Confidential RCMP report reveals chilling details…and puts even more focus on Rich Colemans decision to disband the IIGET

“A businessman “connected to Asian organized crime” was allowed by a British Columbia government employee to buy part of a B.C. Lottery Corp. casino, according to a confidential RCMP report obtained by Global News.

And the government employee was later hired in a B.C. casino.

The explosive accusation is just one example of organized crime’s alleged infiltration and corruption of B.C. government casinos, according to a January 2009 RCMP anti-illegal gaming unit report.

The report also contained jarring allegations of victimization, including that women with gambling debts in Asia were being trafficked to B.C. and forced into sex work, and that children in B.C. had been thrown in the trunk of a car and warned at gun-point that their father owed $300,000.

The report argued the RCMP anti-illegal gaming unit (IIGET) should target the drug cartels using B.C. Lottery Corp. casinos in combination with illegal casinos, to launder money…”

This is just another chilling and disturbing revelation revealed by Sam Cooper today, in his new article you must read here : https://globalnews.ca/news/6403415/organized-crime-bc-casinos-rcmp-report/?utm_medium=Twitter&utm_source=%40globalnews

And once again, it raises compelling questions as to why so many aspects of how and why organized crime not only expanded but flourished in British Columbia, leads back to Rich Coleman and his decision to shut down the Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team while the BC Liberals were in government.

Its a decision I’ve revisited here on the site quite a few times, in The Coleman Files, particularly through a series of video interviews undertaken by former independent investigative reporter Sean Holman. I suspect Sean Holman’s work may very well become evidence at some point, which is why its very important to keep this information in the public realm. And it’s only part of the reason why current BC Liberals have very little credibility on this and most other issues they try to sound morally superior on.

This all happened under their leadership. It was fostered and perpetuated by a willful blindness and negligence while revenues from gaming filled the government treasury.The sad truth and result is that organized crime and dirty blood money has paid for a lot of things in this province, since part of lottery revenues is handed out in community gaming grants specifically created to offset the harm done through gambling.

There are so many posts here about Rich Colemans activities while a sitting minister in government, but here are the most relevant:

I’m thankful for Sam Cooper and his persistence with this story. Its because of him that so much of these details are coming to light, and this report clearly indicates widespread corruption in government bodies and agencies. It’s why I was and still am concerned about the limited scope of the inquiry, because corruption doesn’t begin and end when political parties change power seats in the legislature. It’s rooted in the regulatory and oversight branches, it exists in places and positions that don’t usually change when governments do. And its the system that allowed all this to happen in the first place, so its my hope that if greater evidence is brought forth, the inquiry will be expanded.

Before I go, something else caught my eye today in Ontario that gave me shivers.

In the context of the stories above with Coleman’s disbanding of the IIGET, it makes me wonder why the RCMP is shutting down its financial crimes unit in Ontario, when a former top mountie says its a big mistake….

Despite multiple recent reports that identified Toronto’s vulnerability to money laundering, the RCMP has decided to disband its Ontario financial crimes unit, the Star has learned.

Announced internally on December 10 in a series of meetings held in detachments across the province, the decision will see 129 officers and eight civilian staff re-assigned to other units, including organized crime, anti-terrorism and drugs, according to an internal email obtained by the Star.

Breaking up a stand-alone unit devoted to investigating complex and difficult cases has financial crime experts worrying that fraud and money laundering activity will increase.

“It just won’t work,” said Garry Clement, former director of the RCMP proceeds of crime unit. “The RCMP, in my view, has sort of lost sight of the fact that taking on financial crime requires a very high degree of expertise.”

Sigh. Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?  Good luck with that Ontario. I wonder if Rich Coleman advised on that decision…

Anyways, go read Sams amazing story linked to in the beginning. And he has an excellent tweet thread here if you need the coles notes while you are at work.

https://twitter.com/scoopercooper/status/1217454353453404160

 

A must read from Ben Parfitt on the risk fracking quakes post on Peace River dams…particularly the one with foundation issues

There doesn’t seem to be much peace for the Peace these days….

