contributions of $25 or more if requested.

Pat loved the works of William Shakespeare all her life and each summer attended Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach to enjoy a play. One of her favourites was The Tempest and as the play nears its conclusion, we remember Pat in our hearts forever:


Our revels now are ended. These our actors
As I foretold you, were all spirits, and

Are melted into air, into thin air…..We are such stuff
As dreams are made on; and our little life
Is rounded with a sleep.

* * * * * *

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Will shocking revelations force Premier Gordon Campbell testify in the Basi-Virk Trial? Defence lawyer sets up lose-lose situation

- Stephen Rees photo

Luring Campbell to the BC Rail Corruption Trial Witness Stand

Virk lawyer's bold courtroom allegations are strategically designed to prompt the premier to testify. Will he bite?

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/
The Tyee column

May 25, 2010

Bill Tieleman

"The only real lawyers are trial lawyers, and trial lawyers try cases to juries."

- Clarence Darrow
, lawyer, 1857-1938

The jury trial of three former B.C. Liberal government aides facing corruption charges started last week with a defence lawyer's shocking
allegation that Premier Gordon Campbell spoke with defendant Bob Virk before he was indicted but after police raided the B.C. Legislature.

Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough went even further than that in cross-examining Campbell's chief of staff Martyn Brown.
He also alleged Brown spoke with Virk and alleged that both Brown and the premier assured Virk his silence would be rewarded.

At the time Virk had been suspended with pay from his job as ministerial assistant to ex-transportation minister Judith Reid, while co-accused Dave Basi had been fired quickly from his job as ministerial assistant to then-finance minister Gary Collins right after the police raid for evidence on Dec. 28, 2003.

The Crown charged Basi and Virk with breach of trust and fraud for allegedly leaking confidential government documents about the $1 billion privatization sale of B.C. Rail to lobbyists representing one of the bidders in exchange for money and benefits. Aneal Basi, a former government communications aide, faces money laundering charges connected to alleged payments to his cousin Dave.

The disturbing allegations against Campbell and Brown, it must be stressed, were not supported by McCullough introducing any evidence.

But the combative veteran defence
lawyer knew exactly what he was doing with Brown -- setting up a potential situation where Campbell himself could be called to testify in court.
Premier's lose-lose predicament

McCullough left Campbell with a lose-lose choice. He could agree to take the stand as a witness in order to dispel the allegation the premier had spoke to Virk and made promises after the raid, therefore becoming subject to rigorous questioning.

Or Campbell could let the unsubstantiated allegation go untested, leaving a politically damaging claim without a response in court.

Neither option could possibly appeal to the beleaguered Campbell, who is already battered by his planned July 1 Harmonized Sales Tax imposition that has generated an enormous negative reaction, with over 500,000 people signing the
Fight HST citizens Initiative petition led by former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm, and a massive budget deficit that was six times larger than he claimed before the 2009 election.

Campbell is facing a 12 percentage point deficit in the latest Mustel Group
poll, which shows the B.C. Liberals at just 32 per cent, the New Democrats at 44 per cent, the Green Party at 13 per cent and the B.C. Conservatives at 7 per cent.

And even though an exasperated trial judge Anne MacKenzie, associate chief justice of the B.C. Supreme Court, at one point instructed the jury during a McCullough argument to
"ignore what he's saying" the lawyer is executing a strategy clearly designed to exonerate his client, potentially at Campbell and his party's expense.

Fierce courtroom combat

"Did you know that Premier Campbell was telling Virk that the [B.C.] Liberal Party would take care of him and he was to keep his mouth shut?" McCullough
asked Brown.

"No," Brown answered.

"Are you sure about that evidence?" McCullough asked Brown, who has been Campbell's top political aide since before the 2001 provincial election when the B.C. Liberals came to power.

"I'm not in a position to comment on somebody else's actions but I would be shocked, completely shocked, if that was the case, because I don't believe it happened," Brown said.

Brown also strongly rejected an allegation by McCullough that he telephoned Virk monthly after the raid until December 2004, when Virk was charged and fired, or that he assured Virk that "he just needed to play the game."

"That is absolutely untrue," said Brown. "I never, ever, ever initiated a call with Bob Virk. And I never said anything along those lines."

McCullough also roasted Brown with allegations that political dirty tricks, including Dave Basi paying people $100 each to counter-protest a demonstration against fish farms and stacking radio talk shows with B.C. Liberal-friendly callers were orchestrated directly out of the premier's office.

McCullough alleged that Mike McDonald, a member of the premier's staff in 2003, organized the farmed salmon counter-protest with Basi.

Brown initially denied McDonald worked in Campbell’s office -- until McCullough showed Brown a
document indeed listing McDonald as working for the premier on "outreach and special projects."
Brown admitted his error but said he would never sanction dirty tricks like the fish farm salmon demonstration.

"I can't imagine paying people to go to an event. It's not something I would do," Brown
testified, adding later: "That's not who I am and it's not who the government is."

