How a woodsplitter became the new standard for entitlement & corruption in BC politics

entitled

UK  /ɪnˈtaɪ.təld/ US  /ɪnˈtaɪ.t̬əld/

feeling that you have the right to do or have what you want without having to work for it or deserve it, just because of who you are

corruption 

cor·​rup·​tion | \ kə-ˈrəp-shən  \

Definition of corruption

1a: dishonest or illegal behavior especially by powerful people (such as government officials or police officers) : DEPRAVITY

 

b: inducement to wrong by improper or unlawful means (such as bribery)the corruption of government officials

Having had a good read of the Plecas report last night, followed by a good sleep if not a short one, thinking of everything going on in BC politics, I think its time to talk about a few things on my mind.

First, I want to talk about why I posted the quote at the top of this post. It’s incredibly relevant to BC politics and how critics of the past and current government are treated. You’ve got to develop a thick skin as a blogger, and an even thicker one as a columnist,I discovered back before I quit writing my weekly column. I’m pretty certain people like Norm Farrell, Dermod Travis and independent journalist Bob Mackin will agree, because often the immediate fallback of government and government boosters is to deny, deflect and then discredit. 

“He or she has a political agenda” ” blah blah, conspiracy theorist” ” Out of control” and even worse: “He or she is just crazy..” …followed by private dm’s or whispered comments about mental health, drinking or as one person recently commented here on a prior corruption blog post, caught up in conspiracy theories due to excessive pot smoking…(seriously??)  ( Also, that’s not to say there aren’t people out there like that, however it’s generally not difficult to differentiate between them)

I’ve experienced it. I’ve seen it happen to other writers and journo’s, publicly on social media and privately. And along with the corruption that we so clearly know is occuring in this province now, it is not limited to any one party or their time in government, it transcends them. It’s most commonly used as a strategy to silence or discredit whistleblowers of any kind. 

We also saw this happen with Plecas and Mullen, who were attacked voraciously by every single BC Liberal booster along with BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson and his fellow Liberal mla’s.  Regardless of what anyone thinks of Plecas or Mullen as individuals, it is truthful to say there was a deliberate attempt to discredit both men, by people inside and outside the legislature…..

And looking back at their behavior now, we know why they tried so hard to discredit them and push for his resignation. Shameful. 

How many men and women have been labelled crazy just because they got too close to figuring out someone elses bullshit? Whistleblowers, potential whistleblowers, employees put into untenable and unconscionable situations by those acting in unethical, and at times illegal manners. ( This is why BC needs strong whistleblower legislation)

This needs to stop.  

It won’t of course, but right now all those in opposition AND in media who attacked Plecas and Mullen are looking like fools. You have the right to remain silent Andrew Wilkinson… and sometimes you should. https://www.straight.com/news/1191201/bc-liberal-leader-andrew-wilkinson-looks-foolish-wake-legislature-spending-scandal

Now, onto the next issue I want to talk about, which is how the hell did all this get through the allegedly improved processes in the legislature?

Seeing a lack of context and surprise among many last year when this story first broke, I compiled a bit of history on the dreadful legislative accounting practices for those not aware of how badly they were handled in the past… and how long it took for anyone to do anything about it:





