The Vancouver Scrum

On the move!

Agh! You’re still here? My new site and weblog, is now up and running; new posts are building up over there, never to be mirrored here. Go! What are you waiting for? All the stuff worth keeping has been migrated over to the new server, and I don’t anticipate making any more posts here.

Bloggers and webmasters: Update your links! Simply replace with in your blogrolls or bookmarks to point to the new site. Old posts will remain on this server for as long as the people at Blogger/Google allow them to remain; unfortunately, I’m not going to bother to come up with any way of converting permalinks on this blog to their corresponding posts on the new site. Yes, I plead laziness. I also realize the irony of switching away from Blogger just it starts to add features that the demanding blog nerds insist upon.

Thanks for reading and linking, and see you over at!

—Ian King, December 13, 2004

Friday, January 31, 2003

E-mails from politicos

Regular Scrum correspondent Doug Adderly, webmaster for The Republic, passes along this brief e-mail exchange he had with B.C. Liberal caucus chair John Les.
Dear Mr. Les,

I just read your comments on the Val Roddick Recall in the Globe and Mail.

You should be disturbed. One of your members, elected with a massive majority, is being recalled for policy reasons. She is not being recalled for personal corruption. She is being recalled for not representing her constituents. People get angry when they realize that their MLA cares nothing about them and merely serves a dogmatic central government in Victoria.

You will be even more disturbed when another Liberal gets bagged in a Recall. Who's next? Jeff Bray perhaps. If Roddick can get bagged in a safe riding like Delta South what about this guy who only had a majority of a few dozen votes?

Here is his reply:
Date: Wed, 29 Jan 2003 11:24:55 -0800
From: "Les, J" <>
Subject: RE: B.C. recall laws being abused, Liberal says
To: 'doug adderley' <>

Let's all just wait and see how many of the 13k+ signatures are, in fact, valid.

John Les

Of course, Doug's got a point. Roddick got all but 7,190 of all the votes cast in the 2001 general election. Her recall organizers say that they got nearly 6,000 more signatures than that total, no small feat indeed. Delta South is a reasonably wealthy, solidly conservative riding. By all rights, this recall should have had no chance of succeeding, but when people lose their local hospital...

Don't you just love BC politics?
How an argument about a war against Iraq works. (Tom Tomorrow cartoon)

It's much easier than watching Wednesday's "take-note" debate on the situation in Iraq in the Commons last night. Gives you the same message in 2 minutes, not 6 hours.

Tuesday, January 28, 2003

Peter Worthington must have blown a gasket!

... or something like that. The editorial staff at the rigidly conservative Toronto Sun tabloid voted overwhelmigly -- by an 82-33 margin -- to join the Communications, Energy, and Paperworkers Union of Canada. The paper will be a union shop for the first time in its 32-year history. This has got to be a blow to the paper's opinion-mongers, who have never missed an opportunity to slag organized labour. But what the hell were they expecting. The days when the Sun gave out fat bonuses, staffed the paper well, threw lavish parties for the hacks, and had generous sabbaticals, are long gone. Under new owners Quebecor, staff were fired, sabbaticals, vacations, benefits, and bonuses became less generous, and morale at the paper fell off. To the ultra-right-wing columnists there, I suppose that it didn't matter, but when you're a hack with debts, a mortgage, and a family to feed, well, the protection of a union looks pretty damn good.

Something tells me that you won't be seeing the paper endorse Jack Layton for Prime Minister or Howard Hampton and the NDP in the upcoming Ontario election, though.

No reaction in the Sun's op-ed pages yet. Stay tuned.
If it's true that democracy gives people the government that they deserve, then we in B.C. must be some pretty damn awful people. The story of Gordon Campbell's drunk driving charge has not yet faded, and it's still being talked about at water coolers, in pubs, and in Internat message boards and newsgroups. Now that should be enough at one time in a normal province. But hey, this is B.C.

John van Dongen, the Minsiter of Agriculture and Fisheries, stepped aside today after he was told that the RCMP were investigating van Dongen's handling of a file on... fish farming. From hius early days in the position as the minister responsible for the aquaculture industry in BC, he was seen as more the promoter, not the regulator, opf the industry. His performace to date had earned him the nickname "Two Fish" from former Social Credit cabinet minister and fish farm opponent Rafe Mair over van Dongen's comments about how many Atlantic salmon from fish darms had escaped from coastal aquaculture operations.

Being the industry's lackey is not, however, reason to be subject to an RCMP investigation. So what was van Dongen doing, or what was he suspected of doing, that led to this investigation?

In other news, Delta South Liberal MLA Valerie Roddick might be the first politician in Canada to be recalled by her constituents. Organizers claim that they've gotten the signatures of over 13,000 voters in the riding, some 1,150 more than necessary to force a by-election in the riding. However, there's one little problem for recall organizers: Delta South is probably the safest Liberal seat in the Lower Mainland. if there were to be a by-election, who would the voters of that rather conservative and well-to do community vote for? The NDP? Hah! In the last two votes in Delta South the Greens beat the NDP.

Political chaos -- it's as much a part of life in British Columbia as really good weed, logging, and whining about the Eastern Bastards from Banff to St. John's who apparently conspire to ruin the province.

Saturday, January 25, 2003

It's great to see former BC premier Mike Harcourt out and about again. The progress that he's made since his fall last November that left him an incomplete quadriplegic is remarkable.
Layton Wins

Jack Layton has won the leadership of the New Democratic Party with a first-ballot majority of 53.5% of the vote. The Toronto city councillor took more than double the votes of his nearest rival, 24-year Winnipeg MP Bill Blaikie.

Jack Layton 31,149.9502
Bill Blaikie 14,365.4121
Lorne Nystrom 5,397.156
Joe Comartin 4,490.1522
Pierre Ducasse 2,154.7694
Bev Meslo 645.2268
E-voting not ready for prime time?