"I've worked in this business for 22 years; I've served under five leaders, three premiers. I'm told I'm the longest-serving chief of staff in the country. It's just not something I would do. It's rare in political life that any inappropriate conduct isn't outed," Brown

More than 40 witnesses

McDonald, also a former B .C. Liberal government caucus communications director, is married to Campbell's former senior deputy minister from 2005 to 2009,
Jessica McDonald.

Jessica McDonald is not on the Crown's witness list but two other former deputy ministers to Campbell are -- Ken Dobell and Brenda Eaton.

If Brown's experience with a cross-examination that continues Tuesday is any evidence, neither Dobell nor Eaton nor ex-cabinet ministers and others can be looking forward to testifying.

But for political observers, this trial has already proven to be fascinating and captivating with the appearance of only the first of more than
40 witnesses.

A publication ban prevents The Tyee and other media from posting information not presented before the jury in this trial, including the arguments and rulings in pre-trial court hearings.

Fight HST has needed minimum 10% of required citizens Initiative petition signatures in 83 of 85 BC ridings - with 6 weeks left to campaign!

More great news from Fight HST - 83 of 85 British Columbia ridings have now achieved the 10% legally-required minimum number of voter signatures required for the citizens Initiative to be successful!

Among those reaching the 10% minimum this weekend - the Vancouver-Point Grey riding of Premier Gordon Campbell.

And that leaves 6 weeks left to campaign before the July 5 deadline.

Perhaps more impressively, Fight HST is not even getting full reports from all ridings due to the long Victoria Day weekend and has still reached its 15% target in 57 of 85 ridings.

The 15% target is to ensure a safe margin of error for any signatures obtained from voters inadvertently in the wrong riding or not on the registered voters list at the time the petition was begun.

Here is Fight HST's news release - you can see the actual signature numbers riding by riding on Fight HST's website.

* * * * *

News Release

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Fight HST petition meets 10% threshold in 83 of 85 Ridings

Point Grey and Quilchena hit 10% with 6 weeks still to go.

Port Coquitlam – Fight HST Lead Organizer, Chris Delaney, says the petition to repeal the HST has crossed the Elections BC 10% threshold in 83 of 85 ridings with over 6 weeks still to go in the campaign.

Delaney says the Fight HST internal threshold of 15% or more has been reached in 57 of 85 ridings.

“These numbers are particularly exciting, since they represent only 64 of 85 ridings reporting. Many areas of the province that had reached their targets took a break for the long weekend. We’ll finish up the remaining two ridings next weekend, and will meet both the Elections BC requirement of 10% as well as our own internal threshold of 15% in all ridings by the first or second week of June,” said Delaney.

Delaney says that the petition to repeal the HST has reached a critical mass. “There is nothing more to wait for. There is no need for a referendum, no need for more delays and wasting of taxpayers’ time and money. The petition has become a referendum. And the result of that referendum is clear. British Columbians do not want the HST.”

Fight HST leader, Bill Vander Zalm, is calling on Premier Campbell to cancel the HST now.

“What is he waiting for? The numbers are overwhelming. He is our servant, not our master, and even his number one argument that the HST is good for the economy has been refuted by the Prime Minister himself, who last week at a G8 Youth Forum said ‘You can’t tax an economy into prosperity’.”

“Cancel the HST now Mr. Campbell. The people of BC are waiting for you to act on their behalf. Failure to do so will result in you becoming the first premier in Canadian history to be fired by the people in a Recall,” said Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm says that Recall campaigns can begin 18 months after a provincial election. That means the first Recalls in BC can be launched in November, 2010.

Vander Zalm says the timing is perfect, since the anti-HST petition will be submitted on July 5, after which Elections BC will have 42 days to check the petition. Once the petition is validated, the Legislature will reconvene in September to vote on the bill to repeal the HST.

Vander Zalm says if the BC Government votes it down or tries to play games by delaying it or going to a costly and time wasting referendum, then his organization will immediately begin Recalls in selected ridings.

“The people have drawn a line in the sand with their government, and the government seems to have drawn a line in the sand with the people. There can only be one winner in that contest if democracy is to survive in BC,” said Vander Zalm.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

BC Liberals take another big polling hit - Mustel says NDP 44%, BC Libs 32%, Greens 13%, BC Conservatives 7% and 73% will sign Fight HST petition

Premier Gordon Campbell illustrates the gap in his party's popularity

Mustel Group poll puts BC Liberals 12% behind NDP - 73% of respondents have or will sign Fight HST citizens Initiative against the HST

Another poll means more bad news for the beleaguered BC Liberals - the Mustel Group's latest poll puts the New Democrats at 44% - a significant 12% ahead of Premier Gordon Campbell's BC Liberals at 32%, with the Green Party at 13% and the surging BC Conservative Party at 7%.

The poll also shows that 73% of respondents have either already signed the Fight HST citizens Initiative petition to oppose the Harmonized Sales Tax or intend to sign it.

Mustel says 29% of those polled have signed the petition, while 44% plan to before the July 5 deadline if given the opportunity.

And "Taxes/HST" is the top issue for British Columbians, the poll indicates.

Mustel also says that Campbell's disapproval rating is at 61%, steadily climbing from a low of 37% in January 2009.

