The fact that no charges were recommended against former Solicitor General and one time Mayor of Chilliwack Jon Les is not quite the vindication he claims. He clearly was an insider on land deals while mayor and had special favours given him. What was not demonstrated – or better put, what the Crown said it couldn’t prove – was any improper influence by Les himself on his fellow insiders.
It must always be remembered here that we’re not dealing with presumptions of innocence when judging whether or not a person is fit to be a cabinet minister. Rather it’s a question as to whether or not his conduct compromises his position as a Member of Her Majesty’s Council.
Clearly Premier Gordon Campbell is well within the confines of his duty to leave Mr. Les on the Backbench.
What must, however, astonish us is how Mr. Campbell can apply these standards to Mr. Les and not to others, including himself.
There is, of course, the Premier’s own conviction for drunk driving. One doesn’t need a fertile imagination to wonder what Campbell would have said had he been in Opposition and an NDP premier done the same. In fact no guess work is required – some of the best speeches on cabinet morality came from Opposition Leader Campbell’s lips when he laid down sacred principles for the NDP to follow when their conduct was in question.
One of the clearest examples of when a premier/minister must resign comes when it’s alleged, with reasonable evidence, that they didn’t tell the truth. Admittedly, what is truth or what is what in law is referred to a mere “puff” is not easy to demonstrate in politics. Getting elected and staying elected – that which most politicians deem to be their main task – often brings out the apple polisher. Government information releases are invariably spun until sufficiently vague as to move them from being falsehoods to being partisan – a distinction not easy to define. Having said that, the Campbell government and especially the premier, have told a number of untruths; they have persistently stated as facts that which they new were not true.
We can start with the statements in the election 13 months ago about the state of the province’s finances. When then Premier Clark brought in a budget in 1996 then called an election based upon it and won, when it was obvious the budget was fudged, opposition leader Campbell had no trouble seeing that the Premier and his cabinet had knowingly not told the truth. The Liberal Opposition howled like stuck pigs. The discrepancy was several hundreds of millions of dollars.
When the Campbell government went to the people in May of 2009 based on a budget deficit of some $700 million it became known as out of town votes were still being counted that it was about four times as high. By Campbell reckoning Glen Clark lied but Gordon Campbell simply made an error in arithmetic.
When Mr. Campbell assured the voters in 1996 and repeated in 2001 that he would not sell BC Rail – and did so because he would lose heavily in many areas if he did not take this stance – then couldn’t wait to do just that on becoming Premier, he committed a falsehood made worse by his trickery in pretending that a 990 year lease wasn’t a breach of his promise.
Probably the most egregious falsifying the facts has come with his energy policy and here there can be no doubt.
He and his ministers have said over and over again that BC was a net importer of energy when the Federal Energy Board showed otherwise.
He and his ministers have consistently said that the companies to be involved would be small, mom and pop operations whereas the very opposite is the case and huge international corporations are the benefactors.
He and his ministers claimed that there would be no damage to the environment when even the smallest of projects have done enormous permanent damage to the rivers and the ecologies they support.
Campbell and his ministers have said over and over that private energy is needed to make BC energy self sufficient by 2016 when the fact is that this private energy only can be created during the run-off period when BC Hydro doesn’t need it.
Let me pause here so we can all catch our breath – the cornerstone of the Campbell government’s energy policy is obtaining private power for BC self sufficiency when that private power comes when our energy company, BC Hydro can’t use it! At this point BC Hydro, our own company, owes some $40 BILLION to private power companies for power they can’t use! Worse, because BC Hydro must buy this power at double what they can sell it for, they are compelled to export it at a huge loss!
Without any question, the Campbell government has been untruthful on the fish farm question since they removed the moratorium in 2002. It’s been demonstrated beyond doubt, by documentary evidence recently uncovered, that the government knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that fish farms posed a huge danger to wild salmon and possessed documentary evidence of that.
The plain truth is that the Campbell government has wallowed in deceit and sharp practice from the outset. It is this which makes it hard to understand why Gordon Campbell would impose upon Mr. Les a much higher standard of morality than it imposes on itself on its day to day governance of the province.