Friday, April 29, 2011

NHL lawyers go crazy - demand radio station & car dealership drop "Go Canucks" signs - but what about Canuck Security Services?

It doesn't say "Go Canucks!" but this sign from Canuck Security Services at a
constuction site at Fir Street between 6th and 7th Avenue in Vancouver might be in violation of the NHL's draconian copyright laws & goonish enforcers!
NHL copyright goons and enforcers threatening businesses for supporting Vancouver Canucks! Demand they take down signs saying "Go Canucks!"

What idiots the National Hockey League executives are.

How else to explain their crackdown on a Vancouver radio station and a car dealership for urging people to rally on the Vancouver Canucks in their exciting playoff series on the way to the Stanley Cup.

Rock 101 has been told via an NHL lawyer's letter to cease and desist with a promotion that raises funds for the Make-A-Wish Foundation by offering fans the chance to take a sledgehammer to a van with the Canucks' opponents logo on it for $10 a pop.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation helps seriously ill children by granting them a wish - like a trip to Disneyland - with the support of donors

Vancouver Kingsway Honda also got an NHL lawyer's letter demanding they take down "Go Canucks Go" and "Honk for the Canucks" signs - probably because Honda isn't a Canucks official sponsor - but really!

These boneheads need to encourage fans - not threaten them.

So I ask this question - will the NHL lawyers send ominous warnings to the owners of Canuck Security Services, whose sign is pictured above at a construction site on Fir Street in Vancouver? 

Will any company who has "Canuck" in its name or "Stanley" or "Cup" be told to shut the puck up?

And send me a letter too because I say "Go Canucks Go!" and I'm not an official sponsor either - just a fan!


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Bill Tieleman live tonight on CBC News Network's Connect with Mark Kelley - in Vancouver

Bill Tieleman shares a laugh with Mark Kelley,
host of Connect on CBC TV's News Network

I had a great time on Thursday April 28 with host Mark Kelley on his CBC News Network show Connect - live from Vancouver talking about the federal election. 

Wonderful setting in Stanley Park overlooking the city and the sun even came out for the show!

You can watch a video of the whole show here and see the interview at 38:45 minutes into the broadcast.

Thanks to Mark and his crew on the road and producers at CBC in Toronto for having me on.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Will 2011 federal vote be Election of the Century with NDP bumping Liberals out of Official Opposition?

Can desperate Liberal, Conservative & Bloc stop the NDP's Orange Crush?

Canadians could see a huge political realignment, with a Harper majority and NDP official opposition

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday April 26, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"We're not under any illusion here. Your main competition here is the NDP."

- Prime Minister Stephen Harper, speaking in Campbell River, B.C.

Could 2011 be the defining federal election of the century, with a dramatic political realignment as the New Democrats "orange surge" helps them replace the Liberals as Canada's Official Opposition?

Or will a national collapse under Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff simply lead to a majority Stephen Harper Conservative government?

And could the separatist Bloc Quebecois surprisingly become merely a minor and irrelevant irritant instead of Canada's third largest party?

Several stunning polls last week rocked the political world when they indicated NDP leader Jack Layton is outperforming both the Liberals nationally and the Bloc Quebecois in Quebec.

An Ipsos Reid national poll last week showed the NDP at 24 per cent in second place ahead of the Liberals at 21 per cent, with the ruling Conservatives at 43 per cent -- in majority territory.

An Angus Reid poll had the NDP and Liberals tied for second at 25 per cent each, with the Conservatives at 36 per cent -- likely still to produce a minority government.

But the CROP poll that put the NDP in first place over the Bloc in Quebec is even more shocking -- and could have the biggest impact.

That result had the NDP at 36 per cent, Gilles Duceppe's Bloc at 31 per cent, the Conservatives at 17 per cent and the Liberals at just 13 per cent.

And an EKOS poll in Quebec backed that up, with the NDP at 31 per cent and the Bloc at 24 per cent, the Liberals at 21 per cent and the Tories at 17 per cent.

Layton's rise draws attacks

An NDP breakthrough in Quebec could still be minor -- with a handful of seats won and the re-election of deputy leader Thomas Mulcair in Outremont -- or it could be significant, allowing the party to take many more seats from the other three parties.

Layton and Mulcair underlined that possibility with a Montreal rally on the weekend attend by 2,000 supporters -- the biggest turnout in the party's history in Quebec.

For British Columbian voters the national trends mean the importance of their ballot just got huge -- and that the party choices have narrowed to two main contenders -- Conservative or NDP.

A B.C. poll by Angus Reid last week showed the Conservatives at 42 per cent, leading the NDP at 32 per cent, with the Liberals well back at 18 per cent and the Greens at just six per cent, likely ending Elizabeth May's chances of being that party's first elected MP in Saanich and the Islands.

Close seats in BC

Both the Conservatives and Liberals have launched new attack ads aimed solely at the NDP, indicating Layton's rise is no mirage.

What this and the national polls mean on the ground is clear -- the Liberals are going to lose seats in B.C., the NDP is going to gain seats and so may the Conservatives. That could spell the difference between a Tory minority or majority government.

The NDP are likely to take Surrey North from the Tories, where hapless MP Dona Cadman faced this headline in the local Surrey Now newspaper -- "Desperately Seeking Dona" -- detailing her ducking debates as she "remains invisible" in the riding.

