The secret life of a senior staffer

Veteran political organizer Prem Vinning may not have been on the public payroll when he quit his new job in the premier's office yesterday afternoon. But it seems he was already knee-deep doing electioneering on behalf of the provincial Liberals. As Public Eye and The Indo-Canadian Voice previously reported, Mr. Vinning attended a meeting on December 11, where Gordon Campbell met with Indo-Canadian leaders to discuss improving relations with their community. But it turns out Mr. Vinning, a friend of former finance minister and Liberal re-election committee co-chair Gary Collins, was doing much more than just filling a chair.

According to our spies, the number of Indo-Canadian leaders invited was so large that the meeting had to be split into two sessions - one at 1:00 and the other at 3:00 in the afternoon. Mr. Vinning and former provincial cabinet minister Gulzar Cheema were the only two non-elected officials who attended both meetings, with Mr. Cheema sitting away from the boardroom table.

Attendees noticed that, when it was Mr. Vinning's turn to speak during the first session, he simply said, "I have been out of touch with politics because I have been in the Interior on business" before going silent. And he didn't speak at all during the second session. But Mr. Vinning did take a copious amount of notes on what others were saying - the actions of an operative rather than a participant. Following the meetings, attendees received follow-up calls from Mr. Vinning, asking for their feedback and drumming up support for the premier.

Whether that electioneering continues following yesterday's events remains to be seen.


Sean: Congrats on getting Public Eye into the Globe and Mail today!

So, ... Vinning was seen taking notes, eh? Hmmm. You know Sean, I can only speak for myself on this, but I come here for the dirt not the details.

If Vinning had just stuck to the plan then none of this would have happened.

He was supposed to have called into the show representing himself as a down on his luck loser who, thanks to the benevolence of the Liberals, had suddenly found himself with limitless opportunity in the new era.

Instead, he decided to freelance. Hard to buy good help these days.

Are the Liberals ever going to stop playing their hideous games - got to admit - they represent politicians and politics real well. Not only are they sore losers (bye-election in Surrey) but they have scandalous people that work for them such as Basi, etc. As if that isn't enough, Gordon Campbell's ministers keep resigning - what's up with that? Maybe more scandals to come or be revealed? Time for a change- let's bring the NDP in; the Liberals have had too much freedom in the last couple of years with no opposition. They may have balanced the budget, Campbell may have given the Tsunami victims lots of money but what about the victims of our society - the homeless here in the Lower Mainland. However, Tsunami victims got more media attention, so that's where the money went - after all Mr. Campbell and his party are the compassionate people looking for votes in the upcoming election.

What is actually most poignant about this sad and rather embarrasing affair is the patronage question.The hiring of someone,however dubious,to such a plum posistion is exactly what Gordon Campbell rallied against so effectively in opposition.Now we see him appointing Vinning four months before the election while he is so obviously not qualified for the job and for whom he has delivered the Indo-Canadian vote in the past.This is exactly why we have conflict of interest laws in place,to guide public officials away from situtions in which it appears someone of influence,such as the Premier,is trading preferential treatment in exchange for political favours.Wasn't this what Clark was hounded out of office.The perception that someone might have benefitted from a friendship with the Premier and to be honest he should have stepped down it was the honourable thing to do.
I don't expect Gordon Campbell to step down, he has all ready proven himself, by not stepping down after he was convicted of drunk driving while in office.But what I do expect is that this little faux- pas will seriously add to his constantly waning credibility in the eyes of the voting public.Come May 17th Campbell's going to wish he was still drinking!

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