Premier Gordon Campbell announcing his resignation

Was the Gordon Campbell Government Truly Corrupt?


Was the Gordon Campbell government corrupt? Does it matter?
The answer to both questions is a resounding YES!
For the purposes of this article I define corruption as “acting against the public good for political or other gains for the government party and/or its members, to the exclusion of meaningful public input”.
Let me summarize the Campbell corruption:

  • In 2001, Campbell, while saying the NDP left a threadbare cupboard, promptly gave a huge tax cut to the better off, mostly his supporters
  • Campbell, after raging at NDP ministers who allegedly misbehaved, got thrown in jail for drunk driving, promptly forgave himself and stayed in office.
  • Campbell, after I showed him a vial with Pink Salmon smolts covered in sea lice stated to me, “I saw a billboard showing salmon spawning and vowed that my grandchildren must be able to see this sight” – then promptly doubled the number of fish farms and pilloried the world’s scientists who confirmed the sea lice problem.
  • Campbell, after vowing in the 1997 and 2001 elections never to privatize BC Hydro, promptly unleashed just such a program.
  • Two men were charged with crimes involving the 990 year lease of BC Rail and on the eve of his former Finance Minister and his own call to the witness stand, Campbell promptly ended the case by paying $6 million to the miscreants’ lawyers.
  • In the 2009 election Campbell and his Finance Minister declared that their 2009 budget was accurate then admitted right after the election that they were more than a billion dollars out, claiming that they were blindsided by the Recession. In fact, the Finance Minister had to know of the true state of affairs or was grossly negligent or the Finance Ministry should fire its senior people for the warnings (reduced sales tax etc.) were all there.
  • In the 2009 election Campbell and his Finance Minister claimed that an HST was not in the radar screen then announced it right after the election. It turned out that two months before the election the Finance Minister had a Ministry document in hand which criticized an HST and it must be assumed that the Campbell government had been in negotiations with the Federal government months before – these things don’t happen overnight.
  • The Campbell government, taking the lead from Alcan, produced an Energy Policy which transferred the right to produce new energy from BC Hydro to the private sector then, through the mouth of Finance Minister Hansen, lied about the policy of private power.
  • The Campbell government has brought BC Hydro to the position which, if they were a private company, would be in bankruptcy protection or actual bankruptcy.
  • The Campbell government has done less than nothing on the oil pipelines and oil tankers issue, leaving it an open invitation to companies to bring on stream dead certain environmental catastrophes to our pristine environment both on land and in the ocean

It’s noteworthy that after Campbell resigned in disgrace the Liberals promised a testimonial for him either at the leadership convention or its annual party conference, neither of which have happened in the hope the public will not see this oversight as part of Christy Clark distancing herself from the ex premier – which it is. (Perhaps such a testimonial did occur on the quiet, maybe in the basement of the Fraser Institute or after midnight in the editorial offices of the Vancouver Sun or Province.
What has this to do with Premier Clark?
Just everything, that’s all.
To start with, Ms. Clark helped draft the 2001 Liberal platform which, amongst other things, promised not to privatize BC Rail. In fact she was in office during the planning and/or implementing many of these policies and it’s noteworthy that she didn’t contradict any of the Campbell outrages while in radio because she wasn’t remotely independent.
The real issue in the next election is a simple one: Will Premier Clark succeed in making us forget the harm perpetrated by her corrupt predecessor? You can be damned sure that she’ll not bring it up!
What does this mean in real terms?

  • The bankruptcy of BC Hydro, which will remain only as a conduit by which the private producers (IPPS) funnel their ill-gotten gains to their shareholders abroad.
  • It means that more and more of our precious rivers will be dammed (IPPs prefer the word “weir” in keeping with the Orwellian “newspeak” that abounds with these guys), with clear cuts for roads and transmission lines.
  • It means that new pipelines and enlarged old ones will carry the sludge from the Tar Sands to our coast with the mathematical certainty of environmental disasters – without our government making a nickel out of it.
  • It means that supertankers will proliferate on our coast again with the mathematical certainty of catastrophic spills.
  • It means continuation of the phoney environmental hearings where the public is denied its right to challenge the need for the project in the first place.
  • It means that the already truncated BC Utilities Commission, which overseas (or is supposed to) all energy proposals, will be abolished or maintained as a lame duck puppet of the Liberal Government
  • It means that the private sector will, unhindered, do as it pleases to our environment.

