Enablers of misconduct, "if it is done here"

The current FIFA scandal illustrates a human behaviour that allows criminal behaviour to succeed. By nature, people tend to ignore the misconduct of others if preventing or revealing it extracts a higher price than ignoring it. Undoubtedly, insiders and observers were aware of high-level corruption at the international football organization. However, most FIFA Congress members disregarded the behaviour and discouraged reform efforts because they gained from the status quo and were unprepared to trade advantage for discomfort.

The same behaviour of people is evident elsewhere. In our unitary system of government, with power — the ability to reward or punish — centralized in the first minister’s office, a corrupt administration has few restraints. When individuals report wrongdoing or take ethical stands — eight Health ministry victims, for example — the entire weight of government opposes them.

On the other hand, if the influential and privileged have no ethical standards and only care about depositing cheques drawn on the public purse, the rewards can be substantial. This blog offers numerous examples so I won’t repeat a list but, if I did, one name on the register would be Wally Oppal. The former judge, politician and inquiry commissioner is currently a lawyer, “strategic advisor” and political fixer. One of those roles has him appearing as radio CKNW’s legal analyst.

I almost suffered injury from falling off my chair when he said this on air earlier this week:

If I were polite, I would say that Judge Wally was being disingenuous. He doesn’t think anyone involved in BC criminal prosecutions would conduct plea bargaining? Yet, he had a role in arranging the Basi Virk plea bargain and he was very much involved in the plea bargaining with Surrey killer Mukhtiar Panghali.

Wally Oppal is just another enabler, although he is wealthier than most, having grossed almost a million dollars from the Robert Pickton tragedies while collecting a six-figure public pension. Let’s imagine for a moment that Oppal had knowledge of inappropriate behaviour involving his Liberal patrons. Would gratifying political sinecures continue to be available if he spoke out?

In BC, there is a very well developed system of patronage that provides rewards to donors and others who please government politicians. In addition, the Liberal leadership has taken to negotiating in private for the award of massive direct subsidies and tax expenditures. They count on silence and support of Corus Radio, daily newspapers and fishwraps distributed throughout the hinterlands by publishers such as David Black and the ex-con David Radler. Christy Clark’s sponsors want citizenry who are poorly informed about politics to ensure corrupt incumbents and their favourites will not be sanctioned for deviant or dishonest behaviour.

Aung San Suu Kyi:

It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.

As I’ve noted previously, some political reporters have a habit of taking payments from groups affected by the coverage they provide. It’s a game of one hand washing another and it can be rewarding to both hands.

BC Chamber AGM News March 2015



In 2009, I wrote Lying with dogs, rising with fleas and in 2010, More dogs, more fleas. There can be no surprise about corruption at FIFA and the IOC. Yet, the enablers will continue to enable criminal behaviour.

Categories: Justice

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11 replies »

  1. An English professional who I am associated with and who did some consulting work in the metro Vancouver region was appalled by the mainstream media and the complete lack of any independence from the government or integrity.

    He called it “Yellow Journalism”, the kind of journalism one finds in dictatorships and alike.

    He wrote a scathing piece for a trade magazine about Vancouver, which quite well describes our current scene.

    Yellow journalism of the worst sort is the hall mark of BC and enables the current corrupt government to endure.

    So sad that the Vancouver Sun is now nothing but 'fish wrap' and its journalists are of the Herr Goebbels School of Propaganda taught by Lord HaHa himself.


  2. Agree completely, except for I think you might have meant “majoritarian” instead of “unitarian” government because we don't have a unitarian government like Britain or France, neither of those two sharing sovereignty with any subdivisions such as we do with provinces (we have eleven first ministers of sovereign—or “semi-sovereign”, if you prefer—governments; territorial governments aren't sovereign but, rather, more like French Departments). No qualm whatsoever about the corruption of administration and the complicity of news media.

    So-called “journalists” taking payment from groups about which they write is a type of conflicted interest, and central to regulations intended to stop such conflict is the perception of it, which is no small thing, but an essential thing, and a thing Christy didn't get when, for example, she defended the abusive BC Civil Forfeiture Office because it funds her special interest in anti-bullying (it funded her pink-T-shirt campaign): it apparently escaped her that a perception exists that she might condone unwarranted forfeiture, or overlook abuses of the CFO, because of her interest in pink T-shirts which, the importance of ameliorating schoolyard bullying not denied, can also be construed as a potential political prop for her next campaign, should she run one; otherwise she displays much bullying behaviour herself—albeit not on the schoolyard (at least not that we know of in her own grade school bio—SFU not included because it's technically not a “school” as such) . Typically her response (and that of her incompetent Justice minister Suzanne Anton who should have given her boss better advice) is to shrug off the perception because it's “only” a perception, not a “proof”. But neither can she prove that she hasn't illustrated the common human behavioural trait of lying.

