Appreciation, and why I do this.

I began producing this blog precisely because of the deleted email and frustrated FOI scandal that began to mushroom in May 2015. I continue it because to this day, events keep calling for comment.

Right now, before you read the rest of this post, read Laila Yuile, here. It’s more important today than what I write underneath it.. :

http://lailayuile.com/2015/10/29/50-shades-of-wrong-why-the-liberal-government-has-lost-all-moral-authority-to-govern-christyresign/

It’s unbelievable that David Loukidelis, who was the fellow who recommended to the AG the Basi-Virk plea deal, could be brought in to interpret and presumably correct the report of Elizabeth Denham. (Note: I had Loukidelis role wrong. RossKs links below clarify this . Mea Culpa and thanks Lew for correcting me) … For those with short memories, that was the deal that paid for a guilty plea to corruption of one who worked directly for Christy Clark in the time of the sale of BC Rail.. Basi pled guilty when, and only when, it was understood that his legal fees would be indemnified by the Province (that is, you and me).. It stank, and Loukidelis left government when newly independent MLA John van Dongen was raising holy hell about it.

What I’m trying to get across is that I do this not because I’m a partisan for the NDP. I’m NDP because the current BCLiberal government is hopelessly corrupt, and because it is not being held sufficiently accountable by BC media, many of whom do perform excellent work.

However, I’ve been inspired by bloggers who have been at it much longer, and whose research is deeper and better than mine.

If you want to know how incompetent and financially corrupt the BCLiberals are, you must follow Norm Farrell at Northern Insights. If you want a history of insider dealings and media spin in favor of the status quo, you must read the Pacific Gazette. And if you want an exceptional human voice who researches the scandals and understands how all politics is local, and every voice matters, read Laila Yuile at No Strings Attached… There are many more, Dermod Travis, Rafe Mair, Grant G… And RIP Ian Reid and BC Mary who are greatly missed.. Lastly, while Alex Tsakumis is well to my knowledge, and has quit blogging, and despite the fact he and I discussed that his blog and commenters could degenerate to rudeness in a way I didn’t like, and I frequently disagreed with him (he was more or less blind to Harper’s evident insanity) I miss his blog too, and still respect what he did.

All of the above have blogged because there was and is a void to fill in holding power accountable, and not because they belong to a team other than the governing team. I salute them, and so should we all.

 

 

A Level of Bullshit Never Seen

It’s clear now what I think we’ve all suspected. Christy Clark’s government is defined by its own governing principle, and that is the avoidance of accountability.

  1. 8 fired health researchers: 1 committed suicide (Rod MacIsaac) . No email records found in the senior civil service. No briefing notes or memos.
  2. 80 Community Consultations along the Highway of Tears by the Ministry of Transportation. A political staffer, George Gretes, is forced to resign (not fired), and now investigated for perjury after he allegedly triple deleted not only his own records, but Tim Duncan’s as well, and then lied to an Independent Officer of the Legislature about it.
  3. Zero emails from Christy Clark herself, out of 200 which were tracked, were submitted in response to FOI request.
  4. Christy Clark’s Deputy Chief of Staff, Michele Cardario, reportedly triple deleted without trace every single email she sent during the 2 years since she replaced Kim Haakstad who became toxic after the QuickWins memo was released by the opposition
  5. Minister of Transport Todd Stone admits to triple deleting emails regularly.
  6. While negotiating one of the larger tax giveaways to industry in the history of BC (LNG), Rich Coleman’s COS responded to an FOI request with 3 emails out of 800 which were tracked by Tech Services. He failed to respond with up to 797 emails to important energy industry players like AltaGas and PETRONAS.
  7. Clark’s government, (as Laila Yuile notes – 2 days before the George Gretes scandal broke), removed the application of Section 5 of the Offences Act to the evasion of FOI requirements. That is, they intentionally weakened the penalties for illegal destruction of documents. George Gretes may or may not go to jail for perjury, but he won’t go there for being part of Christy Clark’s political team and destroying public records for political gain.

