Saturday, March 08, 2008


Conrad, Izzy, and the bending of news

Until Tom Hawthorn came along wheezing about BC Mary's "Conspiracy theories", I thought I was talking about journalism when I grumbled about CanWest. "Tell him to read ASPER NATION," rumbled Robin Mathews (who Hawthorn called "notorious"). Hmm. Instead, I bought a copy of ASPER NATION and began to read it myself. Holy cats, no wonder we grumble and growl. CanWest is bad, all right. And because it's so bad, there's not a chance of finding out how bad by reading CanWest newspapers.

In a few days, I'll have a Citizen's Review of ASPER NATION, Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company, ready to post here. What I think so far is: we shouldn't mind being called "Conspiracy theorists" when the biggest conspiracy imaginable is being paraded before our eyes on a daily basis and sold to us as the news of our world. They conspire. The people are entitled to theories about that.

Meantime, here is the CBC's biographical sketch of the man who invented CanWest: Izzy Asper of Winnipeg and his other dastardly friends. Complete with this horrible feeling of near-affection for villains who notwithstanding that they are villains, are nevertheless our own Canadian bad guys functioning in ways that, yes, we deplore but we almost understand because we too are Canadian. How dramatic and sad is that. How Canadian. How Greek tragedy. Sheesh. Back in a few days. - BC Mary.

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A Man called 'Izzy'
Larry Zolf, CBC News Online | August 3, 2000

In his book, A Nation of Immigrants, John Fitzgerald Kennedy argued that immigrants have become the main part of the American dream. But by the 1920s, America had become xenophobic and convinced that European immigration was a menace to the American people. Canada, then not yet a full-fledged nation, was still convinced that immigrants were a key to the fulfillment of the Canadian dream.

One immigrant dreaming the Canadian dream was Leon Asper, the father of 'Izzy' Asper, the entrepreneur a recent National Post headline proclaimed "the nation's media king". Leon had been a teacher of violin at the famous Odessa Conservatory of music in tsarist Russia. In 1924, Leon emigrated to Winnipeg and played violin for the Winnipeg Symphony until it went bankrupt in 1929.

Despite this setback and the Great Depression, the Aspers bounced back. Leon took over the Lyric, a rundown movie theatre in the quiet country town of Minnedosa, Manitoba.

Izzy Asper grew up in the picture business, cleaning the Lyric Theatre by hand and pulling the gum off the back of the movie theatre seats. In the town's soda fountain, Izzy was always talking about the movies. His constant, easy contacts with small town people and farmers provided him with a bit of a populist streak early on in life. It also kindled Izzy's love of mass entertainment as both a suitable and profitable way of life.

Izzy's easygoing familiarity and contacts with the people of Minnedosa led him to believe that a life in both Canadian business and politics was possible; it also led him to feel that his Jewishness was no hindrance to that life. From an early age, Minnedosa-born Izzy Asper dared to dream the Canadian dream.

By the 1970s, Izzy was one of Canada's top taxation lawyers. The Globe and Mail gave him a very widely circulated column. He used the column to push his fiscal conservatism and show his distaste for Trudeau state socialism. Izzy wrote a book called The Benson Iceberg which shot giant holes in the Benson-Trudeau White Paper on tax reform.

The Benson Iceberg and the fuss it generated was one of the reasons why Trudeau had a disastrous minority in 1972. John Turner was Asper's close friend and Asper's clout in the Liberal party helped Turner become finance minister. Trudeau was not amused by Asper.

In 1970, Izzy also decided to run for the Manitoba Liberal leadership. In all modesty he told the Toronto Star: "The Liberal leadership was not a highly sought after office. But the Victoria Constitutional Conference was coming up (in 1971) and I wanted to be the premier of Manitoba who went to Victoria because I thought I could make that 1971 Constitutional deal happen."

