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As London Gig Ends, Gordon Campbell Decries Global Corruption

Is Canada's exiting UK High Commissioner headed back to BC?

By Bob Mackin 2 Jun 2016 |

North Vancouver-based journalist Bob Mackin has reported for local, regional, national and international media outlets since he began as a journalist in 1990. Read his previous Tyee pieces here.

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Our man in London, but not for long: Former BC premier Gordon Campbell, now winding down his Harper appointment as high commissioner to UK. Source: Wikipedia.

Canada is back in the business of attending global gatherings to fight corruption. And one of the faces we showed is B.C.'s former premier Gordon Campbell.

Campbell resigned as premier after a number of scandals and facing party revolt over imposing a surprise new sales tax just after re-election. His popularity at rock bottom, Campbell landed in London as Canada's high commissioner for the U.K., appointed by Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper in 2011.

Canada was absent from last fall's United Nations anti-corruption convention, after Harper opted to send no delegate or observer to the summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.

But when U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron hosted an anti-corruption confab on May 12, the Trudeau government sent a delegation led by Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale, accompanied by his issues manager Cory Pike, senior advisor on international crime David Pimm, and Campbell.

Pimm was on the Canadian delegation at the Panama City-hosted United Nations' Conference of the States Parties to the United Nations Convention against Corruption in 2013.

What was Campbell's role at the recent London conference? "The Canadian High Commission supported the delegation through the negotiation of summit documents and the facilitation of media availability for the minister at the close of the summit," Global Affairs spokesperson Austin Jean explained via email.

"This was the first summit of its kind, bringing together world leaders, business and civil society to exchange views on the consequences of corruption and reaffirm their commitment to expose and prosecute it."

Jean shared, as well, that Campbell's tour of duty serving at the pleasure of the federal government is about to end. He is expected to return to Canada this summer.

'Corruption should be driven out'

Campbell and other participants at the one-day London summit declared that corruption should be exposed, pursued and punished, and that those who have suffered should be fully supported. "Corruption should be driven out -- wherever it may exist," said the summit's declaration.

Cameron has been under fire for the rising cost of real estate in London amid a rush of investment from Russian sources. The U.K. government has enacted new requirements for disclosure of beneficial ownership of companies buying real estate and bidding on contracts in U.K.

A three-and-a-half page statement of Canadian policies submitted to the summit outlined some of the Liberal government's efforts, such as the $444 million allocation to Canada Revenue Agency to "better tackle tax evasion and aggressive tax avoidance."

"We commit to reviewing penalties and other actions against professional enablers of tax evasion, including for corporations that fail to prevent their employees from facilitating tax evasion," said Canada's statement, which mentioned cooperation with China and the OECD Forum on Tax Administration.

It also said Canada commits to implementing the Common Reporting Standard for the automatic exchange of financial account information for tax purposes by July 2017 and working with others to establish an International Anti-Corruption Coordination Centre.

The paper mentioned three five-year programs worth almost $36 million that were established under the Conservative government, including audit, transparency and anti-corruption initiatives in Ukraine, Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania, and Vietnam. Canada also has partnerships under the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative with Peru and Tanzania, countries where many Canadian companies are involved in mining.

Coming home?

It's not known whether Gordon Campbell, when his high commissioner tour of duty ends, will roost again in British Columbia. His 10 years as B.C. premier office were marred by the province's biggest corruption scandal surrounding the $1 billion privatization of BC Rail.

The trial of former ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk ended in a fall 2010 plea bargain. Ex-finance minister Gary Collins was about to testify, but Basi and Virk were sentenced to two years house arrest for accepting bribes from a bidder. Their $6 million legal bill was charged to taxpayers, despite government policy.

Campbell had previously promised a full explanation. When that didn't come, the B.C. NDP promised a BC Rail public inquiry if they won the 2013 election. The BC Liberals, however, were re-elected under Christy Clark.  [Tyee]

Read more: BC Politics

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