The blogger Paul Ramsay, at Clever Elephant, has a good rebuttal linked just below to every argument put up by this pack of liars. And I would add one more:

There is no need for this evasion of accountability under current law….Any information responsive to an FOI request already goes through a vetting process by the diligent civil servants (those fine folks Amrik Virk is fond of praising in QP) in the FOI branch to redact material that is deemed to be advice to cabinet or harmful to the interests of the crown.

The spinners, including BCLiberal apologist Keith Baldrey, want you to think there is confusion over interpretation of the relevant Act. There is not.

They want you to think there is need for further training.. there is not.

Civil servants I know in the non-political side are very clear…They are fully aware of disclosure requirements and the reasons for them. They are fully trained. They default to disclosing if in any doubt and let the FOI branch have at it with regard to vetting information which should not be released.

Here’s Paul Ramsay eviscerating the other defenses for the pattern of deceit, and “delete/delete/delete”.

http://blog.cleverelephant.ca/2015/10/government-email-deleting-intent-matters.html

 

 

Deleted emails.. A Culture of Secrecy.

On the occasion of the complete vindication of whistleblower Tim Duncan, who deserves, as Mikey Smyth suggested on Twitter, one of those BC Good Citizenship Medals Premier Clark is promoting…

Well I could go back and rehash my posts on the subject from June, or I could… I think I will.. for now…just quote the view of a blogger from outside the province: I give you “Saskboy”..(but scroll down..that’s not all)

“BC Government Preventing Access To Information

I really hope this isn’t going on in other parts of the country too. BC’s Liberal government is far too corrupt. ”

The incomparable RossK has posted on this too…and you can follow his links for more information on the corruption in the BC Liberal Government…fairly endlessly….. I may suggest renaming his blog the “Rabbit Hole” :

http://pacificgazette.blogspot.ca/2015/10/this-day-in-clarklanddelete-delete.html

 

 

Thank you Craig Oliver and congratulations to Trudeau and his team

Craig Oliver nailed it on election night. In an incredible moment for Canadian media, Craig Oliver said the challenge for Trudeau would be to live up to his fine words.

Craig’s been around for a while. He remembers Stephen Harper’s fine words about transparency, honesty, governing for all Canadians. In other words, he recalls the usual claptrap. And then..

“Stephen Harper lived up to none of these things. He has been caught lying. He has been caught cheating. He has shown incredible intolerance to Arabs, to Muslims… So now the challenge for my colleagues and I will be to hold Mr. Trudeau to live up to his words about openness and honesty in politics”…

Word.

Here’s the clip on Youtube, with apologies for the sound quality.

https://t.co/o3n3WVnU39

A commentator at the main desk while Oliver was saying these things said audibly.. “Jeezus”. He said it as if what Oliver pointed out, the dishonesty, the cheating by Mr. Harper (robocalls) , were somehow out of bounds. He said “Jeezus” as if the truth should not be expressed.  But Oliver was right, emphatically right, and it is the media’s job to say so. I applaud him.

I beg the media to be , after a respectful interval, as hard on Trudeau as he will deserve. It’s not going to be easy for JT to negotiate the minefields of lobbyists from big oil and elsewhere, and the conflicting wants and needs of the various regions (the West Coast is still Orange with a splash of Green, even more so than before). I beg the media to be as interested in how Trudeau manages corrupting influences as media should be always.

Trudeau has said some fine things about reforming Parliament, and FOI laws, and voting reform. Now he will have to deliver. Under our current system, a Parliamentary majority still means large significant swaths of the population have no effective power. It still means that without political leadership of that majority by someone who gives a damn, it’s dictatorship by a minority. We need to change that.

Trudeau’s fine words about honesty and openness are clouded by the reality of ruthless political operators in his own party. No political party has cornered the market on that.

It’s facile to say to the media party, (to borrow the Con phrase), “Your guy got in. Hold him to account”. I’m okay with that.

On to Mr. Trudeau….His accomplishment is enormous. It can’t be overstated. He fought off Harper and the raving right, but also beat a decent Mulcair campaign. I say decent and not excellent because Mulcair lost something in the translation from superb unparalleled prosecutor in the House of Commons, to man of the people. It’s Justin Trudeau who became the man of the people enough to have the change vote swing behind him. Trudeau had essentially the same position on the silly niqab controversy as Mulcair, but when Harper threw that dead cat on the table it was Mulcair who paid the price.

