column was published in the North
Shore News on
Feb. 23, 2000)
leader changes little
By Leo Knight
the only positive thing about the emergence of Ujjal Dosanjh as
the leader of the NDP and de facto premier is we have,
hopefully, seen the back of Glen Clark and Moe Sihota.
cannot see much in revelling in the fact that Dosanjh is the
first Indo-Canadian premier in the country. Albeit, the fact
that race had little, if anything to do with the campaign shows,
perhaps, how far we have come as a more tolerant society. But
even that positive point was overshadowed with the new member
sign-up scandal that has yet to be fully dealt with.
puzzles me about the fraudulent sign-ups is that no one has
requested the police investigate the situation. There are
several sections of the Criminal Code of Canada that would have
been breached in the process. Not the least of which is forgery.
is another offence called "Personation," which is
defined in section 403 of the Criminal Code.
section states that "every one who fraudulently personates
any person living or dead with intent to gain advantage for
himself or another person is guilty of an indictable offence and
liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 10 years ...
were over a thousand names (by the NDP's own admission following
an internal audit) of people whose identities were used without
permission and were signed up as party members.
a hundred of these were listed as party members of the B.C.
any definition, this is illegal, not merely cheating at
the attorney general of the province (as he was when this
occurred) to countenance a crime knowingly or by willful
blindness -- a crime committed a thousand times over apparently
-- and not demand the authorities investigate, especially when
he was the beneficiary, is shocking and a measure of how corrupt
this bunch is.
his acceptance speech, Dosanjh promised a transparent
one must surely question his commitment to this idea when one
looks at how opaque his own department has been in so many
controversial matters over the past few years since he took over
the AG's job from Colin Gablemann.
at the end of the day, Ujjal Dosanjh is probably the best of a
bad lot. Faint praise to be sure.
credibility issues don't end there though. In the "Casinogate"
scandal, which ultimately drove Glen Clark from office in
disgrace, Dosanjh doesn't come out clean by any stretch.
was briefed by the RCMP March 3, the day after Clark's house was
searched. Despite this knowledge he allowed the cheap and
dishonest spin doctoring to occur from Clark's office, his
lawyer and bootlick supporters.
more cynical among us might suggest he did this for purely
personal political reasons. He recognized that the criminal
investigation of Clark was a politically lethal bullet.
are those who might argue that he used the next six months to
gather his political support and position himself for a run at
the top job. When he had his ducks in a row, he delivered the coup
de grace by calling a press conference and announcing to no
one's surprise that Clark was indeed the subject of a criminal
what Dosanjh should have done was to meet with Clark privately
early in March, and without disclosing any specific information
he was made privy to by the police, advise him that until the
matter was cleared up one way or another, he had to step aside
while the investigation proceeded. That was his duty to his
office and to the people of British Columbia. But he didn't.
he made his announcement in August, he said he was only then in
possession of enough information to bring the matter to the
premier. That's untrue. By any measure, the information provided
to him on March 3 was more than sufficient for him to go to
Clark. So much for transparency in government.
followed was a flurry of membership sign-ups which directly led
to the criminal activity outlined above.
elevation to the top job also breathes life into the careers of
Joy McPhail, Sue Hammell and Cathy MacGregor, cabinet ministers
who left the Clark cabinet when they could no longer stand the
stench. Not to mention former premier Mike Harcourt who has
re-surfaced as an advisor to Dosanjh.
there's David Schreck, the former North Vancouver MLA known more
for his illogical but loquacious defence of the failed policies
of Harcourt on Internet news groups than for anything he
accomplished as a politician.
The new age of Dosanjh may signal the end of the likes of Clark, Dave Barrett, Moe Sihota, Harry Lali and the rest of that thoroughly discredited crew, but don't look for much in the way of change in policy.
Dosanjh, McPhail and the rest were still members of caucus and cabinet in both the Harcourt and the Clark governments. They were part of the thinking that made B.C. the only province in the country that failed to show any growth in the GDP in the '90s.
were there as the NDP lurched from one scandal to another, from
one financial disaster to the next.
The cloud of scandal that hangs over Dosanjh at the outset of his term as premier shows that precious little has changed for the party that has now had four different premiers in five years.