Izzy also thought the socialist premier of Manitoba, Ed Schreyer, would be easy pickings. Schreyer, after all, was no pillar of intellect and had no entrepreneurial skills. The Tory leader, Sidney Spivak, a close friend of Izzy's wasn't half the entrepreneur Izzy was. Izzy properly felt that he, not Sidney, would get the business vote, the small town and rural vote plus the votes of the River Heights wealthy crowd.

Nor was Izzy Asper perturbed by the idea that if he became Manitoba Liberal leader, he and Spivak would be two Jewish leaders running and splitting the Jewish vote, driving many gentile votes to Ed Schreyer. Izzy was convinced that his Minnedosa populist roots would avoid all such problems.

Schreyer referred to Asper and Spivak as "the gold dust twins from River Heights." Schreyer called Asper a "shyster." Izzy called Schreyer's remark "a racial slur but I hope he didn't intend it racially."

I had known Izzy Asper since we were both campers at B'nai B'rith Camp in Sandy Hook, Manitoba. Our counsellors were Nathan 'Tuzzy' Divinsky (later the husband and mentor of Kim Campbell) and Allan Gotlieb, later one of Canada's legendary mandarins. Both Gotlieb and Divinsky played chess all the time, oblivious to the cries of campers drowning in the lake nearby. Asper, two years my senior, once rescued me from Lake Winnipeg oblivion.

Early in 1970, I ran into Asper in the halls of Manitoba's legislative buildings. He beckoned me to a small room and closed the door. "Larry," he said, "you're the best television political reporter in the land. You know everybody in the media. Be my press secretary. I'll give you a no-cut contract for $70,000 a year."

I gulped long and hard. Then I told Izzy he didn't have a chance, a prayer in leading his Liberals to power; his Jewishness alone would kill him. "I'd be stealing your money if I accepted," I said. Izzy became an MLA, but his Liberals came a very poor third. We parted friends.

Now Asper has become the biggest media magnate in Canadian history. Now Conrad Black's views and political agenda will be tempered by Asper's convictions and intellectual toughness. Asper, a close friend of Paul Martin, does not share Conrad Black's communion with Stockwell Day.

Izzy Asper is a charter member of the River Heights Mafia in Winnipeg. Fellow charter members are Sidney Spivak and his wife, Senator Mira Spivak, the reddest Red Tory ever appointed to the Senate, and by Mulroney no less. Charter members are brilliant lawyer Faigie Fainman, a high school classmate of mine and the wife of the very handsome Dr. Jack Fainman, a doctor shot at and often threatened for performing abortions. The River Heights Mafia are not Stockwell Day's kind of people.

Asper himself has views on religion that could turn Stockwell Day a premature grey. Asper openly defied the Jewish community of Winnipeg when he opposed Jewish content being provided in Winnipeg public schools and opposed public funding for Jewish private and parochial schools. Izzy Asper is good news for the Chretien Liberals and bad news for Stockwell Day.

One thing is certain: a man called 'Izzy' has successfully dreamed the Canadian dream. Izzy Asper and his media empire could enhance everybody's Canadian dream and provide Canadian culture with the powerful jolt it really needs.

Or Izzy can play it safe and play the business as usual card - and turn that Canadian dream into a bit of a nightmare.


BC Mary wrote:

"What I think so far is: we shouldn't be afraid of being called "Conspiracy theorists" when the biggest conspiracy imaginable is being paraded before our eyes on a daily basis and sold to us as the news of our world. They conspire. Not the people."

Hope you can hear the applause from waaaay over here, BC Mary! Well said. Can't wait to read your review.
I've already read "Asper Nation," a fine sequel to Marc Edge's excellent "Pacific Press: The Unauthorized Story of Vancouver's Newspaper Monopoly." Thanks for asking.

The Tyee ran substantial excerpts. They can be found at:

BC Mary seems upset the words "conspiracy theory" have been attached to her work, yet then goes on to assert that there's a conspiracy. Not sure what the complaint is in that case.

Anyway, the original comment was in regard to "BC Mary's conspiratorial musings about the motives of Canwest journalists." These, I wrote, are "pointlessly distracting." Interested parties can read the original column, about Bill Tieleman's first-rate blog about the case, at:

Any evidence of a Canwest conspiracy — memos, edicts, letters written in invisible ink — is welcomed at
Hi Tom,

Nice to see you here, where we can talk to you.

