With today’s report from Sam Cooper, the German report continues to be undermined if not torn to shreds by the allegations of whistle-blowers from the casino industry in BC. And one big name mentioned in prior stories, has been selling stock shares in the casino company he works for… https://globalnews.ca/news/4927549/bclc-former-casino-investigators-bc-money-laundering/
For f*cks sake. This is exactly why many called foul on certain aspects of the German report. Like this: https://globalnews.ca/news/4508431/exclusive-b-c-casino-review-contractor-previously-consulted-for-river-rock-casino/
“An anti-money laundering expert hired for B.C.’s “arms-length” probe into casino money laundering was previously hired to work for Great Canadian Gaming, the company at the centre of the probe, according to documents and sources.
Documents obtained by Global News and source interviews indicate that, Jerome Malysh — a former RCMP financial crimes investigator — was hired as a consultant to complete compliance audit work for Great Canadian by Robert Kroeker, the gaming company’s former director of corporate security and compliance.
Kroeker left Great Canadian Gaming in 2015, to become B.C. Lottery Corp.’s vice-president of corporate compliance.
After September 2017 Malysh was also hired by Peter German, a former RCMP executive, to complete work for German’s March 2018 report, Dirty Money: An Independent Review of Money Laundering in Lower Mainland Casinos…..
….German cited Malysh’s previous work for B.C.’s Gaming Enforcement Branch. But there is no known mention of Malysh’s previous work for a casino company.
Some critics have raised questions about Malysh’s participation in German’s report. The critics, including current Lottery Corp. staff, wonder if German’s report “minimized” the role of River Rock staff in the acceptance of bags of suspicious cash.
Some critics are alleging that British Columbia’s independent probe of casino money laundering was compromised because reviewer Peter German sits on the board of Richmond’s Olympic Oval with the Great Canadian Gaming executive who is responsible for River Rock Casino’s troubled VIP gaming program.
But there was no conflict, German said in an exclusive interview with Global News, despite his decision not to interview Walter Soo, the man who built River Rock’s extremely profitable VIP betting business.
Asked whether German had disclosed to Attorney General David Eby, the relationship to Soo, German said there was no conflict to report.
“I’m not aware of any conflict,” German said.
Walter Soo , is the man who was in charge of ” River Rock’s ultra-lucrative VIP gambler program — which relied on private high-limit betting rooms, large cash transactions, and cultivation of wealthy Chinese patrons — was developed and run by Great Canadian executive Walter Soo. Soo is reportedly no longer working at River Rock, but is in Toronto, working to set up Great Canadian’s new gaming programs at Woodbine Casino.”
That’s why when his name came across my screen today on insider trading updates, I took note: https://www.fairfieldcurrent.com/news/2019/02/07/walter-soo-sells-5000-shares-of-great-canadian-gaming-corp-gc-stock.html
Hmm. Not huge share amounts sold by most means, but notable as we look to even more revelations with the coming feature on W5, Saturday. Does Walter routinely sell shares? Or is Walter trying to offload, little by little, so no one notices…? Does Walter Soo know something we don’t know? Gee too bad Peter German didn’t interview him… https://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/
It’s time for everyone to Stop Whitewashing the Bloodstains from BC’s Dirty Money Laundromat, and call the full Charbonneau style commission I and many others have been calling for, for years. From Sandy’s excellent piece last year: https://www.nationalobserver.com/2018/06/30/opinion/stop-whitewashing-bloodstains-bcs-dirty-money-laundromat
….Then there was Coleman’s heated attack in 2011 on RCMP Insp. Barry Baxter, referenced in the German report. In response to a news report by CBC’s Eric Rankin about a gusher of suspicious cash transactions at Metro Vancouver casinos, Baxter stated the obvious. “We’re suspicious that it’s dirty money, and anybody—the common person would say this stinks. There’s no doubt about it.” (Bonus points if you spotted the link between this quote and German’s report title).
Coleman’s response was angry, personal, and it was false.
“Yeah, I know what he said, and I don’t agree with him and neither do all the superiors of his in the RCMP,” Coleman told the CBC.
Yet not only did Baxter’s RCMP superiors agree with him, his statement was expressly pre-approved by their communications office. Moreover, Coleman was well aware of the money-laundering issue in casinos because, according to Rankin’s reporting, the RCMP had informed him of it months earlier.
Why would Coleman personally attack a senior policing expert in the media, a man who was informing the public of the likelihood of money-laundering activity in casinos? Why would he try to mislead the public about the RCMP’s expert opinion, and even what he himself knew?
