Thursday, May 17, 2007

 

17 May 2007 -- News clippings

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Trust CanWest's B.C. flagship newspaper. They're using a new skill. They're running the same news story over and over, into which they slip the occasional shocker. Readers could easily miss new developments. Even BC Mary, on the lookout for every scrap of B.C. Rail trial news, can feel my eyes glaze when I see the umpteenth repeat that the RCMP wanted to charge Dave Basi for dirty tricks but the Liberal Party prevented it. That's how I almost missed the following embedded gem:


"We know in the July 4 report to Crown, charges aren't recommended," [Basi lawyer, Kevin McCullogh] told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett. "Well, what happened?" he asked. "They said they were recommending charges June 24 but they aren't recommending charges on July 4. The point is, what happened between then?

"The only reasonable inference that can be drawn is that there was political interference in the police investigation," McCullough said.

Janet Winteringham, a member of the special prosecution team, told the court she made the charge approval decision and the views of the Liberal party were not taken into account.

"It was not something that was influenced by the views of the Liberal party," she said.

See PREMIER WAS ADVISED THAT RCMP WANTED TO CHARGE AIDE, TRIAL TOLD
By Neal Hall & Miro Cerniteg
Vancouver Sun (West Coast News) - May 17, 2007
http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/westcoastnews/story.html?id=deb84931-0723-4c53-ba28-5ef243087f44

[Leaving us with the question: OK, but was there political influence? - BC Mary]
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[Consider this, too, from The Province. It's included here today because of its candid revelation of ethics both in government and CanWest media. There's a lot I'd like to say about the following views, but would rather wait to hear from readers. - BC Mary]


WHY JAMES IS HOOPED AND LIBS WHOOP

Polls say NDP leader is on the side of the angels, but . . .
Michael Smyth
The Province - Thursday, May 17, 2007

So there were the B.C. Liberals, all drooling like Homer Simpson in a doughnut factory, getting set to chow down on a massive pay-and-pension smorgasbord.

And there was NDP Leader Carole James, the selfless protector of B.C. taxpayers, vowing to vote no to the whole outrageous booty haul.

The polls say James is on the side of the angels on this one. The public is furious about the 29-per-cent pay hike and gold-plated pension plan

Liberal House Leader Mike de Jong even admitted the cash grab will anger many voters.

So why did James look so glum yesterday while de Jong looked like a guy who just hit the lottery?

Because James knows that, despite her bluster, many of her own NDP MLAs want the money and will probably take it. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if James ends up taking the loot herself.

She may be on the taxayers' side of the issue for now. But she knows this is going to blow up in her face. And the Liberals love it.

Consider the choice that now faces NDP MLAs: Their leader is asking them to walk away from a $22,000 raise and a pension plan that could be worth $1 million or more.

Principle will only get you so far in this racket. Money talks a whole lot louder.

She's hooped.

The Liberals, meantime, looked absolutely gleeful. They'll take the money with no apologies, confident voters will quickly forget all about it.

They're probably right. Especially if a bunch of NDPers wiggle in beside them and wedge their noses in the trough, too.

Here's how this will go down: James will convince her caucus to vote against the pay-and-pension package in second reading today.

Then they'll try to move amendments to reduce the size of the pay hike. It will be a futile gesture because the Liberals will vote the amendments down and the package will be passed into law.

Rest assured some NDP MLAs will maintain the moral high ground and will refuse the cash. Some of them are genuine class-warriors who will happily flagellate themselves for the sake of the proletariat.

But I predict most of them will take the money, even after they vote against it. Maybe they'll try to give some of it back to charity to ease the stench of their [i.e., the NDP] hypocrisy ...
{Snip}...

Full story at:
http://www.canada.com/theprovince/news/story.html?id=ad7aad5c-ae82-4b7e-91d9-7fdad8993391

Michael Smyth's e.mail address is: msmyth@direct.ca

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[Times Colonist has done a better job of laying out the debating points on which the Legislature must make its final choice on the latest pay raise. This has no connection with The Legislature Raids except as a test of the veracity of TC news reports. - BC Mary.]


29% PAY RAISE: TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT, B.C. TELLS MLAs

Lindsay Kines and Jeff Rud,
Times Colonist - Thursday, May 17, 2007

B.C. politicians will have seven long days and nights to decide whether to accept a 29-per-cent pay increase or turn it down on principle.

In what appears to be a trap laid for the NDP, which opposes the raise, the Liberal government tabled legislation yesterday that will force politicians, in the words of house leader Mike de Jong, to "put the money where their mouth is."