But I gotta tell you, your slip is showing. You say "BC Mary seems upset ..." which are weasel words used against women.

A man writes a strong statement and he is serious, concerned, upright, admirable. A woman writes a strong statement and she is "upset". You silly man.

I've told you that I don't much care what you say about me. But I do care terribly that you can't see what has happened with the media in B.C.

The "Conspiracy theory" phrase is another pair of weasel words intended to cast doubt. The point I was making (hello???) is that Marc Edge makes it pretty clear that first Conrad Black, then Israel Asper, had objectives which could easily be mistaken for a Conspiracy Theory if indeed we're looking for one. To throw Asper-sions upon those who notice this, is baldly unfair, unsporting, and bad journalism. Have you written to Marc Edge to let him know he's promulgating a Conspiracy Theory? I bet you haven't.

Most of us saw and appreciated the 4-part series of excerpts of ASPER NATION on The Tyee but thanks for pointing that out. Or showing off. Or jumping the gun. You dear man.

We also saw your column on our friend Bill Tieleman, linked here. But thanks for pointing that out.

We saw the nasty bit you wrote about Professor Robin Mathews too. Even if you had Googled Robin's distinguished career, you'd know better.

Did you ever really look at this web-site, either? I don't think so. That's what puzzled me in the first place when you got so wound up on those "conspiratorial musings". I don't think the word was ever mentioned here, until you came along.

CanWest management and editorial policy deserves way more analysis than it gets. Why don't you have a go at it?

Tell us, for example, why you think that an intimidating break-and-enter of a BC journalist's office should go unrported by any BC newspaper. Or would you jump all over me if I suggest that CanWest's reporters know well enough that they shouldn't write up questionable news about the Basi-Virk trial? A break-in clearly telling Bill to back off the Basi-Virk trial.

Now that you've brought the subject up, Tom, I challenge you to convince us that there is NOT a protective silence surrounding the BC Rail Case.

Tell us too if you feel that the media is serving the public good in British Columbia.

Thanks for dropping by.

P.S. Maybe I didn't make this clear. The evidence of a CanWest conspiracy -- the memos, edicts, etc -- is to be found in Marc Edge's book, ASPER NATION - Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company.

You do miss the point a lot, don't you.

First of all let me start by stating here that I am never "afraid" of being called anything. But most of the time you don't want to be within my reach if it's derogatory. And I don't write anything until I have thought about the whole situation. I am one of those who usually likes to say things in the shortest way possible. That may be the problem. Maybe I don't get things across as well as I should?
And I agree with lynx above. The biggest conspiracy is within The MSM.

The biggest problem in this country is that people in high places or places of influence, as I see it are usually the ones who initiate conspiracies. They are people with their own agenda which they want to impose on the rest of us. In the case of Asper and Black, they don't allow anything to be published in their newspapers which would interfere with their own agenda. They do not report the news they supress it. As Mary says "move along folks nothing to see here" A case in point would be that of John Daley overheard at the Vancouver Law Courts begging someone at his TV station to let him file a news report from the Courthouse. These types of things only come out in Blogs. Until others hear the rumbling. As Bill T says there is some light. But personally I think that light started to flicker when people who monitor these blogs (from the MSM) finally see there is some Merit to the story because of the increased traffic on these blogs. Also, they had some egg on their face when confronted with the fact that the Liberal were monitoring Radio call-ins and jamming the air with their propaganda. Conspiracy? I think so.

The next most horrifying thing in our society is a Party presenting a Platform to the people saying they will do this (eg;be the most open and honest government ever)
or not do that (eg; we will not sell BC Rail) then do a complete 360 and do the opposite of what they promised. This didn't happen in one but two elections. This is lying pure and simple. {Lie vi. make false statement}
Furthermore when the election was won in 2000 Collins was overheard turning to Campbell and saying "well I guess we fooled them" or words to that effect. I would sure like to hear from anyone who may have kept that statement. I lost it on a crash.