Residents are still left with safety concerns following the big slide that hit just a short distance down from Site C in 2018…. https://thenarwhal.ca/its-not-right-residents-left-with-safety-concerns-following-2018-landslide-near-site-c-dam/

The gas industry expansion is well underway as the current government tries to greenwash it just like the old one did… https://vancouversun.com/opinion/op-ed/ben-parfitt-site-c-dam-to-electrify-lng-industry-is-far-from-clean

And thanks to a freedom of information request Ben Parfitt pursued for some time, we now know that one of the Peace River dams has a compromised foundation – a sizable fracking caused earthquake  in that area could result in a series of events leading to failure. Not only that, BC Hydro and the government have been aware of this danger,  and the impact fracking quakes could have on all dams,and did not reveal it in the hearings for Site C.

These alarming findings and more, are detailed in a two part series called Fracked Up.

You can read part 1 of the report here: https://www.policynote.ca/frack-up/

You can read part 2 of the report here: https://www.policynote.ca/the-well-from-hell/

You can see the timeline of events, here: https://www.policynote.ca/timeline-fracking/

Excerpts:

BC Hydro has known for well over a decade that its Peace Canyon dam is built on weak, unstable rock and that an earthquake triggered by a nearby natural gas industry fracking or disposal well operation could cause the dam to fail.

Yet for years, knowledge of the dam’s compromised foundation was not shared widely within the Crown corporation. It was even kept secret from members of a joint federal/provincial panel that reviewed the Site C dam, now under construction 70 kilometres downstream of Peace Canyon in the Montney Basin—one of the most active natural gas fracking zones in British Columbia.

The disturbing revelation is among many contained in hundreds of emails, letters, memos and meeting notes released by the publicly-owned hydro utility in response to a freedom-of-information (FOI) request by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, BC office.

The documents show that BC Hydro officials knew from the moment the Peace Canyon dam was built in the 1970s that it had “foundational problems,” and that if an earthquake damaged the structure’s vital drainage systems it could be a race to stabilize the dam before it failed.

The documents also show that BC Hydro’s concerns about threats to the dam were discussed “at the highest level” within the provincial government ten years ago, but that unidentified provincial Cabinet ministers at that time rejected taking any action.

Does this really surprise anyone, knowing what we know about how the last government operated? No. Let’s continue.

It is unclear who the ministers were. But BC’s energy minister at the time was Blair Lekstrom, and Lekstrom had responsibility for both BC Hydro and the Oil and Gas Commission, which regulates the oil and gas industry in the province. Barry Penner, meanwhile, was environment minister and had responsibility for dam safety.

Unfortunately, Rigbey told Gilliss, the ministerial meeting did not go BC Hydro’s way. The report-back was that unless BC Hydro could definitively show “a smoking gun” that linked a specific fracking operation to a specific earthquake detected at a specific dam location, a ban on fracking operations nearby BC Hydro’s Peace River dams was “a dead issue.”

Rigbey told Gilliss that all that could be done for the time being was to keep Davidson’s office informed and, through Davidson, presumably Penner.

But Gilliss was not to be dissuaded and kept up his email alerts.

On February 18, 2011 he warned that it wasn’t just the Peace Canyon dam that was at risk from fracking operations. The WAC Bennett dam, where two sinkholes were discovered at the crest of the 183-metre high structure in 1996, necessitated a rapid drawdown of the reservoir and hasty repairs.

“The Montney formation shale, which is being developed by these companies, may extend below the WAC Bennett Dam. This is concerning because the seismic stability of the dam may be questionable given the possibility of internal erosion of the core and transition (I have already added a Dam Safety issue in our Database on this subject),” Gilliss wrote.

On August 28, 2012, Gilliss wrote again with further concerns about the WAC Bennett dam. This time it was to report about a “strange oscillation event” or sudden, unexplained change in the water levels at Williston reservoir—the massive body of water impounded by the dam.