I did not see the Quebec collapse in NDP support coming. Polls were still coming out showing Mulcair with a 12 point Quebec lead quite late. That’s where Trudeau’s majority came from. I did not believe the poll surges would translate into all those seats…but Jack Layton managed something as significant in the final few days of 2011, so I should have recognized it. I just didn’t want to.

Here’s to better days (I hope).

Our National Conversation. What it is. What it should be.

We need a conversation about the rule of law, and about democracy itself in Canada, and about whether it matters what the average person thinks. We need a conversation that is not only about what political leadership wants to do, but how that will be done. We need a conversation not only about an election, but also about how we do democracy.

We are at the end now of a long election campaign in which the conversation has been about budget balance and deficits, niqabs and prejudice, industry and environment, hope and fear.

My vote was sealed when the NDP and Mulcair made proportional representation a campaign plank. My vote was sealed at that moment because while the Greens also favor this particular electoral reform, the NDP could have the clout to get it done.

Think about it.. Particularly in BC, but across the country as well, green values represent a large portion of the electorate, but under the current system those values cannot achieve representation.

It matters how political leaders accomplish their goals, perhaps more than what those goals are. Harper has fought a long game in favor of the raw export economy we have always had. Tarsands oil is just his favorite product of a rip and ship, deregulated industry bias. It’s popular with the ownership of Postmedia, who ordered their papers to publish a pro-Harper endorsement on the weekend, against all national conscience.

What Postmedia said to us with that endorsement, is  that the gaming of the electoral system didn’t matter. From the robocalls which began in Saanich in 2008, tied to Gary Lunn’s operatives there, through the hundreds of ridings where robocall vote suppression was tied to the Conservative Party of Canada in 2011, and right on through the “Unfair Elections Act” today, which makes it harder for people in any way marginalized to vote tomorrow… it doesn’t matter to Postmedia.

Reality check for Postmedia: Hundreds of Conservatives should be in jail for what happened in 2011, not just Michael Sona. Perhaps robocalls did not actually swing the election to a Harper majority, but it matters that they tried. It matters that vote suppression is in any way tarnishing the one chance we have every four years, as citizens, to say no.. to say enough.. to say we hope for a different and better future.

Postmedia’s endorsement said to the country that it’s owners don’t care that Harper’s campaign put Muslims, and especially Muslim women, at risk by demonizing the other for the votes of those of us who are hateful, or simply afraid of anyone who is different.

Postmedia’s endorsement said it doesn’t matter to its owners that the PMO delayed the refugee process to specifically vet in favor of Christians over desperate people who had lost everything in the Syrian crisis, but happened to belong to a different religion.

Postmedia’s endorsement said it doesn’t matter that the Harper government not only favors rip and ship tarsands expansion, but also favors ignoring the legal status and actual power of First Nations to influence how that development goes ahead. I didn’t hear a word about the Supreme Court’s Ts’ilqhotin decision. What that decision established is that the proposed western port pipelines can not legally happen without FN consent.

Postmedia’s endorsement therefore said that it would be better to elect a government which feels itself above the law, above the charter of rights , than to favor a government which operates within the law.

I firmly believe the conversation needs to be about how government operates, not only about what it does. It’s impossible on that basis to endorse Harper. But why is this so important?

If a new government doesn’t understand that Harper is gone not because his economic policy was so myopic, but because his people operated beyond the boundaries of law and justice, we won’t get better government.

Back to the beginning. We won’t get reform without changing the system so that a wider array of voices is heard. To truly win this election, we need to press the next PM, whether it’s Mulcair or Trudeau, to make voting reform a priority. And we need to press for mandatory minimums for election rigging.

Vote Monday. Vote.