Did Coleman have any role in Joe Schalk’s firing?
My post tonight was prompted by a discussion I had recently with a green enviro former backroom NDPer type who messaged me out of the blue following Malcomsons win in Nanaimo:
” An inquiry won’t save lives or solve much in my opinion,although I am not opposed to doing so, just more inclined to push government to actually do stuff while they still have power instead of sorting out someone elses mess to no particular end while wasting precious time..”
That statement caught me completely off guard then and hasn’t left me since. Why? His statement ( and I am sure he will never speak to me candidly now for sharing this, but this matters) is one I have seen expressed by others, in different words, in difference venues…and it doesn’t have to be one or the other. It must be both, because corruption costs all of us. In tax dollars fighting crime, drug smuggling and lives.
I honestly think the inner circle in the NDP, the real power brokers behind the mla’s you all elected, are sitting there trying to weigh whether the cost and time involved in a credible arms length,Charbonneau style commission will win enough votes to win a majority government or whether daycare and new walk in urgent care centres will do the job….
You might hate me for saying that, but it’s true. And I think in your heart, you know it’s the only right thing to do. So, I leave you with a few words from Sandys piece linked to above. Because I’m not ready to make nice either.
” There’s a more insidious danger when we brush off the glaring issues that German’s report exposes. Unseen forces can exert powerful influence on public officials, diverting policy and investigations to benefit unknown interests. This is the threat of public corruption. Once a public official crosses the line, they are no longer working for the public, but are using their public office to work for someone else.
Obviously there is not enough information here to draw conclusions, but the warning signs are unmistakable. Ignoring them is not an option.
Only a Charbonneau style inquiry, with subpoena powers and teeth, will restore public confidence in the integrity of the system and our government leadership. Too many governments have foundered on the gambling shoal for us to accept more platitudes from anyone.
Mr. Eby, Premier Horgan, and Mr. Wilkinson, this is a moment of truth. You must, each of you, act.
Don’t try to bury this.
The grave is too shallow, and it’s already full.
Following the release of the German report last year, I posted a video of Rich Coleman being interviewed by Sean Holman, with a dissection of what he said and how he said it. You can find that post here: https://lailayuile.com/2018/06/27/money-and-corruption-are-ruining-the-land-2
Since then, Sam Cooper has broken story after story of how completely out of control the situation is in BC casinos, with criminals having washed an estimated billion dollars plus in a completely unfettered manner. ( you can find his stories in that embedded link)
That’s why the decision to disband the IIGET still makes no sense, nor do the many explanations given by Rich Coleman then, or since. Frankly, the decision stunk more than old herring eggs washed up onto the beach do, after sitting in the sun for a few days…
In fact, his statements have most often been at odds with documents Holman obtained via FOI requests, and with statements given by others…and after going back to look I saw Sean had more Coleman videos on the same story.
Just for posterity, I wanted to bring all that info here in one post to make it easy for you to watch and read. One article or video alone takes on a far greater context when it is read and compared to the others.
Let’s start with this video posted October 2009, the fall after the decision to disband the IIGET was made.
Huh. According to Coleman, everything was awesome at BC casinos, BCLC has all eyes and ears and surveillance in casinos, sophisticated equipment most problem gaming happened at illegal gaming houses (he disputed Fred Pinnocks statements. )
We’ll get back to this all in a moment, but here is Holman with Coleman again, asking more questions following documents that contradict his statements.
So,to be perfectly clear, at different times, Coleman has stated: that the board made the recommendation to disband; that he consulted with senior members of the RCMP; that the unit was inefficient and had not achieved directives; that it was redundant with the increase in officers and funding in other units that would cross over investigations with organized crime.
Yet as Sean Holman pointed out here: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004457.html , that’s not what some RCMP were told was the reason for disbanding:
” Last month, Housing and Social Development Minister Rich Colemantold Public Eye the government-funded RCMP team wasn’t shutdown because of funding pressures. Instead, he said the team was shutdown because it hadn’t prepared a business plan and the government wasn’t “getting the results we wanted.”
But, in March, the RCMP’s criminal operations branch cited urgent “funding pressures, criminal enterprise activity and/or other operational and investigative priorities” as the reasons for that shutdown, which took place on April 1.
This, according to a message sent to officers in British Columbia and obtained via a freedom of information request.
That’s consistent with what a RCMP spokesperson earlier told Public Eye.
And it seems to support former unit commander Fred Pinnock‘s statement that illegal gaming was pushed to the backseat because of a need to focus on other enforcement priorities
In an exclusive interview, Pinnock said those priorities included criminal activities that would “keep (the RCMP) positioned to ensure the renewal” of their provincial policing contract in 2012, such as gang violence.
