Tag Archives: HST

Rich Coleman was recently caught in a conflict of interest scandal (Darryl Dyck - Canadian Press)

Rafe: BC Liberal Government Corrupt


The Campbell/Clark government is corrupt and here are a few of the reasons I say this:

  • Campbell gets convicted of drunken driving and doesn’t resign as he certainly would have demanded that an NDP premier do
  • The 2009 budget that was $1.2 billion short of reality – this amounted to a fraud upon the voters
  • The lies about the HST
  • The BC Rail stink
  • The use of public finds to promote the Liberal Party
  • The use of public servants for party political purposes
  • Private power contracts for political pals which are bankrupting BC Hydro

Readers will, no doubt, find other reasons.

In recent weeks we discovered Rich Coleman taking election funds from a brewery he is now about to save $9 million in taxes.

Let me tell you about the standards that prevailed in my years (1975-81) in the Bill Bennett government.  And, I must say, in the Barrett government before it. Now, mark you, I’m not talking about what policies they supported but the integrity of the premier and his ministers.

I had Coleman’s job and the first thing I did was check my small RRSP and found I had a few shares in Hiram Walker Distillers, which I promptly sold at a small loss.

Of more importance, in 1978 I was greeted by a headline in the morning paper alleging that I had interfered in a hearing before the Rentalsman (the arbiter for rental disputes at the time) who came under my ministry. There wasn’t a particle of truth in it but the Premier gave me 48 hours to deal with it.

It transpired that a judge, hearing an appeal from a decision by the Rentalsman, heard a witness say she had “heard that the minister himself got involved in the case”.

The Rentalsman publicly said that I had had nothing to do with it and had never interfered with his office. I hired a lawyer, now Supreme Court Justice, who within the time limit prevailed upon the judge to withdraw his remarks and say outright that there was no evidence at all that I had even known about the matter let alone interfered in it.

My seat in cabinet was jeopardized, quite properly, by those two matters.

When Minister Jack Davis was being investigated for fraud the Premier promptly sacked him. The standard is not, you see, reasonable doubt but “is the minister under a cloud of reasonable suspicion?”  This principle, one of the foundations of democracy, is not well known to the public nor, it seems, to the Campbell/Clark government.

What has this got to do with environmental matters?

Plenty for this government is going to represent us on pipeline matters, tanker matters and many other concerns we all have about our environment.

The killing of the HST has involved the premier trying to make the best possible deal with the feds when the tax expires just a month before the next election.

Thus the essential question arises: When the feds approve the various pipelines proposed without even the usual sham of an environmental assessment process, what will Premier Clark be doing? Will she, in fact, take favours from the feds and promise not to interfere in return? Indeed, has she already done this?

Are she and her ministers going to fold and do as their federal masters demand in fear of recriminations?

There are some, no doubt, who say that the feds should have their way as they speak for all Canada. That ignores the very principle under which Canada governs itself – namely a division of powers under the Constitution Act (1982), which follows the BNA Act (1867), which underlies a federal state as is the case in Germany, Australia and the USA.

Prime Minister Harper is no doubt going to approve these pipelines and the consequent tanker traffic using the omnibus clause giving him that right under section 91 – “Works connecting provinces; beyond boundaries of one province; within a province but to the advantage of Canada/or more than one province”.

The province retains a number of powers it can use such as the right to issue licenses – especially water licenses – to protect wildlife, including non-migratory fish and to protect its shoreline. 

Will Premier Clark have the courage of our convictions and say, “Prime Minister, these pipelines will be subject to our rights to protect our environment under Section 92 and they will be rigorously enforced?”

Or will there be under the table “deals” made linking pipelines and tankers to other issues between Ottawa and Victoria? Such as the HST? Such as selling our constitutional rights for money from Ottawa’s share of royalties and other taxes collected?

There is no middle ground – just as a woman can’t be a “little bit pregnant”, we either stand up for our environment or we don’t.

In short – forgive the expression – will she have the balls to stand up to the feds or, more likely, will she and her ministers try to find some middle ground?

What we need is an honest government of honest men and women protecting us against the predations of greedy corporations, the government of China and the raw uninhibited capitalism of Prime Minister Harper and his toadies from BC.

Clearly, standing up for our rights and honest dealings based on principles is not this government’s strong suit.


