(This column was published in the North Shore News on June 21, 2000)

 

More questions of corruption

By Leo Knight

WITH the Canadian Alliance leadership campaign winding its way through the final days, two candidates are swaggering to the finish line while Tom Long staggers.  

 

But one thing this campaign has taught us is that the attitude of corruption is rampant in our political life.  

 

When two paid staffers in Gaspe were exposed this week fabricating membership applications, Tom Long desperately needed to come out publicly and decry that sort of activity. But he didn't. And neither, surprisingly, did the two main competitors, Preston Manning and Stockwell Day, or the party as an entity.  

 

The reluctance was epitomized by the prime minister in Question Period last week when he was able to deflect an attack on the blatant corruption of the federal Liberal party by attacking the Alliance for the problems in Gaspe. Sure it's the big pot calling the small kettle black, but it was effective in muting the accusations.  

 

The problem, as I see it, is not ignorance or priority gauging in terms of the important issues, but rather that of a system which is so permeated with corruption that everyone simply turns a blind eye lest they be tarred with the same brush.  

 

How else can we explain the B.C. Liberals' relative silence on the issue of the membership forgeries attributed to the campaign of Ujjal Dosanjh.  

 

By any analysis, there were over 1,000 questionable membership sign-ups by the Dosanjh camp, many of which reportedly involved forgery and impersonation, both Criminal Code offences.  

 

Dosanjh won the leadership of the party and the premier's chair by just over 200 votes. The sign-ups were submitted for his benefit while he was the chief law enforcement officer of the province.  

 

Why aren't the Liberals screaming from the parapets? And why aren't the RCMP conducting an investigation? And how, in the name of God, can Dosanjh get away with positioning himself as an honest man and the law and order guy and the media not scream its outrage?  

 

It's politics, apparently.  

 

I suspect the Libs are afraid they would open themselves up to the same charges. The Mounties are beholden to the government for funding and indeed, for their daily crust as the premier has the power to eliminate the federal policing contract with the RCMP and institute a provincial police force or at least a regional police force in the Lower Mainland.  

 

Equally, the police forces of the province are desperately trying to get the appropriate funding for the fledgling Organized Crime Agency of B.C. One can't curry favor on one hand and investigate improprieties on the other.  

 

And so, apparently, we need to suffer the Office of the Premier of the Province of British Columbia being inhabited by a man who arguably gained that privileged position with the assistance of organized fraud and deception by his supporters. And the Opposition stands mute.  

 

Am I wrong in all of this? Is the state of politics such that we are supposed to dismiss this as nothing more than dirty pool and not criminal behaviour? Well, no, I'm sorry, but I can't.  

 

Our political leaders are supposed to represent our interests. They aren't supposed to seek and gain power, whatever the cost, simply so they can advance the cause of their own political ideology or to line their or their pals' pockets. Whatever they may think, they govern for all not just a select few.  

 

Unfortunately the state of government in this country has evolved into dictatorships with all the power centralized in the office of the respective premier or prime minister.

 

Remember Lord Acton's sage observation that "power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely."  

 

For proof, one need only look as far as the HRDC scandal and the 20 or so police investigations currently ongoing into various elements of the grants given.  

 

To date, not one head has rolled. Inaction sometimes speaks volumes.  

 

* * *  

 

When Ujjal Dosanjh left the attorney general's office for the loftier position of premier, he made sure he had his mole in his former quarters. He conveniently placed old buddy Barry Salmon as "Programs/Projects Development Analyst" in the ministry.  

 

Salmon, you'll remember, is the political fixer who ran interference for Dosanjh, instructing Paul Gill, the brother of Peter Gill of Gillian Guess fame, to downplay his relationship with Dosanjh lest the pesky media start putting two and two together.  

 

He's also married to Sandra Houston, the Deputy Chief of Staff in the premier's office. Dosanjh, incidentally, was best man at the wedding.  

 

Salmon's position was supposed to be temporary. But, as inevitable as the sun coming up in the morning, the behind-the-scenes manoeuvring is taking place to give Salmon a permanent place at the public trough.  

 

The in-service government job posting service is showing Competition number AG2000:7615, for a "Program Manager, Planning and Priorities" in the AG's ministry. This is a created position essentially. It's posted as a Management Level 4 job paying $64,123.  

 

But this is done as part of the subterfuge. You see, had they posted the job as ML 5 or ML 6, they'd actually get qualified people within the ministry applying for the job because of the extra money.  

 

Keeping it at ML 4 ensures Dosanjh gets his boy in place. Then, once in place, the job can be upgraded to a higher pay-grade.  

 

Ironically, the person responsible for the so-called "competition" is Patti Thomas, Director of Management Services. She conveniently has her office right next door to Salmon's so she won't have to go far to conduct her "interview" with the job candidate.  

 

Thomas is also very familiar with the upgrading of job classifications.  

 

She managed to get her own position upgraded several levels in the span of a few short months, though nobody I spoke to can figure out why.  

 

The "how" is the subject of much more speculation, none of it flattering.  

 

She's also the person who decides how much money the Organized Crime Agency gets to spend. Needless to say she doesn't have the first clue about policing or how to conduct complicated investigations.  

 

Sigh.

 

-30-

 

 

 

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