HST Briefing Memo: Hansen & Campbell Caught Red Handed


Colin Hansen, our Finance Minister, not only isn’t telling the truth about the HST situation, he is a sniveling, cringing coward to boot. Be a Man, Hansen! Own up, level with people! You look like the kid with chocolate all over his face denying to his Mom that he pinched the chocolate bar as the store keeper alleged. 

If you cannot be honest, at least stand up and admit it! 

I have been saying publicly that the Premier and Hansen telling us that the HST wasn’t even on the “radar screen” was bullshit. And it was demonstrable bullshit before the document proving it was obtained by Freedom of Information request – and I’ll tell you why. 

I’ve been there, folks, and I know how the system works. But first I ask you to look at your own experiences in life. If you want a change in policy in any company…in a union…in your golf club or curling club…it takes time. You must prepare the ground and anticipate the questions that will be raised and deal with them. In government it’s even more time consuming and when you have, as here, two governments involved you’re looking at months. In fact you’re looking at a starting point before March 2, 2009 when, by the document’s own words, Hansen asked for the briefing document that was just released. In fact you can be sure that discussion between the minister and his staff, and in cabinet, predated the March 2 request by weeks if not, more likely, months. Documents like this do not happen spontaneously. 

The issue of the HST was in the news in the early weeks of 2009, you will remember, because it was an issue in Ontario, where Premier McGuinty was up to his ears in static. To assume that Campbell and Hansen weren’t aware and, indeed, in contact with the Ontario government strains credulity to the breaking point. 

Let me give you an example from my own experience in government. In 1979 I, as Minister of Environment, was chair of the Environment and Land Use Committee which, amongst other things, heard appeals from the Land Commission. I went to Premier Bill Bennett and told him that we were getting beaten up every time an appeal came up because the appellant land owner, without doubt, was a Socred supporter and the media would have a picture of a “Vote Socred” sign on the land during the previous election. (This was in the days where the media did its duty). I suggested that we set up an appeal board to hear these appeals and he agreed. 

It took three months and a damned fine lawyer from the Attorney General’s department before we had a presentation ready for cabinet. 

Why did it take this time? 

Amongst other things, several statutes required amendments and one had to assess what impact those amendments would have on other statutes. Numerous regulations had to be dealt with requiring orders-in-council. The unintended consequences of these changes had to be considered. All this to simply set up an appeal body that 95% of the province couldn’t have cared less about. 

This was penny ante stuff compared to the complexities of harmonizing the GST and the PST. 

I want to tell you the real damage this has caused. None of us tells the truth all the time. There is considerable social dissembling that takes place, otherwise we’d all be at each others throats. It’s human to exaggerate, especially when telling a story that, if told straight, would be pretty dull. 

Governments gild the lily. Spin doctors work stories over and bad news is released at times it will get the least publicity – like Friday afternoons. We all know this and discount what governments say accordingly. 

But we don’t expect governments and ministers to lie. That simple. We look up to the offices they hold and expect them not to dishonour them. 

Our image, here at the Common Sense Canadian, of Gordon Campbell as Pinocchio, is an apt one. Whether it’s BC Rail, The Energy Policy, the size of the deficit, the HST and so on, he simply has told us falsehoods, which is as politely as one can put it. I’ve invited you before and do again to watch this 1:51 minute clip of Colin Hansen discussing his government’s private power policy – where he, with his oozing, sincere, avuncular manner, makes 5 basic statements, everyone of them untrue.  

Now we have Mr Hansen – and the Premier – caught out, and do they have the courage to say, “We were wrong and we make that admission because that is the way we were brought up – to be truthful and to take the consequences of our actions like men”? 

Instead we see a whimpering, sniveling Minister of the Crown trying to blame it all on the ministry. 

Folks, the plain truth is this: Colin Hansen asked for the briefing note more than two months before the election and the issue was not only “on the radar screen”, it was well on its way to becoming government policy – a policy that Campbell and Hansen hid from the people during the election. 

