How can you help launch a public inquiry?

MLAs, of all political stripes, need to know how serious this is

The calls are growing. The Mayor of Port Coquitlam, the BC Government and Service Employees Union, a former crown prosecutor, a Vancouver city councillor, a money-laundering expert — all clamouring for a public inquiry into money laundering.

When we launched our call for a corruption inquiry in June 2017, B.C. had just been through a ruthless general election. The parties were all scrambling in the aftermath and the province’s future was uncertain. It seemed like the right moment to shine a light into the dark corners of the legislature.

The Wild West of political fundraising, as it was dubbed by the New York Times, had created a fundraising free-for-all in B.C. In just five months before the May 9 election, the BC Liberals raised $7.8 million, more than $4.5 million of it from corporations. Meanwhile the BC NDP raised more than $8.6 million — including $5 million from corporations and unions. Just in five months.

We had enough evidence to suggest those huge donations weren’t given out of the goodness of CEO’s hearts. We wondered if there were promises made, approvals given or contracts awarded by politicians in exchange for those contributions.

But we couldn’t know for certain. Not without a corruption inquiry.

As Premier Horgan, Attorney General Eby and the rest of the new NDP government moved into their new digs, the true scope of the scandal began to emerge. It started with money laundering in casinos. Then we found out about gangsters, based in China, who were laundering their drug dealing profits through Vancouver’s housing market. And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

It all leads to the question: How much did the previous government actually know about what was going on? Did they turn a blind eye because casinos and real estate developers were major donors to their party?

Perhaps the fertile ground for crime in B.C. wasn’t created by accident.

Now the roar of public anger is growing louder with each passing day. We need a corruption inquiry.

Why are the political parties dragging their feet on this? And what can we do to push them into action?

The BC Green Party

Green MLAs should be the easiest to convince to join the call. They are trying to brand themselves as the conscience of the legislature — the mavericks who have the power to hold the government to a higher standard. There’s not much dirt on them — the party didn’t take any donations from corporations, unions and out-of-province donors from November 2016 onwards and they’ve never formed government. They were instrumental in getting campaign finance reform laws in place when the NDP took over government.

The Greens play a crucial role in getting the ball rolling on an inquiry. While MLAs are not given the opportunity to vote on whether or not there should be an inquiry — that decision lies with the Premier and cabinet — the Greens can sway the discussion in the legislature by using their time in Question Period or introducing motions that echo the public’s frustration.

Why wouldn’t they support a public inquiry? It would give the party a much needed wedge issue to demonstrate how they are different from their NDP counterparts. But they need to hear from their constituents how important this issue is.

The BC NDP

NDP supporters play an important role in the decision to call an inquiry. At the end of the day, it will be the Premier and cabinet’s call to strike a commission and launch an inquiry.

Early in the NDP’s tenure as government, a public inquiry could have seemed vindictive and partisan. They would have been accused of simply trying to kneecap their political rivals. But now, as evidence piles up and the public pounds on the door, there is less risk of that. The credibility of our democratic institutions is at stake.

There is a rumour that there are some powerful dissenting voices close to the Premier. One of the inquiry skeptics is likely Geoff Meggs, a former Vision Vancouver city councillor and the current chief of staff to the Premier. Any inquiry that focused on casinos and real estate would almost certainly overlap with Vision Vancouver donors. Quebec’s Charbonneau commission ended up focusing heavily on municipal contracts and real estate developments.

An inquiry is non-partisan and non-biased. Once initiated, it proceeds completely independent of the government and can’t be stopped. The NDP would by no means be exempt from the searchlight. And they could end up with some mud on themselves as well.

But they should keep in mind that 16 years in government, and untold millions in donations, create many more skeletons. The BC Liberals are even more at risk than they are.

The BC Liberals

The more we learn about the B.C. Legislature, the more it is becoming clear that something is not right. There exists a culture of secrecy, greed and criminality that could only have been cultivated over many years. The brunt of that blame is coming down on the BC Liberals.

Given their lengthy time in government and the decisions that continue to haunt them, most of the dirt will probably fall on the BC Liberals. And while they are actively working to avoid an inquiry, they are taking the temperature of the general public and realizing that they need to do something.

The party has put out a 20 point ethics plan. House leader Mary Polak is working hard to direct blame anywhere but toward her own caucus. And leader Andrew Wilkinson has called for a judicial review of money laundering — stopping short of a public inquiry, for now.

What role can their constituents play? Turn up the heat. At the end of the day, the BC Liberals want to get into government. The only way they can do that is if people vote for them. So they might be willing to throw the old guard under the bus, if it allows the party to start fresh.

What can you do?

Whether your MLA is a member of the NDP, the BC Liberals, the Green Party or an Independent, they need to hear from you on this issue.