Rafe Challenges Premier Photo-op to a Debate


I have good news for our premier.
If what I’m about to say is wrong, you have nothing to worry about. You see, Premier, I have this radical notion that the mood of the voter has changed – you evidently don’t, making it obvious (sorry to talk as if you are a slow learner) that if you just paddle along, down the happy old stream, why the voters, so afraid of the bad old NDP, will put you right back in government in 2013.
In fact, if I’m wrong and you’re right, may I respectfully suggest that some tactics are natural:

1. Keep right on charging us the HST. No matter that if you could start it in an instance you could stop immediately. I’m sure that the voter knows that you’re really trying hard on this matter.

2. Ignore the Fish Farm issue – most of the jurisdiction is now with the Feds so just wash your hands of the whole mess. Some might suggest that you should now speak up for BC and urge the Feds to get rid of this monstrous rape of our precious wild salmon resources, but I’ll betcha most people will overlook the fact that you don’t want to piss off the feds just when you’re trying to make a deal on that pesky HST.

Even though I and others will, tiresomely remind voters that it was under your stewardship that this horrific mess came about you can depend upon the fact that the voters will still have faulty memories.

3. On the question of those private power plants you should assume that I’m wrong to say that voters are pissed over losing all those rivers to foreign companies to make power BC Hydro must pay for yet doesn’t need. I’m obviously a bad British Columbian who doesn’t realize voters don’t care about BC Hydro going broke, and trust in your bosom buddies at the Fraser Institute who say it would be a great blessing if all crown corporations and agencies went into private hands. (By the way, Madame Premier, did you know that a fairly recent “Fellow” of the Fraser Institute believes in “consensual slavery”? If, for example, a young single Mom can’t feed, clothe and educate her kids she should be permitted to enter permanent bondage to some guy with lots of loot! Look it up…I can give you the guy’s name but your government should, I know you would agree, do its own research.)

4. If I’m wrong about the pipeline issues clearly you should maintain your position. Just in order for people to understand what that position is, can we infer from recent comments that you don’t think the Enbridge pipeline from the Tar Sands to Kitimat should be dealt with by the National Energy Board? And that I’m wrong again to point out that a spill from such a pipeline is inevitable and the ability of Enbridge to get to, much less do anything about it is nil? Again, with respect, might I suggest that your people “google” Enbridge/Kalamazoo?

5. I am always on about tanker traffic and simply oppose it as being a sure source of catastrophe. Again, with respect and just for clarity, might I infer from your statements that you don’t understand that the Enbridge Pipeline must result in about 300 tankers a year out of Kitimat, down the most beautiful and most dangerous coastline in the world? It’s like the old song about Love and Marriage – “you can’t have one without the other.” I should add, Madame Premier, that I’m sure you know about the new capacity and planned huge expansion of the Kinder Morgan line to ship Tar Sands gunk through Burrard Inlet.

No, of course, a person of your attainments must understand the big picture here and just think that in this modern world we need gunk from the Tar Sands going to China more than a pristine environment.
I do have this little query Ms. Clark: what does BC get out of all this except short term labour? Are we getting royalties? Any security against damages certain to happen?
6. I have been making a lot of noise about First Nations rights where land has not been ceded. I believe First Nations have rights and, following the Supreme Court of Canada, ownership of land not yet dealt with. Following the theory that the opposite of Rafe’s opinions are the right ones, you should continue to ignore these interests and just barge ahead – after all, we’re only talking about a bunch of Indians here and you will surely make the case that Rafe’s concerns about their rights are not in the best interests of the Province. Standing against Rafe and all those who stand with First Nations, especially where the environment is at issue will surely be understood by voters for what it is – loyalty to all your old friends. Surely that trumps concerns for touchy-feely things like birds, bears, fish, caribou that don’t make you a nickel for election expenses.
May I make another assertion on your behalf, namely that the NDP are fiscally irresponsible and that your government is business-oriented. I want you to know my stance so that you can be clear what you oppose.
Here’s Rafe’s take:
Party philosophies and positions tend to change over time and the coming of new issues – surely you and your party would agree to that. I believe that the NDP has learned much more from its mistakes than you have learned from yours.
I say that there are things the public should know about.
The NDP from 1991-2001 doubled the Provincial debt. From 2001-2011 the Campbell/Clark government more than tripled it.
I understand that your claim is that the Liberal debt was caused by events over which you had no control. If that’s the case you must be saying that when you put together your 2009 budget and ran an election on it you hadn’t heard of the 2007 stock market crash and the 2008 massive Recession.
At the same time – I hope I’m not embarrassing you Madame – when the NDP were in power the Asian Flu occurred, all but obliterating that market for our forest products. I would like to say that then-Opposition Leader Gordon Campbell pitched in and offered bi-partisan support in our province’s time of need but, alas, such was not the case.
So there we have it Premier – your view of things and those who are of another persuasion.
Disagreement on all fronts – so let’s you and me have a debate!
Looks like pretty easy pickings for you but I’m used to being beat upon and will do it just so you can demolish all my silly, left wing notions with one swing of the bat.
Surely you, a premier with all the resources of government behind you isn’t afraid of an octogenarian who’s not running for anything. (I’m not running away from anything either – are you?)
So, let’s do a TV debate on these matters – any time, any place – and let the chips fall where they may.

