From Alex Tsakumis’ blog
EXCLUSIVE: Gregor Robertson’s Pot Culture Past–What Does Marc Emery Know? Why Dead Men Can’t Talk…
Summer afternoons are for watching your children frolic in the surf or play in the sand.
They aren’t for jarring reminders of how cold and cutting life can be.
As I opened the National Post on an early August afternoon in 2010 and began reading about the murder of Cortes Island artist Stefano Savioli, a rapid chill started to creep over me, despite that year’s heat wave.
I bounded to the phone and called a friend who remains a high-ranking member of the RCMP in Canada.
I left him a rather frantic message.
Within minutes came the reply. “Hey Alex, what’s going on? Why the 911 page? Aren’t you supposed to be on vacation for once? Man, that wife of yours must put up with a lot…”
“Yeah sure thing,” I replied. “Listen, never mind all that, do you remember the guy I’ve been telling you about on Cortes Island? The one whose friend claims he has all the info on Gregor Robertson and the Hollyhock crew? Well, the artist’s been murdered in cold blood and I can’t get a hold of his pal on the phone. The line is dead. Buddy, this guy was savagely murdered, it’s right here in the goddamned paper. Someone wanted Savioli dead, really badly.”
“Alex, what the hell are you saying? Are you kidding me? The guys you met with? Jesus Christ, let me call you from another phone–don’t leave the Okanagan until talking to me about this further,” said my RCMP friend.
“Don’t worry about it,” I interjected. “I’m coming home. The kids and Maryanna can stay with family. I need to go back to Cortes Island. I’m back tomorrow morning for sure. I’ll call you on my way to the boat and you can meet me there. We can talk then. I’ll need to stop and get extra gear this time. I’m going in alone.”
And so began my frustrating, perplexing, months-long odyssey of quietly investigating the death of Stefano Savioli, a man without an enemy in the world, who led a seemingly quiet life on Cortes Island; as decent a man as there ever was and yet someone who was so viciously murdered. The crime scene, as described to me by one RCMP member, was one of the most bloody she’d ever encountered.
Something didn’t seem right at all. None of this made sense.
I’ve been to Cortes Island several times since then. The boat rides were better than taking a ferry and certainly less conspicuous. I could clear my head and think about what I might find. Despite the fact that there was something a little too unsettling about the ride along such a solitary, often unpredictable stretch of water, particularly at dusk. I was uneasy and out of my element out there on my own. I covered premiers and prime ministers. And mayors, not murders. Not like this.
Cortes has many eyes. Not all are friendly.
Most Gulf Islands are very insular communities, without being unwelcoming. Cortes is a very tight knit community, for the most part. There are the loners and retirees. Largely peaceful, very fine folks, I must say. Mind, not many really like to talk much to outsiders. No one there feels anything but the greatest affinity for the island and its people. Well, most of them anyway. A majority of general island intel can be gathered at the central village cafe/store, but not easily. Someone’s having an affair but you’ll never get a name. Yet another someone’s being charged with tax evasion and while he’s there, you’ll never get his address, not even his initials.
And no one, but no one breaks the cone of silence on the most popular activity of those who would commit to such madness.
Marijuana grow ops. Large scale grow ops–no ‘Mom and Pop’/a few plants proposition. We’re talking big time, the kind organized crime would assemble or buy from.
RCMP sources confirm that parts of the island are teeming with them. The closest, most active RCMP detachments are on Hornby and Quadra Islands. Cortes, much tougher to get to than the others, remains largely rebellious in this sense, lawless too.
Every conversation I had, every attempt to gain more ground, every single lead I followed, all went ice cold the second I mentioned Savioli’s name. It was like airdropping a double tank of water on a barely lit match. It didn’t help that I stuck out like a sore thumb. Never mind hippie chic on Cortes.
It’s all principally hippie.
Good people, though. Honest, kind and sometimes too generous. In retrospect, I should have talked to Stefano’s neighbors and asked some pointed questions about the days prior to his death, but felt I’d then betray the dignity with which I wanted to treat the passing of such a fine man.
All the same, let me take you back a bit.