And of course we now have the case of a Special Prosecutor being appointed to try the case of the biggest lie ever. Where by all appearances he is being led by the RCMP and other police forces in the handling of disclosure evidence. If that is not the case then the man has some problems conducting prosecutions.
Conspiracy Part II

In the same instance we have a government that says they are not involved in this case. And in the Legislature they say they "will not comment" on any case before the courts. Of course here again we see the untruth. Because they have commented when it suited their own agenda.

Most of the evidence given to the public either comes from the few Bloggers on these subjects (as private citizens I beleive BC Mary to be in the forefront) or Bill Tieleman who is the ONLY reporter on top of this story. (Bill may dispute that but I think he would be wrong) Although I am fairly certain that there are other reporters (like Dailey or Smyth) out there who could be chomping at the bit. I am not sure if it the editors or the columnists that slag the NDP when reporting on certain matters but as with the slow increase in reporting I see these slags slowly disappearing.

So you see, if there was more widespread coverage of the things that matter to British Columbians in the Mainstream Media maybe, just maybe people on these blogs wouldn't be called "conspiracy theorists". Maybe, just maybe, the general public would be able to see what is going on around them
True Story for those who want to know about how the media works sometimes in this country.

During the spring of 2003 there was legislation before the House of Commons called the First Nations Governance Act (FNGA). As an aboriginal person who had a very publicized stake in fighting corruption and improving governance on Indian reserves in Canada by Indian Act governments I was invited by both The Province and the National Post(NP) to write about my opinion of this legislation.

I was extremely clear that the legislation was hideous and should NOT pass. I wrote a 500 word column for The Province and close to a 1500 word column for the N.P.

I was told that my column would run in a few days time in the NP. The 500 column calling the entire suite of legislation of the FNGA was published in the meantime, which outlined most of my dire concerns with the legislation.

On the day that my column ran, (which would have been the only case in Canada of an actual Aboriginal person writing about the FNGA legislation in National Print)... my column was yanked and in it's place was one of the unsigned editorials by the Aspers which used my name at least 4 times and claimed that my only concern with the legislation was that it did not go far enough.

This was absolutely untrue, which anybody who had read my column either in the Province or in the one submitted to the editors at the NP, would have known.

I was essentially lied about on a scale that was impossible to gage, and furthermore I had no ability to force them during this crucial period of time to undo the claim that I supported the legislation. It was clear to me at the time that the FNGA was a Chretien LEGACY project, and that the Aspers wanted this legislation to move ahead even if it meant telling lies about who supported it.

This fakery of my position was dishonesty on a scale that was unprecedented to me in the 6 years that I had been involed in and around with media as an activist and writer.

I will never believe a word the NP prints now since I know how dishonest they are willing to and capable of being.
If only a brave lawyer would use the evidence that is clearly out there, then we could get on with putting an end to this horror show!
if it walks like a conspiracy..talks like a conspiracy..its probably a conspiracy.
Express Collision Shop Said,

Dobell charged with lobbying without registering. Read Vancouver Sun online.

Hey, maybe more to come regarding lobbying activities and this trial and connections.
The Ken Dobell case will be passed over by Canwest as a minor offence under a provincial statute. No story here as they often do with the Gordon Campbell administration.

I am very concerned with the fact that the Special Prosecutor in Dobell's case saw fit to state that "...although the evidence supported a substantial liklihood of conviction, the public interest did not require a prosecution against Mr. Dobell."

First, a huge bouquet to Meaghan (somena woman) for that eye-witness account of working with a CanWest newspaper. People suspect these things but Meaghan provided the evidence. But apparently that doesn't stop big journalists from tossing off those weasel words: Conspiracy Theories. (Oops, sorry: "Conspiratorial musings"; and I'll have to look up Norman Spector's delicate etymology.)

Lynx, gary e, Express Collision Guy, and PG, how can I thank you for your contributions. They're invaluable. And they cheer me up.

