Friday, October 31, 2008


BC Mary's Hallowe'en Treat

As in: TRICK OR TREAT. In the tradition of Hallowe'en fun, I hope you end up smiling:

"Old Fat Naked Women for Peace"

- BC Mary.


Is this off-topic? Yes. Is it allowable? Yes. Why? Call it Courtroom fatigue.
What good will this do? Might keep us from going berserk. OK? OK. - M.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008


Tip o'the Tuque to Harvey Oberfeld

What was it our parents always told us? "Virtue is its own reward"? "Honesty is the best policy?" Well, those old sayings don't have quite the thrilling trumpet-sound as our super-sized hero storming into the sorry B.C. media game. Imagine: a newsman with 38 years' experience, is going into battle for the profession he well understands. No fake sympathy! No "Yeah buts ..." No excuses! Harvey -- by reminding his colleagues of the job we expect them to do -- is showing us professional integrity, ethics, courage, and yes, love for British Columbia. So good on The Tyee!

And good on
you, Harvey Oberfeld! - BC Mary.


Former Global TV reporter giving regular spankings to BC media

Harvey Oberfeld is becoming the scourge of his former colleagues in television news, via the blog he launched a few months back. The latest target of his outrage: Global TV, his former employer, which comes in for a whacking because it paid $5,000 to the Vancouver police charity in order to secure an interview with rescued kidnap victim Graham McMynn.

"It is my own sad view that the news standards at Global TV (and some other current major media as well) are not what they used to be. But payment for an interview surprised even me! I hope other news stations do not follow Global's precedent. I hear CTV was approached but refused to pay. I applaud that decision," blogs the award-winning, 38-year veteran political news reporter, now retired.

In the same item, he wickedly suggests a fees-to-charity rate scale for further interview buys. "Candidate for any public office $500 (20-second clip)... and no questions asked." Talking to a convicted criminal? That's should fetch $5000.

Oberfeld was early to assail local television stations CTV, Global and CHEK for giving Premier Campbell, who refused to open the legislature, free air time to give his speech last week.

Oberfeld then scolded radio station CKNW for "hyping" the premier's message in six hours of special coverage the next day, and in a third post he slammed the same outlets for "adding insult to injury" by giving Opposition leader Carole James' address short shrift a few nights later.

Oberfeld's "Keeping it Real" blog is hardly the home of delicate nuance. A sample: "By carrying the whole speech inside their 'news' programs, I would call CTV, Global, and CHEK the premier's private 'whores' … but I would in fact, be wrong. Because apparently they didn't even get paid for their air time. Did they just give it away? That just makes it all worse.... and makes them political sluts, not whores."

But in a province whose corporate media players are shy about keeping each other honest on ethics and bias, Oberfeld is emerging as a credible voice of conscience.

David Beers is editor of The Tyee. And I think he'll be OK if I post his entire comment.

- BC Mary.



If $2.6Billion a year can destabilize regional European governments, wouldn't $6Billion a year destabilize the BC government?

West Africa sending $2.6 billion in cocaine to Europe
Says seizures of drug double each year

Published: Wednesday, October 29, 2008

PRAIA, Cape Verde -- West African smugglers are shipping $2.6 billion worth of Andean cocaine a year to European Union countries and becoming a powerful criminal network that threatens to destabilize regional governments, the United Nations said yesterday.

"The threat is spreading through the region, turning the Gold Coast into the Coke Coast," Antonio Maria Costa, executive director of the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said in a report released yesterday at a conference here. "West Africa is at risk of becoming an epicentre for drug trafficking and the crime and corruption associated with it."

At least 45 tonnes of South American cocaine crosses the Atlantic and winds up in Mali, Nigeria and Senegal every year. Most of the haul, which the UN calls the "tip of the iceberg," is carried to Western Europe on commercial flights. African criminal gangs then distribute it around the continent from their main transit points in the U.K., France and Spain.

{Snip} ...

About 1,350 couriers have been caught en route to Europe since 2004.


British Columbia's cash trade per annum in marijuana alone is $6Billion.



Hip-bone connected to the ... thigh-bone

Les investigators met Vernon mayor in jail

CTV - Oct. 20 2008

The RCMP investigation into the land deals of B.C.'s former solicitor general has expanded to Vernon, B.C., with officers meeting a disgraced former Vernon mayor in his jail cell, CTV News has learned.

Former Vernon mayor Sean Harvey told two officers in a meeting in the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre that John Les was a "silent partner" in a plan to remove the protections around some agricultural land in the area and pave the way for development.

Harvey -- who resigned after pleading guilty to breach of trust for cheating on his city expense account in 2005 -- wouldn't speak to CTV News on camera, but said he met Les in 2004.
{SNIP} ...

The RCMP is investigating Les's involvement in land deals in the Chilliwack area. CTV News learned that one of those properties was on Rosebank Place, and another was on Bell Road.

In both cases, Les was a director of a numbered company that acquired land within the protected Agricultural Land Reserve and subdivided the land into lucrative housing lots.

Harvey said his meeting with Les also included officials with the Chilliwack Cattle Sales company.

The meeting was about removing property near Vernon from the ALR for development, he said. Some of that property was later purchased by numbered companies connected to the Chilliwack Cattle Sales company.

{Snip} ...

Meanwhile, Les's political life has been disrupted for six months and he remains outside of cabinet. Police say they have laid no charges, and won't give a deadline for when charges could possibly be laid.

"These investigations do take time," said Const. Annie Linteau. "It's important that they are conducted well and I do ask for the public's patience."



Ontario takes aim at disruptive lawyers

Quote: "Now that criminal trials have become long and complex, leading members of the bar are avoiding them, and the damage caused by less experienced or able members of the bar conducting these trials is much greater," says the draft, obtained by The Globe and Mail".

A law expanded to include any person, government, department or institution knowingly delaying any trial should be welcomed in British Columbia right now. Although the Ontario review is directed at Legal Aid cases, it's fair to ask whether public interest cases such as Basi-Virk / BC Rail should be understood in the same way, given that an enormous legal bill resulting from delayed disclosure could descend upon the B.C. taxpayers at some point in the future. - BC Mary.


Ontario review takes aim at disruptive lawyers

Globe and Mail - October 29, 2008

An Ontario review aimed at stopping the spread of costly, runaway criminal trials is set to recommend that inept or disruptive lawyers be cut off legal aid funding and subjected to harsh professional discipline.

A draft copy of the sweeping report also suggests that obstreperous litigants who represent themselves in court be "physically removed" if they disrupt their trial, and that police and prosecutors be issued strict deadlines for disclosing evidence to the defence.

The draft report, commissioned last February by Ontario Attorney-General Chris Bentley, warns that tough action is needed to salvage the justice system's reputation from the antics of inexperienced or irresponsible lawyers who hijack trials.

"Now that criminal trials have become long and complex, leading members of the bar are avoiding them, and the damage caused by less experienced or able members of the bar conducting these trials is much greater," says the draft, obtained by The Globe and Mail.

{Snip} ...

Mr. LeSage and Prof. Code point a finger of blame for run-on trials at legislators, who have added layer after layer to the law books. "The new legislation in these areas is complex, unfamiliar and untested - and it has led to lengthy new proceedings," they said.

The draft report was also critical of the Law Society of Upper Canada for taking a hands-off approach to lawyers who have perverted the court system with disruptive or incompetent behaviour.

"We encountered widespread dismay - if not outright cynicism - amongst members of the judiciary on the subject of LSUC discipline in this area," Mr. LeSage and Prof. Code said. "There is a widespread perception that the LSUC does little or nothing in response to courtroom misconduct."

However, they pinned much of the responsibility on a mass exodus of top lawyers who cannot afford to work for legal aid's grossly inadequate fees.

(Senior lawyers typically charge paying clients between $300 and $500 an hour. Under a legal aid certificate, the best they could hope for is $98 an hour.)

"We are trapped in a vicious circle," Mr. LeSage and Prof. Code observed. They said nobody is riding herd on the small coterie of defence lawyers - some of whom may be long on years, but short on sound judgment and experience with complex proceedings - who elongate trials with endless motions and no-hope legal strategies.



Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Corruption trial begins Jan. 2009, says LINK

The Indo-Canadian newspaper, THE LINK, has an editor with a refreshing way of saying what he thinks. He thinks the trial of Basi, Virk, Basi is "potentially explosive". He thinks it's "the BC Liberals" who are "not forthcoming with information sought by the lawyers of their former party aides". He thinks that "the corruption trial of the two former Indo-Canadian BC Liberal insiders, will likely begin in January 2009." Many thanks to THE LINK.