The bill follows the recommendations of an independent panel to boost MLAs' base salary to $98,000 from $76,100 and increase Premier Gordon Campbell's wage by 54 per cent, to $186,200 from $121,100. The Opposition leader, cabinet ministers, parliamentary secretaries, Speakers and caucus officers will also receive sizable boosts to their extra-duty pay.

In addition, the bill reinstates a pension plan for MLAs with a minimum six years' service and terminates the group RRSP program.

But the bill comes with a catch: Accept the raise within seven days of it becoming law, or you'll never get it, no matter how long you're in office.

MLAs who opt out would continue to receive the current level of pay, and be able to contribute to the RRSP plan. Their names will be posted on a legislature website. MLAs elected in the future will automatically receive the pay and pension package.

The opt-out option seems designed to expose rifts in the NDP caucus, by making it difficult to vote against the raise, then accept it. The NDP earlier rejected the panel's recommendations as "too rich" and disciplined Yale-Lillooet MLA Harry Lali for saying he would take the money. Lali declined comment on the bill yesterday. {Snip} ...

-At www.timescolonist.com: Compare salaries across Canada
Full story at:
http://www.canada.com/victoriatimescolonist/news/story.html?id=55ec393a-c090-4ead-86a7-d3605bedb040

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A PUBLIC INQUIRY INTO THE SALE OF B.C. RAIL?
Opinion 250 - May 17, 2007
News for Northern and Central British Columbia
Prince George, B.C.


The NDP would like to see one, but, writer Bill Tieleman says the closest thing to a public inquiry is underway right now “It is happening in courtroom 54 and what we are hearing now is just an appetizer, just a snack. Judith Reid is going to testify, Gary Collins is going to testify.” Tieleman is referring to the Supreme Court proceedings underway into the case of former Ministerial Aides David Basi and Bob Virk. {Snip}

Tieleman has been covering the Basi-Virk case in the B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. He says the case is so bizarre “It seems like the X Files some times, you know the show’s slogan was 'the truth is out there', well in this case the truth is way, way, way, out there.”

Tieleman says the allegations are unbelievable. There have been allegations of dirty tricks, with planted phone calls to open line shows. There are allegations of lobby group links to some politicians, and allegations the sale (lease) to CN was a done deal from the very beginning. “There was even an alleged plan to dump manure on Jim Sinclair’s front lawn because Sinclair (head of the B.C. Federation of Labour) opposed the sale. I must say, I always knew the Liberals were full of bull, I just didn’t know they made home deliveries.”

Tielman believes the case will eventually go to trial, but he has questions. He wonders aloud why the Ministerial Aide for Gary Collins is facing charges, but no charges against the Minister. He wonders aloud why the lobbyist at the core of the case has not been charged. Tieleman says while it is not his intention to presume guilt or innocence, he is left to ask why those who are well connected or members of the Liberal party have been spared prosecution?

Tieleman was one of three panel members at the evening session at the College of New Caledonia. All three have been openly opposed to the sale of B.C.Rail, so their messages were no surprise to the 100 or so in the audience.

Ben Meisner, President of Opinion250.com, said he was still waiting to hear who benefited from the sale. “There is something we all need to realize and that is, big business is forming another level of government. They aren’t elected, but they are gaining more and more control over our lives.” {Snip}

The costs for the sale of BC Rail? According to Meisner, the losses have been significant

* Loss of some $15 - $18 million dollars in annual salaries in the Prince George Region.
* Forest companies are now paying higher transportation costs making it more difficult to get their goods to market at a competitive price.
* Loss of some $100 million dollars a year in profit that could be channeled back into the B.C. economy.
* Loss of the ability to transport goods into Alaska (lost opportunity) {Snip}


Read more at:
www.opinion250.com/blog/view/5879/3/public+inquiry+into+bc+rail+sale%3F

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LIBERALS STUMBLING ON TRIAL, PENSION INCREASES
Paul Willcocks
Paying Attention - May 15, 2007

It's time for an alarming update on two issues that pose big potential problems for the Liberals, the MLAs' pay raise and the Basi-Virk corruption trial.

First, the trial, and the misadventures of Attorney General Wally Oppal.
Since the start of the trial of Bob Virk and Dave Basi on corruption charges in connection with the B.C. Rail deal, the government has had a political staffer as a full-time monitor on the courtroom. Taxpayers have been picking up the cost.
There's nothing wrong with that. The trial has seen allegations of government misconduct. It's reasonable that the government would want to have a firsthand report, even though ministers have refused to answer all questions about political dirty tricks and other issues raised in court.

This week the NDP decided to ask what the public affairs bureau staffer, Stuart Chase, was doing.

Oppal's responses were contradictory and, it turns out, wildly misleading.

