Dear Swing Voter from the 2013 Election Who Voted For The BC Liberals

Dear Swing Voter from the 2013 Election who voted for the BC Liberals,

Hi there.  It’s me.  It’s actually yourself in the future.  I am you on May 9, 2017.  Yes I look a bit older and I’ve put on a few extra pounds (and thanks for pointing that out BTW) but that’s not what we are going to be talking about here…I do remember it so well.  Just like it was yesterday.  I remember on May 14, 2013 you, my 2013 self, walking up to the voting booth in the 2013 Provincial General Election and carefully penciling in an “x” besides my local BC Liberal candidate (making very sure to not go past the line), being very happy about my choice, and then going home to watch the results on TV.   So why did I do it back in 2013 when all the polls said that I wouldn’t?   Well I thought that I would give the BC Liberals one more chance.  Christy seemed nice and I had heard her on the radio, and they seemed to be not that bad after all as everyone had told me that the alternative (the godless socialist hordes at the door) were so very, very much worse.   I believed that LNG was going to lead us all to a prosperous future and I had faith in the BC Liberals managing the economy and the budget as after all, their budgets were balanced and they were pledging to keep taxes low and I liked that.  Moreover I liked what was happening with the schools and Christy Clark’s pledge for an honest and open government.  And so like many of my 2013 neighbours I ended up being yet another 10 second BC Liberal/Socred voter.

Well it’s May 2017 now, and I need to let you know now that unfortunately, my 2013 self, you made a big, big mistake voting for the BC Liberals back in 2013.  Why do I say that you ask?  Oh, where to begin..?

Well, remember the trillion dollar LNG Bonanza that that nice lady from TV said was going to happen?

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Well I’m here to tell you that by 2017 that not a single LNG project has a shovel in ground, drilling is the lowest it has been in 23 years, and the unemployment rate in the Northeast is one of the highest in the Province.  Even more stunning than that, the BC Liberals, who you my 2013 self thought were supposedly such good business people, in horrible market conditions keep double downing on LNG and throwing good money after bad!

Oh and remember the BC Liberals pledge for an “honest and open government”?  Well it turns out that they have been anything but.  There was a huge scandal within the Health Ministry resulting in one fellow actually taking his own life!  Then there was the Triple Delete scandal where Ministry Staff deliberately deleted e-mails so that they would not be available for scrutiny by Freedom of Information (FOI) requests.  Can you believe it?

And remember that you thought that taxes would stay low under the BC Liberals?

Well in actual fact marginal tax rates have remained generally low.  However incremental increases in various user fees, MSP premiums, insurance rates, hydro rates, etc. have just shifted the burden from overt taxation to hidden taxation in the form of increased user fees with the end result being the exactly same.  Far less money in your early 2017 pocket for your early 2017 family.

And remember how you thought that the BC Liberals were so good about balancing the budget and how important that was in our 2013 household too, that we should live within our means?

Well it turns out that they have only been creating fake balanced budgets by doing fire sales of assets like the land sales on Burke Mountain and by forcing BC Hydro and ICBC to siphon off “profits” from their books to balance the Provincial budgets, all the while overseeing a massive ballooning in debt (see below) which I, your early 2017 self, is now on the hook for! (Thank you very much for that. Thanks for nothing!).  And to top it off almost every project is way, way over budget (oh and not “on time and on budget” as Fassbender will eventually say) and the long-term debt will be getting worse!

And remember how the “Strong Economy” was so important to you?  Well it turns out that the early 2017 “Strong Economy” is actually in shambles and unsustainable despite what the May 2017 BC Liberals are saying.  Massive job losses in other areas are currently being masked by construction jobs in the Metro Vancouver and Victoria fuelled by an out of control speculative real estate market bubble which is pricing out of the market a whole generation of people and on top of that, that bubble is just about to burst (or so my 2021 self has told me).

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And remember all that apparent concern about the environment that the BC Liberals keep espousing?  Well it turns out that the “5 conditions” that the BC Liberals will eventually propose was all outright disingenuous pure political theatre and they never had any intention of standing in the way of any and all pipelines and then they had the audacity to make a huge fake commitment to reducing greenhouse gasses while still pushing LNG!  So much for climate leadership!  And we still have Grizzly Bears being trophy hunted in 2017 as the people running it are big donors to the BC Liberal Party.  And our most vulnerable are literally dying in the streets. Can you believe it?  And people in Shawnigan Lake are having to fight their own Provincial government over the safety of their drinking water!  Seriously.  I’m not making this up!  You just couldn’t.

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And remember all that talk of respect for First Nations?  Well Christy Clark actually stood up at a funeral (no less) and said that she was going to push Site C past the point of return despite objections from First Nations! And Site C?  It turns out we don’t even need the power, that it may never pay for itself, and that we can do it way cheaper by diversifying our economy and focusing on run-of-river, wind, solar, and geothermal projects.

I look around now on May 9, 2017, my 2013 self, and I see that 1 in 5 children in B.C. now lives in poverty and the government who I believed was doing the right thing with teachers back in 2013 it turns out were dead wrong (violated the Charter no less) and continued to be wrong for 14 years causing untold damage to the kids (BTW enjoy your time with the kids now as time flies and they don’t stay little for very long).