- BC Mary.

South Asian LINK - October 28, 2008

VANCOUVER – After numerous delays, mostly due to the BC Liberals not forthcoming with information sought by the lawyers of their former party aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, the corruption trial of the two former Indo-Canadian BC Liberal insiders, will likely begin in January 2009.

The case has dragged on since the 2003 police raid on the British Columbia Legislature, where Basi, Virk and Basi’s cousin Aneal Basi have been charged with various criminal offences. The case has been tied up in pretrial hearings over disclosure issues that have caused frequent delays.

{Snip} ...

... It has long been speculated that the trial could disclose politically damaging material.

William Berardino, the special prosecutor, told Judge Bennett that he thought the decks could be cleared for a January start.

{Snip} ...


Saturday, October 25, 2008


Is Organized Crime controlling the press?


Time seems to have taken on new characteristics lately. Events are moving so fast, they tumble over one another, get mixed, get left unresolved. Things that happened yesterday ought decently to take a decade, a century to unfold. Not any more.

Let me talk a bit. It might help.

Others may have been impressed recently by a lovely, strong young woman named Naomi Wolf. Author of 8 books, she is now raising the alarm about the state of the democracy in her country. Probably like others, I wasn't convinced but I was watching. She believes that the U.S. will go into crisis around the time of the U.S. election on Nov. 4, which will create the conditions for a massive smash-down of the U.S. population followed by the dictatorship of ... George W. Bush ... with Obama's election canceled. Somehow, after observing Dubya for 8 years, and especially what has happened to the U.S. media (remember those Weapons of Mass Destruction? and "Mission Accomplished"?), I wasn't rejecting her warnings either.

And so, yesterday ...

In yesterday's Globe and Mail, the leading editorial was headlined "A Premier Who Planned Ahead". It was all about G. Campbell. I couldn't believe it. Planned ahead? He had just demolished the Coquihalla Toll buildings right after renovating them? He had just thrown away the highway toll money while raising fares on BC Ferries? Like ... neglected or closed hospitals, schools, courthouses, children, seniors ... that premier? The Globe editorial was so mistaken, I was shocked. Could Naomi Wolf be right?

I know it's true that just before the federal election, The Globe had endorsed Harper as Canada's new prime minister. But this unabashed adulation for British Columbia's most hated premier was one wild leap into the unknown yonder. What were the editors thinking? But there it was: The Globe was obviously preparing to endorse for re-election the cruellest premier British Columbia has ever known. The premier who would sell the farm to build a circus. Or, more precisely, who would sell BC Rail to build a Convention centre. It was like there's an octopus of right-wing Harper/Bush/KarlRove/TomFlanagan/Campbell convergence wrapping us tight in its grip.

Then I read Harvey Oberfeld's blog. Harvey is the middle-of-the-road, respected and seasoned journalist, now retired but still caring. And yesterday he was passionately denouncing his former colleagues at CKNW, CTV, Global, and CHEK for failing to recognize that THE NEWS is a sacred trust; telling them in no uncertain terms that they had done serious injury to their own reputations by interrupting a NEWS program with 12 minutes of free TV political self-promotion by gordon Campbell (while locking the journalists up until it was too late for any opposition response to be published).

Good for Oberfeld, I thought, because it really was outrageous. Somebody had to say it. That's when I saw the octopus again: Oberfeld's is the only voice in the MSM to speak out in horror against this manipulated worship at Campbell's muddy feet. Bill Good did respond to Oberfeld on air, but only to defend Campbell again. Oberfeld had offered Big Media a way out. They could have apologized, promised to do fairer, less biased work. They didn't. It was sure as heck, the octopus growing bigger, stronger, ready to crush the life out of anything within its reach.

Next I hear Naomi Wolf ... I'll paste her YouTube below ... where she's describing the 10 danger signs of a crumbling democracy. Taking over the media is No. 7 on her list of sure signs of the death of free speech. She's urging her U.S. countrymen to "rise up" and say NO. To rise up and say NO before the octopus squeezes the life out of them.

I thought Canada was safer because we're saner. We still knew how to think for ourselves, I thought. But yesterday's events showed me that there may soon be only one point of view allowed. That was yesterday's news for me.

Yesterday's news was that there will be no other voices left in Big Media to speak freely -- that only the point of view of Harper/StockwellDay/TomFlanagan/GordonCampbell will be allowed. Naomi Wolf may be right.

All of a sudden, in this speeded-up universe, I think I saw the free press (the necessary basis of a democratic society) come under a united attack. Or had the free press already been attacked? Were they simply displaying the symptoms of their sudden collapse into willingness to conform? How else can we explain the overnight capture of every major news outlet in Canada?

Then I got thinking. Yes, politicians are supposed to be the guardians of a free society; therefore our elected politicians are responsible. But maybe there are guns being pointed at their heads? Like, we know for example that there's a $6Billion/year illegal marijuana commerce in BC ... so how come nobody ever mentions that? How come nobody mentions Organized Crime when it's known that Organized Crime has an enormous presence throughout the world, and especially in Vancouver? Isn't that Clue #1?

Here's a quote dated Sept. 7, 2000. A newly-appointed RCMP commissioner spoke at his first Ottawa press conference: "For the first time in this country," Guiliani Zaccardelli said, "we are seeing signs of criminal organizations that are so sophisticated that they are focusing on destabilizing certain aspects of our society. There are criminal organizations that target the destabilization of our parliamentary system ..." [P.14, Dispersing the fog, Inside the secret world of Ottawa and the RCMP. By Paul Palango. Published Oct. 2008].

Another warning came from another significant RCMP press conference on 29 Dec., 2003:

RCMP raid followed organized crime probe
Updated Mon. Dec. 29 2003 News Staff

An organized crime investigation involving the cross-border drug trade led RCMP to raid the offices of two senior cabinet ministers, according to an RCMP spokesperson.

The offices of B.C. Finance Minister Gary Collins and Transportation Minister Judith Reid were raided on Sunday. However, police stress Reid and Collins are not suspects.

"Sometimes in the course of a complex and lengthy police investigation, other related and unrelated information surfaces suggesting possible criminal activity," Sgt. John Ward told a news conference.

"This was the case with the RCMP and the Victoria police department investigation into organized crime.

"As a result of drug information and organized crime, other information came to light and another investigation was begun," said Ward.

Corruption can and often does guide public affairs. Therefore, it's only logical to ask if Canada's media has come under the control of Organized Crime, isn't it? To prevent the NEWS from reaching the people?

How different is that, really, from stalling, delaying, and ragging the puck in the Basi-Virk case? Saddam Hussein was caught, charged, convicted and hung within 3 years. Somehow B.C. just can't seem to settle down and hear the trial of 3 accused B.C. government aides within 5 years. Yeah?

A tremendous burden of responsibility is shifting onto the shoulders of citizens to invent ways of finding, supplying and receiving the news. We must keep the light shining on issues like Basi-Virk / BC Rail and upon a government which, allegedly in its own defense, has kept hanging back for 5 years.

We must keep asking why.

Keep asking. Keep asking.

Like, why would the respected old Ontario Globe and Mail be stepping up to polish the tarnished image of Gordon Campbell right now? Why? - BC Mary.


Watch Naomi Wolf on YouTube:
as she discusses the evolution of U.S.A. from a functioning democracy into a closed, fear-driven society with a terrifying absence of due process. She says that all dictatorships whether of the extreme left or extreme right, follow the same 10 steps to end a democracy. She shows her countrymen how close they are to completing the 10 steps.
Canadians please note: control of the press is No. 7 on her list.

- BC Mary.


Wednesday, October 22, 2008


"Government is seeking to withhold evidence ..."

Gazetteer has left a new comment on "Mark Hume says: Corruption trial for political aides set to start in January":

Regardless of the dates, this business of the CONTINUED suppression of hundreds of documents due to government claims of 'solicitor/client privilege' is just ridiculous all these years later.

Because if even one single, solitary solicitor-client privilege-protected document contains information regarding matters of 'innocence at stake', as has already been defined by the presiding Justice in the case, it is, in my opinion, a travesty of justice (not to mention stonewalling on an epic scale that would make even the ghost of Richard Nixon's jaw drop).

