Bill Tieleman

Bill Tieleman, president of West Star Communications, is one of BC's best known political commentators and communicators. Read political commentary from Bill every Tuesday in 24 hours, Vancouver's free weekday newspaper (also online) and in The Tyee — BC's award-winning online magazine.



Aug 142013

Defence charges RCMP used 'Mr Big' pretence to fill arrest quota.

by Bill Tieleman
"I think it's fair to say yes, this involved undercover, Mr Big type covert operations." 
— Tom Morino, lawyer for BC Legislature bomb plot accused John Nuttall
Did you know that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police has a target of six disruptions of "terrorist criminal activities" this fiscal year? No doubt one of those six disruptions happened when the RCMP arrested John Nuttall and Amanda Korody on charges of plotting to explode pressure-cooker bombs outside the BC Legislature on July 1 during Canada Day celebrations.
But after Nuttall and Korody's BC Supreme Court appearance last Wednesday, August 7 before Justice Jeanne Watchuk, questions about the case continue to mount.
One query: how much pressure is the RCMP under to meet their terrorist targets as the federal Conservative government looks to reduce police expenditures? Another question came when Nuttall's lawyer Tom Morino said after the short hearing was adjourned to September 20 that while he has only received limited prosecution disclosure about the case against his client, it's enough for him to conclude the RCMP used "Mr Big" tactics against Nuttall.
"Having seen Mr Big cases, nothing in the [preliminary] disclosure surprised me," Morino told this reporter. "We've received preliminary disclosure — an executive summary I'd describe it as," Morino said. "We'll have full disclosure before the next appearance. I would anticipate thousands of pages of disclosure."
The controversial "Mr. Big" approach pioneered by BC RCMP undercover officers in the early 1990s involves police posing as criminals to gain suspects' confidence and collect evidence against them.
The tactic is seen as coercive and not allowed in Britain and the United States.
Yet more issues surfaced when Nuttall was sent to the Forensic Psychiatric Hospital in Coquitlam in late July.
"The only reason I'm aware that he has been certified under the Mental Health Act is because my client called me and told me," Morino said outside court. "In my opinion, there's a sufficient nexus in time between this certification and the alleged incidents that it certainly raises the spectre of NCRMD (not criminally responsible by reason of mental disorder) — or as we used to call it, 'insanity,.''
Both Nuttall and Korody were taking methadone to reduce withdrawal symptoms from narcotics like heroin while living in poverty in a Surrey basement apartment when arrested.
In court August 7, Nuttall looked more like an Amish farmer, with a dark beard and shaggy, shoulder length hair, than a suspected terrorist.
Nuttall turned to the courtroom full of media and gave what could only be described as a goofy grin out of place with the serious charges. He and Korody exchanged wide smiles, clearly pleased to see each other but again seemingly oblivious to their dire circumstances.

So how did two apparently hapless recent converts to Islam allegedly mastermind a plot to kill and injure hundreds of people in Victoria?

How were they "self-radicalized" and inspired by "al-Qaeda ideology" as RCMP claim, and did undercover officers or informants play a role in aiding their alleged bomb-making plot?
"In order to ensure public safety, we employed a variety of complex investigative and covert techniques to control any opportunity the suspects had to commit harm," RCMP assistant commissioner Wayne Rideout said in a July 2 statement announcing the arrests. "These devices were completely under our control, they were inert, and at no time represented a threat to public safety," Rideout said then, but did not detail how that occurred.
The BC Civil Liberties Association has also raised concerns about the role of a possible "Mr. Big" police operation.
"The question is, how could the police be so confident that the explosive devices wouldn't work?" says Michael Vonn of the BCCLA. "The surmise is they knew that because they either provided or provided portions of them, or somehow had been actively involved with the accused in developing or facilitating the alleged plot," she said.
Several American cases of terrorist activities have drawn charges of entrapment by defence lawyers.
In the case of James Cromitie, a Walmart employee tempted by a well-paid FBI informant offering $250,000 and a new BMW in exchange for firing missiles at US warplanes and bombing Jewish targets in New York, a federal judge chastised the FBI.
"Only the government could have made a 'terrorist' out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope," Judge Colleen McMahon said, while still sentencing him to 25 years in jail.

Morino said what was expected to be a bail hearing for Nuttall on August 7 will instead take place at some later date."We can conduct a bail hearing whenever we wish. But until such time as I have some sort of reasonable proposed release plan in place, it's really a waste of time," he said.

