Friday, July 31, 2009
BC Rail: a job for a warrior
BC's Opposition Justice Critic is a job for a warrior
Correctly known as the Opposition Critic for the Attorney-General
The Opposition Justice Critic is the official voice of dissent in a parliamentary democracy. It's a very special voice. The OJC can speak like an avenging warrior to express the people's dismay, our pain, and our hopes when a government goes wrong. Hymns of praise would be sung for his honesty, courage, vision, and protection at a time of incalculable loss augmented by deceit.
If British Columbia's actual, current Opposition Critic for the Attorney-General (Opposition Justice Critic) had acted differently, he would be remembered in poetry and song far into the future.
But that special warrior-hero role remains unclaimed, and the duties of high justice have been left undone. During the chaotic years of the Campbell Administration, the United Nations made 9 rulings condemning Gordo's errors. Polite letters are written to the premier. A dainty list of 70 questions is presented in the Legislature (no reply expected). Grammatically correct comments are ready when he visits the BCRail trial. Runnymede is mentioned more often than Prince George. But justice for the people? I don't think so.
Recently, people in British Columbia stood up, ready to face the threat of the BCR-CN deal's 5th anniversary triggering more benefits to CN to be taken from our ownership of BCRail. Citizens were seeking simple justice. We thought that the Opposition Justice Critic would understand that, and invited him to be our guide and advisor.
We asked our OJC to demand that government "Show us the deal", and wondered if "an injunction, or other means" could stop the deal until the implications are clear. Rumours say that there is an option for re-possession of the BC Railway "for cause" and that cause does exist. That priceless BCR lands would slide into CN hands as a gift on the 5th anniversary. That certain BCRail lines would be abandoned leaving communities stranded. And more.
These are not minor concerns.
So what happened? Does British Columbia have this heroic warrior-figure who leaps into action, defending the people against injustice? No.
Did citizens spontaneously rise up to write and telephone him? Yes, they did. I wrote 3 times, myself.
Did the Opposition Justice Critic take notice? Maybe. I was told that this blog is read "with respect" in Opposition quarters. But who knows?
Did the OJC offer his advice? his legal opinion? helpful information? his personal guidance? No, he did not. It was as if his face was turned away from us.
Was there any response at all? From the OJC, no. From his assistants, yes.
His assistants prepared an identical form letter which was emailed to most (not all) of us, on July 13, 2009. Sly. By then, it was too late to head off the windfall benefits to CN triggered by the 5th anniversary of the deal. The Opposition's explanation, over the OJC's printed signature, was as follows:
* An injunction is too expensive. (Ignore the fact that Maude Barlow, for The Council of Canadians, is seeking an injunction this week to protect a water source. And B.C.'s Opposition Justice Critic can't even discuss the topic of lands, railway lines, communities, and the public good?)
* We would have no "standing" before the court for an injunction. (We, the previous owners of BCRail, would have no "standing"??)
* No mention was made of "by other means" which we believed a lawyer would know about. It was an embarrassing list of excuses for doing nothing, sent to us the day before it was possible to do anything.
Which maybe wouldn't be as bad, if our Opposition Justice Critic hadn't held a Vancouver press conference the next day ... the next day being the 5th anniversary which the citizens themselves had called "BCRail Day".
His press conference gave a public impression that he believed what we believed: that further outrageous benefits would roll out of the secret BCR-CN agreement and into the pockets of CN, without the people knowing.
But was he agreeing that the deal should be stopped? No. So why did he set up a press conference for July 14, 2009?
The purpose of that press conference was, I believe, to make it easy for Big Media in Vancouver to quote him as being "aware" of the 5th anniversary and its ramifications, to pretend that he was leading this rally ... and to reassure the Campbell Government that he certainly wasn't about to rock the boat. He was saying, in my view, "Gordo's Gang will lose the next election and I want to be premier. So trust me. This is my promise: if I'm premier of BC, nothing will change." Message received.
A heroic Justice Critic would have stood like a proud warrior, tall and determined on BC Rail Day, defending the rightful interests of his people.
Like an avenging angel, he would have been challenging, pushing, embarrassing the government, raising his voice so all could hear his call for justice: "It's been 5 years!" he would have said, "I challenge the Campbell Government to immediately SHOW US THE DEAL. No contract is legal if one of the parties have never seen the agreement -- and the people of B.C. are one of the parties! I challenge the Campbell Government to stop right here!"
Then he would roar like a lion: "This is my personal injunction upon this government. Put a hold on that CN deal. Show us the agreement. Then consult with the people." It really didn't seem a lot to ask.
