Non-profits call on Christy Clark to remove Minister Rich Coleman from gaming portfolio

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      In a strongly worded joint statement, the Alliance for Arts and Culture and the B.C. Association of Charitable Gaming are calling on Premier-designate Christy Clark to replace Rich Coleman as minister responsible for gaming. The organizations also accuse the government of penalizing charities for speaking up against the Paragon Gaming casino application currently being considered by the City of Vancouver.

      The news release gives a number of reasons why Clark should remove Coleman from the file, alleging: a crisis in public confidence in the integrity of the gaming industry; the loss of confidence of the charitable and non-profit sector in Minister Coleman’s leadership; the failure or refusal of Coleman to meet with the charitable sector to address the impact of cuts to gaming grants; political interference in the administration of gaming grants through the manipulation of eligibility criteria; intimidation of individuals and organizations that challenge the granting system; and the ongoing funding crisis in the charitable sector, in which they say close to 1,500 non-profits may close within months.

      The organizations also allege that, in February 2011, individuals close to the BCACG were warned by unnamed people in the provincial government that challenging the Paragon Gaming casino application could result in charities being hurt. The organizations say that on March 3, the B.C. Persons with AIDS Society received news of an unexpected cut of $50,000 in its gaming grant, which had been stable for six years.

      “The implication is clear,” reads the release, which adds: “As Minister Coleman’s strong personal attack on Inspector Barry Baxter, head of the RCMP Proceeds of Crime Unit demonstrates, there is a price for speaking up.” In January 2011, Baxter said B.C. casinos were routinely failing to flag large cash transactions as suspicious.

      “It is deeply unhealthy that organizations not only feel the financial pressure, but are silenced by fear of the minister responsible,” Susan Marsden, executive director of the BCACG, said in the release. Amir Ali Alibhai, executive director of the Alliance for Arts and Culture, added: “We note that Premier-designate Christy Clark has called for a comprehensive review of gaming policy in B.C., an initiative we strongly support.”¦ We do not have confidence that this review can be adequately conducted while Minister Coleman controls the portfolio.”

      The Straight has submitted an interview request to Coleman.

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      6 Comments

      Ken Lawson

      Mar 11, 2011 at 4:32pm

      Yes remove Rich Coleman but see my comments on Georgia Straight Facebook

      11 7Rating: +4

      Clive

      Mar 11, 2011 at 5:31pm

      Coleman is way too big for his boots; and please excuse my pun. Rich Coleman is always missing in action as of late when he is asked to comment on important issues like money laundering in casinos.

      9 9Rating: 0

      Jules

      Mar 11, 2011 at 6:56pm

      So it seems that the number of casinos is always creeping up and up, yet the charitable funding - that blood money being the only reason many British Columbians have reluctantly kept silent at the growing casino blight - is going down?! Something here stinks.

      Loan sharks, criminals racking up big wins, gambling addiction and ruined personal finances, and so on... these are not good things for our society. The glamour of casinos is just that - an illusory spell.

      I can't even stand using Bridgeport Station on the Canada Line after dark, because of the obnoxious level of promotion for the River Rock casino that is joined at the hip with the station, including huge blindingly bright LED billboard. The decision to build the station right there, and contract parking out to the casino, smacks of some kind of collusion/kickbacks. Maybe these casinos will help pay down the enormous debt the government has piled onto us?

      I grew up thinking I lived in the best place on earth. I thought official corruption was something that happened in other countries. I've grown to believe this less and less over the past 20 years.

      Ironically, it is now (well, last year at least) that I'm being told by ads that this is, in fact, the 'best place on earth'. I guess if they have to spend our money to tell us this, even though we live here, they must be worried that we no longer believe it.

      12 9Rating: +3

      glen p robbins

      Mar 12, 2011 at 10:29am

      Removing SG Coleman won't be an easy task. Will British Columbians be compelled to pay the cost of the crane?

      12 9Rating: +3

      artsworker

      Mar 12, 2011 at 1:06pm

      one of a critical series of tests of Clark's ability to put her own stamp on the damaged liberal brand...can she throw coleman a face-saving cabinet shuffle and introduce a much needed review of the questionable gaming decisions undertaken by her predecessor...or will she circle the wagons and serve up more of the status quo...the smart money is on the former choice but then the liberals have consistently demonstrated a curious propensity of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory...time will tell

      Coleman Needs To Go

      Mar 14, 2011 at 2:00am

      MLA's got FAT pay hikes while Charities got Clawed Back! You can tell allot about a government by how it treats it's poor! Shame!!!

      8 6Rating: +2