Toronto blogger and "right-wing jackass" David Artemiw has found out just how easy it was to cast a fraudulent vote in the NDP leadership race. On his blog, he describes how he used the name of a pal who became an NDP member but who had no intention of voting to get a "replacement" login ID to cast a vote. Apparently the leadership election administrators didn't ask any further question to see if Artemiw was who he was claiming to be.

In fairness to the NDP, this kind of vote fraud could have been perpetrated for last year's Canadian Alliance leadership vote, assuming that you, like Artemiw, had a friend who was part of a party but had no intention of voting for the leader. In the case of the Alliance's mail-in vote, all you'd need is the ballots that were sent to every eligible Alliance member, and then voted, etc. Same with previous phone-in votes that have been used for Reform/Alliance, BC Liberal, and other party leadership votes where a one member/one vote leadership vote was in place.

Makes you wax nostalgic for delegated conventions, where votes were garnered through good old-fashioned arm-twisting, horse trading, and, of course, booze. Oh yes, and rigging party memberships so that you freeze out your competitors.

At least Artemiw voted for the impressive Pierre Ducasse.
A few bugs in the system

It seems that the NDP have had some troubles with their fancy new electronic voting devices. The vote-counting computer seems to be beset by some problem that is preventing members in the convention centre and possibly those online from voting. The NDP's use of Internet voting is a first for a Canadian political party's leadership race. The party's officials say that the voting should still proceed on scheduled, but...

Earl Hurd of, the company that is running the voting system, suspects that a common internet prank might be occurring.

"We believe that it is a denial of service attack, not a virus"

This attack, where a series of computers all try to access a computer on the Internet at once, attempts to overload a computer so that no other users can access the computer. According to Hurd, voting had been proceeding at a suspiciously slow pace, and that one login name had been getting used repeatedly.

More on Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks from Symantec.
Still singin' those social democratic blues?

I wrote this article back in August about the New Democratic Party's woes over the last decade. I think that it's still relevant, especially on this day, a day that the Dippers will pick a new leader to, they hope, lead them back to prominence in federal politics.

What do I think the reasons are for the federal NDP's poor performace?

There's no doubt that the political centre has drifted over to the economic right (lower taxes, a reduced role for the government in the economy, less regulation of busness) over the last twenty years. This, I attribute more to high government debt levels and government spending in areas that were not that popular. Canadians are not unwilling to pay taxes for government services, but they do like their taxes spent in an efficient manner. If many voters see their tax money going to fund things that don't directly benefit "them" (a term that changes depending on just which voters you're talking about), they tend to demand that the spending be cut. That is what I think that we've seen play out over the last 15 or so years.

And, of course, lower taxes are always a vote-getter. If you can lower taxes in a way that the new, lower rates can still fund government activity, then you've really got it made. This is where the federal Liberals have got something right. The federal tax cuts from 2000 were made after the budget was balanced, and the government is still projected to run a $10 billion surplus, which will go to debt reduction. This sells. The NDP has not, in my opinion, figured this out.

I should not at this point that National Post Ottawa bureau chief Robert Fife (hardly a bleeding-heart lefty) has opined that the drift to the right has ended, and the political centre is drifting back to the left, partially as a reaction to the excesses of the right-wing governments and ideas. The Liberals' pollster, Michael Marzolini, said as much in a paper presented to the New Liberalism conference. Hey, this sounds familiar... the rise of the neo-cons was fuelled, in part, due to the excesses of left-leaning governments and ideas.

The NDP should also get out of the business of slagging "the rich." First off, if you go by their 2000 campaign, anyone earning over $60,000 a year is "rich." This includes a lot of those union members who support the NDP through their unions, and have gotten their good wages through hard bargaining with their employers at contract time. The NDP has to show that its ideas will not penalize people for earning a good income, while at the same time making it possible for those of meagre incomes to get a better income, and quality of life, through education, training assistance, etc.

When you slag those who are supposed be your core support as "the rich," you lose their votes.

The NDP also has been suffering from the fact that there were NDP governments in Ontario and BC recently that were unsuccessful and unpopular. That's hurt their prospects in areas that had traditionally elected NDP MP's before 1993. Only time will get rid of that "hangover." You may see a few more NDP MP's from Ontario in 2004 (?) but in BC, the NDP will be hard-pressed to send anything more than their current two MP's.

While my hard-core NDP friends often like to blame the media for their party's ill fortune, I think that they're off-base.

The federal NDP has never been the choice of the mainstream media outlets and their editors. It likely never will be. That never stopped the NDP from getting 30 or 40 seats federally, because the party and its message got through to the voters. Here are some more things where the press and the people disagreed:

In the time of Franklin Roosevelt, 95% of American newspapers were Republican Party organs and slagged everything that FDR did and stood for. Their owners and editors wistfully pined for the days of Herbert Hoover and Silent Cal Coolidge, but the people sent FDR back to the White house again and again.

In 1992, almost every media outlet was promoting the Charlottetown Accord as the solution to all of Canada's ills. The voters said something rather different.

And don't forget the 2000 federal election. The Sun newspaper chain and the Southam papers (owned by Conrad Black at the time) gave the Alliance full editorial support, and the National Post did all that it could to promote Stockwell Day as the Second Coming. Talk radio was blaring Alliance apologia 'round the clock. It didn't help the party. The voters saw through the spin.

They also saw through the spin on the NDP in 2000. The verdict was still not good for the party. They lost seats and barely managed to retain official party status in Parliament.

Blaming the media is a mug's game. It's the sign of a loser, and that applies to all parties and all politicians, regardless of their political stripe. There will be media outlets that will try and dig up all manner of dirt on politicians that they don't like, but the voters will be able to decide whether any mud-slinging campaign initiated by a media outlet is valid or not.

Canadian Alliance loyalists blamed the media "elites" for the Stockwell Day follies. Nonsense. Day was to blame for his own downfall.

