Right Politics and the Decay of Canada, Part One
by Robin Mathews
Things are not what they seem. The stupid, venal, federal Liberal pay-out in the Sponsorship Program is being massively overplayed to serve as a cover-up. In itself, it's a drop in the Canadian corruption bucket, which doesn't make it any more acceptable. But the fuss over it is intended to shift attention from the real battle for power between two dangerously Right, U.S. integrationist forces disconnected from and contemptuous of the Canadian electorate and its will.
The real, growing political scandal in Canada is the destruction of democratic processes through candidates-by-fraud winning office, the methods they use, wholesale lying to the electorate about policies and programs, and protection of "connected" wrong-doers through refusal of investigation, cover-up, or "secret" reviews. The process is supported by a too-concentrated Rightest press - the Leonard Asper CanWest monopoly, for instance.
One of the Right forces is the Martin wing of the Liberal Party. The other is the yankee-loving Canadian Alliance travelling now under the disguise of a new name. Both forces come together in British Columbia in Unholy Alliance. The Liberal Party and government in B.C. are up to their armpits in Martinist bad dealing. Not really a Liberal Party and not a Liberal government in anything but name anyway, they would prefer to work directly with someone to the Right of Stephen Harper. So, for them, it's Martin while he lasts, then full support for a Stephen Harper government and the foreign corporations.
The Sponsorship scandal connects to all that. But the corporate/government/Right theft of democratic participation is the greater scandal. It is a superating wound in British Columbia.
Against the wishes of the electorate B.C. Rail is being sold in order to pour a billion dollars into Liberal government coffers, with a quickly exposed scandal covered up, so far. An alleged more than $2 billion worth of tax right-offs were sold to CN for a mere $250 million. Will we hear more from the sleuth-hound CanWest monopoly press about who is personally benefitting from the deal? Will CanWest pursue to full exposure the $2.3 million "forgiven" for fish-farm Liberal party contributors? Don't hold your breath.
A February Ipsos-Reid poll reveals that 91% of surveyed B.C.ers believe their ferry service "should be publicly owned and operated". 80% believe the government had no "mandate to privatize the ferry system or B.C. Hydro". But the B.C. government poured nearly a half billion dollars into its coffers in the ferry privateering deal without saying who owns the debt on newly mortgaged ferry properties.
The public poll registers the obvious. B.C.ers know from decades of experience and observation that the ferry service they owned has been essentially good. They see no reason to have their Corporation stolen from them and placed in highly dubious hands, but the B.C. electorate doesn't figure in Gordon Campbell's plans.
Meanwhile, a secret audit is being conducted into B.C. government dealings with Gordon Campbell's relation and friend, Doug Walls. A bankrupt, facing possible criminal charges,Walls is closely connected to a firm forgiven $400,000 in debt by the Ministry of Children and Families -- for which Walls worked as a high official. He also received more than $200,000 in payments from the Ministry and tens of thousands more from other government sources. Those actions, made public, forced the resignation of Minister Gordon Hogg, the firing of Deputy Minister Chris Haynes, and a charge by the Opposition that the minister "deliberately misled the legislature" about Walls' position (Victoria Times Colonist, Feb 13 04 A3).
The secret audit involves "terms of reference, its cost and duration , the process and scope". (Sun Feb 6 04 A8) The attempt at a cover-up is obvious. Meanwhile the Campbell government is forging ahead to place the $600 million package for the developmentally disabled outside the Ministry of Children and Families under the management of an Authority for Community Living B.C., which will then engage U.S. slash-and-burn companies to exploit the most vulnerable people in the province.
In all this we must not forget a central act: the Dec. 28, 2003 raid by the RCMP on Finance and Transportation legislature offices as part of a 20 month tracking of drug profit and money laundering. Two Gordon Campbell highly-placed political aides were immediately removed (one fired, one suspended) by Gordon Campbell who declared he knew nothing whatever about the investigation!
The fired political aide is famous in B.C. as a Paul Martin vote/membership hustler. Since a few days after the raid all has fallen silent. In what may turn out to be typical B.C. High Court arrogance and elitism, Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm sealed the search warrants until March 2. Pressed hard, he agreed on January 22, 2004 to show only lawyers and only edited copies of the warrants (which are public documents). At the time of the sealing Dohm's reported comment was disturbing. "Dohm said the RCMP investigation into drug-smuggling and money-laundering is so intertwined with the legislature inquiry that they cannot be separated." (Sun Jan 24 04 B7)
Canadians might believe Dohm gave reason in that statement for full and immediate disclosure of the warrants. At any rate, in a Province where neither the judiciary nor the RCMP inspire strong confidence, Canadians can only pray a cover-up is not in process.