But you don't have to take my word for it. Instead, you can just revisit the conclusory sentences from a most excellent editorial in the Victoria Times-Colonist from February of 2008:

"....there is no requirement that solicitor-client privilege be maintained; it is not law. The government is not a defendant in these proceedings.

"It (the government) could choose to be open, transparent and co-operative and provide the evidence.

"Instead, it is seeking to withhold the evidence."

Posted by Gazetteer to The Legislature Raids at October 22, 2008


Tuesday, October 21, 2008


Mark Hume says: Corruption trial for political aides set to start in January


The Globe and Mail - October 21, 2008

VANCOUVER -- A political corruption trial that stems from a 2003 police raid on the British Columbia Legislature appears set for a January start.

The case against three former government employees - Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi - has been tied up in pretrial hearings over disclosure issues that have caused frequent delays.

But Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett of the Supreme Court of B.C. made it clear yesterday that she expects all those issues to be dealt with during a three-week hearing starting Nov. 24.

"What I want to do is have all of the disclosure issues dealt with by the end of this year," she said.

That would see the potentially explosive trial get under way before the next provincial election, which takes place in May.

{Snip} ...

It has long been speculated that the trial could disclose politically damaging material.

William Berardino, the special prosecutor, told Judge Bennett that he thought the decks could be cleared for a January start.

"There are some extraneous issues ... [but] they are not major issues," he said.

Janet Winteringham, a member of the prosecution's team, told court that there has been substantial progress concerning the release of 1,500 documents, covered by privilege, to which the defence seeks access.

"Out of the 1,500 that were at issue we are down to just over 400 that have yet to be resolved," she said, and lawyers are continuing to meet outside court to discuss those documents.

Much of the material was subject to claims of privilege because it involved cabinet documents or was covered by solicitor-client privilege. Privilege has been waived for most of the material.

Michael Bolton, a lawyer for Dave Basi, said there has been progress but there are still some matters to be dealt with.

"We received about 10 days ago a banker's box ... of material [from the Crown] that we have been seeking for a long time," he told court. "We're pleased to get that ... [but] we need to work out what [material] remains outstanding."


Monday, October 20, 2008


Basi-Virk clippings for Oct. 20/08


Basi-Virk political corruption case heading back to court

Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - October 20, 2008
Also Global TV - Oct. 20, 2008

Vancouver - The case involving three former government aides accused of corruption was briefly in court Monday to review the progress of documents being disclosed to the defence.

The trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett, said she wants all the disclosure issues resolved by the end of the year, which will be the fifth anniversary of the police raid on the legislature on Dec. 28, 2003.

The court set a pre-trial conference for 9:15 a.m. on Nov. 19 to sort out the issues regarding a disclosure application to be heard over a three-week period beginning Nov. 24.

{Snip} ...

The judge set a series of deadlines for the Crown and defence to submit written material before the Nov. 24 hearing.


BASI-VIRK - 3 weeks set aside for pre-trial hearing on disclosure of over 400 documents that are still disputed evidence

Bill Tieleman

Justice Elizabeth Bennett has set aside three weeks of BC Supreme Court time starting November 24 to deal with a pre-trial hearing on disputed disclosure of evidence in the BC Legislature Raid case.

Bennett heard from the Special Prosecutors Janet Winteringham and Bill Berardino that they have worked with defence lawyers for David Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi - all charged with corruption counts - to reduce the number of disputed documents where disclosure will be contested in court.

"Of 1500 documents we're down to just over 400 to be litigated," Winteringham told Bennett.

{Snip} ...



Oct. 20 in Supreme Court: Basi-Virk trial could happen anytime - anytime AFTER the next BC election!

By Robin Mathews

Courtroom 67 held 9 counsel and 6 observers in the gallery. The 10:15 meeting began at 10:25 with a formally bibbed Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett on the bench, staring from owlish glasses. It would be wrong, I think, to say she presides. Rather, she occupies the judge's place in the room as the case muddies and muddles around her.

The Crown presented a single sheet of scheduling for times into late November when materials will be (?) placed in the hands of Defence and Defence will respond. That sheet should have been copied and available to all the gallery. All in the gallery are deeply concerned with the matters involved. The schedule should not have to be asked for. Madam Justice Bennett (as I have said before) lets the hearing proceed as if it is a Civil case (between two parties). This is not a Civil case. It is a Criminal case - a case of the deepest interest to all British Columbians because the right of the Gordon Campbell government to exist is in serious question.

That means every piece of legislation presently being passed by the Campbell government may be illegal. That means every piece of information concerning the Basi, Virk, and Basi case that can be put into the hands of the British Columbia public should be put in its hands. The opposite is the case. My assessment is that Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett prevents information from falling into the hands of its real owners - the people of British Columbia.

Perhaps we should remember that at the end of the famous NDP Premier Glen Clark case - which I call "the fraudulent investigation and trial of Glen Clark" ("presided" over by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett), former premiers Bill Vander Zalm and Dave Barrett called for a Public Inquiry. It didn't happen.

Those with sharp memories will remember that in the Vancouver Sun (March 3, 04, A3) more than four years ago Ian Mulgrew, columnist, described Mr. Justice Patrick Dohm's handling of the search warrants covering the legislature "raids" (Basi,Virk, and Basi), and the "public right to know" in scathing terms. Dohm's actions in regard to the raids on the legislature Mulgrew called "a whitewash". Dohm made "rulings that run in the face of Canadian jurisprudence", Mulgrew wrote, and Dohm was guilty of "ignoring the public interest and the deleterious effects these allegations are having on the integrity of the political process".

As the French say: "the more things change the more they are the same".

Turn a little away for a moment. The Public Inquiry into the Robert Dziekanski taser death at the hands of RCMP officers in the Vancouver International Airport exactly one year ago has been delayed because the Crown cannot get the simple facts together to say if there will be a criminal trial or not of the RCMP officers involved. Who is the Crown here? It is Wally Oppal, Attorney General, in fact. He is the not-independent servant of Gordon Campbell, I'd say. Remember that Gordon Campbell expressed concern for the officers involved in Dziekanski's death! Just as RCMP Commissioner (apparently a relation of Brian Mulroney), William Elliott did. Could the delays in the Robert Dziekanski business and the Basi, Virk, and Basi case share a family resemblance?

And could the family resemblance be that to expose the facts to the full light of day would expose seriously criminal actions by politicians in power and RCMP officers at high levels?

The RCMP, we know from a Pivot Legal access to information application, not only attempted to influence a talk show on the Vancouver Safe Injection Site, but also devoted budget to producing biased "information" against the site that could be used by federal Minister of Health, Tony Clement. RCMP Deputy Commissioner Bass alleges ignorance of the very very dubious activities and, yes!, is holding another RCMP investigation of the RCMP (as happened with the Ian Bush killing, with the Kelly Marie Richard Dental Malpractice Case in Calgary, and with many others). The RCMP investigations almost never find wrong-doing by RCMP officers and when they do, discipline and/or punishment is laughable.

So we are offered the possibility that "the Crown" in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case may not only be
(by design) failing to pursue the matters before it, but may, as well, be incompetent. Denied information that we should have as British Columbians to make judgements, yet we can wonder how the Crown is going to manage "third party interests" (which I earlier argued do not even exist), how it will deal (on-going) with the getting of information from the RCMP, with proceeds of crime matters, with so-called secret witness matters, and a galaxy of witnesses so numerous they could staff an anti-Olympic Games rally.

For those with the stomach, the next court sitting is on November 17 or 19th. Chatter at the edges of the arena suggests the trial could happen anytime - AFTER the next B.C. Election. As the road signs say all over B.C. - "EXPECT DELAYS". And as British Columbians are becoming aware, more and more - justice delayed is justice denied.



Basi-Virk confirmed: 9:15 AM today

Confirmed in BC Supreme Court Listings: Case #23299 continues today beginning at 9:15 AM. Today's episode seems to be all about Disclosure, Disclosure, Disclosure, with this interesting tag: "See Para 182-200 in Notice of Application dated 26 February 2007 for details".

- BC Mary.