NDP loyalists say that outgoing leader Alexa McDonough never got the press that she deserved, and that she was ignored. Bull. She had hardly any impact outside of the Maritimes in her seven years at the top for a reason: she didn't jump up and get the attention that she, and her party, needed. Now the party has the chance to capitalize on a shift in the voters' mood back to a position more favourable to the party. I wish them well, but woder if they can pull this off.

Agree or disagree? Send me some e-mail.
This guy Maddox claims that his web site is The Best Web Page in the Universe. Apparently, if you disagree with anything on his pages, you are wrong. He's pretty hilarious, though you might not think so if you're easily offended.

Check out this gem where he proves that he is better than other peoples' kids. Or take a final, definitive, personality test that says everything you need to know about people who take personality tests on the Internet. There's lots of other good stuff on the site. I've put it into my bookmarks.

Thursday, January 23, 2003

Jean Chretien biographer and former Southam News typist Lawrence Martin argues in the Globe and Mail that Canadians haven't moved anywhere nearly as far to the right as have their media. Well, that's pretty obvious. Hell, if editorial support from the media really moved voters, we'd be talking about Prime Minister Stockwell Day (shudder). Sure, it's a column about the terribly obvious, but what the hell, it's worth looking into.

Now, can you guess who wrote this one?
Canadians are free to fantasize about a North American Supreme Court with the likes of Madame L'Heureux-Dubé on it, just as I'm free to fantasize about being strapped to a rack while a whip-wielding Sheila Copps walks across my back in stilettos. But my fantasy's got more chance of coming true.
That gem came from Mark Steyn, the very funny and literate madman who happens to be Conrad Black's favourite "journalist".

The thought of Sheila Copps in that way is really quite off-putting. I had thought that Steyn was far off the deep end when he wrote about how the Americans with Disabilities Act had caused the pathetic scenario of disabled workers in the World Trade Center being unable to jump out the windows to their deaths. However, sexual fanatasies about Ms. Copps takes the cake.

I suppose if Mark is reduced to fantasies about Tequila Sheila, it's proof that Canada could use more women in politics. At least those who are attracted to men can fantasize over Peter MacKay, Rahim Jaffer, and Scott Brison.
From an anonymous federal Liberal, on light of recent polls showing that the Canadian Alliance is losing support, and that the federal Liberals continue to ride high, 30-odd percentage points in front of whoever's second in the polls today. This is spin, but it's entertaining.
The present reality is simply this. Conservative ideology has run aground. The harshness of spending cuts, the corporate scandals emerging from unprecedented deregulation, and now the adventurism of the Bushites have succeeded in a new conventional wisdom sinking into the minds of the body politic the world over. The emerging view is simply that conservatives cannot be trusted. It has already had an effect in Latin America - Venezuela, Brazil, Peru, Chile and Ecuador have all kicked conservatives out on their ass. In the United States, Bush's approval rating is sinking hourly. Tony Blair, the UK's most prominent conservative will be out on his ass forever in a few short months. The whole goddamn movement is collapsing faster than the WTC. Hence, Crout and his squad are at 52%. The era of the selfish neocon is drawing to a close, and its about goddamn well time. Forget about the math of uniting the CA and the Tories. It won't do any good (unless of course, they unite under the leadership of David Orchard). The Grits under Crout, Paul Martin or Alfonso Gagliano for Christ's sake, - - the Grits under anybody's leadership - - are going to make mincemeat of conservatives, whatever their goddamn label. The people have had it up to the teeth with the likes of Bush, Wolfevitz, Cheney, Rummy, Gordon Campbell, Kenny Lay, Ezra Levant, Silvio Burlusconi, Mikey Harris, Tits Harpoon, Presto, Stockboy, Fujimori, Worldcom, Enron, TimeLifeWarner, Tony Blair, Grant Devine, Arthur Anderson, Tubby Black, the National Post and the rest of those selfish, selfseeking millionaires who have stuck it up the ass of all of the common people of the world for the last twenty five years. Conservatives are fucking through! Rant Dick is through! Ptent too! Hail to the Grits! Hail to Crout! Crout's little indiscretions don't amount to a goddamn hill of beans compared to the larceny and cruelty committed by those greedy bastards. So forget about it. Power is going to be in the hands of the Grits for the next 50 years in this country because the people have been betrayed by all of those crooked self seeking, self promoting jerkoffs.
Even I'm not that big a Liberal fan. The guy who wrote this is a major-league partisan, and beats 'em all, hands down.

Wednesday, January 22, 2003

Reading articles where columnists take on their favourite politicians is always interesting. The odds are that you'll find out more about the quality of the pundit than that of the pol. Will the article be a giant suck-up piece, where no assertions or beliefs are challenged, or will the columnist have the guts to show some flaws or weaknesses, something that even the best politicians are saddled with?

Calgary Sun editor Licia Corbella showed that she falls into the category of fartcatcher. That's not surprising given the Sun chain's well-established tradition of sticking with right-wing politicians. However, her latest column in that brightly-coloured fishwrap takes the cake.

Now, let's get beyond the stylistic suckups -- where Harper's mouthpiece Carolyn Stewart Olsen is descrived as "competent and charming," or how Harper "doesn't seem to crack under pressure." That's to be expected. It might make any self-respecting political observer puke, but it's par for the course for an editor of a scurrilous right-wing rag.

Corbella seems to parrot Canadian Alliance leader Stephen Harper's complaints about a recent EKOS Research poll that showed that if an election were held tomorrow, just over 52% of Canadians would vote Liberal, versus just 10.9% for the Sun's beloved Canadian Alliance. So she goes on a rant to attack the poll and its findings, and makes more than a few errors in the process.
The EKOS poll is completely out of whack with recent numbers provided by two of EKOS' largest competitors -- Ipsos-Reid and Environics, which pegged Alliance support at between 19% and 20%.
I'd like to know how recent that Ipsos-Reid poll showing the Alliance at 20% was. It sure hasn't been any poll of theirs for at least the last 6 months. Even Ipsos' poll taken in light of the news that the cost overruns on the firearms registry would drive the total cost of the program to $1-billion in the next few years showed the Alliance at 16%.

