Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Vaughn Palmer: unbeknownst to the Liberals, the tape recorders would be running.

Dobell's flippant quip revealing
Campbell advisor avoided leaving a trail - either electronic or on paper

By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - July 22, 2009

For all of Premier Gordon Campbell's professed commitment to "openness and transparency," a closer-to-the-mark characterization of the government attitude toward politically sensitive information was provided by his longtime adviser Ken Dobell.

"I don't put stuff on paper," the then deputy minister to the premier told a conference in the provincial capital, halfway through the B.C. Liberals' first term in office.

{Snip} ...

In any event, the safest strategy was to do the most sensitive work in person or over the telephone. As Dobell put it, explaining his reasons for avoiding the written record, paper, electronic or otherwise: "It's like having a family argument at home and deciding to tape it and invite the biggest neighbourhood gossip in."

Interesting analogy. For as he spoke -- this was the fall of 2003 -- the Campbell government was engaged in one of the most controversial exercises of its entire time in office, "a family argument" over how exactly to deliver publicly owned BC Rail into the hands of privately owned Canadian National.

And unbeknownst to the Liberals, the tape recorders would be running. More later.

Read Vaughn Palmer's full column HERE.


BTW, Mary, have you seen Gary Mason's column in the Globe and Mail? Worth a look...

Stop teasing ... you are scaring me!
The difference in tone between the most recent Palmer and Mason pieces couldn't be more stark.

While Mr. Mason's is filled with full-on, straight-ahead outrage Mr. Palmer's is laced with smirking world-weary snidely snark that is, in my opinion at least, infuriating.

All of which makes it very difficult for a reasonable and informed reader not to conclude that Mr. Mason is taking this matter seriously while Mr. Palmer considers it to be some sort of slightly inappropriate 'even -big-boys-will-be boys-type joke.


Excellent observation Ross - in fact, I just sent Mr Palmer an email more or less to that effect
It's telling that Vaughn Palmer was obviously aware of all of these "jokes" as they were being made and didn't consider them newsworthy until now. ie the use of 'Dobell' as a verb. Obviously being steeped in that world normalizes behaviours that should not be normalized.
Ooops! I see you already posted Mr. Mason's story. Sorry, guess I had not enough coffee yesterday...
Mr.Palmer needs to take a refresher course in journalism - Mr. Mason should be the instructor. With a long pointer handy.

But, Dobell told his truth no doubt, and the media found it funny enough to ignore. Perhaps in future as well as an independent arms-length department to take care of documents and records for storage in the legislature, we also need to have random wire tapping of phone lines to keep the deciders honest. And a little nervous. No, a LOT nervous. They might learn to have a little more respect those who actually fork over the money to pay their over-bloated salaries and perks.

What floors me is that NO ONE has come forth (anonymously) to tell what they know. He either has everyone terrified, or mesmerized. Unreal.

Here's my guess in reaction to your final paragraph about everyone being either "terrified or mesmerized".

I've been told by an insider that being in Gordon Campbell's caucus meant that MLAs spent more time cooped up with Gordo than with their families.

Now I don't know about you, but to me (having studied a bit about WWII brainwashing and propaganda), it suggests a subtle form of mind control. In a benign sense, it's what we do in French immersion, for example. It's especially powerful (and cruel) when the people don't realize it's happening.

This is why -- call me naive -- I often think about Lara and wonder if she's OK.

Because some who rebelled against "Gordo's way or the highway" have suffered a great deal.

Let's hope that Judge Bennett keeps control of the BCRail Case and steers it through court. Until we find out all we need to know.
Amen Mary, if she leaves this case I do believe it will fall flat on its face - as it was likely intended to do from the beginning. I'm sure there's a reason why the defense has had to fight tooth and nail for every little crumb they've gotten.

Like you, I've wondered about Lara too - she was a very young woman when she started working for little is known about her its very hard to get a sense of what she's about. That's the way he wanted it - and it's the one thing media has been absolutely obedient about. Odd. She's a member of the legislature with the highest expense account ever. Yet we know nothing? Two peas in the same pod maybe? Who knows.....

The one thing we do know is that every MLA who has ever served under him is almost fanatical in their obedience to him and his ideals...except for Paul Nettleton. Whaddya know! A man who owns his own integrity, and sleeps well at night. Speaking of whom...I wonder how he's doing?
"Mr. Palmer's is laced with smirking world-weary snidely snark that is, in my opinion at least, infuriating.'

I remember Vaughan from his days at the Ubyssey....he had that same world-weary snidely snark back then.....except I'd add "smarmy" to the string of modifiers now, especially since '83.....

as for the caucus et al. being "terrified and mesmerized", I think it's more like "scared out of their wits", some of them being intelligent enough to know that all this constitutes "doing a Zalm" and could kill the BC Liberals in their current state in the same way the Socreds were trashed....or for that matter the Liberals in 1952 (I'm not making the 2001 comparison because the circumstances were different; the NDP were only accused of crimes, not actually guilty of them....)
You're probably right Skookum, but one brave soul with a trace of integrity left could fix that little problem by cutting ties with a leader intent on killing both the Province and the party - just come on out and tell the truth. That's all it would take.

I'm amazed that to a person, their lifestyles seem more important than the future of this province and its people. I shouldn't be - but I am.
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