Did our well-paid OJC stand up for the people of British Columbia? No, he didn't.
Is there any indication that our unhero is looking into re-negotiating the BCR-CN deal? Re-possessing BC Rail? Or challenging the terms of the agreement in any way? No, no indication whatever.
A warrior Opposition Justice Critic, fighting for the people of B.C. would be a hero on a high pedestal in British Columbia these days. But in my opinion, that empty pedestal should have a Help Wanted sign attached. - BC Mary.
I was looking at FOI application and I was re-directed to this BC Government website: http://www.cio.gov.bc.ca/services/privacy/manual/sections/sec10_19/sec12.asp
So far the BC Rail trial has focussed on how emails and other documents may be destroyed, or should have been held by the Attorney General Ministry for the courts to review to see if the documents are evidence in the Basi/Virk/Basi trial.
How about this: Cabinet documents must not be released for 15 years, however:
Subsection 12(1) also does not apply where the information in question was prepared to provide background explanations or analysis to Cabinet, or one of its committees, for its consideration in making a decision, if the decision has been made public or implemented, or 5 or more years have passed since the decision was made or considered.
In essence, on the anniversary of CN Rail being able to purchase rail lines for ONE DOLLAR, the emails and background contracts should have been made available to the public without any 30 day requirement, or even a 30 day extension to the FOI request.
Its been more than 5 years since BC Rail was sold to CN Rail. Cabinet made their decision in November of 2003, so in theory the sought after emails should have been made accessible by 2008...... but the deal was finalized until July of 2009 therefore..........
Which is not to say that, from time to time, these folks and their Loyal Opposition view of the world has not at least helped to slow down the pace of the collapse some. The road to hell is paved with their good intentions, without sacrificing career preoccupations, I am sure.
But we are by now, unless everyone is going to continue to roll over and just pretend that we are living in the best of all possible worlds, when it is clear that is crap, and these guys 'n gals to the "official opposition" system just don't have the stomach or inclination for the fight that needs to be waged, it should be clear that new centres of resistance "power" are going to have to be created arising from within the grassroots itself. A daunting task, no doubt, but without it, and continuing to rely on already clearly failed and failing "opposition" institutions, it should be clear that nothing, nada, zip, zilch is going to change, and the quality decline of ordinary people's lives is going to continue, and the pile of poop just get steeper and deeper. (And I don't care how many junker cars for cash programmes they implement to continue to prop up and provide corporate welfare to the ruling class system. It is ordinary folks that have the real problems to this socio-economic mess.)
We need to stop looking to others to lead us, especially these "tame resistance cats" of Labour and Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, with their self-clipped claws ...
and working class person by welfare mom, by progressive intellectual by unemployed and homeless folks -- set about doing the job ourselves, and take them all on. They have all become part and parcel of the same oppressive system, obfuscating and misleading us.
It needed to be said, now we can only hope it's heard. If it has been, we will know shortly - if not, there is time to make HUGE changes in a failed leadership between now and the next election. Which might be a good idea in any event - people should not have to fight the sitting government, as well as the opposition to right the wrongs being done.
Wikipedia says: Rationale behind injunctions (I like this)
This injunctive power to restore the status quo ante; that is, to make whole again someone whose rights have been violated, is essential to the concept of fairness (equity).
I especially liked http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:K2qR6f3_H6cJ:www.law.uvic.ca/eadjinte/318/documents/INTER.INJUN.OUTLINE_000.doc+interlocutory+injunction&cd=1&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=ca
which describes Interlocutory Injunctions, Interim Injunctions, and Temporary Injunctions ... and I especially noted under
IRREPARABLE HARM, this exception:
exception: No requirement of irreparable harm where a public authority seeks Interlocutory Injunction to protect the public interest.
What I don't like at all is, that an injunction appears to lead inexorably to a trial (or a pre-trial settlement) ... and what a horrible thought, when we're already mired in a trial on BC Rail matters.
A stubborn opponent could make things very tough indeed ... surely there are lawyers who can suggest a creative approach? MUST living as BC citizens mean that we have no choice but to grin and bear whatever happens next? No matter how unfair?
Your point regarding another trial while in the midst of THE trial is well taken, do we exercise another few years patience while waiting for the outcome of this one?
Would an injunction be of any real use now that the anniversary goodies have been given away? Or is there more coming down the pike for CN? Who knows? No one but Campbell and CN have seen the deal without all the black ink.