In the spring of 2009, I was introduced to Stefano Savioli by a friend of a friend. My pal’s friend had read several pieces I did on Gregor Robertson, Hollyhock and the American, far left wing Tides Foundation including the money flowing there from to various Robertson related support charities and some funds, in addition, to Vision Vancouver through the magnanimity of Robertson’s mentor Joel Solomon and Solomon’s partner, also a left wing American inheritor, Carol Newell. Hollyhock is the strange commune-like, more mysterious than mystical retreat on Cortes, and my coverage “piqued” Savioli’s interest too–he wanted to talk about it. His friend didn’t live on Cortes Island at the time, but became my contact there (he lived on a neighboring island). Savioli didn’t like to overly communicate with me, despite being very friendly. “You’re energy is very dark and heavy…you have seen ugly things in your life…you have been mistreated, but you are very strong…you will be in pain until you let everything go and find your peace but you are stubborn. You care about the people very, very much, so we will continue to talk about everything.”
I got the impression that Savioli and his friend were not too close–in part because of Stefano’s spontaneously truculent nature, though they knew each other well and were quite amicable. Savioli was the archetypal genius. His paintings were magical, but he had that mania of the crazed artist, constantly in need of harnessing the energy in the room for yet another mesmerizing foray into his various explanations of the universe. He was an extraordinary force of nature.
But something was definitely bothering them–both of them and I found this terribly strange.
Savioli was married, with a grown son and was such a breathtaking talent; he was in great shape and looked at least ten years younger than his achieved sixty. Informant #2 had no family, no registered address and lived off whatever savings he had. A runner and kayaker, he too seemed like someone without a care in the world
What follows is the story they were going to expand upon. Missing are only their details.
I write my statement in the past tense because, he, too, disappeared at the same time Savioli died. No word on his whereabouts, if he met with foul play, or why his phone was out of service by the day Savioli’s murder appeared in the Post. I dialed furiously from the Coquihalla and on my way back to Cortes. Nothing. Not even an ‘out of service’ message, not a thing.
You see, after carefully developing the relationship with the informant and Savioli, I was supposed to come home from a shortened summer vacation in 2010 and meet both of them on Cortes–where all would be revealed. They had DOCUMENTED intelligence, the informant claimed, on the illegal drug culture on Cortes Island. Everything. I didn’t know how this was arrived at, nor did I pry about how they obtained such information. What I did discover–through conversations with islanders and piecing together what I could, is that Savioli and his friend were very clean livers, with no enemies and not a problem on the planet. Not good people, great people.
Savioli’s style was reminiscent to that of one of my heroes, Vincent van Gogh, with the same characteristic, enthusiastic mayhem at hand. Stefano had irked some with his extravagant paintings of islanders or island activities. But enough for someone to murder him? I doubt it as much today as I did back then. The pattern didn’t fit. It still doesn’t.
Nevertheless, someone killed Stefano Savioli with an inspired passion. Whoever did it really wanted him dead.
I did ask if they wanted me to contact the police prior to our meeting. Both Savioli and his friend declined.
And then the knockout intelligence.
Included in the revelations, would be what was alleged as very damaging information on Gregor and Amy Robertson. According to Savioli and his friend, the Robertsons were not foreigners to marijuana consumption, being long-time dope smokers, but then the bombshell: the allegations that the Robertsons were involved in cultivating marijuana.
I was thoroughly floored. I’d gotten to know Gregor well during the 2008 civic campaign. I liked him very much. I met Amy once. She seemed like a fine person too. I was certain that we wouldn’t be badly off, even if he won–while my hope was always with Peter Ladner. Was Gregor just the suit; the front man for a sinister movement? Was he the attractive facade to a well-crafted play for Vancouver–to be used as a stepping stone for greater, green fascism in Victoria, Ottawa? I ignored the financial ties at the time and prayed what is now revealed as true about the free-flow of money from questionable, far left wing American sources was all just circumstantial. It wasn’t.
Those accusations kept haunting me, as the accusations by the Cortes two left me perfectly speechless.
This was so very significant. Enough, that I didn’t want to lose the lead by pushing too hard. My issue wasn’t so much that Vancouver’s Mayor was a pothead. Drugs, unfortunately, are part of our general culture–like it or not. Some people are stupid enough to use marijuana, and I think they’re idiots for doing so. I couldn’t care less if the Mayor and/or his wife were dope smokers. What irked me was this: Here’s a man who was elected Mayor in a landslide. Robertson’s platform was, in no small part, about clean, wholesome, healthy living. Free the world of carbon, let’s all love one another. Positive, shiny, happy people. He rode his bike everywhere. Amy weaved baskets. Their kids were handsome and lovely. Their lives spotless. The nouveau progressive family, not quite Ozzie and Harriet, but you understand–and Vision Vancouver operatives had spent an inordinate amount of time attacking former mayor Sam Sullivan for a one night ride in his van with a crack piper from the Downtown Eastside. What if Robertson was something quite different?
