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October 31, 2017: Ethics in Politics

Listen to the interview above or read the full transcript below.

Dave Sheldon:

All right. I think we have [Manjot Hallen 00:00:04] on the phone right now. Manjot are you there?

Manjot Hallen:  

Yeah. I am here, Dave. Sorry about that.

Dave Sheldon:

All right. We had a phone snafu. We’re okay with that right now, but we’ve got you on the phone line right now and as mentioned, I was going to try and say this from a standpoint of, I compare this a bit to family law. Our conversation was talking about the ethics that are out there for ministers or for people of politics at this point. Like you said, it’s like changing the rules up at the second part of a game and until you get to a point of where you want to challenge these rules, and take them to court, they’re not really going to change. Is that the case? This reminds me of Divorce Court, for example, where maybe it might favor a woman in some situations, but until someone takes the court case on and wants to challenge that ruling in court, you’re not really going to see a lot of change here. Are you?

Manjot Hallen:

Yeah, that makes sense. I mean, I think it’s more than someone just challenging it, Dave, in this situation. I think, look, the ethics commissioner and the government have to get together and decide what the new rules are going to be if that’s the direction that we’re headed, if we’re looking to change the rules and make them a little bit more transparent, then there needs to be some sort of a discussion around that. The rules need to change before we apply a different standard that goes beyond the rules that are currently in place.

Dave Sheldon: 

What do you think about what’s going on with Jinny Sims right now? Not specifically to her situation, but the fact of the matter is, is that she has had a couple pictures taken with her. You know what? Politicians are at a number of different public events all the time and it’s not once, but twice, with the same person who has been alleged to have had some gun situations. I mean, you’re a politician in Surrey. There’s been a lot of gun violence here. It shows poorly on Ms. Sims who’s the Minister of Citizens Services. From that standpoint, do you have to be more cognizant of what you’re doing out there when you put on the stripes and being a politician?

Manjot Hallen:      

Absolutely. I think you have to constantly be cognizant of what you’re doing out there. I mean, you’re held to a different standard generally speaking. In a situation like that, it’s not impossible to ask the organizer of the fundraiser, or the organizer of the event, to give you a guest list. I mean, you and your staff you can take a look at that guest list and then determine whether or not you think certain people should be invited. That’s one way to handle it. I know that’s what the Federal Liberals do as a political party now. At fundraisers, we get a list of attendees and make sure that people aren’t lobbyist. We need a new ethical standard when it comes to fundraising.

Dave Sheldon: 

That’s an interesting conversation to be sure. I want to turn our attention to south of the border, as well, because I know that you’ve been watching what’s going on down there with interest. We all have. You saw Special Prosecutor Mueller make a couple of different things happen yesterday involving Paul Manafort, involving Rick Gates, but also, Mr. Papadopoulos. Everyone saw the first two coming, but they never saw Papadopoulos. You see him being marginalized now by the Trump campaign as a low level volunteer when he was showing that in a picture. We thought well, pictures speak in volumes. A Trump picture of the National Security Council, even though he wasn’t president at the time, he called it his National Security Advisors Team. There was Papadopoulos front and center. Not bad for a low level volunteer.

Manjot Hallen:  

Yeah, no kidding. I think that’s a pretty good spin that they’re trying to put on it, saying that he’s a low level volunteer and he didn’t have any access to the president. That doesn’t appear to be the case. I mean look, this is a good opportunity for us to take a pause Dave, and just appreciate how good we have it here. I mean south of the border, we’re actually talking about the president and his campaign colluding with a foreign government. I mean it’s mind boggling to think about what’s happening down there. You’re talking about people sitting down with Russian intelligence and the Russian government and trying to get information, opposition research type of information, on Hillary Clinton. It’s unbelievable.

Dave Sheldon:    

When I look at this Manjot, Manjot Hallen, our guest. He’s with Warnett Hallen LLP, a partner over there. I look at this as the Russians … This is almost two fold. One, if they were colluding with Mr. Trump and his campaign to get him in, obviously it might curry favor down the road with something else. But number two, even if that’s not the case, even if they’re just saying, you know what, as a friend of Russia, we want you to be a part of what’s going on there and they bring him in. They bring him in knowing that him being the president might destabilize the government. That might be, to me, what the bigger influence is here at this point, the fact that he looks like he is more of a destabilizer than he has been of a stabilizer in his power so far.