Guess that last sentence answered the question - we MUST do whatever it takes to SEE THE UNDREDACTED DEAL. This was a public asset, the public has the first right to see and approve/disapprove it, as far as I'm concerned. That document alone (leaving all other garbage related to this sale aside) would be basis for an Interlocutory Injunction as I see it.
All I know for sure is that each of us must try to face the issues squarely, then do what we can.
BC Rail was not only an artery -- a main working component in B.C. hands and adjusted to BC needs -- it also became the symbol of what happens when the wrong hands get control. That's how I've seen BC's situation since Dec. 28, 2003 ...
and by gosh, it makes me angry. I'm kinda glad you feel that way too. Thanks.
which is precisely the weakest point of our Opposition Justice Critic's excuse that he can't do anything. He could sure as heck find out what benefits were triggered, what benefits are planned, under the terms of that agreement.
And by the way, he could find out WHICH one of the many agreements is THE AGREEMENT, for sure.
This from FIPA BC Freedom of Information and privacy association.
Darrell Evans is executive director of the BC Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. This article appeared in the Vancouver Sun on July 29, 2009.(and on their webpage, link below)
Who's responsible for the illegal destruction of BC Cabinet e-mails?
Posted on July 30th, 2009
Whoever is responsible for the illegal destruction of cabinet e-mail records relating to the sale of BC Rail should face serious consequences...
In the case of cabinet e-mails relating to the sale of BC Rail, the provincial government broke its own laws and (make no mistake) its entrenched, well-understood policies by failing in its duty to preserve important government records. Evidence was destroyed either willfully or through gross negligence.
read all @
we are generally not privy to what goes on in cabinet.
what evidence is there that these lost emails contain any damning consiquences for Campbell and Collins?
At the time the emails would have been composed, sent and received, Basi and Virk were in on this game too. Campbell, Collins, Virk wouldnt be so stupid as to authorise anything nepharious electronically. They would know at that time that emails were subject to FOI requests, and they would communicate by mobile phone, and not text, except maybe for code, such as:
"The fish is in the freezer."
But what of the lost emails, should they be lost as reportedly they are. who would be so daft as to delete the file server, load the back up tapes and deleted those too?
Any IT professional capable of doing that task would know that doing such is BAD, VERY BAD, and only a very bad person would do such a thing.
perhaps becuase i am niave, i do not think that these emails are gone. No contractor or goverment IS or IT employee would be that crazy to delete such records. They wouldnt risk their jobs for a group of politicians, no matter how powerful, they are still just politicians and politicians come and go, but a job will buy you a boat and feed your family and a pension will last a lifetime.
was it Conrad Black who deleted these emails? if so, there may be some video footage to prove it.
oooh. i love a good mystery! this is a real page turner!
Questioning two and two, over six, times three in opposition to xy is much safer territory for preoccupation, if your object is credibility and acceptance within the status quo system, than getting into the gutsier stuff of challenging the validity of the system itself-, to these folks locked into doing the ritual dance of "Loyal Opposition".
Both arms of this official opposition, the "official labour" arm, and the "official House opposition" arm have as a consequence of the postwar pograms that purged most radical "lefties" from within their ranks, been left pretty much, with rare exception, the ideologically eunuchized panderers after a place and acceptance within this system. And the level of their "opposition" should make this clear enough to anyone who has watched them evolve over the postwar period, especially since "the system" began to seriously turn on the working class again, its women and poor beginning with the "Restraint" programmes of the late 70s and early 80s.
Being the essential opportunists they are, in my view, sensing "the system's" major direction shift away from the postwar prosperity period's willingness to make concessions to labour, and include it in on the "management of labourt game", and having shed their own most serious critics and challengers, the class struggle evidence since the ignominious betrayal and collapse of Operation Solidarity in the early 80s, has been to set up a great sucking sound coming out of these folks, as they make concessions after concession and marshall a headlong retreat from the field of battle along the entire socio-political and economic fronts of the class war.
They have become the main "enablers" of the system's deepening slide into criminality and corruption.
Which is where we are all at currently, quite frankly; at the need to draw the appropriate conclusions about these folks and begin to isolate and move away from them, and set in motion the building of an "alternative" people's front, that has stopped altogether relying on these shape shifters and bootlicks.
Looking forward to your enthusiastic response.
Sorry anon 4:00pm that's NOT Vander Zalm...it's zalm and his post has nothing whatever to do with the HST.
He's not in any way related or associated with our former premier and he's NOT 75 years old either.
I guarantee it!
Perhaps you need to have another look at his excellent posts on that Tyee story.