The "Authority" instrument used by the Campbell government is not only a front for major assaults on social programs, it also appears to be highly crime and incompetence-prone. Take, for example, as simple a matter as the Province's apprenticeship program. It has long prepared tradespeople to be available and effective in the provincial community. The Gordon Campbell government has mangled the program into chaos. Reconstituting the existing Commission, it set up an Industry Training Authority. As we know, typically, "Authority" CEOs in B.C. are paid richly to destroy more or less well-functioning structures. In fact, the very acceptance of a Campbell Liberal appointment as an "Authority" CEO is beginning to be highly suspect. (Remember, CEO for the new, irresponsible ferry system, David Hahn, is a work-permit yankee from a bankrupt U.S. corporation. The newly-minted "Commissioner" of ferries, Canadian Martin Crilly, has allowed seriously misleading and/or false information about the public service intentions of the ferry system to be posted on the Commission website).
The mess in apprenticeships broke open because grades of students were being inflated to provide false qualification. Training Authority CEO Brian Clewes told an interviewer that "the new authority will operate more like a business" [Enron, perhaps?] than the former Commission did. (Business in Vancouver, Feb 10 04 1 and 6). That was only a hint.
115 administrators of the program were reduced to around 12 over two years. Costs to students have been raised. Recruiting offices have been shut all over the Province. Skill standards have been down-graded. The B.C. Federation of Labour has called for an independent inquiry after the manager of the Industry Training Centre was fired and the Victoria director of the training branch suspended.
Minister Shirley Bond couldn't be found to comment (Sun Feb 6 04 B5), but she is said to be vigorously investigating the grade part of the scandal only. That is like investigating only the theft of a car when all its occupants have been murdered.
The mangled body of the apprenticeship program lies in full view as the government (with its new budget) cuts grants to needy, good students in post-secondary education. By doing so, the B.C. government is, most likely, in a breach of contract with the federal Canada Millenium Scholarship Foundation. But contracts mean nothing to the Gordon Campbell government. They are made to be broken.
"Dumbing down" in all directions, the Campbell team is about to disband its Post-Secondary Education Commission to create an Authority-like body on the way to making private education in B.C. a cash-cow, rip-off, buyer beware, virtually standardless, profit-rich operation. (Georgia Straight, Andrew MacLeod Feb 19 04 27) Canadians have long laughed at the U.S. one-room Ph.d-granting "schools". "Just send $50.00 and you, too, can have a Ph.d". It may be fair to ask which Gordon Campbell relation will be first to open a Ph.d granting office in Telkwa, or Granisle, or Stillwater or some other major urban centre in B.C.?
A year earlier, the Campbell government passed the draconian and discriminatory Bill 29 (in January 2002). It allows unionized workers with negotiated contracts to be fired and their positions to be filled by private companies. That alarming attack on fundamental human rights has the approval of the largely-U.S. endowed Fraser Institute (which refuses to make public its financial supporters). Fraser Institute spokesmen remind us that financial success lies in "reducing spending, aggressive tax relief, and allowing private business to deliver the goods and services British Columbians demand." (Times Colonist, Veldhus and Clemens, Feb 5 04 A11)
As you read this column various Campbell government "Authorities" are gutting hospitals, care homes, seniors residences, and all other institutions housing the weak, the sick, and the elderly. The "Authorities" are permitting staff firings and letting them be re-hired at just-above-slave wages through U.S. slash-and-burn companies. CanWest publications consistently pretend Aramark and other U.S. takeover companies are Canadian by making reference to the Calgary or Winnipeg or Toronto-based national vice-president. They don't report the takeovers as U.S. takeovers.
In the institutions involved, the "cared for" complain of rising costs, slashed services, and newly "serviced" food that tastes more and more like pig-slop.
The Gordon Campbell government doesn't see itself as caring for its most vulnerable citizens but as providing them to U.S. companies as profit-fodder in institutions where they are not cared for but are corralled and contained for exploitation.
In addition, BC Commentary reports that the source Ministry for welfare services has been cut (over three years) $609 million, its staff chopped to shreds, and 36 welfare offices in B.C. closed. In the 2001 election campaign, Gordon Campbell was asked if he would cut welfare benefits. His reply: "We have no intention of reducing welfare rates". (BC Commentary, Spring 2003 1).