The more calls and e-mails their office receives, the more likely they are to understand how disgusted British Columbians are and what action we want them to take.

MLAs go back to work in Victoria on February 12. An inquiry needs to be front of mind for every single one of them as they walk up the steps of the legislature — they need to feel like voters’ eyes are watching them. We need them to bring up this issue in their caucus meetings, when they are discussing party priorities, in the legislature, when they are challenging the government during Question Period and when they are drafting legislation.

Join me in taking action.

Send a message to your MLA right now calling for a corruption inquiry.

21 Responses to “How can you help launch a public inquiry?”

  1. George Simich says:

    I will not support any party that is unwilling to move forward with an investigation into corruption.

  2. David Haynes says:

    You go back to work in Victoria on February 12. An inquiry needs to be in the front of your mind as you go to the the legislature — You need to feel like voters’ eyes are watching you. We need you to bring up this issue in your caucus meetings, when you are discussing party priorities, in the legislature, when you are challenging the government during Question Period and when you are drafting legislation. Some crimainals have been at work in the legislature and I think you may know these folks. They need to be shamed, make reperations, and if needed serve jail time. This sort of breech of trust is totally unworthy of any government past or present.

  3. Ken Sawatsky says:

    Let’s have a public inquiry into money laundering and other contentious issues

  4. Reid Thorburn says:

    Time for our MLAs to put the welfare of our future generations ahead of personal profit or reputations, rising property values because of the money laundering and foreign capital influx will make home ownership unattainable for younger generations. This is a good opportunity for the newly elected Sheila Malcolmson to set her self apart from her top down NDP colleagues.

  5. Davey Osborn says:

    Yes a public inquiry please.

  6. Charmaine says:

    It’s time to stop public servants from serving themselves when they are in posititions of power. So many instances of money wasted while schools, hospitals and other public services suffer. Where is the accountability? Where are the ethics and accountability that the public need in these trying times.

  7. Richard Tallboy says:

    Clean the stables now. Make sure that party fundraising is cleaned up and open.

  8. Kristina Kral says:

    A public inquiry needs to happen. This corruption is at the very heart of what is making it close to impossible for British Columbians to be able to afford living here, and as members of the government it is your job to take care of your constituents. If this corruption occurred, we need to know so that we can work together to fix the problems facing our province. Working together means trusting each other. Do the right thing and fight the crime that has been allowed to thrive in BC.

  9. We need a public inquiry into money laundering now.We are watching YOU!
    Do what is right for BC.!

  10. fiddlejam says:

    LAUNCH A PUBLIC INQUIRY! Heads should roll if there is corruption. The public is fed up with the sense of entitlement that many politicians have and corporations need to be outed for backroom deals.

  11. Diana MacDonald says:

    Public Inquiry into BC corruption? This is a no-brainer. It affects all levels of our lives right down to where I can live (and therefore, work). Make it happen!

  12. Valerie Harrison says:

    If government cannot be trusted we have no government. It is time to answer the call for a corruption inquiry to reinstate respect snd trust in the people we elect to office.

  13. Alois Verlinden says:

    A public inquiry is sorely needed in this money laundering scandal, it is to all honest people’s advantage.

  14. Ron Bruce says:

    All those who oppose a corruption inquiry are most likely in the line of fire. Please raise your hand so we can eliminate the rest of us law abiding citizens. Lengthy jail times and stripping assets from those who are complicit seems appropriate. Who cares whether they’re MLAs, realtors, lawyers, bankers or developers. It’s time to flush the toilet.

  15. Donald Mills says:

    I am pressing Elizabeth May to adopt a motto or guiding principle such as TRUTH< INTEGRITY and Cons. Govts. decade after decade. Let ‘s get REAL change. Greens, this is your golden opportunity to excite ordinary people to vote for a true Democratic Government in 2019.

  16. Donald Mills says:

    MY comment above is not all included and does not read correctly.

  17. sharon says:

    Not only a public inquiry into money laundering, but also a forensic audit of BCHydro – the Attorney General seems to be incapable of examining all the departments/subcontracts/missing information required.
    And please, no KPMG should be involved.

  18. Walt Tessling says:

    It appears you could use some Conservative help

  19. Gfletch says:

    We are all collectively the owners of our government institutions. The elected and unelected politicians all work for us. We want to know what is being done, or has been done, what the details of the problem are, and finally…what the hell is going to done about it.

  20. Glen Jones says:

    I demand a public inquiry into all the corruption that had taken place in the BC Government over the past 16 years of BC Liberal governments. I am sick and tired of corruption, bad decision making, money laundering, real estate corruption and lack of accountability for just bad government. Let the chips fall where they may but we need a Public Inquiry to deal with something of this scale, please support a Public Inquiry.

  21. c mason says:

    PLEASE have an immediate inquiry with due
    consequences!!

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