But while the BC Liberals have dropped 14% since the May 2009 election, the NDP, according to Mustel, have not gained substantially. The NDP vote is up 2% over its 42% actual vote in the eleciton while both the BC Conservatives and the Green Party have benefitted more from the BC Liberals' fall - each party is up 5% from the election results.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gordon Campbell has become a political Ex-Premier. When he is no more, who takes over the BC Liberals?

Premier Gordon Campbell - no longer in racing form! - Cassandra photo

Premier Gordon Campbell’s future is as bright as Monty Python’s dead parrot – who will take over?

Bill Tieleman’s 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday May 18, 2010

By Bill Tieleman

That parrot is no more. He has ceased to be. He’s expired and gone to meet his maker. He’s a stiff, bereft of life, he rests in peace....This is an ex-parrot!

- Monty Python’s
Flying Circus

Premier Gordon Campbell is as politically dead as Monty Python’s famous parrot. His political future is no more. This is almost an ex-premier!

Campbell told both Global and CTV news
last week that: “2013 is a long way away and I am 62 years old now.” In other words, pass the gold watch.

What ended Campbell’s electoral career?

Harmonized Sales Tax with a 7% hit on consumers about to lift $2 billion a year from their pockets, a fudged budget with a deficit six times larger than promised, the revelations to come from the B.C. Legislature Raid case, the Keystone Kops routine with Solicitor General Kash Heed and allegations of dirty, illegal tricks in the provincial election?

But more importantly - who will lead the beleaguered B.C. Liberal Party? Here’s a short handicapper’s guide to see who will win a leadership race for what could be a very short premiership, with points for and against their odds.

Carole Taylor – The Gucci Government Girl.

Media and older businessmen drool uncontrollably when the long-time
federal Liberal government appointee – CBC chair, Vancouver Port Corporation, etc – even looks their way. As BC Finance Minister achieved four years of labour agreement peace thanks to $1 billion in bonuses for union members. Opposed the HST before and after quitting B.C. Liberal government.

Against: The multi-millionaire who wore
$600 a pair Guccis to introduce a budget is actually older than Gordon Campbell and will be 68 in the 2013 election year. Red meat conservative B.C. Liberals would rather fall on their swords than follow Taylor. She has no base in the party outside Shaughnessy and British Properties.

Rich Coleman – Mr. Fix-It.

Despite his tough guy, unphotogenic persona, Coleman actually gets things done. Proved he could
work with ex-NDP MLA Gregor Robertson as Vancouver mayor, bought up Single Room Occupancy buildings in the downtown eastside and cleaned them up. Has a strong Surrey-Fraser Valley base that’s critical in one member-one vote leadership campaign.

Against: Do B.C. voters want Darth Vader running the province?

Kevin Falcon – Mr. Abrasive.

The energetic, totally partisan politician appeals to the conservative wing of the party.

Against: B.C.’s health minister would
scare away more critical centrist voters than Sarah Palin while mobilizing the left and greens like no one else.

David Emerson – Trusty Turncoat.

Has federal cabinet experience – in
both the Liberal and Conservative governments! Forestry business background followed years as top B.C. bureaucrat.

Against: So antagonized his Vancouver-Kingsway constituents who voted Emerson in as Liberal but saw him jump to Tories for cabinet job that rest of province can’t believe him. Big business backer who loves the HST.

Dianne Watts – Mayor McCheese.

Watts has neutralized opposition
both right and left as Surrey’s mayor, presenting a potentially appealing moderate, non-traditional politician.

Against: Can Watts turn B.C.’s vicious political culture into Pleasantville? Can a complete outsider with no electoral experience at the provincial or federal level run B.C.? And can she get both Coleman and Falcon to support her rather than running?


George Abbott
– the affable B.C. Liberal cabinet minister was the face of health care problems for years. Use only in case of emergency.

Colin Hansen – the Finance Minister who gave us the HST and a deficit that jumped from $495 before the election to $2.8 billion afterwards? Flat busted.

So place your bets – but remember – know your limit, play within it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fight HST citizens Initiative petition passes 500,000 signature mark! 72 of 85 ridings have reached 10% minimum goal

BC Liberal Finance Minister Colin "Huggies" Hansen explains on Global TV why disposable diapers are a necessity when the HST is imposed.

In another stunning week of success, the Fight HST citizens Initiative petition has passed the 500,000 signatures mark - representing over 15% of all registered BC voters!

Fight HST also announced that the minimum required 10% of all voters in each riding has now been reached in 72 of BC's 85 ridings.

This comes on the heels of the BC government's 10 months late release of what will be taxed an extra 7% under the HST - a list that former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm - the Fight HST leader - says is woefully inaccurate and misleading.

“We spent some time reviewing the list and have determined it is totally bogus. The government has, once again, deliberately tried to mislead the public when it comes to the HST. They just can’t seem to ever tell the truth,’ said Vander Zalm.

Vander Zalm says the list excludes almost all “services” that will now have HST applied to them.

“They left out items such as; catering; computer repair services; consulting services; commercial leases; fishing charters; home appraisals; investment counseling; limousine rentals; skiing; and even parking fees!”

