NEWS RELEASE · 27th July 2010
Kim Pollock - USW
Premier Gordon Campbell says that despite turmoil at BC Lottery Corporation, he won’t relieve minister of gambling Rich Coleman of his cabinet post. But isn’t it about time British Columbians were relieved of Rich Coleman?
BC Lottery Corp’s online casino has been out of commission for a week after a serious security glitch. Coleman says he has no idea when it will resume or when the problem will be fixed. Has the delay cost the province money? “Oh, not a lot,” Coleman shrugs, “because it wasn’t expected to be a huge revenue generator in the first couple days anyway. And, frankly, it doesn’t matter what the cost is. We had an issue with the technical side of it and it needs to be fixed.”
BC Lotteries relaunched the site July 15. But just hours later, it was shut down. The corporation first blamed a huge rush of online traffic. That was a lie, though: a few days later, Coleman admitted a technical glitch that allowed some users to gamble using other players’ credit cards!
And that’s not even the biggest problem at the gaming corporation. Recently we learned that BC Lotteries has been levied $670,000 in fines by FINTRAC, the federal agency that tracks criminal money laundering. As the Province’s Mike Smythe noted: “Once again, this story did not emerge because the corporation voluntarily disclosed it to the public. It was sniffed out by CKNW radio reporter Brett Mineer, who was given the runaround by the corporation after he requested an interview… with lotteries boss Michael Graydon. Like the online casino breach, it was only after the story hit the news cycle that the corporation coughed up the truth. Again, would the public have found out about this if a whistleblower hadn't gone to the press?”
All of this led to calls for Graydon’s dismissal. Coleman said no, claiming the corporation was doing great, accusing critics of “lying” about the website being sabotaged by computer hackers, and downplaying the severity of the privacy breach. In fact serious stuff, especially for a government that was elected in part by opposing more government-sponsored gambling.
These are not Coleman’s only huge fumbles, of course. After refusing to act on the crisis in the forest industry, he was sacked as forests minister after he disastrously allowed Western Forest Products to remove lands from its Vancouver Island Tree Farm Licence. Taxpayers weren’t compensated, even though Western received millions of dollars in land and had already enjoyed millions in taxpayer-sponsored benefits. Auditor-General John Doyle investigated, reporting that: “Based on this evidence, I concluded that the removal of private land from TFLs 6, 19 and 25 was approved without sufficient regard for the public interest.” Doyle added that Coleman’s decision was “based on an incomplete analysis” of the facts; his brother was a Western executive.
Now there’s another potential cowpie waiting for Coleman’s foot: the botched redevelopment of Vancouver’s Little Mountain housing project. Over a year ago, 224 low-cost housing units in the city’s oldest social housing project were bulldozed, throwing the families out of their homes and communities. Today there’s not much movement on a new development, while Coleman sits on the details of a secret deal with developer Holborn Properties. It will be at least two years before construction starts. Following a year of policy planning, rezoning is expected to take another year. Holborn is committed to replacing the 224 low- rent units but Coleman has mused that there could be as many as 2000 units in the finished development. Lots of money is at stake.
Let’s face it. Coleman plus money plus “secret deal”? We can only watch and wait.