Showing posts with label Sean Leslie. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sean Leslie. Show all posts

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Broken trust

After shifting his focus in recent months, Alex Tsakumis is blogging again and getting ready to launch as a 3-hour a day webcast on politics, media and other current affairs. A segment of AGT's Thursday post caught my eye. He described a moment in the recent Legislative session when Minister of Children and Family Development Cadieux was thanking her crew for loyal service. Alex's words,
"...Cadieux singled out “Lisa Leslie,” who, let me confirm, is Sean Leslie’s wife. The Minister thought nothing of (painfully) pointing out Sean Leslie’s glaring conflict of interest (he is required to cover, WITH UNIMPEACHABLE IMPARTIALITY, the very government who provides his household with a healthy cheque every month). It is a moment that did not go unnoticed with many media colleagues–and NOT ONE wrote about it or pointed it out..."
No doubt, the Leslie family would happily say to the Minister, "You're welcome. Glad to be of service." For her work, Lisa Leslie is rewarded quite well. Certainly better than life-saving paramedics and school support workers who were able to gain modest increases in a new contract negotiated this week, after receiving 6% over the last five years. Because of low pay rates and irregular schedules, CUPE says the average support worker salary is $24,000.

The BC Liberal government pays Lisa Leslie 3½ times that amount and she has enjoyed increases of 26% in the last five years, not a bad amount considering the net-zero mandate that's been in effect much of the time for government workers.

One may wonder why media spends no time comparing treatment of senior civil servants to  treatment of unionized workers such as those in healthcare and education.  The answer may be that some writers and broadcasters benefit from the unequal treatment. Leslie and Smart are not the only ones with a close relative who has been appointed to work for the BC Liberal government or its caucus.

I wonder how Sean Leslie's boss at CKNW would explain how Lisa Leslie's employment does not put her husband in conflict of interest that offends principles published by the Association of Electronic Journalists (RTDNA). Ian Koenigsfest, head of programming at CKNW, is also President of RTDNA. Here is a portion of the RTDNA's Code of Ethics:

The Canadian Association of Journalists publishes Ethics Guidelines that includes:
  • We generally do not accept payment for speaking to groups we report on or comment on.
  • We do not report about subjects in which we have financial or other interests...
How would Leslie or Koenigsfest excuse themselves or their colleagues on these ethical matters?

Regular readers will recall the CBC Ombudsman upheld a complaint that Stephen Smart, CBC Legislative Reporter for Radio and Television in BC, was in conflict because he reported on the BC government while his wife worked as a press officer in the Premier's office. In his report, Ombudsman Kirk LaPointe stated,
"...Whether a real or perceived conflict of interest, no amount of managing it can do more than mitigate the impact on an impartial fulfillment of duties."
Essentially, CBC ignored LaPointe's findings. Smart continues in his position and his wife serves as a Public Affairs Officer in Christy Clark's government. No disclosure of the relationship is made on air.

This is the way media behaves in British Columbia. Apparent conflicts and ethical gaps are discussed only in the alternative media, never in corporate properties. Payments from groups affected by coverage flow without sanction to the "journalists" providing that coverage. Keith Baldrey recently called references to the RTDNA code of ethics "lame."

Hollow are claims that British Columbia's mainstream media pays attention to codes of conduct and commonly accepted principles of journalism.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Les democracy

"The only good farmland is former farmland" - J. Les
John Les made an appearance with Sean Leslie on Liberal house radio Saturday and explained that party leadership had to impose Darryl Plecas on the Abbotsford-South riding association because a majority of its members were about to select a nominee of their own choice.

Allowing ordinary members to select a candidate for election would be an unacceptable reversal of BC Liberal tradition. It is the plutocrats that control the party, not its members. According to Les,
"...there was an annual general meeting in that riding and Moe Gill and his people moved in and basically threw out the entire executive and, um, replaced it with people whose sole objective apparently was to put Moe Gill in place as the nominee. Ah, they didn't do a candidate search, ah, any, or any kind of democratic process. They didn't raise any money, they didn't do any election preparedness. Ah, so, ah, obviously that led to some concern and, um, so, ah...