And in more good news - the NO BC HST Facebook group - BC's largest protest group and second only by 19,000 to the Vancouver Canucks Facebook fan page of all BC sites - has passed the 136,000 member mark! Thanks to everyone who has joined.

Here is Fight HST's news release:

News Release

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fight HST petition hits 500,000 signatures representing 15% of registered voters province wide

72 of 85 Ridings meet Elections BC threshold of 10%, with 51 Ridings exceeding 15%.

Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby numbers soar

With seven weeks to go in a 13 week campaign, organizers for the Initiative petition to repeal the HST report they have collected 500,000 signatures representing 15% of registered voters province wide.

Organizers say that 72 of 85 ridings have crossed the Elections BC 10% threshold, with 51 of those going over the Fight HST internal threshold of 15%.

“This is monumental,” said Fight HST Lead Organizer, Chris Delaney, “We are not even half way through the campaign, and we are on track to complete our 10% threshold in all 85 ridings by next week, with everyone reaching their 15% target by the first or second week of June.”

Delaney says that 78 of 85 ridings have reported for this week, representing a total of 475,680 signatures in hand. He says there are another 25,000 signatures in the pipeline still to come, bringing the total collected to over 500,000.

“The most encouraging sign is the surge in Vancouver, Richmond and Burnaby. Those ridings started late, and were behind in previous reports. Now, they are not only catching up, but are tracking faster than the majority of other ridings did during their peaks.”

Delaney says they are about halfway to their 15% target in the remaining 13 ridings. He says he is confident they will complete the Elections BC threshold of 10% in all ridings in the next two weeks, with 15% achieved by the end of the second week of June in all 85 ridings.

Fight HST Leader, Bill Vander Zalm, was extremely encouraged by the results, “I was out campaigning this weekend in Vancouver, Richmond and Delta, and everywhere people wanted to sign the petition. There has been no loss of interest at all, and in fact, it just seems to keep on growing. It’s faaantastic!”


BASI-VIRK - Day One of Trial - more waiting, more legal wrangling

The Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid trial began this morning - sort of.

And was delayed again this afternoon till Tuesday morning.

UPDATE - 3:45 p.m. For the second time today, BC Supreme Court Associate Justice Anne MacKenzie summoned the jury in the BC Legislature raid corruption trial into the courtroom and then sent them away without hearing arguments or testimony.

Legal wrangling managed to once again delay the trial by one more day, but a publication ban prevents reporting on what happened.

MacKenzie's instructions to the jury and the Crown's outline of its case against David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi are now expected to come on Tuesday morning.

Former B.C. Liberal government ministerial assistants David Basi and Virk and former government communications officer Aneal Basi all face charges related to the 2003 sale of Crown corporation B.C. Rail for $1 billion to CN Rail.

On December 28, 2003 police launched an unprecedented search of the B.C. Legislature looking for evidence. Basi, Virk and Basi were charged one year later.

A publication ban imposed by MacKenzie prohibits reporting on any court proceedings that take place in the absence of the jury.

The trial is now set to begin Tuesday at 10 a.m., with more than 40 Crown witnesses to include former cabinet ministers Gary Collins and Judith Reid and Premier Gordon Campbell’s current chief of staff Martyn Brown testifying over six to eight weeks.

But I won't be there Tuesday or the rest of this week - I'm heading back to Nanaimo, where my mom is very ill in hospital. Thanks for all the support and best wishes we've received here, by email, Facebook and in person at court today - they are all greatly appreciated.

I will be following the case from Nanaimo and commenting here when I can.


Media, lawyers and observers trooped into a full courtroom before 10 a.m. but as has happened so often in the more than 6 years since the BC Legislature was raided on December 28, 2003 - more pre-trial legal arguments delayed the proceedings.

Due to a publication ban imposed by BC Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie - who is presiding over the trial - I cannot report on what those arguments were, as the jury was absent.

The 12 jurors briefly appeared only to be told by MacKenzie to return at 2 p.m.

Today's schedule - which is now off course - was planned to being with MacKenzie's instructions to the jury and the Crown's overview presentation of its case against the accused - Dave Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi, then the first Crown witness would have appeared.

It now appears that MacKenzie may have time to give her instructions and perhaps Special Prosecutor Bill Berardino will start his outline - but it is impossible to know at this time.

Stay tuned.


Sunday, May 16, 2010

Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid trial starts Monday May 17 - a personal message from Bill Tieleman

To my friends and readers:

I will be in attendance Monday morning in BC Supreme Court when the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid trial finally begins - more than 6 years after police searched the BC Legislature in a shocking and unprecedented political corruption investigation.

But I won't be covering the trial regularly after that.

The reason is simple - and personal.

My dear mom - Pat Tieleman - is very, very ill in hospital in Nanaimo. I need to be with her.

She has insisted I attend the first day of the Basi-Virk trial after following this case for such a long time.

But after that I will return to Nanaimo.

Those who have followed my coverage for 24 hours newspaper and The Tyee online publication, as well as this blog, will understand the irony of my absence from BC Supreme Court after being on the case since the December 28, 2003 raid and after so many thought this trial would never happen.