Friday, October 17, 2008


Headlines we need to see

With another Basi-Virk / BC Rail pre-trial hearing on Monday October 20, 2008 at 9:15 AM, I'd like to see some headlines like this in Vancouver Sun, The Province, and Victoria Times Colonist:


Leonard Krog, as Opposition justice critic, knows that certain added bonuses will automatically go to CN at the 5-year anniversary on July 12, 2009. It's important for the public to know what that's about and whether we approve or not ... but the problem is: the deal is still secret. The trial will open these documents. Krog knows that the government and/or the Special Prosecutor have a few other documents necessary to the Defence team. He is the logical person to stand up and speak for the people of B.C., demanding that the Crown and/or the Campbell government do their part to get the BC Rail trial moving.

See: Hansard Debates
February 28, 2007 - Afternoon sitting
Volume 15, Number 3

Oral Questions


L. Krog: Yesterday the Attorney General refused to answer questions about the role his government played in the B.C. Rail scandal investigation. We know that there were leaks of confidential commercial information. We know that the Roberts Bank spur line deal was cancelled and taxpayer dollars were wasted. We know that criminal charges have been laid against B.C. Liberal political staffers. We know that the B.C. Liberals took massive political donations from CN. We know that several cabinet ministers sat on the committee charged with overseeing negotiations, but now none of those cabinet ministers will talk about their role and what they knew.

Will the Attorney General commit today to hold a public inquiry into the sell-off of B.C. Rail as soon as the criminal proceedings conclude so that B.C. taxpayers can finally get the answers they deserve?

Hon. W. Oppal: I'll reiterate the advice given to us by the special prosecutor through the Deputy Attorney General, and that is: it is not appropriate to comment publicly on any allegations made in this case that is before the court.

As a former judge of the Supreme Court, I can tell you, the members of this House, that there is a very grave danger of prejudice to a fair trial by continually discussing this issue, and the member there well knows that. The member who asked that question is a member of the bar, and he should know better than to ask that question.

Mr. Speaker: Before we continue, Member, yesterday the member for Malahat–Juan de Fuca was advised of the sub judice of the proceedings which are taking place, so I am going to advise you of the same.

Member continues with a supplemental.

L. Krog: Yes, thank you, hon. Speaker. I won't ask the question directly, but I will say, through you to the Attorney General, that this is a situation that cries out for a public inquiry. The taxpayers of British Columbia deserve a public inquiry, and I am again asking the Attorney General to commit to this House that as soon as the criminal proceedings are concluded, there will be a public inquiry held so that B.C. taxpayers get the answers they deserve about this matter.

Hon. W. Oppal: It would be totally inappropriate for me to comment and speculate as to what may take place in the future after a trial.

Mr. Speaker: Member for Vancouver–Mount Pleasant. Is this a new line of questioning?

J. Kwan: It's a question for the Premier.

Mr. Speaker: Continue.

J. Kwan: I am sorry to hear that the Attorney General doesn't understand that a public inquiry into this matter is essential for everyone in British Columbia.

Mr. Speaker: Member, we have to be very careful where we're going here. I think, with the advice of the Attorney General, that we have to be very, very careful, and I'm advising you once again.


J. Kwan: I fully understand that. My question is not about the court case. My question to the Premier is: will the Premier not show some leadership? Will he not commit to a full public inquiry after the court case into the B.C. Rail scandal? Or does the issue or the principle of double standard apply, and that trumps public interest?

Mr. Speaker: Member, this is the same line of questioning. I think we have to take a certain amount of advice from the Attorney General, in the fact that he was a Supreme Court judge and in the fact of where we're going. We can't go down the same line of questioning, because we are in an area that I think is going to cause some grief, as the Attorney General has said.

Does the member have something different that doesn't infer anything to do with the court case?

M. Farnworth: To the Premier: will he call a public inquiry, once all court cases and proceedings are over, into this matter?

Mr. Speaker: Next question.


Another headline I'd like to see:


Dream story: Leonard Krog is dedicating his remaining months in the Legislature to demanding that the Campbell Government supply the documents requested by the Defence lawyers. On behalf of the people of B.C., Krog will passionately demand that they stop stalling and get the trial into action. He will travel every corner of B.C., and at every opportunity, will tell citizens the awful truth.

See YouTube - MLAs Scott Fraser & Leonard Krog on the BC Rail
  1. Scandal

    21 Jul 2008 ... MLA Scott Fraser along with MLA Leonard Krog discuss the latest on the Basi/Virk BC Rail scandal, in light of the attempted cover up by the ... - 59k -

One more dream headline ...

Grateful Province celebrates Leonard Krog Day

Why not?

Or (just kidding) ...


In which Dave Basi goes back through his busy schedule and tells everything he knows about BC Rail from the day he was hired by Gary Collins. Go Basi go! And he does. He tells us whose big fat idea it was, to sell BCRail. Basi explains how the premier thought it was OK to double-cross the voters who believed him when he said "Elect me and I will never sell BC Rail." How did he work that one out, Dave?

Basi tells us how BC's railway sale was offered ... Who directed the search for buyers ... Who set the terms ... What reason Basi had for arranging his boss' dinner at Vila del Luppa with a prospective buyer. Basi admits that Collins did offer Omnitrax a Consolation Prize (i.e., Roberts Bank). Ha. Then Basi carefully explains why it was necessary to keep the final BCR agreement secret. And lots, lots more.


What headlines would you like to see in your newspaper or TV news? - BC Mary.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Kim Bolan explains how to get docs from BC Supreme Court, and the costs involved

The public's right to know: priceless

Kim Bolan
Vancouver Sun

As an investigative reporter, I am often searching court databases for cases involving people I am writing about. When I want to get copies of some of those public records, it can be trying and expensive.

Did you know that the B.C. Supreme Court does not have its civil files entered in one data base? So you have to physically go to the Vancouver registry or the New Westminster registry or wherever else you need to go to search files by hand. Every file search costs $8. If we want to photocopy anything, it costs $1 a page. Files can run you hundreds of dollars - ridiculous costs when a fundamental principal of our judiciary is openness.

The Federal Court of Canada Vancouver office is very accommodating. They don't charge a search fee and photocopies can be had for 40 cents a page. But I still blew $700 there recently so that I could get documents about the Hells Angels and UN gang's tax battles with the Canada Revenue Agency.

By contrast, there is one massive U.S. court data base that anyone can access online 24-7. We get civil files, criminal cases, exhibits - even reference letters written for criminals by Canadian MPs - all for the bargain basement price of 8 cents a page!

So we can write these detailed stories about Americans or Canadians charged in the U.S., while we have very limited and very expensive access in our own country.

B.C. Supreme Court photocopies: $1 a page; Federal Court of Canada photocopies: 40 cents; The public's right to know: priceless.


Reprinted here by kind permission of "Sun & Province Info-Line".

See also on this blog (type this into the search box, above left): Transcripts may be available next week, in which Robin Mathews, while reporting on the Basi-Virk / BC Rail case, also describes this BC Supreme Court process for obtaining court documents.


Monday, October 13, 2008


A turning point for one nest of public corruption

Look up ... way up ... look what's going on way up in Alaska. Compare it with what's going on in British Columbia.

See the film footage of U.S. Police in 2006 hauling boxes of files out of Alaska's state legislature. Heck, we did that back in 2003. Then read about Alaska putting 3 legislators on trial for bribery ... just like that! See how the three legislators have been
convicted of bribery charges! And two of them are cooperating with prosecutors!!

Not only that, but the results were made public
-- public!! -- last Friday, already!! Can you believe what your eyes are reading?

Meantime, British Columbia has this dragbutt Gong Show in BC Supreme Court which is all about "pre-trial hearings" but no trial. Our 3 accused persons are not even legislators. These underlings were scheduled for trial in June 2006 but it's never mentioned in court anymore. Backstage wimps moan about dismissal and Charter challenges. How dismal is that. How embarrassing. You wouldn't want to be the B.C. delegate to the next Wiping Out Corruption Convention with only the Basi-Virk story to report.

So let's watch Alaska. Let's see if we can figure out what they call "growing up". After all, B.C. has had 150 years to grow up, while Alaska has had 50 years. So how hard can it be ... if the players really want to put an end to public corruption.

- BC Mary


Alaska’s Growing Pains
Sarah Palin Had Signaled Reform for Alaska -- Before Troopergate

By Laura McGann
The Washington Independent - 10/13/08

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – As one of the most successful newcomers in Alaska’s political arena, Gov. Sarah Palin should have known better than to get into an ethics scandal right now.

The mood of the public in Alaska has been changing, gradually, but noticeably in the last few years. Palin was one of the first to catch on to it — seeing an opening in 2006 when she won an upset victory for governor.