NDP candidate Jasbir Sandhu hopes to regain the riding once held by the NDP's Penny Priddy and before that by the late Chuck Cadman, Dona's husband, who was elected as an independent after losing his Conservative nomination in 2004 despite serving seven years as an MP.

The Conservatives expect to win Vancouver South after narrowly missing knocking off Liberal Ujjal Dosanjh by 20 votes in 2008, with candidate Wai Young returning for a rematch.

The NDP also are putting major efforts into electing former B.C. Teachers' Federation president Jinny Sims in Newton-North Delta, a riding that has featured three-way battles between two-term Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal, the Conservatives, who finished second in 2008, and the NDP, who lost by just 1,000 votes in 2006.

Outside Metro Vancouver the NDP is pinning efforts on Ronna-Rae Leonard taking Vancouver Island North from Conservative John Duncan, who lost to the NDP in 2006. That's why Harper was in Campbell River this past Saturday in a defensive move to try holding the seat.

The NDP also hope to finally win Esquimalt-Juan de Fuca following the retirement of MP Keith Martin, who held it despite switching allegiance from the Conservatives to the Liberals three elections ago.

NDP candidate Randall Garrison faces off against Conservative Troy DeSouza, who was just 68 votes behind Martin in 2008. Garrison was a close second in 2006 but did not run in the following contest in a riding once held by NDP icon Dave Barrett.

History in the making?

With less than a week to go, what seemed like a lacklustre and unwanted election in March is now one of the most exciting in decades.

And while Ignatieff's Liberals and Duceppe's Bloc will do everything possible in a last desperate effort to block the "orange surge" and Harper's Conservatives hope that tide breaks just the right way for them to win a majority, it's clear that Jack Layton is in an unprecedentedly powerful spot to change Canada's political history.


Basi-Virk key Crown witness Erik Bornmann decision on becoming lawyer in Ontario reserved by Law Society

Erik Bornmann
The Law Society of Upper Canada has today reserved its decision on whether to allow Eric Bornmann - the key Crown witness in the Basi-Virk/BC Legislature Raid case - to become a lawyer in Ontario.

Bornmann, the former BC lobbyist who admitted paying money and other benefits in exchange for confidential government information from former BC Liberal  Ministerial Aides David Basi and Bob Virk on the sale of BC Rail in 2003, applied to be admitted to the bar several years ago after graduating with a law degree from the University of BC.

No timeline for a decision on Bornmann's application has been given by the Society.

The Bornmann application and another to New York State to practice law there were both broken by me in 24 hours newspaper.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Battle for the Stanley Cup of BC Politics has begun! BC NDP's Dix vs BC Liberals' Clark in provincial election finals!

The Stanley Cup
After gruelling seasons, both teams now set with new Captains

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/TheTyee column

Tuesday April 19, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"A lot can happen during a season. You have to have an awful lot go right to win a Stanley Cup."

- ex-Philadelphia Flyers captain Bobby Clarke

The long playoff series has come down to the final battle between the two top teams -- let the Stanley Cup final of B.C. politics -- a provincial election – begin!

On Sunday the B.C New Democrats chose their new captain, Adrian Dix, to go up against the BC Liberal now wearing the "C" on her jersey -- Christy Clark.

And what a tough series it will be.

Expect lots of hard checking into the boards, slapshots, high sticking, spearing, game misconduct penalties and bench-clearing brawls.

Ya gotta love B.C. politics! It's a beauty!

The coaches' greaseboards

The strategies of both teams are clear going into this contest.

Dix is a scrapper who will put constant pressure on Clark and the BC Liberals to make a big mistake and cough up the puck in their own end.

That's what their former captain -- ex-premier Gordon Campbell -- did with the Harmonized Sales Tax that ended his playing career.

Dix, a personal friend I supported for leader, is already dropping the gloves on the government for increasing personal Medical Services Plan premiums in January to pay for corporate tax cuts.

Clark is also a tough competitor who will have her elbows up and be cheered on in the stands by B.C.'s big business leaders.

Clark will try to keep Dix on the defensive in his own end and held to shots from the left wing only.

But Clark starts the series with a big penalty imposed by the referee -- the B.C. Supreme Court -- for a punishing late hit on B.C. teachers when she was education minister and removed the right to negotiate class size and composition in collective bargaining.

That decision went badly against Clark. Justice Susan Griffin wrote that: "By passing this legislation without so much as consulting with BCTF, the government did not preserve the essential underpinning of collective bargaining, namely, good faith negotiation and consultation."

Clark was thrown into the sin bin for that one.

Choosing where to shoot

One key coaching decision was made Sunday -- BC New Democrats agreed with Adrian Dix when he said during the leadership campaign that "you can't score a goal from centre ice."

That centrist strategy followed by the NDP in the last two elections simply didn't win them B.C.'s version of Lord Stanley's mug, despite a strong showing each time under former leader Carole James.

Dix pointed out, as I did in this column after the last provincial election, that the NDP lost 40,000 actual votes between the 2005 and 2009 ballots.

To win an election, the NDP has to mobilize its traditional base and get voters who stayed home out to the polls with real reasons to support the party.

That's why Dix made very specific pledges like restoring the minimum corporate tax on banks eliminated by the BC Liberals – and using the money to help students attend post-secondary education.

While some media call it "left-wing," many right-of-centre British Columbians will agree the banks get too many tax breaks while sticking it to ordinary folks with high credit card interest rates and ATM fees.