The following is a complete copy of the aforementioned message.
To: All Members “E” Division
From: Criminal Operations Branch
“E” DIVISION BROADCAST
Dissolution of Integrated Illegal Gaming Enforcement Team (IIGET)
Established in 2004 under the terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch (GPEB), Police Services Division (PSD) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), IIGET was created due to a growing concern about the enforcement response to illegal gaming in British Columbia and acted within the regulatory framework of the Gaming Control Act.
IIGET was dedicated primarily to preserving the integrity of legal gaming in this Province and targeted illegal gaming activity such as; illegal lotteries, common gaming houses, the distribution of illegal video lottery terminals, animal fights, bookmaking, and internet gaming.
Other activities of the IIGET included; the education of partner agencies, the gathering and recording of intelligence and reporting on the scope and extent of illegal gaming provincially.
On 2009-02-18, given exigent funding pressures, criminal enterprise activityand/or other operational and investigative priorities, a decision was made not to seek a renewal of the current MOU for the IIGET.
Please be advised that effective April 1, 2009, the IIGET is to be collapsed and will cease to exist as a unit. As IIGET will no longer be in a position to take on illegal gaming investigations, the relevant “police force of jurisdiction” will now be responsible for illegal gaming investigations.
Funding pressures….or an inefficient, redundant unit?
Lets move on again, to the infamous video
interrogation interview Holman conducted in 2010…part 1 here, followed by the second portion.
Holman does a complete write up with the above video here: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004991.html
But here’s what continues to confound us: neither of those reports recommended shuttering the team – quite the opposite. Other records obtained by Public Eye also show the RCMP and the minister’s own communications staff were offering opposing explanations for its closure – citing funding pressures and the need to focus on other policing priorities. And those explanations are more consistent with what the team’s former unit commander Fred Pinnock told us last year during an interview in which he questioned the government”s commitment to “meaningful” illegal gaming investigations.
So what was the minister’s response to that inconsistency? Well, you can see for yourself what he had to say when we spoke to him last week in his office.
But, it gets better. Here is the second part of that interview
From Holmans report: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/004995.html
Who made the controversial decision to shutdown the province’s anti-illegal gaming enforcement team? In October, Rich Coleman told reporters he did. Later, the gaming minister explained he only meant to take “responsibility for that decision” – which was actually made by the team’s consultative board. But internal documents obtained to-date by Public Eye suggest the board may have had little involvement in disbanding IIGET. Here’s why: for starters, that decision was supposedly made on February 18, 2009. But the board’s last minuted meeting happened on January 26, 2009. And those minutes don’t record any discussion about disbanding the team. Although its members did discuss “the uncertainty of future funding for IIGET.” Then, there’s the email that was sent on February 18, to the gaming policy and enforcement branch’s general manager Derek Sturko.
“Did iiget get the funding or not?,” wrote Larry Vander Graaf, executive director of the branch’s investigations and regional operations division.
“No, but we have not yet advised them,” replied Mr. Sturko, who was also a member of the consultative board.
He then went on to add the director of the ministry of public safety and solicitor general’s police services division Kevin Begg “will advise the RCMP and let me know when he’s done so. Until then, the decision is confidential.”
Then, a month later, another civil servant asked Mr. Sturko whether “the Board and OIC of IIGET” needed to be told of the team’s status.
The response: “IIGET is being discontinued. The IIGET Board knows,” later adding in a separate email, “I think they all know. Certainly Dick Bent does” – a reference to the RCMP’s deputy criminal operations officer in British Columbia.
But if the team’s board had made that decision in February, why would there be any uncertainty about its members knowing IIGET was being disbanded?
These are the questions we had for Minister Coleman when we spoke to him earlier this month in his office.
His response: “The minister doesn’t deal with everybody else’s emails. So what Derek is writing to one person or this person is writing to that one is never an issue for me…I don’t get into the minutiae of the little discussion going back and forth. And I can’t speak for those guys little minutiae of discussions. I just know for me it was, it wasn’t working, looked at the budget, got the board decision, shut it down.”
The minister later stated that while the consultative board may have recommended shutting down IIGET, he was responsible for executing that decision.
