Speaker Linda Reid Disgraces the Office and Other Stories

Update: Today, March 14 2017, Linda Reid doubled down on refusing to allow NDP questions on governance of party fundraising.  Also, Minister of Housing and Natural Gas Rich Coleman refused three (or more) times to table documentation to prove his claim there was nothing fishy about a loan to a developer for up market housing in Vancouver. Verbal denials are not enough….

And notice the correction within item 4. Thanks

 

  1. Right at the core of the Parliamentary system is the notion that the Speaker of the House or the Legislature must be non-partisan and fair. At least, she must try.

Yesterday Richmond MLA and Speaker of the BC Legislature disgraced herself in that regard. Spectacularly.

Moments before attempting to shut the NDP down and ruling John Horgan’s questions to the Attorney General about banning big money in BC politics out of order, the AG Suzanne Anton had introduced a bill requiring political parties to disclose donations in the BCLiberal version of real time.

How is it then that the Minister can introduce a bill making a legal requirement of political parties, and then the Speaker shut down questions on donation limits by size or geographical origin?  Arguing that banning big money is not Ministerial responsibility? With only about five minutes space between? This is ridiculous behaviour from Linda Reid, who is required by her mandate to be much much better than this. Horgan’s second supplemental question, to which he was fully entitled to an answer, was prevented by Reid’s insistence on a new questioner.

Bullshit Ms. Reid…. Bullshit.

2. While the NDP is pressing the advantage of recent coverage of donation reforms we desperately need, two very interesting pieces were published yesterday.

Martyn Brown, former COS to Gordon Campbell, calls Christy Clark out on the idea of an independent panel to recommend electoral (and donation) reforms after the May 9th election. He calls it a love letter to the RCMP. Knowing that lobbyists and possibly party staff in the BCLiberal Offices may face charges, it amounts to an offer to fix the problem after and if she is re-elected. Worth the read: http://www.straight.com/news/880776/martyn-brown-decoding-christy-clarks-love-letter-rcmp ..

Quote:

We shouldn’t kid ourselves.

It’s not just politics that has forced the government’s hand. It is also the prospect of having the governing party, and/or its unnamed actors, contributors, or agents, being charged with contraventions of the Election Act—perhaps even the Canadian Criminal Code. And by that, I don’t mean to in any way impugn any individual, as such.

Clark’s new directive calling for an independent review of B.C.’s campaign financing system is a metaphorical “love letter” to the RCMP that silently pleads for forgiveness for any unintended wrongdoing by her party that may be unearthed by its investigation.

3. Kai Nagata, of Dogwood BC, opines that the lobbyist donation scandal could be the start of a wide ranging Charbonneau Commission style affair in which all sorts of political corruption gets exposed as player after player gives evidence and  names. Here’s his argument in part, advice to the lobbyists, copied from the Facebook page..

The smartest thing to do right now is get ahead of the story: tally up the illegal donations, turn yourself in to the Mounties and cooperate fully, in the hopes you can get off with a $10,000 fine.

Even better, blow the whistle on this whole filthy system. Give an exclusive interview to a news outlet explaining how the party bagmen shook you down, how you never meant to break the law but hey, all the other kids were doing it!

You’ll look like a regular Boy Scout compared to the holdouts. I’m talking about the cockroaches that have to be dug out of their holes and dragged into RCMP cruisers, feebly trying to cover their faces.

Don’t believe it’ll get that bad? You’ve never witnessed the early stages of a corruption inquiry.

I was a reporter in Montreal in 2009 when the whole dirty puzzle began coming together. Like in B.C., straw donors were one of the first warning signs. Employees at certain firms were making political donations above their pay grade.

Around the same time there were rumors of funny business in the awarding of public works contracts.

It turned out the companies supposedly competing to clear snow, pave roads and build bridges were actually colluding with each other. They would agree ahead of time who would submit the lowest bid – which of course included a little padding.

Why did they charge extra? So company staff could cut thank-you cheques to the governing party, or even pay a cash bribe to whatever bureaucrat signed off on the project.

Don’t act shocked. B.C.’s Wild West system leaves us open to all the same abuses witnessed in Quebec. (Indeed some of the same companies now operate here, and we’re seeing the same suspicious patterns.)

Of course, these inquiries take years to develop, and while I agree there’s lots to investigate for the RCMP, I personally have no confidence the BC RCMP has the stomach for it. I hope I’m wrong because…..

4. David Eby with the help of information partly gleaned from VanParks.ca has been on a story of $40M dollar loans going out to wealthy developer donors from the BCHousing Society.. to build luxury condos….

Rich Coleman is in full bluster, denying it all…. Every deal enhanced the number of affordable housing units built, he says. But there are two fundamental elements to the story which scream for further inquiry. I do need to say at the outset that the full details of what happened are not known. There are allegation and denials, on a story where we need the full truth.

First, the loans in question were not part of an FOI package released to the NDP and Mr. Eby on the question, though it’s clear  the loans occurred. VanParks has the loan numbers on their website.  https://t.co/4dvhDsjURN

The government of Triple Delete and coverup strikes again? Certainly looks like it.

Second, Coleman’s denials so far do not include the tabling of documents which would refute the story. Coleman threatened to call Eby a liar outside the legislature yesterday. As far as I know he didn’t follow through. (I’ll update if I’m wrong).

The key to this is that Vancouver zoning already required the buildings to include a percentage for non-market, affordable housing. I doubt if we believe it should be the Provinces role to monetarily assist wealthy BCLiberal donors and their companies to comply with City zoning bylaws. That’s absurd. And there is even a question about one of two loans going to finance a full market building that contained no down market rental at all.

One of those beneficiaries allegedly is Bob Rennie, until recently the BCLiberals fundraising chair, and until recently enough, the Board Member of  (you guessed it) BCHousing. (mea culpa…I had Rennie down as a Board Chair of BCH. I apologize, but the optics are nonetheless brutal.)

Listen to this interview on CKNW yesterday afternoon and ask yourself how wide ranging the RCMP’s investigations into corruption in this province should be….. https://omny.fm/shows/steele-drex/david-eby-ndp-housing-critic-on-bc-s-affordable-ho

BCHousing is meant to help poor people with affordable rental space, not grease the business bottom line of wealthy corporations. Rich Coleman needs to table a documentary rebuttal STAT.  Don’t bet that he will. So the media will have to follow up.