A few years ago, an Alaska official who pursued a personal vendetta in office might not have drawn the ire of the state’s legislature. Voters would have looked the other way. But Alaska seems to have gained a new political maturity.

Palin ran for governor on a reform platform that proved widely appealing. She knocked out the state’s sitting governor, Frank Murkowski, in the GOP primary and defeated a well-known former governor, Tony Knowles, in the general election. Knowles campaigned on “experience” — which effectively tied him to the old guard, though it was the GOP that was embroiled in scandal. That year, voters elected four Democrats to replace Republicans in the state House and Senate.

Just consider the last governor, Murkowski. He had a successful political career spanning many decades, as both a U.S. senator and governor, but he was ultimately punished at the polls in 2006 for appearing to put his own interests and those of oil companies before the state’s.

While Murkowski was flying around Alaska in a private jet, a clique of state lawmakers embraced the nickname the “Corrupt Bastards Club,” because of their alleged cash-for-votes relationship with an oil services firm, Veco Corp. The group had baseball caps made, on Veco’s dime, with their “CBC” insignia embroidered on the back.

The CBCers eventually found themselves in trouble with the law. The FBI raided 12 legislative offices in 2006, as part of a broad investigation into ties between state and federal lawmakers and Veco Corp., whose former chief executive, Bill Allen, and former vice president, Rick Smith, have pleaded guilty to federal bribery charges. No surprise, the legislature wasn’t exactly worrying about lapses in the governor’s mansion.

Since the raids, three state legislators have been convicted of bribery charges over ties to Veco. Allen and Smith are cooperating with prosecutors.

Sen. Ted Stevens, now on trial for failing to list $250,000 in gifts from Veco on Senate disclosure forms, and who was re-elected by Alaska voters in 2002 with 78 percent of the vote, is in a dead heat with his Democratic rival. The state’s lone U.S. congressman, Rep. Don Young, who has spent about $1 million in legal fees this year fighting off a federal corruption probe, is trailing his Democratic competitor by nine points.

This summer, when news broke that Palin may have unethically fired her commissioner of public safety, Walt Monegan, over a long-standing family feud with her ex-brother-in-law, the legislature acted swiftly. They hired a well-respected former Alaska prosecutor, with 28 years experience in the Anchorage district attorney’s office, Steve Branchflower, to handle the investigation. Branchflower’s 236-page report was released Friday to the public by a unanimous vote of the legislative committee.

The 2006 Juneau shakeup, the federal lawmaker’s drop in the polls and the Troopergate investigation reveal a transformation under way in this young state. Alaska, only 50 years old this year, is starting to grow up.


Branchflower’s report found that Palin violated a state ethics law by overseeing a coordinated effort to get her ex-brother-in-law, Michael Wooten, fired from his job as a state trooper. Palin ultimately fired her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, after he wouldn’t oust Wooten, despite being pressured by the governor’s husband, Todd, as well as multiple state officials, including the state attorney general. Todd Palin also pressured Monegan’s replacement on the same issue.

Branchflower exonerated the governor on her final decision to fire Monegan, though his refusal to oust Wooten was likely a factor in his removal.

While Troopergate serves as another example of an Alaska lawmaker embroiled in an ethics scandal, it is also strong evidence of a sea change in the state.

It’s been more than 20 years since the legislature asserted itself so aggressively in an ethics matter. This summer the legislature recognized there is less appetite for corruption in Alaska than before.

“It was just over two years ago that the FBI raided the legislative offices in Anchorage and Juneau,” said state Sen. Hollis French, the Anchorage Democrat who headed the Troopergate investigation. “Since that time the state’s been very alert to ethical lapses in government.”

The state legislature approved hiring Branchflower to investigate the matter in June, three months before Sen. John McCain tapped Palin for the GOP ticket.

Branchflower, now retired, served as an assistant D.A in Alaska for 28 years. He spent much of his career evaluating cases submitted by police and state troopers, determining whether the D.A.’s office would take them up. In that role, he made deals left and right, while staying focused on the case at hand, an Anchorage lawyer who has known him for 20 years said. The lawyer noted that Branchflower is one of the most disciplined people he has ever met.

Lawmakers on the bi-partisan committee that reviewed the report voted unanimously to release it Friday, after a lengthy closed-door session discussing its findings.

“Steve Branchflower’s report is a model of keen analysis and hard work,” French said. “He’s fair. He analyzed the facts and I think he came to balanced conclusions.”

Even among lawmakers who have doubts about the report’s findings, none has questioned Branchflower’s integrity.

“The report was probably rushed to get done before the election,” said Rep. Bill Stoltze, who voted to appoint Branchflower and voted Friday to make the report public.

Stoltze said he didn’t like that Branchflower said he made inferences to reach his conclusions. Though, Stoltze also said that the investigation seemed fair. Stoltze said he did wish there had been “more participation” — a reference to Palin’s decision not to testify, after she had first agreed to cooperate.

The latest poll on Palin’s approval rating was taken before the Troopergate report was completed. At the time, Palin had slipped from her 80 percent approval rating to 65 percent. Anchorage pollster Ivan Moore attributed the drop to the Troopergate scandal and her sudden partisanship on the national stage.

Since the report’s release, Palin has said she is vindicated. “I’m very, very pleased to be cleared of any legal wrongdoing … any hint of any kind of unethical activity there,” Palin told the Anchorage Daily News in a phone interview from the campaign trail.

One of the report’s findings is that Palin broke the law.


Palin’s ethics problems are particularly surprising considering she was was supported by an electorate fed up with corruption.

In 2006, Palin looked the part of reform candidate. She had recently stood up to her own state party chairman over accusations of a conflict-of-interest with oil companies. She also filed a bi-partisan complaint that led to the resignation of the state’s GOP attorney general.

Palin had a strong sense of the changing attitudes and targeted that sentiment in the race. “Alaskans deserve transparency and accountability from their leaders,” said Palin on her 2006 campaign Website. “It’s a philosophy I will promote as governor.”

About a month before voters went to the polls in 2006, news cameras revealed the FBI carrying boxes of material out of the 12 state lawmakers’ offices — including Senate President Ben Stevens, son of the senator. The younger Stevens has not been charged.

Things were even starting to change for the federal delegation.


This year, Alaska celebrates its 50th year of statehood, thanks to Stevens, who helped usher the territory into statehood in 1958. Stevens, the longest serving GOP senator, has been in the Senate since 1972.

{Snip} ...

By 2006, Stevens — known here as “the most famous Alaskan” — was starting to take heat nationally for his infamous earmarking. The non-partisan watchdog group Taxpayers for Commonsense estimates Alaskans see about $4,300 per person in federal dollars return to their state, compared to states with far larger populations like Texas or New York, where residents see about $95 per person.

Stevens, now on trial in federal court in Washington on charges of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts from Veco Corp., without disclosing them on Senate ethics forms, is slipping in the polls. The gifts include the construction of a new first floor in his Girdwood home, as well as furnishings and a state-of-the-art Viking grill.

Stevens is locked in a tight race with Democratic challenger Mark Begich, Anchorage’s mayor. The last poll showed Begich with a four-point edge. In 2002, Stevens won with 78 percent.

Many long-time supporters are starting to reconsider whether the state should keep Stevens in office. “[Stevens] brought a lot of money to the state” said Susanne Hutzel, a nurse who lives 20 minutes outside of Anchorage. “But, we have to have a balance.”

Still, change doesn’t come all at once. Stevens garners nearly 50 percent of the vote from Alaskans like Claude Morris, a retired oil field project manager and World War II veteran who lives on the same street in Girdwood as Stevens. Morris credits the long-time senator with bringing Alaska into the modern era, not to mention the town of Girdwood, a small ski-resort town, about an hour and a half drive south of Anchorage.

“Ted Stevens has got my vote no matter what,” Morris said in a recent conversation, as he sat at the Double Musky Inn’s bar, Stevens’ favorite hometown restaurant. “For what he has done for Alaska for the last 40-some years.”

The state’s only congressman, Rep. Don Young, a feisty character, who has never achieved the same popularity here as Stevens, is facing a far tougher campaign season. He’s down about 9 points in the polls.

Young’s popularity has been sliding since last year, when a series of corruption scandals came to light. Young has been accused of taking money from Florida developers in exchange for a $10 million earmark. The Senate has since asked the FBI to look into the earmark, added to a bill after it passed Congress. News also broke last year that Young is under federal investigation for his connections with Veco. Federal agents are looking into an annual pig-roast fund-raiser held at Veco chief executive Bill Allen’s home. Last year, Young was booed and oinked as he arrived at the event.

