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HomeBusinessDay 5: Horgan’s snap election gamble delays casino money laundering inquiry

Day 5: Horgan’s snap election gamble delays casino money laundering inquiry

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Bob Mackin

Two slogans aptly summarize David Eby’s term as the NDP’s attorney general. 

“Dumpster fire,” for ICBC’s financial chaos.

David Eby (left), John Horgan and Carole James, May 15 in Victoria (Mackin)

“Dirty money,” for the nexus of casino money laundering, high real estate prices and the illicit fentanyl trade. 

The latter was in the news on day 5 of the #SnapPandemicStateOfEmergencyElection.

In May 2019, the NDP bowed to public pressure and green lit a public inquiry into money laundering led by Justice Austin Cullen. The third phase, witness testimony, was supposed to begin the day after Labour Day but was delayed to the day after Thanksgiving. 

On Sept. 25, Cullen announced another delay, to Oct. 26, so that the inquiry doesn’t influence the election. 

Premier John Horgan’s snap election call broke his party’s confidence and supply agreement with the Greens, broke the fixed election date law and now it has delayed justice. 

If the NDP stuck to the Oct. 16, 2021 election date, the testimony would have proceeded without a political roadblock and Cullen’s report would have been in the hands of voters. 

The latest delay gave the NDP the excuse to put Eby in front of reporters and rehash the timeline of BC Liberal bungling and corruption. Eby even suggested the inquiry is in jeopardy. 

“The reason we need a public inquiry into money laundering is so that people could see what government has seen,” Eby said. “We simply do not know what will happen to this public inquiry if the BC Liberals are elected.”

When the NDP was relegated to just two seats in the Legislature in 2001, the BC Liberals let several Dippers escape accountability for a 1990s gambling scandal. 

The NDP had been caught diverting bingo profits from charities to the party newspaper. Former NDP finance minister Dave Stupich pleaded guilty to fraud and illegal gambling. But, after the BC Liberals landslide 2001 election win, cost-cutting Gordon Campbell’s attorney general Geoff Plant shut down the $6 million public inquiry into the Nanaimo Commonwealth Holdings Society. 

Horgan, coincidentally, worked in the B.C. Ministry of Management Services during the 1990s when the NDP was expanding gambling. He also ran the IdeaWorks consultancy that successfully lobbied the COPE-dominated city council to end the moratorium on slot machines in the city. That resulted in casinos at the Plaza of Nations and Hastings Racecourse. The key aide to then-Mayor Larry Campbell? Geoff Meggs, who became Horgan’s chief of staff in 2017 after almost nine years as a Vision Vancouver city councillor. 

It’s Garcha, not gotcha

John Horgan was subject to a rough ride from Global BC anchor Neetu Garcha, who put on a clinic on how to hold a politician’s feet to the fire in a live interview. 

During the nearly seven minutes, Garcha asked Horgan what advice he had for British Columbians who have lost a loved one or lost a job during the pandemic, how to concentrate on the campaign. Horgan defaulted to talking points and did not answer her question. 

Garcha: “I apologize for interrupting, but I’d like to remind you that the question is what is your advice to voters right now who are dealing with unprecedented times and hardship in their personal lives and are now being asked to focus on platform planks and make an informed decision? What is your advice to them on how they can do that? “

Horgan: “We’ve been working on all those issues for the past seven months, and I’m asking British Columbians to say we need to stay the course,” Horgan said. 

“We need to put the politics behind us and get focused for the next four years on getting out of this pandemic.”

On tour

Horgan’s tour stop at the Como Lake United Church promoted a BC Housing project. Andrew Wilkinson and False Creek MLA Sam Sullivan appeared inside a patio tent in Yaletown, to slam the NDP for its handling of tent cities, homeless hotels and insufficient drug treatment. Horgan began his first foray outside southwestern B.C. on Sept. 26 in Terrace at Mills Memorial Hospital with candidate Nicole Halbauer. The Coast Mountain College chair is hoping to defeat BC Liberal incumbent Ellis Ross. 

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