Premier John Horgan is joined by Finance Minister Carole James and Attorney General David Eby as they announce a public inquiry into money-laundering in the province during a newss conference at the B.C. legislature in Victoria on Wednesday.
Chad Hipolito / The Canadian Press
After issuing so many alarming reports Horgan had little choice but to call a public inquiry into money-laundering in B.C.The Liberals put on a brave face Wednesday as NDP Premier John Horgan launched his public inquiry into criminal money-laundering in B.C.“I’m quite happy with an inquiry,” said Liberal MLA Rich Coleman, who oversaw casino gambling and law enforcement with the previous government. “We’ll finally get past some of this innuendo and accusations, and let’s get down to some facts.”But don’t kid yourself: The Libs are nervous as hell about this thing and the political damage it could cause them in the run-up to the next election. The Liberals were in power for 16 years, including those latter years when Metro Vancouver housing prices soared beyond the reach of non-millionaires.Horgan’s New Democrats released a series of bombshell reports showing dirty money from drug-dealing and other crimes potentially drove up home prices.What did the Liberals do about it? When prices first began to skyrocket, they didn’t want to intervene in the real estate market — something Horgan seized on Wednesday.“The former government appeared to be indifferent,” Horgan said, noting the Liberals later refused to waive secrecy laws and release sealed cabinet documents on the crisis.Now Horgan wants Liberal Leader Andrew Wilkinson to co-operate with the public inquiry and release those secret cabinet records to Austin Cullen, the inquiry head.“Commissioner Cullen should have access to that information,” Horgan said. “I would hope that Mr. Wilkinson will revisit that question.”
Premier John Horgan, centre, along with Attorney General David Eby and Finance Minister Carole James, will hope to make political hay out of the B.C. Liberals’ inaction on money laundering.
Calling on scandalized governments to waive so-called cabinet privilege is an old political trick. The Liberals called on the NDP government in the 1990s to release secret cabinet documents on the casino-gate scandal that brought down former NDP premier Glen Clark.The NDP, of course, refused to waive cabinet privilege back then, just like the Liberals will likely refuse to waive their right to keep cabinet secrets today. Horgan knows it, but it’s all good. He will just slime the Libs with the old “what have they got to hide?” attack.Make no mistake: This money-laundering mess has been a powerful political weapon for the NDP. Now they hope a public inquiry will continue to inflict maximum damage on the Liberals.The Libs will point out it was the NDP government of the 1990s that first started jacking up betting limits in the casinos, the possible genesis of the money-laundering beast. I asked Horgan if he would be willing to produce any sealed cabinet records from those days.“Absolutely,” Horgan said. “We’re not afraid of that at all.”Easy for him to say. The maximum casino betting limit back then was $500 on a hand of blackjack. The maximum now is $100,000 per hand. Yes, you read that right.Also, the influence of dirty money flowing out of places like China was minuscule back then, compared with the tsunami of cash flooding B.C. over the last few years.The public inquiry is the right thing to do. But don’t be fooled about the partisan politics of this. There’s a reason the inquiry is scheduled to report back in 2021 — the year of the next provincial firstname.lastname@example.org/MikeSmythNewsCLICK HERE to report a typo. Is there more to this story? We’d like to hear from you about this or any other stories you think we should know about. Email email@example.com.