Anyway, I could go on and on but the point is, my 2013 self, that this is not what you voted for.  I, my May 9, 2017 self won’t make the same mistake twice.  On May 9, 2017 I will not be another “10 second BC Liberal/Socred voter” like you were as I refuse to make the same mistake that you did again.  Fool me once as they say….Oh by the way, the Vancouver Canucks still haven’t won the Stanley Cup but you probably already guessed that.

Signed,

My May 9, 2017 Self

P.S. Oh and buy Apple and Tesla shares now! I mean it!

 

BC Liberal MLA Linda Reimer On Tolerating Those Less Fortunate

Over the past few months, the BC Liberal Party has been releasing candidate-specific, feel good propaganda videos in the “Meet the Insert Name” video series presumably in an attempt to make the candidates for the party of health firings, “Triple Delete”, “Quick Wins”, unlimited big money donation, Grizzly Bear Trophy Hunt, Kinder Morgan etc. appear largely more human and sympathetic.  The videos all largely share the same format: soothing elevator music playing while the candidate talks about themselves, their accomplishments, and what they stand for and represent over a combination of video montages and still photographs.  This past week it was Linda Reimer, the incumbent MLA for Port Moody-Coquitlam’s turn.  Here’s the video as posted on the BC Liberal official party website and released on April 2, 2017 (Spoiler: be sure watch it right to the end).

So did you catch that near the end?

At 1:41 she says “Because I felt fortunate, when I look at people whose lives aren’t as good as mine, I have a great tolerance and understanding of them” (emphasis mine).

Here’s the last part again, clipped.

And yes she did say tolerance.  She literally said that she tolerates those less fortunate than her.  Quite unbelievable really.

For a party that is trying to shake the perception of being the uncaring party of the rich and entitled, the party of the bus pass clawbacks, the party that refuses to substantially raise fixed income rates, etc., it is hard to believe that this tone deaf statement to the plight of those less fortunate didn’t hit the cutting room floor.  Think about that for a second, irrespective of the candidate earnestly saying it and believing it (which is another thing altogether), this statement would have had to make it past, the video director, the campaign manager, and then ultimately through the BC Liberal Party’s own vetting services before being posted on the party website.  All of these different potential opportunities for someone to raise their hand and say, “Linda, you can’t say that even if you believe that” or “Oh Linda, that really could be misinterpreted” and nobody, not one person, stepped up to say no?  What exactly does that say about the candidate, the candidate’s campaign, and ultimately the party infrastructure itself?  It says that everyone involved sees absolutely nothing wrong with that particular statement.  As someone on social media pointed out, this is not an off-hand, off-camera quip that was captured clandestinely on tape.  This is a presumably fully vetted official campaign video presumably full approved and vetted by the party brass and the party’s highly paid communication gurus/experts.

The release of the clipped video understandably caused a swirl of controversy on social media.  Here’s a few select comments that were posted:

Not exactly the type of publicity what you would be hoping for if you were running the re-election campaign.

Subsequent to the initial fury caused on social media, the candidate’s campaign manager and the Director of Issues Management for the BC Government took to social media to express their displeasure with the BC Green Party (singling out them for some reason which was curious as they clearly were not alone on this expressing criticism) both saying below that tolerance is a good quality.

Why yes it is, but tolerance implies that what ever you are tolerating is unpleasant at worst and something that you don’t agree with (at a minimum).  Tolerance does not imply in any way, sympathy or empathy.  Not one bit.

Here’s the definition of tolerance for those who may still be confused.

Talk about doubling down (very typical of the BC Liberal Party when faced with anything that doesn’t make them look bad) and not realizing the magnitude or the essence of the error in posting that particular comment as part of the video.

So rather than taking the video down, taking your lumps, and apologizing for the quite obvious faux pas, the candidate, the candidate’s campaign manager, and the BC Liberal party itself appear to be quite content with letting the video stand as is, thereby representing a testament to the tone death nature of the BC Liberal Party to those less fortunate and a testament to the arrogance of a party that can do no wrong.  The election hasn’t even started yet and the Reimer campaign already has one major misstep under its belt.  Well done folks.

All in all, the ultimate goal of campaign videos such as these is to raise the awareness of the candidate.  To that end, one could argue that the video did achieve that goal but clearly not in the way that the video was originally intended.   I’m sorry but the statement “there is no such thing as bad publicity” does not apply to election campaigns, especially for a candidate in a riding that was only won by 437 votes.  In a tight race, an incident like this in isolation could be enough to cost you the election.  Not a great start to the campaign for the BC Liberals in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam.  That’s for sure.  We’ll have to see if this is an isolated incident or part of a larger pattern of campaign gaffs as the campaign moves forward.  Given the response to this incident, I am suspecting that latter will be more likely true rather than the former.

Edit (April 12, 2017): Subsequent to the publishing of the original post Press Progress picked up on Ms. Reimer’s comments and included them as part of a post on the attitudes of the BC Liberals to those less fortunate (AKA the tolerated).   Good to see that Ms. Reimer’s video and comments are getting national attention.

