A former BC Liberal Solicitor General, who became a talk radio host, planned to end his year-long run on a Surrey station with a bang on the morning before the pre-election Throne Speech.
Instead, the Kash Heed Show on 107.7 Pulse FM was cancelled with a whimper the previous afternoon, Family Day.
The one-term Vancouver-Fraserview MLA opted not to renew his contract with Pulse last month. His last 9 a.m. to noon show was scheduled for Feb. 14 with four guests on the theme of British Columbia’s political future: Ex-political commentator Alex Tsakumis, Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation’s Jordan Bateman, IntegrityBC’s Dermod Travis and NDP leader John Horgan.
Horgan was Heed’s first guest when the show debuted last year. Heed told theBreaker that, during the year, he unsuccessfully invited Premier Christy Clark (a former CKNW talkshow host) to be a guest at least eight times.
“[Horgan and NDP MLAs] were more than willing to come on and talk about the issues. That did not sit well with the BC Liberals,” Heed said. “We gave [Clark and her aides] so many opportunities to come on; at times they did not even have the decency to say no.”
Heed said he got a call from Pulse owner Suki Badh just after 2 p.m. on Feb. 13 — Family Day — to tell him that the current affairs show time slot would be moved to 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. effective immediately with new host Dave Sheldon. That meant Heed’s swan song was off.
Heed said he believes Badh was under pressure from people inside the ruling party, who fear losing votes in key Surrey battleground ridings.
“They weren’t happy with some of the positions I was taking,” Heed told theBreaker.
Asked to elaborate, Heed said Badh told him the previous week that “the boys downtown are aware I’m leaving and he has had discussions with them. He went on to say that he met with [Liberal cabinet ministers] Amrik Virk and Peter Fassbender.
“I asked if he has caved in. He said no, but they’re aware of the change of direction.”
Heed said Badh had previously referred in December to meeting the “boys downtown” and mentioned they included Barinder Bhullar, director of policy in the Office of the Premier. Former Pulse general manager Jas Basi told theBreaker that Badh told him that the “boys downtown” were Liberal party heads.
“Kash had free rein”: station owner
Badh admitted he is friendly with senior members of the BC Liberals, including Bruce Clark, the premier’s brother. But he said the “boys downtown” he was referring to are actually advertising agencies and rep houses.
Badh denied receiving any complaints from the party about Heed’s show and also denied that he had discussed campaign advertising with the party. Asked if he had recently met with any senior Liberal officials, Badh said “that’s irrelevant.”
“The station is not for sale for editorial perspective, not at all,” Badh said. “Kash had free rein to do whatever he wants to do.”
As for the schedule change, Badh said he decided the station would “start fresh” with a new schedule after the long weekend. “Instead of changing things over in the middle of the week effective Wednesday, we just changed it Tuesday.”
Tsakumis said Heed did a good job of holding both the government and opposition accountable, but he said the station’s owner was intimidated by the Liberals. Tsakumis called the final show’s cancellation “an act of censorship” that deprived listeners of a chance to hear Horgan.
“[Heed] was critical of the government, but also critical of the NDP,” Tsakumis told theBreaker. “The problem in this province is that the NDP doesn’t have any problem being criticized, but the [Liberal] government sure does. Kash was very balanced, very reasonable. If they can’t take that kind of criticism, it makes you ask how they’re going into this next election: do they know something that we don’t?”
Heed spent 31 years in policing, rising to the rank of superintendent with the Vancouver Police before joining the West Vancouver Police as chief for a year-and-a-half. Premier Gordon Campbell recruited him to be a star candidate in the 2009 election. He spent a year as Solicitor General before resigning over a campaign financing scandal that resulted in an $8,000 fine under the Election Act in 2011. His campaign manager overspent the $70,000 limit by $4,000. Chief Justice Robert Bauman ruled that “mistakes [were] made, without his knowledge, but on his behalf.”
After Campbell resigned in October 2010, Heed supported George Abbott to become leader and premier. Clark beat Kevin Falcon on the final ballot in February 2011.
Heed went public almost a year before the 2013 election to announce he would not run again under Clark. He called his time in the Liberal caucus “horrendous” and blamed the Clark administration’s obsession with politics and campaigning over policy and governing.
“This whole entity certainly flexes their muscle, in every area possible where they have influence,” Heed told theBreaker. “They’re so caught up in trying to get re-elected they will do whatever they deem is the thing to do, whether it’s from an ethical or principled decision or not.”
The 2014-licensed Pulse broadcasts primarily to Surrey. The province’s second biggest city will be an expanded, nine-riding battleground in the May 9 election because of redistribution.
In 2013, Liberals won five Surrey ridings and the NDP three. Former RCMP officer Virk and ex-Langley City mayor Fassbender both won with less than half the popular vote. In Fassbender’s case, he upset incumbent Fleetwood NDP member Jagrup Brar by a mere 200 votes.
Expecting another tight race in 2017, Fassbender opened his campaign office on the last weekend of summer last year, eight months before the election.