Sun too soft on Peter Dhillon?

I was a little surprised by and disappointed with Jonathan Fowlie’s story this morning about cranberry magnate and search warrant target Peter Dhillon.

In an ITO accompanying search warrants on Kash Heed’s constituency office and former workplace at the West Van Police Department, the RCMP accuse Dhillon of making an undeclared contribution to Heed’s campaign contrary to Section 263 of the Election’s Act.

Dhillon’s reaction was predictable.  “I have done absolutely nothing wrong,” Dhillon told Fowlie.

He went on to repeat what he told the RCMP:  “I absolutely did not send that money to be used in the Kash Heed campaign.  It was for other work that was supposed to be done for me by Mr. Sall.”

“That’s what happened and I have no knowledge of my money being misappropriated,” Dhillon concluded. “It’s actually been very offensive to me.”

And Fowlie notes that’s basically what Dhillon told the police when they interviewed him.  “The warrant.” Fowlie writes, “shows Dhillon told police the money was to be used to print promotional brochures for the cranberry industry. The warrant says the cranberry brochures were never made, and alleges that Dhillon broke the Election Act by paying the money to Heed’s campaign without properly disclosing it to election officials.

And then Fowlie quotes RCMP Sgt. John Taylor from the warrant,  “I do not believe that Peter Dhillon’s statement was truthful,”

And that’s what’s disappointing about the article.  Fowlie lets Dhillon have his say – fair enough – but he doesn’t go on to tell why Taylor found Dhillon’s statement untruthful.  It’s not hard to find.  There’s a wealth of detail in the warrants.

First there is the issue of the money.

According to the warrants Dhillon told the RCMP he gave Heed’s campaign manager Barinder Sall two cheques for $2500 and $5000, made out to North American Mailing for promotional brochures for the cranberry industry.  He said, four months after the election campaign, he told Sall he wasn’t going ahead with the brochure idea and wanted his money back.

Here are the questions I wish Fowlie had asked Dhillon about the money – questions raised by the information in the warrants:  How does Dhillon explain the fact that the money he says he paid in advance to a mailing company for cranberry brochures just happen to equal the exact cost of the anti-ndp brochures produced for the Heed campaign?  Is it Dhillon’s standard practice to pay for brochures before they are even designed, ordered or invoiced?  Dhillon says he asked for the money back when he changed his mind four months later, but he didn’t pursue that.  Why?

Think about it.  Dhillion is a very successful businessman and the largest shareholder in Ocean Spray. The cranberry brochure story doesn’t seem like a very business like deal for someone like that.

Then there’s the issue of what appears to be Dhillon’s misstatement of his relationship with Heed.

In his RCMP interview Dhillon said “he had absolutely nothing to do with Kash Heed’s campaign adding; Kash Heed was the last person he would ever write a political donation to; and Barinder Sall knew not to come to talk to him about anything about Kash Heed, because he disliked Kash Heed.

But that’s not what other sources said.  According to email records seized from Sall’s residence, Dhillon was on the email list for TEAM KASH and received at least 25 emails.

And Sameer Ismail, the volunteer who went back to police to admit he had drafted the anti-ndp pamphlets on Sall’s orders, also provided information about Dhillon’s involvement in the campaign.

Ismail said Dhillon was involved with the campaign, albeit to small extent: “Peter Dhillon had fairly minimal involvement in the campaign… Dhillon advised a little bit on strategy.”  The warrant goes on to describe a meeting where Dhillon helped write an ad for Heed; “there was one meeting where Sameer Ismail, Barinder Sall and Peter Dhillon ‘hashed out the wording for an ad in the Courier at a Starbucks in Richmond’ (where Heed and Dhillon live).

Towards the end of the Sun story Dhillon again asserts he was “never” involved in Heed’s campaign.  So what about that meeting in the Richmond Starbuck’s?  How about the campaign email distribution list?  Why is he seen hugging Heed on election night in a pic seized from Barinder Sall’s cell phone?  And then there’s the “money guy” description in the Barinder Sall/Catherine Urquhart email exchange.

I’d say it all adds up to a tougher interview than the one printed in the Sun.

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6 Responses to Sun too soft on Peter Dhillon?

  1. Grant G says:

    Peter Dhillion…He owns 10% of Ocean Spray….They do their own ads, they advertise nationally, what/why/where/when/what purpose does Dhillion have to make cranberry brochures, who was the alleged Cranberry ad targeting, retail, wholesale, consumer???

    As judge Judy always says…

    “If it doesn`t make sense, it isn`t true”

    Kash Heed is guilty(IMO)…He can resign in disgrace today, or resign in hand cuffs after a trial!…Take your pick Heed!

  2. PG says:

    Another well researched article Ian. The day’s of the old journalist digging and digging for the story are long gone. We are now living in the days of sound bites and quick hit stories without any leg work or research. Stories are being hand delivered by the communication professionals who happen to forge tight relationships with the young reporter who use the “ready to print” work product. These new reporters don’t give a damn about the journalistic ideals of old as newspapers continue to die off in today’s world. Shame.

    Peter Dhillon also helped other BC Liberal candidates from the Vancouver Fraserview riding. Wally Oppal and Ken Johnston. Check hansard for some references.

  3. Ian Bateson says:

    You’re dead on Ian, this man is a menace. I have already posted a comment on your facebook link. I really feel sick to the stomach with politics in this province and a country I think should shine, but dulls in the light of honesty, accountability and trust.

    facebook reply; “Heed has been in the spotlight too many times to be believed. A real croney of Gordon Cambellism. What’s to believe?”


  4. Annette says:

    When I tuned in to watch my daughter’s 80 year old dance teacher get her order of BC award for her lifelong contribution to the arts in BC, I was SHOCKED to see Peter Dillon get the order in the same ceremony. Bought and paid for by his contributions to Kash Heed and Liberal Party apparently?

  5. Janine says:

    I’ve had business dealings with Peter Dhillon and in my experience, he picks at every bill, questioning whether he’s getting his money’s worth, whether his suppliers time is worth what they claim it is. It is impossible for me to believe that he didn’t know exactly where his money was going, why and for what purpose.
    But as you say Ian, he’ll have his day in court. If the crown is looking for witnesses, I’d be happy to make myself available.

  6. Wendy says:

    I am disappointed that everyone is so quick to jump all over Mr. Dhillon. An RCMP officer states that he does not believe his statement to be true?? This is the same RCMP force that tasered and killed a waiting mom’s son at the airport and then tried to cover it up by the officers making sure their statements matched on the stand!! A RCMP that drove intoxicated and killed another mom’s son on a motorcycle on the Alex Fraser bridge and had a great story to explain his level of intoxication. Yes, we should take their word without question!!! Maybe before we crucify Mr. Dhillon we should remember his contributions to the Vancouver community. His family has donated millions to UBC research, they have built a new track and field for the athletes at UBC, Peter has personally paid for children’s funerals on behalf of parents who lost their kids to tradegy and he does this anonymously. His generously is far reaching and I don’t have any problem with him receiving the Order of BC, I believe he deserves it. If he was going to do something illegal with his contribution, why wouldn’t he simply go to a bank, withdraw cash and pay Barinder in cash so there was no paper trail?? Maybe because he did it in good faith and really didn’t have any idea where his money was being used. Do you believe every business person that donates money to a political campaign follows it’s exact trail? Good grief, let’s get real. Maybe Kash Heed isn’t the ideal person or most honest, but let’s not trample a good guy in the process who genuinely cares about the city of Vancouver and has shown his ability to give back to it on countless occasions.

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