Tuesday, November 30, 2010
There's something about Falcon. Vaughn Palmer tries to explain ...
He demolished the Coquihalla toll booths
now Falcon sets sights on rivals
By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - November 30, 2010
The remarkable rise (with a bump or two along the way) of Kevin Falcon, would-be B.C. Liberal leader and premier:
Nov. 16, 1996. The Surrey Electors Team sweeps the civic vote in the province's second biggest city, electing Doug McCallum as mayor (ousting New Democrat Bob Bose) and solidifying control over council and school board. Winning campaign manager Kevin Falcon, 32, is already a veteran, this being his third successful outing.
Sept. 15, 1997. The B.C. Liberals beat back a challenge from the provincial Reform party to win a key byelection in Surrey. Falcon, despite ties to the federal Reformers, worked as a paid organizer for the Liberals, and hits it off with party leader Gordon Campbell. Afterward, Campbell hires him as a communications consultant. "I gave him speech ideas," Falcon will say later. "He's not my bosom buddy or anything."
Jan. 27, 2004. Falcon is promoted to minister of transportation and is immediately embroiled in the scandal over the sale of the government-owned BC Rail. He cancels the sale of the BCR port subsidiary after police determine that the bidding process was compromised by the leak of confidential information. He continues to defend the sale of the railway itself as a good deal for the public.
May 19, 2006. Stung by protests and delays over his ambitious transportation plans -- the Sea to Sky, Canada Line, Gateway, TransLink makeover and other projects -- Falcon draws a comparison to the way they handled these matters in (ahem) China. "It's not like they have to do community consultations," he tells local government leaders. "They just say 'we're building a bridge,' and they move everyone out of there and get going within two weeks." Just kidding, of course.
Sept. 27, 2007. Falcon has one of the happiest days of his political life when New Democratic Party leader Carole James comes out against the proposed twinning of the Port Mann Bridge. She backpedals soon enough but not before Falcon exchanges high-fives with staffers and supporters.
Oct. 2, 2008. Another happy day on the transportation beat as Falcon and Campbell take the controls of a digger to demolish the toll booths on the Coquihalla. No wonder some Liberals say that if the premier has a favourite to succeed him, Falcon is probably the one.
Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/opinion/demolished+Coquihalla+toll+booths/3903861/story.html#ixzz16m2Wjn97
Bill Tieleman weighs in with one of his best columns. Click HERE to see embedded links and provocative photo of Christy Clark:
Hard Questions for Christy Clark
If she runs for Lib leader, she'll face tough queries about Railgate and the HST.
By Bill Tieleman,
TheTyee - Nov. 30, 2010
... as a talk radio host Clark may be adept at asking tough questions, answering them as a BC Liberal Party leadership candidate is much more difficult -- and perhaps politically fatal.
Clark claims she will "think very hard" about running for the nomination on her week off from radio station CKNW AM 980 duties as the afternoon talk show host.
Railgate and Bruce Clark
Start with questions about her role in the B.C. legislature raid case, involving the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail to CN Rail in 2003.
For example, Christy, what is your position on holding a full public inquiry into the strange circumstances that saw the political corruption trial of former BC Liberal ministerial aides David Basi and Bob Virk suddenly halted by a guilty plea bargain?
Were you going to be a witness in that trial? Do you agree with the government paying Basi and Virk's $6 million legal fees?
Oh wait, it doesn't matter, because as premier, Clark would have to excuse herself from any cabinet discussion about an inquiry.
Why? How long have you got?
At the same time police conducted the unprecedented raid of the B.C. legislature, they also executed a search warrant on the home of Bruce Clark, Christy's brother and a one-time fundraiser for her campaigns.
According to an agreed statement of facts from the Crown and defence at the surprise end of the trial, confidential government information obtained from Basi and Virk was found by police at Bruce Clark's home and office.
Clark was a lobbyist working for the Washington Marine Group, which was a bidder on a second part of the BC Rail privatization, the sale of its Roberts Bank Port Subdivision, a spur line worth up to $70 million.
The RCMP advised then transportation minister Falcon to cancel the sale because it was "tainted" by the leak of confidential documents. Bruce Clark was never charged with any offences.
The statement of facts reads: "With respect to Count 10 of the Indictment and in relation to the Port Subdivision bidding process, the RCMP seized a number of documents from Bruce Clark's office and residence, which Basi and Virk disclosed to Bruce Clark between Jan. 1, 2003 and Dec. 28, 2003."