Screenshot from Press Progress post.

B.C. Craft Beer and Right Wing Politics: A Bitter Mix

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Source: BC Government Flickr

This past Friday evening (February 3, 2017), Richard Zussman, provincial affairs reporter for the CBC, tweeted out that Premier Christy Clark was to attend a “no media” event in Port Moody with two of the Premier’s personal photographers in tow.  It was immediately apparent from the tweet that some type of event was occurring at Yellow Dog Brewery in Port Moody, part of the wildly successful Brewer’s Row in Port Moody.  Subsequent to that tweet, Yellow Dog Brewery acknowledged that they, along with representatives of Moody Ales, Twin Sails Brewery, Parkside Brewery, and the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild had had a discussion with the “BC Government” concerning the “beer industry and issues”.  Later that evening the photos started appearing on the BC Government Flickr page.  What they show is the local Port Moody incumbent BC Liberals MLA Linda Reimer and Premier Christy Clark participating in what amounts to a partisan political photo-op with Ken Beattie, Executive director of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild and local brewers from Port Moody’s Brewer’s Row being present.  Here are the photos from the event.

Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr
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Source: BC Government Flickr

Now these types of purely political photo-ops are of course par for the course for Christy Clark and the BC Liberals and they unfortunately straddle that fine line between campaigning on the taxpayers’ dime and doing the work of government.  Doing the work of government IMHO would have included having ministers/ministerial staff responsible being present at the event (people who handle the actual files) and having media present at the event that could ask questions but neither of those appears to have taken place.  Maybe that’s just me though.  The pictures tell the story though as this clearly appears to have been a political photo-op in an attempt to raise the profile of the local BC Liberals MLA running in a tight race for re-election in the riding of Port Moody-Coquitlam and Christy Clark amongst younger craft beer-loving voters.  I guess we should get used to these purely political photo-ops over the next few months especially locally.  Unfortunately, there is not enough time now to submit a FOI request to see whether or not any public money was spent on this event so I will have to assume that the BC Liberals party covered all expenses associated with this photo-op.

The photos taken will of course undoubtedly be used and reused ad nauseam in future government/BC Liberal party promotional materials (yes I do consider them one and the same and I defy you to prove any differentiation/distinction otherwise).  You gotta feel for the guys from the four local breweries though as sadly, what the pictures amount to unfortunately is a de facto endorsement of the BC Liberals, local incumbent BC Liberal MLA Linda Reimer, and Premier Christy Clark by local brewers and the BC Craft Brewers Guild via their representation/presence at this photo-op event.  Poor breweries guys as they likely didn’t even have a clue that they were going to be used by the Premier and the local BC Liberals MLA Linda Reimer for their own personal political purposes, their own political gain, and to further their political agenda.  Probably didn’t even see it coming.  The BC Liberals got exactly what they wanted though.  Something that they could use to try and sell a tragically unhip older candidate and a largely unpopular Premier to a younger 20-something craft beer loving audience.  Thankfully the brewers likely won’t have to worry about seeing the Premier and MLA Linda Reimer for a while now.  That is unless they want something else from them again.

I can only assume that the recent CATI polling that was conducted in Port Moody on behalf of the BC Liberal party and/or their supporters (I was called BTW) showed that Linda Reimer was polling very badly (particularly amongst millennials within the riding) and what better way to try to reach that demographic than to associate yourself with one of the passions of locals and particularly local millennials: Craft Beer.  I do have to wonder if those present at the event honestly did think that the meeting was only to support local businesses and their industry with no ulterior motives at all?  Maybe that is how the event was sold to them?  Who knows?  You gotta wonder though why did Christy Clark and Linda Reimer choose to visit this particular area at this particular time to discuss these particular issues?  To be sure, if this meeting/event had occurred a year ago, no one would have even blinked an eye.  Not even for a second.  However, it is in the context of the upcoming election that all actions of the Premier and her party must now be perceived and interpreted.

Unfortunately, by agreeing (being duped?) into taking part in an obviously politically motivated event so close to an election (that being only ~3 months away), the craft brewery folks present unfortunately (whether they knew what was going on or not and whether intentionally or not) were involved/engaged in a political event/activity (likely under false pretenses as I say).  Ultimately the brewery folks are likely the victims in all this as they will now be in the unenviable position of forever being associated with the party of Quick Wins, Health Firings, Triple Delete, fake balanced budgets, massive budget overruns, fake news, Kinder Morgan, education underfunding, alternative facts, failed LNG promises, baseless allegations of illegal wrongdoing, etc., (one would think/hope) likely not at their own volition.  I would be pretty upset too if I was them.  One wonders how the whole thing was sold to them originally when they were originally contacted by the representatives of the Premier/local MLA (presumably) and whether or not that it actually lived up to that billing.  One would hope that if they knew how they were going to be used that they would have passed on the whole event.  I wonder what they would do in hindsight?  I would imagine that they would probably not be wanting to have their products and brands associated with one particular political party with an election on the immediate horizon that’s for sure.  No doubt about that.