Today I wasted a lot of time getting my eyes checked. Now I wait 7 days for new eyeglasses. Might cause a delay in that book review.

Tomorrow, if Bill Tieleman's forecast is borne out, there will be a Basi-Virk Hearing in Supreme Court (I'll confirm it in the morning if it's on the Court Listing) and, with luck, Robin will be able to attend.

But sooner or later, I'll get ASPER NATION reviewed and posted.

Former top advisor to Premier plans to plead guilty to charge
Mar, 10 2008 - 4:00 PM

VICTORIA/CKNW(AM980) - A former top advisor to Premier Gordon Campbell plans to plead guilty to a charge under the lobbyists registration act on Wednesday, but the liberals don't want to talk about the case.

Ken Dobell was charged with failing to register as a lobbyist today after a lengthy investigation by a special prosecutor.

But attorney-general Wally Oppal refuses to discuss the case saying it's before the courts--and bristled when it was suggested Dobell is under a cloud.

"Who said he's under a cloud?"

"Wait a minute, he said he's gonna plead guilty, why don't we wait until he gets into a courtroom?"

When reminded the government fired former aides Bobby Virk and David Basi long before their charges went to court.

"I didn't fire 'em."
Express Collision Shop Said'


More to come regarding power hungry,money grubbing,unethical,content consultants and friends. You all have read about some of the shenanegans of lobbyist's in this province. Over the last few years you have read on this site about ICBC and alleged connections and cozy relationships. Keep your eyeglass's on and you all will read a heck of a mess more.

Just a teaser, did anyone see global's(Ted Field)latest piece on ICBC and the couple from North Vancouver and their written off Honda van? It was sold through a used car dealer and repaired at ICBC's research and training center. They were in a serious front end accident and none of the airbags deployed.The couple were told by ICBC that the van had no previous damage. Rumour has it that plenty of illegal and criminal activities were going on at ICBC and oh yeah, even some repairs that the taxman would frown apon. Usually these activities are swept under the dirty rug,however in this case too many people are talking(some with the help of lawyers) and the media is on it. Well most of the media. Sometimes you have to hit them over the head and write the article for them. Seems that ICBC is going back 10 years and have contacted 174 owners of these vehicles. Who the heck is in charge of ICBC again?
Express Collision Shop Said,

Check out the related links on the Vancouver Sun's Dobell article. The special prosecutor's summary report can be downloaded. No kidding, and when I stop gagging,I will reread this mess and send a nasty email to Mr. Robertson. You have to read it to believe it. Lets not let this guy deal with any of the upcoming shenanegans.

"Trust us says Wally"
Hey i agree with the Express Shop, Robertson is out to lunch.
Hi Mary,

So now we have a premier that is a convicted criminal and his right hand man is soon to be a convicted criminal and even more possible charges of unlawful lobbying may pop up, we have Campbell’s brother-in-law scandal and we have not even started with the BC rail corruption trial.

If I were a government MLA I might want to stay clear of Campbell, as it may be dangerous to ones employment.
Express Collision Shop Said,

Hey! Back this train up a little bit (no pun intended). Deputy minister Jessica McDonald cleared Ken Dobell of any wrongdoing. I believe it was the same Jessica McDonald who cleared Paul Taylor of any wrongdoing with a special email last year. Just to be sure, Jessica hired KPMG to look into this email. The detailed report has still not been released. Mr. Smyth from a Province article today, guess's she will never make a good detective. I have to agree with Mr. Smyth.

On a side note, has anyone read about the former Attorney General and Governor of New York Eliot Spitzer and his fall of shame? Sleazy Politician.

I do wonder what the heck the liberal MLA's chat about when they get together. I have to wonder if anyone asks Gordon "What the heck is up with you and Dobell?" etc,etc,etc,etc and Gordon answers back "How about those Canucks?

Did you hear Wally ask about what cloud Mr. Dobell was under? I like to call it "Isolated Showers" That means it only rains around you, Political Karma.
Priceless, 11:32.

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