The rise and fall of
Kash Heed’s political operative

Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun, Oct. 31, 2011


Barinder Sall, the 35-year-old campaign manager for Kash Heed, faced one count
under the Election Act related to improper advertising and two counts of obstructing
an election official related to events on May 7, 2009 and July 14, 2009. On Friday, Oct. 28, 2011,
Sall pleaded guilty to a series of election campaign offences, was fined $15,000, placed on probation
for a year and ordered to do 200 hours of community service. Photo: Global TV

Barinder Sall flipped through the binder full of correspondence exuding bitterness — “integrity, accountability and loyalty” — he practically spat out the ideals.

Eighteen months after creating the nasty anti-NDP pamphlet that cost Kash Heed his job as solicitor-general, the 35-year-old political fixer behind the dirty trick is sour and angry.

“This was an error in judgment that I paid a significant price to learn from,” he complained. “But I did not do this alone — I worked very closely with the former solicitor-general.”

He may have worked closely with Heed, but two special prosecutors found no evidence Heed knew anything about the campaign financial shenanigans.

On Friday Sall pleaded guilty to a series of election campaign offences, was fined $15,000, placed on probation for a year and ordered to do 200 hours of community service.

Last month, while proclaiming ignorance of the controversial brochure and illicit advertising produced by his team, Vancouver-Fraserview MLA Heed was fined $11,000 for violating the Election Act and overspending by $6,000 in the 2009 campaign.

Sall insists it was closer to $40,000 but he destroyed the evidence and he kept his mouth shut until now to minimize the legal consequences.

He was facing serious jail time for lying to investigators and numerous infractions.

“I was in charge of the pamphlets that were distributed, though I did not distribute them, did not print them, did not write them,” Sall said. “I did provide the financing … I am taking this on the chin.”

But he thinks Heed got off lightly.

Sall paints Heed as an ambitious, manipulative Machiavelli bent on becoming premier: “We built him up to be the Manchurian candidate. He was a smart guy, knows what he is talking about, we were able to polish that up and take him to another level. We built that candidate. Nobody came recruiting, we recruited ourselves.”

Drawing on myriad emails and documents collated in binders and accordion files, Sall insisted Heed misled the public about their relationship when he said: “Since I was relatively new to politics and had never been involved in a political election at any level, I relied on Barinder Sall, who I knew through and who had been recommended to me by the attorney-general, Wally Oppal, to guide me through the campaign processes and procedures.”

Yes, they were introduced by Oppal, but Sall claimed they were joined at the hip from the moment Heed sought him out to buttress his bid for the Vancouver Police Chief’s job in April 2007.

“What I want to show you is the relationship between me and Heed,” Sall said holding out one document after another.

“I’m not no fourth or fifth guy down the food chain, I’m the top dog. There’s a level of trust that everything is fielded through me ... When he announces his resignation [as West Vancouver Police Chief], I worked on the press release.”

The erstwhile solicitor-general angrily dismisses his former aide as an unmitigated — and now convicted — liar.

What began as a provincial scandal has degenerated into a finger-pointing, he said-he said political soap opera.


Sall still lives in south Vancouver where he attended David Thompson Secondary and came of age in a neighbourhood more noted for producing hoodlums than back-room operatives. Over the last decade or so, he established himself as a key political operative with an extensive reputation within the Indo-Canadian community.

He worked with former Liberal MP Herb Dhaliwal, who carried Vancouver South in 1993, 1997 and 2001 and former Liberal MLA Ken Johnston, who hired him in 2001 for his constituency office when he was elected provincially.

Johnston, now a municipal councillor, left provincial politics in 2005 and Sall went to bat for Oppal.

He had risen from the go-for envelope stuffer to the go-to chief-of-staff.

Although he went to Victoria with Oppal after the election, Sall couldn’t afford to maintain two homes; his wife remained in Vancouver where she was a teacher.

As a result, he left government and formed his own company Maximus Marketing.

Like many successful consultants, lobbyists and advisers, Sall was no dyed-in-the-wool partisan — he donated to federal Conservative cabinet ministers Tony Clement and Jim Flaherty; he worked for Vision Vancouver candidates — Park Board Commissioner Raj Hundal and unsuccessful council candidate Kashmir Dhaliwal; and he was close to Peter Dhillon, the rich Richmond cranberry farmer and influential political financier.

Heed came to him in early 2007, Sall explained in an interview, to help with his bid for the VPD chief’s job.

“I built up his profile, created a working plan, created a strategy to get the position, created a media profile,” Sall said.

Emphasizing the importance of posture, reminding him to say “we” instead of “I,” Sall schooled Heed in presentation skills.

“I prepared him for all his interviews. The evening he didn’t get that gig [June 21, 2007], by midnight that night we were already working on getting the West Van [police chief’s] job ... we were working on the plan for him to become the next solicitor-general. We weren’t looking to become police chief, we wanted to become solicitor-general.”

Heed was successful in gaining the West Van job but Sall says the two of them devoted most of their energies to positioning him for provincial office.

Sall helped produce the strategic plan for the department and Heed began focusing on regional policing as a “wedge issue” to garner attention.

He wrote articles for newspapers and publicly championed the cause.

In June 2008, Sall co-hosted a private dinner for former U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell at La Terrazza restaurant boasting that he was now “one of Canada’s top strategic advisers by navigating the careers of several of the country’s highest profile personalities ...”

The man who referred to himself as that “brown tanned James Bond strategy girl chasing guy” was not short of ego.