Red Truck Brewery and #BoyCottRedTruck

You may remember that this is not the first time that right wing politics/right wing politicians, and craft beer have become intertwined in B.C. and have been the source of a bit of controversy.  Keen political observers will remember that Red Truck Brewery was the target of the #BoycottRedTruck movement back in 2015 after Stephen Harper and entourage, et al. breezed into town and hosted an exclusive (no media) invitation-only event at the Red Truck Brewery in East Vancouver (sound familiar?).

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The appearance caused some to suggest that by the brewery hosting the event during the run up to the election that this was a de facto endorsement of Stephen Harper and Conservative Party by Red Truck Brewery and this caused a social media backlash.

Red Truck claimed at the time that they only were renting out the space to any and all takers and that the use of their facility was not an endorsement of right wing politics or any right wing politicians in any way.  Then interestingly, the BC Liberals also chose to use the same location and utilized Red Truck for the Richmond-Steveston BC Liberals’ June 26, 2016 fundraiser on behalf of John “Quick Wins” Yap, Minister of Selfies, and Parliamentary Secretary for Liquor Reform Policy to the Minister of Small Business, Red Tape Reduction and Minister Responsible for the Liquor Distribution Branch.

I guess it was all a big misunderstanding as the Brewery suggested.  In the same way, I have to presume that their $2,000 donation to the BC Liberals in 2016 in the name of the brewery was also a big mistake and misunderstanding and not an endorsement of the BC Liberal party as were the many contributions of the owner of Red Truck to the BC Liberals.  Cough.

red-truck-donation

The Other Infamous Port Moody Photo-op

The whole recent episode at Yellow Dog Brewery may also be seem somewhat familiar to local Tri-Cities political observers as it is also somewhat reminiscent of another time in the recent past when another political leader seeking re-election, breezed into town for an exclusive photo-op similarly far from the prying eyes of the pesky media to do a photo-op promoting a rather lacklustre candidate who only appeared in the background hoping that some charisma would rub off of them (sound and familiar again?)

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As such, it seems that the BC Liberals appear to be taking a page directly out of the last Conservative campaign book by staging exclusive politically motivated photo-ops on the taxpayers dime away far from the prying eyes of the media.

It should be noted that the breweries of Brewery Row themselves for the most part appear to have been largely mum on the whole event that took place at Yellow Dog.  No mention of the event to date has been made on the Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook accounts of the three breweries involved with only Yellow Dog mentioning the event at all.  One has to wonder why?  If this was such an important discussion and an important event, why no mention of it/pictures of it?  Given the above I would have to think that they are all pretty steamed about the whole thing and it is totally understandable why they would not want to dwell on such a series of unfortunate events.

So was it all worth it? Yellow Dog in response to a query on Facebook made the following statement:

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So to sum up: Nothing concrete came of it, they will continue to talk, and the BC Liberals leave with the photos from the photo-op as they originally wanted/intended.

To be fair, as noted previously, I can not emphasize enough how much I have to acknowledge that the local brewers of Brewer’s Row and Ken Beattie of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild may have been totally and completely unaware as to the extent that they were going to be used by Christy Clark, their local MLA Linda Reimer, and the BC Liberals for a photo-op for purely political purposes.  As such, I really do think that it would be incumbent on everyone involved to also invite local candidates and the leaders from other political parties to also sit down and discuss the “beer industry and issues” in the same manner as they did with Christy Clark so as to indeed demonstrate that they are/were completely non-partisan and that they didn’t intentionally wish to effectively endorse/be associated exclusively with the BC Liberals in the upcoming election.  If they choose not to, then I guess that you can pretty much put them in the same category as Red Truck Brewery.  That’s OK if you like to have right wing politics with your beer.  That’s your prerogative.  But for others, that may leave a bitter taste in one’s mouth.

Edit: I recently came across the standard consent and release from the Provincial Government regarding the use of images.  I do wonder if all of the local craft beer folk that were used for propaganda purposes indeed all signed the waiver.  If not, they would have every right to have the images removed if any one person in any of the images objected to the use of their image.

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Edit: And exactly as predicted, a photo from the Port Moody brewery photo-op is now part of the BC Liberals Campaign Platform materials published on April 11, 2017 (see below).  The BC Liberals are nothing if not predictable.

 

 

 

 

Behind the File: Reconstructing #Paytoplay BC Liberals Style

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The recent release of the “real-time” donations to the BC Liberal Party for 2016 on their website in PDF form has created some unique opportunities as the recently released data can be used in an attempt to identify the donors present at specific BC Liberals fundraising events and to attempt to identify the fundraising haul garnered at these events well in advance of when you normally would be able to so (once the full fiscal year filings have been submitted to Elections BC).  As such, the analysis of this data can be attempted well in advance of the upcoming election and I must thank the BC Liberals braintrust for that opportunity.