People like me will be jeered as being “against progress, against profit and anti-business”.
In fact what I’m doing is urging that environmental decisions be made by the BC Public, not party hacks supported by corporations that couldn’t care less about our environment – nor should they be expected to, for their obligation is to make profits for shareholders.
I’m trying to get across that there is a limit to what we can do to our environment, much including our farmland. I’m reminding folks that history teaches us that unrestrained industry will go after the last fish in the ocean, cut down the last stand of trees and ruin without a blink any rivers it needs for power or a sewer or both.
I ask this: If not now, when do we decide that enough is enough?
The truth of the matter is that Christy Clark has no greater concern for environmental issues than Campbell has, such that in the next election she must be assessed on that basis. Elect Clark and fish farms will flourish, lakes and rivers will be contaminated, BC Hydro will die, farmland will be destroyed, and the public will continue be shut out of the approval process.
We know all this because Clark has perpetuated the corrupt policies that Campbell initiated.
If we re-elect a Liberal government, we know what it will mean and we will deserve what we get. 


About Rafe Mair

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at

22 thoughts on “Was the Gordon Campbell Government Truly Corrupt?

  1. You forgot the TFN Treaty agreement which turned into a land deal, getting land out of the ALR, turning it into a mega mall.

    The RAV deal which saw SNC Lavalin bid against SNC Lavalin, which judge Pittfield, who over saw the Susan Heyes lawsuit call the bidding process a “Charade”. As a reminder, the RAV Line is the only heavy-rail metro, built as a light metro and so designed to have less capacity than a simple streetcar costing a fraction to build.

    Everything Gorod the Gone did was to enrich friends, business acquaintances and party insiders.

  2. Ive seen corruption in every country and he is no worst than any other corrupt leader… Money talks and keeps them out of jail. The things we dont know about scare me…Now i see Gordo will get 25 thousand a month from pension and new appointment of High comissioner. Im struggling to make ends meet on 2000 dollars a month and i dont have a cook, driver or any of those perks. Wonder why we see all there riots in the streets in countries all over the world. People struggle to make ends meet while polititions get more money than they will ever need..its just greed greed greed. I remember seeing on BCTV news one day that Gordo bought shares of Alcan and then two days it was announced that Rio TInto was buying them… now tell me Gordo didnt know that was going to happen…i think its called insider trading. A crook is a crook…. too bad the big guys get away with that kind of behaviour then the tax man goes after the little guy for income tax which is ussaully a concocted scenario just to destroy or sqwaush the little guy. Its a sick world… i see people selling their babies in other countries because they can not support them, Gordo u should be ashamed

  3. Was Gordon Campbell and his government corrupt? Do geese poop in parks? Does it rain on the coast? Does CN spill toxins into our streams? Will Japan have another earthqquake?Are voters stupid enough to elect such as Campbell-Harper-Paulie Sweatship Martin-Mulroney again?

  4. Damian says….. “It will take a civil uprising to change things”

    I agree 100% Damian. I really can’t believe it hasn’t already begun. This BC Liberal gov’t are nothing more than corporate puppets, that together, make threats that if the NDP is ever elected we can say goodbye to our standard of living, our jobs and our hope. These people are in it for themselves and care not what happens to the citizens of this province or country.

    I almost fell off my chair when I saw the news this evening where they reported The CEO of BC Ferries income from all sources including pensions he is and will be collecting when he leaves the Ferry Corp. This is totally disgusting and this type of abuse of taxpayers dollars MUST come to a stop!

    Whats it going to take BC???