{Snip} ...


If Palin returns to Alaska as a state politician, its unclear if she will find herself wrapped in with other pols who have fallen out of favor.

Little is likely to happen before the regular legislative session begins on Jan. 20, 2009, according to the House GOP spokesman Will Vandergriff. In order for the legislature to act in a special session, a supermajority of lawmakers, 45 members out of 60, is required. Palin could also call a special session — though that is considered unlikely.

If the legislature acts, Palin could face impeachment.

Separately, the violation of the state ethics law outlined in Branchflower’s report caries up to a $5,000 civil penalty.

Sen. Kim Elton (D-Juneau), who served as chairman of the Legislative Council that oversaw the Troopergate investigation, said in an interview with TWI shortly after the report was released Friday, that he is not prepared to start considering taking action against Palin.

“This is like ‘truth and consequences,”” Elton said, standing in a hallway of the Anchorage legislative offices where the report was released. “Today, I will say we got the truth. The facts are now in the public. I’m not prepared to go to consequences.”

Once the legislature is back in session it will be forced to decide whether to act, or not act.

Is this a turning point for public corruption in Alaska?

“I think we will try to grow up,” said former Anchorage Daily News editorial page editor Michael Carey. “Or we will be caught in the Palin lie machine.”


One of my astute (which is not to say picky) readers has reminded me of copyright law. Is he entirely sure that I don't have permission to reprint? No, he isn't. But today is Thanksgiving so I give thanks for his kindly concern and have snipped the best paragraphs from this clever report. There. Happy? Now if you could only show me, in plain language with diagrams, how to make hyperlinks ... or tell me what the heck "earmarking" is ... as in "infamous earmarking" mentioned above. - BC Mary.



A beautiful example of journalism is this full report on the raids, at:

Earmarking explained:

[Alaska] Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) cites Sen. Stevens Pork following Indictment.

... Sen. Stevens has helped bring home [i.e., "earmarked"] a total of 1,452 pork-barrel projects worth $3.4 billion between 1995 and 2008. Alaska has been the number one state in pork per capita every year since 1999 in CAGW’s Congressional Pig Book. Among his many “Oinker Awards,” Sen. Stevens won the “The Cold Hard Cash Award” for $165.7 million in defense pork in the 2008 Pig Book. Some of his more infamous earmarks include $25 million for a supercomputer at the University of Alaska to study how to trap energy from the aurora borealis; $750,000 for grasshopper research; $500,000 for the Alaska Spruce Bark Beetle Task Force; $200,000 for the city of North Pole for recreation improvements; and $176,000 for the Reindeer Herder’s Association. {Snip} ...

The disdain for reform was best expressed by CAGW’s July Porker of the Month, Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.) who said, “There’s no way in hell I would support banning earmarks … That’s our job, getting elected and making decisions. Yes, there are bad earmarks, like there are bad members of Congress. And what you do is get rid of them.”

Sheeeeesh. I think that's enough about corruption in government. OK? - BC Mary.

But wait a minute. "City of North Pole"? Canada's North Pole??


Saturday, October 11, 2008


Crime homework for Thanksgiving Weekend

Corruption Without Limit.
The Kelly Marie Richard Case.

This almost unbelievable story about justice in Canada is at, where Robin Mathews tells of preparing an appeal on behalf of a woman and her two sons. When I read the article, I said "Robin, it's important, it's horrifying, but it's so far off my BC Rail topic, I don't see how I can post it ..."

But then, after a while, I thought, this blog is becoming more and more about justice. Increasingly, those of us who are watching the BC Rail corruption trial are having to assess what justice is doing, more especially what it isn't doing, and what it has become.

So when I read Item #2 from The Globe and Mail, I thought "Good grief, here's why nothing seems to get fixed up! Is this justice in today's Canada? "

Reorganized Crime

By The Boss
The Globe and Mail - October 11, 2008

Please read these two articles and tell me: do you think Item #2 explains Item #1? And if so, has this subtle corruption happened right under our noses because our legal system is so willing to delay, to dally, to debate until the crimes almost fade into the distant past? Because we didn't recognize the signs? Because judges, lawyers, premiers, politicians, nobody stood up and said "Dammit, this is outrageous! Get moving or get lost!" - BC Mary


Wednesday, October 08, 2008


Dates for Basi Virk hearings

Political corruption case to head back to court in October
Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun
- September 29, 2008

{Snip} ...

The trial judge, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett, said she hopes the disclosure process can be resolved by the end of November so a date can be set for January and February to deal with the defence arguments concerning the admissibility of wiretaps and evidence obtained by police execution of search warrants, including the one on the legislature on Dec. 28, 2003.

The Crown and defence lawyers agreed to return to court Oct. 20 for an update on what undisclosed documents remain outstanding.

{Snip} ...


Can you believe this? Like, Saddam Hussein was arrested at about the same time as the Legislature was raided. Saddam was tried and dispatched long ago. They decided to hang him, didn't they?

Leonard Krog, MLA, who has a pleasant indoor job critiquing the BC Attorney-General, believes that this Basi-Virk court stuff may drag on ... and on ... until after the next provincial election in May 2009. That would be 5 years and 5 months after the raids. You'd think Krog would be riding naked on horseback down Douglas Street ... posing in front of the Legislature ... doing whatever it takes to draw the government's attention to starting the Basi-Virk trial. Which is to say: ensuring the release of the government documents needed by defence. Now.

Here's a wild guess: does the Campbell regime think there might be some unpleasantness revealed at the Basi-Virk trial? That the trial evidence might create a dark smelly cloud over their Golden Era? And that their only chance of continuing as government is by keeping the cone of silence clamped down tight? Just sayin' ... that's how it might look to the voting, taxpaying public who just want to know what happened to the publicly-owned BC Rail.

Especially when special benefits for CN kick in at the 5-year mark. Benefits which the people of B.C. might not like having to give away, either. But that, too, is just a wild guess since the agreement to sell BCRail to CN is still being kept secret.

Man, they'd never get away with this kind of stuff in Iraq. - BC Mary.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008


Questions for a just society

Others, like me, may have been brushing past recent news items about multiple murders in Mexico.

I thought it was something to do with illegal aliens and border crossings. Wasn't the U.S. talking about building a huge fence along the Mexico-U.S. border to keep illegal immigrants out?

But today I came across this story (below) from New Mexico State University. It sheds light on a ghastly situation: MEXICO: WARS, ELECTIONS AND HUMAN RIGHTS.

And why is it mentioned on The Legislature Raids blog? Well ... remember those drugs trafficking charges which were laid against the people (including Dave Basi) who were arrested after the Legislature raids? The evidence allegedly came from 26 wire-tapped cell-phone calls made during 2003 to Basi by his cousin, Jasmohan Singh Bains of Victoria.
Remember how prosecutor Janet Winteringham in B.C. Supreme Court said police had heard that Bains was head of a Victoria-based criminal organization ... ?

The raids on the B.C. Legislature had developed out of a Victoria drug investigation which began in May 2002 after the arrest in the U.S. of Cirilo Lopez. That apparently was a major event in the murky world of drugs trafficking. It resulted in "word on the street" indicating Bains was going to take over Lopez's drug operations. Tips from an informant suggested Basi was laundering money for Bains by purchasing real estate. That "informant" may possibly be the secret witness now the subject of requests for further delays in the Basi Virk trial.

So ... is there a connection to the events in Mexico, you may ask? It is virtually impossible to find further information on Lopez, or Bains, but I can tell you this: there is a flurry of hits on this web-site, whenever their names -- and Ovid Tahvili - are mentioned here.

So I read the NMSU story with interest, trusting them to be accurate, and wondering where B.C. might fit into these blood-stained, life-crippling events. It seems to me that no good will come from pretending that B.C. isn't at risk. I hope others will read this story, too, and will share their comments here. - BC Mary.


Mexico: Wars, Elections and Human Rights
by Frontera NorteSur
Posted on October 7, 2008

... it captured the situation in Mexico during the last days of September and the first days of October. Across the country, more bodies piled up, more grenades were tossed and more psychological warfare banners were displayed in a murky battle for public opinion.

