There are, I am sure, smarter choices of people with whom to perpetuate a scrap than the province’s attorney general.
But I must.
David Eby got ultra-snarky online the other night with our publication’s packages of stories last week about money laundering that examined possible consequences of an inquiry on the sprawl of heinous funds across our economy.
He either misunderstood them or misinterpreted them for self-serving purpose. I suspect the latter.
In the process he launched a ridiculing Tweetstorm of Trumpian breadth that I have to hope was a consequence of watching Stanley Cup hockey under the influence of what Don Cherry would call a few pops. If not, we are in trouble, and heaven help us in our legislation and in the courts.
To explain: our publication created three stories that examined the extent of money laundering and what might be affected if it were to be curtailed. We reported a lot will suffer, certainly more than we might first think – so pernicious is laundered dough. We wanted to identify a bit of that sprawl; not to call them victims, only to say many will be affected.
Now, no one – not us, at least – suggests a money laundering inquiry is wrong. Which is what our province’s top legal dog wrongly asserted we asserted.
We have long called for an inquiry to lance the boil. We think the NDP waited too long, although we have noted with some sarcasm that this inquiry will create headlines and legislative opportunities in perfect time for a 2021 pre-election white-knight crusade by, well, Eby himself.
That being said, Eby got into his sarcasm zone and went at us. He tweeted that our reporting was analogous to complaining about the impact on bullet manufacturers if there were tougher measures on gangs, or about cancer doctors fearing layoffs if there were a crackdown on tobacco, or asbestos workers being laid off due to a ban. Not exactly doubling-over comedic stuff to quit his day job, but he got on what he obviously considered a roll.
He hacked particularly at the story from one of our reporters who had the unenviable task of sussing out the impact on the retail sector (spoiler alert: you won’t feel entirely sorry for them).
In short, Eby was using his powerful perch as a wisenheimer. On social media, though, that plays to his base, and his base (most of them anonymous, so without any real courage in their possession) piled on.
But Eby is an elected official, not one of those unnamed free-shot trolls. It’s my view we would be better served with some propriety, some gravitas, some elemental quest for a higher ground in a public representative who measures every breath he utters and every keystroke he commits. He hasn’t been on Twitter since, which suggests someone told him to knock it off.
If not, I am here, as someone who finds him a likeable guy, to say: knock it off.
If he thinks our work is substandard, fine, he can say we missed the mark and could have done better – not reprise the headline-hounding persona all too common when he was stalking John Horgan’s leadership as the NDP approached what it thought might be another loss in 2017.
In an interview published today by Mike Smyth in The Province, Eby asserts he is startled that “people would be openly questioning whether it’s a good idea to crack down on it.”
Minister, c’mon, this is nonsense.
I thought Smyth did well to note that he might not have a flamingo’s leg to stand on, but let me add: the minister needs to understand we are on the same side.
Get to the bottom of it.
I suspect the inquiry will find, like any economy, that our underground and netherworld possess quite the reach.
What we can use in the time ahead, too, is a minister who isn’t prone to using social media for cheap, convenient distortion of any work aiming to illuminate the contamination of our economy.
“I welcome the honesty about what’s been going on,” Eby told Smyth.
Well, physician, there is no time better to heal thyself.
Kirk LaPointe is editor-in-chief of Business in Vancouver and vice-president, editorial, of Glacier Media.