Thursday, April 16, 2009
NDP promises inquiry into BC Rail Scandal
This is not a political announcement. It's not about CTV programming. Although it may look like it at first. Fact is: until we get a YouTube of the occasion, it'll have to do ... and I was very glad to get it.
Many thanks to Laila Yuile [I'm Laila Yuile and this is how I see it] for finding this news clip and sharing it. Thanks to CTV for getting the image and showing it. Most of all, thanks to that trainman.
So if you click on the arrow and suffer through a couple of adverts + Bill Good, it provides a glimpse of the historic moment when a BC Rail trainman of 33 years made history at an intersection in West Vancouver.
Click HERE to see this historic BC Rail moment, from April 15, 2009. - BC Mary.
Good point, DPL.
Regretfully, I have changed the text to suit the circumstances.
Thanks for the signal.
Casinogate was a railroading based on a pillow fight between two shady casinos, the one the Premier's neighbour was involved and tried (but failed) to get the Premier's help with licensing, the other one started by two retired RCMP with close links to the same television station that so-conveniently was on hand to watch police deliver a warrant than turned out be based on puff'n'stuff.
As for Bingogate, the haunting reminder built into that is that Premier Harcourt did in face of it, **minor though it was and not his own doing**, resigned from office. Actually, omigod, honouring the constitution's ancient conventions about not besmirching the office. Any rightist who raises Bingogate as an equivocation for Railgate or l'affaire Kinsella needs to have that thrown in their face - HARCOURT RESIGNED because of what underlings, unknown to him, had done. Campbell REFUSES to resign about matters which involve him and, yes, are before the courts.
In a true British-style democracy, he would have been shamed from office by his own caucus, as well as the press and, no less, HM the Queen; or, as is proper under the traditions from which our constitution evolved, resigned to protect the dignity of Parliament, rather than pointing to the courts he's snared up in as a reason to not say or do anything. A gentleman would remove himself before the noose was presented, or even contemplated.
But Victoria's no Westminster, it more has the stink of the Big Easy on it....and our press is no Fleet Street.
And it's the Liberals who can't run a popcorn stand, that's easy enough to see.....(as per Bill's comparison of the real economic figures behind Grit-era economics and the previous era of supposed NDP misrule).
What's going on in BC, and also nationally, is evidence of a "failed constitution", and misrule by corruption, party insiders, and influence-buyers/sellers. Our transplanted system of government is that of a colony and little more; with resources to the highest bidder, and to those with the clout or position to lobby public officials to get special treatment for their interests ("lobby" = "grease the wheels of").
Once Campbell DOES resign, watch for the kinds of corporate appointments he'll get, provided he doesn't get thrown in jail along the way; some nice cushy sinecure somewhere out there, maybe not directly tie-able to any of the players in this case, but very definitely through the "can you help out Gord, he did a lot for us" kind of influence.
Mary you better vet this one for libel, I guess......what I see is an influence peddler caught in the open and going "who me?" and a court, police and constitutional system - and press - doing everything it can to look the other way, or as Kafka said about something, we all had to wait long enough that the truth was given up with a collective sigh.
But since they're ALL guilty....what, then, to do?
We alraedy have a failed constitution; continued mis-rule will lead to a failed state, and the deepening inefficacy and corruption of the "usual way of doing things" call for major change. Like running BC Rail into unprofitability so it could be justifiably sold, the same will be true of our political system.
Given what's at stake, and where the long-term is going, I really do think the only way to protect BC's interests from criminal politicians is "statehood now!". Not into Bush's America, but Obama's.....not that I'm openly advocating annexation, but as always I think some outreach to pro-democracy forces and voices in the US about exactly how undemocratic BC REALLY is, that coverage of said issues in THEIR papers will force the hand of at least SOME of the major Canadian media to fess up to the BIG problems built into our political culture, and into the very constitution that obviously isn't serving us well enough to prevent a Premier connected to a criminal invesigation on a sale of public assets from even THINKING about serving a minute longer.
And I was wrong about Kinsella and Blagjoevich; Kinsella would be hanging in the club car with the ghost of Robert Bonner. It'd be Campbell and Blagojevich, taking classes in advanced denial at the Fraser Institute together....
Who can the Liberals point to their economic record when it consists largely of a bunch of suspicious privatization deals? With extremely negative economic consequences for average taxpayers (e.g. doubling your power bill re BC Hydro/run of the river).
How can the NDP not have zeroed in on this very point. The Liberal economic record is mostly boasting about what they've done to help their friends.
And just curious, what's the billion dollars that CN is (supposedly) paying, or has paid, earmarked for? Paying down the debt, or marketing campaigns for more sell-offs? Maybe the Olympics security budget?