Let’s go back to the past to understand a bit more about how our Legislative Assemblys financial affairs have been handled for years… and how BC mla’s ignored warnings for years that conditions for … gasp.. fraud and theft were ripe in our most respected institution, before finally acting to fix things. 
In 2012, Craig James made the news for his lavish expenses, that Dermod Travis of Integrity BC discovered via FOI: 
http://www.vancouversun.com/news/forhttp://www.vancouversun.com/news/former+chief+electoral+officer+Craig+James+under+fire+travel+expenses/7158330/story.htmlmer+chief+electoral+officer+Craig+James+under+fire+travel+expenses/7158330/story.html
It was following that debacle that it was revealed by a scathing 2012 Auditor Generals audit, that legislative affairs were a mess. Lack of bank reconciliations. No receipts. Expenses from one year classed into another. The full details are here: https://lailayuile.com/2012/07/27/politics-without-principle-makes-hypocrisy-a-governing-force-in-the-legislative-assembly/
And ironically,  this wasn’t a new thing – the Auditor Generals office had
recommended way back in 2007, that the Legislature provide  publicly available audited financial reports, and improve internal controls to prevent fraud and misappropriation of public funds…. and it never happened. For 5 years after that, BC MLA’s did nothing to fix their own financial affairs. So, one would think the 2012 stories would have created change, yes?
No.Two years later, in 2014, news broke that then speaker Linda Reid’s expenses were a bit like Imelda Marcos: Lavish expensed trips, excessive legislative spending.. you get the gist. And it wasn’t just Linda Reid…Raj Chouhan expensed a lavish trip as well, which he paid back. Full details on that,here: https://lailayuile.com/2014/03/26/politics-without-principle-2-0-just-because-you-candoesnt-mean-you-should/
Finally, following more than a decade of amateurish accounting practices, the BC Legislature and MLA’s within it had been embarrassed enough to move towards proper accounting practices and transparency, and published their first expense reports in 2015: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Legislature+releases+detailed+expenses/10926667/story.html
It’s now 2018 and the most recent LAMC Accountability report is available online to show you how and where the legislature spends its money and keeps track of it. Seems timely to show you: https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/CommitteeDocuments/41st-parliament/LAMC/LAMC_AccountabilityReport_2016-17.pdf
I can’t determine what safeguards they have in place now to prevent misappropriation of funds, but it’s clear that little attention has been paid to this in the past. 

Clearly it was a gong show under the BC Liberals and it took repeated instances of public embarrassment for elected officials to even bother and try to remedy it ( detailed in the link I posted just above) …and it still wasn’t enough as we can see now. I thought Linda Reids expenses were outrageous and her desire for fresh muffins for the legislature, out of touch and entitled, however the spending by Craig James has a Cardi B kinda bling-bling lux to it. Watches, suits, liquor, limos and WTF, I will never forget the wood splitter: https://globalnews.ca/news/4873270/darryl-plecas-standout-expenses-craig-james-gary-lenz/ ( May I suggest renting it out to BC residents for free, since we helped pay for that?)

There are many, many more questions the Plecas report raises, questions that must be answered about allegations like this:

” He said if they took issue with my expenses, he could put an end to it because he had ” so much dirt on the Liberals,” and that he could threaten to ” stop paying their legal bills” or ” quit paying their severance payments”

And there is much more, but it is safe to say this is a blight and embarrassment for oversight in the legislature. There is much more to dig into because the report ( pages 36 and 37 ) also mentions trips to the mainland to meet with Geoff Plant, Christy Clark and others, which is a good time to bring up this older piece by Norm Farrell: https://in-sights.ca/2011/08/28/lifetime-appointment-starting-at-250000-a-fine-reward/

It’s not likely to be something many will be familiar with, nor is it likely to be covered in depth in any major media, but it does give history and context to his position specifically that adds another layer to this entire debacle.

As much as this report details what I see as horrific abuse of public funds, sadly it is the system that exists that allows this to occur, that needs to be desperately and completely overhauled. It is my belief that it’s still far too lax and very little oversight is paid, in general, as evidenced by this story from November of last year in which Michelle Stillwell expressed outrage: https://globalnews.ca/news/4641969/bc-ndp-mla-mable-elmore-claims-per-diem-homelessness-challenge/

(I can’t help but wonder two things: one, that digging through ndp expenses was a deliberate attempt to deflect from James and Lenz…and two, f she was so outraged over those expenses, why is she so quiet now?)


Plecas said he hopes every British Columbian reads this report.

So do I. And I hope it bolsters the call for a full public inquiry into corruption in BC, which is now clearly not just left in the realm of casinos. I’m not so certain it’s been elected officials running BC ..as much as bureaucrats have been running them.

You can read the Plecas report here: https://www.leg.bc.ca/content/CommitteeDocuments/41st-parliament/LAMC/2019-01-21/2019-01-21_SpeakersReport.pdf

***this is tonight, experts contradict Eby and say no reason not to hold a public inquiry right now.

https://globalnews.ca/news/4780016/bc-public-inquiry-money-laundering/amp/?__twitter_impression=true

Justice is lost when leaders refuse to stand up for what’s right.

Source: Integrity BC

94 comments,502 Facebook shares and thousands of visitors to the last blog post show that the interest in a public inquiry is there: https://lailayuile.com/2019/01/05/the-enemy-is-corruption-period/

The comments alone hit home with some highly knowledgeable and savvy readers sharing their relevent knowledge. There is a strong desire among many in law enforcement and justice to see this kind of inquiry that will firmly shine a light on the depth of corruption in BC…and not just in casinos.