But that matters little - family always comes first. And I have great confidence that my colleagues at 24 hours and The Tyee, as well as other media, will cover the trial as it deserves.

I will follow it as much as possible and both post here and write for 24 hours and The Tyee when able.

I appreciate the enormous support received for my mom, my family and I already and for understanding if I don't respond personally to messages. Believe me - they are so important.

Watch this space, 24 hours and The Tyee for my reporting after Day 1 and thanks again.


Friday, May 14, 2010

BC Liberals finally come up with - wait for it - "not an exhaustive list" of what the HST will apply to just 10 months after announcing it

Premier Gordon Campbell finally starts writing the list of what goods and services will be hit by the new Harmonized Sales Tax - just 10 months late!

Rather amazingly, Premier Gordon Campbell and Finance Minister Colin Hansen have at last come up with a list of goods and services that will be hit by the HST, a mere 10 months after they announced the HST on July 23, 2009.

But true to form, the list is woefully incomplete and misleading in some places!

Or rather - to quote the government website where it appears starts with this stark admission of failure:

"Here are some examples of common products and services purchased by British Columbians and how they will be affected by the HST. This is not an exhaustive list of all goods and services."

No kidding!

The reality is that even this list was only produced under pressure - because of the wildly successful Fight HST citizens Initiative petition and because the Ontario government had such a list online months ago - but not BC.

Rather amusingly, the list gets put up on a Friday afternoon - dump out the trash time in Victoria - and the same day the government releases Elections BC's solid rejection of their complaints against Fight HST. Surprise, surprise, surprise.

The list also will not give taxpayers the full picture - intentionally - of what gets whacked by the extra 7% when goods and services previously only subject to the 5% GST get taxed at 12% come July 1.

For example, the government HST list boldly states that "condo fees" are not subject to the HST. Technically correct but highly misleading, since condo maintenance fees are primarily made up of things like cleaning services, repairs, renovations and other services that will all go up 7%.

In my own condo our management firm estimates a 4% increase in our fees due to the HST only.

You also won't find that vacation properties - cabins, cottages, getaways etc - are going to be hit by the HST. Only used primary residences are not subject to the extra HST - or new homes costing less than $525,000.

Nonetheless all British Columbians should take a look at the incomplete list of HST hits - it will still come as a shock to many who thought the HST would not apply so widely.

And after you read the bad news - make sure you sign the Fight HST petition in your riding and join my NO BC HST protest group on Facebook - tell the BC Liberals you want the HST killed now!


Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Lots more questions need answers in BC's latest political scandal case - the Kash Heed election campaign investigation

Seven Big Questions for Kash Heed Election Campaign Case

Citizens will be looking for answers from the continuing investigation

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday May 11, 2010

By Bill Tieleman

"There is a cloud over the report."

- B.C. Attorney General Mike de Jong

While much national laughter has been rightly directed at the sight of a hapless Premier Gordon Campbell popping ex-Solicitor General Kash Heed out and in and out of cabinet like a clock cuckoo, serious questions remain unanswered about allegations of political fraud.

The strange tale of Chief Kash and Mr. Heed is far from a cold case, with even the legitimacy of the MLA for Vancouver-Fraserview's election in doubt.

The appointment Friday of veteran lawyer Peter Wilson as the new Special Prosecutor to replace Terry Robertson, the man who "cleared" Heed of any possible involvement in political dirty tricks that resulted in both criminal and Election Act
charges against B.C. Liberal Party campaign officials is just a start.

Robertson resigned as Special Prosecutor shortly after giving Heed a glowing all-clear while recommending that his campaign manager Barinder Sall, financial agent Satpal Johl and supporter and mailing house owner Dinesh Khanna be charged with multiple alleged offences.

Sall and Khanna both face Criminal Code obstruction of justice charges and all three are charged with Election Act violations for their parts in allegedly distributing a vicious and untrue anti-New Democratic Party flyer aimed at the riding's substantial Chinese-Canadian community that was both unauthorized and not included in Heed's campaign financing.

The result could be not only jail time and fines, but Heed losing his seat and a by-election ordered, regardless of Heed's repeated statements that he neither knew of nor was at all involved in the Chinese-language mailer.

If it is found that the flyer was indeed sent by the campaign and the cost pushes campaign spending over the legal limit, Heed's election could be
tossed out.

Much more to learn

But as troubling a situation as it already is, there's much more to learn as a police investigation continues.

Here are some of the questions that need to get answered.

1. Mailings mystery. The same flyer was mailed into two other ridings with sizeable numbers of Chinese-Canadian voters -- Vancouver-Kensington and Vancouver-Kingsway. Who was responsible for those mailings and will more charges be laid?

2. Sall's job. Barinder Sall has been described as "campaign manager" for Kash Heed. But did he also have any other roles in the B.C. Liberal election campaign in other east side ridings or centrally?

3. Nailing down numbers. The Heed campaign revised downward its election expenditures report to Elections BC from an original amount of $63,203 to a lower $60,762 -- almost $10,000 below the $70,000 spending limit. Why?

