Wednesday, July 22, 2009


BC Rail case shows a broken system - Paul Willcocks, Times Colonist

B.C. Rail case shows a broken system

By Paul Willcocks
Times Colonist - July 22, 2009

Slowly -- so slowly -- British Columbians might be moving closer to some answers in the B.C. Rail corruption case. {Big snip} ...

Barring some remarkable explanation -- I can't even think of an example -- the destruction of the e-mails being sought by the court would look like a cover-up. And while governments can escape a great many failings and missteps, cover-ups tend to taint their reputations and relationships with the public permanently.

It's a potentially toxic mess, stemming from the broken 2001 campaign promise not to sell B.C. Rail but spreading to include questions about the influence of well-connected Liberal insiders, the legitimacy of the bidding process and, now, the missing evidence.

{Snip} ...

It is a bizarre situation that two provincial elections have been held since the raids and allegations of corruption, with no answers for the public and only silence from the government.

And, if the e-mails have been destroyed and the case is thrown out, those answers might still be years away -- particularly if the investigation into the destruction of evidence moves at the same halting pace.

Footnote: The NDP will undoubtedly seek a public inquiry if the case is thrown out. But Campbell has so far stonewalled on the case and the vanished e-mails. The tactic has worked and it's unlikely that he would now accept an independent inquiry into the scandal.

Read Paul Willcocks complete, candid column HERE.


The other B.C. Rail issue

Times Colonist July 22, 2009

While the legal battles in the B.C. Rail corruption trial have rightly grabbed headlines, the New Democrats have raised another legitimate issue in asking for full disclosure of the contract governing the sale of B.C. Rail to CN Rail five years ago.

The party's stated concern is that CN is now in a legal position to abandon rail service through many B.C. communities. It deserves a response from the government.

Breaking a key election promise, the government announced in November 2003 that it would sell the B.C. Rail freight division for $1 billion to CN Rail. The deal, finalized July 14, 2004, stated CN could not abandon sections of the rail line for five years -- a period that ended this month.

The agreement affects thousands of kilometres of track from North Vancouver to Fort Nelson. Unfortunately, much of the contract remains mired in secrecy.

The government has said it has released all that it can under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

NDP MLA Leonard Krog, however, argues the government could disclose more. It's hard to argue with Krog's position, especially with a public that is growing increasingly tired of a government hiding behind an "it's before the courts" excuse.

For many smaller B.C. communities, rail lines are as much a lifeline as the highway system. Fort St. John, Dawson Creek, Fort St. James, Quesnel, Lillooet -- these resource-dependent cities and towns rely on their rail service to move exports to markets.

The possibility of losing service -- or even of that service changing hands -- is a key concern in these communities. The government should be up front with them about their future.

There is also the larger concern of open public disclosure.

It's been five years since a key public asset was sold to private enterprise and we have still not seen the complete wording of the contract.

For a government that likes to describe itself as open and transparent, this is anything but.

*It's so good to see a newspaper start taking this whole issue very seriously - and saying what should have been said long ago. Way to go Times Colonist!

My take on the FOIPP that Campbell is hiding behind is this: He and CN did not sell/buy a private company in which case I "might" agree with their cowardice. They transacted a PUBLICLY OWNED company, therefore; the public has a RIGHT to know what THEIR assets were sold for, and what effects said sale has attached. If it were argued on that basis, I don't see how the courts could fail to force Campbell to produce a full un-redacted copy of the contract. To do anything else would be agreeing with the theft of this railway. Just me...thinkin' again.*
Isn't it wonderful? Like Christmas in July to see these kindly statements from Big Media spoken on behalf of the public.

Everyone I know, can take a bow for this development, which stems from our demand leading up to the 5th anniversary of the clouded BCRail-CN deal:


There's a wonderful column by Jeffry Simpson in today's Globe and Mail which I recommend ... it's headlined: "We were there for GM & Chrysler, why not for Nortel" and it speaks so strongly for Canada's national interest ...

I sent my thanks, and said, "If only we'd had such a voice speaking for BC Rail ... "

Thanks for your comment.
This is quite refreshing. Could it be that the serving the public interest is actually compatible with the MSM's best interest? I used to buy, and enjoy reading, the daily MSM papers (including the T-C) and watching the news on TV. I stopped when I perceived that anything remotely resembling balanced, incisive reporting was being dumbed down and replaced by PABlum and tabloid-worthy content while important issues were not covered - or apparently "selectively omitted or ignored". The daily newspapers that I used to enjoy had degenerated into snippets of propaganda and press releases, sandwiched between ads - take two slices of irrelevance, spread thickly with horseshit and serve. It was simply no longer worth my time or my money to patronize MSM sources, and, I believe the changes have been increasingly harmful to the public interest. Indeed, it's difficult not to see the MSM as "the enemy". Which is not exactly the best way to attract customers.

Well, here's a glimmer of hope. Well done, T-C.

I really hope that you sent an e.mail like this to the letters-editor at TC and also to Paul Willcocks.

If not, how do they know that people do care? Left to themselves, they seem to conclude that "the public is apathetic". Ha. Like hell we are apathetic.


Perhaps I will send a letter. Honestly, my sense has been that they simply don't care. The last time I wrote to them, I simply asked whether or not they subscribed to a journalistic Code of Ethics, and if so, where might I view it? No response. But you may be right. Worth a try...
In the course of our numerous online conversations, I have come to the conclusion that Mr. Willcocks does strive to serve the public interest using time-tested journalistic principles.

However, I have also come to understand that he is somewhat constrained by the parameters of the mass circulation-driven business that he works in.

Thus, I agree with Mary that letting the T-C know that you like this kind of stuff would be a very good thing, indeed.


I think we're both right.

They don't care. And it's our job these days to make them care.

We did it with BC Rail Day - July 14, 2009 when we even got the useless BC Opposition to wake up and do their bit. We're doing it with the Basi Virk / BC Rail Trial. Robin Mathews does it every time he walks into BC Supreme Court as a member of the public who takes notes and writes up a column. It matters.

So you can already guess that my point is: when we stand up, and do/say what we can, it's noticed. Believe me, it is noticed. Bit by bit, it adds up.

But if we do nothing, it's twisted to mean we don't care. And that only adds insult to injury.
Fair enough, Mary; you and Gazetteer raise excellent points and make the case. I will send a letter in the next few days. I agree with you Gazetteer; I have, for example, been impressed with Mr. Willcocks' columns in the past. Thanks for your thoughts and encouragement on this.
Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home