Is a 5% drop -- from 15.9% to 10.9% according to the same company's polls -- in popular support in the space of a month "out of whack"? No, not really. You've got to be huffing a lot of sour gas to be thinking that. Or working at the Calgary Sun.

Another gem from Corbella in response to Harper's asking her whether or not she could believe that the NDP had jumped to first place on the Prairies:
Well, of course not. I spent some time yesterday asking people I ran into, 'are you going to vote NDP in the next federal election?' and all I got were either puzzled looks or laughs. "Yeah, right," was the most common response.

First up, why the heck would it be surprising that the NDP are out in front in Saskatchewan and Manitoba? They've always been strong in those two provinces. Perhaps Corbella was trying to convince Sun readers that the pollster was lumping Alberta in with Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Second, asking people in Calgary if they're going to vote NDP is sort of like asking people in East Vancouver if they're going to vote Alliance. Most of the reaction that you'll get will be derisive.

Keep digging yourself a deeper hole there, Licia. That's a good little bobblehead:
...Add to that the news of the Liberal party infighting, the billion-dollar gun registry boondoggle and the revelation that Heritage Minister Sheila Copps claimed almost $180,000 in expenses over the past two years alone, $80,000 of which doesn't include any receipts to back up the expenditures.
Well, your gang, who also like to rack up those expenses (see John Reynolds's travel bill, not to mentio the booze tab when he lived at Stornoway), can't seem to make anything out of it. Could it be that the Alliance is so repulsive to Canadians outside of their traditional base of religious whackos, gun nuts, grumpy old men, those who believe in "one dollar, one vote", and the uneducated that Canadians will still take the Liberals, with their well-documented screw-ups, over the Alliance? That's my thesis.

Apparently all manner of evil must have occurred for one of the country's more well-known and reprected public opinion research companies to have found that Corbella's favourite party is not attracting support in Canada. Wonder if she'll ever postulate in print if it's the party, not the pollster, who's to blame?
Gordon Campbell part 273 and counting...

I really hope that I don't have to write much more about B.C. premier Gordon Campbell's drunk driving arrest. Still, more news flows in.

On Monday, the premier, on the advice of his lawyers, released the record of his arrest in Maui, and it didn't paint a pretty picture. Sure, there was the news that the premier blew .161 on the roadside breathalyzer, but that wasn't all.

The police report says that the premier was doing 70 miles an hour (113 km/h) in a 45 mph (72km/h) zone, that his vehicle crossed over the centre line into the oncoming lane, and then over to the side of the road. When he was asked to get out of the car, he had truble keeping his balance. This doesn't jibe with the story he was telling the media last week when he returned to Vancouver, as Brent Jang explains.
On a much brighter note, there's some good news for Vancouver transit fands and those who are concerned about pollution and greenhouse gas emission. TransLink, the regional transportation authority for Vancouver, has issued a formal request for proposals for a new fleet of electric trolley buses. The new fleet of 205 40-foot buses and 40 60-foot articulated trolleys is scheduled to enter service in 2005 to 2007, and will replace the current fleet of 234 Flyer trolleys that were delivered in 1982-83.

Now, if we could just get Ottawa to fund part of the cost of these new zero-emission buses...

Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Campbell 'fesses up

B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell has admitted that his blood alcohol content was nearly twice the legal limit when he was charged with drunk driving while on holidays in Maui. Reports surfaced yesterday that the premier's blood alcohol level tested a "staggering" .149, well in excess of the legal limit of .08. Campbell confirmed this fact this afternoon when he spoke to the media after a cabinet meeting in Victoria.

This further clouds Campbell's claim that he had only had three martinis and two or three glasses of wine that fateful Thursday night. Experts in the field estimated that Campbell would have had to have consumed ten drinks from 5:30 that evening until he left sometime after midnight to have a blood alcohol of .08; it would have taken about four more to attain a level as high as Campbell blew.

This leads one to conclude that the martinis were about four ounces each, and the glasses of wine about twice the size served in licenced establishments! The website describes a person with a blood alcohol of .15 as having "impaired balance and movement -- clearly drunk."

How this affects the public reaction to the whole drunk driving mess is still up in the air, but this news further casts doubt on the premier's version of the story. It's now clear that Campbell was more than a little over the legal limit when he was driving, so this was not a technical infraction. Campbell said that he was driving a "short distance." The distance that he was driving was 17 km, along a twisty highway. If more facts that don't jibe with Campbell's statements, his standing in the public eye, which is already shaky, could further drop.

Opinions about what the premier should do continue to pour in. On Monday morning, former Social Credit cabinet minister Rafe Mair, who now hosts British Columbia's most popular radio talk show, said that while Campbell is not constitutionally obliged to step aside, he should anyway. Opposition leader Joy MacPhail has called for the premier to resign, as has Green Party leader Adriane Carr.

Campbell's cabinet and caucus remain solidly supportive -- for now. Solicitor-General Rich Coleman, the province's "top cop" said that if he were charged with drunk driving, he would resign, but doesn't think it appropriate for the premier to do so. He skated around the issue marvellously, as Vaughn Palmer describes.

CTV News at Six anchor and CKNW talk-show host Bill Good, who is chummy with Gordon Campbell, has declared that because the premier has decided not to resign, the public should move on. I gather, then, that Good believes that Campbell should not pay any political price for his transgressions.

