An unpopular premier. A government on the slide. A resurgent New Democratic Party Opposition. According to Vaughn Palmer, those circumstances resulted in a private meeting when “some self-styled free-enterprisers began casting about for new leadership.”
“I’ve always felt that the chances for a third party were slim to zero unless one of the two big parties committed suicide,” said one back room operator. However, he believed the government of the day was incapable of another election win, regardless of whether the leader stayed or departed. “At this moment, the NDP have got the next election won, it is an absolute lead pipe cinch.”
One of the self-appointed rulers at that meeting was Patrick Kinsella. The man they selected to lead the BC Liberal Party was Jack Poole. The year was 1988. Poole refused the political assignment and Gordon Wilson stayed on as Liberal leader until the money men turned to Gordon Campbell as their choice to be the next free-enterprise Premier.
As predicted, the NDP were indeed an absolute lead pipe cinch to form government and they did, holding power for ten years until Premier-in-waiting Gordon Campbell took office. With him, of course, was the coterie of free-enterpriser deal-makers and bag-men, including Patrick Kinsella who served as co-chair of the Liberal campaign that found success in May 2001.
One element of the extensive Liberal Platform, titled A New Era for British Columbia was to “Not sell or privatize BC Rail.” However, within four months, Liberal Campaign Co-Chair Patrick Kinsella was making arrangements, consulting with BC Rail for a $7,000 a month fee that earned his company a total of $300,000. Martyn Brown, Campbell’s Chief of Staff, testifying at the BC Rail Corruption trial admits to “bad optics” when Kinsella was quickly made an insider involved with the railway they falsely promised not to sell.
In pre-trial arguments, the Basi/Virk defense claimed that Kinsella had been paid six figures without even submitting an invoice. Lawyer Michael Bolton, representing Dave Basi, suggested if the premier had a “secret plan” to sell BC Rail, he might use Kinsella to assist that plan. “That’s one reason, yes,” Brown conceded. More here.
To be fair, the Liberals had promised to make changes within 90 days and they did exactly that and began a new era of prosperity for friends and insiders. It continues today with a vengeance, back-room deals even accelerating as public acceptance of Gordon Campbell spirals downward.