The event had occurred the month before, Gilliss said, and was considered so perplexing that BC Hydro officials flew over the entire reservoir the next day looking for an explanation.

The suspicion was that a massive amount of soil and rock had sloughed into the reservoir—a possibility, given the notoriously slide-prone banks of the reservoir. But no sign of a big landslide was found.

With no means of checking for underwater slides, Gilliss and others began to contemplate the unthinkable—“that a frack opened up a fissure in the reservoir, and there was a release of gas, that could have displaced the water and caused the oscillation.”

This is where I point out that Site C is built on the same kind of unstable shale material, along even more unstable slopes. BC was given a demonstration of that instability when the slide happened just downstream from site c along the same bank as the infamous North Slope I’ve documented here in many aerial photos. I covered that slide and what was going on above it here, (where I also mention the concerns over fracking quakes and site c), and here.  But lets move onto another excerpt.

As work continues at Site C, more earthquakes close by the construction site and the Peace Canyon dam upstream are almost a certainty. What is far from certain and completely unpredictable is how strong those future earthquakes might be.

On November 29, 2018, hundreds of workers at Site C were ordered to down tools and immediately evacuate the area after a “strong jolt” was felt.

As three scientists noted in a report submitted in February 2019 to Michelle Mungall, BC’s Minister of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources, no one can predict how large an earthquake may one day be triggered by a fracking or disposal well operation. That is just one of the many big “unknowns” and “uncertainties” flagged in the report’s 232 pages.

What is certain is that parts of the South Montney basin, including the area where November 2018’s big shake occurred, are extremely susceptible to “induced” earthquakes.

According to a report submitted in June 2019 to the Oil and Gas Commission by two independent geological experts, the “Kiskatinaw Seismic Monitoring and Mitigation Area,” which lies just south of the Peace River is riddled with fractures and faults, some of which are close to Site C. Given all of those naturally occurring faults and fractures, continued approval of fracking operations involves known risks with unknown consequences.

~SNIP~

Less than one month after the ground shook with force at Site C in November 2018, Terry Oswell a dam safety engineer at BC Hydro was on a phone call with eight Commission personnel. The subject of the call was to discuss proposed fracking activities by Crew Energy, that were scheduled to take place nearby the Site C construction project in January 2019

Details of what was discussed on the call that day are contained in a subsequent email sent by Oswell on December 11 to two BC Hydro colleagues as well as at least two other individuals whose names are redacted from the FOI record.

The email noted that the Commission had “a shake map” for the earthquake that had been triggered just two weeks earlier by CNRL and that the Commission “would share it” with BC Hydro. Oswell went on to say:

“The OGC has asked operators in the area to provide information on the type and length of faults in their areas. They said the event on Nov 29th was in the graben area [a reference to depressed area of the earth’s crust bordered by parallel faults] which may be conducive to larger events but that the . . . [area] where Crew is working may also have the same type of faulting.”

By then, BC Hydro also knew that there were numerous faults in near proximity to the Site C dam, including two parallel faults that pointed like fingers toward the dam site and that came very close to reaching it—faults that if reactivated, could have significant consequences in the event of a strong earthquake.

In the same email, Oswell recalled some of the questions Commission personnel on the call asked. The questions indicated that Commission personnel knew that a strong earthquake was at least a possibility, and that if it was strong enough, it could have significant implications for at least a portion of the workers at the Site C dam.

So, just to be clear here. It has been known forever that the Peace Canyon dam has a foundational issue and may suffer extensive damage in a fairly small magnitude quake. Its been known it needed seismic upgrades and essentially ignored, not unlike the WAC Bennett dam riprap repairs that I detailed extensively here, that were identified in 1998, and were not repaired until 2016! 

That information regarding all this was not revealed in the Joint Review Panel hearings into Site C, I’m told, and one wonders why. And this is why it matters.