So where are we now? Eby is once again disturbed to find out that the extent of money laundering is far higher than the German report estimated. What is he going to do about it, aside from being disturbed? Your guess is as good as mine.

I’ve got to say, I don’t put much stock into the German report for two reasons…and this is one: https://www.google.ca/amp/s/globalnews.ca/news/4391856/exclusive-peter-german-denies-conflict-in-b-c-casino-probe-despite-sitting-on-board-with-casino-executive/amp/

And this is the other: https://www.google.ca/amp/s/globalnews.ca/news/4508431/exclusive-b-c-casino-review-contractor-previously-consulted-for-river-rock-casino/amp/

Critics have repeatedly pointed out that these two points alone mean the entire report was compromised and that the report may have minimized the role certain parties played in money laundering.

Certainly the report *and* German-who is an expert – vastly underestimated the amount of money being laundered…was anything else underestimated? And why was it underestimated? https://www.ctvnews.ca/mobile/canada/b-c-minister-fears-money-laundering-involves-billions-of-dollars-cites-reports-1.4258951

Eby and the BC government now appear to have been left completely out of the loop by the RCMP, and complicating things even more is the BC Liberals refusal to share their documentation on money laundering with Eby in a confidential manner. https://globalnews.ca/news/4447653/bc-liberals-wont-waive-cabinet-confidentiality-on-documents-related-to-money-laundering/

( This is where I should remind you of the investment tour presentation Mike DeJong flogged out of country during the height of the affordability crisis, and during the time when money laundering via real estate and casinos was first really becoming a hot issue again: https://lailayuile.com/2016/07/16/affordability-crisis-what-affordability-crisis-or-why-the-bc-government-stood-by-while-rome-burned/ )

There are still unanswered questions surrounding Rich Coleman and his disbanding of the gaming enforcement team I dissected here. The video is a *must watch*. Why did he disband this team AFTER they reported organized crime had infiltrated casinos? I don’t buy his answers here nor should you. https://www.google.ca/amp/s/lailayuile.com/2018/06/27/money-and-corruption-are-ruining-the-land-2/amp/

His closeness with individuals in the gaming industry has not gone unnoticed by some either…

Sigh…..all this and so much more, and yet still all talk and no action from Horgan or Eby on a long overdue, Charbonneau style public inquiry. Why is that?

Does it have to do with the fact that after decrying Clark’s move to issue Panda and Dim Sum bonds in China as potentially fueling the real estate frenzy here in BC, the new ndp government quickly got over those concerns and reissued a new round of bonds, in mainland China?

https://www.google.ca/amp/s/globalnews.ca/news/3868066/b-c-ndp-government-comes-around-to-controversial-panda-bonds/amp/

A bit more here from the China Daily :

This three-year Panda Bond, which matures in November 2020, is priced at a coupon rate of 4.8 percent. Bank of China and HSBC Holdings Ltd are the two joint-lead underwriters of the offering.

The bond has been almost twice-oversubscribed by both domestic and foreign investors, indicating market confidence in the province’s economy and the further internationalization of China’s bond market, the world’s third-largest, Jim Hopkins, assistant deputy minister of the British Columbia Provincial Treasury, Ministry of Finance in Canada, said on Thursday in Beijing.

Raising capital in the Chinese market helps to strengthen our international trade and financial profile,” said British Columbia Finance Minister Carole James.

Well ok then Carole. But I suspect it’s a now a big reason complicating why the current government won’t do anything that might rock that lucrative cash cow bond boat coming due November 2020…and a public inquiry will absolutely look at the flow of $$$ and drugs from China. I don’t think it’s the only reason but I do think it’s a influencing factor. I’ve been calling for a charbonneau type inquiry since 2010, and there was no help to be found in any elected politician. I seriously think they don’t want to start digging because of where it might lead and what it reveals.

So, we’ve gone full circle and once again let’s ask you…what’s scarier? The clear and overwhelming need for a corruption inquiry in BC…or the number of politicians who are so scared to call one?

Here is a link to find and call your mla. They log and document your calls. Please take a few minutes of your day and call to register your demand for a public inquiry. You cannot possibly endorse any other remedy, or this lawlessness will prevail.

https://www.leg.bc.ca/content-committees/Pages/MLA-Contact-Information.aspx

The ‘enemy’ IS corruption. Period.* update below main blog

2019 came in like a lamb in comparison to the way it left, following the great storm of 2018…and recent storms have left most of us sodden if not downright flooded.

