Moe Gill claims Rich Coleman forced him to sign a letter in an Abbotsford Cactus Club

    1 of 1 2 of 1

      An Abbotsford councillor claims that Deputy Premier Rich Coleman forced him to sign a letter agreeing to run in Abbotsford-Mission.

      Moe Gill told the Straight about this by phone after Coleman claimed to CKNW Radio that Gill had informed him that he wasn't interested in running in Abbotsford South. Coleman said Gill even put his name on a letter saying he wanted to run in Abbotsford-Mission.

      "They bullied me into signing this," Gill alleged. "I didn't want to go there."

      The B.C. Liberals have acclaimed University of the Fraser Valley criminologist Darryl Plecas as their candidate in Abbotsford South, which is held by independent MLA John van Dongen.

      Gill explained that after the B.C. Liberal convention, he received a phone call from Bruce Burley, a regional director, asking for a meeting the following morning at 9 a.m. in an Abbotsford Cactus Club restaurant.

      Gill said he was pleased because he thought he would be told that he would be the party's candidate in Abbotsford South.

      The restaurant normally didn't open at that time, according to Gill, but management allowed Gill inside for the get-together with Burley and Coleman.

      According to Gill, Coleman sat at a table and said, "I'm working for only two people. I listen to those two people and I speak for those two people. One is Christy Clark. The other one is [B.C. Liberal campaign manager] Mike McDonald."

      Gill said they talked for two hours. "I keep telling him, this is the riding I work in," he recalled. "They have this bullying tactic that works really nice. They do this professionally, I think....He said to me, 'You are not approved.' "

      The Abbotsford councillor said he persisted, saying he was going to run in Abbotsford South.

      "He said 'You can't run in this riding. You're not approved. The Liberal party is not approving you. How can you run?'," Gill claimed.

      Then, according to Gill, Coleman offered him a membership list in Abbotsford-Mission so he could gather support there.

      "I said, 'Randy Hawes is running this person over there—[Mission councillor] Tony Luck. They have been working there, getting the membership. It's too late'," Gill recalled.

      Gill conceded that he signed the letter under duress. Members of the B.C. Liberal constituency executive in Abbotsford South later quit en masse when they learned that the party was appointing Plecas as the candidate.

      Now, Gill wonders if the B.C. Liberals have tried to prevent other Punjabi-speaking Indo-Canadian politicians from seeking nominations in other constituencies.

      Gill sidestepped a question from the Straight whether he thought the B.C. Liberals' actions were racist.

      On Radio India this morning, host Gupreet Singh also asked Gill if racism played any role in the B.C. Liberals' decision to prevent him from seeking a nomination in Abbotsford South.

      Gill stopped short of using the R-word, merely saying what happened to him happened to his community.

      Gill told the Straight that he was the first Punjabi-speaking politician to be elected to a municipal council in 1996. This came after he lost in five previous attempts.

      "The Indo-Canadian population in B.C., I believe, highly respects me and I respect them as well," he said.

      He then told a story about how, on a trip to India with Finance Minister Mike de Jong, a teacher came up to him and said that she was encouraged to attend school after reading about how Gill refused to give up on his political aspirations in Canada.

      "I gave her a big hug," he said. "The tears were rolling down my eyes."

      In 1994, Gill helped de Jong win a narrow victory over then–Social Credit leader Grace McCarthy in an Abbotsford by-election. That paved the way for the demise of the Socreds and catapulted the B.C. Liberals into becoming the de facto opposition to the NDP.

      Flash forward 18 years and now, Gill says he's going to do everything he can to ensure that Plecas is defeated in Abbotsford South.

      "I was the one involved with Mike de Jong to finish off the Social Credit party at that time," Gill noted. "Am I the same guy again who is going to finish off the Liberal party?"


      Follow Charlie Smith on Twitter at


      We're now using Facebook for comments.


