Prime Time Crime


(Published in the Abbotsford News week of Feb. 21, 2005)

The Games Politicians Play

John Pifer

In every election campaign – municipal, provincial or federal – there are backroom deals and shenanigans that never see the light of day, as individuals and groups vie for power, control, and your vote.

The provincial positioning and posturing now under way as we approach the May 17th general election is no exception, as we watch the two prime parties prepare for the hurly-burly of the campaign. Although not officially under way until mid-April, it is evident that the campaigning, backstabbing and infighting has already begun.

For the New Democrats, there already have been contentious battles to secure the nominations in some ridings, wherein old-style hardliners from the Glen Clark era have tried to regain the right to run again, up against allegedly kinder, gentler NDPers. Some of the old guard has been sent packing – a la Steve Orcherton in Victoria, whilst others have risen from the grave, a la Harry Lali in Lillooet and Corky Evans in the Kootenays.

With the ruling Liberals, some game-playing and infighting within the party is beginning to surface, too, and it could get really ugly out there, really fast!

Case in point is in Surrey, where Surrey Newton incumbent Liberal Tony Bhullar, one of the few Liberal backbenchers who has dared to raise his voice against some of the injustices and decisions of his party, appears to be still in Premier Gordon Campbell’s doghouse. In the current mess surrounding Surrey Memorial Hospital and the death of a patient turned away from its overcrowded emergency ward, Mr. Bhullar publicly called for a full inquiry, only to be chastised for it from the party bigwigs.

Anyway, there was great fanfare last week when Canadian Olympic gold medallist, wrestler Daniel Igali, was announced as the Liberals’ contender in that riding. Indeed, he is a high-profile candidate, albeit an inexperienced politician who has never run for anything.

So where does that leave the current MLA for the riding, the aforementioned Mr. Bhullar?

Well, it seems that the MLA lawyer was actively involved in encouraging Daniel to run, and even agreed to run in the neighbouring Surrey-Panorama Ridge riding, so that the Nigerian-born Igali could tackle Newton, where he resides.

What was the reward for Mr. Bhullar’s magnanimity, you ask? Well, it appears that the Liberal Party is positioning its preferred choice, one Gurbakshish Hans, who calls himself ‘Bob’, to pursue the nomination in Panorama over Mr. Bhullar, who has served Surrey voters well during his elected years, even when suspended from the Liberal caucus for a time.

A date for the nomination meeting has not been set – dare I suggest it is on hold while “instant Liberals” are signed up? – and Mr. Hans, who runs a trucking company in Surrey and once owned a quarry there, declines to confirm his plans, even though he apparently taken out his nomination papers.

You may recall Surrey-Panorama Ridge as the riding where the Liberals were gutted in a by-election late last year, with their then-prized candidate Mary Polak being easily beaten by the NDP’s Jagrup Brar, an Indo-Canadian, as are both Messrs. Bhullar and Hans.

This is definitely one nomination race to watch, with the kind of dirty politicking likely to be repeated elsewhere across the province over the next three months. The nomination meeting will be one for us political junkies to attend, for sure – as the backstabbing could well morph into Liberals stabbing one another in the chest!

Veteran B.C. journalist/broadcaster John Pifer may be reached at


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