Election 42.. from “Disaffected Lib” and Martin Lukacs .. Read

…Stephen Harper may have changed the character of the Canadian state. He has not changed the character of its people. Stifled and suffering under his policies, an overwhelming majority clearly want a new direction. While reversing the damage he has inflicted will require time, a reformed electoral system and the growth of popular movements, it must start by the removal of his government. Vote strategically or vote with your conscience, but vote Harper out.

The piece quoted is of course from the Guardian, which I found a the Mound of Sound. I should have made that clear when first posted…but it’s a great thing to read, and you should.. right now.

Full link here:

http://the-mound-of-sound.blogspot.com/2015/10/the-real-barbarian-threat-to-canada.html

 

The Winds of Change – Let’s Blow this Candle into a Fire

With a week to go, the Harper Conservatives appear to be near panic. Harper cancelled all national, pre-scheduled media interviews after revelations that the PMO intervened to effectively delay the processing of Syrian refugee applications and vet them based on religion and other factors.

My take on that is available in my last two posts and I won’t rehash it except to reiterate these applicants were not being airlifted out of ISIL zones. They had already left, so the protection of “the most vulnerable” is nothing more than a deflection.

This morning, CKNW’s Jon McComb played (in the 8 am audio vault) an interview recorded on Friday. McComb was led into an empty warehouse and given 7 minutes to discuss 2 topics of the PM’s choosing. After rejecting that as a format, he was also given permission to ask on other topics if time permitted within the 7 minutes. Apparently the Prime Minister’s crew was upset that he did so, even though he chose the most innocuous possible topics, marijuana legalization and the failure of the feds to address gang violence effectively in Surrey.

Those topics carry some weight in Vancouver, but they are relatively easy for the PM to spin on. I would have asked about the refugees. I would have asked about rigging the pipeline approval process. I would have asked about electoral fraud and robocalls. I would have asked about bigotry and the daily bozo eruptions from Harper’s candidates.

But back to the panic in the Conservative war room. CTV’s Robert Fife broke the refugee delay story, and reported last night that the CPC campaign appears to be moving into “save the furniture” mode, defending cabinet seats in Ontario which are a risk.

Because what Harper’s brain trust knows, is that he hasn’t the numbers with six days left, to approach a majority. And he knows very well that 70% of us want him gone, and will support whatever cooperation agreement, or coalition, will end his term of power. What was the devil in 2009 , the coalition, is now what Canadians want.

Now Robert Fife could be wrong, and he could be being misled. We never know what internal party polling is saying. And a week is a long time. But I believe Harper’s absolute ceiling is in the 34% range, barring a major incident, and that’s not enough to hang on to power, given how regional breakdowns play out..

But Harper had at least three national media interviews scheduled, and the only one that wasn’t cancelled at the last minute was the one with Rosie Barton on CBC….. As the song goes “Isn’t It Ironic?” …

But there’s work to do. People need to vote, especially the young, and especially the First Nations. In BC, Christy Clark was headed for defeat with a week left in 2013. The idea that most voters don’t pay attention until the last week is valid in most elections. Talk to your neighbors and friends and make sure they vote.

Celebrate the lineups. Celebrate the opportunity to have your voice heard.

Truly Unbelievable (on refugee processing by the PMO kids)

 

Update: Harper’s political defense crew came up with the following (paraphrased)…. “Our policy was not exclusionary. We put Non – Muslims at the front of the line because religious minorities were under greater threat from ISIS.”

I call bullshit for two reasons:

  1. Clips we all saw of the destruction of Syrian cities makes clear everybody is desperately fleeing a war zone. Assad has reportedly killed many more Syrians than ISIS.
  2. The Kurdis , and the rest of the refugee applications , are outside ISIS influence. They need sanctuary, but they have already fled the war zone. Unless a credible agency can convince me otherwise there is no reason to consider one group more vulnerable than another.

