Friday, May 01, 2009
Lara & Gordo: Had this been any other leader in the past, the questions would have been front page and non-stop - as well as the photos
They travel the world together. It was Norway, Sweden, France, England to review health strategies. To China for the summer Olympics at Beijing. She was with him in Hawaii at the time of his arrest for drunk driving, I am told. Everywhere the current B.C. premier goes, Lara Dauphinee is never far from his side. She has racked up the largest expense bills of anyone - elected or unelected - in the entire B.C. government.
DSC_559522275 - assistant & premier
Lara Dauphinee and Gordon Campbell
Photo by Patrick Tam/Flunging Pictures
After 13 years together, it would seem that there would be photos of Gordo and Lara together. Or even photos of Ms Dauphinee by herself. But such is not the case. Definitely not the case.
I am indebted to other valued bloggers for finding two photos offered for sale by Patrick Tam/Flunging Pictures on Flickr. Blogger Laila Yuile contacted the photographer, ordered the two photos (one of which appears here), and arranged for payment. Ms Dauphinee is referred to in one photo caption as "an assistant to the premier" and the other (shown here) as "his counterpart". But she isn't named. I obtained confirmation of her identity in this photo from a former colleague.
In addition, I've been told that sometime in 2004, in Times Colonist or Vancouver Sun, there was a photo of protesters blocking their path as Gordo and Lara attempted to enter the front door of the Grand Pacific Hotel, one block from the Legislature. Neither I, nor my skilled helpers, have been able to find that photo.
A trusted informant told me that there is said to be a couple of other photos of Lara and Gordo together but this is very rare, adding (from close personal observation): "This is certainly NO Accident as their relationship and public exposure of the same is managed with great care, expense and all the resources of government are employed to manage it...."
If Big Media in B.C. has ever questioned or commented upon this, we have been unable to find the evidence.
Small independent media produced a handful of exceptions. In the following story, Straight Talk's Andrew McLeod rejoices in the regal scenes of government feasting and merrymaking:
In March 2005, Blain had dinner in New York with Premier Gordon Campbell; his executive assistant, Lara Dauphinee; his press secretary, Mike Morton; and one Peter Restler. According to the Web site for the investment firm CAI Private Equity, it has a New York–based managing partner named Peter Restler who “was previously a special advisor to Vancouver-based Inland Natural Gas (now known as Terasen) in connection with its successful acquisition of the $741 million gas division of B.C. Hydro, a provincially-owned utility”.
Blain appears to have entertained the premier and other guests at Asiate, a Manhattan restaurant. All had the fixed menu, with a total bill to the B.C. taxpayers of $312.50 after exchange.
with the follow-up dinner in Vancouver:
It was June 23, 2005, at the Al Porto Ristorante on Water Street in Vancouver, according to receipts obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. A group of 17 had the set dinner for $52.95 each, and between them they drained five bottles of Wild Goose Pinot Gris, three of the Columbia Crest Merlot, two of Penfolds Chardonnay, and three of the d'Arenberg The Stump Jump. That's 13 bottles of wine for 17 people. They also ordered a martini, a cosmopolitan, a rum, three bottles of beer, and a glass of the premium Scotch whisky Lagavulin. And they went through 13 bottles of San Pellegrino mineral water for $103.35. All told, taxpayers paid $1,567.11, including taxes and a $235 tip. That works out to about $92 per person. If the government was going to treat each of B.C.'s four million residents to such a meal, it would cost about $368 million. Luckily for the taxpayer, such extravagances aren't for just anyone. No, the guests at the feast were all Partnerships British Columbia board members, staff, and other movers and shakers in the public-private partnership world.
Another well-informed person told me " ... this is not a matter of private life. This is part of how B.C. is governed. The people need to know how -- and by whom -- and why they are governed. There should be no doubt on that score."