Globe and Mail political scribe John Ibbitson has argued at that Campbell should temporarily resign as Premier, and run in a by-election in his own riding a la Sheila Copps in 1995. Campbell's cabinet ministers, including Rich Coleman, argue that it's not so simple for the First Minister to step aside for a few months -- this may be true, but it seems unlikely that any interim leader would be unable to continue to implement the Liberal agenda, especially with the Liberals holding 75 seats in the 79-seat legislature. It seems more likely that the Premier so dominates the Cabinet (he has a reputation as a control freak) that there's a fear that the operation would be bogged down without his presence. Whatever.

Even if Campbell did resign to run in a by-election, it's likely that he would be returned to Victoria. Campbell's riding of Vancouver-Point Grey is upscale, and has not been negatively affected in the way that other parts of the city and province have been by the Liberal agenda. Vancouver-Point Grey was NDP from 1989 to 1996, but that was because of the Bill Vander Zalm government, not due to a temporary conversion to socialism. Vancouver city councillor Jim Green gave Campbell a run for his money in the riding in 1996, but it seems unlikely that the denizens of Point Grey would turf a fiscally conservative Premier.

For those that think that Campbell should stay, perhaps the best suggestion comes from the Calgary Herald's Catherine Ford, who thinks that Campbell should spend the next 12 months living the life of a citizen who has been convicted of drunk driving. No government car, no driver, having to use cabs, the bus, car pools, having to miss social engagements, and bumming rides from friends or the wife. I like it. I'm not convinced that the premier must resign, but I do think that he should show the same forgiveness, understanding, and compassion to the people of whom he asks the same.
Victoria Times-Colonist legislative scribe Les Leyne on government in B.C.:
The process of governing this province and the people who attempt it absolutely mystify me. Going back 15 years or more, every single time you think things will calm down and the political scene will stabilize, something bizarre happens. Every single time you think the scene will calm down long enough for some long-range policies to be implemented, something throws it off course. Every single time you think a leader or a cabinet will settle down and earn a chance to mature and gain experience in office, something happens to shoot the dream of responsible, respected leadership down in flames.

Eight premiers in 17 years, 19 years since a premier was re-elected. A list of people who have held cabinet positions of varying durations that's long enough to look like the voters list. Enough policy course changes through resignations, scandals and various abrupt reversals to make B.C. a standing joke.

If you get the government you deserve, we must have collectively done something wrong somewhere along the line.

This was extracted from Leyne's Tuesday column, which ran in both the Times-Colonist and the Regina Leader-Post.

Couldn't have said it better myself. It's times like this when you wonder if those in the "rest of Canada" think that B.C.'ers are incapable of governing themselves. Sometimes, I wonder myself.
A reminder that for those of you who want your own T-shirt, beer mug, greeting card, teddy bear, or "flying disc" featuring Gordon Campbell's mugshot, just visit this shop. The merchandise is being hawked by Kootenay Cuts, whose members are proving -- inadvertently or not -- that you can oppose Gordon Campbell and still like, or at least take advantage of, capitalism.
What a little goading will get you...

Yesterday, I challenged Prince of Darkness and longtime Rockaholic Warren Kinsella for his thoughts on the news that Allan Rock won't run to replace Jean Chrétien as Liberal leader and Prime Minister. Kinsella responds:

Well, frankly, it sucks. I could provide a lengthy, multisyllabic, ponderous, thumb sucker analysis, but you will all get plenty of that in the morning rags. Mostly, it sucks. Suffice to say, additionally, that Allan's a great guy, and he would've been (and could still be) a great leader. John Lennon fan, VW Beetle fan (not the new one), and for those reasons alone he deserves to be PM. Allan's principal weakness is that he's a nice guy, and the Liberal Party has become something of a toxic swamp these days. Not a great place for a nice guy.

You had to notice the "and could still be." Rock's message today was clearly that he wasn't running for the leadership -- this time around. He's got the time to plot another run yet, when the Cipro affair is nothing more than a Trivial Pursuit question, and the gun registry cost over-runs are talked about only by voters who would never vote Liberal. Besides all that, there are second acts in Canadian politics: I give you Pierre Eliott Trudeau and Jean Chrétien. Don't count Rock out yet. Now, if it is inevitable that Paul Martin will be the next Liberal leader and Prime Minister...

Will the real Paul Martin please stand up?

Link: Allan Rock's statement that he will not seek the Liberal leadership

Tuesday, January 14, 2003

Uh-oh, Gordo!

BCTV News' Lynn Colliar reports that B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell was well over the legal limit when he was pulled over for drunk driving last week. Campbell's reading on the police breathalyzer was 0.149% -- nearly twice the legal limit in British Columbia and in Hawaii, where the premier was vacationing when he was pulled over last week. The test at the police station was administered over an hour after Campbell was pulled over by Maui County police. The human body eliminates 0.015% of alcohol per hour; it stands to reason that Campbell had a blood alcohol content of more than twice the legal limit when he was pulled over.

This news, if true, further clouds Campbell's claim that he had only had three martinis and two or three glasses of wine before driving back home to the resort where he was staying. Today, the Globe and Mail ran a story where experts in pharmacology estimated that Campbell would have had to have had drunk at least 10 standard bar drinks during the evening (12 ounces beer, 5 ounces wine, or 1.5 ounces spirits) to have had a blood alcohol level of over 0.08. If, as BCTV has reported, Campbell had a blood-alcohol content of 0.149, then he would have had the equivalent of some 14 standard bar drinks over the course of the evening.

As many commentators have noted, Campbell's future will depend largely on how honest he was with the public when he admitted to drinking and driving. If he had more to drink than he had claimed, and if his blood alcohol content was as high as it has been reported, then the premier's troubles may just be beginning.

Traffic to this humble site has surged to record levels over the last few days. Hope that you like what you've seen, and that you'll come back for more. Feel free to send me your bouquets, brickbats, etc., etc.
The predictions begin...

