Tuesday, February 12, 2008
To Norman Spector: an invitation
When you testified at the Mulroney-Schreiber Inquiry in Ottawa, I watched you from start to finish because -- although the pundits say you added little of substance to our knowledge of why Karlheinz gave Brian $300,000. (or maybe $225,000.) -- you vividly conveyed the impatience we feel about the issue. You pounded the desk and said (I paraphrase), "Stop fooling around! Get on with it. Subpoena the witnesses you need, subpoena the records!" Bravo, Norman.
You reviewed that performance in today's Globe and Mail, concluding with:
" ... Mulroney-Schreiber is a story of lobbyists and lobbying and the power of a prime minister and his office. But it is also a story about journalism - the good, the bad, and some that fits Ottawa too snugly." [What ails Ottawa, by Norman Spector, The Globe and Mail - February 12, 2008]
As you know, we in British Columbia are locked in an even more important public issue: by what process was BC Rail transferred from public ownership into private ownership? do the three accused government employees bear sole responsibility? and after 4 years' waiting, how do we boot this trial forward?
Your creds in B.C. are strong. You were a Deputy Minister in Victoria before you moved on to become Chief of Staff Ottawa. You once were publisher of Jerusalem Post. People say you were always a straight-up kind of civil servant. People say you're smart, that you enjoy taking on public issues. Well, we need you here, Norman.
I'm glad you decided to "retire" to Victoria, that you still care about the public issues, that you still write about these things. We've waited a long, long time for this BC Rail trial to explain the biggest sale in Canadian history -- details of which are still secret. We need to know exactly why police made the first-ever raid on a legislature. We're hurt and offended by media silence punctuated by media hints that the issue is either "not important" or a figment of the Opposition's fevered imagination.
It's possible that the West Coast daily newspapers will not publish comments as forthright as your column in this morning's Globe. In fact, there's a chill on passionate writing in B.C. these days. Hence my invitation.
Norman, I invite you to speak out on this web-site, on the issue of BCRail / Basi-Virk-Basi. Send it using the "Comments" button (below) and it will be picked up and posted immediately. It will be welcomed with thanks (but alas, no cash reward). It's one thing to lose Canada's 3rd largest railway. It's another thing to lose a free press. I think you well understand that, as I recall your sharp questions at the time of the Legislature raids.
I think that Basi-Virk-Basi, like Mulroney-Schreiber, also could be described in your words as " ... a story of lobbyists and lobbying and the power of a prime minister and his office. But it is also a story about journalism - the good, the bad, and some that fits Ottawa too snugly." We in British Columbia must find a way to talk like you talked in Ottawa -- with voices raised, eyes flashing -- and, right now, I can't think of anyone better able to demonstrate that lesson than you, Norman Spector. - BC Mary.
" You pounded the desk and said (I paraphrase), "Stop fooling around! Get on with it. Subpoena the witnesses you need, subpoena the records!" Bravo, Norman."
With the format and time constraints, what is happening so far is merely a Ptomkin Village of an investigation, kinda like the Kabuki show in Studio 54. It appears to be only for show and won't lead to the truth or the return of what I feel was Mulroney's ill gotten settlement on the backs of the Canadian people. Though his extortion of the taxpayers is most likely just a minor detail in the whole sordid tale, should it ever come to light.
How one can destroy a reputation that had sunk so low it pretty well destroyed the Progressive Conservative Party as evidenced by the election humiliation suffered by Kim Campbell and the monster since created and going under a similar name? I could imagine Robert Stanfield running away screaming if he were to wake up in Ottawa today.
Canada is supposed to stand for responsible government and the rule of law. I for one would like to start seeing some evidence that that is actually what is happening, in Ottawa and Victoria.
Mary - did you forget????
The B-V-B case reflects badly on BC justice. People need to know that AG Oppal has assigned his own Deputy Minister, Alan Seckel, and CJ Brenner (Supreme Court of BC), to "streamline" BC justice. And, the BC Justice Review website, notes that the public is excluded from the nominal reform process. Does public purpose define the agenda?
As I have noted here before, one has to look back to 1974 to find a single published case where Brenner appeared on behalf of a private individual, when he was an attorney. And as a judge, government and corporate parties do extremely well in courts where he presides. Wherever individual interests are asserted, Brenner shoots them down. How is he promoting a "streamlined" justice system? In today's Province, Keith Fraser reports on Brenner's treatment of attorney David Varty's noble initiative at settling the class action suit against BC Ferries, et al in the Queen of the North sinking case.
The story reads, "(Varty) said that 64 percent of the 46 passengers involved in a class action suit against BC Ferries have had nightmares and 69 per cent have had increased fear."
"Varty submitted the figures in a bid to fast track the processing of damage claims, arguing that the case could drag on for another five years before it is resolved..."
"Varty handed the judge an 11 point proposal, including the establishment of a test case that could be used to determine the damages for the other cases."
In the US and UK cases like this are resolved in months; in Canada it takes years. Claimants die while concealment motions pollute the courts.
Again, Brenner is one of 11 members of the Canadian Judicial Council. He has floated the case against Ontario Justice Paul Cosgrove for almost 10 years. He allowed Quebec Justice Robert Flahiff collect over $500,000 in wages after he was convicted of Money Laundering (Flahiff only quit after taking personal threats)
At long last, Brenner's unsettling interventions in ALL aspects of justice, MUST be subject to scrutiny. When that is done, he will resign in disgrace. His appointment of his AJ, Patick Dohm, to render the Walls-Millard no-jail sentence, warrants extreme scrutiny, as does his campaign against a New Westminster man, John Ruiz Dempsey, who ended up in jail after he sued Supreme Court Justices, Garson and Williams. Dempsey - I don't know him - ended up spending 30 days in jail.