Later that summer, in August 2010, Holman posted this: http://www.publiceyeonline.com/archives/005198.html
The province’s gaming minister has said an RCMP team targeting illegal gaming was axed, in part, because it “never, ever” prepared a “business plan” – a document describing how it would be managed over the long-term. But records obtained via access to information requests show the team did prepare a pair of “business cases” arguing for its expansion in 2007 – with the more detailed of the two including a three-year budget plan. By January 2009, it had also completed the research needed to write a “five-year strategic plan,” as well as a “final business case” that would have included short and long-term objectives and performance measures for the team. Three months later, though, the provincially-funded unit’s doors were closed – with a government spokesperson later stating a business case isn’t a business plan because it only explains why a particular program is needed.
In an action plan written during the early months of 2008, Wayne Holland – the officer who was then in charge of the team – acknowledged the more detailed, 19-page business case he had prepared for his RCMP superiors was “somewhat lacking in content.”
The reason: according to the inspector, the team hadn’t yet prepared a threat assessment on the “scope and extent of illegal gaming” in British Columbia.
But once that happened, Insp. Holland promised the team would be able to paint a more comprehensive picture of the team’s future – including “timeframes for the recruitment and training of additional staff and the infrastructure required to support them.”
That threat assessment – which warned Asian and Italian organized crime figures, as well as Hells Angels, were likely involved in illegal gaming – was ready by January 29, 2009.
Three months later the team’s doors were closed with no record of any further business cases – or plans – being written.
Every single reason Coleman is on record for, has been contradicted or opposed. In documents or by statements from people like Fred Pinnock, and almost entirely by Sean Holman. In fact other than a report in the Globe and Mail by none other than Sean himself, it really doesn’t appear that the press really picked this up back then, which is a shame. ( This isn’t surprising considering how some of the older members of the press gallery recently acted, attacking Plecas prior to the release of his report)
You can access Seans archived stories on this here:http://publiceyeonline.com/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&tag=integrated%20illegal%20gaming%20enforcement%20team&limit=20
Why does all this matter?
Because as Coleman finally started getting put under the spotlight last year about this, he still pulled out all these old reasons that have been largely contradicted… https://rock101.com/news/4315391/rich-coleman-says-bc-liberals-did-everything-we-could-to-crack-down-on-casino-money-laundering/
“Coleman told CKNW’s Lynda Steele Show that it is “load of garbage” to suggest his government knew money laundering was going on and didn’t stop it because the government was addicted to the gaming revenues.When Coleman was serving as solicitor general, the government decided to scrap the Integrated Illegal Gambling Enforcement Team (IIGET) even though there were reports that showed substantial money laundering in B.C. casinos.
“I think we tried. I think the challenge was IIGET didn’t work. I thought IIGET would work better than it did. And I think that was our biggest disappointment,” said Coleman.
“We did everything we could. I had the confidence to do my job arm’s length from any interference with any investigation from police.”
But as we have seen above, neither report recommended shuttering that team, and RCMP issued a statement following this segment refuting Coleman.
And as far as having an arms length from BCLC decisions and operation…we know that’s not quite accurate either. https://lailayuile.com/2013/01/23/time-for-minister-rich-coleman-to-step-down-calls-to-surrey-councillors-absolute-political-interference-in-process/
Last night I took a few moments before bed to re-read the older posts I’ve written on past spending and accounting scandals in the legislature, because I couldn’t stop thinking about the 17 people alleged to have been let go for raising concerns about spending or procedure.
We will get back to that shortly, but there has been a lot of confusion for newer readers as to what the LAMC is and what they do. OR don’t do which is really more appropriate, considering the details of the Plecas report.
The Legislative Assembly Management Committee aka LAMC, was created and empowered to : “consider any matters necessary for the efficient and effective operation and management of the Legislative Assembly, including reviewing estimates of expenditure for the Legislative Assembly under Vote 1. “
Sounds great in theory, but in practice it has been a disaster and quite honestly, a running embarrassment for the entire legislature. I’ve done two posts on this in the past, once in 2012 ( all of these issues should have been fixed then, but were not ) https://lailayuile.com/2012/07/27/politics-without-principle-makes-hypocrisy-a-governing-force-in-the-legislative-assembly/
Then, in 2014, we again took a walk down the unaccountable road of many excuses and promises to fix the issues : https://lailayuile.com/2014/03/26/politics-without-principle-2-0-just-because-you-candoesnt-mean-you-should/
The only issue is, that Craig James himself was in charge of a good amount of those improvements ( bulletproof, I believe he has been quoted as saying) and clearly that hasn’t worked out so well for anyone…least of all the 17 people who were let go.
So who sits on this mysterious committee?