      Ima Knut

      Nov 23, 2012 at 1:25pm

      This guy is a real peach! He claims to helping destroy the Socreds and now is working to destroy his new party the Liberals! If I was starting a new party I sure would want him to be a member! As to his claim that he was the first punjabi speaking municipal politician elected - what horse hockey! There have been many punjabi speaking politicians elected to municipal office in BC. A quick google search (something the "Straight" might want to use as a fact-checker) shows that Mr Balwant Sanghera was first elected Alderman in Lillooet in 1975 and served for six consecutive terms. Google also listed other punjabi speaking politicians elected at the municipal level long before Mr Gill decided to make a career of joining provincial parties in order to dismantle them from within.

      Sean Upshaw

      Nov 23, 2012 at 2:14pm

      I know Moe, He should run as a Conservative. After this gong show by the Liberals they deserve to lose the seat. Moe is a shew in as a Conservative.

      Ima Knut

      Nov 23, 2012 at 3:03pm

      The original gong show is the conservatives.


      Nov 23, 2012 at 3:36pm

      Ima, I think you missed what has been done here. Moe Gill has supported the BC Liberals since Campbell took over from Wilson. More specifically he supported Mike deJong with massive membership signups, local support for numerous public events, chaperone trips to India and so on. Mike deJong encouraged Moe Gill to go after John VanDogen for the past 2 years. It is deJong that crowned Christy Clark premiere and is the major influence on who runs in Abby South. Christy nor Rich Coleman would dare step on his territory. Mike used Moe Gill in a most immoral way for his own gain and now has cast him aside. So Mike not only stabbed in the back his long time colleague John VanDogen, but true to form the now Moe Gill the Indo-Canadian he has used for more than a decade to secure votes for himself. FYI: The only riding Mike deJong won in his BC Liberal leadership bid was Abby South mostly due to Moe Gill’s signups of ne Indo members that voted for Mike.


      Nov 23, 2012 at 4:40pm

      All of this bitterness! Clearly, Cactus Club is a place of bitterness, particularly the Udder Ale. Given the overpriced nachos, the overly dyed bellinis, and a lenient dress policy that permits the servers not to look like lingerie models, is it any wonder that the Cactus Club is the scene of this terrible scandal.

      Ima Knut

      Nov 23, 2012 at 4:52pm

      So you are saying Mr Gill's only use is as a source of memberships to be used to force political outcomes? This was typical of the old Socreds, who wouldn't take the time to spit on an east indian but were always willing to take their support and money. The BC Liberals are finally showing their true colours. Nothing but a bunch of Socreds in Liberal clothing... I say, forward with the BC Gong Show.

      Ima Knut

      Nov 23, 2012 at 4:55pm

      I wonder if Gill was forced to sign the letter, pressured because the alternative was to eat the Cactus Club food?


      Nov 23, 2012 at 5:17pm

      Politics in Canada are f*cked up!!! Why can't whoever wants to run for whatever position in whatever riding they happen to live in (unlike Jane Sterke)?? The idea that party leaders control everything - even how you may vote - is insanity. How is it that some jerk from another province has the slightest idea what might work best in your province. Time to change the system!!!!

      BC Conservative Believer

      Nov 23, 2012 at 7:22pm

      I think someone must have peed in Ima's Corn Flakes.

      Rita Johansen

      Nov 23, 2012 at 8:27pm

      Pardon me, but I think Mr. Gill should have known from the get go who is was dealing with.
      These neohacks are not much different than the inbred Reform Party members.
      Mr. Gill, I feel bad they did this to you, but I am not surprised and neither should you be.
      The next time you see someone like Jason Kenney wearing a kerchief on his head, it's not because he knows anything or even cares about the Sikh religion, but because he has been told that this is they the Party can get votes from the Punjabi community ( not necessarliy the Indo-Canadian community).
      How many Punjabi Cabinent Miniserts does Harper have?
      Oh and in my view the NDP are not much different in appointing who they think can get some media traction.
      Just saying....