Pinocchio Campbell - detail of Common Sense Canadian cartoon by Gerry Hummel

BC Liberals’ Four Big Lies & Why the Media Ignore Them


From my present vantage point a very long way from home the news briefs and emails I receive are very disturbing. It seems pretty clear that the next premier will bear no scars from his/her involvement with the Campbell administration. Indeed, it almost seems as if the media are already looking back at the Campbell times with a melancholy longing for those great days.

One expects that sort of rubbish from the Liberal Party itself, but from the media?

In due course, before the new leader is nominated, there will be a big banquet for Campbell as if he deserved honour instead of contempt. He will be the man that brought the economy back from those bad old days of socialism and marshaled our resources, blah, blah, blah…

As has been well said, one is entitled to one’s own opinion but not to one’s own set of facts.

Let me try using the truth, leaving the benefits of policy open to everyone’s own opinion. I say to you, however, that on four material issues – issues that go, as the lawyers say, to the root of the matter – the government, either through ministers or the Premier himself, lied. I know that’s a harsh word but how else can one describe falsehoods in the face of clear evidence to the contrary?

Let’s start with BC Rail. The lies are firmly on the record. Campbell, in the 1996 election, to try and save his electoral bacon, promised not to privatize BC Rail. He made the same solemn vow when he was elected in 2000. Not only did he lie, the deal does not, to say the very least, pass the smell test.

Now let’s look at the Campbell lies during the 2009 election about the financial affairs of the province. By almost every reckoning the figure is much higher, but out of caution, the difference in the state of affairs between the 2009 budget and the reality was at least $1 billion and both his toady Finance Minister, Colin Hansen, and the Premier stated that they didn’t have any idea that such was the real state of the province’s finances during the election when they were telling the voters that they were superb trustees of the public purse. This is as impossible to believe as any little boy who’s stolen a candy bar and, with chocolate all over his face, denies it. If the Deputy Finance Minister and his crew of able economists did not know by the time of the 2009 budget that the province was in trouble big time they should all have been sacked. Never mind the subtleties, a look at tax figures, which are readily available on a current basis, would have set alarm bells ringing. I know that from personal experience when my colleague, Finance Minister Hugh Curtis, correctly predicted a year or more in advance the recession of the early 1980s and demonstrated to Cabinet the evidence, which was not rocket science.

The lies by toady Hansen and Pinocchio Campbell on the HST scarcely need repeating. The evidence that they had decided to implement the HST long before they were denying it on the hustings is blatant.

Campbell and Hansen have also lied through their teeth on the broad issues of energy and the environment. I think one reason these bastards are getting away with it is because the series of falsehoods is so egregiously corrupt that normal people have trouble believing it.

Many environmentalists, closer to issues than I, have spoken out on the assault on the Agricultural Land Reserve, the desecration of wilderness, and consequent massive assaults on the atmosphere. Donna Passmore has been tireless and we can only thank providence that she and others like her have their health and dedication.

Rex Weyler, one of the most respected environmentalists on earth is leading a fight against Tar Sands Oil being piped to our South Coast into supertankers. A punctured pipeline or wrecked tankers are not acceptable “risks” – they’re not “risks” at all, in fact, but mathematical certainties. Rex has the full support of The Common Sense Canadian on this front. Our allies on the North and Central Coast, such as the tireless Ian McAllister, are waging a similar battle against the proposed Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline from the Tar Sands to Kitimat.

