Liberals accused of astroturfing

The leader of a collection of groups opposed to B.C. Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon 's Gateway program is accusing two card-carrying B.C. Liberals in municipal office of "astroturfing".

Gateway 40 Network coordinator Donna Passmore told the Straight she is angered by a Web site– –that advertises itself as "grassroots" but is pro-Gateway and the braintrust of Port Coquitlam city councillor Greg Moore and Langley Township councillor Jordan Bateman .

"It absolutely is astroturfing," Passmore said by phone. "It's the Wizard of Oz phenomenon, where this dazzling spectacle is created, but it comes right down to this little Jordan Bateman."

Bateman did not return Straight calls by deadline. On April 30, he appeared as a guest on CKNW to talk about Gateway and subsequently wrote about it on the site.

"I got my points across as best I could, and I feel I represented fairly the concerns of Langley residents," Bateman stated in the blog entry for that day. "We need both more transit and more roads. It's just common sense."

Moore, a former B.C. Liberal candidate, told the Straight he paid $54.10 to register and retain the domain, noting that he has handed the running of the site over to Bateman. "I'm a city councillor in Port Coquitlam and Jordan's a city councillor in Langley," Moore said. "Because I might have run or worked on campaigns for the B.C. Liberals should not preclude me from working on any nonprofit groups or promoting any interests that I want. I think it's important–as the site is all about transportation solutions–to look at them all. The Livable Region Coalition is focused solely on anti-Gateway."

Moore said he has received no outside funding for the site and built it himself and "took most of the pictures, too". The domain name is paid up for two years in total, he added.

Langley school trustee Sonya Paterson , coordinator of the recently formed Valley Transportation Advisory Committee , told the Straight she noticed the Web site last year.

"When I saw it, I thought it was a Liberal Web site that was promoting and endorsing the [Gateway] plan," Paterson said in a phone interview. "I think they should say what they are really about, although it has been known for a long time in Langley that [B.C. Forests and Range and Housing Minister] Rich Coleman is Jordan Bateman's mentor."

The Web page of Bateman's business, Outlawed Wonderings Media Group , links to a September 14, 2006, announcement that he is the new vice president of Coleman's Fort Langley–Aldergrove B.C. Liberal riding association.