Rafe: Gordon Wilson finds religion on LNG…for $12,500 a month
Some years ago I got into hot water for calling a federal cabinet minister of the female persuasion a “political whore”, a phrase that has nothing to do with sexism and everything to do with having principles for sale.
Christy Clark is paying Gordon Wilson $12,500 a month for four months – probably a permanent gig if he keeps his nose brown enough. Wilson is going to be an advocate for Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG).
Wilson once highly critical of LNG
In April last, before this former BC Liberal leader and NDP cabinet minister endorsed Liberal Christy Clark in the May election, Wilson had this to say about LNG:
Quite, Gordon, quite. That was Gordon Wilson the skeptic talking but there is more. Here’s what Wilson the environmentalist had to say last April: “Expanded LNG production also comes with a significant environmental cost.”
Our lad went on to say:
Precisely, sir, precisely. Given my most articulate moment, I could not have said it better.
The story changes
So what happened to Mr. Wilson? Does he have some contract in his pocket for LNG sales from BC to an Asian customer? Has there been some host of angels descend from Heaven, urging Mr. Wilson to get on the side of God and Christy Clark?
Or is he just a grubby political whore whose price is $50,000 a quarter?
To call Wilson that cannot come without evidence of past prostitutional behaviour. (Yes, I just invented the word, dictionaries please copy.)
Wilson’s first dance with BC Liberals
Mr. Wilson, back in the 80s was a Liberal, both federal and provincial. The provincial wing was in disarray and Mr. Wilson took over, severed its ties with the federal party and built the local Libs into a force to be reckoned with in the 1991 election, when they went from zero MLAs to seventeen and he became Leader of the Opposition.
It was downhill from there. By 1993 it was obvious that there were rumblings in the Liberal caucus that he was entirely too close to their House Leader, the gorgeous Judi Tyabji. The media kept quiet until the late John Pifer got his hands on a love letter from Ms. Tyabji to our hero. None of us, least of all me with my marital record, wanted to make anything of this except the political reality that the Opposition was clearly unraveling and doing a lousy job.
Lie led to ouster
Had Mr. Wilson stated that he and Judi were a thing, with Judi leaving her post, it would have been a 48-hour story at worst.
But Wilson lied – serially lied. He destroyed himself in an interview with CKNW’s Philip Till.
The party held a leadership convention and unceremoniously dumped Wilson for the calamity called Gordon Campbell.
Wilson’s finer points
Before going further, I must acknowledge my debt to Wilson on the Meech Lake/Charlottetown issue. We were very close on that issue, along with Gordon Gibson and the late Mel Smith, QC. Wilson introduced me to Clyde Wells, Premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, who became all but a fixture on my show at CKNW.
Moreover, I have to say that a couple of years ago I urged him to try and form a new party of the “centre” where I perceive the political vacuum to be. I have never questioned his ability to articulate issues. In fact he may be the perfect political animal.
Trading principle for money
My quarrel is with his crass trading of principle for money.
Wilson, when Campbell was selected, most ungraciously quit the Liberal Party and formed, with the lady of his choice, Judi Tyabji, the Progressive Democratic Alliance.
This was not to last. As the NDP tottered towards its 2001 wipeout, Wilson was asked to join its cabinet, which he did, while making it abundantly clear that he would never join the party.
But he did. In fact, he ran for their leadership. And in terms that made him sound like he was as committed as if his Dad had worked the coalmines of Wales.
I was at that leadership convention and I was astonished to hear him speak as if socialism was burned into his soul. He demonstrated – dare I be so bold as to say – that he was a political whore who, quite clearly for personal aggrandizement, had gone from being an enemy of the NDP to a cabinet minister in an NDP government; from rejecting the party to an aspirant, and a serious one, for their leadership.
In deep financial trouble, Wilson takes money to shill for LNG
Now Wilson moves from being skeptical of LNG and all its obvious flaws into a position of solid support for it.
Are we supposed to believe that this volte-face had nothing to do with $12,500 a month, which could easily morph into $150,000 a year?
We learned from reporter Bob Mackin a week before the May provincial election that Wilson’s return to the Liberal fold came amidst mounting legal and financial pressures – including the court-ordered sale of the Sunshine Coast home he shared with his wife.
Am I, taking the risk of a lawsuit, not entitled to say that Gordon Wilson, for all his many talents, is indeed a political whore whose principles can be precisely valued at $12,500 a month – to be expanded, because Premier Clark will have no other choice, to $150,000 per annum and perhaps beyond?
I like Gordon Wilson. I am still an admirer of his many abilities.
But he is, price tag stamped on his forehead, a political whore.