I have no idea how Alexandra Morton keeps going as she fights huge international corporations, both senior governments and an industry that spends millions on sugar-coated lies as she carries on her fight to save our precious salmon from destruction from the impacts of lice and disease infected fish farms. We at The Common Sense Canadian have fought shoulder to shoulder with Alex and the fight goes on.

How to begin the defence of our rivers and the saving of BC Hydro?

Colin Hansen is a good place to start. A particularly telling interview of his is still online.

This is the senior cabinet minister we’re dealing with and every statement he makes in this 1:51 interview is false – I would accuse him of lying but I don’t want to deprive him of the defence of being a damned, easily led fool.

He tells us BC is a net importer of power – we aren’t. Sometimes BC Hydro imports power from its neighbours in Alberta and Washington State, only to sell it back to them at a profit soon thereafter. The fact is that BC is as a rule a net exporter of power. Hansen claims private power plants are little operations that don’t impede the flow the river – it’s “run of the river”. I’m tempted to call this one as it is, a goddamned lie!

These are small sort of Mom and Pop undertakings! Right, Colin, like General Electric, Ledcor and the Dupont family!

This private power will help BC be energy self-sufficient. Honestly, folks, it’s getting very hard to keep my pledge! The short answer to this is that private power is for the most part generated during the Spring run-off when there is sufficient water for them to produce. This is precisely the time BC Hydro doesn’t need power yet they must take it anyway under the agreements they’ve been forced to sign.

Here’s the skinny. BC Hydro must take private power on a “take or pay” basis, meaning it must pay for power it doesn’t need. Now here comes the neat part – the price BC Hydro must pay is 2-3 times what it can export it for! Or about 12 times what it costs them to make it themselves!

I must move on but here’s a little cherry for your martini. Traditionally BC Hydro has paid a dividend to our government to build hospitals, schools and so on. Now they will have no profit so no dividend because all the profits are going to large corporations. Now, even of you still believe the Campbell/Hansen bullshit – try this. BC Hydro has applied for a rate increase, out of your hides so they can give some of it back to you by way of that dividend!

Why has all this happened? God knows – so does Wendy! – how often I’ve asked myself that question. It’s sheer madness! No man or government would do this to their province, would they?

Only one answer makes sense – political philosophy can account for this. This is Milton Friedman stuff. It’s Fraser Institute holy writ! (Fazil Milhar, former senior fellow of The Fraser Institute is the Editor of the editorial page of the Vancouver Sun, which may help us understand the media’s role in this).

It’s Bilderberger, Davos stuff. It’s the New Order, Corporate World. It has nothing whatever to do with the good of the people. The same people bundling sub-prime mortgages, going broke, taking government handouts then paying themselves million dollar bonuses are running things all over the world.

Re-read or read for the first time Thomas Friedman’s The Lexus and the Olive Tree which explains what has happened and did it before it happened.

We have only one chance left – we must throw this government out at the earliest opportunity! No ifs, ands, or buts – this rotten bunch has to go.

It will be tough because they have a strategy – don’t answer any questions by The Common Sense Canadian, Donna Passmore, Rex Weyler, Alex Morton, The Wilderness Committee. Ignore them as if they didn’t exist! Fight the next election on other issues and remember that the folks in the media who used to ask tough questions aren’t asking them any more. Read Vaughn Palmer, Mike Smyth, listen to Bill Good or Christy Clark and tell me when over the past decade any of them covering BC affairs as an editorialist have truly held the government’s feet to the fire on the issues I’ve raised here.

There are only two answers – either all the fighters I’ve mentioned are full of crap, or the fix is in.

The next British Columbia electorate will decide, and for a very long time, whether the province is to be run by corrupt corporate boards with a bought-and-paid-for government or by us.



Taking Hansen’s Lies on HST, Energy to the Court of Public Opinion


Finance Minister Colin Hansen has, faintly, apologized for his handling of the HST.