Examining the names, amounts, and dates of donations and cross-referencing this data with the known big money fundraising events that took place in 2016, one can use the data provided in order to attempt to reconstruct who was at certain fundraising events and how much money was donated at each of these events.   A simple compiled search by date provides one with the amounts donated on that date and identifies the specific people and corporations that more than likely would have been present at any of the specific fundraising events that took place last year.  Of all the possible cash for access events from the past year sponsored by the BC Liberal party that I could have choosen to examine, I choose to focus on the BC Liberals Annual Interior Leaders Golf Invitational Tournament that took place at Predator Ridge Golf Course on September 22, 2016.

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For those that may not be familiar with the event, the Interior Leaders Golf Invitational event is billed as one of the biggest fundraisers for the year for the BC Liberals. The big money price structure for attending the event is presented below.

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As you can see, for a mere $4,000, your foursome would receive a round of golf, dinner, a $400 voucher for accommodation at Predator Ridge and, wait for it, the opportunity to have a BC Liberal MLA be your caddie.  Yes you read that right.  In BC you can literally “pay-to-play” and have a BC Liberal MLA even carry your bags (this is nothing new I must say as this event has been taking place since at least 2014).

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Actual unaltered image from original website (I kid you not).

I chose to focus on this specific date and this particular tournament for two reasons: First, it represents possibly the most egregious and outrageous of the “pay-to-play”/access buying fundraising events sponsored by the BC Liberals in 2016, especially given that the BC Liberals knowingly choose to go ahead once again with the event despite vocal protestations of those wanting to ban the influence of big money in B.C. politics, polling that suggest that 86% of British Columbians want to ban big money from BC politics, and the movement in other jurisdictions to ban these types of big money events.  Secondly, it kind of made sense to focus on that specific event as I had already written an extensive tongue-in-cheek blog post about the event previously.

A few caveats regarding the data presented below and its interpretation:

First, it is possible that the resulting data provided by the “date only” search possibly includes people and corporations who just randomly happened to have donated to the BC Liberal party on September 22, 2016 or had their donation processed on September 22, 2016 and as such, there may be many represented in the table below that were not actually physically at the golf tournament itself.  In some cases, this is entirely possible, while in other cases, I’m pretty sure that those individuals were at the golf tournament given their ties to some of the major sponsors (I’ll come back to this point later on).  Secondly, it should be noted that only daily donation totals are provided in the data set provided by the BC Liberal party.  As such, there are no breakdowns of the amounts donated.  Accordingly, a $10,000 donation on that date could represent a single hole sponsorship or two $5,000 hole sponsorships, donations as a result of successful bids on the accompanying silent auction (side note: are those auction items a taxable benefit that should be declared if the money used to purchase them is tax deductible as a political donation?), etc.  Hard to tell really so I will just try to guess at what the amounts could have been for.  Anyway enough of the caveats and on to the data itself.  Below is a table containing the top 16 (those over $1,000) of the 161 donations reported on September 22, 2016 listed in descending dollar amount order.  The entire list in descending order is presented at the bottom of this post.

A quick review of the data suggests a number of things:

First, despite the perception that corporations are lining up and falling over themselves to ante $50,000 up to be a top sponsor at these types of events, this does not appear to be the case as it does not appear that there were any takers for the title sponsor roll despite it being offered.  There were only five exactly $50,000 donations to the party (see below) and all of these took place well (many months) before the golf tournament date so it is unlikely that any of them represent top sponsor donations for the tournament.

50-k-donations

Second, it appears that there could only have been one possible Crystal Sponsorship (from Encana) and only one possible Platinum Sponsorship (from a Patricia Trottier, who appears to be the spouse of former Encana CEO Gwyn Morgan) at the event (assuming that they actually paid for the sponsorship rather than just making a straight up donation of course).  That Calgary-based Oil and Gas giant Encana (and related folk) likely represent the largest singular source of donor money at the event should surprise no one as Encana has been a major contributor to the BC Liberals for years and with no restrictions on out of Province or Out of Country donations, it is all entirely legal and on the up and up in BC Liberals #NotRealWorld.

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Source: Vancouver Observer

From there it is quite difficult to establish with any certainty who paid for what as while the $10,000 donations made by Canadian Forest Products Limited, Chevron Canada Limited, Interfor, London Drugs Limited, McElhanny Consulting Services Limited, Terminal Forest Products, and West Fraser Mills Limited while all noted on that day, could possibily represent putting hole sponsorships (@$10,000), multiple hole sponsorships (@$5,000 a crack), regular foursomes (@4,000), or sign sponsorships (@1,000) or some combination thereof potentially with some cash donations possibly being involved as well.  Or as noted previously entirely random donations on that date (I do have to accept that possibility).

It is interesting to note that the listed $4,000 fee for a foursome (including having an BC Liberals MLA as a caddie no less) does not appear in any of the donations listed on September 22, 2016.  One could assume that either they had no takers for this guilded pay- to-play opportunity (highly, highly unlikely) or that the fee was somehow raised to total $4,500 on the tournament date or that the donors were asked to also donate the room values that went along with the fees (more likely given the $4,500 donations from Imperial Metals Corporation (of Mount Polley fame), Neptune Bulk Terminals, Pretium Resources Limited, and Raymond James Limited) or that it was some how topped up to make it $4,500 rather than $4,000 as listed.  I suppose it is also possible that the foursome fees could have been subsumed within some of the larger donation amounts rather than being for specific holes, etc. or that the $4,000 fees were processed on other dates. Can’t really say for sure.