No one likes a quitter

Lastly, expect to hear this taunt in the arena: "Adrian Dix is a hitter, Christy Clark is a quitter."

Clark quit Gordon Campbell's cabinet and politics in 2005 shortly after he moved her to a new position as Minister of Children and Families that she didn't want.

Clark said she was leaving to spend time with her family but eight months later tried to win the Non-Partisan Association's nomination to run for Vancouver mayor.

When she lost that contest to Sam Sullivan, she quit on the NPA. Clark not only didn't run to be an NPA councillor, she didn't even knock on one door or pull one vote for the party she wanted to lead.

Clark's approach was evident again in the BC Liberal leadership race, where she refused requests from competitors Kevin Falcon and George Abbott to commit to running as an MLA if she didn't win.

If Clark wants to beat the very competitive Dix there's one position she absolutely cannot play for her team -- self-centred.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Adrian Dix wins BC NDP Leadership!

Adrian Dix wins the BC NDP leadership vote!  - Bill Tieleman photo
CONGRATULATIONS to my good friend Adrian Dix, the new BC NDP leader!

Earlier post

My very best wishes to Adrian Dix in today's BC NDP leadership vote!

The event is being broadcast live on the BC NDP website.

Adrian will make a great leader - energetic, smart, compassionate and dedicated.

Good luck, Adrian!


Stephen Harper Conservatives step up attacks on refugees in Richmond, BC campaign stop today

MV Sun Sea off BC coast under navy escort
A few weeks ago I wrote about the mystery of why the federal Conservatives were making attacks on refugees - particularly Tamils from Sri Lanka following that country's civil war.

Today in Richmond, BC, Prime Minister Stephen Harper continues the Conservatives' "Tough on Human Smuggling" theme again that has been featured in TV ads that were denounced by the National Council of Tamil Canadians as "bordering on racism."  His news release is below in full.

One can only presume the Tories think recent immigrants and other Canadians hate refugees in desperate situations who take enormous risks to get to our country and claim refugee status.  That likely is the result of Conservative polling and focus group sessions.

I sincerely hope the Conservatives are wrong and their shameful fear campaign against refugees backfires.

After all, if you don't understand what would drive families to endanger their lives on a rusty ship and spend their entire savings to escape from a country where they believe they could be killed, are you really sympathetic to any immigrants?


Conservative Party of Canada


April 17, 2011

For Immediate Release


RICHMOND, BRITISH COLUMBIA – Prime Minister Stephen Harper today re-confirmed his commitment to crack down on human smugglers who seek to abuse Canada's immigration system. A re-elected Conservative Government will re-introduce legislation that would strengthen Canada's ability to prosecute human smugglers, deter illegal migrants who seek to jump the queue, prevent human smuggling operations before they leave for Canada, and maintain the integrity and fairness of our immigration system.

“A re-elected Conservative Government will take action to prevent the abuse of Canada's immigration system by human smugglers,” Mr. Harper said. “Our legislation will send a clear message: Canada opens its doors to those who work hard and play by the rules, while cracking down on those who seek to take advantage of our generosity and abuse our fair and welcoming immigration system.”

In the wake of the arrival of the MV Sun Sea last summer, Stephen Harper’s Government introduced Bill C-49 (Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act). The bill — which Michael Ignatieff and his Coalition partners, the NDP and Bloc Québécois, opposed — would have made it easier for law enforcement agencies to prosecute human smugglers and would have held ship owners and operators accountable for the use of their ships in human smuggling operations. It would also have prevented the release of illegal migrants until Canadian authorities determined whether they were legitimate refugees or foreign criminals.

Bill C-49 also contained a number of measures to deter illegal migrants from using human smugglers to come to Canada, including:

• Ensuring that illegal migrants who obtain refugee status can be re-assessed within five years to determine whether they still need protection or can be returned to their country of origin.

• Ensuring that illegal migrants who apply for refugee status are not able to come back to Canada if they return to the country from which they sought refuge, or if they demonstrate in other ways that they are not legitimately in need of Canada's protection.

• Preventing illegal migrants from sponsoring family members for five years.

Mr. Harper criticized the Ignatieff-led Coalition for opposing Bill C-49.

“Mr. Ignatieff and his NDP and Bloc Québécois partners believe that Canadians should bear the risk of releasing illegal migrants into their communities, before we have made basic determinations about their identity and prior involvement in illegal activities. That is a reckless and irresponsible position,” said Mr. Harper.

“Our actions will help prevent the abuse of Canada's immigration system by human smugglers, which Michael Ignatieff and his Coalition partners are quite willing to allow to continue unaddressed.”

– 30 –

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Fight HST denounces "biased and unfair" funding and rules on Harmonized Sales Tax referendum announced today

Former Premier Bill Vander Zalm & Bill Tieleman launching successful Fight HST Citizens' Initiative in April 2010 to extinguish the Harmonized Sales Tax

The BC Liberal government has today announced and outrageously biased set of rules and funding decision for the Harmonized Sales Tax - here is the Fight HST news release in full, with links to the BC government news release and backgrounder.
* * *  * *

News Release Thursday April 14, 2011


VANCOUVER – Fight HST is calling today’s BC government announcement of rules and funding in the provincial referendum on the Harmonized Sales Tax biased and unfair to consumers opposed to the HST.

HST leader and former BC Premier Bill Vander Zalm said it’s blatantly unfair that the BC Liberal government’s decision and big business HST supporter will spend many times as much promoting the HST as the inadequate amount it will give to HST opponents.