Filling your lungs full of any kind of smoke isn’t healthy living. Far from it.
But the bigger questions lingered.
Was Robertson a target? A mark? A hypocrite? A liar?
Unfortunately, the two men who claimed to have the answers are gone: One was violently murdered and the other has vanished without a trace–his cell phone long out of service, his rental torn down.
I dropped my quiet investigation of Savioli’s death in the fall of last year, after I was contacted by the RCMP that summer. I did so reluctantly, with all the questions that remained. The RCMP were actively investigating the death of Savioli. There was no point for me to continue, and in the absence of any real evidence, only the allegations of Gregor Robertson’s involvement in the grow op culture of Cortes Island, were exactly that–allegations that couldn’t be proved from a grave. Other than being able to close my eyes and navigate to Cortes from Vancouver’s harbour, it was getting cold too.
I lost all hope.
Until last week.
Believe me when I tell you, I don’t trust Marc Emery any more than I can throw him. I’d love to debate the miserable twerp on dope legalization– his pipe dream that would surely enslave millions of children across the country to a life of being totally lost. If he debated me, he’d lose badly–I’d happily and throughly pummel him. I think his wife is a vacuous nutbar, like him, and spouts dangerous lies about marijuana’s ‘goodness’. I don’t frequent Emery’s blog, nor do I think his cause will die anything but the greatest, painful death.
Moreover, this persisting story alleging Gregor Robertson’s rampant pot use and cultivation wasn’t on my radar. I had no intention of releasing this information today, days before an election, nor do I think there would be a story–without Marc Emery’s comments from late last week, so spare me the line, those of you so thoughtlessly presumptuous, about how I’m attempting a last minute derailing of the Mayor’s flailing campaign. He’s still favored to beat Suzanne Anton by a margin that remains, in my opinion, insurmountable.
So how do you argue with the printed word of someone who would know? Like a voice from the grave.
Apparently, the ‘Prince of Pot’ knows something the rest of us don’t. And he OPENLY wrote about it.
Here’s the quote DIRECTLY from Marc Emery’s blog post of last week, November 11th–verbatim–and by the way, not a word of support for our troops, of course, the maggot that Emery is….
Read this VERY carefully. Think very hard before commenting. It’s a much bigger issue than you think. Emery isn’t one for throwing out these statements for fun. Emery knows them.
“In my hometown Vancouver you get a Mayor seeking re-election, who was, as far as I understand, an active member of our culture in the North Gulf Islands once upon a time, but you never hear him stand up for us as a culture.”
Emery didn’t talk about Mayor Robertson being a dope smoker. Who cares after all, right? That Gregor might regularly toke only explains some of his policies and demeanor. This goes well-beyond that. Emery alleges to his faithful to have personal knowledge of Robertson being part of the marijuana “culture” that ‘The Prince of Pot’ claims as his own–he’s in jail for “conspiring to manufacture marijuana” (the formal charge to which he plead guilty). Essentially, the US authorities have rightfully jailed a cultivator, a dealer, a scumbag.
So was Gregor Robertson doing anything similar to Emery??? It’s a fair question based on Emery’s contention. He is suggesting that Robertson (or someone close to him) was in the drug business, that much is clear to me, as the “culture” to which Emery refers goes substantially further than simply stating how Robertson was smoking that garbage. Emery clearly states that Robertson, who still owns vast acreage on Cortes–not far from Hollyhock, and who lived on the island for years prior to moving to Vancouver and running for mayor, was involved in illegal activities.
This is VERY serious. The implications are mammoth.What was Robertson really up to while he was on Cortes Island? Anything we should know about before re-electing him to represent the third largest city in the country? Does anyone in the media care enough about you and your families to ask the tough questions?
Because dead men can’t talk. Otherwise, I’d ask for you.
Besides the intrigue and the details specific to the case, one has to realize that there are groups behind the scenes that pull the strings.
People do not get into power by accident, and when they do, what is the agenda?
Vancouver mayors have always been big players in BC politics.