What immediately struck me when looking at the larger donations listed above on this particular date was what appears to be a significant representation (or over representation if you will) of major forestry industry players who appear to have been possibly present at this particular event.  Was there a concerted, conscious, and coordinated effort by major Forest Industry Players to schmooze and/or lobby the BC Liberals at this specific event on this specific day?  Who knows?  Maybe.  At the very least that is certainly a possibility. Or did they all just randomly donate to the BC Liberals that day? Dunno.

So in total, the BC Liberals took in on September 22, 2016 (whether all at the golf tournament or not) a total of $144,975.99 or a total of less than approximately 1.2% of the entire yearly fundraising total for 2016.  Interestingly, this amount doesn’t even really rate when you plot donations by date (see chart below and the table below that).  In fact, the donations on September 22, 2016 come in a modest 28th out of the total 88 donation days reported.

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Still, while ~$144,000 is not a bad haul for a single day, but as can be seen from the chart above and the table below, it certainly does not appear to represent one of their biggest fundraising dates or events of the year unlike what the BC Liberals appear to suggest.  They certainly could quite easily have gotten away bowing to public pressure and cancelling the event without affecting their bottom line in any shape or form but that just wouldn’t be the BC Liberals way would it?

A few other interesting things to note, one of the biggest single fundraising day of the year was February 28, 2016 where a cool $1,648,565.00 was raised.  This likely coincides with general year end tax year related donations, followed by December 31, 2016 which I would again suggest represents the final push for use it or lose it 2016 political tax credits.  (Edit: Bob Mackin in his thebreaker.news site has just written an excellent article suggesting that the spike in donation in late February is related to a private dinner held on February 26 at the Wall Centre which was attended by a number of well-heeled party donors including a number of major players in the real estate industry).

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All this of course just lends further credence that indeed we are living in the “Wild West of Politics” as the recent New York Times written by Dan Levan said, an article that Rich Coleman described as being “laughable”

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describing a topic that noted BC Liberals apologist Don Fast said that no one but “no jobs” lefties cares about.

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Sorry Mr. Coleman (Minister of Natural Gas Development, Minister Responsible for Housing, Deputy Premier, and Minister Responsible for General Chortling) and Mr. Fast.  Having your government called out for corruption and being open to influence peddling is not laughable, especially when the author is demonstrably correct.  As Mr. Levin suggests, this type of pay-to-play access would be illegal in most other jurisdictions within Canada and the United States.  But the BC Liberals disagree.  I guess it is true that those closest to corruption can’t see it.

Well there’s my kick at the can.  Other events could be given the same treatment so I encourage others to take up a different event and see what results you get.

Technical Note: For those interested, here is a link to download a Microsoft Excel sheet which appears to include all of the donations listed in the original PDF published by the BC Liberal Party.  It is in a much easier form to manipulate and search rather than the original PDF distributed by the BC Liberal party.  I do not and can not in any way vouch for the absolute accuracy of the file or the data presented here or above but will say that my by hand search for the donations on September 22, 2016 produced the exact same results as the Excel file linked.  I created the file after stumbling across a comma delineated data set on the net and then manipulating the data a bit as there were commas in the original donor field that made the first stabs at importing the data problematic.  Have at it.

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Donations to the BC Liberal Party Recorded on September 22, 2016

It should be noted that the total amount of donations that I get from the linked Excel file is $12,157,771.52 which is quite a bit less than the ~$12.3m reported in various media accounts and the total of $12,474,088.00 that you get when adding the values presented by the BC Liberals on their website.

2016-values

I don’t know what that exactly means other than there seems to be a discrepancy of ~$316,316.00 with the BC Liberals seemingly over reporting their 2016 contributions by this amount. And why this differs from the media accounts and where they got that ~$12.3 figure originally I don’t know.

Lastly I will leave you with this, a list of the largest single donations to the BC Liberals $10,000 and above in 2016 in descending order.  Have a scan through the list.  These are the big money people and corporations who call the shots in the Province B.C.  Not you or I.

10-k-plus

 

Which BC Liberal MLA would you choose to be your caddie?

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For those who may be unaware, the BC Liberals are holding their annual BC Interior Leaders Golf Invitational at the Predator Ridge Golf Course in Vernon on September 22, 2016.  This event represents one of the biggest fundraisers of the year for the BC Liberals and a quick review of the sponsorship opportunities and the fee structure for the event reveals the real reason why the BC Liberals are so reluctant to ban big money from BC politics: they quite clearly are the largest benefactors of it (and the subsequent perception of them being influenced by that big money).  Despite the vocal protestations of those wanting to ban the influence of big money in B.C. politics, polling that suggest that 86% of British Columbians want to ban big money from BC politics, and the movement in other jurisdictions to ban these types of big money events, the BC Liberals are nevertheless shamelessly moving ahead with this event.  Of the various packages available including the top package of $50,000, one particular package caught my eye (see below).