Vander Zalm says the government’s failure to place meaningful restrictions on third party advertising means big business will likely spend millions in advertising to keep the HST, which benefits them through a $2 billion a year tax shift onto the backs of consumers.

On top of that, the BC government will give $250,000 to business groups to spend promoting the HST.

“The government’s announcement today means everything is stacked against ordinary citizens who want to eliminate the HST,” Vander Zalm said. “It is totally unfair, totally biased against the consumers who are paying this terrible tax and want to get rid of it.”

Vander Zalm said that the BC government will spend $700,000 on a mailing to every household that will contain pro-HST propaganda “explaining” the HST, plus give $250,000 to a group opposing extinguishing the HST, plus let business spend as much as it wants privately to keep the HST.

But Fight HST, the grassroots group that led the successful petition signed by 557,000 Elections BC-validated voters to repeal the HST, is not even guaranteed any funding and at most could receive $250,000 – a tiny fraction of the amount government and business will spend to defend the HST imposed by the BC Liberals.

“All we have asked for is a level playing field and what we’ve been given instead is a steep hill to climb with a ball and chain around our ankle – that’s just not right,” Vander Zalm said.

“We will have to depend on the people power that allowed us to succeed with the first successful Citizens’ Initiative petition to extinguish the HST in 2010,” Vander Zalm said. “We will reactivate our nearly 7,000 Initiative canvassers and other volunteers in every one of BC’s 85 ridings and take this fight with government and big business to the people.”

“I am still convinced we will win this Referendum even with outrageously unfair rules because ordinary people know the HST is hurting our economy, hurting restaurants, hurting tourism, hurting new and vacation home sales and so much more,” Vander Zalm said. “People can’t be fooled by a slick government and big business campaign no matter how much they spend.”

Fight HST strategist Bill Tieleman pointed out that the funding for both sides of the HST Referendum is $250,000 each – just half the funding provided to both sides in the Single Transferable Vote Referendum held during the May 2009 provincial election.

And Tieleman says despite the fact that Fight HST is the only organization opposing the HST and led the Citizens Initiative campaign with Bill Vander Zalm as the legal proponent, the government has made no commitment to provide it with any funding.

“There is only one group – Fight HST – that publicly opposed the HST from the beginning, organized the Citizens Initiative, signed up nearly 7,000 volunteers through Elections BC as canvassers and is led by the Initiative proponent – Bill Vander Zalm,” Tieleman said.

“But we fear that the government could even further stack the deck in favour of the HST by denying us the limited and inadequate funding it says is available or giving us only a small portion of that amount and giving the rest to other groups who have not been involved with the Citizens Initiative campaign,” Tieleman said.

Tieleman was President of NO STV, the group which received $500,000 in provincial funding to advocate its position opposed to the Single Transferable Vote in the 2009 referendum.

“If you are going to have a fair debate and let both sides present their views to the public through television, print, radio and Internet advertising, outreach, public events around the province, information leaflets and websites, $250,000 is simply inadequate based on my experience with the STV referendum,” Tieleman said.

“This is a huge province, advertising is very expensive and we are going to get outspent by government and big business by a factor of probably 10 to 1 or more – that’s an unfair fight in the extreme,” he said.

- 30 -

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Bill Tieleman rejoinder to former Premier Mike Harcourt - NDP has been "left" in middle of road losing elections!

Adrian Dix
 Former New Democrat Premier Mike Harcourt says the BC NDP needs to move to the centre in politics because "You go left, you get left out. It's not complicated."

I strongly but respectfully disagree with Mike Harcourt.

He made the statement in endorsing BC NDP leadership candidate Mike Farnworth on Monday.

The fact is, the BC NDP has been moving to the centre - or the middle of the road - since Ujjal Dosanjh took over the party leadership in 2000, followed by Carole James in 2003.

And while James made every effort to set up the party to win with a centrist position, it didn't work in 2005 or 2009.

What did happen in 2009 is that the BC NDP actually lost 40,000 real votes compared to its results in 2005.

That means NDP voters stayed home - uninspired by the contest despite all the damage that Gordon Campbell and the BC Liberals had done to BC - from Independent Power Producers to the Basi-Virk politicial corruption case to the worst child poverty rate in Canada for years.

That' why I'm support Adrian Dix for leader in this contest - Adrian wants to mobilize traditional NDP voters and reach out to the 1.4 million voters who stayed home on election day, allowing Campbell to win his third straight victory.

When asked if the centrist approach might lead to the NDP base staying home, Mike's comment was telling:

“They won’t. They have a real interest in this election,” Harcourt told reporters.

Well they didn't before, despite Campbell's longstanding lack of personal approval by voters and despite all he had done.

And now the BC Liberal Party is trying to put a new face - Christy Clark's - on a tired and old government.

Mike Harcourt's views are worthy of a debate. 

One might just as easily say "Go right and you're right out of it" or "Stay in the middle and you get hit by both sides" but they don't mean anything.

And is it "left" to demand that banks and financial institutions pay a minimum corporate tax, as Adrian Dix is proposing?  And use the money to fund post-secondary education access? Or is it common sense and something voters would support? 

Former NDP House Leader Joy MacPhail - a Harcourt government minister as well - is supporting Dix in this contest and makes similar points about getting traditional NDP voters and new ones back on board.