The worst carnage was centered in Tijuana where drug cartels are battling for control of the local market bordering the United States. Anywhere from 53 to 61 people were found gruesomely murdered in a period of nine days, according to various press reports. In one case, two victims were hanged from a public overpass, and in another instance a dozen bodies were dumped in front of an elementary school.

Like a similar massacre in the state of Mexico last month, reports tied some killings to botched or planned efforts to build tunnels for moving contraband underneath the U.S.-Mexico border.

Several of the Tijuana murders were accompanied by messages directed against “El Ingeniero,” an individual identified as Fernando Sanchez Arellano, who allegedly is the current head of Arellano Felix family that’s long dominated the Tijuana drug trade.

According to media accounts, a new set of challengers consisting of dissident Arellano Felix members supported by Chapo Guzman’s Sinaloa Cartel is attempting to wrest control of the Tijuana “plaza” from the old organization, which in turn is supported by an alliance of the Juarez Cartel, the Beltran-Leyva organization and the Zetas.

Four months ago, Jose Luis Santiago Vasconcelos, a high official with Mexico’s Office of the Federal Attorney General (PGR), declared that the federal government had paralyzed Chapo Guzman’s operations.

Closely following two local prison uprisings that left at least 23 people dead last month, the Tijuana violence is another sign that the war between rival cartels which escalated in Ciudad Juarez earlier this year has moved west. In between Ciudad Juarez and Tijuana, the border city of Nogales, Sonora, has become another battleground. From January to August of this year, 67 killings blamed on drug trafficking were counted in Nogales.

Cited in the Mexican press, a Colombian newspaper, El Tiempo, reported that the the Mexican violence was connected to events in Colombia, where U.S.-supported anti-drug campaigns and cartel restructurings have created power vacuums and competition for control of the international cocaine trade.

As summer turned into fall, violence showed no let-up in Mexico, with Friday, Oct. 3, recorded as the bloodiest day in the year so far. At least 42 people were reported murdered across the country on Bloody Friday alone.

In Ciudad Juarez and Chihuahua, prominent individuals like Francisco Sagrero Villareal were among the slain. A 43-year-old Ciudad Juarez resident who had been in the public limelight for posting signs asking that bodies not be dumped in his neighborhood, Sagrero was killed as bullets riddled his home on Oct. 3.

In Chihuahua City, Aldo Arenivar Serna, a former deputy state attorney general, was gunned down in a shopping center parking lot. At the time of his murder, Arenivar was a member of a law firm associated with Fernando Rodriguez Moreno, the current head of the PRI political party’s fraction in the Chihuahua state legislature.

To the south, in the state of Durango, three people were reported killed in an Oct. 3 clash between Mexican soldiers and suspected drug traffickers that was punctuated by automatic weapons fire and a grenade explosion.

Meanwhile, six individuals from Durango were arraigned by the PGR for allegedly participating in recent violent attacks in the Juarez Valley bordering the U.S.

The incidents included the burning of a ranch and several homes, the kidnappings of at least two people and the murder of one. Reports of numerous families fleeing the rural zone continued to appear in the Mexican press.

Violence reared in many other areas including Sinaloa, Puebla and Nuevo Leon, where nine patrol cars belonging to the Federal Preventive Police were torched. On Oct. 3, the mayor of the town of Ixtapan de la Sal in the state of Mexico, Salvador Vergara, was gunned down.

As the first week of October drew to a close, an estimated 3,000-3,500 people had been killed in narco-related violence in Mexico this year.

Arriving in Mexico City Oct. 6 for meetings with high-ranking Calderon administration officials, U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey declined to characterize the overall security situation as a crisis.

“There is no reason to be pessimistic,” Mukasey was quoted in the Mexican press. The Bush administration’s top law enforcement official said anti-narcotics assistance approved by the U.S. Congress as part of the so-called Merida Initiative should begin flowing within the next couple weeks. Mukasey expressed confidence that the Gulf and Sinaloa cartels were losing ground and would “fall over the long-term.”

On the streets, however, unknown individuals claiming the Gulf Cartel showed no intention of giving up anytime soon. So-called narco-banners purportedly signed by the group were displayed in Tamaulipas, Puebla, Aguascalientes, Guanajuato, Durango, Sonora, and Veracruz states on the same day Mukasey touched down in Mexico.

The messages were similar to banners previously displayed in Reynosa, Cancun, Oaxaca and Mexico City that blamed a rival organization, La Familia, for the Sept. 15 Independence Day celebration grenade attack in Morelia, Michoacan, that killed eight innocent bystanders. The banners offered rewards of millions of dollars for anyone helping to capture the alleged perpetrators of the attack.

In a bizarre twist to an already extraordinary situation, one of the messages claimed that members of La Familia, crazed by methamphetamines, had moved from being simple drug traffickers to Islamic-inspired terrorists.

In southern Guerrero state, meanwhile, issues of party politics, drugs, insurgency and counterinsurgency came together to create a volatile backdrop for the Oct. 5 state and municipal elections. In the days leading up to the elections, several candidates and representatives from different political parties were killed or attacked, reports of attempted vote-buying circulated and several organizations called on citizens to boycott the political exercise.

On Oct. 1, El Sur reporter Karina Contreras wrote that she and three colleagues from other Acapulco newspapers were briefly detained by the Mexican army at a checkpoint set up on a road leading to land slated for the construction of the planned La Parota dam. Facing the loss of their homes, many rural residents have organized stiff opposition to the project. According to Contreras, the journalists refused soldiers’ requests to erase film.

Three days later, on Oct. 4, Francisco Santos Arriola, a federal deputy from the center-left PRD party, narrowly escaped what was reported as an attempted kidnapping by 15 armed men outside the Holiday Inn in the tourist resort of Ixtapa.

In a communiqué posted on the Internet, the leftist Revolutionary Army of the Insurgent People (ERPI), urged citizens to refrain from casting ballots. Born as an offshoot from the Popular Revolutionary Party in 1998, the ERPI accused the state’s major political parties of being in league with drug traffickers and repressors.

“How can (people) vote for candidates for public office when they are representatives of drug-trafficking groups?” the ERPI asked.

The guerrilla organization said paramilitary groups headed by military officials were responsible for murdering and disappearing people in the Costa Chica, Costa Grande and Tierra Caliente regions of the state.

In an interview with the Mexican press, a researcher from the Autonomous University of Guerrero credited counterinsurgency motives for the promotion of drug trafficking in different regions of his impoverished state during the 1960s and 1970s.

“Now we can see the consequences of this stupidity just by looking at the wave of executions in the these regions and especially in Tierra Caliente,” said Arturo Miranda Ramirez. Calling Guerrero a “laboratory for repression,” Miranda said the state has suffered massacres, counterinsurgency campaigns and low-intensity warfare for decades now.

For whatever reasons, a majority of eligible voters, perhaps as many as 60-65 percent, did indeed boycott the Oct. 5 elections.

The preliminary results gave the former ruling PRI, which lost many offices including the governorship and state congress in Guerrero in recent years, a solid victory. If upheld, the vote reconfirms the tendency of the PRI to win elections where voter turnouts are low, and it augurs well for the party in the upcoming 2009 federal congressional elections.

Irregularities were reported in Sunday’s Guerrero elections, including vote-buying and widespread delays in opening the polls on time.

In a serious outbreak of political violence, members of a rural community in the state of Chiapas near the Guatemalan border accused state and federal police of killing six people, injuring 10 and detaining an undetermined of number of others in a conflict over the future of the Chinkultic archeological ruin. Members of the Ejido Miguel Hidalgo in the municipality of La Trinitaria had earlier seized the old Mayan city after contending that authorities were allowing a tourist-dollar generating enterprise to fall into disarray.

The dispute culminated in a police raid on the ejido in which counter-attacking residents captured scores of officers and their weapons.

On Oct. 3, police responded with a tear-gas laden assault that resulted in the deaths and injuries. Chiapas’ state justice minister was later quoted as saying that five policemen are under investigation for four deaths.

The nationwide violence coincided with Mexico’s unofficial observance of the 40th anniversary of the massacre of students in Mexico City. Different accounts hold the army responsible for killing anywhere between 26 and 300 students during a pro-democracy demonstration on the eve of the 1968 Olympic Games held in the Mexican capital. Although subsequent government probes linked members of the military, former President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz and former Interior Minister and President Luis Echeverria to the massacre, no one was ever held accountable for the killings.