The BC Liberals made LNG their hail Mary that never actually happened before Clark lost the election and her party booted her as leader. Ironically, Horgan picked up the ball and ran with it, doubling down on the subsidies being offered to offshore companies to try and entice them to make a FID in BC. And it worked. In October 2018, Canada LNG announced their final investment decision to proceed in BC.

That decision spurred an ongoing expansion of gas development in north eastern BC,including the Peace Region, which will inevitably bring more quakes, and it is anyone’s guess what size they will be or where they will occur. And without a hard exclusion zone around these dams, there is no certainty a preventable disaster won’t occur in the future.

Despite and against their own engineers documented concerns over decades, BC Hydros NDP appointed president says everything is fine, the dams are all safe and can withstand fracking earthquakes.

Even the ones built before fracking was a widespread and common occurrence in the region.(??) And while O’Riley points out there are no operations within 10km of the Peace and WAC Bennett dam, it is critical to note the quake that jolted Site C in 2018, came from an operation 20kms away and still resulted in a tools down order until everything could be inspected.

How would have a quake that size impacted the Peace Canyon dam? And how are his words any assurance to the people living downstream when the government seems blind to creating a wider exclusion zone to mitigate seismic risks?

Source for image: https://thenarwhal.ca/fracking-induced-earthquakes-buffer-zones-site-c-dam/

 

 

All eyes on Wet’suwet’en

If one believes in serendipity, one would think it was no mistake that this profound writing was first on my screen today on my early morning check ins. Today facebook memories are flooded with images and videos taken a year ago, the first time RCMP breached the peaceful Gidumt’en Checkpoint. https://unistoten.camp/arrests-at-gidumten-checkpoint-rcmp-raid-anticipated-at-unistoten-camp/

After the BCSC granted Coastal Gaslink an injunction on New Years Eve, hereditary chiefs evicted Coastal Gaslink workers from their unceded traditional territory.  

Last night, the enforcement order for the interlocutory injunction granted to Coastal Gaslink on New Years Eve, was signed. Once CGL posts it on their website the RCMP have 72 hours to mobilize their forces again.

At the heart of the matter lies the difference between how hereditary leadership and law, and the elected band leadership, are treated and acknowledged by the provincial and federal governments.

On this project, several hereditary leaders say no, but the elected band leaders have said yes and signed agreements with CGL.

Unist’ot’en has explained their governance and responsibilities here https://unistoten.camp/about/governance-structure/ 

Angela Sterritt did an excellent piece here explaining the differences and I strongly urge you to read it, as it explains clearly the challenges. https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/when-a-pipeline-wants-to-build-whose-in-charge-1.4971597

An important point is missed in most coverage that needs to be emphasized here.

While many media outlets are framing the women, men, elders and children there as ‘fringe protesters’, in fact they are not. It is their traditional unceded territory and land. They did not sign a treaty. The Unist’ot’en checkpoint has been there since 2009. There is a cabin, a healing lodge, pithouse and bunkhouse for visitors. The camp is used year-round for healing retreats, culture camps and living and they have a long record of protecting and inhabiting this land. I wrote about a first eviction in 2012 with the Pacific Trails pipeline crew.

Here is an excerpt from an easy to understand information post from just after last year’s police intrusion, that explains a bit more about why this matters – particularly now that the BC government has formally adopted UNDRIP, and the federal government has committed to repairing the relationship with Indigenous people in Canada:

How does the hereditary governance system of the Wet’suwet’en people function?

The Wet’suwet’en peoples have occupied their territory for thousands of years and have a complex and sophisticated governance system. Just as Canadian law takes years of study and learn, so too does Wet’suwet’en law.

Indigenous legal scholar John Borrows has provided the following overview, “For millennia, their histories have recorded their organization into Houses and Clans, in which hereditary chiefs have been responsible for the allocation, administration and control of their traditional lands.  Within these Houses, chiefs pass on important histories, songs, crests, lands, ranks and properties from one generation to the next. The passage of these legal, political, social and economic entitlements is witnessed through Feasts. These Feasts substantiate the territories’ relationships.  A hosting House serves food, distributes gifts, announces the House’s successors to the names of deceased chiefs, describes the territory, raises totem poles and tells the oral history of the House. Chiefs from other Houses witness the actions of the Feast and at the end of the proceedings they validate the decisions and declarations of the Host House.” [1]

All of the hereditary leaders from all of the five clans have withheld consent for new pipeline construction across Wet’suwet’en territories.