Let’s get this straight minister – you didn’t make a mistake, you lied. You had two briefing papers, one written at your request, that 2 months before the election, gave you the skinny on an HST policy for BC. The question of HST was one of the most controversial finance issues in the country. You and the Premier knew that and your ministry and the Premier’s office had been in touch with Ontario and federal issues. To the long list list of the premier’s serial falsehoods – your 1:51 statement on private power, found by googling Hansen/private power, contains 5 statements each of which is false.

I bring this up for www.thecanadian.org because our talented filmmaker Damien Gillis and I will be starting a tour of BC in October and those whom we address ought to know that your credibility and that of your colleague Gordon (Pinocchio) Campbell will be severely challenged.

The purpose of our tour is, of course, not only to deal with your government’s lie-based Energy Policy, but to demonstrate what we can do in the area of self-sufficiency for BC power needs without ever damming so much as a tiddler’s creek.

The opening question will run like thus: if you, Mr, Mrs, and Ms British Columbian, wanted to have BC energy self-sufficient for the foreseeable future, what would you do?

We will then lay out our plan and compare it to that of your government. In dealing with this matter we will point out the credibility shortcomings of you, the premier and your government. High on the list will be your five statements alluded to above; we will deal with each of them, and ask the public whether they believe you. But we will also lay before the public the relatively simple route we can take – the route your government should have followed.

We will demonstrate that not only have you denied the public a right to be heard – you have forbidden local governments to zone power projects according to the needs and desires of the local population.

Your difficulty, Mr. Hansen, and through you to the premier, is that no one believes you any more. During the time the public, very much including me, was asleep at the switch, no one was challenging you. We trusted and believed you. We saw your energy plan as having no environmental impacts and necessary for our energy needs because that’s what you told us.

As you know, minister, I’ve been there. And I know that even the most of unpopular programs will be accepted, even grudgingly, if the truth and the whole truth is told to the public. When the Bill Bennett government came into office in 1975 we found a public government car insurance company, founded about 18 months before, that had managed to lose nearly $200 million with a monopoly! We immediately raised premiums so as to make the company viable and all hell broke loose, amongst our supporters as well as the general public. We had, however, told the entire story to the public and they came to accept if not like our policy. The message from my experience, minister, is don’t ever lie to the public. I’m afraid that my advice is too late for you.

Here is what we will be doing: I give you this in the hopes that you will send a MLA – or either or both of you and the premier for that matter – so we can let the public decide who is telling the truth.

With the help of Damien’s great camera work we will show the people just what these “little run of the river” projects really look like.

We will debunk the nonsense that these weirs (the Independent Power people don’t like to call them dams, which they are) are being built by little people, Mom and Pop operations, as the expression goes.

We will show the enormous damage done by roads and transmission lines to and from the “weir”.

We will outline the true cost of these “little ol’ weirs” in terms of destruction of ecologies these rivers support.

We will go right to the root of the matter and demonstrate beyond doubt that whatever our power needs may be now or in the future, they cannot be met by Independent Power Producers (IPPs).

We will demonstrate how your government has forced BC Hydro to pay, on a “take or pay” basis, 2-3 times what it can sell that power for.

We will demonstrate why IPP power is of virtually no use to BC Hydro and its shareholders (us) because it mainly comes at high run-off time when BC Hydro doesn’t need it and thus must sell it at a loss or, if it chooses to use that power, must pay to the IPPs about 8 times what it can produce it for itself.

We will show how your policies are bankrupting BC Hydro and – are you ready for this? – how BC Hydro will no longer be able to pay its handsome annual dividend to the government unless it raises the rates to consumers to get the money!

The public will understand well the calamity that your energy policy is because we are telling the truth, backed up by independent experts, while the Campbell government relies upon one falsehood after another; because on this and most other issues, your government has practiced gross deceit and the public knows it.

You and your government, Mr Hansen, have done enormous permanent damage and it cannot all be undone. But the jig is up. And though the forfeit is piddling compared ti what it should be, you and your colleagues will be expunged from your seats of power by a population that knows it’s been lied to.

POSTSCRIPT: I do not say that Campbell and Hansen are liars – just that on the occasions referred to they were lying.


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.


An HST quiz for those who follow broken promises like a real whiz


Article by Vaughn Palmer in the Vancouver Sun.

“4. Campbell then ordered finance ministry officials to ‘go out and find
out how we’re going to meet the budget target.’ Next day they:

a) Cancelled plans to add a $600-million roof to BC Place.

b) Sought to borrow another $1 billion at the very attractive interest rates available to government.

c) Fired off a fast e-mail to Ottawa, asking what was the standing offer for transition funding on the HST.”