"Moe and his people were at work for some time to try and corner the, the ah, nomination in Abbotsford South and, you know, that also is not a democratic way of going about things....

"And hopefully, after a wide open and democratic process..."
Andrew MacLeod wrote in The Tyee that
"Chilliwack officials were encouraged to see municipal and provincial laws as mere guidelines while John Les was mayor, according to a special prosecutor's report released today."
Apparently, party constitutions are also mere guidelines.

P.S. - Be certain to read Alex Tsakumis' definitive coverage of the Abbotsford-South nomination fiasco. Liberals are telling lies about the situation and Alex sets the record straight.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Fact free radio

Friday morning on BC Liberal radio, one of the trio assured us that BC Ferries has been cutting administration costs and its overheads had little or nothing to do with financial problems.

Shall we test the accuracy of the comment?

Combined passenger and vehicle traffic in 2012 is down by 4.4% over 2010. According to BCF audited financial statements, administration costs are up by 2.1% in the same time period.
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Monday, June 18, 2012

Lying like a cheap rug

Perhaps the largest barrier making re-election of Christy Clark's government unlikely is its lack of credibility.

The Liberal brain trust decided long ago that veracity should always rank behind expediency. The infamous 2001 platform document A New Era for British Columbia demonstrates that deceit was a Liberal strategy from the start. It was there they promised to "Not sell or privatize BC Rail" even though the mechanics of the sale were already being planned.

Throughout Christy Clark's government, the standard for reporting is not truth, it's political convenience. Too often, senior bureaucrat are appointed for PR skills rather than management abilities and they are expected to follow the lead of politicians in saying only that which serves the government cause. David Hahn was an example at BC Ferries. Sadly, it appears the same applies to Mike Corrigan, Hahn's replacement.

Corrigan appeared on Sean Leslie's CKNW program June 17. He was explaining how a net loss of $16.5 million at BC Ferries was actually good news.
"...Throughout the year, we lost $30 million more in revenue than we expected but we were able to claw back all of that and a bit more through good financial management...

"We're dealing with what every other major ferry operator is dealing with right now and that's a downturn in traffic... They're seeing something similar."

"...Our gift shops - that part of the business is actually really growing significantly over the last year. We're seeing double digit increases year over year. So we're doing what we can to generate revenues wherever we can and managing costs..."
Let's test the accuracy of those statements by reference to BC Ferries financial statements.

Did BC Ferries lose $30 million in expected revenues in fiscal 2012? In fact, tarrifs were down by only $1 million in 2012 compared to fiscal 2011. If they were truly expecting an increase of $30 million, they are bigger fools than we suspected.

Corrigan said that other ferry operators are dealing with significant traffic reductions but Washington State ferries reports almost no decrease in vehicle and passenger loadings in 2011 compared to 2010 or in the first quarter of 2012 compared to the same period a year before. But then, WSF doesn't have high priced management to screw things up.

The Alaska Marine Highway System is a substantially smaller ferry system. Nevertheless, its traffic in 2011 was up 3% over 2010. Traffic of Sydney Ferries in Australia has increased in each of the last five years, including 2% in the last year.

The BC Ferries CEO claims that gift shop business is growing by double digits. In fact, retail revenues were down by 3% in 2012 compared to 2011 and are down more than 5% in the last two years.

If this reflects Corrigan's knowledge of the company he manages, we must wonder how he is worth almost $600,000 a year.
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Sunday, April 29, 2012

The car-crash-that-never-ends

Liberals across Canada are being hoist with their own petard, Brian Topp, The Globe and Mail, Apr. 29, 2012
"Meanwhile, the car-crash-that-never-ends that is the premiership of British Columbia’s Christy Clark is now apparently thrashing around to the view that it needs to scrub the Liberal brand off itself, to fight off both a principled and a strategic voting pitch aimed at its voters from both the left (the B.C. NDP) and the right (the B.C. Conservatives)."
Meanwhile, leaks reveal that BC Liberal MLA's, unhappy with oversight failures during the leadership vote, forced a purge at party headquarters. The official position, reinforced Saturday by NW's loyal partisan Sean Leslie while chatting with Liberal insider Mike Morton, is that changes result,
"Just 'cause they're young people moving on."
Yeah, right. Executive Director Chad Pederson, appointed to the position in December 2010, under fire for oversight failures and worse during the leadership vote that installed Christy Clark, departed without even a gentle nudge toward the door.