What is the formal relationship of the hereditary governance system of the Wet’suwet’en people to the elected band council system?

In a press conference yesterday, Premier John Horgan referred to the challenge of bringing together the “historic band councils” with the “emerging” hereditary systems of governance. In fact, the relationship is reversed. While the hereditary system has existed for millennia and precedes European arrival on the continent, the Band council system was introduced by the federal government in 1876 and imposed on Indigenous Nations through the Indian Act, as part of a post-Confederation assimilation policy.

As it is currently structured, each reserve community within a territory has an election for Chief and Council every few years. The elected Chief and Council under the Indian Act are primarily responsible for things that happen on reserves like water, housing, schools, infrastructure and other issues that affect membership. There are five elected band councils on Wet’suwet’en territory, four of whom have signed agreements with Coastal Gaslink. However, hereditary leaders say those agreements don’t apply to the territories off reserve.

The imposition of the Indian Act band council system over top of hereditary systems has created ongoing tensions in many communities.

The CBC’s Angela Sterritt has written an excellent piece on the differences between elected and hereditary leadership.

What is the relevance of the Delgamuukw decision in relation to the Wet’suwet’en?

Many Canadians have heard of the important 1997 Delgamuukw decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which recognized that Aboriginal title continues to exist over land and water where Indigenous nations have never signed a treaty with the Crown. The territory referred to in the court decision is Wet’suwet’en territory as well as neighboring Gitxsan territory.

The Delgamuukw case was framed around traditional hereditary leadership. Delgamuukw is a chief’s name in the Gitxsan Nation, passed down through generations, and Delgamuukw was one of dozens of plaintiffs in the case, composed of hereditary chiefs from both the Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en Nations. Together those leaders forced the Canadian courts to affirm the legitimacy of their oral histories, traditional laws and continuing governance of their lands.

Peter Grant, the lawyer for the Wet’suwet’en hereditary chiefs has stated that hereditary chiefs need to give their free, prior and informed consent in order for the pipeline to be built: “We agree the rule of law has to apply, but doesn’t that mean that when there’s recognition of the proper title holder you deal with the proper title holder?”

On January 9, Unist’ot’en Camp released a statement on the emerging situation, saying “We paved the way with the Delgamuukw court case and the time has come for Delgamuukw II. We have never had the financial resources to challenge the colonial court system, due to the enormous price tag of an Aboriginal title case. Who will stand with us to make sure this pipeline does not go through?”

What is the relevance of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples to this conflict?

The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) represents the basic principles and minimum standards that should guide states in their dealings with Indigenous peoples.[i] Canada became a full signatory (removing previous objections) to UNDRIP in 2016, and both the federal and BC provincial governments have committed to full implementation of UNDRIP. The Canadian government defines UNDRIP as a document that describes both individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples around the world.[ii]

A number of articles of UNDRIP are relevant to this conflict, in particular Article 10 which states: “Indigenous peoples shall not be forcibly removed from their lands or territories. No relocation shall take place without the free, prior and informed consent of the indigenous peoples concerned and after agreement on just and fair compensation and, where possible, with the option of return.”[iii]

 

I have great respect for the rule of law in this country. But I also know that we are now living in a time when both our provincial and federal governments have acknowledged Indigenous rights and commit to doing the work to implement UNDRIP…  and yet here we are, not acknowledging hereditary leadership and traditional law and governance that was in place long before our law was imposed.