Former NDP MLA David Schreck is predicting that the B.C. Liberal Party will force Gordon Campbell out -- eventually. Schreck forecasts a November 2004 leadership vote, enough time to release a new budget and Throne Speech before the next general election scheduled for May 17, 2005.

Is the premier damaged beyond repair, as Schreck contends? I'm not so sure. Voters, especially those who are in agreement with Campbell's policies, may be willing to forginve him. It hardly matters to Campbell if the centre-left of BC considers Campbell unfit to hold office -- those voters were unlikely to give the Liberals their vote in 2005, and no doubt that the strategy behind the government's cuts to social spending reflected that fact.

What does matter is the opinion of those moderate voters who voted for Campbell because he could provide clean, competent government, the sort of government that the NDP did not give in its second term in office. If they now see Campbell as untrustworthy, especially if the facts about his drunk driving do not closely match his words at his Sunday press conference, then he's in trouble. On tat count, things may not be looking too good for Campbell.

Campbell claimed that he did not know what his blood-alcohol level was. Maui police say that Campbell would have likely been informed of his breathalyzer reading when he was tested; the machine that the Maui police uses displays the result on a screen that is visible to the person being tested. In any case, the results of the breathalyzer test have been sent from Maui to Campbell's home in Vancouver. Campbell's communications director, Andy Orr, said that the premier wil release the readings when they arrive in Vancouver. Also in question is the distance from the vacation condo of Fred Latremouille, where Campbell had been drinking, to the resort where he was staying.

Politicians who try to downplay or cover up their misdeeds, or who selectively fail to tell the public certain embarrassing facts, are rarely successful; in fact, it usually backfires. When journalists uncover facts that the politician failed to tell his or her voters, they tend to react in a manner most unpleasant -- at least to the politician who obfuscates, sidesteps, and tap-dances around those facts!

Let's face it, if Bill Clinton had just 'fessed up to getting a little noggin from Monica, only the hard-core Clinton-haters would have been after him. The fact that he tried to split hairs on the definitions of "is" and "sexual relations" hurt him more in the eyes of voters than the extramarital sex ever did.

It's still to early to assess the damage to Gordon Campbell's political career from his Maui misadventure. While he committed a serious offence, it likely would not be prosecuted as an indictable offence. It also was not an abuse of his public office to drive drunk. However, it does call his judgment into question, and leaves him vulnerable on the question of cutting the province's Drinking Driving Counterattack program, or on his plans to increase the availablility of liquor in the province -- especially on its ferries, ferries which are supposed to be a part of the provincial highway system.

He should realize that if he wants citizens to give him some forgiveness and compassion, his government, through its agencies and programs, should be ready to show that same compassion in how it deals with those British Columbians who have had personal failings and require public assistace -- and especiually those who need help because of circumstances beyond their control. This means reconsidering some of the province's new welfare rules. It also would be politically smart for Campbell to put more money into substance abuse treatment programs, for both alcohol and drugs.

Of course, pursuing a more compassionate agenda would put him at odds with his party's sizable right wing. Okay, maybe Schreck's right -- maybe Gordon Campbell is political toast.

The first formal public-opinion polls following Gordon Campbell's drunk-driving arrest are in, and things are looking questionable for Gordon Campbell.

An Ipsos-Reid/CTV poll of 800 adult British Columbians indicates that 50% of respondents think that the premier should resign, 48% do not, 2% are undecided. There were no major age or gender discrepancies in the responses, although those with lower incomes and those in union households were somewhat more likely to say that Campbell should quit. 62% of respondents personally accept the premier's apology; 37% do not. Campbell's personal disapproval rating is at 59%; approval is at 38%. Three-quarters of respondents agreed with the statement "Gordon Campbell is being a hypocrite, because if this incident had happened to any other politician, he would demand their resignation," while over half said that he had lost his moral authority to govern.
Full tables are available here. (PDF file)
The margin of error for Ipsos' 800-person polls is +/- 3.5%, 19 times out of 20.

An overnight poll of 510 adult British Columbians by McIntyre and Mustel for Global News showed that 40% of respondents wanted Campbell to resign, with 42% thinking that he should stay. In this survey 67% of respondents said that they accepted the Premier's apology; 30% did not. The news seems to be that some of those who have accepted the Premier's apology still think that resignation is in order.

Pollster Evi Mustel cautions that public opinion is still emotionally charged and therefore fluid, and it will be the later polls that will indicate just how much damage Gordon Campbell has suffered.

I will add links to more extensive poll results as soon as they are posted to the web.

Again, if you want to get Gordon Campbell mugshot T-shirts, beer mugs, greeting cards, etc., just visit this site. I really don't care if you tell 'em that I sent you.

I wil try to assemble a list of shops in Vancouver selling apparel with the Premier's mug shot over the next couple of days. If you know of any outlet selling mugshot merchandise, please e-mail me.
Okay, Rockaholics, what now?

So Allan Rock has officially dropped out of the Liberal leadership race. There goes the one remaining serious contender -- Brian Tobin was the other -- who was seen as being something other than a business liberal; rather, Rock was thought by most to be an an old-fasioned welfare-state-lovin', Pierre Trudeau worshippin', bleedin'-heart Liberal. Rock's announcement didn't close the door on a future leadership run, but made it clear that he was not going to spend all that effort to finish a distant second to Paul Martin.

Rock admitted that former finance minister Paul Martin had amassed an insurmountable lead in the race to be the next Liberal leader. Martin, who has been organizing for another run at the Liberal leadership since he came in second to Prime Minister Jean Chrétien in 1990, controls most of the Liberal organization in Canada, including the majority of the riding associations in Ontario and British Columbia, and his supporters had made rules about access to Liberal membership forms that made it more difficult for other leadership contenders' organizers to sign up supporters.