4. Liberal early response. The virulent anti-NDP flyer targeting its Vancouver-Fraserview candidate Gabriel Yiu became a news story in early May 2009, just days before the May 15 election. Did the B.C. Liberal Party take immediate steps to investigate the mailing? What were they?

5. Campbell's steps. When did Premier Gordon Campbell learn of this mailing and what steps did he take to investigate it before the original appointment of Kash Heed as Solicitor General -- B.C.'s top cop?

6. Robertson's OK. Why was Robertson, a known major contributor to Heed's personal campaign, still appointed as Special Prosecutor to investigate alleged electoral fraud by key staff in that campaign?

7. RCMP's response. Why was Robertson able to dismiss direct RCMP questions about his apparent conflict of interest in making a $1,000 donation to Heed's campaign and continue on to "exonerate" Heed?

Once again British Columbia is rocked with allegations of political corruption and once again there are significant mysteries and serious consequences for those involved.


400,000 British Columbians sign Fight HST petition to stop Harmonized Sales Tax!

The Fight HST citizens Initiative petition has hit another amazing milestone - over 400,000 signatures obtained in the first five weeks of the campaign!

Details below in this news release from Fight HST

* * * * *

News Release May 10, 2010

Fight HST petition breaks 400,000 signatures in five weeks. Eight weeks left to go.

56 of 85 ridings hit 10% threshold.

Port Coquitlam – Fight HST lead organizer, Chris Delaney, reported today that the Bill Vander Zalm petition to repeal the HST has hit the 400,000 signature mark as of Monday, May 10th.

Delaney says the petition has achieved the 10% Elections BC threshold in 56 out of a total of 85 ridings across the province. He says that 34 ridings have reached the Fight HST internal threshold of 15% of registered voters or more.

“What is really exciting about this report is the big jump in signatures in both Vancouver and Burnaby this week. We were a little slow getting started in those ridings, but they are catching up quickly, with signature gathering in those regions keeping pace with all other regions now,” said Delaney.

With just over 8 weeks left to go in the 13 week signature gathering campaign, Delaney says the Fight HST petition is poised to hit the 500,000 signature mark, equivalent to over 1/3 of all the voters who voted in the last provincial election.

“This is the largest sample of public opinion ever done in the history of BC. It shows a deep, pervasive and across the board rejection of the government’s policy to implement the HST. It has become much more than just a legal petition to repeal the HST. It has become a referendum on the tax and the government that gave it to us,” Delaney explained.

Fight HST leader, Bill Vander Zalm, says it’s time for the government to act.

“We are calling on Premier Campbell and Finance Minister Hansen to publicly announce they will repeal the HST right now. There can no longer be any purpose to continuing with a tax that nobody wants, and which the government has just admitted it won’t even pay itself when it comes to government purchases. How many more voters do they have to hear from before they will do the right thing and get rid of this tax?” Vander Zalm asked.

“We call on Premier Campbell to come back to BC and get rid of the HST once and for all,” said Vander Zalm.


Thursday, May 06, 2010

How Special Prosecutors are appointed, more investigations and a possible by-election after Kash Heed's day off

For those interested due to the Kash Heed controversy, the provincial government is very clear about how Special Prosecutors are appointed.

For those who haven't seen it yet, I highly recommend today's Vancouver Sun stories by Chad Skelton about how seven Special Prosecutors have made financial contributions to the BC Liberal Party and who they are.

I am pleased to see that Premier Gordon Campbell and Attorney General Mike de Jong have ordered a review of the Special Prosecutor appointment process - all politics aside, this is clearly necessary and welcome.

It is also a good thing that the Law Society of BC is investigating the actions of now-resigned Special Prosecutor Terry Robertson in this matter.

Lastly, for those wondering, the Vancouver Sun makes clear in a story by Jonathan Fowlie what many of us knew all along - that Kash Heed could lose his seat because of the alleged actions of his campaign staff, regardless of his own lack of knowledge of those actions.

If the dirty tricks flyer against NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu was found to have been funded by the Heed campaign and that the election spending limit was therefore exceeded, a by-election could result.


Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Premier fails to Heed warnings - now Kash rules as Solicitor General again despite Special Prosecutor resigning in conflict

BC's Top Cop Kash Heed owes his election to a campaign manager and financial agent now charged with criminal activity - does anyone see something wrong with this picture?

UPDATE - Kash Heed resigned less than 24 hours after being reappointed by Premier Gordon Campbell. What a Keystone Cops outfit this is!

ORIGINAL POSTING - On Tuesday I wrote about how the BC Liberal government's contempt for democracy had mushroomed out of control and well beyond the HST to other issues.

Little did I know that they would prove my point in spades by the end of the afternoon!

First Premier Gordon Campbell returned BC Liberal MLA Kash Heed to the position of Solicitor General - BC's Top Cop - despite the fact that his 2009 election campaign manager Barinder Sall has been charged with two criminal counts of obstruction of justice, one count of submitting a fraudulent document, two counts of obstructing an elections official and one of improper election advertising - all connected to a dirty tricks election flyer mailed in bulk to Heed's Vancouver Fraserview riding that targeted NDP candidate Gabriel Yiu - who lost by less than 800 votes.