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For a mere $4,000, your foursome would receive a round of golf, dinner, a $400 voucher for accommodation at Predator Ridge and, wait for it, the opportunity to have a BC Liberal MLA be your caddie.  Yes you read that right.  In BC you can literally “pay to play” and have a BC Liberal MLA even carry your bags.

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That got me thinking.  Which BC Liberal MLA would be the best choice to be your caddie and why?  I’ve listed a few of my suggested selections below (in no particular order) with a certain number of caveats (both good and bad) to keep in mind for each of those selections.  Please feel free to add your suggestions in the comments area below if I’ve left out your favourite BC Liberal MLA or if you have a different/better reason as to why any of the BC Liberal MLAs identified would be the best selection as your caddie and I will try to incorporate them.

Mike Bernier (Peace River South) – A largely problematic selection as he would more than likely take most of your golf clubs and balls away and then give them back to you one by one and then expect you to be thankful for it.  Select at own risk.

Peter Fastbender (Surrey-Fleetwood) – A good selection due to his “acumen for accuracy” concerning numbers (see his prior ridiculous statement that the Evergreen Line is on time and on budget).  He would definitely be an asset in “helping” you with your score and subsequently straight face defending your score afterwards.

John Yap (Richmond-Steveston) – Best bet for getting a Quick Win in the tournament and therefore getting your foursome to the buffet first.  Would also be helpful in reaching out to any ethnic foursomes that you might encounter while out on the course.

Michelle Stilwell (Parksville-Qualicum) – Would be good at getting others to acknowledge your golf handicap but would be seemingly largely unsympathetic to the plight of others on the course who might also have golf handicaps.

Christy Clark (Westside-Kelowna) – Would turn up for the tee time photos and then slip off and go caddie for another foursome if it meant more money for her and it was a bigger priority.  On the other hand, she does have expensive photographers tailing her around so you would be able to get some good (but expensive) photos of your foursome out of it (at least at the tee off anyway).

Rich Coleman (Fort Langley-Aldergrove) – Has a tendency to tell anyone on the course having legitimate difficulties to stop whining.  Comes across as largely unsympathetic and might be a bit difficult to be around.  Be wary.

Mike de Jong (Abbotsford West) – Excellent at cherry picking the scores on a few holes and then extrapolating that score across 18 holes (as demonstrated here).

Todd Stone (Kamloops-South Thompson) – Would be very adept at driving a golf cart (although clearly at speed).  Might want to install a commemorative plaque on the golf course using workers from another golf course halfway through your round (which would be kind of awkward and a waste of time and money as he clearly had nothing to do with the construction of the golf course in the first place).

Linda Reimer (Port Moody-Coquitlam) – Wouldn’t do or say anything offensive either way and would not be noticeable. Would have to check with the party brass before doing or saying anything.  Would be rather ineffective and definitely wouldn’t advocate for your team should there be any kind of a disagreement with party/course officials.  Be honest.  You didn’t actually know that she was an MLA right?  If I could actually find a link to something significant that this backbencher actually did in her entire term in office I would post it but I can’t.  You try.  And yes that is a challenge.

Suzanne Anton (Vancouver-Fraserview) – Would be able to change the rules of the golf game at any time so that whatever you did, it would be perfectly legal by the time you finished your round.

Bill Bennett (Kootenay East) – Has tendency to cuss and call other foursomes out on the course “turds”.  Might be a bit offensive but nevertheless somewhat entertaining on the course.

Ralph Sultan (West Vancouver-Capilano) – Might need some prodding to make sure he is awake during the proceedings.

Richard Lee (Burnaby North)Wouldn’t work in the best interests of your foursome and might be recalled to the clubhouse once you are out on the course.  Would be one of his last actions as an MLA so might be worth picking him to give him a glimpse of his life after politics.

Mary Polak (Langley) – Would ignore the obvious pollutants leaking profusely from your golf cart into the nearby lake despite being alerted numerous times to it. Avoid at all costs.

Moira Stilwell (Vancouver-Langara) – You could ask her but she would more than likely decline gracefully as she actually has some integrity.

Others worth considering if the BC Liberal MLA of your choice is unavailable:

Pat Pimm (Peace River North) – Former BC Liberals cabinet minister and current persona non grata with the BC Liberals.  A good selection (if he’s not in court that day that is).  Likely would be prudent to wait to hear from the special prosecutor before actually picking him.  As that could be next year at this rate, would be probably best to pick someone else.

Joan Isaacs (BC Liberals Candidate for Coquitlam-Burke Mountain) – Would likely ask Joey Keithley how to caddie first so she can fumble around and look for the instructions on how to caddie from the party brass.  Part of a losing foursome last year and likely to have the same fate again so best to avoid picking her.

Laura Miller (BC Liberal Party) – Could be useful in arranging for the scorecards to be mysteriously wiped clean at the end of the round (allegedly).