Neither was Heed, who sent Sall the now infamous email only a few weeks later: “You have a stallion that has been in training for some time and you and everyone else know he’s a winner, but he can’t wait on the sidelines forever.”

It is emails such as this that bespeak a long, trusted relationship and make Heed’s plausible denials less than persuasive.

That November, Heed was pushing hard for a seat, suggesting in an email that maybe Langara would work. There were discussions of him running in Richmond Centre.

Sall and Heed flew to New York together on Jan. 20, 2009 to attend a conference on the municipality’s tab.

The following day, West Vancouver police Const. Griffin Gillan was arrested for attacking a man outside the Hyatt.

Sall said he and Heed forged his response.

“I’m the right-hand guy right now,” he said. “His office is mailing him and keeping him up to date. We were going to the show (Victoria). We need to be tough on crime. How do you do that? You punish one of your own. We made that decision.”

Sall says during his time working for Heed he wrote emails under assumed names to newspapers, police boards and elected politicians praising his boss or pushing his agenda.

Heed’s bid for a seat was nearly derailed by allegations shortly afterwards that he had tipped off a West Vancouver police board member about a child pornography investigation. But Sall said they launched an aggressive, behind-the-scenes campaign to douse the fire.

“Kash was my best friend,” Sall confided. “We did lots of stuff together, our families spent time together. I drank Kash Kool-Aid, I poured Kash Kool-Aid, I made Kash Kool-Aid, I exported it and imported it. Right. I saw lots of potential in him, saw the guy was going to go very far.”

Heed’s political capital rose in the spring of 2009 as gang-violence and RCMP criticism grabbed headlines.

It set the stage for his entry into provincial politics, but the campaign proved a much tighter race than expected and Heed didn’t handle the pressure well. Sall said the rookie candidate didn’t have thick enough skin and took every political slight personally.

He was enraged at insulting pro-NDP posters and told Sall to do anything that was necessary to respond — the pamphlet that resulted was found by the special prosecutors to be Sall’s scheme, and they cleared Heed of wrongdoing.

It accused the NDP of planning to legalize drugs and impose death taxes and included portraits of organized criminals and gangsters.

“He felt the NDP candidate [Gabriel Yiu] had tarnished his reputation, taken a shot at him and he wasn’t going to stand for this, he wanted his head on a platter,” Sall recalled. “I didn’t do this by myself, I didn’t have anything to gain.”

Sall said he was reimbursed for the illicit radio advertising and pamphlet expenses from Heed’s MLA expense account.

“That was money I used to finance the third-party brochures, what I pleaded guilty to,” he explained.

“The gentleman who wrote the brochure was given a cheque for $2,000 from the MLA account, which was never claimed. We paid another $1,500 for his cellphone bill, $7,500 in illegal flyers that was never claimed, $6,000 in radio advertising, another $6,000 in other radio advertising and then there were some miscellaneous maybe $1,500-2,000. All added up it gives you close to $38,000, $39,000, $40,000 figure.”

During his brief time as solicitor-general, Sall said Heed remained focused on building a profile that would allow him to become premier.

To support his regional policing idea, he planned to appoint police board representatives who supported him.

“I was doing stuff in VPD, I was doing stuff for him in West Vancouver, I did stuff for him during the election, I did stuff for him when he was in the Sol Gen office ... people were all reporting to me,” Sall said. “Any meetings people wanted to have with him, they were all vetted through me as well.”

The ride ended when the RCMP investigation was revealed April 9, 2010 and Heed resigned as solicitor-general.

He was briefly reinstated a month later after he was cleared of wrongdoing, but stepped down again after the special prosecutor who absolved him acknowledged contributing to Heed’s election campaign.

“People come to you early on,” Sall said, “and they say ... the police come to you and say, ‘we’d like to talk to you, see what you have ... give up your buddy, [we’re] not interested in you. Give him up.’ I didn’t give anybody up.

“If I had early on [sold out Kash], I think I would have been fine. But the Kash Heed I met and learned from — [who believed in] ‘integrity, accountability, loyalty’ Right? The question is who stuck to those qualities?

“I wasn’t a rogue wild cowboy who did this on his own. Here’s the other thing — if you are going to give up your career and you were going to go run for political office, would you trust some guy you never knew before, who you hadn’t met before? Or someone who is trusted and true, someone you’ve known for a number of years, someone who you know will have your back? The relationship we had in the election and the stuff was quarterback and coach. I’m the one who executed the play.”


Heed listened to the accusations with incredulity: “Unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

He said the frontal assault came as “a complete surprise.”

It was, he repeated: “Unbelievable. Unbelievable.”

The special prosecutors exonerated him, he said, and B.C. Supreme Court Justice Robert Bauman concluded: “I acted in good faith and I maintained my integrity, which was very important to me. All I can say is I’m surprised by what he is saying.”

Heed conceded “it’s no surprise I had known him for a few years” but he denied the man he called “my friend” in emails was ever close or his right-hand.

Pressed about the plethora of emails and the trip to New York, he said: “I don’t want to get involved in this ... I can tell you in the process I’ve been put through, in all of those processes, the people that were involved in looking at this matter said that I acted in good faith — [special prosecutors] Terry Robertson, Peter Wilson, and even Justice Bauman. Those are the words I want to leave you with. And the other words I want to leave you with is, if Mr. Sall is making those accusations, I’m certainly surprised. I’ve always operated with the utmost integrity and will continue to do so.”

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