Former B.C. Liberal operations director Brian Bonney raises funds that flow to transit No forces

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      Many Vancouverites spotted a plane flying over the city on May 3 towing a banner with a message: “Vote no to the TransLink tax.”

      The leader of the No campaign, Canadian Taxpayers Federation B.C. director Jordan Bateman, said in a news release that his side had to be creative because Lower Mainland mayors won’t allow signs on public property.

      However, Bateman did not reveal that a former B.C. Liberal operative facing three charges under the Election Act has been raising money for his organization, which is funding the No campaign.

      Last year, special prosecutor David Butcher laid the charges after Brian Bonney had allegedly not disclosed donating the services of Sepideh Sarrafpour to a B.C. Liberal by-election campaign in Port Moody–Coquitlam in 2012.

      The president and CEO of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Troy Lanigan, confirmed in a phone interview with the Georgia Straight that Bonney has been under contract with his organization since August 2013 as a fundraiser.

      “He absolutely does a fantastic job,” Lanigan said. “I have nothing but good things to say about Brian.”

      Canadian Taxpayers Federation CEO Troy Lanigan is pleased with Brian Bonney's work.

      According to Lanigan, Bonney’s work includes visiting donors to explain the group’s different campaigns. Lanigan explained that although the Canadian Taxpayers Federation has donated money to the No campaign, other funds were raised through a dedicated website.

      “We had to set up separate accounts for the No side because we were anticipating that there would be rules and regulations around the governance of the campaign,” he revealed. “As it turns out, there’s none. So, you know, it didn’t matter. Nonetheless, we’ve raised funds for that specific account.”

      The former B.C. Liberal director of field operations, Mark Robertson, faces three Election Act charges in connection with the by-election campaign. He and Bonney are directors of Mainland Communications, which has also been charged. The accused are scheduled to be in provincial court on May 16. Bonney didn’t respond by deadline to the Straight’s emailed request for an interview.

      Lanigan criticized the cost of the investigation, noting that 17 police officers were mentioned in documents. “This is what we’re doing with law-enforcement resources in British Columbia? Chasing around whether someone volunteered or was paid for a losing by-election.…I mean, this is obscene,” Lanigan said. “It’s absolutely ridiculous.”

      Meanwhile, the executive director of the government watchdog group Integrity B.C., Dermod Travis, told the Straight by phone that Bonney has the right to earn a living and deserves the presumption of innocence. However, Travis said that nobody should prejudge the special prosecutor’s work. “The investigation is still continuing,” Travis said. “He’s a highly respected lawyer in British Columbia and, undoubtedly, he’s making the appropriate calls as he proceeds with his work.”

      In Bonney’s previous work as the B.C. Liberal government’s communications director for multiculturalism, he was at the centre of the 2013 “ethnic-gate scandal”. The premier’s deputy minister, John Dyble, wrote a report noting that Bonney had spent half his time on the public payroll doing party work. As a result, the B.C. Liberals repaid $70,000 to the provincial treasury.

      “It’s no surprise to us that governments waste money and that there’s lots of partisan politicking going on in those offices in Victoria—the same as there are in other provincial capitals and federally,” Lanigan said. “You know, Brian’s not doing that work anymore. And when Brian was doing that work, he was working under the direction of his superiors. I’m glad that Brian has found much more principled and rewarding work doing what he’s doing with us rather than doing it there.”

      Travis noted that Bonney announced his resignation as CEO of the Canadian Home Builders’ Association of B.C. in the wake of the Dyble report. A CHBA release said Bonney quit because it “compromised his ability to work in the best interest of the residential-construction industry”.

      “Given that the Dyble report is still there [and] given that charges have been laid, how can he see it being in the best interest of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation to be in their employ at this time?” Travis said.

      Christy Clark relied in the past on Bonney in reaching out to minority voters.

      Bonney has been a long-time ally of Premier Christy Clark after unsuccessfully challenging her for the B.C. Liberal nomination in Port Moody–Burnaby Mountain in 1995. Seven years later, Bonney lost the mayoral race in Burnaby to Derek Corrigan.