Now the question is: who will the "bleedin' hearts" back? Paul Martin is seen as a Bay Street boy, a business Liberal; John Manley even more so. "Chairman" Dennis Mills, who has tossed his hat into the ring, is in favour of a flat income tax and has social-conservative views that put him at odds with those Liberals who want the party to move a bit to the left. Herb Dhaliwal's another biz-lib, and he can't even control his own riding association; how could he be expected to mount a serious challenge for the leaderhip of the Liberal Party of Canada?

This leaves the left-leaning Liberals with two choices, it seems:
1) support Tequila Sheila Copps, who has been raising money, but whose star has fallen since her third-place showing in the last Liberal leadership race.
2) hitch your wagon to Paul Martin and remind him that it's not just Bay Street backing him, but a lot of people who wouldn't mind seeing Paul Martin Jr. take the lead from Paul Martin Sr.

That last scenario isn't so preposterous. While Paul Martin is backed by right-of-centre elements in the party, he's also got the support of MPs like David Anderson, and (as much as he might not want her endorsement) Hedy Fry. Globe and Mail scribbler Rick Salutin thinks that Martin is not one to tear apart the social safety net, but maybe one to strengthen it. Patrick Gossage, former press secretary to Pierre Trudeau and current Liberal strategist, has suggested many times that Paul Martin really is his father's son.

Finally, we here at the Scrum eagerly await Warren Kinsella's reaction to the news that his man Allan Rock won't contest the Liberal leadership this time around. Come on, Warren, your fans are waiting!

Of course, someone would have to put together the Gordon Campbell Book 'em, Danno photo. (thanks to Andy Henderson)

More Campbell-Maui-Martini stories:

Globe and Mail: Premier's intake estimated at 10 drinks
For some reason, most of the assumptions that the analysts have been making are that every martini had 1 oz. of gin, and that those galsses of wine were about 5 oz. each. That might be what you get at a bar, but Campbell's host, retired Vancouver disc jockey Fred Latremouille said that he was pouring his own.
Globe and Mail: 'I thought he was fine,' dinner host says
Globe and Mail: New hurdles face B.C. Grits after arrest of Premier
Vancouver Sun: Victim panel, film await premier
Vancouver Sun: 'No evidence' Campbell a problem drinker
... this contradicts what former Liberal candidate Gail Sparrow told the press on Sunday
The Province: Campbell's reading will be made public


Vaughn Palmer: Campbell will get another chance - for now
Mike Smyth: Gordo's blowing it in more ways than one
Les Leyne: Can Campbell survive?
Ian Mulgrew: Hard to be top lawmaker and B.C.'s best-known criminal
Norman Spector: Campbell need not resign, but risks guillotine
John Ibbitson: You must step down, Mr. Premier . . . at least for a while

Sunday, January 12, 2003

Campbell won't resign

British Columbia premier Gordon Campbell has said that he will not resign after being arrested and charged with drunk driving while on vacation in Maui. In a tear-laced press conference, Campbell said that he had made a "terrible mistake and that I will face the consequences."

"I know I will have to re-earn your confidence" he the assembled media and television and radio audience. "This is my responsibility and I am truly sorry."

Campbell was arrested early on Friday, January 10 by Maui county police, who pulled him over after noticing how he was driving his rental vehicle. The premier failed a heel-to-toe roadside walking test, and was then taken to a police station where a breathalyzer test found that his blood-alcohol content was over the Hawaii legal limit of 80 mg/100 mL. He was charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, and released several hours later. In a statement issued by his office on Friday, Campbell said that he would not contest the charge.

The premier said that he had been drinking wine at a dinner party with friends last Thursday, but that he had switched to water later in the night. He said that he had consumed three martinis and "two or three glasses of wine" that evening. Earlier in the press conference, he had said that he had "way too much to drink that night."

Campbell said that he will seek professional assistance to determine whether or not he has a drinking problem, but regardless of the outcome, "I am not going to drink again."

During the question and answer session with the media, Campbell did not directly address the question of whether or not he had committed a criminal act when he was drinking and driving. While driving under the influence of alcohol is a criminal act in Canada, it is not in Hawaii, He also sidestepped questions of whether or not he should resign, given that he had demanded the resignation of cabinet ministers in the previous NDP government when they were under investigation . Campbell risks being seen has having a double standard when it comes to standards for ministerial behaviour.

Alcohol problems have plagued the Campbell family. Campbell's brother Michael, a newspaper columnist, quit drinking several years ago, and his father, medical professor Chargo Campbell, was an alcoholic who committed suicide in 1961, when Gordon Campbell was 13.

Campbell says that he will meet with his Liberal party caucus on Thursday. He does not think that his government's agenda will be changed by this incident.
Another Gordo drunk driving story

The Province has sent reporter Adrienne Tanner down to Maui to investigate BC Premier Gordon Campbell's drunk-driving arrest. The first stories are now coming in, including one where Tanner retraces Campbell's journey. CTV has also sent reporter Rob Brown out to cover the story; he talks to Maui County police officers in this report. (warning: video optimized for high-speed connections)

Pierre Bourque continues to push his claim that the Premier will resign this afternoon, although Liberal offcials uinclusing Finance Minister Gary Collins continue to deny that the premier has any intention of stepping down. The Attorney-General, Geoff Plant, has apparently told Campbell that there are no legal barriers to his remaining as a Minister of the Crown (although one could argue that there is some precendent that says he should resign, inclusing former federal cabinet minister Bernie Valcourt, who resigned after a drunk-driving accident in Maine; then again, there are enough precedents to go around).

Other peoples' comments

Province provincial-affairs columnist Mike Smyth, who is usually friendlier to the Premier than most commentators, gives the premier a good slamming for drunk driving and notes that the premier, a rich man himself, could easily have afforded the cab fare back to his hotel.

Curiously, Smyth writes:

The timing of the event is brutal, coming days after 13-year-old Carley Regan was killed in a sickening hit-and-run in Langley. A man with a drunk-driving record was charged, outraging the entire province.