"Two examples of the documents that Basi and Virk improperly disclosed to Clark are:
"a) The draft Request for Proposals for the Port Subdivision bidding process, which was received by Clark prior to the RFP being finalized by the Evaluation Committee; and
"b) A 'confidential presentation' made by TD Securities to the Evaluation Committee dated Oct. 14, 2003 containing a detailed economic analysis of what BC Rail considered to be the value of the Port Subdivision."
Would she have been a witness?
But that's just the tip of the Basi-Virk iceberg when it comes to Christy Clark's conundrum.
Clark was deputy premier to Premier Gordon Campbell throughout the BC Rail privatization and was a highly probable potential witness in the trial.
She and ex-husband Mark Marissen, a key federal organizer for ex-Liberal prime minister Paul Martin and former leader Stephane Dion, had a home visit from the police after the raid. The police were looking for information about Basi and Virk and Marissen has made clear he cooperated fully -- there was no search warrant.
Then there's the so-far unconfirmed rumour that Mike McDonald, the former BC Liberal caucus communications director, will be Clark's campaign manager. McDonald, now a consultant, appears regularly on Clark's show and is husband to Jessica McDonald, Campbell's former senior deputy minister.
But McDonald also has his own connections to the Basi-Virk case.
Again, according to unproven allegations made by defence lawyers in pre-trial hearings, McDonald was involved in supervising Basi's stacking of paid phony callers to radio talk shows, ironically including CKNW.
Virk's lawyer Kevin McCullough on April 23, 2007 read from what he told the court was a police transcript of a call between Basi and McDonald. "'Dave's asking Mike if he wants to make some calls to CKNW after the MLA is on,'" McCullough alleged. Justice Bennett interjected: "Is this a Liberal MLA? " McCullough: "Yes." Bennett responded, to laughter in the court: "I should have known that."
At another point McCullough alleges that McDonald and Basi discussed how Basi would organize calls to attack former B.C. premier Bill Vander Zalm during a radio appearance.
"Dave says they are going to give Vander Zalm a rough ride. [Mike] tells Dave to be careful, they don't want the phone numbers showing up from [government lines in] Victoria. Dave replies, 'Star 67, man,'" McCullough read from what he said was a police wiretap summary. (Star 67 refers to a caller identification blocking option.)
And there's much, much more to the tangled web of the Basi-Virk case that no doubt Clark would prefer was left undisturbed.
But with the trial concluded, there is no restriction on the media or others asking questions.
She's a fan of the HST
Plus, there are more unexploded bombs in Clark's recent past -- such as her steadfast defence of the despised Harmonized Sales Tax and her support for the overwhelmingly rejected Single Transferable Vote in 2009.
So if Clark finally admits she wants to be premier, expect her opponents both in and out of the BC Liberal Party to turn her candidacy into a walk in the hurt locker.
"I'm nobody's servant. Not yours and not the legislature's."
"When the press gallery was beaten in a recent baseball game by the NDP, Mike Harcourt rose in the legislature next day to announce that the honor of the House had been preserved, the "Scrums of the Earth" had been routed by Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, he said, much to the enjoyment of the MLAs.
Pardon me for being a spoil sport, but I have a feeling that that's not what we're here for. When the legislature rises half an hour early to accommodate a social event between MLAs and the press, as was the case a couple of months ago, something is very wrong.
Not that the press and the politicians never met socially before."
Source... Quesnel Museum http://www.quesnelmuseum.ca/Archives.asp
"When the press fails to keep its distance from politicians."
"At a recent Government House dinner hosted by Lieutenant-Governor Stephen Rogers for members of the press gallery, government house leader Bruce Strachan showed up. What the hell, I want to know, was a politician doing at a dinner for the press'?
I wasn't at the dinner, but I was told that Strachan referred to press gallery members as servants of the legislature: I got news for you, Bruce. I'm nobody's servant. Not yours and not the legislature's."
An empty building in James Bay that occasionally, well rarely, is full of a bunch of bloviating blowhards insulting each other and pounding on their desks while policy is made behind closed doors in the Premier's office by Berardino's friends and slime like Dobell, Kinsella and the memory challenged Martyn Brown or during pillow talk between Gordo and Lara!