    Oh yeah, Wally: piece of work, too, eh?


  3. Perception “is” everything. The burden of ” proof” is on the individual to “counter” the perception, in the court of “public opinion”. Indeed “yellow journalism ” flourishes in this province. Since ethical and integrity based reporting is shunned by the mainstream media, in favor of the “corptocracy” version, the proof of the public perception, never sees the light of day. Its far easier to rewrite history from the standpoint of power, than to disprove real truths, and let the “engineered facts” speak for themselves. I do not believe the BC Liberals know what the real truth is. Smoke and mirrors, have a way of even receiving the manipulators, not just the audience. Case in point, recent FOI scandal in Traspotation ministry over “Highway of Tears” emails. A ministerial assistant refers to the TV show, the West Wing. Commenting that “we will do anything to win”, to the individual that did not want to delete emails.
    Snookie and co., got there political method off the tube. No wonder we are in such a mess.The media of course will dress this up and make a mockery of it.
    There has to be a solution to the removal of this crap, short of rolling the tanks.


  4. I heard the interview with Wally Oppal and it sounded like the interviewer Jill Bennett was from another planet. I thought, wow, that's a whopper. Will she call Oppal on it?

    Would have made for good radio if she had. But no, had he said the earth was flat, she would not have challenged the statement.

    Remember when Jack Webster turned his back on Sven Robinson when the MP spoke utter foolishness in an interview? Today's radio voices have so little nerve that its little wonder their audiences contract.


  5. About the unitary system. You're right but so am I. Many phrases can have different meanings and your concept would please a political scientist. However, In my dictionary, unitary may mean a system of government in which powers are vested in a central authority. My words were intended to emphasize the power of the Premier's Office to rule over every aspect of governance.

    Instead of responsible parliamentary government where representatives of the people meet to consider and make laws, we have a system where a government is created and its policies are determined behind closed doors, largely by the leaderhip, and the elected members represent that government back to their constituents.


  6. I asked 30 local journalists and news organizations whether Wally Oppal was involved in the Basi/Virk plea deal negotiations in any way. They refused to answer. I e-mailed Phillip Till every morning he was on the air from October 24, 2012 to the May 14, 2013 election with the same question. He refused to answer. I asked Simi Sara the question and she promised categorically and emphatically that it would be dealt with on ‘NW. It wasn’t and she refuses to say why.

    The question is important because of the follow-on questions that arise depending on whether he was involved or not, and if so, which of the two plea deals he was involved in. Questions like who approached him for assistance. Why? What did he bring to the table? How extensive was his involvement? Was he paid? Who paid him? If he was paid, did the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act time limits come into play? Was it appropriate for a recently retired Attorney General to be involved in secret plea negotiations with defendants in a criminal trial that was being prosecuted by a special prosecutor under the Crown Counsel Act without informing that special prosecutor? If he was involved in the plea deal between Basi and Virk and the government, what about the public statement by Deputy Attorney General Loukidelis that no one outside the Legal Services Branch, himself, and the Deputy Minister of Finance had any knowledge or involvement?

    If he was involved in the plea deal between the special prosecutor and Basi and Virk, all but the last two questions above apply. If he was involved in both deals, there are many more questions.

    If, on the other hand, he had no involvement in either of the plea deals related to Basi and Virk, then his quick answer upon being asked would be an unqualified “No.” Why is the local herd so reticent to ask him such a simple question? Is there not one among them with the spine and the professional conscience needed? Apparently not.


  7. I can accept your interpretation.

    One aspect of government, the judiciary, has indeed been interfered with in BC—I'm thinking of the BC Rail corruption trial which saw the judge presiding over years of government foot-dragging suddenly promoted off the trial, the replacement conspicuously expediting the now-infamous plea-deal with Basi-Virk in very short order. Obviously the Premier's Office unduly influences things judicial by way of the Civil Forfeiture Office (which is only one reason the CFO should be shut down—warranted civil forfeiture doesn't need such an office). “Unitarian”, “majoritarian”, or whatever one calls it, the judiciary aspect of government must operate entirely separately from the others.

