Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Will Citizen Journalists save B.C.?

My days start with reading B.C.'s three big CanWest daily newspapers online: Vancouver Sun, The Province, and Victoria Times Colonist.

Some days I think The Province deserves a slightly better reputation. Some days, I think I see a human hand guiding the TC. But Vancouver Sun -- the flagship! the newspaper of record! -- is an unredeemed travesty of journalism. I deserve danger pay for even checking the Headline Scan on this rag; but no, on the contrary, I pay for my subscription. Why? Well, just to make sure I don't miss any Basi-Virk-BCRail news. [Cue the laughter.]

Good journalists, in my view, occupy places of honour among the professions serving human wellbeing. Good journalism is part of my support system and I resent how difficult it is to find good, honest, informative journalism these days.

The fact is: bad journalism is easy. Anybody can do it. But great journalism is a tough slog requiring big training, hard work, a steel-trap memory, constant study, a high intelligence; then it requires being brave, uncomfortable, sometimes embarrassed, sometimes in danger; and finally it needs the ability to fend off the constant danger of trying to get through the battle-lines to reach the public. And it's getting harder, not easier, every year for good journalists.

Citizen Journalism is the best remedy I can see. Yes, it's small. But Citizen Journalism has the necessary vitality and relevance to grow, to persuade, to make society more open and honest, therefore more accountable.

YouTube adds a compelling veracity. False reports by Big Media were exposed immediately by Citizen Journalists recently using YouTube to show the CN crash site in Prince George and police provoking violence at the SPP Summit in Montebello. This journalism made a difference. For the better.

Citizen Journalists are increasingly active here at The Legislature Raids with recent eye-opening information on people connected to either the Liberal Party of Canada, the B.C. Liberal Party, to the Campbell government, or to the Basi, Virk, Basi & B.C. Rail case. What a bonus!

We can protect these valued contributors while allowing them a place to share their unique insights. Not only can such information help us to see into the heart of this entire story, it could -- just possibly -- jolt the complacent ‘Main Players’ in the Basi-Virk saga to start earning the high salaries we're paying them.

It could mean the unlocking of the whole B.C. Rail story, which would be a breath-taking contribution to this Province of B.C. And to journalism itself.

In today's Vancouver Sun, however, where the public might expect to see mention of the KPMG Forensic findings on the ICBC situation and Paul Taylor, there was no mention of it. There was, in fact, a stunning emptiness in today's "newspaper of record".

Then I noticed the Letters to the Editor where EIGHT (8) Citizen Journalists were reacting with vigour and intelligence to an assinine column written by one of the Sun's regular editorial writers. It's well worth looking over, for those with time to click the links. First, a closer look at Vancouver Sun's Harvey Enchin, via a quote from The Tyee coverage of election 2005:

How CanWest Helped Elect Campbell and Company
By Donald Gutstein

and in particular, this quote: The Sun transitioned smoothly into the official campaign period with a front-page story on April 21 titled “Campbell says there’s one issue in election: Economy.”

And it ended its campaign on the Saturday before the election with an op-ed piece by editorial page writer Harvey Enchin titled “Liberals clearly outperform the NDP on the economy.”

Full story:

So, we know where Harvey Enchin, CanWest and Campbell stand on corporate globalism. But even so, it's hard to understand why the Sun decided on such a horrendously stupid editorial as this:

The economic fallacy of 'eat local, buy local
' by Harvey Enchin, Vancouver Sun, 28 Sept 07

Don't they know today's concerns at all? Have they no clue how people are feeling about the environment, the future, the food they put in their bodies, their health? Or did somebody knowingly open the door a crack, to let all this oxygen flow into the Sun's editorial rooms from Citizen Journalists?

Under “Readers pelt Harvey Enchin with (local) vegetables”. Letters to Editor. 3 Oct 07, there are 8 terrific, informative rebuttals from citizens who are mad as hell and aren't gonna take it anymore. Click on the links below to see them. You'll be glad you did.

These Citizen Journalists are really all Vancouver Sun showed me today. But it was enough. Their passionate words remind us that it's clearly up to the citizens to get things straight (things like Vancouver Sun stories) -- and in doing so, to get B.C. straightened out. Heartfelt thanks who all who try.

- BC Mary


CN Rail Case Number 49026-1

Cn Rail was in North Vancouver Provincial Court today to answer to five counts stemming from their August 2005 derailment in Squamish.

The charges are:
2 count depositing deleterious substances.