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CTV’s Robert Fife, who was right about the Nigel Wright payment to Mike Duffy, reports bombshell allegations about the PMO interruption of the Syrian refugee claimants..  According to Fife’s report, linked below, refugee processing was stalled so that the PMO could audit based on religion (no Sunni or Shia Muslims).

http://t.co/ZdinJ0Tpbq

If that’s true, the following  open letter from 500+ academics condemning Harper’s wedge politics came a day too early, because it’s not just politics, it’s bigotry at the highest level.

http://t.co/QWOeKttVi0

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Ladies and Gents, I give you Coralee Calandra

I am often shocked by the poor performance of BC Liberal Ministers in Question Period.. The talking points, the hooting and laughing at legitimate questions, the non-answers… all routinely praised by a Press Gallery. (The same Press Gallery that dismissed questions about the ongoing RCMP investigation into “quickwins” as ‘weird’.)

Today, Coralee Oakes proved she knew nothing at all about a longstanding issue of overpayment to BC wineries, but she couldn’t admit that. She spun like an automated doll instead of taking the question on notice, not once, but over and over….a dizzying show.

Quote from Hansard..

“D. Eby: According to the note — and this is a briefing note prepared for the minister — the error has been in place for “years,” and produced overpayments to commercial wineries of “at least seven figures.” We know that the error meant that on a $12.99 bottle of wine, there was a 20 percent overpayment by the government on the commission.

[1055]

We know it says that: “As the retail price of a product increased, so too would the amount of overpaid commission.” Now, there was a lot of red tape in that answer. But I’m asking the minister again: what is the number? How much was overpaid under this error?

HSE – 20151008 AM 012/dag/1055

of a product increase, so too would the amount of overpaid commission.” Now, there was a lot of red tape in that answer.

I’m asking the minister again: what is the number? How much was overpaid under this error?

Hon. C. Oakes: I find it very rich that the member opposite continues to go down a path that suggests that we are not supporting a wine economy. Let us be incredibly clear. There are more than 10,000 jobs created across British Columbia in almost every single region due to the wine economy. B.C. wineries welcome over 1.5 million visitors a year, which generates $476 million in tourism.

We remain committed to ensuring success with small and medium-sized wineries. We are committed to ensuring that consumers have the choices that we’ve said. We’ve listened to them, we’ve made those changes, and British Columbians are happy with these opportunities.

M. Mungall: It sounds a lot to me like the minister is saying: “I don’t know.” Taxpayers want a little bit more than that. Not only can’t the minister tell us what the total overpayment is, but it’s becoming clear that she actually doesn’t even have a plan to recover the overpayment, recover taxpayers’ dollars.

In contrast, when B.C.’s poorest, living on social assistance, living on disability, receive a gift, receive an overpayment, receive maternity leave benefits, this government is swift to take it back. Even income tax refunds that are overpaid are swiftly taken back by this government. Clearly, there’s a double standard here.

My question is to the minister. Why doesn’t she know what’s going on, and why doesn’t she have a plan to recover the overpayment?

Hon. C. Oakes: Indeed, we do have a plan. The plan is to listen to citizens across British Columbia. When we did extensive consultation, citizens said they wanted more choice. We remain committed to ensuring that consumers across British Columbia have more access to fantastic British Columbia wines.

At the same time, the decisions and the work that we’re doing on this side of the House ensures that our B.C. wines have the opportunity to be showcased at farmers markets, have the opportunity to be showcased in grocery stores, which provides more opportunity for our small and medium-sized businesses so critically important to the province of British Columbia, so critically important to creating jobs in this province. We are moving forward with those that we’ve heard from taxpayers in British Columbia.”

Wow.

Harper’s office interrupted placement of Syrian refugees

From the Globe and Mail, here’s an article which raises huge questions:

‘The Prime Minister’s Office asked Citizenship and Immigration for the files of some Syrian refugees so they could be vetted by the PMO – potentially placing political staff with little training in refugee matters in the middle of an already complex process.’

Why, in the time leading up to the death on the beach of Alan Kurdi, would Harper’s office be micromanaging the refugee files? As pointed out in the full article, the UNCHR already vetted these people.  So too did a hired NGO from Denmark, as did Citizenship and Immigration and Canadian Border Services.

There have been suggestions that in Harperland, “vulnerable” meant “Christian” , not “Muslim”. The Prime Minister needs to dispel that suspicion. Whatever background these people have, they are fleeing horrors we can’t even dream of.

Full article below :

http://t.co/bgAFpbPJjO