Monday, June 16, 2008


Conspiracy theories


By Robin Mathews

Gary Mason started it with a headline about "conspiracy theories" abounding in the BC Rail Scandal/ Basi, Virk, and Basi hearings-to-trial in the B.C. Supreme Court. (Globe and Mail June 14 08 S2) Tumbling out information that he seems only to have been able to acquire from a "secure source" (conspiracy theory?), Mason then conjectures (conspiracy theory?) that it is "astonishing" that Defence has been able to finger "key government documents" - as if, perhaps someone in back rooms "with an axe to grind" (like wanting to see justice done?) is pointing the way.

Then he wonders why Defence "seems so anxious to get premier Gordon Campbell into the witness box. And his chief of staff, Martyn Brown". Pardon? Is Mason kidding? He may not be kidding, but he may be obfuscating.

Saying that, I open a major "conspiracy theory" theme that won't go away. Is so-called "major" press/media muzzling information on the B.C. Rail Scandal and its courtroom face?
Looking at the reporting carefully, three things are pretty clear (to this conspiracy theorist). First. The material is often handled badly, as Gary Mason's Gordon Campbell remark is. He should, I believe, be telling his readers that a protocol for handling delicate cabinet documents was set up in 2004, and then was apparently violated by a close Campbell aide. Then in 2007 Campbell unilaterally changed the protocol without consultation - making what some believe is a political act to control documents required by the court. Defence wants Campbell and others on the stand to cross examine on those matters. There's no mystery. Is cabinet documentation that gets into court tainted? Intentionally? No "grandstanding". Nothing "potentially explosive" - except that Campbell's hand in the whole matter is "potentially explosive".

Secondly, serious commentary on the BC Rail Scandal and its courtroom face is miniscule. Mason uses the phrase "B.C.'s political trial of the century". That suggests it is a matter that needs concentrated attention from press and media. But it is getting - at best - slipshod coverage. Are all of the major private corporate press and media outlets (consciously or unconsciously) working for the Gordon Campbell cabinet - darling of privatization forces - and muzzling (when not killing) the story?

It has now become a celebrated conversation starter that The Vancouver Sun is capable of missing and not mentioning major events unfolding in the BC Rail Scandal. Very recently, it missed serious goings-on in the three-day, BC Court of Appeal action by the Crown (in "B.C.'s political trial of the century".)

When, a little earlier, the office of journalist Bill Tieleman was broken into (through the roof), his office chewed up, and a sign left that the break-in was about Tieleman's reporting of the BC Rail Scandal - the Vancouver Sun published not a word of the story. The CanWest communications operation in Canada has been criticized very widely as reactionary, over-bearing, and directive of publishing policy. (Read Marc Edge, ASPER NATION, Canada's most dangerous media company, New Star Books, 2007). CanWest's coverage of this matter has been, I believe - to say it mildly - shockingly irresponsible.

That takes us a step further - let's call it the third thing that's pretty clear (to this conspiracy theorist). The coverage by the major private corporate press and media of the BC Rail Scandal is the kind of coverage big capitalist media folk accord to a big capitalist government. What do I mean? I say with complete confidence that if the NDP were the government around which all the astonishing suspicions, rumours, facts, and allegations are swirling, the private corporate press and media would have devoted hugely more reporting, commentary, and analysis. The Vancouver Sun, I suggest, would have, by now, devoted at least 500% more space to the BC Rail Scandal than it has done.

Not only does Kirk Lapointe, managing editor, "manage" to have no reporters at major happenings, but editorials on the subject are almost non-existent, and the major political columnist for the Sun, Vaughn Palmer, steers completely clear of the issue or writes unimportantly about it. I call Vaughn Palmer "Gordon Campbell's personal representative at the Vancouver Sun", and the Sun failures on the BC Rail Scandal front give some punch to that humourous title.

There are other very, very serious suspicions - supported by the four and a half years of gumbo the BC Rail Scandal has been slogging through without a trial in sight. Those suspicions, by now, should have had investigative reporters from the Vancouver Sun, the Vancouver Province, the Victoria Times Colonist, BCTV (all CanWest operations), the Globe and Mail and other press and media bodies turning over the turf and finding important facts.

One area of suspicion involves the role of the RCMP. Its delay seems to some to have been (and to be) obstruction. Its investigative reach seems to be in question. Press and media could interview and question RCMP with impunity on its scope, structure, command hierarchy, assignment of officers, etc. etc.

The second area of suspicion involves the role of Liberal operatives not in the legislature. That is a huge field the press and media have had to work at to ignore. They have done almost nothing in that area where sub judice matters don't apply.

Of course, there is the matter of involved cabinet ministers past and present - who might well feature in major media with full biographies and reports of activities.

There are, of course, the lawyers involved in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case. By now shouldn't every British Columbian know their resumes, who they've worked for, how they became attached to the case, who their friends are -- and more?

Then there are the judges of the Supreme and Appeal courts. At the recent Court of Appeal action instigated by William Berardino, Special Crown Prosecutor, I was not satisfied with the response of the three Court of Appeal judges. The Crown's action seems to me to be merely vexatious, to be an appeal to take up time. (I, of course, may be wrong.) That the judges stated, according to Mark Hume of the Globe and Mail, that the appeal placed them in a unique dilemma surprised me.

The only thing unique about it to my eyes was whether they would find for the Crown and put the judge's expertise (Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett) in question, or whether they would find for Justice Bennett and put the Crown's intentions in question. But I see no dilemma in the appeal itself. I believe it should be dumped with all haste (in my ordinary layman's judgement) as an offense to the judge, to the Defence, to the concept of fair trial, open courts, and the rights of the accused.