"He merely reports to the government and other people regarding what's going on in courtrooms," said Oppal. "He assists the media, and he assists people."

As the NDP kept asking, the answers kept shifting. When the opposition asked Oppal to make the reports from the courtroom public, he said maybe there were no reports from Chase.

And then he said Chase was there to help report[er]s and curious members of the public who wander into the courtroom.

"It assists if we have somebody there explaining how the system works to the public," he said.

Except that was all rubbish. Victoria Times Colonist political columnist Les Leyne called Chase to ask what he was doing in the courtroom.

And Chase flatly contradicted Oppal. He sends reports to Victoria on the trial twice a day. He never briefs reporters or talk to the public.

Maybe Oppal doesn't know what's going on. But that still doesn't explain why he provided inaccurate answers.

And it still leaves the question. If Chase - whose salary is paid by taxpayers - is preparing reports, why aren't they being made public? And if they're really just for the Liberals, why isn't the party [making the reports public]? {Snip} ....

Full column at: http://willcocks.blogspot.com/

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Comments:
Smythe can hardley contain his glee in that piece. Only in BC would the press turn on the opposition who have rejected a 29-50% pay increase, instead of the porkers who introduced this.

If James had accepted the 29% the media would have lambasted her, when she declines it they lambaste her. She'll never win.
 
Well Mary, you know we've been discussing this issue for some time.

Some people, Bill Tieleman and David Schreck among others, attempted to communicate with the Opposition in anticipation of this most recent example of Campbell ‘Liberals’ (I’m going to start putting that term in single quotes because it is clear this gang has no idea what the real meaning of liberal is) using political interference and personal corruption in EVERY ASPECT of the way they run this province.

The question now is whether or not the Opposition has the ability to make the correct choices in the high stakes gamble that the Premier is playing. I think CanWest missed the point here. I think the Premier is going to resign sometime within the next few months and this pay/pension deal is his purpose built golden parachute. It’s an important time for Carole James to come together and face this man down; a man who thinks that you can fool most of the people all of the time.

I think it’s over Mary, the Premier has buried himself and his party in scandal and corruption since the day he started his political career and the crows are coming home to roost.

Just because money, revenge and personal comfort are the only things that motivate CanWest and Campbell does not mean that there are not people in politics in this province (and vast segments of the population) who are ashamed and saddened at how those charged with governing in British Columbia for the past 6 (and the next two) years have not failed utterly to discharge that obligation honestly and well.

This is a watershed issue:

“There is a tide in the affairs of men, Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune. Omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries. On such a full sea are we now afloat. And we must take the current when it serves, or lose our ventures.”
Shakespeare.
 
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Nicely said, Anonymous.

Funny but I suddenly thought -- when you said "She'll never win" -- of J.S. Woodsworth.

We're all winners in their world, Anon.

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Have to leave this machine Mary.

My comment above (anon 8:35am) contains an error. The final passage before the Shakespeare quotation includes a 'not' that doesn't belong there. The sentence should read:

Just because money, revenge and personal comfort are the only things that motivate CanWest and Campbell does not mean that there are not people in politics in this province (and vast segments of the population) who are ashamed and saddened at how those charged with governing in British Columbia for the past 6 (and the next two) years have failed utterly to discharge that obligation honestly and well.

Wouldn't want there to be any confusion on THAT score!
 
I think the real question Mr. Smythe and other mainstream reporters should be asking is Why do none of the Liberals speak up about what is happenning? They never mention how the Premier is keeping his own party MLA's in line.
 
The only thing you can say about the Sun and the Province is that BCTV makes them look like responsible journalists.

Keith Baldrey is so busy spinning the Liberals line on the pay increase that he didn't notice that the BC Liberal Party and the Premier have been implicated in fixing an RCMP investigation.

Or maybe Kelly Reichert met with Baldrey and mentioned that the stories are just too embarassing to the BC Liberals. Could you just can them, Keith?
 
Anon-At-The-Top.....

Good point about the tags around the name of the party.

Another useful term, I would humbly suggest, is 'LINO', also known as 'Liberal In Name Only'.

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I like it Gazetteer, I like it. Similar to that pee wee Rambo label an editorial writer from Le Devoir hung on Harper after his first trip to Afghanistan.

LINO it is - cheap and oily and prone to cracks, wears poorly, not much underneath once the pattern has worn off.

Thanks.
 
Ben Meisner is wondering who benefited from the sale of BC Rail. Just hang on for a couple of more years Ben. The Americans are going to scoop up CN. You think we're in trouble now?
This idea is not inconcievable. Just look at how much track they have down there. Then watch as it gets sold/traded off.
 
You're most welcome....

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CN is already owned by Americans.
 
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