Vaughn Palmer: Only cynic would think delayed oversight of InBC was calculated choice by NDP

VICTORIA — When Jobs Minister Ravi Kahlon took the wraps off the NDP’s half-a-billion-dollar InBC investment fund, he made several high-sounding claims about government’s intentions, each questionable. “InBC is a public strategic investment fund and will be investing taxpayer dollars,” said Kahlon during debate last week on the enabling legislation for the InBC Crown corporation that will administer the fund. “It is incredibly important that it has the highest standards of transparency and accountability to the public.” Important to be sure: the government plan is for InBC to invest $500 million over the next three years. And the NDP promise of transparency and accountability is easy to test. InBC was… Read More

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Vaughn Palmer: B.C. not too worried about high-level concerns with AstraZeneca jab

VICTORIA — The provincial health officer defended B.C.’s use of the AstraZeneca vaccine this week in light of a statement by Canada’s immunization advisory committee that some fear could increase vaccine hesitancy or vaccine shopping. “With the amount of transmission we are seeing in this province the best advice, that I can give: The first vaccine that you have access to is the one that you should get,” Dr. Bonnie Henry told reporters. “That includes the AstraZeneca vaccine.” Granted there was a small “safety signal” regarding use of the vaccine, related to a “very rare” risk of developing blood clots. But Henry’s position was “very clear” in the real world… Read More

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Want to report anti-Asian racism to the VPD online? You have to be able to write in Chinese

Vancouver lawyer Steven Ngo was in his car on the corner of Fraser Street and 41st Avenue in mid-April when two white men called him a harsh, racial slur. He thought he misheard, so he rolled down his window. They responded by throwing garbage at him. Incensed, he went to the Vancouver police website to report what happened. And hit a roadblock. The VPD website said people who have experienced hate, prejudice or bias because of ethnicity should call the police non-emergency number. He did, but after waiting on hold 30 minutes, he gave up. Then he found there are reporting forms offered on the VPD’s website. But there are… Read More

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Vaughn Palmer: B.C. politicians consider extending taxpayer subsidies past ‘expiry’ date

VICTORIA — An all-party committee of the B.C. legislature is asking the public whether to continue the taxpayer subsidy for political parties that was brought in by the New Democrats four years ago. The annual allowance has already paid almost $15 million to the New Democrats, B.C. Liberals and Greens. They are on track to collect a further $5 million by July 1, 2022, when the allowance expires unless extended by the legislature — which is the question before the committee and the subject of virtual public hearings that start later this week. Before the 2017 election, NDP leader John Horgan flatly denied he intended to provide taxpayer subsidies for political parties,… Read More

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Will Democrats Abandon a Criminal-Justice Reformer?

Christopher Lee / VII / Redux PHILADELPHIA—On a recent Saturday morning, Larry Krasner was explaining to me why gun violence and murders have spiked in Philadelphia over the past year—and why the criminal-justice reforms he instituted as the city’s district attorney are not to blame. The fault, he said, lies with the pandemic and its shutdown of schools, summer camps, job opportunities, and even municipal courts. “It was the elimination of the basic fabric in our society,” Krasner told me, “that has been protective of young people and older juveniles—exactly the groups that are shooting each other.” He may be right about the causes; after all, gun violence has soared… Read More

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Vaughn Palmer: Think of them as ‘pop-up’ roadside checks. Just don’t call them random

VICTORIA — The New Democrats started the week trying to brazen it out over the confusion Premier John Horgan caused with his half-baked comments on the new restrictions on non-essential travel during the COVID-19 pandemic. Horgan had earlier told the public that the restrictions and fines would be enforced via random roadside checks by police: “Everybody who goes by will be asked where they come from and where they are going (and) there will be consequences if you are outside your area on non-essential business.” Lest there be any doubt, he said it a half-dozen times in the space of a single media conference April 19: “This will be conducted… Read More

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Ian Mulgrew: David Eby’s evolution on dirty money

B.C. Attorney-General David Eby says his understanding of dirty money and how it infiltrates the provincial economy has developed over time and has been quite “a journey.” He told the inquiry into money laundering this week that, despite his time as opposition critic, when given responsibility for gaming in 2017 he did not fully appreciate the nuances of the industry’s legislative, law enforcement and regulatory apparatus. Eby said it took him time to fully understand the dynamic and tensions between key players — the RCMP, the Gaming Policy and Enforcement Branch, and the B.C. Lottery Corp. At first, the NDP minister was puzzled — how could anyone wash money through… Read More

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Can Democrats Avoid a Wipeout in 2022?

The good news for Democrats who watched Joe Biden unveil a historically ambitious agenda last night is that newly elected presidents have almost always passed some version of their core economic plan—particularly when their party controls both congressional chambers, as Biden’s does now. The bad news: Voters have almost always punished the president’s party in the next midterm election anyway. The last two times Democrats had unified control—with Bill Clinton in 1993–94 and Barack Obama in 2009–10—they endured especially resounding repudiations in the midterms, which cost Clinton his majority in both chambers and Obama the loss of the House. The scale of the agenda Biden laid out last night underscores… Read More

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Ian Mulgrew: No one blind to dirty money, Coleman insists

At public meetings launching the Cullen commission into money laundering, some denounced former provincial solicitor-general Rich Coleman as if he were a Great Satan — an avatar of all the Liberal failures. After two years of investigation, Coleman on Wednesday left the commission’s online witness window having proven why he was re-elected often and a senior minister for so long. His critics must have been deflated. Forget about no smoking gun, Coleman sounded confident, forthright and in command of the issues he confronted as a cabinet minister for nearly two decades — especially about dirty money. The former deputy premier from 2013 to 2017 said it was ridiculous that anyone… Read More

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Vaughn Palmer: B.C.’s sick leave bill could have been on the order paper weeks ago

VICTORIA — After passing up earlier opportunities to criticize the federal government over inadequate vaccine supplies and lax border controls, Premier John Horgan waded into the Ottawa blame game on paid sick leave this week. Horgan said B.C. had been lobbying the Justin Trudeau Liberal government for months for “a genuine national plan” to fix the gaps in its “unwieldy” sick leave plan introduced last year. The province was caught off-guard when no fix was included in the April 19 federal budget. “We identified those gaps as did others,” the premier told reporters Tuesday. “We had hopes that their budget, the day before our budget, would have done something to… Read More

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