column was published in the
Mar. 17, 1999)
Bet on casino truth surfacing
By Leo Knight
-- Legislative Debates - April 11, 1990 -- Glen Clark on the
Knight St. pub issue:
saw all these friends and campaign managers and principal
secretaries to the Premier involved in this commercial
enterprise, and it dribbled out every day on television for
about two years. And BCTV, doing their job as investigative
reporters, kept digging and digging. We had to dig and dig on
our side of the House, and it dribbled out every day. They'd
rush to the television to watch the latest revelation. My God,
they're finding out. The truth is coming out. What are we going
to do? they said. It was terrible. Remember that?"
was then and this is now.
masterful politician Glen Clark and the NDP party machine is in
overdrive trying to fight the overwhelming scandal now dubbed
most reading this will merely shake their heads at the hypocrisy
and silliness of the attempts to blame the media and the police
for the problems of the party and the premier, it is a bit scary
to think there are people out there who truly believe it.
radio talk shows have been inundated with the party hacks
leaping to the defence of the embattled premier.
"true believers" must have tendonitis in their dialing
fingers for all the calls trying to monopolize the air waves to
diffuse the criticism by spouting the party line reading from
the same script produced by the back room boys.
certainly hasn't been without its moments of humour though. One
caller to the Bill Good show, following a "true
believer," suggested these people should wear traffic cones
on their heads so the rest of us could identify them at malls
and other public places.
the mental image conjured up by that particular suggestion is
especially engaging, there has been considerable effort made on
behalf of a navel gazing media to follow the government spin. I
fail to see, for example, what difference it makes how John Daly
of BCTV arrived at the conclusion he did and was present for the
execution of the search warrant.
Wyatt, a BCTV executive, wrote a thoughtful analysis in the
Saturday edition of the Vancouver Sun, pointing out the
specific responsibility of the media to act as watchdogs on the
various arms of power of the state to educate and inform the
public what our representatives are doing with the power we
confer upon them. Whatever the political mandarins would try and
have us believe, this is crucial to maintain a free society.
spin becomes even more ridiculous when you consider the quote
from Hansard at the top of this column. During the
scandal-plagued days of the Vander Zalm government, Clark and
his colleagues in opposition were described as "pit
bulls" in the way they dogged the government of the day.
for its part, was equally determined in getting at the truth of
that issue which involved a friend of Bill Vander Zalm, Peter
Toigo, and his connection to an application for a neighbourhood
pub licence is a mere bagatelle compared to a casino operation
with 300 slot machines and 20 gaming tables which can be
described as a "licence to print money."
in the Knight St. pub debacle never once did we hear the phrase
"organized crime" in any of the debates,
investigations and media reports. Yet, it is the aspect of
organized crime which appears to be salted throughout the whole
Pilarinos, carpenter, glazier and buddy of the Premier has no
experience in running a casino. Steve Ng, businessman, pub owner
and business associate of bikers and friends of bikers, doesn't
know squat about casinos per se. Yet they formed partnership and
put together a successful casino licence bid, later described by
gaming minister, Mike Farnworth, as "the most qualified
business cards seized by police at the Lumbermans Club had the
name of Pashos Katanas on them. Katanas has now been charged
with running an illegal gaming house and, according to police
sources, has been a person of interest to them both here and in
Alberta prior to his current problems. Tony Ricci, Ng's business
partner, has on his record, a 1996 conviction for bookmaking.
Ng, several members and known associates of the Hells Angels and
at least two individuals associated to eastern Mafia families
show as significant shareholders in Starnet Communications -- a
company dealing in Internet porn, on-line gambling and other
the record, Katanas is also a heavy private donor to the NDP.
Interestingly enough, Katanas and Pilarinos were just finishing
a lunch meeting when the RCMP arrested the Premier's friend.
Clearly it is the people behind the scenes who are the main players in this casino venture. Clearly it is the reason the police investigation has taken place over several months and will take weeks more to complete.
it Jack Munro, staunch defender of the NDP and Clark in this
mess, who said during the Solidarity campaign of the early '80s,
at a rally of 30,000 people at Empire stadium, "If it walks
like a duck and talks like a duck, then it must be a duck."
would seem the information which has come out on this matter has
only scratched the surface. It will be only if the media
fulfills their responsibility to the public that the whole story
sees the light of day. To blame the media is surely the last act
of a desperate government and a failed political party.
Clark's days are numbered. Bet on it.