The daringly irreverent FRANK magazine may have been the first to ask the hot questions and give some answers. Their undated column appeared in 2003. FRANK magazine (now "kaputski" itself) won't mind if I copy some of their commentary from the time, 2003:
... Campbell, in a July 23 cabinet meeting, confirmed longstanding Frank reports of trouble on the home front when he told his inner circle that he and Nancy are indeed kaputski and legal proceedings will begin as early as this month.
Happily, the press, while eagerly trading increasingly wild gossip amongst themselves, has so far been uncharacteristically respectful of the Preem's privacy when it comes to informing their readers and viewers.
PacPress uberpublisher Dennis Skulsky, for example, has been exceedingly diligent in discouraging Vancouver Sun and Province hacks from prying into Gordo's affairs.
Shortarsed BCTV newsbarker Tony Parsons, a crony of Campbell's, has been persistently pooh-poohing rumours that the Preem's thirty something deputy chief of staff, Lara Dauphinee, is somehow involved in the marital breakup.
Ridiculous, quoth Tony, "She's got a boyfriend," "Gordon's much too old for her," etc.
Most irked by what he sees as a reeking double standard is former Liberal leader, Gordon Wilson, hounded from the leadership by Campbell, with the full cooperation of the media, for his extramarital drilling of MLA Judy Tyabji in '93.
There are a few renegade elements in the BC press, however, like the camera crew that staked out Dauphinee's condo complex on West Broadway in Vancouver and recorded the comings and goings of visitors. Legal weasels have advised the news organization in question that it would be prudent to sit on the footage-for now.
Coincidentally, on August 1, Dauphinee moved out of the building to an undisclosed location. Gordo, too, since selling the marital digs in Point Grey, has apparently secured a two-bedroom pied a terre somewhere in Vancouver ...
Also of interest to investigating hacks are Lara's expense claims. In Frank 408, readers will recall, we noted that the Preem's Girl Friday was the recipient of a whacking great raise, from $86,960 in 2001-2002 to $101,783 in 2002-2003. In addition to this, she claimed some $64,000 in travel expenses and as-yet-undisclosed operating and entertaining expenses.
Whatever could the fourth estate be looking for?
Only one journalist, in the past 8 years, has had the courage to write a serious investigative assessment of this particular P3 situation. In May 2005, Kevin Potvin, in The Republic, published the essay which stands to this day as the definitive assessment. Titled "Is Campbell a "Made Man"?, it is sub-titled "With enough rumours to end his career, how come the media leave him alone?"
... In interviews after his drunk driving escapade, Campbell claimed he had never been driving drunk before. That would indicate either that he is a bald faced liar, or that the night of January 9 was a highly unusual night. During the evening, he had been pouring back several stiff martinis at the home of friend and radio personality Fred Latremouille before deciding well after midnight to take a drive. There is evidence a struggle ensued: Latremouille later blurted out to television cameras, talking about that night and why he let an obviously drunk friend drive, “What are you going to do, tackle the guy?” He was immediately elbowed and shut up by his wife, Kathy Baldazzi.
The media, willing to believe Campbell’s assertion he got caught the first time he drove drunk in his 54 years, has strangely refrained from asking what brought on this uncharacteristic behaviour. Had Campbell received some terrible news earlier in the day to cause him to get very drunk, throw off his friend, and go speeding in his car late into the night? In retrospect, we know there was no alarming political news or corruption scandals that month. His wife did leave earlier in the vacation, but that was routine: she needed to prepare for a new school year as vice principal of a Vancouver school. We do know that around September 2003, roughly nine months later, Dauphinee appeared at a political function attended by much media visibly pregnant. Had this been any other leader in the past, the questions would have been front page and non-stop—as well as the photos. But the establishment media in this case has never speculated on whether there is a connection.
... The scandals do not end there. During the present election campaign, the Liberal Party has twice been caught collecting money illegally, once from municipalities and later from charities who were led to believe they were paying the government for access to Campbell, but whose fees were in fact illegally channeled to the party coffers. This scandal looks remarkably similar to the Bingogate scandal that ensnared and destroyed Harcourt, but there has been scarcely little media follow-through this time.