“Adrian’s mastery of the issues and ability to effect positive change is on full display in and out of the legislature, where he is the most effective critic for the official opposition," MacPhail said.

"His skill in mobilizing activists and citizens around issues also reflects his effective leadership style. He is taking a strong stand on jobs and the economy, the environment, health care and education, and that is what the NDP needs and that is what BC needs."

“Adrian’s dedication to grow the New Democratic movement is recognized throughout BC. NDP members across the province have sought out his help and he has been there for them time and time again. Adrian gets results – and he will lead our party to victory in the next election,” MacPhail concluded.

I respect Mike Harcourt - I served on the BC NDP Executive during most of his term in office - and also respect Mike Farnworth, as well as John Horgan. I've worked with all of them in the past and they are talented people.

But moving further to the middle of the road is not the way to win back NDP voters - as Adrian Dix has said - the NDP needs to give people something to vote for, not just against.

His detailed and costed program will do exactly that and its why I am pleased to be supporting him in this leadership contest.


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Support Darcie Clarke - mother of 3 children murdered by Allan Schoenborn - now getting day passes in Port Coquitlam, where she now lives!

Cordon, Kaitlynne and Max
It was one of the most sickening crimes I've ever heard of in British Columbia - a father brutally murdered his three children, set the home on fire and waited for his estranged wife to return home to this horrific scene. 

After that he fled into the woods near Merritt for days before he was captured alive.

Allan Schoenborn stabbed to death his daughter Kaitlynne, 10, and smothered his sons Max, 8, and Cordon, 5.

Schoenborn is either purely evil or so mentally ill he should never be released from custody after this slaughter.

But no - he is now being given escorted day passes from the Psychiatric Hospital at Colony Farm to go to Starbucks and the Port Coquitlam swimming pool just three years after the 2008 crimes!

And his shattered ex-wife Darcie Clarke lives in that community with her cousin.  Now she is understandably terrified that he is trying to find her and is not far from her home.

Unbelievable doesn't even begin to describe this turn of events.

Disgusting doesn't do it either.

CKNW AM 980's World Today host Jon McComb is trying to do something about it  - and I'm happy to help and encourage you to do the same.

Visit Jon's website, where you can leave your comments about this travesty.

Jon will forward them to the appropriate authorities, including the Psychiatric Review Board, the Psychiatric Hospital and BC Attorney General Barry Penner.

And in this federal election tell all candidates that this situation is totally unacceptable.


Federal Liberals and Conservatives guilty of contempt of BC voters, given their hypocrisy on imposing HST on British Columbians

Stephen Harper - thumbs up to HST!

Michael Ignatieff - HST perfect!
Only Jack Layton's NDP Consistently Oppose 'Harper Sales Tax' - and voted against it in Parliament

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours & The Tyee online column

Tuesday April 12, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"Wrongs are often forgiven; contempt never."

- Lord Chesterfield, 1694-1773

Opposition parties defeated the federal government by voting that the Stephen Harper Conservatives were in "contempt of Parliament" for not releasing information on the cost of fighter jets and crime legislation.

But when it comes to a key political issue in British Columbia -- the Harmonized Sales Tax -- both the Liberals and Conservatives have been in "contempt of voters."

When ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell announced the HST back in July 2009, the public reacted with anger at paying an extra seven per cent more on restaurant food, basic telephone and cable TV, domestic airline tickets, sports and entertainment events, home renovations and repairs and much more.

A Facebook protest group I formed quickly grew to over 130,000 members, thanks to readers of The Tyee, 24 Hours newspaper and others.

Then 557,383 valid voter signatures were gathered on Canada's first successful citizens initiative petition by Fight HST, the group created by former B.C. Premier Bill Vander Zalm, ex-Unity Party leader Chris Delaney and me.

That forced the BC Liberal government to promise a binding referendum on the HST, which will now be held by mail ballot from mid-June to July 22.

And Liberal MPs in B.C. were very happy to jump on the anti-HST bandwagon.

Vancouver South MP Ujjal Dosanjh sent a flyer out to constituents strongly denouncing the HST -- and Harper.

"Stephen Harper and his Conservatives are pushing a Harmonized Sales Tax hike on B.C. that at the end of the day will only hurt ordinary British Columbians. Everything from food to housing is going to cost more," Dosanjh wrote.

Libs forced to vote against tide

But when the HST legislation came up in Parliament, Dosanjh voted in favour of imposing the HST on B.C., not against it, because Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff ordered his MPs to support it.

"Ultimately, my argument lost out," said Dosanjh. "I still detest the tax. My constituents detest it."

Newton-North Delta Liberal MP Sukh Dhaliwal similarly made his opposition to the HST clear in his winter 2009 constituency report:

"And Harper has added the Harmonized Sales Tax to the burden of B.C. families already struggling to make it through this difficult economic period," he said, calling it the Harper Sales Tax.

"Now that British Columbia has been forced to accept the harmonization of the sales tax, it is time to look a little closer at how it all came together -- and the role the Harper government has played in its implementation," Dhaliwal wrote.

"In smaller communities that depend on tourism, there is considerable outrage from the restaurant and hospitality sector. Just as these businesses were starting to find their footing, they are feeling more vulnerable than ever."

But then Dhaliwal also changed his tune.

Dhaliwal told The Globe and Mail that Ignatieff's position to vote in favour of the HST was "responsible" and "visionary."