It’s not the stormy weather that brings me here though, even as I watch the dark day outside get darker. It’s a comment I saw online recently calling any Green party supporter the enemy. It was all in regards to the Nanaimo election, but it kind of shed a bit of light as to how extreme the rhetoric still is….and how misguided.

The ‘enemy’ is not limited to a political party…the ‘enemy’ of the people is corruption.

Period.

And that ‘enemy’ did not disappear just because the Liberals are in opposition. Why?

Because corruption doesn’t begin or end with a political party. The kind of corruption we have in BC-like Quebec- relies on a large and insidious network of people who make it possible. For all this money laundering and drug activity to occur at the level demonstrated by the likes of Sam Cooper, Sean Holman and others like Dermod Travis, people in high positions of influence had to be involved or informed. It could not occur without staff paid off to open doors, exchange goods or cash and turn a blind eye. It’s simply ludicrous to think that one or two or even a half dozen prosecutions would stop it or even make a dent. ( I remind you now of two recent cases that ended with charges stayed)

For every fall guy who takes a rap, there are an endless supply to take his place. This is a lucrative underground industry. And oddly enough in the midst of all these casino money laundering stories, the province expanded gaming with the BCLC approval of a new casino in Ladner…go figure, it’s another Gateway operation.

This is why I can’t fathom Horgans hesitance to call a public inquiry, as detailed in this excellent piece below.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.thestar.com/amp/vancouver/2019/01/03/bc-premier-wont-rule-out-money-laundering-inquiry-but-prefers-prosecutions.html

And as has been pointed out here for nearly a decade, there is ample reason to expand an inquiry to the public sector and government. BC Lottery Corporation is a government institution. Gaming revenue in the province has been tainted by dirty blood money. A portion of gaming revenue goes to community and non profit grants. Nothing is left untouched by this…nothing.

Horgan is dead wrong about what the public wants. I believe every single family touched by the seemingly unstoppable flow of drugs and cash into BC wants one. I believe everyone who believes in justice wants one. And it will be the only way to get all the answers as to how and why it has been allowed to flourish.

To accept anything less than a full Charbonneau style inquiry in BC, is to become complicit in the very corruption we need to stamp out. In fact you might as well send out written invitations to every other crime syndicate….because that’s the message it sends

** a comment from Tyr in the discussion below hits exactly what I was trying to convey here, but in a far more concise manner. Adding it here so it does not get lost.

” You have replaced the driver of the bus with another driver. The direction of the bus and the stops it still doesn’t make, are the same.

Valid points of corruption are lost in the din of chastising a specific party and calling it out for actions that continue with the new regime. By the same yardstick, those valid points are lost when party affiliation is stronger than common sense.

The best route is to expose the facets of the system that foster corruption, greed, nepotism, and chicanery, and demand that they be changed. Some blame the police, some blame the govt, some blame the laws when in fact they are all intertwined and dependent on each other. The police may not be corrupt, however starving them of funds and resources to investigate what should be investigated results in the same issue, non investigation/prosecution.

Reducing corruption to political threads and bickering is in fact feeding the corruption by not exposing the problems and demanding action. In the past in some countries, major inquiries have changed processes for the better. There is however a few caveats that must be adhered to. You have to have a completely independent staffing of such an inquiry. It must be free of ethical paucity and mental infirmity. The inquiry must have the power to subpoena witnesses, documents, and evidence. It must have the power to find contempt. It must have the legislated power to enact regulations.

Time for the public to focus.”

To friends far and near…Merry Christmas ❤

It has been a crazy onset to winter with that epic storm, and I hope all of you are safe and warm if you dont have power.

It does feel like a family here…we may not be bonded by blood, but we are bonded by a common bond. Over the years, you found me or perhaps I found you because we shared either a distaste for corruption and bad governance… or a desire to simply do what’s right…not just what is desired by left or right.

I do miss the good people this all brought to my life. You know who you are 😉

Tonight isn’t about politics though. It’s about wishing you the best, now and through this season that is often hard for many. My email is always open via my contact page. 🙂

Merry Christmas my friends. 💜 Be kind. Love freely. Be present in every moment 🙂