We all know what the honourable thing would be for this minister, the premier, and in fact the entire government to do. We need only look at what Campbell, as Leader of the Opposition had to say about the duty of NDP ministers under far, far less disturbing circumstances. In fact, the Premier, back in those days of Glen Clark’s troubles, made speeches which were and remain classic recitations of the duty of Her Majesty’s Ministers when under a cloud. Those speeches do not, of course, apply to Premiers thrown in jail for drunk driving and having their picture on the front pages of the nations’ newspapers and jumping out of TV sets; they don’t apply to premiers who break their promises not to privatize BC Rail, premiers who dissemble on the fish farms issue, or grossly understate the province’s deficit during an election, or privatize power while singing the praises of public power…and on it goes. No siree, these rules apply to the other folks, but not to Gordon Campbell and his lickspittles.

The truly sad part is that it’s tough enough to convince younger people that they should understand and get involved in public life, let alone ask them not to be cynical unto death about the political process, when they see how it’s been so egregiously abused by this bunch of shameful men who don’t even have the decency to be ashamed.


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 rafeonline.com.

14 thoughts on “HST Briefing Memo: Hansen & Campbell Caught Red Handed

  1. I’m an 18 year old and am personally appalled at the complete and utter BS that I am witnessing. Not just with the HST, but with Government in OUR province period. There is no difference between right and left; they all sit down at the same table after they put on a show for the public. When is the last time that the government actually granted us freedom rather than taking it away? If British Columbians, and Canadians for that matter, don’t stand up and do something we are going to lose our country to these assholes. When are we going to realize that we the people of this province, and wonderful country hold the power. Not these corrupt, money-grabbing CRIMINALS.

  2. Bring on the recalls. Nov. 15 can not come soon enough. We could put an end to the liberals long before 2013. I’m so mad at what has gone on…ripped up contracts, BC Rail, run of river rip offs and HST. So much lying. Give us our province back! It will take years to repair the damage these liars caused.

  3. Sadly, the BC Liberals will hang on like a Barnacle onto government and government power. The HST fiasco has left Campbell with a very damaging legacy and has destroyed Colin Hansen’s political career.

    If this was a true Parliamentary Democracy, they would have resigned for honours sake, yet they cling to power. Here lies the fatal flaw in BC’s and Canada’s perverted system of parliamentary power, they lack honour, thus by lacking honour and not doing the right thing, has set the precedent for others to do even more corrupt and evil things and not resign.

    As such, BC is no longer a democracy, but an Oligarchic dictatorship, where the peasants vote in ‘show-case’ elections, with the ‘tweedle-dums’ in power hoping not to lose to the ‘tweedle-dee’s’

  4. I have watched Carol James in Legislature. She’s feisty, and a good debater, and, doesn’t put up crap. I saw her, pinning the ears of Liberal ministers back, more than once. I really think, Carol has been, somewhat quiet, because, she is letting the BC Liberals, hang themselves, and they did. However, I feel sorry for any party, that has to clean up, Campbell and Hansen’s mess. There are few Liberal ministers, or mla’s, that will win votes. A person has to wonder, how much they are, willing to sell their souls for.

  5. A NDP coalition with the Referendum party, Green party or indipendents might be the way to go. Leave out the right wind element – the last ten years have shown nothing but contempt for British Columbia and it’s people.

    Egomaniacs like Gordon Campbell – who thrive on their nefarious deeds and predatory ways, do nothing for the province and country they profess to serve.

    Campbell and his senior party members should be jailed for politcal fraud and theft – and put in cells with the common criminals who like to extract their revenge on authority. Incarcerate them for the length of time it takes the province to get over the damage that was caused by their excessive mismanagement.

    Doing this would serve as a good warning to whoever is given the “privilage” of running the government, that they are accountable and responsible for their actions and work for the good of the province – not the greedy money grabbing big businesses.