A billion-dollar Liberal-government deal to sell BC Rail is currently under police investigation with allegations swirling around the case involving illicit drugs and influence peddling. RCMP took the unprecedented measure of raiding legislature offices of senior cabinet members to seize evidence in the case. All three senior cabinet members linked to the scandal—Attorney General Geoff Plant, Deputy Premier Christie Clark, and finance minister Gary Collins—have since resigned from office and, despite budding careers, have quietly and inexplicably left politics altogether. There are close correspondences in this story to the one involving casino licenses that brought Clark down, but there has been no similar media attention.
Add it up and you have the makings for the most damaging set of scandals amongst BC’s pantheon of record breakers. Campbell’s government is linked to rumours involving illicit drugs, influence peddling, party finance corruption, out-of-control drunken sprees, tainted resignations, criminal investigations, court convictions, illicit sexual affairs, and who knows what else of the salacious kind. While in the past any one of those merited a public hanging by the media scribes, Campbell, with all of them and possibly more, slips away with no one in pursuit ...
To be continued.
But, after thinking about your article a bit, i've become more and more worried. Its....OMG... possible there is a little Gordon Campbell growing up, somewhere :).
Thanks for making it possible to not sleep tonight....lol
Seriously though, its not just the lying about his wife or to her, or the lying to the public about his private life while attacking others, its really the media selectively NOT reporting on it when the very same instance, were it to involve the NDP, would have been front page news for months.
I could put up with an elected official that cheated on his wife and lied about it, grudgingly, but the completely partisan actions of the media are more important. The media were supposed to be a trusted source of news, but they have lowered themselves to the level of political propaganda machines. The highest bidder gets their support...pretty sad..
Anonymous Grumps at 7:47,
You decide. Is it Lara?
But first, answer the question: is it logical that someone so dedicated to avoiding publicity ... would then rush into public print via Facebook?
Thanks for your encouraging words. They're much appreciated, as this was not a fun story to write.
I certainly take your point, but will just repeat this line from my post:
Another well-informed person told me
" ... this is not a matter of private life. This is part of how B.C. is governed. The people need to know how -- and by whom -- and why they are governed. There should be no doubt on that score."
Well, I guess that’s it then……..Gordon Campbell is secretive in every aspect of his life.
Some may equate this secrecy to some low life earning his living in some back alley.
Very good detective work Mary.
I am full of admiration for all you are doing for decent British Columnbians at this critical time. Congrats to your truth seeker, teammate Laila - we all deserve to see WHO is eating up our hard earned money as they travel and spend worldwide. I, my family and business associates (many true Liberals in the real sense of the word) are sickened by these facts.
These latest revelations from your indepth detective work . . . . deserve real credit . . . . that the MSM had a duty to investigate, rather than coverup . . .But hasn't that been the name of the game that BCers have had to endure for too long?
In THIS case, the Premier's lack of judgment straddles both his personal & public duties. His actions directly affect the TAXPAYER OF BRITISH COLUMBIA. It is ETHICALLY WRONG, NO MATTER WHICH WAY THEY TRY TO SPIN THE TRUTH - given the dynamics of this relationship between Lara & Gordon.
Gordon Campbell has already been shown up beyond a doubt, that his character and circle of friends are NOT to be trusted with BRITISH COLUMBIANS BEST INTERESTS - in large part from what has surfaced in the Legislature Raids. Now this confirms it.
Premier Campbell must be removed from Office and is unfit for governing BC.
Premier Campbell is open to black mail.
BC is at HUGE RISK. Has this played a role in who and how big deals have been leveraged behind closed doors to date?
Is this the reason why unregistered lobbyists such as Kinsella/Dobell that hold all of this private information in their greased palms have been the middle man in all these secretive, lucrative deals to Kinsella and Campbell's other pals like McLean with BC Rail?
NONE OF THIS IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR BRITISH COLUMBIANS.You deserve a medal of honour, BC Mary.
