RM Archive - onsite copies of linked stories

RM Issue #040206

Gordon Campbell, Paul Martin, and Political Corruption

February 06 2004
Robin Mathews

Political corruption scandals are whirling around Gordon Campbell and B.C. Liberal cabinet members, and Paul Martin. The rot is deep and ugly. It suggests devious tampering with the very fundamentals of B.C. and Canadian democratic society. It extends to the RCMP and to the Prime Minister’s office in Ottawa. Regrettably, it calls into question the independence of many of B.C.’s senior judiciary.

It involves the firing and/or removal of Canadian services in B.C. hospitals, care homes, etcetera, and their replacement by cut-throat U.S. operations. It involves the theft from British Columbians and the insane privatization process of the B.C. Ferry Corporation.

It involves a large complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council (filed in early January) in the names of 60 traditional Gitxsan Wet’suwet’en chiefs citing grievances against a list of B.C. judges, lawyers, law firms, politicians, and corporations involving, in part, Gordon Campbell government wrong-doing in the matter of Skeena Cellulose. The complaint overall concerns the traditional (forest) territories of that people, and asks for national Minister of Justice involvement, claiming corruption is so deep in B.C. the Province is disabled in the matter.

No one could address in detail, here, all that I’ve mentioned. But remember this: I save the biggest story in this explosion of sleaze to the later part of this column.

Compared to the attention such an overall situation would receive if the NDP were in power, Leonard Asper’s CanWest monopoly journalists (Vancouver Sun, Province, and Victoria Times Colonist), and mainstream others, are sitting on their hands.

Private researchers have revealed the stench at B.C. Ferries; U.S. citizen, CEO David Hahn’s checkered background, and his (continuously paid) move from a bankrupt U.S. corporation to B.C. Ferries. Sean Holman, editor of a small newsmagazine, Public Eye, researched and revealed that Gordon Campbell’s relation and friend, Doug Walls, had been accused of fraud by CIBC and then, somehow received a high appointment in the Ministry of Children and Families despite the CIBC information being sent there.

Holman also revealed a firm involving Walls was quietly forgiven a $400,000.00 debt by the Children and Families Ministry. That brought about the resignation of the Minister, Gordon Hogg, and the removal of Chris Haynes, his deputy minister – also said to be close to Walls.

Not only is corruption masked by a servile and consenting mainstream press and media, but, in government, budgets have been slashed “for the auditor general, the ombudsman, and the freedom of information and privacy commissioners”. The budget of Gordon Campbell’s office has “jumped from 2.7 million to more than 20 million….” (Tieleman, Georgia Straight, Dec. 4, 03)

The appointment of Martin Crilly as Commissioner of the new, disastrous, privatized Ferry Services structure is a lower order of scandal in the “deep-sleaze” category. Crilly is guaranteed (by legislation!) the job for at least six years, perhaps a way of guaranteeing his blind loyalty. He is being paid at the rate of $675.00 per day, plus expenses, plus large sums for unnamed “consultants” - apart from whatever he earns from other private, on-going activities.

Crilly’s ingenuousness is breathtaking. On his Commission website, he tells the reader the Commission’s goal is “to balance consumer protection” with other needs, and that he has “a mandate to widen travel choices for users and to improve quality of services.” If those statements are not wholly false, they are a grossly misleading fantasy of Crilly’s mind. The portions of the Act (Bill 18) concerning the Commission do not anywhere mention consumer protection nor improvement to the quality of services. In 54 Sections with innumerable sub-sections “quality of services” is mentioned once (Section 66 (a) ii). A ferry operator must, it says, “report, if asked” about any records it has respecting quality of services. Whatever the motivation for them, the statements quoted from the Commission site are blatantly misleading.

Ironically, Crilly’s Commission Home Page states clearly the Commission is NOT concerned with quality of services, referring readers with grievances to the B.C. Ferries operations management! ($675 a day might induce fantasies – if not falsifications -in even the best of us.)