And if the so-called ultimatum of the Crown then followed - that the case would stop unless Defence counsel can be excluded from pretrial testimony of a police officer, possibly involving the identity of an alleged (but by no means proved) "confidential informant"- so be it, and let the Crown answer for that kind of decision.

Who are the judges of the Supreme Court in any way involved in the BC Rail Scandal? Who are the judges of the BC Court of Appeal? What is their past? Where do they come from? Who appointed them? What key trials have they been involved with? We should all be able to refer to our recent press files to learn all we want to know. We can't.

And I say we can't because the private corporate press and media that serve British Columbia are failing the people of the Province in a massive way. Their failure is only a part of the reason (to quote Gary Mason) "there are lots of conspiracy theories as to why the case has become bogged down." A number of the other conspiracy theories may exist simply because a number of the suspected conspiracies, also, exist.

Thank you, Robin.


"One area of suspicion revolves around the RCMP ..." writes Robin.
In that regard, I'd like to mention a highly-praised documentary which may open a window for us, on the RCMP's methods of handling big, complex cases. On Sunday, June 22, CBC will broadcast a 96-minute documentary entitled AIR INDIA 182 in which one of the RCMP lead investigators speaks. To quote from Kim Bolan's article ("Air India film has audience in tears", Vancouver Sun June 16, 2008):

Retired RCMP Sgt. John Schneider first worked on the Air India file right after the bombing in 1985.

He later headed the Air India Task Force that brought Ripudaman Singh Malik and Ajaib Singh Bagri to trial. Both were later acquitted.

Schneider brought his wife and daughter to see the film in which he explains the difficulties of advancing the investigation of Canada's worst terrorist attack.

"I thought it was an excellent documentary. It was very factual, particularly about what the investigative agencies did and the suffering of the families," Schneider said. "The impact on the general public is going to be dynamite."

Gunnarsson [the film's author], who I helped with some of his early research for the film, wants his work to get the Air India bombing recognized as the devastating Canadian tragedy that it was.

He acknowledged the help of families who were willing to tell their stories to him. He also praised Sikh moderates, many of whom were in attendance, for fighting on the front-line in the fight against religious extremism in Canada.

Several watching the film, like Liberal MP Ujjal Dosanjh and Ross Street Sikh Temple president Kashmir Singh Dhaliwal, have continued to receive threats for speaking out.

Dhaliwal said Air India 182 "is the most excellent documentary I have ever seen in my life."


Excellent piece Robin.It gives a lot of food for thought to the MSM political pundits who do not appear to be doing their job. Of course this may be at the directive of the owners and/or the editors. I have noticed that Michael Smyth doesn't seem to be writing on this as much anymore. Can you tell us Mike if this is a directive from your boss? Or is it just coincidence. I know you wrote a few of good pieces a couple of weeks back.

And this.
"identity of an alleged (but by no means proved) "confidential informant"

Wasn't this a part of the reason Madam Justice Bennett found for the defence in this matter? And then the SP goes to the Appeal Court and still doesn't give evidence as to what makes this person a confidential informant. I mean, come on. The prosecutor wants everyone to trust him but he won't trust anyone. Christ! How stupid does he think everyone is?

My own personal conclusion is that the only person he is protecting here is the Premier himself. It has to be a political decision of the highest order. I can think of no one else so fsr connected to this case who would endanger their personal being. Only their political being.
1.MSM need not waste their time on events that have been placed under gag-orders and bans.
2.Events do not inclued BC Rail! When did this go from the raid on the legistlure, to BC Rail? This is just another fence, on top of a fence!
3.This is about police corruption, political interference and ORGANISED CRIME! Which by the way, runs this country!
4. Now you know who the campbell/coleman administation is protecting!
i was more interested in the bits of new information in the Mason story.

There is always more to this story than meets the eye.
That's so true, Anon 3:43, there seems to always be more to the story than meets the eye.

We'd be very strange people, if we didn't try to figure things out from the bits of new information coming our way.

It's very wrong of journalists to start chanting "Conspiracy theory!" Me, I think it's deliberate ... another way of saying "Just keep movin' along, folks, nuthin' to see here ..."

just wondering here BC Mary.....

Every day brings out the need to have yet another police investigation from the east coast of Canada's Spaniards Bay to Ottawa to Regina to Victoria.

FACT: "The RCMP has approximately 26,000 employees, including regular and civilian members, and Public Service Employees" .... of which there is no clearly stated fact of exactly how many RCMP officers there are in Canada.

Whether it be the "Bacon brothers", BC Legislative Raids, or road radar, just how long can these officers stay on top of doing their duty without burning out?

Remember MLA John Les, and his need to step down as the Solicitor-General of BC, because the RCMP were already into a nine month investigation of their boss... was that one police officer, 1/4 time police officer, four police officers...... who has a handle on whether or not the alledged bad guys eg. Basi/Virk court case is going down the tubes simply because there isn't enough manpower, in all of Canada, to send someone to testify at the courts when the trial finally begins?
This just shows you what a small world we live in. Along with Amar Bajwa, Kashmir Singh Dhaliwal was a member of the riding executive that Shinder Purewal put together, when he took over Herb Dhaliwal's riding association in 2002, allegedly with the help of David Basi.
Hi Mary,

If your a individual working in the press/media and you arrive at work every day knowing full well that you, your co-workers and the company you work for, are hurting the people of BC in a very significant way by not reporting the real news, then YOU as an individual are as corrupt as the Campbell government. Everyone has to bare personal responsibility for his or her actions in life and that very much includes what you do for a living. We all have known for a very long time now that saying to yourself and others that “I was only following orders” will not do, nor will “I was just a soldier” or “what can I do”? At some point the individual has to ask, I’m I going thru life with integrity, a social compass?

With an questionable government, justice system, police force, press/media…

anon 10:51,
And yes again!
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