In a "rare" interview, Gordon Campbell's wife says:
"... she isn’t particularly surprised that polls now show her husband — the odds-on favourite before the campaign began — locked in a neck-and-neck battle with NDP leader Carole James. "
posted just recently.
Reminds me of a chess game, no?
I'd mentioned a comment that I'd left over at the VSun in response to the puff-piece linked to above had not been posted.
The comment is there now.
Desperate people do desperate things . . . . what do ya bet that this little campaign, 'family' event was damage control after Mary's awesome reporting?
Over coffee with a friend today, a highly respected, 'for real' Liberal, he shared his view that Campbell & cabal is close to self destruction . . . he sees. . . as the majority of honourable BCers do . . . WHY and it ain't a pretty picture.
They are in shame with many voters who understand the BC Campbell Libs are no 'liberals' to put it mildly!
Well, I already took a screen shot of Ross' comment and the message about how mine MIGHT be visible later. But I can't say I'm surprised, just happy I caught 'em at it.
The only thing transparent around Can West and the Campbell government is the duplicity and venality!
Lets see what tomorrow brings.
So far the score is
People who love BC - 5
Campbellites - 1
and I'm not sure, the ONE may be being facetious, but I'm kinda tired and can't trust my judgement. As Laila said above, let's see what tomorrow brings.
Anybody for giving me odds that the Gord shows up for the debate "impaired?" Or maybe he will just surrender himself to Carole James and ask for a pardon for what he has already done to most of the people of BC!
The question isn't how many mistresses Gordon Campbell has - the question is WHY IS SHE ON THE PUBLIC PAYROLL?What skills and talents does this seemingly naive young woman have that merits her receiving the largess of the privy purse while the single mother with a couple of children living in East Vancouver has to work three jobs to feed her kids and pay for a run-down apartment on the east side?
I'm generally not one to support the heaping of opprobrium on an individual for the people he chooses to sleep with, how often, or where.
I do think our elected politicians owe every BC citizen the commitment to use the cash we entrust with them wisely and well.
Gordon Campbell has not done that with any consistency in a whole range of areas - this is just another one.....
Thanks Mary, for bringing this one - as you have in so many other instances - to the public's attention.
Thanks all -- and I do mean all -- for your comments.
Having done my best (with one more instalment to come) to open the discussion on this topic, I have tried to step back to let others take up the comments.
But I want to make sure you know that your encouragement has been very special to me, because it's a story so absolutely unlike the stories I enjoy writing.
As I see this topic: it's all about governance, about Gordo's style of governing, which led to the grievous losses to British Columbia of the past 8 years.
I've refused to allow comments which veer into the personal aspects of this story. One or two people have criticized me for that. But I will continue to delete those because, on this site, it's all about governance. About B.C. And especially about BC Rail.
The lady with the beautiful name -- Lara Dauphinee -- was responsible (with the premier) for bringing Bobby Virk into the powerful position of aide to the Minister of Transportation.
In so doing, she showed herself to be clearly involved in matters relating to negotiations which led to the loss (lease? sale?) of BC Rail.
I certainly didn't know that until very recently when her letter surfaced amongst the 8,000 pages of trial-related documents obtained by the Opposition.
That's very important for both of them, and about Ms Dauphinee we know so very little, even now. Hence these 4 articles.
But there's a danger in allowing the personal, private details to take over this discussion. It would open the debate to legitimate attack. It would sidetrack us immediately.
For me, it's critically important to remain focused on BC Rail -- what happened to it? was it legal? and (call me a dreamer) can we get BC Rail back into public ownership again?
However, isn't it true that we must view his conduct of judgment in the context of his duties to British Columbians
The very real additional issue is black mail. Gordon is an elected official that holds unchecked power in the Premier's Office - NOT simply a member of the public.
He is entrusted with OUR business/assets. Clearly he is a person with a lot to hide personal & in public office.
Have his personal 'affairs' been leveraged by persons in the know and how has this impacted the People's business behind secretive closed doors?