For the 39th parliment, which ran from 2009-2013, the members were:
For the 40th Parliment, which ran from 2013 -2017, members were:
There is Linda Reid above, committee chair and currently under fire for allegedly asking an assistant to submit improper expenses…he refused and was subsequently fired he claims.
The current committee makeup is as follows below, and remember them, because these will be the people you need to hold responsible, along with every current mla, for fixing this once and for all.
Clearly, in past years the BC Liberals have outnumbered the NDP members of the committee… and as the auditor general said yesterday, the political will was just not there to enact substantive changes to prevent this and give actual true oversight to the committee.
This was reflected in the Plecas report:
In 2012, strengthening oversight was identified as urgent…2012…then again in 2014, it was still urgent. And yet here we are today. Ask your Liberal mla why this happened.
To be fair, some changes were made to how things were accounted for, but those changes were largely engineered by Craig James( appointed by the BC Liberals against objections, remember) But who has oversight over Craig James? Apparently no one.
Lets go to those 17 employees now,because what was written here is disturbing for several reasons.
Chilling. Apparently nothing was learned from the tragic health firings or the suicide of Rod MacIsaac. This line from the page above is very telling: ” this is a broader issue that appears to be modelled at the top of the hierarchy, but extends elsewhere in the Legislative Assembly. ” It is unacceptable that such an environment was fostered and allowed to continue unchecked.
Having been in power for 16 years, having unilaterally appointed Craig James to a lifetime appointment and having also outnumbered the NDP contingent on the LAMC, this all lands squarely on the shoulders of the BC Liberals who did nothing to fix this. They controlled everything.
But one must still ask, in the interest of it never happening again, why the alarm wasn’t sounded by the NDP members past and present on this committee? Particularly when you see statements like this in the press:
If there were signs that things were off Premier Horgan,why didn’t you act? If there are rumours of wrongdoing or other issues in the hallways, isn’t it your job, particularly while in opposition, to look into it,or have someone else look into it? How does all this happen in the legislative assembly and no one says or does a thing about serious issues that have been reported as a well known secret, until Plecas comes along? How?
To me, that is a big issue, and where immediate legislative powers of authority over the Clerk and other senior management officials in the legislature, along with explicit protocol detailing oversight and accountability of their work , must be granted to the LAMC. That this wasn’t done many years ago is without argument, a failing of the Liberal government to be sure, but also for those committees past and present. And while the new government has brought forth whistleblower legislation for the public sector, it doesn’t seem to have applied here. ( done in time? Or needs to be expanded to legislative employees for protection) https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2018AG0026-000729
This is why todays presser with BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson is a joke if not an insult to every Britsh Columbian. It truly is just a repeat of what those of us who have been around long enough to remember similar assertions from past leaders.. as well as the broken promises to fix it. https://www.radionl.com/2019/01/24/opposition-leader-calls-for-an-end-to-partisan-sniping-and-for-work-to-begin-to-restore-faith-in-the-legislature/?sc_ref=twitter
Still under fire for ignoring if not aiding money laundering and speculators, his plea to halt partisan sniping comes off as self serving, considering he has yet to show enough class to even apologise to Plecas and Mullen for their very partisan smearing of the men prior to the report being made public.
Even Mary Polak, also on the LAMC committee, stands firm in her assertion Plecas did the wrong thing by not coming to the committee or the auditor general first with his concerns. ( Really Mary? And tip off the one person he had to establish a pattern of behaviour with, substantiated with evidence? Insert eyeroll here) Wilkinson talked around most questions today…which should tell you a lot about what more there may be to come from the rcmp investigation.
( not to mention a public inquiry which I suggest, AGAIN, Horgan get off the fence on)
The bright light here now, is that the current LAMC has two people that I think, will ensure the appropriate changes will finally be done. Sonia Furstenau and Gary Begg.
Gary is a former RCMP officer from Surrey and doesn’t suffer fools lightly. Sonia has shown herself to be a fierce defender of the people outside and inside the legislature, and I know she won’t be silent until it’s right.
Remember this and take it to heart. The people who work in the legislature, whether elected or not, serve the people of British Columbia. As we well know, some of those people have grown too comfortable over the years and have become entitled. It is my opinion that the benefits given to an MLA are too generous in this day and age, and clearly the salaries and benefits given to other senior employees are as well. Considering people on disability in this province are still living on meagre allotments that are leaving many homeless, the entitlement to claim per diems you haven’t used or take spouses on trips, or claim a cash option housing allowance with no receipts is just wrong. Period.
I’ve gone too long here so let me leave it with these two things:
READ the entire Plecas report and recommendations below
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
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
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:
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.