Sean Leslie knows about issues of internal conflict but, like his Press Gallery colleagues, blithely reports the Liberal party line.

As comment writers note, Toronto based Brian Topp missed the obvious. BC Liberals and Christy Clark are involved in a never ending train crash.

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Friday, April 6, 2012

See what happens when you split the vote

On today's Trailing Edge from the Ledge, BC Liberal press officer Sean Leslie disclosed strategy to be followed after the party's candidate, federal Conservative wonk Laurie Throness, fails to win the once friendly riding of Chilliwack-Hope.
"If the NDP actually pulls a win out there because the Conservatives and the Liberals are split, then I think the Liberals can salvage something..."
On the same show, Keith Baldrey continued providing misinformation on BC Rail, an issue that has dogged the government for years:
"... It [payments of Basi/Virk legal fees] is stuck in a process. In court, the Auditor General is trying to get information on it.. A third party seems to be blocking it... I assume it's the defence lawyers who say this is none of your business, it's our money...we were paid it, it wasn't paid to our defendants..."
No Keith, your Liberal pals are blocking the Auditor General's access to documents. They've been doing it steadily for more than a year, acting contrary to promises they made in Supreme Court when John Doyle last dragged their sorry asses before the bench.

Baldrey demonstrates either ignorance or partisan willingness to misrepresent the spotlighted issue. These remarks are from Mr. Justice Greyell's reasons for judgment dated June 30, 2011:
[39] Mr. [Richard M.] Butler [acting for the Attorney General] advised that the government would provide any other information and documents, even if they were subject to its solicitor/client privilege on the understanding that by doing so it would not constitute a waiver of the privilege and that the Auditor General would keep the information and documents strictly confidential.

[46] ...Mr. Butler further indicated that he had instructions to waive any solicitor/client privilege of the Crown surrounding the requested information and would provide the information and records in the event Messrs. Basi and Virk consented to a waiver of confidentiality and solicitor/client privilege.

[66] The privilege and arising confidentiality belongs to the client: that is, the privilege belongs to Messrs. Basi and Virk. It is only client who can choose to waive such privilege...
I reported on this matter in November 2011 and I continue to be amazed that pundits such as Baldrey prefer to offer political spin rather than reporting on judicial findings that are easily accessed.

The following is from a Keith Fraser article in The Province, dated November 15, 2011. It appears to have been removed from the online archives of The Province but I found it in Google cache:
B.C. Auditor-General John Doyle is heading back to court in a bid to get access to documents related to the government’s controversial $6 million legal payments in the Basi-Virk case.

In July, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Greyell ordered the B.C. attorney-general’s ministry to turn over all records related to the deal.

But in a second petition filed in court this week, Doyle claims that some key documents haven’t been released.

And he seeks to have two Victoria lawyers who were appointed to vet the legal bills in the Basi-Virk case provide their records to him.

The petition says that Doyle is completing the planning stage of an audit of the indemnity policy by which Dave Basi and Bobby Virk got their legal fees paid as government employees.

But Doyle claims that access to many documents over which the attorney-general’s ministry claims either cabinet or solicitor-client privilege has been restricted.

Documents have either been delayed, edited or not released at all, slowing and hampering the audit process, he says.

“Full and unfettered access is fundamental to an auditor’s role in scrutinizing the management of programs, services and resources he or she is auditing.”

In particular, the missing documents include complete indemnity files for “special” indemnities such as those given to Basi and Virk, copies of invoices from private legal counsel and briefing notes and e-mails...
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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Extirpators neutered BC's former top-dog

I listened to political reporter and weekend host Sean Leslie on CKNW, a station not usually on my radio dial. Unlike NW's flagship talker, Leslie is a capable interviewer, unafraid of tough questions or guests with opposing viewpoints. Luckily, Corus management won't hear Leslie because even they don't listen on weekends, which mostly present dreadful infomercials and syndicated twaddle.