Gordon has not learned from his multitude of mistakes - perhaps the coverup has just become too heavy.
It's long overdue for the Premier to exit stage left into private personal life.
And if I started using the words that come to mind, Mary would REJECT my comment.
But awesome tonight and MUCH to her credit, was Carole's attempt to make Gordo answer a question, any question damn near, about BC Rail. The first time the Mod, who overall did a good job, headed her off at the pass, giving Gordo a free tag, by going to Jane who took up another subject.
But then Carole, to her credit used her next rebuttal to give Gordo another chance to answer the same question, which he ducked entirely by answering some other or no question at all - that may have been one of the most obvious low points of the whole so-called debate.
As much as I think Ickes and that guy that used to harass Coyote and I, that I accused of being Ickes himself, and might have been, because he quoted "his own book" which I determined was one of Ickes icky works is a nut case., I start thinking of Ickes, when I watch Gordo in action, in real time not entirely scripted and produced moments.
Anyway, if the power elite actually do turn into reptiles when we aren't looking, Lara and Gordo would be the first to make me believe it. Gordon couldn't fool me that he was a human, if he showed me something he claimed was blood coming out of hisself!
Luckily, Koot, your entertaining comment did contain the magic words: BC Rail ...
and yeah, wasn't that a stunningly low-class performance when Froese slammed the door shut so Gordo didn't have time to respond?
Carole James was every inch the strong, articulate lady and I felt pride in her performance when she graciously allowed Gordo time in the next segment to make his BC Rail reply ...
but he wouldn't ...
and I had the impression of a guy who had long ago dismissed all thought from his mind of B.C.'s railway.
I have to tell you (hangs head, scuffs toe) that in my imagination, I threw a rotten fish, a couple of over-ripe tomatoes, and a cream pie (in that order) at him.
I mean, wasn't he virtually saying that nobody has a right to know what he might have done differently, if he had BC Rail to do again?
that it's none of our business?
[one more pie airborne ... in my dreams]
The fact of the matter is it's time for Gordo to go.
I did see Will McMartin's new article while cruising around looking for after-the-debate assessments.
I was pleasantly surprised that 100% of the journalists -- even Baldrey! -- gave Carole James top marks! Which she deserves! But we get so accustomed to having the truth turned upside down ...
I'm not clear as to why the Green Party was represented, especially with only 1 hour, chopped into so many tightly-controlled segments.
"But the fact is" (haha), Carole James stomped all over Gordo ... in the nicest possible way.
It was a good show. The truth of the situation did appear to shine through. And McMartin was spot-on, Gordo demonstrated a whole new BC Rail Cover-Up tonight. No doubt about it.
Ms. James showed herself to be a true leader tonight as she turned Gordon the 'made man' into a defensive sour cream puff, unpalatable from his tainted conduct, veneer thin smirk and shallow character. What a study in contrasts.
The other person shouldn't have even been on the stage as an annoyance.
Carole was calm and courageous to force Campbell to answer for his ruination of BC. To watch her stand up to Campbell was inspiring, wasn't it. She completely got my vote of confidence tonight.
This excuse for a man showed his true arrogance when he tried to put down Carole in a belittling manner which only boomeranged back at him. All of the media are talking about his snivelling remark apparently all having groaned when he stooped to this.
I want to thank all of the mainstream media pundits, Keith Baldrey, Vaughn Palmer, Jim Beatty and Mike Smyth for honestly admitting that the winner of this match was Carole James - THAT speaks volumes!
I truly believe this election has little to do with party labels and everything to do with restoring honesty to government due process and caring for the the people of British Columbians.
We deserve and are starved for nothing less.Congratulations to Carole James - you are someone we can all be proud of.
on tv !!!
Just the fact that campbell avoided the question set people talking.
Good woman, Mary!
Leaders Debate: The verdict? A knockout victory for Carole James
"She was the clear winner."