1 count introducing business waste into the environment.

1 count introducing activity related waste into the environment.

1 count introducing waste into the environment causing pollution.

The Vancouver Sun reported this today and in their item stated that the derailment was south of Squamish. As we here at the Legislature Raids know this derailment and the chemicals spilled were into the Cheekamus River. Now I don't know about the rest of you but the rail tracks are not near the River South of Squamish. Any fishing I've done there was North of the Townsight. East and south of town are tidal waters.
Under its neo-con editorship, the Sun has become an elitist bore. Justice issues are handled by Ian Mulgrew. His scribblings should be viewed as begging to attend Law Society and Court Services functions, and private parties. The public gets absolutely nothing from his column. Wally Oppal - a train wreck of a Cabinet Minister - is played up as a saviour of BC from "gangs," "racists" and "polygamists." Too bad David Basi and Bob Virk - fellow Sikhs - don't raise StoneWally's ire.

As for the Province, their nauseating, recent series on "thugs," reveals the depths of panderage. If they looked hard enough they might find the spots where Vancouver Police congregate at night to chat, while response to Major Crime calls is delayed.
Thanks, Gary E.

CanWest does seem to have great difficulty pinpointing where the anointed CN wrecks are happening, don't they.

Remember the early reports of how the engine-to-engine crash in Prince George was nothing to worry about because it happened in the CN yard? But YouTube videos showed the flaming spillage pouring down the bank of the Fraser River and into the water?

Anonymous 7:38, I can't believe I'm defending CanWest in any way, but I did appreciate Ian Mulgrew's book, "Bud, Inc., inside Canada's marijuana industry." I wish he'd be assigned more time for the Basi Virk case.

And Neal Hall's work on Basi Virk (when he's allowed to get into the courtroom) is good.

Kim Bolan has endured a lot in order to get the Air India story out, although she's been sounding burned-out lately.

I find it awfully hard to jump on working journalists unless they start promoting some sleazy corporate agenda. It's cringe-making when columnists become propagandists.

I think the real policy problem is in the fancy corner offices with the view, myself.

It's "panderage" (great word!), as you say, when the newsroom fixates on the petty street-level recruits rather than go digging into who Mr Big might be, who's supplying his "products", who does he bribe to facilitate his biness and what's his distribution/transportation system.

When was the last time we ever saw a big story like that? Ever?

CN Pollution case #49026-1

The case in North Vancouver Provincial Court against CN Rail (lest we forget, formerly,and to some of us, still BC Rail) has been put over to November ,21,2007 at 0930 hrs.
Anon sez:
"Wally Oppal - a train wreck of a Cabinet Minister - is played up as a saviour of BC from "gangs," "racists" and "polygamists." Too bad David Basi and Bob Virk - fellow Sikhs - don't raise StoneWally's ire."

Too bad the questionable activities of his fellow cabinet ministers, past (hi Ferret, Christy) and present (Hi Gordo) and cronies (hi Paul, etc. and car dealers, road builders, developers, IPP owners and outsourcing beneficiaries everywhere) doesn't raise StoneWally's ire, not to mention his own relatives.

StoneWally might not be qualified to clean that previous Sikh AG's shoes. If Wally fought cancer the way he fights high level crime and Boss Tweed style governance, he wouldn't be amongst the living anymore.
Wow. P.S. to Anon 7:38 above:

For an over-the-top piece of panderage (love that word) in today's Vancouver Sun, you must see Miro Cernatig's column!

I missed it because Mark Marissen's name didn't show up in the online Headline Scan. But one of our wonderful Anonymice sent me this:

"GW" wrote:

DId you see this:

From this morning's Sun? How do these people do it? If this was the NDP they'd have dragged every questionable thing Marissen has ever been involved in since age 3 - yet this guy comes out shining like a new penny.

See for yourself. Bald-faced, cringe-making panderage, that's what it is.

I got to thinking, after reading it, that this kind of caper might be illegal. If it isn't, it should be.

I mean, how can it be legitimate to disguise sheer flatulating propaganda and sell it to honest people who think they're buying a daily newspaper?

Honest to gosh, isn't that kinda like ... er, well ... like fraud?

Thanks, Koot, for another calm, well-reasoned review of events here in B.C.

You'll love the column in today's Vancouver Sun about the B.C. Liberals who are going to save Stephane Dion. Oh, not Gordon Campbell. It's about Mark Marissen, husband of Campbell's former deputy premier.