CKNW used to offer meaningful programing every day. Four years ago, Sean Holman's Public Eye Online featured a story titled Black Tower crumbling? about the work of Corus Radio's extirpators. Sean's short report is followed by a number of interesting reader comments. A person named Pluto left a long contribution that included this list of folks departed, some forever:
So here's to Bill Rea, Bob Hutton, Jack Kyle, Jack Cullen, Frosty Forst, Hal Davis, Ted Smith, Dick Abbott, Paul Preston, Ron Bremner, Jack Braverman, Pat McPherson, John McKitrick, Maury Hesketh, Ted Wendland, Rick Honey, Jack Webster, Ed Murphy, Art Findlay, Gary Bannerman, Ed Murphy, Dave McCormick, Leigh McKay, Erm Fiorillo, Earle Bradford, John Ashbridge, Al Davidson, John Plul, Bill Hughes, Gerry Davies, Warren Barker, George Garrett, Norm Grohman, Jim Robson, Wayne Cox, Lee Powell and all of the other talented people who laboured at CKNW over the years.

These are the people who made CKNW great. Yes, CKNW, the same radio station that Plasteras and Co. now seem intent on annihilating.
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Monday, April 5, 2010

Highly educated, still ignorant

April 3, CKNW's Sean Leslie interviewed Professor John Stackhouse and talked about the Roman Catholic Church's defensiveness in responding to incidents of child molestation.

Dr. Stackhouse is a Professor of Theology at UBC's Regent College. His posted biography is lengthy and includes:
". . . He is the author of more than 500 articles, book chapters, and reviews in the history, sociology, and philosophy of religion and in theology. He has published seven books and edited or co-edited four more. Dr. Stackhouse’s commentary has been featured by most North American television networks, many radio stations, and print media . . ."
Despite his long academic career, extensive studies and voluminous writings, apparently he remains ignorant about the facts of homosexuality and child molestation. He said this:
". . . the Catholic Church continues to hire only men, and only single men, and that is simply in the nature of the case, going to give you a higher incidence of homosexuals – because most of the pedophile priests have been homosexuals. It’s very difficult for them to say we’re just going to sack this guy when there’s nobody to replace them. . ."
That is the sort of antigay statement one might expect from loony fundamentalist preachers such as Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church. I'm shocked to hear this misinformed and moronic statement from a Vancouver Professor of Theology, even a Christian evangelical.

Throughout history, bigots have portrayed minority groups as dangerous to vulnerable members of society. Blood libel accusations against Jews claimed, among other things, that Christian children were kidnapped and murdered for religious rituals. Blacks were lynched for daring to look at white females. American scout leaders ban gays from membership and volunteer positions, claiming that homosexuals would "recruit" and molest children. The Vatican's response to early revelations of sexual abuse by priests was to declare that gay men should not be ordained.

Modern surveys show that, in North America, particularly Canada, only a small minority of people hold to the view that gay people are more likely to be child molesters. Research, of course, indicates otherwise. That is, most child molesters don't have an adult sexual orientation. They have never developed the capacity for mature sexual relationships with other adults, either men or women. Instead, their sexual attractions focus on children – boys, girls, or children of both sexes.

People, gay or straight, who have developed sexually mature attitudes are not predators of children. The problem of the Catholic Church is not that they hire too many gay Priests. The problem is that they deny Priests an opportunity for fulfilling life-long adult relationships. Sexuality is undeniably a normal element of every human being and gender preference is simply part of ordinary variance that affects every human taste and inclination.

Peter and other apostles of Jesus were married men. In the fourth century, Pope Siricius left his wife in order to head the church. At the end of the sixth century, Pope Gregory decreed that all sexual desire was sinful. In the 11th century, Pope Gregory VII said priests must 'first escape from the clutches of their wives’ and Pope Urban II had priests’ wives sold into slavery and children abandoned. In the 16th century, the Council of Trent stated that for priests, celibacy and virginity are superior to marriage.

