Monday, March 19, 2007
The Raid - a Novel. By Ken Merkley
Anyone walking past Trafford Publishing in Victoria could drop in, pay $30., and have them print up a copy of Ken Merkley's book, The Raid - A Novel.
I was so eager to see the book, I paid the extra $15 to have it Priority Posted to me. After all, the cover shows the famous photo of the police carrying file boxes out of the B.C. Legislature on
28 December 2003. The cover also says "RCMP Corporal Tim Murphy uncovers inter-connected criminal activities leading him to a shocking secret with major implications for the Province of British Columbia and all of Canada." The back cover talks about a major federal political party which may have used the proceeds from drug sales to pay membership fees for thousands of new party recruits. With tragic ramifications for B.C. and Canada. Doesn't this sound like a book about The Legislature Raids?
Well, it isn't.
Not until the reader gets to Page 377, with only 2 more pages to go, does it become perfectly clear that those of us who search for the significance of the Legislature raids ... have been sucker-punched. Forget minor annoyances such as crossing "Georgia Straight" or hearing from "legal council". Forget where Tim chats up Tomm. Let's just go to where the hero (Tim, not Tomm) meets a political analyst who explains corruption, p.377. This is the nub of the story. Tim, our hero, has just arrested Mr Big and is being asked if he thought Mr Big would have got away with his evil schemes, if Tim hadn't caught him.
The analyst (Tim explains) says yes, with the political climate in B.C. "at a stage where it is feasible for someone like [Mr Big] to succeed ... where the stage has been set by many years of corrupt business-oriented governments being in power in the province and across the country. Especially in B.C., their policies have made the electorate truly cynical, apathetic, defeatist. When you combine that with a monopolistic media that supports their agenda, the voters feel that they can do nothing to change the situation and are truly open to manipulation."
RCMP Corporal Tim Murphy (believe it or not) continues: The political analyst "said you have to look at the effects of privatization and globalization ... wages and benefits have been driven down ... businesses increasingly manufacture their products offshore. Then they put in place laws that remove the right to strike for most public sector workers, destroyed the public health care system, and cut back on pensions and workers' compensation benefits. This created an atmosphere of fear amongst the working class.
"Naturally" continues our mythical hero, "you would expect them to turn to pro-labour parties to form an alternative government, but the media has hammered away at the dastardly consequences should they ever again obtain power ...
"Next you add corruption. Voters witness greedy governments and businesses working together to reward each others' friends." Legislating huge salary increases for themselves, switching parties, with punishment for blatant infractions going only to minor players or whistle-blowers. "This, in turn, causes the public to determine it is fine to take advantage of the system ... in fact, this political analyst thinks the political climate is now such that a majority of the electorate believes it is permissible to accept money for casting their votes and it's especially okay to be paid for voting for a particular party."
Not everybody feels this way, says Tim. "But enough do, that the same governments continue to be re-elected no matter how greedy and corrupt they are." [Which sounds like the story-outline for a really good book! - BC Mary]
So Tim has captured Mr Big, "the first to take advantage of this business-dominated political climate to attempt to obtain total control of the government anywhere in Canada. And if we don't learn quickly from this lesson, he won't be the last."
"But Tim," his friend asks, "you say it is the first, but wasn't there a similar episode a few years ago that started out the same with a raid on the legislature?
"Yes ... some of the circumstances were the same, including the police pinpointing a couple of cabinet ministers' aides who were accused of taking advantage of their positions to better themselves economically. But it turned out they were just a couple of two-bit players who may have been trying to benefit from the provincial sell-off of a Crown corporation by feeding insider information to one of the bidders. I don't even remember what, if anything, they were charged with, but it pales in significance to this operation."
"So," says Tim's friend, "you wouldn't put Mr Big's scheme in the same category?"
"No," says Corporal (soon to be Sergeant) Tim. [Now pay attention, folks, here's the big clue about this book ...] "Over the last 10 years matters have become a good deal worse than they were then. People are willing to play for keeps and be very brutal to get what they want when the rewards for success are so much more meaningful. After all, this is 2013."
Ken Merkley, retired senior military officer, lives near Victoria.
"The Raid - A Novel" isn't THAT bad.
The real problem for people like you, me, and a lot of British Columbians is that we're hungry for facts (or even opinions) about the B.C. Rail affair ... and this looked like an option.
I don't know why Ken Merkley approached the topic that way. He can't blame his editor because the book is virtually self-published.
I tried to contact him but the usual directories were no help at all. The book jacket says he lives in Metchosin, a bedroom suburb of Victoria. But no listing. So I couldn't ask him why he made the cover so different from the contents.
I don't really think it was a scam, do you? I think his use of the 2003 raid, that way, was intended as a "come-on" and so was more like a misjudgment.
I just like to think Ken Merkley has put RCMP Corporal Tim to work on exposing the corruption between governments and business!!!
Wouldn't that be fun to read?
Something tells me this case is going to put to shame any novel or movie that could ever be written.
Mind you, this story does have its potential cinematic moments. I wonder what a decent director and cinematographer could do with the little scene in the Villa Del Lupo?
You know the one? Three sleek well-dressed fellows at a corner table talking earnestly to each other: soft violin music in the background, atmospheric lighting – that kind of thing.
A tuxedo-clad waiter just a bit too burly for his costume, but ruggedly handsome none the less, enters from stage left and offers the diners a bit of Grey Poupon from a cut-glass cruet, the animated candlelight reflected like diamonds in its facets. Checking, ever so carefully as he does so, the hidden microphone unobtrusively nestled in the small but tasteful bouquet of flowers on the table.
Ken Merkley could have done so much more, don't you think? Maybe he’ll have another go.