  5. I have grave concerns about the BC government. Christy Clark when asked why Raven would be allowed to put a coal mine in the middle of a pristine watershed, and just above a thriving shellfishery, said, “Well it has to go into someone’s neighborhood. No doubt Ms Christie has had many letters about the proposed coalmines for the Comox Valley, yet she chooses to ignore mass public opposition.
    Time to turf the liberals before they completely destroy the province. What we have to look forward to: a pipeline to the West Coast, massive oil tankers plying the dangerous West Coast, the massive Site C dam in the Peace which will cost British Columbians $8 billion, more mines, more oil and gas exploration, more taxes for the people who can least afford them, and more broken promises.

  6. As a side note, it’s interesting that three successive SOLICITORS GENERAL were forced to resign due to criminal investigations or outright law-breaking (John Les, John Van Dongen and Kash Heed). What does it say about a government when it goes through three “top cops” – responsible for overseeing our law enforcement system – in a year?

  7. Wilson, you’re bang on when you say, “while we have many laws and enforcement mechanisms that (attempt to) keep individuals from acting anti-socially, we don’t do so well in doing the same thing with corporations.” I beg to differ, however, with your comment: “I disagree that profit is the only obligation that corporations have.” This is precisely the only obligation of a corporation and its officers – to deliver maximum profits to shareholders. To behave in any other way is a breach of fiduciary responsibility. Corporations are, as Noam Chomsky and the film “The Corporation” ably demonstrate, “externalizing machines.” The negative social consequences of this m.o. could be kept in check had we proper laws and enforcement – with the penalties far exceeding the financial benefit of transgression, and a high likelihood of getting caught. But, as you note, that is plainly not the case; nor is it likely to become so as long as corporations exercise such disproportionate influence on our lawmakers and public policy. We truly have the fox guarding the hen house, with predictable and devastating results for the public and our environment. It will take a civil uprising to change things.

  8. funny how things work in gov’t…when barry penner was minister of the enviroment he was worried about one marmot on the lawn of the empress hotel in victoria,but not a peep about 5000 people trying to get 30 million farmed atlantic salmon removed from our coast….NOW HE”S ATTORNEY GENERAL…APPALLING,SICKENNING,ABSOLUTLEY DIGUSTING,and SCAREY

  9. It is sad that strings were and are pulled and laws were adjusted so easily, right before our eyes. We count on our leaders to make us proud, and do us good. We pay them well, and will honor long term service. It seems those with the most authority set themselves up, or are being guided by higher powers…..not their constituents. Media used to be there to let us know when something stunk. They are,to a large degree,bought and paid for. Justice,if any, is slow. Answers for these injustices are not on OUR radar. Hope the answers appear soon.

  10. Campbell and the BC Liberals, have been a litany of, lies, deceit, corruption, theft of the BCR and our rivers, arrogance, dirty tactics and every evil in the book.

    Campbell’s theft and sale of the BCR trial, was nothing other than a farce. Tried in a corrupt court, presided over by a judge, who condoned brain dead witnesses. When it got too hot for Campbell, the trial was stopped short.

    Basi and Virk has said, if they kept their mouths shut, they would be taken care of. Indeed they were. De Jong thieves our tax dollars, to pay the two patsies legal fees. The RCMP flatly refused, to do a deeper investigation, of Campbell’s corrupt sale, of the BCR crime.

    How do we fight back, in a province rotten to the core with corruption? Then, we also have the, BC Liberal media propaganda machine, who willingly spread the Liberals lies. Totally biased against the BC citizens. The media are a total disgrace, to their professions.

    What in the hell has stopped the BC Liberals so far? Absolutely nothing. Christy is only a mouthpiece, her route has been mapped out for her. You would have to be as, brain dead as Martyn Brown, not to see the HST, is a killer for the BC people.

  11. Rafe:
    It also means that the (Turkey Vulture) RAVEN OPEN PIT COAL MINE on Vancouver Island, will at tax payer expense (15 million) ship the CLEAN COAL (oxy-moron like Christy) from Fanny Bay to Parksville to Port Alberni on the railroad tracks; the big lie being that the money is to improve passenger rail service (Bull S) when it really is about making it nice and easy for Compliance Coal to get their ugly toxic product to Asia. Christy will screw the people of BC just like her predecessor did. This whole system we call Provincial Government in BC is nothing but a corrupt charade and its time to end it.

