The political book. A forum for revisionist history and personal feuds.
In his new e-book, Towards a New Government in British Columbia, Martyn Brown, former Gordon Campbell chief-of-staff and B.C. Liberal backroomer, adds to that canon of literature while slamming Premier Christy Clark for staining the party brand.
“At this point,” writes Brown, “it would take a near miracle for the B.C. Liberals to form the next government.”
Brown knows elections. He helped build the B.C. Liberal dynasty, which began in 2001 with a 77-out-of-79-seat Campbell majority. For more than a decade, he whispered advice into Campbell’s ear, helping engineer two more election victories.
But despite all of that, Brown may be best remembered for his testimony at the B.C. Rail corruption trial when he couldn’t recall alleged telephone conversations that may have shed light on the murky affair. The trial ended when two Liberal operatives (Dave Basi and Bobby Virk) pleaded guilty, sparing the Campbell government further damage.
Brown continued his advisory role until 2011 when Campbell resigned and Clark was crowned premier. Clark quickly canned Brown and several other Campbell loyalists during a purge of the premier’s office. Brown nabbed a $416,191 severance package and rode off into the sunset. He should write a book.
Speaking of money. Last week in this space, John Cummins, leader of the B.C. Conservative Party, disputed claims by the Canadian Taxpayers Federation (CTF) that he collects a $102,169 annual pension. “It’s less than what the CTF has made public,” said Cummins, a former federal MP.
And he’s right. After the story was published, CTF spokesperson Jordan Bateman called the Courier to correct the record. “He is right,” said Bateman. “When we did the report, there was a glitch.”
According to the CTF’s revised figures, this year Cummins will collect $99,768 in pension—$2,401 less than previously claimed. Based on this new number, according to the CTF, Cummins’ lifetime pension total (if he lives to 80) will reach $1.3 million.
During summer’s dog days, the legislature falls silent while MLAs “recess” in the sun. But the government machine never sleeps.
A recent press release from the stretch-titled Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations caught my eye. The ministry, in cooperation with something called the Invasive Species Council of British Columbia, has introduced the “Report-a-Weed” app—a free download for smartphones.
Here’s how it works.
If, when strolling through a field of daisies with your picnic basket of wares, you encounter an unusual plant, whip out your iPhone, snap a photo, access the app and click “submit.” According to the press release, your photo may prompt “follow-up activity” by “regional weed committees” who’ll descend on your daisy field to eliminate the problem.
To aid detection and limit false alarms, the app includes a photo library of scary plants such as hoary alyssum, knotweed (and it’s cousin, knapweed), tansy ragwort, field scabious and the infamous giant hogweed.
Invasive plants, adds the press release, “have the potential to displace long-established native species and cause significant economic or environmental damage.”
But what about other local “invasive species” such as the snakehead fish, the Japanese oyster or that 30-pound raccoon who scared the bejesus out of me in July during a moonlit walk home from the bar? Where’s the app for that?