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Bob Mackin

Exactly twenty-nine and a half years after U2 brought the Joshua Tree Tour to B.C. Place Stadium in Vancouver, the Northside Dublin quartet kicks-off a tour here to mark the 30th anniversary of the 1987 landmark album.  

Vancouver filmmaker Patrick Stark’s dream is to be invited on-stage, to sing with the band and complete the documentary about his personal journey to overcome a fear of singing in public. One Life No Regrets includes interviews with U2 producers Steve Lillywhite and Daniel Lanois. 

Stark met Bono in 2015, before U2 launched its innocence + experience tour in Vancouver. A trip to the stage was supposed to happen at the second of two shows in Rogers Arena. Blues great B.B. King’s death prompted U2 to add “When Love Comes to Town” to the set, which scuttled Stark’s cameo. 

Stark spoke with theBreaker about the documentary and U2. 

Bob Mackin Exactly twenty-nine and a half years

Bob Mackin

It’s the morning after the night before and British Columbia’s political future hangs in the balance. 

The BC Liberals under Christy Clark lost their majority. For now. Maybe forever. 

Recounts and absentee ballots could give her the magic 44 seats in the next 87-seat Legislature. Or not. 

Her best hope to stay in power may be doing a deal with the B.C. Greens, who have three seats. That’s one shy of official party status that leader Andrew Weaver wanted. 

But, think of this: Why would the conservative wing of the BC Liberal coalition bite its tongue as their dyed-in-the-wool federal Liberal leader does a deal with a “party of no”? The Greens are opposed to more things than the NDP. Weaver is anti-Kinder Morgan pipeline twinning, anti-LNG and anti-Site C. 

For Weaver, he  would risk alienating his base if he took a turn for the right, into the Liberal caucus, as queen maker. If he played kingmaker instead to help John Horgan become premier, it would be better off for the Greens in the long run. The NDP is the only other party that could form government, is ready and willing to ban corporate and union donations, and the only party that favours proportional representation. Greens share more similarities with the NDP than with Liberals.  

Clark promised to appoint a panel to help shape a campaign finance reform policy. She is really in no hurry to change. Nor does she want to. As it stands, the Liberals have at least $5.2 million in donations raised in 2017. That’s enough to fight the next election, whether it’s in 2021 or sooner. 

The Liberals’ regional marketing failed. Of the 14 so-called “Island Champions,” only incumbent Michele Stilwell (a Paralympic champion) won in Parksville. In Vancouver, the 11 candidates who posed for a photo on the Georgia Straight produced three winners (Langara’s Michael Lee, Quilchena’s Andrew Wilkinson and False Creek’s Sam Sullivan), which could be reduced to two if there is a recount in Vancouver False Creek. 

The Liberals lost 60,000 votes since 2013. Where did they go? Some to the Greens, some to the NDP and some stayed home? In a growing province, this is a stain on the Liberal campaign. 

The NDP held around 716,000. The Greens doubled to 301,000. The April 26 debate mattered in heightening Weaver’s profile. In 2013, the Jane Sterk Greens ran 61 candidates. This time 83, four shy of a full complement. 

Advance voting was record-breaking, but that was out of convenience more than anything. It looks like a 57% turnout, which is just about 2% better than 2013. Maybe Trevor Linden, president of the last place in the west Vancouver Canucks, isn’t such a hot commodity as a celebrity endorser while the Canucks are on the golf course instead of the Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The defeat of star candidate Steve Darling in Burnaby and Surrey’s Puneet Sandhar was also a defeat for back roomer Patrick Kinsella, who had a hand in recruiting them and staffing their campaigns. 

The loss of cabinet ministers Suzanne Anton, Amrik Virk and Peter Fassbender hurts Clark’s bench-strength. Particularly Fassbender, the minister of taxis and transit and local government. Analysis of Fassbender’s calendar shows that he was among the hardest-working cabinet ministers. He was tasked as education minister to oversee negotiations with teachers in 2014. He later became transit and taxis minister after the failed TransLink tax plebiscite. Transport minister Todd Stone was not capable, for reasons of geography (he’s in Kamloops) and shaky political stick handling. Fassbender was the first to open a campaign office, last September, fearing that the redrawn Surrey Fleetwood boundaries would favour the NDP. He was right. 