- Michael Smyth, CKNW Radio after the debate
"NDP's Carole James delivers a spellbinding performance in leaders' debate.
"It wasn't a fair fight. NDP Leader Carole James showed up at the televised debate prepared, rehearsed, and camera-ready.
"Premier Gordon Campbell, on the other hand, looked stiff, uncomfortable, and evasive a lot of the time. And Green Leader Jane Sterk, while well-briefed on the facts and on policies, sometimes stumbled in her delivery.
"The verdict? A knockout victory for the NDP's Carole James."
- Editor Charlie Smith, Georgia Straight
"I'd give better marks to James than to anybody else."
"She was more focused...I thought the thing she did where she threw questions to the Premier, questions he didn't answer...I thought that was effective.
"Sometimes he answered her questions; sometimes he did that rambling thing that he's known for.
"It was like Question Period...James asking questions and Campbell ducking and not answering."
- Columnist Vaughn Palmer on Global TV after the debate.
"[Carole James] seemed more in control of the agenda than the other leaders ...
Gordon Campbell really did not answer a lot of the questions."
- Keith Baldrey on Global TV after the debate.
"Carole James a clear winner, Gordon Campbell on defensive, chippy at times."
"NDP Leader Carole James was aggressive and effective in going after Premier Gordon Campbell's failings, clearly the overall winner."
- 24 Hours Columnist Bill Tieleman, on his live blog.
"It is fair to note the Carole James was consistently on the attack. She attacked Premier Campbell on seniors care, on the minimum wage, on BC Rail, she came pointing questions to him. She had short sharp pointed questions to the Premier...
"There was one point though where there was a noticeable groan in the media room, Carole James asked the Premier a question and the Premier turned to James and said I know this is a big job and it's tough to get a handle on it. It came across to us as being patronizing."
- Reporter Jim Beatty, CTV News
"Campbell ignored two attempts by James to raise the issue of the 2003 sale of BC Rail operations....
"When James asked if there was anything Campbell would have done differently on the railway deal, he replied by criticizing her proposal to raise the minimum wage to $10 an hour, repeating a favourite line that James lacks business experience."
- Reporter Tom Fletcher, BC Local News
"James responded with an attack that has played a prominent part in her campaign, arguing that the province's rural, forestry-dependent communities have been "abandoned" by the current Liberal government."
- CBC News
"James repeatedly ended her turn at the microphone with questions for Campbell.
"Some he answered. Others - like the influence peddling controversy around the sale of BC Rail - he didn't."
- Canadian Press
From Public Eye Online live blog:
Tom Hawthorn, Globe and Mail: "In seeing the news clips, I think Campbell would have been better served studying how Obama and, in particular, Edwards, handled debates with Hillary Clinton. The snark does not come off well."
Sean Holman, radio and print journalist: "Attention Campbell: voting against the budget doesn't mean the NDP disagrees every aspect of it."
Andrea Reimer, Vision city councilor: "What's the point of having new university seats if people can't afford them. That's a pretty good line - simple but it really does drive home the point."
Eleanor Gregory: "What a hostile, nasty response from Campbell and change of subject in response to James' question on BC Rail."Sean Holman: "Campbell completely ignores the BC Rail question!"
Eleanor Gregory, former NPA school trustee: "James did the best by a long shot given the limitations of the format."
Hello to Anonymous 10:21,
What a help it would be if you told us the facts which, you must admit, are hard to come by. Certainly, nobody at TLR wants to get things wrong.
You, in fact, are in error. You quote: She was with him in Hawaii at the time of his arrest for drunk driving, I am told. And that's true. That is exactly what I was told.
So it would be nice if you'd help us get things right. Thanks for the start (Arizona). Here's a thought: do you feel that it's OK for a Deputy Chief of Staff to be almost completely unknown to the people who pay her salary? (her hefty salary, I might add).
The secrecy is a bit of a sore point with most of us. Are you British Columbian?
I hope you'll drop in here again. And if you don't insult me, I won't insult you. OK?