    To be perfectly correct, governments are, despite deception, concealment, and misappropriation of public money to fund partisan propaganda, responsible to the electorate—at least on that “big day”. But I hear ya—it should be every day.

    I find it ironic that where I live we sometimes grate against a trusteeship with an overt desire to look and act like responsible government, while at the same time we often grate against a provincial government that does its utmost to look and act like a trusteeship—the representational direction being reversed in both cases, both the wrong way.


  8. Self deception might have something to do with it, but I rather think the BC Liberals are quite conscious of what they're doing, that in the circumstance (perhaps here deceiving themselves the most), it's warranted (like as if they sincerely believe the NDP would “destroy” the province if they ever got in, a projection of BC Liberal revisionist mythology of the 90s onto the future); I believe most of them understand full well what they're doing is wrong, but they'll take the opportunity—or licence—anyway.


  9. I believe I posted this before from “Necessary Illusions” by Noam Chomsky, but I think it bears repeating. It was published in1989. Its subtitle is “Thought Control in Democratic Societies.” Here is a paragraph from page 10.
    “Case by case, we find that conformity is the easy way, and the path to privilege and prestige; dissidence carries personal costs that may be severe, even in a society that lacks such means of control as death squads, psychiatric prisons, or extermination camps. The very structure of the media is designed to induce conformity to established doctrine. In a 3 minute stretch between commercials, or in 700 words, it is impossible to
    present unfamiliar thoughts or surprising conclusions with the argument and evidence required to afford them some credibility. Regurgitation of welcome pieties faces no such problem.”
    This describes the role of the MSM in BC and the biggest problem the NDP has. For instance, in the last election, the MSM never stopped regurgitating about Dix and the memo he altered. He apologized for it but they were relentless. They never once mentioned Christy Clark's role in the sale of BC Rail and the lies that were told when the BC Liberals said they would not sell it. They completely over looked that as well as many other flaws in her role as Minister of Education.


  10. Corrupt is the word that best describes the BC Liberal party and it's supporters. Control of the mainstream media by financial threats and other means by the BC liberal government. Now it seems, they are blatantly deleting emails contrary to legal requirements.

    I do not believe that the last provincial election was won legally, but somehow vote manipulation must have occurred. This too, falls inline with the contempt for proper regulation the BC Liberal government shows for any and all regulation.

    Just my opinion of course, but just as valid as Palmer or Baldry – just felt the need to say something.


  11. Yes, I recall senior news guy Gord MacDonald at ‘NW engaging in foaming at the mouth rants about Adrian Dix forgetting to buy a three dollar SkyTrain ticket. Meanwhile, the Boss Power payout, Wally Oppal’s involvement in the Basi/Virk pleas, the alleged use of Harry Bloy’s constituency office for Christy Clark’s BC Liberal leadership campaign, the e-mail from the Attorney General’s ministry to Vaughn Palmer on a weekend in May of 2013 “explaining” its version of the Basi/Virk payout when two days before the Attorney General had refused to provide it when asked directly in the Legislature, and countless other BC Liberal travesties left the ‘NW microphones spittle-free.

    Speaking of Palmer, he wrote a column upon receiving that weekend e-mail wherein he stated the Attorney General was finally providing an explanation for how Basi and Virk were relieved of liability for their legal fees. That wasn’t true, since they had provided the same information to me in writing over a year before and he knew it. When I reminded him of that, he said he wrote the column because the e-mail was the first written statement that HE had received from the ministry. Does that sound like an investigative journalist to you? Also, when copies of the October 14, 2010 letter of agreement and the October 12, 2010 mutual releases were publicly leaked, he told me it wasn’t news to him and that he’d seen all of that before but on an “embargoed” basis. Nice. He’d seen the document Geoff Plant publicly said couldn’t exist because it would constitute an illegal inducement, and which document the government had fiercely resisted disclosing through court challenges and written inquiries by the Information Commissioner, but had remained silent about it. In fact he still hasn’t written to examine the implications and legalities of that agreement. In December of 2012 he told me, “I’m on holiday from writing the column until mid january and have filed away the bloy and oppal questions until the next time I am in touch with either one of them.” I guess he’s just not very good at staying in touch.


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