The memory of Oct. 2 was raised during a Ciudad Juarez protest staged by relatives of individuals accused of drug offenses last week. Gathered outside federal court offices, scores of people accused the army of torturing suspects and fabricating legal charges. “We don’t want another Mexico 1968,” read one protest placard.

-- El Universal, October 3, 4, 5, 6, 2008. Articles by Julieta Martinez, Francisco Meza-Carranza, Rafael Rivera, Silvia Otero, Notimex, and correspondents.
-- Univision, October 6, 2008.
-- Norte, October 3, 2008. Articles by Pablo Hernandez Batista and Angel Zubia Garcia.
--, October 1, 3 and 5, 2008.
--, October 1, 2008. Article by Sergio Valdes.
-- El Sur, October 2 , 5 and 6, 2008. Articles by Karina Contreras, and editorial staff.
-- Frontera/SUN, June 6, 2008 and October 4, 2008.
-- La Jornada, September 25, 2008; October 2, 4 , 5, 6, 2008. Articles by Sergio Ocampo, Misael Habana, Antonio Heras, Saul Maldonado, Helio Enriquez, Angeles Mariscal, Hermann Bellinghausen, correspondents, and the AFP news agency.
-- La Voz de Nuevo Mexico/Agencia Reforma, October 3, 2008.
-- Arizona Daily Star, September 14, 2008. Article by Brady McCombs.

Frontera NorteSur (FNS): on-line, U.S.-Mexico border news Center for Latin American and Border Studies New Mexico State University Las Cruces, New Mexico.


Monday, October 06, 2008


BC Rail carries heavy burdens

In July 2008, super-sleuth Sean Holman posted this item on his Public Eye Online. I couldn't resist including the comments, too. - BC Mary.



Public Eye Online - July 17, 2008

BC Railway Co. may have leased its tracks to Canadian National Railway Co. and ceased its freight operations. But, according to executive compensation figures released today by the Campbell administration, BC Railway's president and chief executive officer Kevin Mahoney - who manages a corporation that had revenues of $18.2 million for the year ended December 31, 2007 - is the fourth highest paid public sector employee, receiving $569,975 in salary and benefits.

In an apparent attempt to justify that compensation package, a provincial government backgrounder compared his salary to Canadian Pacific Railway Co. president and chief executive officer Fred Green, who earns $2.9 million and manages a corporation that had revenues of $4.7 billion over the same time period.

Asked about the matter, Finance Minister Colin Hansen said, "BC Rail still has substantial operations and it is a very important Crown corporation for the province. They continue to own the assets of the rail and rail right-of-ways of British Columbia. And
they also continue to own some very significant and strategic properties in the province - properties that are going to be critical to the economic development in this province and the Gateway Initiative. So I think we need to make sure that organization is very competently managed given the importance of that organization to the future of the province."

But aren't those rail assets now being managed by Canadian National?

"BC Rail continues to actively manage very significant assets in the province - real estate assets that are very critical to our port initiative, our rail initiative and to economic development generally," Minister Hansen responded. Those unleased assets are valued at $60.8 million - including property under construction. By comparison, Canadian Pacific has $13.4 billion in assets.

Mr. Mahoney is just one of seven executives who were paid out more than $500,000 by taxpayers during the most recent fiscal year. And he's just one of 233 who were paid out more than $100,000.

"Quite frankly, I think when you start talking about incomes in excesses of $500,000 a year, I certainly don't relate to that," Minister Hansen commented. "I think the average British Columbians would find that is much higher than they would have expected. But I think when you compare our compensation for senior executives with other parts of Canada, we - in fact - are not the leaders. In fact, we're the middle of the pack when it comes to executive compensation based on the information we know from other jurisdictions."

Posted by Sean Holman at 12:12 PM

Comments on: Kevin and Goliath

Even under full-blown Campbellism this kind of obviously exhorbidant executive "compensation" is hard to believe. The only rational motive I can think of for the BC Govt to agree to these laughable payments is that Mahoney has something on them. What that could be, ... or which trial it might relate to, ... I cannot imagine.
Posted by Budd Campbell on July 17, 2008 08:02 PM

I am just thrilled to bits that the BC Government has managed to find a qualified employee that is worth $569,975.

This should be held up as an example to ALL public servants that if you have the skills,experience and abilities you can go far!

Since this salary of $569,975 is being paid for by the public, I'm sure Colin Hansen will be more than happy to outline for us exactly what Kevin Mahoney is delivering to earn that salary.

Can we get a copy of his detailed job description? Or at the very least the responsibilities of the position that he fills?

I think a lot of people in BC would love to know what it takes to earn a $569,975 salary.

ps According to a earlier story about government compensation this is only #269,975 more than a temporary director makes at LCS, I'm sure the amount will be increased soon.

Posted by Betty on July 18, 2008 10:01 AM

It must be nice to be on "the team" and be in charge of something even when a private company owns the equipment qan does he maintenance. We as voters pay for these jokers who collect a big salary but no one appears to know just what the folks actually do beyond supporting the Campbell group. If Hanson has any clues which I'm not sure he does, lets hear more of the duties the fellow has, or someone like this blog owner will be waiting for one more FOI answer full of blacked out sections. Open accounable sounds great during campaigns but stops the day after the election

Posted by Avoter on July 20, 2008 10:42 AM


"Campbellism", eh? Good one. And many thanks for allowing me to borrow from your work, Sean Holman. - BC Mary.


Saturday, October 04, 2008


i blog, therefore i am (i think); getting with the new media

by Shelley Fralic
Vancouver Sun - October 4, 2008

This is a rather amusing piece of writing about blogging, not about Basi-Virk-BC Rail. That is, not until you get to my response. In a light-hearted way, these two stories by Fralic and Graham reveal why big media hasn't understood what the public needs, or what the public is trying to get by reading or writing blogs. So while the people of BC wait until October 20 for the next Basi-Virk twitch in BC Supreme Court, here is something completely different.

Shelley Fralic, columnist, Vancouver Sun: i blog, therefore i am (i think);
getting with the new media

Patricia Graham, Editor-in-Chief, Vancouver Sun: A new Sun is rising

to which my response was:

Hi Shelley ...

Neat piece of work, girl. Jeez, your Editor-in-chief should take a tip. Her wall-of-words this a.m. told me plenty ... none of it publishable.

I blog.

And dammit, I do not unravel bales of unsourced, unresearched "thoughts" to clutter the bandwidth. My blog (and two others) developed out of a Tyee conversation in which commentors were grieving the lack of news on the Basi Virk / BC Rail trial. It was May 2006 and the trial was expected to begin in June 2006. We were alarmed and depressed thinking that we'd never hear the findings if relying upon the mainstream media.

Three blogs bloomed overnight:

Free Speech (by an intelligent man who kept being banned off Tyee)
House of Infamy
The Legislature Raids (mine)

A family tragedy knocked the first blogger off his feet. House of Infamy continues with updates about once a month. My blog, with almost 800 postings and the damn trial still nowhere in sight, is eating up my life.

I've committed to building a record of information around the significance of the unprecedented police raid on a legislature. Someday, it may be a helpful archive to someone who writes the book.

I've never lost the sense of horror not simply about police hauling away public records but also about RCMP Sgt Ward's press conference the next day where he described Organized Crime in BC. Never lost the horror despite the fact that almost 5 years later, so many criminal or corrupt events have almost drowned that December 28, 2003 issue: it's still about BC losing Canada's 3rd largest railway under an agreement still secret. It's still about the possibility of corruption in legislative corridors.

I've done a decent job, Shelley, of keeping a steady focus on the facts of the event and turning readers toward whatever news stories are published on the event. I'm not especially interested in Basi, Virk, or Basi ... they've always seemed to be small fish in the ocean ... but I do strongly feel that the issue needs watching, and people need the opportunity to know what happened. "Can't say anything because it's before the courts" simply doesn't excuse either the premier or big media from speaking to the huge basic issues in this case. And so we blog.

Drop in sometime, eh? Best wishes,

BC Mary
The Legislature Raids

To which Ms Fralic replied almost instantly:

Hey, thanks. I'll will definitely drop in.

Shelley Fralic
Vancouver Sun Columnist
Office: 604-605-2170
Cell: 604-833-0846

and I'm telling you this because perhaps a new Vancouver Sun actually is rising, like Ms Graham says. She is asking for reader responses, with a reply-function included at the end of her story. Maybe Big Media needs to hear from us more often. Can't hurt, can it? - BC Mary.


Remembering BC Rail ...

photo by: bcrDean