column was published in the
Mar. 10, 1999)
NDP's big guns firing but missing
By Leo Knight
an old Irish saying: "It's not nice to mock the
afflicted." With that in mind, here are some thoughts on
the ongoing scandal involving the premier.
NDP party machine has been in overdrive since word of Glen
Clark's most recent and, inevitably, most damaging misadventure.
a day of the execution of the now infamous search warrant on
Clark's house, the NDP brought out the heavy-hitters. No waiting
to see how things evolved this time, the big guns began firing
salvos from the get go.
among these was Burnaby MP Svend Robinson.
day after the news broke, Robinson clambered on his hind legs in
the House of Commons and began baying about
"collusion" between the RCMP and the media, in the
form of BCTV's John Daly. He demanded an immediate investigation
by the solicitor general.
as any football coach will tell you, the best defence is a good
the first place, this is nothing more than a red herring meant
to deflect attention from the salient questions: Was the premier
involved in granting a gaming licence to a company partly owned
by his friend, Dimitrios Pilarinos?
perhaps even more to the point: Why did this government give a
casino licence to a business running an illegal gaming operation
with associations to bikers and other aspects of organized
first off, there was absolutely no tip from the RCMP to BCTV
concerning the warrant on Clark's house.
connection with Pilarinos was already known to Daly.
it was learned that Pilarinos was in custody, it didn't take
much of a leap to wonder if the police would be visiting
Pilarinos' residence, only a few short blocks from Clark's
checking that house and Clark's constituency office and
residence, the police stakeout was noticed. So Daly and the
cameraman simply staked out the cops. A damn fine piece of work
if you ask me.
on that topic, Clark's lawyer, David Gibbons, certainly outdid
himself with hyperbole at his news conference on Thursday.
to "McCarthyism" and saying the police entered the
residence in "the dead of the night" was such absolute
drivel it's amazing he could keep a straight face.
the warrant they could have simply forced their way into the
residence and begun searching. They had the lawful authority to
do that. But they didn't. They waited for someone to show up at
the house and that turned out to be Clark's wife, Dale.
for BCTV "invading" the privacy of the premier, I
checked with Daly and asked where the cameras were located. He
said one camera was on the sidewalk and the other in a public
park behind the house. Nothing shown on television was anything
that could not have been seen by anyone walking by. If Clark has
a problem with that, then he should invest in new drapes or
let's deal with some of the other information, or perhaps
misinformation would be more appropriate.
is not particularly surprising that Clark has hired a lawyer to
represent and advise him given the fact the police were combing
through his private residence with a warrant.
is not surprising he engaged David Gibbons in that role. Gibbons
is a senior member of the defence bar and is highly respected
for his abilities in aggressively defending his clients. He does
his job well.
it is quite surprising that Clark had Gibbons go out and face
the assembled media to provide his excuses for the events.
has not been charged with anything yet. He may never face any
charges. Usually a lawyer will only front a situation like that
when a matter is before the courts. Equally, Clark has always
been a fighter, quick to rise up and face anyone at anytime.
far as the claims by the lawyers and the NDP that the police
have said "the premier was not suspected of any criminal
activity," let's be clear -- they have said no such thing.
March 3, the RCMP issued a terse press release which said,
"The warrant did not allege any criminal activity on the
part of Premier Clark."
document filed by police to get the warrant -- called the
Information to Obtain -- is the one where details of the
investigation are outlined and in which the cops suggest what
the property searched for will mean to their investigation. That
document has been sealed by the courts and is the subject of a
media legal challenge to get it opened. The warrant itself is
investigation is centred around the application and subsequent
granting of the casino licence. The Mounties said that in the
press release too. They also said the investigation is
a far cry from saying Clark is not suspected of any criminal
activity as the NDP would have us believe.
simple fact that the RCMP are conducting an investigation tells
us this is a criminal matter. That's what the police do. They do
not investigate political embarrassments. They investigate
crimes. It is also interesting to note that Clark's lawyer
opposed the court opening the Information to Obtain.
claimed the premier was afraid it would infringe on the RCMP's
ability to continue its investigation. Yeah, right.
As a final observation, any one involved in the justice system knows how difficult it is for the police to get a warrant for a private residence.
a warrant to search the residence of the premier of the province
must surely be that much more difficult.
judge or justice of the peace would want to ensure the police
have gone the extra mile to ensure they were on very solid
ground before signing off on that document. You can be sure of
this was a moral government we wouldn't be hearing this stuff.
The premier would have showed us all the receipts and cancelled
cheques for the work done on his house by his friend, Pilarinos,
not had his lawyer spout weasel words to deflect from the
Finally, the premier would do the honorable thing and resign pending the conclusion of the investigation. If this was a moral government.