Gordon Wilson's endorsement of Clark follows slew of legal, financial woes

Former BC Liberal leader Gordon Wilson's surprise call for disaffected party members to "come home" and support Premier Christy Clark's re-election campaign comes in the ...

Former BC Liberal leader Gordon Wilson's surprise call for disaffected party members to "come home" and support Premier Christy Clark's re-election campaign comes in the wake of a string of his own financial and legal difficulties.

Wilson announced Sunday evening via YouTube that he is rejoining the Liberals after 20 years.

He led the party to official opposition status in 1991 but lost the leadership to Gordon Campbell in 1993 and started his own Progressive Democratic Alliance Party.

In 1999, he joined the NDP cabinet and his portfolio included overseeing BC Ferries' controversial, money-losing fast ferries. Clark's campaign has relied on attacking the NDP's 1990s record.

Business in Vancouver has unearthed court files revealing the extent of Wilson's financial and legal problems since then.

Wilson and his wife, one-time Liberal house leader Judi Tyabji Wilson, were subject to the court-ordered sale of their Powell River waterfront home at 9573 Random Road four months ago.

CIBC Mortgages received a January 7, 2013, order for immediate sale from Justice Robert Crawford. The nine-acre property is now listed for $842,900 through Coast Realty Group. Wilson's Duddles' Lair sheep farm shares the same address.

The couple had previously been ordered to pay $918,355.02 to CIBC on May 22, 2012 by Master Douglas Baker in the Powell River court, after gaining a three-month delay in foreclosure proceedings.

The Wilsons' joint February 15, 2012, submission to the court said: "We have never before had mortgage delinquency, and the current delinquency issue was caused by our work to sell our software company. We now have three transactions that are in the final stages of conclusion prior to payment, any one of which will yield sufficient funds to clear the accounts."

Having real-estate agents and prospective buyers through the house at the time would be "counterproductive to our ability to apply our full attention to concluding business that will see creditors fully restored."

Wilson's blog said he is the chair of Tugboat Enterprises, which owns the My Selkie data recovery software. Court fillings indicate negotiations were active in 2011 and 2012 to sell Tugboat's intellectual property to Origo Industries of England. The Wilsons, through their Blackberry Coast Capital company, hired the Berlin law firm Kanzlei Kittner to represent them in Europe.

Negotiations appear to have stalled. Tyabji Wilson and Tugboat were sued July 31, 2012, by Hakemi Law Corp. for $31,909.23 in fees and disbursements owing and $13,772.41 contractual interest.

Lawyer Tom Hakemi claimed they did not pay eight invoices from October 6, 2009, to May 7, 2010, and were $580.32 short on a September 1, 2009, invoice for $5,080.32.

Before the filing, on July 20, 2012, a Tyabji Wilson email to Hakemi said she did not contest that money was owed and claimed the bill was "on the short list of priority payments."

"Confidentially, I can tell you that the amount to be transferred to McMillan will be CAD$25,000,000, and our lawyer in Berlin tells us that their bank will hold funds for up to ten days before the transfer as part of the standard bank protocol," Tyabji wrote in the email contained in Hakemi's affidavit. "We are looking at early to mid-August to pay you."

An October 24, 2012, email from Gordon Wilson to Joel Hill, a lawyer at Hakemi's firm, said, "Neither Judi nor I are currently in a financial position that will permit us to hire legal counsel."

Hakemi became Tugboat and Tyabji Wilson's lawyer when they were named as defendants in a September 2008 defamation lawsuit filed by West Vancouver-Sunshine Coast Liberal member of parliament Blair Wilson. The co-defendants included the Province newspaper reporter Elaine O'Connor and Clark's then-husband Mark Marissen, who remains a BC Liberal campaign adviser. The unrelated Blair Wilson claimed an October 2007 Province story falsely alleged financial impropriety on his part. Blair Wilson ran for the Green Party but lost in the 2008 federal election to Conservative John Weston, who was the runner-up to Wilson in 2006.

In an October 24, 2012, email to Hakemi's colleague Joel Hill, Gordon Wilson wrote: "Regrettably, we still face action by Mr. Wilson and his lawyer Mr. Jay Straith despite their inability to provide a shred of evidence linking either Tugboat Enterprises Ltd. or Judi Tyabji Wilson to the alleged charges he has been presented on behalf of his client."

A February 8, 2013, consent order signed by the parties said Hakemi was granted judgment against Tyabji Wilson and Tugboat for $35,853.33.

Wilson's blog links to the Tugboat website, which is said to be under maintenance, but lists a toll-free phone number. The operator said her company no longer has a contract with Tugboat.

The phone number attached to the Tugboat website registration is not in service.

Neither Gordon Wilson nor Judi Tyabji Wilson responded to Business in Vancouver's email or Twitter requests for an interview.

BMackin@biv.com

@bobmackin

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