Is it ever a good time to drive drunk? The timing is always appalling when it comes to drunk driving. It's just not on anymore, and after a generation of the Drinking Driving Counterattack program in B.C.(a program that Campbell has talked of cutting or eliminating), most residents will not brush this off the way that they might have 30 years ago.

Smyth recovers with this one:

Then there's the lofty standard of personal behaviour that Campbell demanded of the former NDP government. When Campbell was in Opposition, he screamed for resignations when there was only a whiff of misconduct.

If he judges himself by own holier-than-thou standards, he'd have no choice but to resign. But in this province's mucky political culture, that doesn't mean much, does it?

Too true. The standards politicians have when they're in opposition tend to become much lower once they get into government.

In yesterday's Victoria Times-Colonist, Les Leyne gave a good rundown of whether or not the Premier should stay or go, and the arguments for both sides.

Saturday, January 11, 2003

MADD calls for premier's resignation

No surprise there, although the story also has a quote from finance minister Gary Collins saying that Premier Campbell has no intention of resigning. This contradicts a story posted on Bourque Newswatch earlier this morning; Bourque claims that the Premier will anounce his resignation at a press conference tomorrow.
Fresh Swag!

The gang over at Kootenay Cuts have taken advantage of the new possibilities of the e-commerce age to bring you Gordon Campbell Mugshot swag.less than 2 days after the B.C. premier was arrested for driwing while impaired in Hawaii. Be the first on your block to have a spiffy new T with a picture of a drunken Premier posing for the Maui police. You know you waaaaant it!
Campbell out?

Pierre Bourque is reporting that B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell may be about to announce his resignation in the wake of his drunk-driving arrest on Friday. This information, according to Bourque, comes from an "insider on condition of anonymity." This information is preliminary and has not been confirmed by other independent sources.

Campbell will hold a news conference at 3 pm PST tomorrow to discuss the incident and his future.

If Campbell does resign, his interim replacement would likely by Deputy Premier and education minister Christy Clark. Clark, a long-time Liberal activist and the MLA from Port Moody-Westwood since 1996, is known for being ambitious and politically savvy.

The subject of resignation is a controversial one. University of Victoria professor Norman Ruff, one of the leading authorities on British Columbia politics, has said that drunk driving is not, in his opinion, grounds for resignation. Ruff noted yeaterday that drinking and driving reflects on the premier's personal conduct, and not on his performance in office.

Former NDP official Bill Tieleman was not so charitable. "He should consider resigning. He's disgraced his office" Political historian Will McMartin, who was involved with the B.C. Social Credit and Progressive Conservative parties does not think that campbell needs to resign -- for now. "It's a very serious situation." McMartin notes that this could weaken Campbell's grip on the Liberal leadership, which could lead to party infighting.

"If there is someone in his caucus with leadership aspirations, he may be in long-term serious trouble "

Campbell's situation is complicated by the fact that while he was leader of the opposition, he laid out very strict standards for the conduct of ministers. Within months of being elected Liberal leader, he was arguing that NDP ministers under investigation for conflict of interest should resign as long as there is a "cloud of suspicion" over them. Campbell has no cloud of suspicion; he has admitted that he drove drunk and will not contest the charge against him. He then called on Premier Mike Harcourt to resign in 1995 over allegations that some NDP organizations were using charity bingo as a way to raise funds for the party. In 2001, Campbell suspended MLA Tony Bhullar after Bhullar was charged following a disturbance at Bhullar's parents' home.

Vaughn Palmer has more on Campbell's dilemma in his column in this morning's Vancouver Sun.

Here's how the press in Hawaii is reacting:

Honolulu Advertiser: Canadian official arrested on Maui for driving drunk
Honolulu Star-Bulletin: Canadian leader arrested on Maui for drunken driving

Here's a great photo of Campbell's Maui mug shots. Follow this link. Seriously. Two of the pictures show Campbell with what could only be called a shit-eating grin.

Friday, January 10, 2003

Holy s***!

B.C. premier Gordon Campbell has been charged with drunk driving in Maui. Maui police arrested the premier, who is vacationing there over the holidays, early Friday morning. Campbell posted bail of US$257 and released several hours later. A preliminary court date has been set for March 25.

Campbell apologized to his family, his colleagues, and the people of British Columbia in a statement released by his office this afternoon. The statement said that Campbell did not intend to contest the charge.

University of Victoria political science professor Norman Ruff doesn't think that Campbell should step aside as premier while this issue is being resolved. "This doesn't relate to his performance as premier, it is related to his personal behavious while on vacation," Ruff commented. He also noted that Campbell has only been charged, and this should not be seen to be proof of any misconduct.

Former NDP official Bill Tieleman disagrees. Tieleman notes that it is normal for cabinet ministers to relinquish their post while they are under investigation. Campbell suspended backbench MLA Tony Bhullar from the Liberal caucus in late 2001 when Bhullar was charged following a disturbace at his parents' home.

CBC: Premier Campbell jailed for drunk driving in Maui B.C. premier chrged with drunk driving
CP/CANOE: B.C. premier charged with drunk driving in Hawaii, police say

Gordon Campbell's statement released Friday, January 10, 2003

I have made a serious mistake, and I want to apologize to everyone including my family, my colleagues and the people of British Columbia.

Last night, I was returning home from dinner with friends, and the Maui police pulled me over. I was arrested and charged with driving a vehicle under the influence of alcohol. I do not intend to contest the charge.

I will make myself available to the media Sunday, Jan. 12, at 3 p.m. at a location to be determined.

I'm back!

After a 3 weeks away from blogging, I'll be posting regularly again. The Christmas period, and its aftermath, tend to keep one away from triviality like web logs, or the web in general. Faithful readers should be glad to learn that I have a life outside of this little thing, but just as glad that I've returned. Thanks for your patience, and I apologize for not putting up some sort of "Gone Fishin'" sign on the site over the holidays.

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