We should not believe for a moment that the attack on B.C.'s most vulnerable people by the Gordon Campbell government is mere concentration camp sadism. It is, as well, a step on the road to the corporate "final solution" which is, first, to destroy Canadian medicare and then to replace it with U.S. for-profit medicine. The Campbell government favours private medicare institutions that are in place. And it is placing U.S. private, for-profit operators in care facilities wherever it can elude national medicare standards and regulations.
That is a major scandal which makes the Sponsorship scandal in Ottawa look like school-yard pushing and shoving.
To prove its "good faith", the Campbell Liberals (without public announcement) appointed on Dec. 9, 2003 an anti Canadian medicare, two-tier care advocate to the newly formed Health Council of Canada. He is Gordon Campbell's brother-in-law. Health Council appointee Les Vertesi writes about parts of Canada's health care system and Communism together in a recent book on medicare. Spokesman for B.C.s Health Coalition remarks that Vertesi's ideas would tear down, not repair the health system. B.C.'s Nurses Union President Debra McPherson said Vertesi's ideas are "almost wacko" and he "should be recalled." (Province Feb 11 04 A24c)
Surely, even a government as stupidly ideological as the Campbell Liberal government must see that the appointment of Vertesi will be read as nepotism. Moreover, putting someone with "almost wacko" reactionary ideas onto the Health Council of Canada is a national announcement that the Gordon Campbell Liberals want to destroy medicare. Their every other action in health matters confirms that announcement.
Unfortunately, the Martin Liberals and the Campbell Liberals are closely entwined. Sheila Copps said recently in Vancouver that "some of the backroom activity has got to stop and the Prime Minister has got to put a stop to it. So there have been suggestions that he's going to be making some changes to his staff" ( Voice, Feb 21, 04 6) At the time of writing, they haven't been made. That is not a good sign. For the actions of the Martin team are often sleazy at best. To show he is not going to continue actions such as those exposed in the Sponsorship scandal, he must make important changes in his team and his program. If he does not, the Sponsorship scandal will spread. And its spread will be supported lustily by the Canadian Alliance wanting full reactionary power in Canada.
The sham quality of the Sponsorship scandal can be illustrated best, perhaps, by watching the role of Peter MacKay, former Tory leader. Having publicly betrayed David Orchard by breaking trust over a personally signed document and then sinking a Mafia knife into Orchard's back -- for all to see -- MacKay now stands in the House of Commons quaking with moral astonishment at Paul Martin's alleged betrayal of trust. As Canadian youth are commonly heard saying: Please. Give me a break.
But Peter Mackay is only a sign of the rot. Perhaps the key to the very deep, real scandal lies in an almost casual remark thrown off by Norman Spector in a Jan 30, 2004 column. Spector writes that Chretien was, in fact, overthrown by the Liberal Right. That is the portion of the Party up to its armpits in electoral sleaze, "bulk membership buying" (perhaps criminal activity).
Spector writes that after being "briefed by party officials and cabinet ministers about membership sign-ups in their provinces [in 2002], Chretien understood that, if he hung in, he'd face an embarrassing leadership review and would probably lose. For the first time in Canadian history, an elected prime minister was overthrown from office" (Sun Jan 30 04 A15)
We are forced to consider seriously if at least some of the "overthrow" support was collected fraudulently and to wonder if the "overthrow" of Chretien is a part of the ?destruction of the democratic process? which I refer to at the beginning of this column. For if Jean Chretien was not in a position to compete for Party approval of his leadership because of fraudulently collected memberships, we begin to see how significant the fraudulent and criminal membership-gathering is.
The survival of the Canadian Alliance Party with its new name depends upon the destruction of Paul Martin. The Corporate/Canadian Alliance/CanWest "final solution" for Canada - full and de facto political and economic integration with the U.S.A. - is at stake. Given time, Paul Martin is guaranteed to steal enough of the Canadian Alliance platform to wipe it out. The Canadian Alliance desperation in the House of Commons, therefore, is real. But how able is Martin to take on the attack? How much has he been a party to fraudulent election processes? And how much is auditor general Sheila Fraser's anger real anger? And how much is organized crime involved in the present forming of Canadian governments? I'll try to answer at least aspects of those questions in Part Two of "Right Politics and the Decay of Canada".
Other articles in this series:
Right Politics and the Decay of Canada, Part Two
Right Politics and the Decay of Canada, Part Three
Right Politics and the Decay of Canada, Part Four
Robin Mathews publishes on culture, politics, the arts, and Canadian Intellectual history. He lives in Vancouver with his wife, a potter. His column appears regularly on Vive le Canada.
Right Politics and the ...
Right Politics and the ...