Sometimes being involved in politics in 2019 can be quite surreal. Stories come out and you can’t help but wonder that if in a bygone era if that particular story would have never been reported upon, or if it wouldn’t be seen across the whole country and beyond. We now live in a very connected world, one where we can read and see stories from everywhere, meaning that those entering into political life have fewer and fewer places to hide. It’s a fact of this age, a fact that’s not going to change or go away. That was what came to my mind today as I saw the following story on Twitter, one that seems very striking when you read it:
To start off with this, I will point out that these are all allegations and nothing have been proven in court as of yet, but the allegations are quite something, especially given the current timing of events. In British Columbia, the Horgan government there just launched an inquiry into money laundering after major cases hit the news involving this activity in casinos and its effect on the housing market. That even led to an opinion piece in Business in Vancouver that suggested that if B.C. managed to stop money laundering it would hurt business in the province. Let that suggestion sink in for a moment, and then you’ll know where we are at in this whole story.
So when a story comes out like this, alleging a sitting Liberal MPs law firm may have helped an alleged criminal launder his money in the province, that is just very, very bad and maybe the worst possible time. The detailed story from Global News goes into the background and points out many areas where the firm of the Liberal MP for Steveston-Richmond East Joe Peschisolido allegedly didn’t do their due diligence and allegedly ignored many obvious warning signs about doing business with this individual. In the story Kim Marsh, a former commander of the RCMP’s international organized crime unit said that either the law firm in question did nothing to see if there were any red flags or it was “a case of willful blindness”. No matter how you slice that folks, it’s not good.
The story has many deep details that I’ll leave for everyone else to dissect, but I’ll just comment on just two more points that jumped out at me. Firstly, Mr. Peschisolido denies everything in a written statement, which isn’t exactly shocking but telling when there is a story with some much evidence to back it up. That silence though might be linked to the second point that leapt off the page here, that the B.C. Law Society took control of Peschisolido and Co. in April of this year, and that Peschisolido is no longer a member of the bar. The B.C. Law Society wouldn’t say why those two things happened, only saying that it was, but that leaves a major unanswered question just hanging out there. Having your provinces law society take over your firm, wind it down and take your law licence is something that doesn’t just happen out of the blue for no reason. It takes a fair bit to face professional punishment like that, so there is more to this story here that’s not being said or that just simply hasn’t come to light yet.
This is the kind of story that is very bad for the Liberals and their brand, especially when they are being accused by some of being easy on tax cheats and giving favours to friends. These allegations are not that, but they are allegations of malfeasance where alleged criminal elements are the beneficiaries and everyday Canadians are hurt. That’s also not helped by a small detail at the end of the story; a restaurant that recently hosted a $1,500-a-plate Liberal Party fundraiser attended by Peschisolido and featuring Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is identified in the story by an RCMP source as a “hangout for top-echelon gangsters and powerful figures from Mainland China.”
How many levels of bad does this look folks? Very, very bad and if the allegations in this story are not true or they are being misconstrued, I would expect that Mr. Peschisolido and the Liberal Party would get out statements to that effect ASAP. But so far, no such explanations have been forthcoming. The topper on this for the Liberal Party is that Peschisolido is the nominated Liberal candidate in his riding. Given these allegations and this story, how long can that remain the case for? Seriously, in this Parliament Liberal MPs have been thrown out their caucus for a lot of things, some less than this. Yet as of the moment of my writing this, he’s still in place and is still the Liberal candidate for Steveston-Richmond East for the Fall. That’s a question that the Prime Minister is going to have to answer and answer fast because guaranteed that in Question Period today there will be likely at least a few calls for Mr. Peschisolido’s removal from the Liberal caucus and as a Liberal candidate.
This is a story that is coming at the worst time for this government, one that they should have seen coming to some degree. This is a bad allegation, on a bad topic, in a bad place at a bad time. These are the kinds of stories that in past decades may have only been a local or regional one with limited damage. But nowadays, these stories go everywhere very fast and become national news. We’ll see what the Liberals decide to do about this development but in my mind, the course of action is obvious and if they don’t take it, then this is a story that will get more and more oxygen and will surely singe this party.