"We have to look professional... not opportunist," he said, presumably with a straight face. Not one Liberal MP voted against the HST.

Stephen Harper, raiser of taxes

But Harper and the Conservatives are hypocrites on the HST as well.

Harper made much of his cutting the Goods and Services Tax from seven per cent to six per cent and then five per cent in 2006 and 2008 -- which was the right thing to do with this regressive, punishing and unfair tax on consumers.

"Under our government, taxes are headed only one direction: down," Harper claimed on Dec. 31, 2007. "The two-point reduction will save the average working family hundreds of dollars per year on day-to-day purchases, not to mention hundreds more on a new car or thousands on a new home."

But Harper and his government voted to send taxes in only one direction -- up -- when they imposed the HST on B.C. just two years later.

Harper also trashed ex-Liberal leader Stephane Dion's proposed national carbon tax during the 2008 election, saying a new tax would hurt "the average working family."

"Canadians don't want a new tax and British Columbians don't want double carbon taxation," Harper told the media in a Richmond campaign stop on Sept. 8, 2008.

"Everybody knows -- especially in British Columbia -- that that kind of a carbon tax is not revenue neutral on the average working family," he said. (Harper declined all comment on Campbell's own carbon tax but didn't change his words.)

Harper obviously again implied strongly that his own government would never impose a new tax on British Columbians.

Flip, flop, flip, flop

But then Harper's government forced the HST on British Columbians through an act of Parliament in Dec. 2009.

Harper also paid the $1.6 billion one-time "implementation" grant that Campbell desperately wanted to reduce his massive provincial deficit.

Harper: principled or contemptible?

And his MPs weren't any better. Surrey North Conservative MP Dona Cadman said she would vote in Parliament to oppose the HST.

"I vote with the people or for the people," Cadman said in Dec. 2009.

But when the vote took place, Cadman was missing from the House of Commons.

"I wanted to show my support for my constituents, but I could not see standing up and voting outwardly no to my party," Cadman now says to explain breaking her promise.

Layton's New Dems steady foes of hated HST

Jack Layton and all NDP MPs should be held to account for their own bad decisions -- including risking a Tory majority by defeating the government when Harper was high in the polls.

Jack Layton said he opposed HST & voted against HST
 But when it comes to the HST, Layton and his caucus have been completely consistent throughout -- they opposed it, they voted against it and the still want to get rid of it -- the only party which can claim that record in this election. The final vote in Parliament on Dec. 9, 2009 showed 253 in favour, 37 against and 18 abstentions.

The NDP also argues the $1.6 billion federal HST grant should not be have to be repaid if British Columbians vote in the referendum to extinguish the tax.

Regardless of your position on the HST, one clear definition of contempt is telling voters one thing and doing the exact opposite afterwards.

Rather unforgiveable.


Monday, April 11, 2011

BC Liberals polling heavily in Vancouver-Point Grey riding where Premier Christy Clark says today she will run in by-election

Premier Christy Clark hopes to be Vancouver-Point Grey's second MLA/Premier this year
Innovative Research employed Christy Clark's Chief of Staff Mike McDonald until last month


24 hours Vancouver

A research firm closely connected to the B.C. Liberals has been polling heavily in Vancouver-Point Grey, the riding where Premier Christy Clark confirmed Monday she will run in a by-election, likely by mid-May.

And 24 hours has exclusively obtained all the questions being asked last week, which show Clark is concerned about the upstart B.C. Conservatives under leadership candidate John Cummins, a former Conservative MP, and the Harmonized Sales Tax.

In a news release Monday Clark said she will run in the riding vacated by ex-Premier Gordon Campbell but did not set a by-election date. It must be called by September 15 unless a general election takes place.

The polling was conducted by Select Field Services, a firm owned by Innovative Research Group. Clark’s Chief of Staff Mike McDonald worked for Innovative until last month.

Greg Lyle, owner of both companies, ran Campbell’s 1996 provincial election campaign. He declined comment about the polling or who his client is.

As previously reported here exclusively, Innovative was also polling extensively in Vancouver-Point Grey in early March.

The polling asked if voters would back Clark, Cummins, or possible NDP candidates Patti Bacchus - the Vision Vancouver chair of the Vancouver School Board or Mel Lehan - the NDP's candidate the last two elections, or an unnamed Green candidate.  Neither Bacchus nor Lehan has said they are running in the by-election.

The polling also asked whether respondents oppose the HST and if Clark’s minimum wage increase made it more likely they would vote for her.

Vancouver Island University Professor Allan Warnke says Clark should be worried.

“John Cummins adds some credibility right away to the B.C. Conservatives,” he said, adding that the party's advisory group of former Reform MPs will also help.

"Randy White is a good organizer," Warnke noted.

But B.C. Conservative spokesperson Keith Roy says Cummins won’t run in Vancouver-Point Grey.

“We’re the biggest threat to their government right now,” he said. “I’d like to thank the B.C. Liberals for finally showing us some respect.”

Warnke, himself a former B.C. Liberal MLA, said Clark would have preferred that ex-cabinet minister Colin Hansen resign in neighbouring Vancouver-Quilchena riding instead because “it’s a much safer seat.”

Campbell won Vancouver-Point Grey in 1996, 2001, 2005 and 2009 general elections, besting the NDP by 10% in the last contest.