Randy Rinaldo (Former BC Liberals candidate for Burnaby-Lougheed) – Could be particularly useful if the slow foursome in front of you is comprised of gypsies or poor people.  Might be somewhat offensive to any females in your foursome though.  You could always select him anyway and then replace him midway on the course after initially vigorously defending him and trying to downplay his obvious offensive behaviour.  Wouldn’t be the first time.

Gordon Wilson (LNG-Buy B.C. Advocate) –  That is, if anyone can actually find him as he seems to be largely AWOL these days.  Seems a bit unstable (see recent rant) so might be worth a pass.

Judy Tyabji (Former BC Liberals MLA and Bestselling Author) – Would write the most flattering description of your golf round ever.  It would be mostly uncritical and largely full of embellishments and propaganda though and would soon be forgotten and so hardly worth the effort.

Any other suggestions?

Edit: Since the publishing of this piece, the powers that be have deleted many of the pages that are referenced above.  But like all things on the internet, screenshots and internet archives live forever.  If anyone wants screenshots, just let me know.

 

The Optics Are Just Bad: Kim Baird’s Night at the BC Liberals Fundraiser

Some rather unnerving social media posts emerged from last night’s big money BC Liberals fundraiser at the Convention Centre in Vancouver.  Unnerving that is for anyone who was holding out any hope that the Federal Liberals’ additional parallel review of the Kinder Morgan expansion project was going to be anything close to being a fair and impartial exercise and not instead just an elaborate “going through the motions” exercise in order to help facilitate an already done deal.  The images emerged from the social media timeline of one of the three individuals selected to be on the three person ministerial review panel selected by the Trudeau Liberals to review the Kinder Morgan proposal, namely from the Twitter feed of former Tsawwassen Chief Kim Baird.  First there was the selfie at the exclusive pre-party with controversial B.C. Liberals Environment Minister Mary Polak, the former book banning School Trustee who was recently on the hot seat over her dismissal of the opinion of 90 academics including many climate scientists regarding Site C “doesn’t meet with reality” and who has been roundly criticized as being a shill for the LNG and fossil fuel industry.

Then there was a tweet regarding the start of the Premier’s speech

and then a rather odd selfie taken with Premier Christy Clark.

Now of course people are entitled to their political opinions and Ms. Baird is free to support (however misguidedly) the BC Liberals or anybody else for that matter.  She is also free to be a big money doner to the party for that matter (see what appears to be her one time $4,500 contribution to the BC Liberals last year below) (Credit:Bob Mackin).

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That said however, to go to and be photographed at a political fundraiser for one of the major stakeholders in the review process (the BC Government in this case) while a member of a specially appointed panel entrusted with impartiality (one would hope and presume) I would suggest shows very poor judgement on her part.  The optics are very bad.  Imagine seeing Annette Trimbee, one of the other members of the Federal Review panel appointed by Trudeau going to and being photographed with BC NDP’s John Horgan at a BC NDP fundraiser, a person who has said that the Kinder Morgan Project is not in B.C.’s interest?  How about those optics?  Or perhaps one of the other members of the Federal Review panel, Tony Penikett, turning up at a BROKE Fundraiser and being photographed with Burnaby Mayor Derrick Corrigan, and/or some other opponent of the Kinder Morgan Project?  What would you say then?  No problem?  Presumably these individuals would show better judgement and not place themselves in those kind of situations.

For those who thought the BC Government’s Five Conditions concerning heavy oil (bitumen) pipelines were nothing more than a disingenuous, insincere, contrived shrewd political theatre (does anybody really believe that the BC Liberals won’t eventually support the Kinder Morgan project, I mean come on really?), the optics presented by these posts surely lends credence to the interpretation by some, particularly First Nations opponents to the project, that the fix is already in and that the review panel entrusted to be impartial will in fact not be impartial at all and will vote in favour of the proposal.  These posts also appear to lend credence to the not-so-muted whispers circulating around certain circles and on social media questioning Ms. Baird’s lack of impartiality concerning fossil fuel pipelines given her past working connections with Kinder Morgan, her prior favourable description of the Kinder Morgan project as being “enlightened”,

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Ian Anderson, President of Kinder Morgan Canada pictured with Kim Baird in 2011 (Source Kinder Morgan).

and her current ties to pipelines and the LNG industry specifically in terms of her association (as a lobbyist /consultant) for the controversial Woodfibre LNG project.  Again, the optics are very bad.  Should Ms. Baird be able to freely express her personal political opinions at all times?  In normal circumstances I would definitely say “Yes”.  However, when you are appointed to a Federal Review Panel, you are actively engaged in the review process, and have been entrusted to review a project (presumably) with complete impartiality, I would argue that it was/is a major lapse in judgement to attend the political fundraiser of one of the major stakeholder in the review process that you are overseeing.  Again, the optics are just bad.  Perhaps she should have shown a bit more  discretion in this case.  It seems to me that Ms. Baird should have given the event a pass, and stayed at home and watched the supplied stream online like the rest of us who can’t afford the seat at the $10,000 a plate Premier’s Table.  In other words, yes Ms. Baird you really probably should have refused that selfie with Premier Clark after all because the optics are/were kinda bad.

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