In addition, Heed's campaign financial agent Satpal Johl faces an election violation charge and Dinesh Khanna - the mailing firm owner - faces obstruction of justice and election act charges.

But then it got even more outrageous.

The independent Special Prosecutor who cleared Heed while recommending charges against Sall, Johl and Khanna announced his sudden resignation from his position - because his law firm had given $1000 to Kash Heed's 2009 campaign!

Special Prosecutor Terry Robertson quit late Tuesday after sending a letter to Assistant Deputy Attorney General Robert Gillen saying that because Robertson's firm Harper Grey had made the $1000 donation to Heed's campaign - the very campaign Robertson was investigating.

And Robertson admits that he knew about the contribution at the time of his appointment but did not believe it "would preclude me from acting as Special Prosecutor."

Hell no - why would knowing your firm gave $1000 bucks to help elect the guy whose campaign you are now investigating for - wait for it - election fraud - be a problem?

What's even more astonishing is that the RCMP told him he was in conflict! And he overruled their objections!

"Several weeks before charge approval, I was asked by the RCMP whether I felt there was a conflict of interest due to my firm making a campaign contribution. I provided my opinion that I did not feel there was a conflict," Robertson wrote.

Even BC Liberal Attorney General Mike de Jong got that part clearly.

Here's what an unhappy de Jong had to say:

“You don’t appoint someone to investigate a matter when a firm they are associated with has made a donation to the very campaign which is the subject of the investigation.”

"It’s surprising, frustrating and unacceptable to learn that appointment was made,” de Jong said. I might remind readers that de Jong is not the NDP critic - he is a cabinet minister.

The result of all this is that another Special Prosecutor must be appointed immediately - and he or she may not have the same view that Kash Heed has been completely exonerated and is free to resume his duties as Solicitor General.

The whole matter now stinks worse than before - and is another clear indication that Premier Gordon Campbell doesn't care what anyone thinks - because he is quickly on his way out of office.

What other explanation is there for such astonishingly inept, insulting and downright stupid behaviour?

But there is still more to this sordid story - stay tuned.


BC Liberals contempt for democracy now goes far beyond just the HST - abuse of "Clean Energy Act", Youth Representative, new trade deal

BC Premier Gordon Campbell & Finance Minister Colin Hansen announcing HST

A Bad Week for Democracy in BC

Libs showed several ways their disdain for the public goes well beyond the HST

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/TheTyee column

Tuesday May 4, 2010

"Politics would be a helluva good business if it weren't for the goddamned people."

- Former U.S. president Richard Nixon

The B.C. Liberal governments contempt for democracy that became obvious last year with their plan to impose the Harmonized Sales Tax has now mushroomed out of control.

In recent days the disdain for the public coming out of Victoria resembles the final days of the Nixon White House.

Last week, B.C. Finance Minister Colin Hansen went apoplectic after Elections B.C. rightly ruled that his government could not send a $1 million mailer to all British Columbians full of pro-HST propaganda while the Fight HST citizens Initiative petition campaign continued.

Hansen's response? To demand that Elections B.C. invalidate the Fight HST petition itself, claiming the proponent -- former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm -- and the New Democratic Party had "misled" signers about HST impacts.

What? Did close to 200,000 voters sign the petition so far because they were misinformed? Or because they don't want to get hosed by Hansen?

UPDATE - Fight HST reports today that over 300,000 British Columbians have signed the citizens Iniatiative petition.

And this from a government that still won't tell British Columbians which goods and services will get hit with an extra seven per cent come July 1?

The Ontario Liberal government has put What's Taxable Under the HST and What's Not online for months, but B.C. still refuses to do so.

Elections B.C. politely told Hansen his complaint is full of H****S**T but the government's contempt continues.

Democracy de-Commissioned

The B.C. Liberals' new "Clean Energy Act" is dirty politics, a blatant attack on the independence of the B.C. Utilities Commission, the body that regulates provincial electricity rates and needs with open hearings, including funding public interest and industry groups to ensure all sides are heard.

The B.C. Liberals campaigned in 2001 on "restoring" the BCUC's independence but this act instead puts private independent power producers in charge by exempting them from BCUC regulation.

"It's critical that we restore the independence of the Utilities Commission to properly do its job on behalf of utilities and consumers alike without political interference. We intend to do that," Campbell told the Canadian Institute of Energy in November 2000. Another log on the fire.

Perhaps the most telling comment comes in a news release from the IPP Finavera Renwables praising the Act: "Of particular importance to Finavera's four wind projects is the provision that exempts contracts awarded in the Clean Power Call from a separate BC Utilities Commission review."

No kidding! And as The Tyee's Will McMartin has reported, Finavera is headed by two former Accenture Business Services executives responsible for privatizing one-third of B.C. Hydro operations and has a $41 million accumulated deficit.

But now it has won four wind farm contracts with the potential to earn over $100 million a year -- and the BCUC can't even examine this deal or any others under BC Hydro's "Clean Power Call"!

Call it the B.C. Futilities Commission from now on, for all the impact it will have in defending consumers' interests with IPPs profits being subsidized by BC Hydro customers with no possibility of investigating.

