EDITORIAL: Getting lost in the spin

Round and round it goes…

The more politicians explain away the South Surrey casino saga, the more it sounds like some are spinning out of control.

The four councillors who supported the casino – Tom Gill, Barinder Rasode, Linda Hepner and Barbara Steele – issued an open letter Friday backing their decision of a week before, after the city unexpectedly rejected a proposed entertainment complex on 168 Street.

While the four offer sound argument based on economic desirability, they probably should have stopped there.

They didn’t.

They say the site was previously approved for casino use.

It wasn’t.

More alarmingly, in a line the councillors underlined, they say rejecting the licence “may be viewed as council ‘not acting reasonably or in good faith.” Does this not suggest that, to their minds, listening to 11 hours of public-hearing testimony was just for show?

That seems to be the view of deputy premier Rich Coleman, minister responsible for BC Lottery Corporation, who maintains “the hearing wasn’t actually a (land-use) public hearing, so there was no legal process around it.”

BCLC’s directive was to hold a meeting in the form of a public hearing. In the minister’s mind, was it not to impact the decision?

This is hardly Coleman’s most explosive revelation. Hours after council members’ 2 a.m. vote, the minister slammed them for wasting time and money, and he repeated claims the casino would have brought Surrey $6 million annually (the estimate is $3 million) and that the land was pre-zoned.

Days later, after Peace Arch News revealed Coleman had called councillors between hearing sessions to advise that Surrey would receive no new BCLC projects if this one failed, his ministry sent out a release lauding council, as well as this Coleman nugget: “I am always open to discuss projects and answer questions for issues falling under my ministry, which is what I did in this case. That will not change.”

Lost in his spin is that the councillors didn’t call him; Coleman called them. In fact, Gill had called BCLC for clarification and was surprised to receive a call from the minister himself.

In a media scrum Monday, Premier Christy Clark, who now appears more available for photo-ops than interviews, had this to say about Coleman’s intervention:

“He’s the minister responsible,” Clark said. “He got some questions and he answered the questions. I think it was as simple as that.”

Ah, the simple solution. While the world spins.

…and where its stops nobody knows.

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