Plainly the Campbell government is paying richly, across the board – as with the highly visible Health Authorities – to put in place people to shred Provincial structures and begin U.S. slash-and-burn takeover. As of April 1, 2003 (ignored by the media) the B.C. Gas Safety Branch became The Safety Authority of B.C. with a CEO and a Board. Following the practice of the Health Authorities, the new Safety Authority will begin to savage B.C. Safety standards on behalf of private corporations to the detriment of British Columbians. Forgotten by many of them, B.C. Safety Standards was an area Campbell pledged to “restructure” in his campaign material that lost him the election to Glen Clark in 1996. Campbell didn’t make the same mistake in the 2001 election.

The biggest scandal in the explosion of sleaze in B.C. (what reactionary pundit Gordon Gibson calls “a monster problem”) ties together Gordon Campbell and his Liberals to Paul Martin and his Liberals (often the same people) in a nauseous manipulation of democratic processes. Here the trail of sleaze becomes astonishing.

We know the RCMP raided offices of two senior B.C. cabinet ministers (Finance and Transportation) on Dec. 28, 2003, in relation to the drug trade and money laundering, muttering about “the insidious rise of organized crime and its pernicious reach inside government”. (Sun, Jan 24, 04, B7)

We know Victoria constable Ravinder Singh Dosanjh had been suspended on Dec. 15, that one of the most senior aides to cabinet, David Basi (Finance) was fired and another aide, Bob Virk (Transportation) suspended after the raids. We know the search warrants have been fought over and sealed by Justice Patrick Dohm, the judge who acted at least questionably in the Glen Clark search-warrant and wire-tap issues (1999). [See Judy Tyajbi Wilson, Daggers Unsheathed, Heritage House, 2002, p. 290]

We know that, at this point, the apparently simple (?) matter implodes. Because David Basi, and many more, are alleged to have been involved in “bulk membership” gathering in the Indo-Canadian community to assure chosen Liberal candidate success. Norman Spector refers to “membership lists that include dead dogs – and people who can’t speak English, haven’t paid for their membership, and don’t know they’re members of the party”. (Sun, Jan 30, 04,A15)

But wait. Wasn’t Natural Resources (federal) Minister Herb Dhaliwal set up to be dumped by Paul Martin? Bill Cunningham, president of the federal Liberal party on the West Coast, confirmed that “there’s probably some validity to assertions of other Liberals that the takeover by Martin supporters of former minister Herb Dhaliwal’s…riding association wouldn’t have happened without Basi’s involvement”. A former Liberal executive officer added that “They wouldn’t have had Herb Dhaliwal taken out without the Basi Boys”. (Sun, Dec 29, 03, A2)

The same tactics have been used against Sheila Copps in Hamilton who has filed a request for investigation with the Chief Electoral Officer over “bulk membership” activities.

The purchase of bulk memberships obviously violates fair ideas about democratic process and has been heavily engaged in by the Liberal Party in B.C. and, apparently, elsewhere. It makes decent Canadians want to vomit.

It is also a crime.

Elections Canada has warned (Sun Jan 22, 04,A5) that those who engage in “’bulk’ purchase of party memberships could face fines and jail terms of up to five years”. That places the likes of David Basi in peril. It places Paul Martin, Martin henchmen, Gordon Campbell and at least some of his cabinet ministers in peril as well.

Only a reactionary pundit like Gordon Gibson (in, as you might expect, the National Post) could attempt to wave those implications away. Only Gibson could write: “There is not the slightest chance that top Liberals Prime Minister Paul Martin or Premier Gordon Campbell are a party to any of this unfolding scandal”. (Nat Post Jan 22, 04, A14) Pardon? Repeat that for us again slowly, Mr. Gibson, and try to say it with a straight face.