    Thank you


  6. Methinks the neo cons are a spent force in Canada (except in Alabama north next door) That said please dont use the name Vanderzalm and government in the same article: that is just wild and crazy. Nobody would vote for a convicted PETTY thief. We like our thieves ripping big time:like railways and power grids

  7. Methinks the neo cons are a spent force in Canada (except in Alabama north next door) That said please dont use the name Vanderzalm and government in the same article: that is just wild and crazy. Nobody would vote for a convicted PETTY thief. We like our thieves ripping big time:like railways and power grids

  8. I would agree with Crankypants’ assessment of the time line required to make new legislation.
    Forty pages of documentation by any government would take a considerable amount of time if one factors in the anal retention of government bureaucrats; it would take possibly years…..
    The six businessmen? Possibly the most naive move propagated by any government; and make no mistake this was promoted by the Liberals for sure,same as the Chief Electoral officer attempting to hold up the petition. Pretty poor optics if the government attempted to hold it up themselves…..so they get their friends to do the dirty deed.
    Yes we need to restore democracy; not just in BC but in this country period.
    In reality whether the governing party is right or left of center does not make any difference in the FPTP system we have in place. Once a government is elected, right or left, they promptly abandon their constituents and move to the center; so the game is to remain in power rather than do what is right for the constituents. This is to garner as many votes to remain in power.
    And the right wing parties do not have a monopoly on this fact. This is the result of having the electoral system we have now; it promotes corruption by allowing political parties to accept “donations” (read payola)
    So change horses all you want; working in the FPTP system, the result will be almost identical with a few variations on theme.
    The government of the day elected will surround themselves with “yes men”; this removes them from the reality of the desires of their constituents, and the government will busy itself with remaining in power.
    But I am getting away from the original topic now…back to regular programming!

  9. Rafe’s explanation of how much effort must be put into creating new legislation seems totally plausible to me.

    The agreement between Ottawa and Victoria is not a simple one page contract, but close to forty pages of legalese definitions etc. Anyone that insists that this could have been created in a couple of months is being dishonest.

    It’s obvious by Hansen’s performances, since the FOI’s information has been made public, is prepared to just keep on spinning until he gets the boot or suffers a heart attack.

    The whole problem with political parties nowadays is that no one really knows who the movers and shakers are behind them anymore. Are the leaders really a leader or just a face to put in front of the electorate. The actions of the 6 business associations that challenged the validity of the anti HST petition would seem to indicate Campbell is nothing more than a puppet on their strings.

    It seems that there is less and less transparency offered by all levels of governance. When was the last time you saw a scrum at the Legislature without the politician having his/her PAB chaperone riding shotgun?

    We need to restore democracy more than we need a new party.

  10. If a new party is to take the reins, I concur with Dan that it must come up the middle, not the right flank. The hunger today amongst the public is for a populist, old-fashioned fiscal conservative government – sans neo-liberal and/or social conservative ideology – with a contemporary appreciation for the importance of things like the environment and food security and a genuine commitment to the democratic process. Witness the rebirth of Vander Zalm’s popularity – it’s a populist brand of conservative politics, which stands in stark contrast to the corporate-oriented Campbell Liberals. A party people could trust to steward over the economy, protect the environment, and put small business and regular folks’ interests first would really have something…

  11. I agree that the Liberals are quite likely finished in this province but I’m not ready to trust some newly formed right wing party to take over the reins. There needs to be a pragmatic shift to the center-left and a sober second look at how the damage caused by the high flying Liberals can be mitigated. The NDP appears to be the party of choice at this juncture.

  12. This government is finished. The only question now is how many will be left in this party after the next election. I would not be surprised to see the Liberal Party disappear into the political wasteland.

    I do not see switching back to the NDP as a solution to the woes in BC.

    Good time for a new party to come right up the middle.

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