Manjot Hallen:   

Absolutely, absolutely. Look at who you’re dealing with. You’re dealing with the Russians. This has, traditionally, been an enemy of the United States. We are only about … What are we, 10, 15 years removed from the Cold War here. What is happening there is absolutely mind boggling and I don’t think we’re done seeing what’s going to happen yet. I think Bob Mueller has got a lot more coming with respect to this. Well, it’s going to be interesting how it all plays out.

Dave Sheldon:                  

When you … Sorry, go ahead.

Manjot Hallen:  

When you and I are talking about ethics and politics, I mean look, every party does opposition research, but there is a line in the sand that you draw. I gotta tell you, up here a line in the sand is not dealing with a foreign entity and dealing with a foreign power. That is a big no-no. I’m surprised that, that actually happened in the US. I’m surprised that this is something that we’re dealing with now.

Dave Sheldon:

Yeah, but as you know and I know, desperation brings the worst in people sometimes. If you watch the polls the whole time … I know polls are a horrible thing to look at when you’re looking at these things, but these polls generally aren’t wrong. It showed for the longest time that there was a double digit lead by Hillary Clinton up until the election. For goodness sakes, they had a six point lead with two days to go. It went up and down and all around with the James Comey thing and all that kind of stuff that was going on, but there was no real thought by the Trump campaign up until the night they were sitting there looking at the TV that they might have a chance to win this thing.

Manjot Hallen:   

Oh absolutely. I think Nate Silver the day of the election said there’s a 95% chance, probability, that Hillary Clinton is going to be the next President of the United States. That was the day of the election, so you’re right.

Dave Sheldon:   

Incredible.

Manjot Hallen:

Desperate times leads to desperate measures.

Dave Sheldon:

A couple of more minutes left with you Manjot.

Manjot Hallen:

Sure.

Dave Sheldon:

I’ve got a little bit extra here if I can because of what we’ve done here with our snafu. But, I want to talk to you a little bit this in the sense that this is the tip of the iceberg. This is the first two of many. My understanding from doing a little bit of research on this is that there might be six other grand juries that have been convened for getting people indicted and charged. What have you heard on your end? What does that mean to this campaigner, to this president, if it continues to get going? Do you think he tries to fire Mueller and God help him if he does?

Manjot Hallen: 

Well, I think it would be a big no-no for him to fire Mueller. I mean, at this point Mueller’s got to carry on with this investigation. To fire Mueller is akin to what Nixon did right after, during, the Watergate scandal. If he takes that route than I think that would be completely unacceptable to both Republicans and Democrats south of the border. I mean, I’m interested to see what happens next. I mean how much further up does this go? If he’s now indicted Manafort, where else is it going to lead us? Is it going to go Trump Jr? Is Ivanka going to be a part of this? Is her husband going to be a part of this? I mean, that’s what I’m interested to see.

Dave Sheldon: 

What about Bannon now too? I mean Bannon was a big part of that whole situation. Now he’s out of it, but he’s on the outside looking in. He’s one of the guys asking for Trump to fire Mueller. The one thing is, is that Trump doesn’t fire Mueller. That’s not how it works. They have to go through the Justice Department to have that done. That’s what happened when it was the Saturday Night Massacre back with Nixon, is that he had to get to three different people before they finally got this guy fired that was doing this investigation on Watergate.

Manjot Hallen:

That’s right, and that was sort of the beginning of the end of Nixon. Wasn’t it? I think Trump realizes that and I think President Trump is going to … I think he has no choice but to see this through. I think, yeah you’re right, you’re right. It’s interesting that the fact that Steve Bannon is calling for Mueller to be fired. I mean maybe he’s worried about something.

Dave Sheldon:                  

Well, at some point we’re going to find out where all of it’s going to shake down. It’ll make for interesting conversation to be sure. Manjot I really appreciate your time. Sorry about the snafu. We’ll get you worked out next time and thanks for your time today.

Manjot Hallen:   

Great. Thanks Dave.