The defeat of junior minister Naomi Yamamoto in North Vancouver to rookie Bowinn Ma was inevitable. The NDP focussed its North Shore campaigns in one riding where Yamamoto was viewed as weak. Her demise was only hastened by Clark’s mainstreaming snub of Sunshine Coast visitor Linda Higgins at a grocery store. Standing beside Clark when that happened was Yamamoto, who gave Higgins the stinkeye. Yamamoto had spent substantial time cozying up to the search and rescue community on the North Shore. She even located her campaign office in an area near the North Shore Rescue headquarters, in the second floor of an office building near the North Shore Auto Mall.

Ma, meanwhile, was centred in a retail storefront near 13th and Lonsdale and she took to campaigning at Lonsdale Quay and on the SeaBus itself. If the NDP does form government, Ma is cabinet material. Ma’s campaign drew volunteers from off the North Shore and volunteers who had been loyal Liberals. Sources said she had about 200 volunteers. 

Bob Mackin It’s the morning after the night

From May 16, 2001, the British Columbia election night was covered live on MYCityRadio.com, a pioneering Vancouver webcast company that ran from summer 2000 to summer 2001.

Featuring Joe Keithley, Nardwuar the Human Serviette, Brian “Godzilla” Salmi, Faye Leung, Gillian Guess, “Hunky Bill” Konyk, Jamie Lee Hamilton, Brian “Who?” Else and more. There was never anything like this before and there has not been anything like it since. After all, Frank Zappa said government is the showbiz wing of industry. 

With a special appearance by Liberal leader Gordon Campbell. Hosted by Shannon Nelson and Chad Varhaug, produced by Bob Mackin.

Enjoy the highlights of that madcap night, when the Campbell Liberals won 77 of 79 seats, while you wait for the results of the May 9 election. But, please, vote first. 

From May 16, 2001, the British Columbia

Bob Mackin

Hands up if you’ve heard someone you know say they’ll stick with the status quo on May 9, because they prefer “the devil you know, versus the devil you don’t”? 

Or, they’re “voting for the lesser of two evils”?

Hands up if that’s the way you intend to vote. 

Do you reallly know the devil you’re talking about or what evil they’ve been up to for the last four years?

If you’ve been following coverage of provincial politics over the last four years, you are not a low-information voter and you know that British Columbians are not getting bang for their buck when it comes to good governance. The BC Liberals have been party first, people second, on a non-stop campaign to perpetuate their power and raise more money for campaigning than all other parties combined. 

If they win the election today, they’ll have a fresh mandate to 2021 — that would be 20 years of the same party in office. No matter where you are on the political spectrum, it is never healthy in a democracy to become a one-party state, because the lines blur between party and government. The people suffer, while the cronies cash-in. 

A Liberal loss on May 9 could be just what the doctor ordered for B.C. and the Liberals themselves. The centre-right coalition would be forced to find a new leader or face the departure of many members on the conservative side, who could form their own party. Diversity of opinion on the political spectrum is good for any democracy. B.C. has too few major party options. 

The BC Liberals came to power 16 years ago next week, promising to make British Columbia the most open, accountable and democratic province in Canada. That hasn’t happened. On many counts, they’ve gone backwards. 

Gordon Campbell’s New Era platform in 2001 contained that promise. The NDP in the 1990s had brought B.C. the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. By the time they were finished, they watered down many of the measures, scared of letting out too much information. An informed populace is a dangerous thing on election day, for those who are hungry to stay in power for self-gain. Campbell didn’t get around to restoring the FOI laws, because he found it politically convenient to maintain secrecy. 

Secrecy can be addictive, especially in a system where there are no term limits, no donation limits, lobbying is under-regulated and archaic, top-down traditions are kept alive. Over the decades, power has been centralized in the Office of the Premier, who dictates the shots between elections. 

The BC Liberals under Campbell and then Christy Clark took extreme measures to keep even their staunchest supporters from knowing and understanding what they do on taxpayers time with the taxpayers dime. Municipal governments are creatures of the provincial government, so the secrecy at your local city hall is partly the fault of the BC Liberals. 

The chances of any democratic reform, to put more power in the hands of the people, under a re-elected Clark Liberal administration, are zero. How can you believe this party, which claims to be a prudent money manager, when it spends so much time, energy and your money to prevent you from knowing how much it really spends and how it awards contracts. It won’t show you or me the business case or cost-benefit analysis for the $3.5 billion (plus $8 billion interest) bridge to replace the Massey Tunnel, for example.  