Written by Miro Cernitag, who oughta know better.

So I was thinking (on behalf of Miro) that your House of Infamy ought to inaugurate a special new award for Best Panderage.

As soon as you read his column today, you'll know exactly what I mean. And Miro's our guy!

It isn't just the mainstream media that has been maintaining a code of silence. if you've followed Seam Holman's Public Eye Online for the past few months you might notice that he has been completely ignoring Federal Liberal activities in BC ever since Preliminaries for the Basi Virk trial started back in April. Lately he's had a few nationally oriented articles about Dion and Ignatieff, but nothing on the local activities of the federal Liberals. It's like Mark Marissen has ceased to exist in Sean's world.
I love Sean Holman's "Public Eye Online" and drop in there every day.

I do recall Sean saying at one point (it must've been last April, as you say) that with the Basi Virk proceedings taking place in Vancouver, he wouldn't be able to report on them. Made sense to me. Costs a bundle even to be an observer in a Vancouver courtroom.

But I hadn't noticed Sean avoiding mention of the federal Liberals. Thanks for the tip.

It's often the stuff NOT BEING MENTIONED that's so important, and so hard to track.

I'd like to think that the Cernitag piece on Mr. Marissen today was just a bit of Provincialism Gone Wild!

But there's this track record thing from the VanSun that I just can't quite get past.


Since the subject of discussion of Mark Marissen, I'll say few things since I know Mark Marissen, albeit not all that well. I sometimes wonder if it is humanly possible to know Mark well. He is very polite and modest, certainly NOT the obnoxious windbag type that is all too common in political circles. He's not the type to be rude to people or to make poorly thought out statements top the press along the lines that Jamie Carroll recently made. I think a large part of his survival in politics stems from this. He's very quiet almost to a point of worshipping silence and I think it is his secretive nature that arouses lot the suspicion surrounding his dealings. This is what makes him a lightening rod for almost everything that goes astray in the Liberal party.
Anonymous 10:20, many thanks for an interesting intro to a more human Mark Marissen.

I'm pretty sure you'd like to maintain anonymity, but can you (carefully) tell us a bit more?

Like, why Dion? There were much more electable -- more accomplished, more experienced, and fully bilingual -- Liberal leadership candidates.

Why did the wily Marissen hitch his wagon to poor Stephane Dion who seems fatally unilingual?

Recently I heard Dion say something about a "carry-catcher" of himself being promoted by his enemies.

By the time I worked it out that he meant "caricature" I had missed the point of what he was trying to say. How spell-binding is that.

So why Dion?

I don't think Mark had any other offers besides Stephane Dion's and Scott Brison's. The Ignatieff people snubbed him by intentionally leaving his name off the invitation list when Michael made his first visit to Vancouver. Bob's Rae's team was made up of Jean Cretien people who weren't keen on having someone that close to Paul Martin on board. Even Joe Volpe reputedly said he wasn't interested in working with Mark. So it was basically a choice between supporting Dion or supporting Brison.

Also, the only fully bilingual candidates were Joe Volpe and Martha Hall Findlay. The press exagerated Rae and Ignatieff's French skills.
So it was Dion that chose Marissen and not Marissen that chose Dion?
I think it's highly debatable whether Marissen is presently... or has been ever, for that matter, actually "supporting" Dion.

I think a whole other game is being played here.
I think it's highly debatable whether Marissen is now, or has been ever, actually "supporting" Dion.

I think a whole other game is being played here.
Lynx, I think you're onto something.

Thanks, Anon 7:19, for setting it out so clearly.
If you follow the money trails propping up the various Liberal leadership candidates, you'll discover some interesting connections.

Bob Rae was backed by the Desmarais Family via his brother Powercorp CEO John Rae who acted as his fundraising chair

Stephane Dion was backed by the Bronfman's via Stephen Bronfman who acted as his fundraising chair

Michael Ignatieff was backed by a variety of money interests including Molson Coors, the Desjardins in Quebec and our own Jimmy Pattison here in BC.
Maybe Mark Marissen is really working for the Bronfmans and Dion was just another assignment?
Mark is close to Michael Ignatieff's campaign chair, David Smith. David tried to get Mark to run Michael Ignatieff's campaign in BC. Now Mark and David are national campaign co-chairs together.

Belinda Stronach also sent out feelers to get Mark to run her campaign. Mark used to work for Dennis Mills in Toronto, a former MP who is now a Magna executive.
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