Friday, May 18, 2007


Friday 18 May - Press clippings etc

How did CanWest serve the public interest today, at the start of the 2-week adjournment of the B.C. Rail, Basi Virk Basi pre-trial hearings? What kind of B.C. Rail, Basi Virk Basi news reports are offered in their three big B.C. daily newspapers?

Vancouver Sun -- boom all, their standard preference
The Province -- one more toxic column by Michael Smyth
Victoria Times Colonist -- a remarkably fair, balanced editorial


Editorial comment - Times Colonist
Published: Friday, May 18, 2007

Premier Gordon Campbell should step forward and assure British Columbians that neither his government nor his party condone political dirty tricks or taxpayer-funded partisan activities.

The allegations -- and that is all they are -- coming from the Basi-Virk corruption trial are alarming. They include claims of a political dirty-tricks operation run by Dave Basi while he was working for then-finance minister Gary Collins. The defence lawyers say evidence shows Campbell and senior members of his staff knew of the practice.

The lawyers have also alleged the Solicitor General's Ministry lobbied the RCMP not to interview Collins immediately after the legislature raids.

The government so far has refused comment. (Rich Coleman, solicitor general at the time, denied personally interfering with any police investigation.)

Campbell has maintained that because the matter is before the courts any comment could be seen as interfering with the course of the trial.

Governments have traditionally avoided any comment dealing directly with evidence heard in court. Even in cases like this one, where there is no jury, there is a fear that politicians' comments might be seen as influencing the outcome of the trial.

But there are legitimate exceptions to that approach. Under the British system, politicians can seek guidance from the Speaker when they feel the public interest demands comment on a matter before the courts. The last Canadian parliamentary committee to look at the issue concluded that politicians should not feel overly constrained by the convention, noting the risks to the justice system are small.

Even if the government maintains its silence on evidence or arguments from the court proceedings, a response to the broad issues is not just possible, but necessary.

Silence leaves a cloud over the government and fuels public suspicion.

Campbell can and should make it clear that he does not approve or tolerate political dirty tricks or partisan activities at the taxpayers' expense.

He should promise an investigation if any allegations remain unresolved by the trial.

And he should commit to appropriate action if problems are revealed.

None of those commitments could be seen as influencing the trial.

But they would offer an important reassurance to British Columbians about the government's ethical foundation.


Shame on the lot of 'em for self-interest

Michael Smyth
The Province -- Published: Friday, May 18, 2007

The NDP's decision to donate MLAs' 29-per-cent pay raise to charity seems noble enough, but the gesture still falls far short of what Carole James promised two weeks ago.

She said then that the NDP opposed the whole enchilada -- the pay hike, the gold-plated pension, the tax-free perks and benefits -- and they'd refuse it all if the Liberals forced it through the legislature.

Gordon Campbell called her bluff and now, facing a divided and restless caucus, she has backed off from her vow of poverty.

NDP MLAs are still taking the pension -- the most lucrative part of the whole shameless booty haul. They're still taking the perks and benefits.

And, even though they're sacrificing the pay hike -- for two years, anyway -- the grossly inflated salaries recommended by the independent panel will still be used to calculate their stratospheric pension benefits.

They refused to put their money where their mouth was. Now they want to play the martyrs, sacrificing themselves to atone for the sins of the wicked Liberals.

Sorry, but I'm not buying it.

Consider James's own pension. Even though she's giving her pay raise to charity, her pension benefits will still be calculated on her new, $147,000-a-year salary.

That means she stands to collect $726,033 in pension benefits if she retains her seat in the next election. {Snip} [BC Mary: But Michael, how did you figure this??]

None of this lets the Liberals off the hook, of course. The New Democrats may be hypocrites, but the Libs are just plain greedy.

Consider this little cash grab that's been overlooked in the whole mess: The independent panel that recommended this breathtaking pay-and-pension package also called for a reduction -- yes, a reduction -- in the notorious Capital City Allowance.

The unlimited allowance pays MLAs $150 a day, tax-free, for every overnight visit to Victoria. The panel recommended that be replaced with a $61-a-day allowance, capped at 75 days per year and requiring MLAs to produce receipts to collect the reduced amount.

The Liberals simply ignored this proposed rollback and took only the increases recommended by the panel.

Remember the Grinch reaching down the chimney to grab that one last speck of food? You get the idea.

Shame on the lot of them.

- - -

Listen to Nightline B.C. with Michael Smyth every weeknight at 7 p.m. on CKNW, AM 980


And, um ... Michael, you psychophantic* bonehead: your attempt to angelicize the LINO side of the Legislature falls flat. Hopeless task. They ain't angels. Plus didn't you hear David Schreck on CBC (Rick Cluff) making a strong case for a complete opt-out from Bill 37. Apparently the golden pension is really only a big benefit to about 4 NDP MLAs and is, therefore, for the Liberals, much more of a big deal. Come on, Michael. You're still youngish. Straighten up and write what's fair. - BC Mary.

*sorry, Michael, that was meant to be sycophantic.


I like psychophantic - I think you just invented a new word - way to go! ;-)
Gotta love Michael, "Neither Party Comes Up Smelling of Roses" as he's spends 90% of his time attacking the NDP. His math doesn't add up in my books.

You would think, given the level of Mikey's vitriol, it was the NDP who had a house majority, created this bogus wage committee and put forward the poison pill legislation.

Then there's Baldrey on NW this morning telling us how Liberal supporters have no problem with the raise, it's just NDP supporters... I guess he didn't see the poll that had 67% in BC against the raise.

I just hope the public gets a good strong whiff of the BS the MSM keeps shovelling out and maybe tries to seek news elsewhere...

Keep up the good fight BC Mary.
I remember the good old days when Mr. Smyth used to have some fire in his belly & actually write clever, revealing columns about the political scene.

Awe yes . . . the good days when journalists used to practice their writing skills with ethics & candor irregardless of ownership personal bias.

Sad that Mr. Smyth has learned the 'sideways shuffle' according to what side his bread is buttered on.

Another one bites the dust. LOL

Go get 'em BC Mary!! Remind this bunch what journalism is all about.
It would be funny if it wasn't so damn sad.
A "remarkably fair and balanced editorial"? Hardly, the whole tone of the piece suggests that Mr. Campbell is merely doing a poor PR job, and need only reassure us all that everything is on the up and up. The Canwest institutional bias is as obvious as ever.

Good point.

I too was left wondering....

What if Mr. Campbell cannot "step forward and assure British Columbians that neither his government nor his party condone political dirty tricks or taxpayer-funded partisan activities" because both his government and his party actually do condone such things?

After all, its not as if the evidence presented so far, suggests otherwise.

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