In the past NDP MLAs Darlene Marzari and Tom Perry have held the riding with slightly different boundaries.
A shorter version of this article will be published Tuesday April 12 in 24 hours Vancouver.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

BC New Democratic Party post lists of donors over $250 to leadership candidates

For those interested in knowing who the donors who contributed $250 or more to each of the four BC New Democratic Party leadership candidates, the NDP has posted the reports on its website.

Whether you support Adrian Dix, Mike Farnworth, John Horgan or Dana Larsen, your comments are welcome but please be civil and factual.

Lastly, I donated to Adrian's campaign through my company, West Star Communications.


Saturday, April 09, 2011

Tom Cameron-Fawkes tragically passes away suddenly - Rest In Peace, Brother

Tom Cameron-Fawkes
I was deeply saddened to learn that Tom Cameron-Fawkes suddenly passed away on April 5 at the age of just 63 years.

Tom was a dedicated unionist who in his long career worked for the IWA, the BC Federation of Labour and the United Food and Commercial Workers union local 1518.

But Tommy was much more than a veteran communication director for unions - he was a former disc jockey at several radio stations in the US and Canada, an outspoken advocate for social justice - especially for children who were exploited for their labour in horrible conditions in countries that fail to respect basic human rights.

Tom was a powerful speaker with a great voice - and a hilarious raconteur of stories both profound and occasionally, well, ribald, in nature!

Tom was reknowned by thousands of labour activists over many years as the "Choir Judge" at the Canadian Labour Congress' Winter School in Harrison Hot Springs each winter - where each class would put together a song to impress their fellow students - and Tom would take it apart with arch humour to much hilarity.

My sympathies go out to his wife Deb and all his family and many, many friends.

Tom has left the building far too soon - rest in peace, brother, rest in peace.

A private family service will be followed by a public celebration of Tom's life, to be announced later.

The family is requesting donations to Vancouver's Covenant House - an organization that supports street youth be made in Tom's name.

Here is the full obituary - published in the Vancouver Sun newspaper today.

* * * * *


With profound sorrow, we announce the sudden passing of Tom Cameron-Fawkes on April 5, 2011, at the age of 63.

He is survived by his loving wife and best friend, Deb; his father, Norman Fawkes; brother Wally; and children Michael, David and his wife Sara, and Vanessa Guild.

Trade unionist, communicator, activist, advocate, powerful orator, adoring husband, devoted father, passionately loyal friend, generous mentor, with a sense of humour large enough to match his prodigious presence: the imprint he leaves on the world can hardly be measured.

As strategist and ringmaster for 35 years of campaigns to secure rights and dignity for every member of society, Tom made lasting impressions on people from all walks of life. He began his professional career working as a CFUN DJ at the ridiculous age of 16. Ten years in broadcasting took him to Seattle (KJR) and Los Angeles (KROQ-FM, at the dawn of the FM era), Whitehorse, Yukon, and Trail, BC, where he would meet the future president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

His nearly-successful effort to unionize his workplace ended his career in radio, and began a stellar career as a labour communicator.

Counting Ginger Goodwin among his grandparents' friends, he came by his passion for social justice naturally. He worked with the estimable Jack Munro as director of communications for the IWA, and later took the same title for the BC Federation of Labour.

Tom's political instincts were legendary, and his advice was sought on and off the record. His abiding respect for frontline workers in every industry was warm and unpretentious, from his favourite Szechwan diner to cruise ships traversing the Panama Canal.

Tom made friends wherever he went. In the early nineties, Tom took on the Communications Department for the 26,000 members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1518, representing supermarket, retail, industrial and community healthcare workers province-wide.

In both professional and personal life he advocated for the empowerment of women and spoke out at every opportunity against the exploitation of children.

Tom was a generous and gifted mentor to many within and outside the labour movement - and equally, an outrageous comic and raconteur, much of which is not fit to print. He showed no mercy to pretense or self-importance.

At the same time, his loyalty to friends and colleagues was unshakeable, and his honesty blunt and refreshing. With a heart as big as all outdoors, compassion was his greatest quality, informing all his life and work.

His creativity stretched from communications to photography to his renowned gourmet cooking. Upon his retirement in 2007, Tom and Deb took to exploring the world via cruise ship, a new shared passion, from Alaska to the Amazon.

Tom's was a life of imagination and accomplishment, friendship and really, really great laughs.

Our time with him was too short, and he will be deeply missed by too many admirers to count.

"I am just an ordinary guy...and that is all I ever want to be". Sorry, Tom - you were anything but.

The family will hold a private service of remembrance, and a public celebration of his life will take place at a later date, to be announced.

Donations may be made in Tom's name to Covenant House in Vancouver, a support facility for downtown street youth.


Tuesday, April 05, 2011

The Case of the Curious Conservative Campaign - bashing environmentalists and refugees needlessly

Vancouver Quadra Conservative candidate Deborah Meredith with Prime Minister Stephen Harper
The Case of the Curious Conservative Campaign

Why is Harper's team taking unnecessary risks bashing the environment and refugees?   Nationally and in Vancouver Quadra.

Bill Tieleman's 24 hours/The Tyee column

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

By Bill Tieleman

"How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?"

- Sherlock Holmes in The Sign of The Four, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

It's the Case of the Curious Conservative Campaign -- and call in Sherlock Holmes to do the political detective work because something is deeply amiss.

The evidence is overwhelming.