You wield a powerful weapon — a pencil on a slip of papter in a voting booth. If enough of you cast votes in one direction on May 9, the government will change. Peacefully. In other parts of the world, that is simply not possible. 

The Greens and NDP have promised democratic reform. The upstart Your Political Party of B.C. has a platform that includes full proactive disclosure of government spending and contracting and an end to party discipline.

The NDP has the best shot at forming a new government. If John Horgan overcomes the big business and big media-supported BC Liberals and their big money, it will be up to diligent citizens and the media to hold Horgan to account. 

Here are 10 ways the BC Liberals have tried to keep you from knowing. 

1

Clark came to power in 2011 promising open government, but actually gave B.C. the most-secretive one it has ever had. B.C.’s Information and Privacy Commissioner found personnel in various offices, including Clark’s, were mass-deleting email to keep it out of the hands of anyone asking under the freedom of information law. The Clark administration was also running what was termed an “oral government,” making decisions but not documenting them. No records became two common words in letters to FOI applicants. 

2

The story of the life and death of Paige Gauchier exposed systemic neglect that enraged many British Columbians, including the Representative for Children and Youth, who reported on the tragedy in May 2015. It took the government five months to respond. Someone in the Premier’s office decided that it would be a good idea to issue that response on 3 p.m. of the 2015 federal election day. An hour on a day when understaffed newsrooms across B.C. were focused on covering the federal election. A deliberate attempt to bury the news and keep the public from seeing the name and face of a young woman who deserved better from a government that looked like it didn’t give a damn. 

3

The BC Liberals have had an uneasy relationship with statutory watchdogs and have not been afraid to meddle in their affairs, so as to prevent or mitigate risks to the party. Statutory watchdogs are supposed to be checks on power. The BC Liberals viewed them as bothersome and, sometimes, they even muzzled them.

Christy cashes-in (Mackin)

4

The B.C. government invites reporters from the Lower Mainland to visit the Premier’s Vancouver Office at Canada Place whenever the budget is tabled or the province’s finances are updated quarterly. But it doesn’t want to hear their questions, lest they elicit an answer that doesn’t fit with the government’s propaganda narrative.

It used to be standard practice for the finance minister to take questions from the two-way speakerphone at the satellite location in Vancouver. Under Mike de Jong, the finance minister who says he doesn’t use email, that was kiboshed. Only reporters at the Legislature in Victoria get the chance to ask a question. The speakerphone is set to listen-only on the Vancouver side. 

5

Christy Clark was an open line talkshow host from 2007 to 2010 on CKNW. She returned to the other side of the mic on a few occasions, as a guest, between 2011 and 2013, but made herself scarce and didn’t even bother to visit morning drive host Jon McComb during the 2017 election. Clark doesn’t do one-on-one, live radio with random callers anymore. It is all about controlling the message and reducing the chance of fielding a question that could expose the true Clark to voters. Part of controlling the message included the sycophantic biography of Clark written by the wife of a patronage appointee and published the year before the election. 

6

The only file the Clark Liberals have succeeded on during their 2013 to 2017 term is liquor industry expansion via deregulation. Most government stores are open on Sundays and now have beer fridges. Craft breweries and distillleries have popped-up all over the place and some are glorified bars and stores. Some grocery stores even have a wine section, albeit B.C. only (just wait for the World Trade Organization to rule against this protectionist measure). Good things, if you like your hop and grape, eh? Too bad the prices were hiked. 

Booze releases have become a cliche — used strategically by the government to distract the press and the public from more important things, like the state of schools and hospitals, or the occasional scandal. 

7

Every year, on the last Wednesday of February, Christy Clark dons a pink shirt, poses for photos and says bullying in schools and workplaces is bad. Who can disagree? But, the rest of the year, she has kept an archaic system of governing alive and well. Party discipline means that MLAs must toe the line set by Clark’s office, instead of side with their constituents. You may think you’re voting for someone to represent you in Victoria, but you’re voting for the leader’s local representative. Sean Holman told this story in the 2013 documentary, Whipped. 

Analysis of voting records shows this is true. 

8

The Clark Liberals cancelled the Legislature sitting last fall, so they could go on taxpayer-funded offshore junkets and continue to raise money for the party’s campaign — even after telling their own members last September they had enough to fight and win in 2017. Why did they resist calls to enact checks and balances? Of course, power before people. They raised another $5.2 million before the end of April 2017; they already have more than a down payment on their 2021 election campaign. They also have many donors who feel they’re owed attention or worse: favours.