The bad trade deal no one told you about

And you probably haven't even heard about a new trade agreement the B.C. Liberals signed with Alberta and Saskatchewan that takes effect July 1 along with the HST.

The New West Partnership Trade Agreement allows Alberta and Saskatchewan companies to do business in B.C. without establishing offices here. And guess what? Alberta and Saskatchewan don't have the expensive HST to worry about!

The deal also means the provincial, municipal and regional governments won't be allowed to "discriminate" by favouring local hiring or businesses for most contracts. That will put B.C. workers and companies out of jobs, particularly given Alberta has no provincial sales tax and Saskatchewan no HST.

The hits keep coming

Then there's the government's refusal to give B.C.'s independent Representative for Children and Youth -- Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond -- access to cabinet documents regarding her investigation into a program where children are placed in the home of a relative.

Despite previously receiving such records, the government has rejected Turpel-Lafond's request, wrongly claiming it was prohibited from doing so by the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

But just in case there was any question of Turpel-Lafond actually succeeding in doing her job by appealing that decision, the B.C. Liberals have also introduced a legislative amendment to remove her authority to gain access to such documents.

Contempt for the public at every turn -- and I haven't even mentioned other flagrant and widespread violations of the FOI Act or how this government fails to regulate salmon fish farms or how it cuts health care and education despite overwhelming opposition.

Incredibly aggravating. But while waiting for the next election -- and likely recall campaigns against B.C. Liberal MLAs in November -- there is one concrete way for voters to express their anger immediately. Sign the Fight HST citizens initiative petition.


300,000 British Columbia voters sign Fight HST citizens Initiative to stop the HST! 10% of all registered voters now say no!

300,000 British Columbians can't be wrong on the HST!

Unbelievable! The Fight HST citizens Initiative petition launched on April 6 has now gained over 300,000 BC voter signatures - that's 10% of all registered voters!

And there are still two months left to gather signatures until the Initiative deadline of July 5.

But - it's important to know that while the Initiative rules require a minimum of 10% of all BC voters to sign the petition - it also requires each of BC's 85 ridings to meet the 10% rule - not 10% overall.

That means Fight HST canvassers still have a lot of signatures to obtain, because some ridings are far from their targets while others have already achieved them with a healthy margin for error.

The goal of Fight HST is to get 15% of voters in every riding to ensure that even if some signatures are disqualified - where voters may sign in the wrong riding, sign twice or not be on the voters list, for example - the Initiative will still have enough signatures to succeed.

So - the petition drive is far from over - and the more people who sign, the more difficult it will be for the BC Liberal and federal Conservative government to ignore the will of the people.

To find signing locations in your area or to volunteer - and even with over 5,600 canvassers more help is welcome! - go to the Fight HST website.

Here is a news release from Fight HST on this milestone achievement.

* * * * *

News Release

Fight HST citizens Initiative petition breaks 300,000 signatures, representing 10% of total registered voters

BC Government attempts to intimidate voters backfires as signatures continue to pour in

Delta – The Fight HST citizens Initiative petition to repeal the HST broke the 300,000 signatures mark as of Monday May 3, up an astonishing 155,000 signatures from last week’s total, says Fight HST Lead Organizer, Chris Delaney.

The Initiative, led by former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm, has now been signed by approximately 10% of the registered voters across BC, Delaney said, with two months left before the July 5 deadline.

But there is still a long way to go, Delaney says, because the 10% total for the Initiative to succeed must be reached in every one of the 85 electoral districts in BC.

Delaney said the sheer size of the number of signatures this early in the petition drive shows that the BC Liberal government’s attempt to discourage and intimidate voters from signing has failed completely.

“If anything, the attacks last week by BC Finance Minister Colin Hansen have backfired, and more people than ever want to sign the petition and send the government a message that they won’t be bullied or threatened into accepting the Hated Sales Tax,” said Delaney.

Former BC premier, Bill Vander Zalm, who is leading the Fight HST forces, said he is encouraged by the number of young people now signing the petition.

“In Vancouver this weekend, we signed up another 2,000 people in one day, and the overwhelming majority were students and young people between the ages of 18-30. That is exciting,” said Vander Zalm.

Delaney says there are now 44 ridings that have reached the Elections BC 10% signature threshold, with 17 of those hitting the internal threshold of 15% set by the Fight HST group.

“Over half of BC’s 85 ridings have already reached the Elections BC target in just under four weeks of canvassing. With eight weeks to go, we are ahead of schedule for making our 15% in all 85 ridings,” Delaney explained.

Delaney says the strongest ridings signing up so far are BC Liberal strongholds like Shuswap, Kelowna, Peace River, Boundary Similkameen, and the Cariboo ridings.

“But Skeena is now leading the pack with 30% of registered voters signing the petition. This is crossing all traditional political divides and demographics,” said Delaney.

Delaney says the petitioners still have a lot of work to do in Vancouver and Burnaby where organizers started late.

“We had the same issues in Coquitlam and Maple Ridge as well. But both of those regions are up and running now and catching up quickly. We expect the same will happen in the rest of the province over the coming weeks.”