Despite a hefty 14 per cent lead in recent public opinion polls, the Conservative Party is intent on taking absolutely unnecessary risks by bashing the environment and refugees, moves that seem sure to cost them votes in the urban ridings they need to win for a majority government.

Inexplicably, they are going out of their way to alienate voters who have any environmental concerns about oil tankers off the British Columbia coast or climate change.

And the Tories are using deplorable scare tactics about Tamil refugees in their television ads, despite Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's endless moves to court immigrant voters -- appearing in Vancouver-Kingsway riding last week to watch a Pakistan cricket match on TV, for example.

Mix immigrant bashing with disdain for the environment and presto -- it looks a lot like the old redneck Reform Party of Preston Manning that could never beat the Liberals. But the mystery is why?

Vote for risk of coastal oil spills!

Here's the evidence. Exhibit A. Conservative Party candidate Deborah Meredith's election flyer in Vancouver Quadra.

When you get past all the boilerplate stuff on the economy, crime and trade, you find this special highlighted section attacking her main opponent:

"Quadra Liberal MP Joyce Murray introduced an irresponsible private member's bill to stop tanker traffic off our north coast -- killing the northern gateway and hindering trade with Asia."

Wow. So I should vote Conservative to make sure oil tankers steam down our pristine coastline and risk a catastrophe like the Gulf of Mexico oil spill?

And Meredith is just warming up, literally.

The Conservative candidate also cites "examples of irresponsible private members' bill [sic] supported by the Liberals: To legislate reduction in carbon dioxide emissions to Kyoto targets reachable only by shutting down our economy."

Hmmm. Has Meredith actually met any Vancouver Quadra voters before putting this out?

It's a very environmentally minded riding full of professionals who actually want to fight global warming and oppose oil tanker traffic on our coast, not follow Meredith's Big Oil agenda.

And why push potential voters away when there's no reason to?

Touting polluters in an eco-friendly riding

You'd think Meredith and the Tory strategists might have learned a lesson from the March 2008 by-election that she lost by just 151 votes to Murray.

In that contest Meredith shunned media interviews and all candidates debates -- including one specifically focused on climate change issues.

And it's not like Liberal MP Joyce Murray is a tough target. She was arguably the worst environment minister in the province's history.

Murray was the minister when BC Liberal Premier Gordon Campbell's first government approved a massive increase in salmon farm licenses, ended the grizzly bear hunting moratorium, fired wildlife protection officers and watered down pesticide and waste management regulations. They even removed the name "environment" from the ministry!

So why didn't Meredith simply say the Conservatives will protect the environment? After all, Harper's government did reject the Prosperity Mine proposal in northern B.C. because of the potential for environmental devastation.

Meredith could even point out that Harper is showing more environmental leadership than new BC Liberal Premier Christy Clark, who wants the rejection reversed.

Or just say nothing about environmental issues at all -- even that would be better than needlessly alienating many voters.

Vote to block the desperate from our shores!

But there's more evidence of this curiously dubious Conservative Party campaign -- Exhibit B -- their new television ad.

An election ballot graphic shows three items with checkmarks -- "Strong leadership" and "Lower taxes" (but no mention of Harper and Campbell imposing the Harmonized Sales Tax increase on B.C.), followed by "Tough on human smuggling."

Huh? Is that Canada's third most important issue in this election?

The pleasant female voiceover explains that Harper has "taken action to protect our borders -- not from those who are welcome but from human smugglers who take advantage of our generosity."

The Conservative ad also shows film of a ship being taken into custody by the Canadian navy.

Oh, I see. It's coded language only true Tories understand.

But let's unscramble the message: "Conservatives will keep refugees on boats out of Canada."

It doesn't take Sherlock Holmes to figure this one out.

Last August a ship called the MV Sun Sea carrying 492 Sri Lankans of Tamil origin claiming refugee status after that country's civil war arrived off the B.C. coast. They were detained and questioned. About 39 remain in custody.

The year before another ship carrying 76 Tamil passengers, the Ocean Lady, entered B.C. waters.

Let's also make a wild guess. The Conservatives have noticed that these refugee claimants were not, shall we say, Scandinavian-looking.

'Ad borders on racism': Canadian Tamils

In fact, the National Council of Canadian Tamils has strongly criticized the Conservative ad and demanded it be pulled off the air.

"This election ad is xenophobic and borders on racism," said Krisna Saravanamuttu, a council spokesman. It appeals to the "worst instincts of Canadians to score political points and votes."

"It is reminiscent of the political rhetoric used to turn back Sikhs and Hindus on board the Komagata Maru in 1914, and Jewish refugees on board the MS St. Louis fleeing persecution in 1939," Saravanamuttu said. "In these cases, refugees fleeing persecution were labelled 'criminals' and vilified by politicians appealing to the worst instincts of Canadians to score political points and votes."

Ouch. Not the kind of message the Conservatives need to win over immigrant voters -- or anyone with a sense of social justice!

And with regard to the Tamil refugee applicants, we are talking about less than 600 people when Canada admits between 240,000 and 265,000 immigrants a year -- that's 0.2 per cent of the total. All refugees have to go through a rigorous and lengthy approval process.

But why let the facts get in the way of a good scary immigration and environment bashing election ad?

Perhaps the next Conservative slogan will be even simpler: "British Columbia's coast: Oil tankers good -- refugee ships bad."

But how the Conservatives expect these tactics will help them win urban ridings is still a mystery that even Sherlock Holmes would find puzzling.