  12. The Exxon-Valdez, The Disaster in the Gulf, oil pipeline spills in Northern Alberta, Kalamazoo, the Yellowstone, the triple whammy in Japan with the quake, tsunami and nuclear disaster. To me these are all GOOD NEWS STORIES, because with this sh*t happening almost daily people will eventually realize that we aren’t going in the right direction, WON”T THEY?

  13. corporations that couldn’t care less about our environment – nor should they be expected to, for their obligation is to make profits for shareholders.

    I disagree that profit is the only obligation that corporations have. We on the left wing often forget that corporations are made up of people, and as such they have the same obligations to each other as people do – which includes acting decently. And to be fair, some corporations even do so, though it does seem that the larger the corporation, the less likely they are to behave in both their own interests and that of the public.

    Conversely, some individuals don’t act in the best interests of both – only themselves.

    What’s unfortunate is that while we have many laws and enforcement mechanisms that (attempt to) keep individuals from acting anti-socially, we don’t do so well in doing the same thing with corporations. Companies want to have recognition and rights under the law as individual entities, but they need to accept the commensurate responsibilities.

  14. “Two men were charged with crimes involving the 990 year lease of BC Hydro and on e the eve of his former Finance Minister and his own call to the witness stand, Campbell promptly ended the case by paying $6 million to the miscreants’ lawyers.”

    I think this must be a typo. Wasn’t it BC Rail

  15. I am very happy Rafe that you put it together so very clearly, I think that many more citizens need to awake up and start looking at the unbelievable gong show the BC liberals are putting on here. For many years we have stood by and watched our province exploited, laid to waste, chopped up and sold out. I would say that it is enough and that waiting for the next election is not only dangerous but also unconscionable. What are we waiting for?
    Thank you Rafe and keep up the good work!

  16. “Political Corruption is the abuse of public power, office or resources by government officals or employees for personal gain , eg; by extortion, soliciting or offering bribes.

    Systemic corruption is the complete subversion of a political or economic system.
    Corrupt Activities;
    .Bid rigging; Cartel; Collusion; Cronyism; Electoral fraud
    ,Bribery; Embezzlment; Influence peddling; Patronage; Organized crime; Price fixing”,

    It seems the BC Auditor General’s August 2010 observation about more than $53 billion of inadequately disclosed debt would suggest that something is terribly wrong with the financial affairs of BC. This was given emphasis a couple of weeks ago when BC’s AG has had to resort to the court to get access to info he is entitled.

    The deliberate legal prohibition precluding public disclosure of the contracts BC Hydro has with Independant Power Producers would also suggest corruption.

    The contracting for over $100 billion in principal and operating contracts has never, to my knowledge, been agreed to by having been disclosed and discussed in the Legislature. This reality puts into question the legality of these contracts now the responsibility of citizens.

  17. Mr Rees.
    Consider what you said!
    If so Rafe is absolutley correct.

    “(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, directly or indirectly, corruptly accepts, obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for themselves or another person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by them in their official capacity,”

    The description fits Campbell & co to a tee.
    Proving it is another matter.

  18. Stephen, if Rafe had intended to speak of criminal corruption based on the criminal code of Canada, he would have done so. Perhaps you were unaware of Rafe’s years as a practicing lawyer. Hence the very clear laying out of terms at the outset of the piece. Your concern, while I’m sure heartfelt, is misplaced.

  19. Your definition of corruption is considerably broader than the Criminal Code of Canada

    “(a) being the holder of a judicial office, or being a member of Parliament or of the legislature of a province, directly or indirectly, corruptly accepts, obtains, agrees to accept or attempts to obtain, for themselves or another person, any money, valuable consideration, office, place or employment in respect of anything done or omitted or to be done or omitted by them in their official capacity,”

    Be very wary that you do not fall into the Humpty Dumpty trap of defining words in a way that suits your purpose – especially when making serious allegations. You have more to loose than just your credibility.

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