Please read Dempsey's account of Garson's bending of the rules of court. Justice Garson's conduct was clearly tortious; however, Brenner wasn't about to allow a female justice of the court of inherent jurisdiction to face a law suit:
Dempsey's cause was hopeless. But he had a right to make it; Brenner abused power when he had sent to jail.
One thing I haven't forgotten: the sharp words Norman Spector had for the BC Liberals and their electioneering methods at the time of the raids on the BC Legislature. With Moe Sihota, he called them to account in no uncertain terms.
And besides, Sam, are you saying that humans never learn, never change their minds? That if Spector said something you didn't agree with once, everything else he ever says should be rejected?
Nobody is totally bad or totally good.
Look up Spector's bio. Be prepared for a surprise: he's incredibly smart, well-educated, experienced.
Plus, I was surprised to hear some pundits on Don Newman's "Politics" show, describing the Norman Spector they knew as exactly the guy who pounded the desk at the Mulroney-Shreiber inquiry shouting "Get moving on this ... !"
And listen: I promise you that if I ever hear Gordon Campbell pounding a desk and saying to the BC Supreme Court "Get moving on this ... subpoena the witnesses ... subpoena the documents you need!" I'll invite him over too.
Jeez, Sam, we need people to speak out, to unburden the concerns they feel about this case.
A great letter -
I just wanted to say my mother heard Norman Spector and Joy MacPhail on the radio yesterday. She said he agreed with most of what MacPhail said. My mother was quite surprised.
Refresh your memory.
No conspiracy here, just a badly managed justice system
The Globe and Mail
31 December 2007
In the main, this overheated talk circulates on the Internet among people whose minds incline them to believe in conspiracies. Sadly, however, some of the speculation is fuelled by New Democrats and their allies in the media, who see the Basi-Virk trial and its links to the BC Rail privatization as their big chance – okay, their only chance – to win the 2009 election.
When I read about citizens being sued for speaking out, it makes me not only angry but sad and it leaves me wondering who is defending and protecting the public good now? And why are obstacles seemingly being created in the way of it?
"On behalf of the people" - that really is what I have always thought BC Mary's blog is and has been all about - the defence and protection of the public good.
Unfortunately I, too, am with Sam on this one.
Then again, I suppose, perhaps, that a Conserv-O-Leopard might be capable of changing it's pro-special prosecutor spots if and when he feels the latter has, perhaps, gone off the (BC?) rails.
Gee whillickers, guys, I'm not proposing marriage or anything! What's with the thought police?
I just want to hear what Norman can tell us from his special pov behind the scenes.
Like I said, if I ever see Gordon Campbell pounding the desk and shouting at BC Supreme Court to "Get this thing moving!" I'll invite him over, too. Also Carole James, for that matter.
But no problem. So far, there's been no response from Norman. Maybe he's busy. But I do recall that he'd drop in at The Tyee and drudge the details with us now and then. I think it's healthy. I really hate this adversarial thing where it's Them Against Us and people get all nuts.
And speaking of a leopard changing its spots, how about Keith Baldrey? Pretty amazing piece of work, in his most recent Basi-Virk item.
Sam has just found the piece I was looking for that sounded familiar when I read Baldrey's account of the conspiracies on the net. Does plagiarism ring a bell here? Sure sounded like a lot of Spectors comments back in December.
And your right as rain on his flip flop. The guy sure is a piece of work. Just confirms my theory about certain fat cats sitting around waiting for the news to come to them.
I have a question for Keith. Just what prediction in what column and on what date are you referring to?
The only predictions I have seen are coming from these blogs.
And I understand your dismay with all this adversarial business.
But here's the thing.....
When they did their paddywhacking of those who doubt officialdom's version so far, it was Mr. S and Mr. B pulled on the gloves marked 'ideologue' and took the first swings looking to land haymakers.
" ... some of the speculation is fuelled by New Democrats and their allies in the media ..."
What rare creatures might those be?? Susquatches?
It is difficult not to take the outright theft of resources and infrastructure personally if one is a member of the community (shared common) that at one time owned it.(BC Ferries, BC Gas, BC Rail, BC Hydro - so far just partly gone, but going)
Anybody here get a check when BC Rail was sold?
It's also hard to not take it personally when watching neighbors die, and elderly couples being forced to separate after 50 years thanks to "improvements" to the health care and elder care and home care services under the Inferior Health Atrocity!
I definitely think that one of the biggest problems today politically is that too few people do take it personally. They ignore it because they feel it has nothing to do with them and powerless to have any effect on it. The most common thing I hear from most folks about politicians/politics today is something like "Oh well, what can you do?"
Where's that frying pan. Get ready, Koot, for another race around your kitchen table while I try to whap you over the head ...
I did not advocate that people shouldn't take BC issues personally. Our province. Our railroad. Our concern. Whang!
I never would say such a thing. As a matter of fact, The Legislature Raids for almost 2 years has been busy bringing people together to talk about BC Rail. Whang!
You misunderstand me when I say that we're ALL in this together and if all points of view can be fairly expressed, we'll be making progress. Whang! Whang! Whannnng!
Norman still hasn't responded, so I guess he's not keen to add his comments at this location. I wonder why? WHANNNNGGGG!
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