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    Scandal—How Deep Does it Go?

    Gordon Campbell, Paul Martin and Political Corruption

    Robin Mathews

    Page 1 cartoonAs both provincial and federal elections draw closer, political scandals are whirling around Gordon Campbell and B.C. Liberal cabinet members, Paul Martin and the Liberal Party itself.

    When the RCMP raided the legislature in January, and suspicions of faked party memberships, drug money and back room payoffs began to abound, it was something even the corporate media couldn’t ignore. Then when tie-ins between Campbell’s BC Liberals and Martin’s federal Liberals, which were supposedly two separate groups, around sponsorships and fund-raising were revealed, many people began to ask how deep does it go. How far and how many people are doing these things?

    Basic research raises the possibilities that the rot is deep and ugly. It suggests devious tampering with the very fundamentals of B.C. and Canadian democratic society. It extends to the RCMP and to the Prime Minister’s office in Ottawa. Regrettably, it calls into question the independence of many of B.C.’s senior judiciary.

    It involves the firing and/or removal of Canadian services in B.C. hospitals and care homes and their replacement by cutthroat U.S. operations. It involves the complete dismissal of the entire 2001 Liberal election platform and the privatization process of our public services, including the B.C. Ferry Corporation.

    Let’s start with BC Ferries. Private researchers have revealed at B.C. Ferries that U.S. citizen, CEO David Hahn’s checkered background, and his (continuously paid) move from a bankrupt U.S. corporation to be put in charge of our ferry system.

    The appointment of Martin Crilly as Commissioner of the newly privatized Ferry Services structure is a lower order of scandal in the “deep-sleaze” category. Crilly is guaranteed (by legislation) the job for at least six years, perhaps a way of guaranteeing his blind loyalty. He is being paid at the rate of $675.00 per day, plus expenses, plus large sums for unnamed “consultants.”
    Crilly’s ingenuousness is breathtaking. On one hand, the Commission website says its goal is “to balance consumer protection” with other needs, and that the Commissioner has “a mandate to widen travel choices for users and to improve quality of services.”

    Yet, the portions of the Act (Bill 18) concerning the Commission do not anywhere mention consumer protection or improvement to the quality of services. In 54 Sections with innumerable sub-sections “quality of services” is mentioned once (Section 66 (a) ii). A ferry operator must, it says, “report, if asked” about any records it has respecting quality of services. Whatever the motivation for them, the statements quoted from the Commission site are blatantly misleading.

    Ironically, Crilly’s Commission Home Page also states clearly the Commission is NOT concerned with quality of services, referring readers with grievances to the B.C. Ferries operations management. So exactly what does the Commissioner do for $675 per day?

    Next we have the greatly troubled and damaged Ministry of Children and Family Services.

    Sean Holman, editor of a small newsmagazine, Public Eye, researched and revealed that Gordon Campbell’s relation and friend, Doug Walls, had been accused of fraud by CIBC and then, somehow received a high appointment in the Ministry of Children and Families despite the CIBC information being sent there.

    Holman also revealed a firm involving Walls was quietly forgiven a $400,000.00 debt by the Children and Families Ministry. That brought about the resignation of the Minister, Gordon Hogg, and the removal of Chris Haynes, his deputy minister – also said to be close to Walls.

    Now for the fun part: suspected laundered money and “bulk” memberships. Here the trail of sleaze becomes astonishing.

    We know the RCMP raided offices of two senior B.C. cabinet ministers (Finance and Transportation) on Dec. 28, 2003, in relation to the drug trade and money laundering, muttering about “the insidious rise of organized crime and its pernicious reach inside government.”

    We know Victoria constable Ravinder Singh Dosanjh had been suspended on Dec. 15, that one of the most senior aides to cabinet, David Basi (Finance) was fired and another aide, Bob Virk (Transportation) suspended after the raids. We know the search warrants have been fought over and sealed by Justice Patrick Dohm, who also presided over the Clark trial.
    We know that, at this point, the apparently simple matter implodes, because David Basi, and many more, are alleged to have been involved in “bulk membership” gathering in the Indo-Canadian community to assure chosen Liberal candidate success.

    TV commentator Norman Spector refers to “membership lists that include dead dogs – and people who can’t speak English, haven’t paid for their membership, and don’t know they’re members of the party.”

    But wait. Wasn’t Natural Resources (federal) Minister Herb Dhaliwal set up to be dumped by Paul Martin? Bill Cunningham, president of the federal Liberal party on the West Coast, confirmed that “there’s probably some validity to assertions of other Liberals that the takeover by Martin supporters of former minister Herb Dhaliwal’s…riding association wouldn’t have happened without Basi’s involvement.”

    A former Liberal executive officer added, in the December 29 Sun, that “They wouldn’t have had Herb Dhaliwal taken out without the Basi Boys.”

    The same tactics have been used against Sheila Copps in Hamilton who has filed a request for investigation with the Chief Electoral Officer over “bulk membership” activities.

    The purchase of bulk memberships obviously violates fair ideas about democratic process and has been heavily engaged in by the Liberal Party in B.C. and, apparently, elsewhere.

    It is also a crime. Elections Canada has warned that those who engage in “’bulk” purchase of party memberships could face fines and jail terms of up to five years.” That places the likes of David Basi in peril. It places Paul Martin, Martin henchmen, Gordon Campbell and at least some of his cabinet ministers in peril as well.

    Gordon Campbell is a Liberal leader with cabinet aides strongly alleged to have had involvement with bulk membership activity. But is that all? It is not. Questions arise about a drug and money laundering investigation moving into Liberal legislature offices.

    Norman Spector and Gordon Gibson (not Left radicals) both make the connection. The kind of organization employed by the Martin forces “requires minions and millions. Even if rumours of drug money prove false,” Spector said in January 30 Sun, “$12 million is an awful lot to raise for a leadership campaign.”

    Spector’s implication, plainly, is that drug money cannot only buy barrels of fake memberships but it can be ‘laundered’ in the process. Gordon Gibson, in the January 22 edition of the National Post, continues: “Cash doesn’t attract [a] tax advantage, but has the great virtue of anonymity.”

    Robin Mathews is an author/poet, professor, and formerly a founder of the first National Party of Canada, an active member and cultural critic for the Waffle movement in the NDP, and a founder of the Great Canadian Theatre Company in Ottawa.

    Look for Part 2 on the Liberal Scandals in the next Columbia Journal.

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