Korody has now retained lawyer Mark Jette to represent her. Jette, who has previously acted for jailed gangster Jarrod Bacon and his parents in separate cases, was not in court August 7.
Morino says a judge and jury trial is a long way off. "I don't expect trial dates until 2015," he said.
So the BC Legislature bomb plot mystery continues, as does the RCMP's goal of disrupting more terrorist activities before the next fiscal year.
Jul 272013

Vancouver's safe injection site not involved in Cory Monteith's tragic overdose death.

by Bill Tieleman

"So the question is, if [Cory] Monteith were visiting virtually any other city in Canada, would he have been able to find heroin? Would he have died? I think the likelihood is much lower."
– Licia Corbella, Calgary Herald, July 21, 2013

Meet Licia Corbella, the Calgary columnist who prefers fiction to facts and has no hesitation using the tragic death of Canadian-born Glee star Cory Monteith to attack harm reduction programs in Vancouver that dramatically reduce heroin overdose fatalities.

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Jul 132013

Blame BC Liberal-appointed Board of Directors.

by Bill Tieleman

This is not the first surprise I've had from BC Hydro and I can tell you I'm pretty sure it's not gonna be the last one… when I have to I'm going to read them the riot act."
– Energy Minister Bill Bennett, July 4, 2013.

If Bill Bennett wants to get to the bottom of BC Hydro's lack of disaster preparedness and huge cost overruns forcing big rate increases for consumers, he doesn't need to read the riot act.  Just read the BC Hydro Board of Directors list and then ask any one of the many BC Liberal Party donors and insiders appointed by his government.

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Jun 272013

Displacing a popular MLA might not have been the smartest way to seek a new seat.

by Bill Tieleman

"History is not on the government's side when it comes to byelections. The only byelection that government has won in 30 years was the one that I won in Vancouver-Point Grey."
Premier Christy Clark, April 12, 2012

Could Christy Clark possibly lose the July 10 byelection in the very safe BC Liberal seat of Westside-Kelowna?

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Jun 202013
Senior in wheelchair.

BC imposes new rules, fees, on wheelchairs for long term care patients.

by Bill Tieleman

"Action expresses priorities."
– Mahatma Gandhi

Disabled seniors in wheelchairs across British Columbia living in residential care are going to have even more money picked out of their pockets by the cash-hungry provincial government, according to an independent MLA. Independent MLA Vicki Huntington said in an interview Saturday that not only will seniors be forced to pay a $300 a year wheelchair "maintenance" fee but all future wheelchair service will be fully privatized, costing them hundreds to thousands of dollars for necessary mobility equipment.

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Jun 122013

Long term care patients to pay monthly fee for wheelchair 'maintenance'.

by Bill Tieleman

"What is it about being old and infirm that you can be treated with indignity?"
– Independent MLA Vicki Huntington on the $25 monthly wheelchair rental fee

The provincial election is over. Now it’s time to force elderly disabled people to pay the price for the BC Liberals’ promise to balance the budget this year. Starting September 1, both the Fraser and Vancouver Coastal Health authorities will charge seniors a $25 monthly “maintenance” fee for use of a wheelchair in public extended care facilities.

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Jun 062013

Only such an egregious scandal could force true Senate reform.

by Bill Tieleman
"When they call the roll in the Senate, the Senators do not know whether to answer 'Present' or 'Not guilty.'"<
US President Theodore Roosevelt, 1858-1919

Canada owes Senator Mike Duffy an enormous debt of gratitude — and I'm not kidding. Who else but excommunicated-Conservative Duffy could single-handedly put the issue of reforming or abolishing the Senate at the top of the national agenda?

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May 302013

Liberals knew how to call back their crowd with a sure fire signal.

by Bill Tieleman

"Dog-whistle politics. It means putting out a message that, like a high-pitched dog-whistle, is only fully audible to those at whom it is directly aimed."
The Economist, March 2005

The BC Liberal Party's winning election campaign successfully blew a dog-whistle signal to its many straying voters, calling them home just in time to defeat the BC NDP. The dog-whistle call is a simple one that works time and again for the so-called "free enterprise" coalition that usually governs British Columbia: "jobs and the economy."

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May 232013

Negative advertising decision, Kinder Morgan reversal, lack of polling undermined Adrian Dix.

by Bill Tieleman

"I'm sorry to say that the book you are holding in your hands is extremely unpleasant… It is my sad duty to write down these unpleasant tales but there is nothing stopping you from putting this book down at once and reading something happy, if you prefer that sort of thing."
– Lemony Snicket, A Series of Unfortunate Events

The BC New Democrat campaign that led to last week's stunning reversal of fortune by Premier Christy Clark is A Series of Unfortunate Events with politically tragic consequences.

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