Read article


Successful HST initiative: What now?


It appears that the anti-HST signatures may approach 1,000,000 before the final count is presented on July 5. It’s interesting to note that the Liberal party only got 750,000 votes in the 2009 General Election. Because it’s certain that the anti-HST committee will reach its statutory requirements, two interesting questions arise: first what the government will do; and second, if they don’t call a referendum, what will the “anti’s” do then?
The long and the short of it is that the government doesn’t have to do a damned thing. For the record, the petition is referred to a select standing committee of the legislature which has 4 months to sit on it and if they recommend that the draft bill proceeded the government need only introduce the bill in the Legislature where it can languish forever.

For all practical purposes we can assume that the referendum will never be called. This notwithstanding the solemn promise of Gordon Campbell to make the process easier. Since we all know what his word is worth we had to expect he would lie about this too.

What position does this put the Campbell government in politically?

Rotten. To be candid, compared to stonewalling, he would be better to let the referendum go ahead, take the position that because he loves democracy so much, he will abide the wishes of the public blah, blah, blah. This is a terrible option but the others are worse. He will have this bag of political stones to carry right into the next election as an issue and that he doesn’t need.

I don’t expect Campbell will do this and probably he’ll advise the select committee to move quickly to send the bill back to the legislature where he can table it, never call it for a vote and hope that the public will not see it as a big deal in May of 2013.

What then do the anti HST folks do then?

Their obvious weapon is recall and here the requirements are even tougher than the referendum rules.

Here is what the Act says:

Requirements for recall petition

23 (1) A recall petition must comply with the following requirements:

(a) the petition must be submitted to the chief electoral officer within 60 days after the date on which the petition was issued under section 20;

(b) the petition must be signed by more than 40% of the total number of individuals who are entitled to sign the recall petition under section 21.

The last subsection means 40% of the voters’ list as of May 2009, a formidable obstacle.

There is one thing I must make clear. No one in this province would like to see the back of this Campbell lot more than me but the fact is recall wasn’t intended to be used to bring down a government or a cabinet minister but to recall a MLA for not doing his job of representing his constituents properly. I agree that one can stretch that to say “Premier Campbell is not doing a proper job of representing his constituents because he won’t oppose the HST” but it is a stretch and will form a major part of any government opposition to recall.

The opponents have no choice in the matter because that is the logical next step unless they want to holler “uncle” and fade away. Having chosen to go the recall route they will have to take on the Premier – and remember they must get 40% of the 2009 voters list to sign the petition before a by-election must be held in a riding the Premier carried comfortably in ’09.

Here’s what they’ll do if they’re smart. They will form that famous “new third party” and combine recall efforts with a membership drive. That won’t hurt their Recall efforts and may enhance them but even if they fail in the recall they’ll walk away with a hell of a lot of support for the new party.

The new party idea is not an easy one to make happen. I’ll get more into that in a later column but let me close with this point: the very last thing a new party needs is to be led by Bill Vander Zalm, Chris Delaney, Gordon Wilson or Wilf Hanni. These are the ghosts of failures past.

It will be difficult to find a way to build a party from scratch but, in my judgment, attracting the public requires one thing – a solemn commitment to the public right to be heard. People understand that no government can do all things for all people but government can and must get public involvement, in a real way, in the decision making process when basic change is proposed.

I’ve seen the phony baloney Environmental Assessment hearings of the past couple of years where the people weren’t allowed to deal with the merits of the proposal in question. The anger at the sham was white hot.

We’ve all seen the energy policy of this government which gives away our rivers, our environment, our power and, yes, our money to foreign companies take place in secret without any public involvement permitted.

British Columbians, in the main, are neither right wing nor left wing but ordinary, decent people who want fair play with the government as well as the private sector playing a role. They liked owning BC Ferries and BC Rail before the Campbell government got rid of them and want to keep BC Hydro. That doesn’t make them socialists any more than their support for a healthy, vibrant private sector makes them right wingers. They see matters issue by issue, not in terms of dogma.

A party that can offer people the right to be heard has a great future if it can find a way to overcome inertia and the pangs of birth.

As always, the devil is in the details.