Oh yea, of course, the new damage control department in the Ledge, probably located where all the boxes of evidence the RCMP hauled out had been......I wonder how much they got for Dave Basi's desk at auction? Would seem to me to be a collectible....
BC Rail case shows why lobbying rules must be tougher
From Saturday's Globe and Mail
April 18, 2009 at 2:58 AM EDT
Of all of the promises that have been made in the early stages of B.C.'s election campaign, none may be as important as the New Democratic Party's pledge to toughen the province's lobbyist legislation.
If nothing else, the scandal around the sale of BC Rail five years ago has illustrated just how woefully inadequate is the current legislation governing the activities of lobbyists in British Columbia.
Friends of government, friends of the Premier, people who have played pivotal behind-the-scenes roles with the governing Liberal party can do all manner of lobbyist-like work and not have to tell a soul.
Patrick Kinsella, the Liberal campaign strategist and friend of Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell, worked as a government consultant for the Crown corporation, BC Rail, as well for Canadian National, during the bidding process for the provincially owned rail line that was eventually won – surprise, surprise – by CN. Mr. Kinsella is alleged to have held private meetings with Mr. Campbell about the deal during the bid process.
No one knew.
Beyond that, Mr. Kinsella has done consulting work for a dizzying number of private companies, work which has put him in touch with government officials. Yet he has never registered with the provincial registrar of lobbyists because, he says, his work doesn't meet the legal definition of lobbying. Yet, he appears to be doing exactly the same type of work that most registered lobbyists are doing.
When the provincial registrar of lobbyists attempted to investigate Mr. Kinsella's activities, the Liberal insider refused to co-operate. And that was the end of that.
The Liberals have been promising over the last few years to toughen up the province's lobbyist laws but nothing has happened. It would appear they're in no hurry to upset friends making millions in the lobbying business.
NDP leader Carole James told me yesterday that bringing in the Government Integrity Act would be one of the first orders of business if her party were elected on May 12.
Introduced in the legislature last year to little fanfare, the proposed changes to the current Lobbyists Registration Act would close many of the loopholes in the law and institute a two-year lobbying ban on former ministers, senior political aides and deputy ministers.
As importantly, it would give the provincial registrar of lobbyists significant powers to investigate and issue penalties for those found in violation of the act. In other words, people like Mr. Kinsella would not be able to tell the registrar to take a hike. The NDP law would also require public officials, including the premier, to disclose their interactions with anyone carrying out lobbying-like functions.
“The current legislation has no teeth,” Ms. James told me from the campaign trail yesterday. “People like Patrick Kinsella wouldn't be able to just walk away from questions about his activities.”
Coincidentally, the NDP disclosed yesterday that the province's former solicitor general John Les approved a gaming license for Mr. Kinsella's business partner, Glen Todd. According to the NDP, Mr. Kinsella met several times with Mr. Les while he was solicitor general in charge of gaming licences. Subsequent to those meetings, Mr. Todd received a licence for an off-track betting operation.
Did Mr. Kinsella lobby for the licence in his meetings with Mr. Les? Did the Liberal strategist disclose his relationship with Mr. Todd? Did he mention to Mr. Les that he happens to be a partner of Mr. Todd's in one of the largest horse-racing operations in the province?
Who knows? In B.C., you can be the key strategist behind the government's electoral victory one day and someone meeting with ministers and government officials on behalf of business partners and private-sector clients the next – and it's no big deal. If someone in charge of overseeing this kind of activity asks what you're doing, you simply tell him to mind his own business.
“The questions raised by Mr. Kinsella's meetings with the minister of gaming are exactly the reason why we need to toughen up the Lobbyists Act and the ethics rules,” said Ms. James.
In B.C., the public hasn't a hope of knowing whether decisions by elected officials are being made in an atmosphere free of any apparent conflict of interest. In fact, under the Liberals the business of government is conducted amid some of the lowest standards of conduct and ethics anywhere in the country.
This appears to be one area where the policy difference between the Liberals and the NDP couldn't be clearer. That could be something to consider come election day.
Very proud of you, Mr Trainman.
There were people on April 15 who choked up with tears when they saw that BCRail locomotive stop, and you climbing down ... it seemed that for 2 or 3 minutes, you and that train became the symbol of British Columbia at this time.
A powerful symbol it was, too. It would be a terrible thing if you lost your job after 33 years, because of that act of citizenship.
Believe me, you won't be forgotten. No more than BC Rail will be forgotten.It would be great if you stay in touch. Tell us how things are going. What the train crews are saying. We want to know. OK?