      Bonney was a business partner and campaign manager of former B.C. Liberal MLA Harry Bloy, who was the only caucus member to support Clark’s B.C. Liberal leadership bid in 2011.




      May 6, 2015 at 12:23pm

      Lift any BC Liberal rocks and these kinds of people come scurrying out.


      May 6, 2015 at 12:56pm

      Considering that the "Yes" side has access to that trough of taxpayer funds and the city propaganda department this news doesn't do enough to vilify the "No" side. After the efforts to tie evil Harpo and his cabal to the "No" vote failed miserably do you really think anyone will change their vote with this but of spin? The threats on the sides of busses are costing translink advertising revenue, another great example of wise spending decisions by the people demanding more money. Translink's shenanigans would be at home in a Marx Borthers film, especially when Mayor Groucho signs a deal to build towers all over his city then goes into the next room and tells everyone they better pay more for transit or the million new residents will lead to gridlock.

      Translink, Vision and the other groups that will profit are relying upon useful idiots with soft minds who believe promises made by shysters and incompetents. There is absolutely no reason why Compass should be so far behind schedule except mismanagement and incompetence. The "studies" showing how "efficient" our system is are scams from within the transit industry, for the right price a study will show your system is "the best." Translink is over-staffed except in frontline personnel, like every other taxpayer funded bureaucracy. Cuts always occur in the front line services even as the create new "supervisor" positions that allow management costs to appear as delivery of services. Don't be fooled by the promises this time around.


      May 6, 2015 at 1:34pm

      @ So? When a municipal government decide to take something to a referendum to get the people's opinion they have an obligation to tell the people why it is a good thing for the city. Otherwise why go to a referendum. If you think that the members of council should personally fund the cost of promoting the referendum, there would never be a referendum.

      Who woulda thunk?

      May 6, 2015 at 1:49pm

      So, there's a connection between the BC Liberals and the CTF.
      What a surprise!
      Bateman falls all over himself to approve of everything Christy's Critters do or say.
      Even his most recent comments on the long overdue reporting on the Massey project only suggested the Pattullo should have priority due to its condition. He is so supportive, one would think he is actually working for the Libs, when he supposed to be a 'watch dog'. As if.
      With this connection, and the Federal Conservative's fundraiser working for them as well, who in their right mind could believe this group works for anyone but the elite?
      A perfect place for corrupt ex-Liberals to end up. Like it was tailor made.


      May 6, 2015 at 2:12pm

      @Who woulda thunk?

      The CTF are no “watchdogs”. They're just a well-funded ideologically driven special-interest group that represents no-one's interests but their own and those of their backers.

      Vancouver Watcher

      May 6, 2015 at 6:56pm

      @ACMESalesRep "They're just a well-funded ideologically driven special-interest group that represents no-one's interests but their own and those of their backers." You mean just like the NDP who represents no one's but interests but their own and those of their backers like the unions and civil servants and of course the NDP elite, who make sure that their interests become before everyone else? (Hello, poverty industry!) The self righteous indignation of the left is just like that of the right, based on stupidity!

      400 ppm

      May 6, 2015 at 10:32pm

      Still nothing about last Sunday's fiasco, Charlie? Not newsworthy all of a sudden?


      May 8, 2015 at 9:55am

      "Bonney had spent half his time on the public payroll doing party work. As a result, the B.C. Liberals repaid $70,000 to the provincial treasury."

      Just the kind of person that fits in at the so called 'Canadian Taxpayers Federation'. They seem to be firmly on the side of the 0.1% and the tax avoiding (and subsidy seeking) corporations they control, particularly big oil. See more about their ties to big oil here


      May 8, 2015 at 12:40pm

      Troy Lanigan is crying crocodiles tears in urging the investigation into the Mainland Communications, in which Bonney is part of, to end. Sorry Lanigan, sometimes tax money expenditure is necessary to bring alleged crooks to justice.