At this point, Gordon Campbell’s involvement with political corruption appears to go even deeper. When the determination was made in the late 1990s to get (at almost any price) Glen Clark, the backers were obvious. As Judy Tyabji Wilson writes in Daggers Unsheathed, “the entire Clark episode originated in Gordon Campbell’s constituency office with an anonymous allegation.” It “was advanced by an RCMP officer [Staff Sgt. Peter Montague] who considered running for Campbell as a candidate.” (p. 198)

Peter Montague had been important in the infamous Gustafsen Lake confrontation (1995) between a small number of Shuswap people and an alarming coordination of RCMP and Canadian military forces. The whole matter still requires a full, independent investigation. Tyabji Wilson records that the”CBC ombudsman, in a lengthy review, determined that much of the information fed to the media by the RCMP was false.” (p. 108) A chief RCMP media contact man was Peter Montague. The story of Gustafsen Lake is huge, is freighted with allegations of major corruption, and has been purposefully buried as deep as B.C. politicians and the RCMP can bury it.

After Gustafsen Lake, Peter Montague joined the Commercial Crime Division and became perhaps the most insistent force pushing what I have called the ‘vexatious’ (meaning baseless and improper) case against Glen Clark. Whenever questioning (in the Glen Clark trial) led to – or would have led to – Peter Montague’s name, police officers involved [all, by the way, Euro-Canadians] forgot…lost their notes…weren’t sure…fumbled.

If Gustafsen Lake needs an Inquiry, the whole Glen Clark investigation and trial need Inquiries, too. Indeed, at the trial’s end, both former Socred premier Bill Vander Zalm and former NDP premier Dave Barrett called for an Inquiry into the RCMP. (I have already recounted the corrupt nature of police “internal” reviews in my Vive le Canada column on Maher Arar.)

Clark’s ouster was accompanied by as ugly a game of Indo-Canadian bulk membership activity as may be imagined. Ujjal Dosanjh, attorney general, (successor premier to Clark) is alleged to have been involved in dubious bulk membership activity (Tyabji Wilson, pp. 168-172), “particularly regarding new members who were also allegedly active members of the B.C. Liberal Party.” (p. 170)

Speaking of Dosanjh surrendering the election halfway through the campaign, Fred Steele comments that Dosanjh’s advisors “were the same ones who pulled the skullduggery during the election campaign.” (p. 292) And Tyabji Wilson comments that in 2002 Dosanjh was said “to be helping [Paul] Martin sign up Indo-Canadians from the Sikh community”. (p. 319)

Gordon Campbell is a Liberal leader with cabinet aides strongly alleged to have had involvement with bulk membership activity. But is that all? It is not. Questions arise about a drug and money laundering investigation moving into Liberal legislature offices.

Norman Spector and Gordon Gibson (not Left radicals) both make the connection. The kind of organization employed by the Martin forces “requires minions and millions. Even if rumours of drug money prove false, $12 million is an awful lot to raise for a leadership campaign….” (Spector, Sun Jan 30 04 A15) Spector’s implication, plainly, is that drug money can not only buy barrels of fake memberships but it can be ‘laundered’ in the process. Gordon Gibson continues: “Cash doesn’t attract [a] tax advantage, but has the great virtue of anonymity.” (Gibson Nat Post Jan 22 04 A14)

Tyabji Wilson writes: “In 1993 Gordon Campbell was criticized for obtaining high-profile support from the Indo-Canadian community in his leadership bid…. Hundreds of Sikh names were signed up as new members, many using post-office–box addresses…. [Moreover] many of the new members did not have to show up at a meeting and there was little accountability”. (p. 170)

Gordon Campbell, it would seem, was connected to dubious bulk membership activity ten years ago – in order to gain the Provincial Liberal leadership in B.C. which he might not otherwise have gained. Think about that. Whatever the case in that matter, we may conclude he has long knowledge and experience in the activity of “bulk memberships”.

Plainly, the depth of political corruption in B.C. – and reaching very deeply into Liberal ranks outside B.C. – has assumed desperate proportions. If the 60 traditional band chiefs of the Gitzsan Wet’suwet’en are correct about the depth of corruption in B.C., the solution is crystal clear. It lies with the electorate which must resist Gordon Campbell’s every move. It must, as well, elect a “clean the Province” government as soon as possible. It must set the highest standards and must be willing to open all the Inquiries and Commissions necessary to prove to all British Columbians the Province has been cleaned. British Columbia is becoming unmanageable except by crime and criminals, or those who flirt with crime and criminals, and that is a condition that must be ended without any delay.

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