The rule of law must now reflect the changing dynamics of UNDRIP, which has been passed in BC. Particularly in a province where our premier shares these thoughts with pride : 

“UNDRIP acknowledges the human rights of all people,” said Premier John Horgan. “UNDRIP is a recognition of Indigenous people because its their land. Land and language equal culture. It’s time we stand together and work toward mutual prosperity. We need to be sharing instead of dominating.”

By passing this bill and ultimately turning it into an act, it upholds the rights of Indigenous people to practise their culture and protocols, and honour their teachings, which includes language and ceremony. It also provides space to develop and grow their economic developments and initiatives.

During my conversation with Horgan, he explained to me that every act has a section at the beginning titled “Definitions,” where all the key words are listed along with their definitions.

In the Declaration Act, the “Definitions” section has been replaced with an “Interpretations” section. This is the first time in B.C. history this has been done.

“For this act we can only interpret it, we are sharing the information as it’s been told to us through oral traditions and storytelling,” said Horgan.

Well said Premier Horgan, but I do not understand how oral traditions, storytelling and universal rights of Indigenous peoples are acknowledged and enshrined in the governments recent bill…. yet ignored now because the hereditary chiefs who are opposed, continue to say no to this pipeline in their territory.

In this aspect, the rule of law granting this injunction is not just. It does not recognize the rights enshrined now in UNDRIP by the provincial government.

You cannot just stand and recognize this as fact in our house of government, you are obligated to do more than just ceremony.

You are obligated to do more than say that 20 elected bands and leadership have signed agreements, so therefore it is ok to ignore this one hereditary group of chiefs. It is not, at least I don’t think so. It is hypocritical and insincere.

You cannot pick and choose which nations matter and which do not. You cannot choose to acknowledge their governance and then choose to pretend it is of no consequence.

Every party elected in the legislature voted for UNDRIP. Every MLA stood to applaud it. Yet now? Silence.

According to this, the hereditary chiefs are willing to meet with the decision makers: the province, the feds and the RCMP, not Coastal Gaslink.

This IS the moment for both Horgan and Trudeau to do the hard work on Indigenous rights they have committed to do.

The world is watching.

 

* updated:What a difference a couple of months and a horrific disaster makes

Keith Baldrey October 2019: ” Nothing could be further from the truth ” that hes against the oil and gas industry. 

 

Keith Baldrey January 2,  2020, as Australia burns, he calls out ExxonMobil + oil industry for major cause of climate change contributing to extreme fires. 

 

Amazing what a couple months will do to change perspectives hey?

https://www.google.ca/amp/s/www.cbc.ca/amp/1.5198311

“I think part of the problem is that journalists are being torn by two competing values right now. The first is our job to tell the truth. We are, over and above anything else, society’s professional truth-seekers and truth-tellers. But the second value that we think is important is appearing unbiased, because if we appear unbiased then people will believe that we are telling the truth. 

I think what’s happened here is that large swaths of society, including entire political parties and governments as well as voters, don’t believe in the truth. And so by telling the truth, to those individuals we appear to be biased. 

For my own part, I think that the truth is a higher value….”

**updated 3 pm Jan 3, 2020: Keith Baldrey deletes tweet staging oil and gas industry major cause of climate change.  That bit of conscience didn’t last long...🙄

Here is a shot of a response to his tweet he retweeted (?),showing his original tweet is unavailable

And this shows his tweet is gone.

I shouldn’t be surprised he deleted it. He likely took a lot of heat from the industry, and who knows who else. But in an era with so much uncertainty, and so many disasters related to or exacerbated by climate change around the world,  what exactly does he stand for, if not this?

I leave you with another excerpt from Sean Holmans interview link above:

“…at Postmedia they’re currently trying to get work with the Alberta government to help support their energy war room. That’s the war room that is designed to essentially suppress truthful information about climate change and the impact of the oil sands. A journalist working for Postmedia might think twice about going hard on that particular issue if their own company is trying to ally itself with people who don’t believe that climate change is an important issue.

The question that we have to ask ourselves as journalists is how much do we go out of our way to cater to segments of our audience that don’t believe the truth.– Sean Holman