9

Late Roderick MacIsaac, one of the health researchers wrongly fired.

Imagine a government that preaches spending control and then turns around, goes out and hires friends of the premier to create a year-and-a-half-long ad campaign to polish the image of the government before the election. That’s exactly what the BC Liberals did under Clark, who attacked the NDP for doing the same on a lower budget in 1999. The total bill to taxpayers for the last two years of propaganda may be as much as $30 million. 

10

In summer 2015, the Clark Liberals had a bright idea. They were shellshocked from the headlines about the bungled 2012 firing of eight health researchers. One of them, Roderick MacIsaac, died of suicide.

There were calls for a public inquiry. Scared of letting all that dirty laundry out, the Clark Liberals decided on an innovative scheme. Send it to the Ombudsperson for a closed-door investigation. It’d be done away from the public eye. The office had never done such an investigation. The central FOI office was shifted to de Jong’s control and Clark’s closest confidante and political ally since the 1990s, Athana Mentzelopoulos, was named his deputy minister. Good luck for it to be done before the election, the government thought. 

For once, it was wrong.

The report, titled Misfire, exposed the depth and the breadth of the evil that went on under Clark and de Jong’s watch. 

Don’t vote for what you think is the least worst. You’re a citizen, you deserve better.

 

Bob Mackin Hands up if you’ve heard someone

Punk rock legend and Bard of Burnaby, Joe Keithley, is running for office again for the B.C. Greens. He is contesting Burnaby-Lougheed on May 9. 

Sixteen years ago, the D.O.A. frontman was host of The Joe Show on MYCityRadio.com, a pioneering Vancouver webcasting outlet that was online from 2000 to 2001. Keithley was part of the eclectic, live election coverage on May 16, 2001, when the BC Liberals won 77 of 79 seats in the B.C. Legislature. The NDP was left with just two seats after a rollercoaster 10 years in office. 

NDP leader Ujjal Dosanjh, B.C.’s first South Asian premier, conceded early and Gordon Campbell celebrated the win at the Wall Centre, owned by major donor Peter Wall. 

Sit back and enjoy Joe’s acoustic rendition of Alice Cooper’s “Elected.” Vote before 8 p.m. and then see who gets elected. 

Punk rock legend and Bard of Burnaby,

Vancouver lawyer Paul Doroshenko was a loyal supporter and volunteer for Gordon Campbell when he was Premier of British Columbia and leader of the BC Liberal Party from 2001 to 2011. Doroshenko initially supported Christy Clark after she took over the party in 2011, but, in 2017, Doroshenko is supporting David Eby, the Vancouver-Point Grey NDP MLA who defeated Clark in 2013. Doroshenko has also left the BC Liberal Party.

In part 2 of an interview with theBreaker, he further explains his decision and why the Greens have long been an ally to the Liberals.

 

Vancouver lawyer Paul Doroshenko was a loyal

Vancouver lawyer Paul Doroshenko was a loyal supporter and volunteer for Gordon Campbell when he was Premier of British Columbia and leader of the BC Liberal Party. Doroshenko initially supported Christy Clark after she took over the party in 2011, but, in 2017, Doroshenko is supporting David Eby, the Vancouver-Point Grey MLA who defeated Clark in 2013. Doroshenko has also left the BC Liberal Party. He tells theBreaker why in part one of this two-part interview.  

Vancouver lawyer Paul Doroshenko was a loyal

Former West Vancouver Police chief Kash Heed was recruited as a star candidate by Gordon Campbell in 2009, won a seat in South Vancouver for the BC Liberals and became solicitor general. He did not run in 2013, after Christy Clark took over the party in 2011. Heed spoke about a variety of topics, including his election prediction, exclusively to theBreaker on May 5. 

If you missed the first part of the interview, go to this link.

Former West Vancouver Police chief Kash Heed was

Former police chief and talk radio host Kash Heed spent four years in the BC Liberal cabinet after Gordon Campbell recruited him to be a star candidate in 2009. He did not run for re-eleciton in 2013. On May 5, he spoke to Bob Mackin about the 2017 British Columbia election, which climaxes May 9. This is part one of the interview. 

Former police chief and talk radio host Kash