Church attitudes towards celibacy, sexuality and marriage changed throughout time. In the current system, young priests are asked to deny their adult sexuality, to remain childlike in natural urges. Given access and opportunities, they molest children. That results from stunted mental and emotional development and has nothing to do with gender preferences.

Pope Benedict XVI, it is time for another change.

Please read the exchange in comments with Dr. Stackhouse. I accept his explanation of imprecise conversation but this is a situation of careless language from which all of us could learn.

Here is a live link to the Burke articles referred to in my comment of response.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Power from the powerful

I listened to CKNW’s Bill Good interview private power producers at a recent energy conference. Good was a cheerleader determined to broadcast a story that reflected positively on his guests. He helped push the story that BC Hydro has too little financial and intellectual capacity to be an effective power producer and that private companies are best able to meliorate environmental risks.

Is this the same BC Hydro that operates more than 30 hydroelectric facilities and contributes billions to the public treasury by generating and distributing low cost power throughout 95% of this province? And would that be the same private sector that so reliably remediated polluted mining sites such as Britannia and voluntarily eliminated serious air pollution by smelters, gas plants and pulp mills?

When a caller pointed out that BC Hydro is banned from developing new power sources and the private projects depend upon advance public agreements to purchase expensive power, Mr. Good “didn’t have time for speeches.” Nor, on April 11, did Sean Leslie and Gordon Campbell have time to answer a caller's allegation that Campbell associates, former ministerial aides and advisers, left government to work for Plutonic Power Corp.when government approved numerous private power developments by the company.

Public Eye Online editor Sean Holman writes that private power producers have employed numerous Liberal insiders to further their development projects. Holman aptly titles his comment From one power source to another.

Bill Tieleman's May 5 blog lists reasons why Campbell Liberals should be booted from office. One comment attached to Bill's entry provides interesting detail of Liberal apparatchiks who fit Holman's description.
Why have so many BC Liberal insiders moved to the IPP industry where they have dished out $30 billion in contracts for electricity that BC Hydro could produce at a fraction of that?
  • Geoff Plant, former BC Liberal Attorney General, now chair of Renaissance Power.
  • Mark Grant, BC Liberal executive director, resigns December 12, 2008 to join Rupert Peace Power.
  • David Cyr, former Assistant to BC Liberal Minister Mike de Jong, is now a director at Plutonic Power.
  • Robert Poore, recently worked under the Provincial Revenue Minister of the Province of BC, now is a senior director at Plutonic Power.
  • Tom Syer, who has held a variety of senior positions in the BC Government including Gordon Campbell’s Deputy Chief of Staff, is now a director at Plutonic Power.
  • Bill Irwin, after holding key positions in the BC Ministries of Land and Water, and Crown Lands, now is a director at Plutonic Power.
  • Bruce Young, has held several high profile positions with the BC Liberal party and lobbied his own party on behalf of Katabatic Power is listed as a director of Atla Energy.
  • Stephen Kukucha, former senior policy advisor for the BC Ministry of Environment, is now president and CEO of Atla Energy.
  • Paul Taylor, after his work as President and CEO of crown corporation ICBC as well as high level positions in the BC Government, is now President and CEO of Naikun Wind Energy Group.
  • Michael J. O’Conner, former President and CEO of Crown Corporation BC Transit, now holds senior positions at Naikun.
  • Jackie Hamilton, formerly held various BC Government environmental assessment and regulatory management positions, is now a VP at Cloudworks Energy.
  • And last but not least, Bob Herath, former Assistant Regional Water Manager for the BC Ministry of Environment is now with Syntaris Power. Bob Herath signed water licences in 2006-7 that are now owned by the same company he left gov't for in 2007. Syntaris Power
I remember the days of misguided youth when I was too involved in party politics. While I raised funds to subsidize Young Liberals traveling to a national leadership convention, an MP gave me a list of federal contractors who could be counted on for support. It seems that if one was, say a dredging contractor growing fat on public service, you were expected to spread cash around when the party came calling. Mind you, those were small sums. Real opportunities were always reserved for the favored few.

Well connected Liberals have a long and proud history of maximizing personal opportunities. They know how to make meaningful asset transfers with great discretion. After all, that is the fundamental purpose of an unprincipled political party.
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