Thursday, October 15, 2009


Robin Mathews on Coincidence

Coincidence. Coincidence. Coincidence?
By Robin Mathews

Out of nowhere, it seems, the writer I call "Gordon Campbell's personal representative at the CanWest Vancouver Sun" began, (or re-began) the other day, to write (authoritatively) about the Basi, Virk, and Basi case arising out of the BC Rail Scandal. Vaughn Palmer hasn't, I believe, been near the hearings for at least a year. No matter. When you have a message, you deliver it. [Scroll down to see Palmer's columns on this site. 1) Liberals doing 'everything possible' in hunt for BC Rail e-mails, judge says. Vancouver Sun - Oct. 12, 2009, 2) Defence in BC Rail Case gathers ammo for expected civil action. Vancouver Sun - Oct. 13, 2009]

At the same time, in Victoria, the CanWest Times Colonist comes suddenly awake with reports of its sleuthing to find former Victoria police chief Battershill, working as a fire chief in B.C's north. Did the people of the small community where he is living KNOW his past? It is a past that may lead him to be a significant witness in the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial - since Battershill was in on the months of investigation that led up to, and included, the search warrant "raids" on B.C. legislature offices. Also he was forced out of the chief's position he held - apparently for a romantic indiscretion, though there is much shadow in that claim of substance, many claim. Is all that coincidence? Or could it be someone doesn't want him at the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial?

Palmer first reported on the August 21 decision by Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett (released, perhaps strangely on the Supreme Court website just over a week ago). Perhaps not strangely at all, perhaps merely coincidentally. Nor did Palmer re-enter discussion of the BC Rail Scandal strangely - but perhaps merely coincidentally. Whatever, Madam Justice Bennett is warmly supportive of the B.C. government people working like beavers to restore the lost/destroyed/misplaced materials that may hold evidence needed for defence of the accused. That she was not critical of their work is, of course, not a coincidence. Facts are facts.

Then Palmer dragged up the past about problems of the NDP government and disclosure of evidentiary material. It's the same as what's happening now with the Campbell government in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter...almost, he opines. A funny coincidence. But the picture coming through - as I read his account - is not really about the coincidence of two cases. It is that the cunning Defence is (a) trying to get a mistrial called, but (b) not before they stack up enough material (allegedly) to base a civil law case claim for pots of money to be paid to their injured clients.

It would be to speculate, I know, to say that Palmer is (A) pot-shooting at the Defence in a way that might denigrate them in the public mind. And he is (B) pushing forward information about a judge's report that makes the Campbell government look good. Even if that were true, it would probably just be coincidence.

One might be tempted to speculate (acknowledging that it is merest speculation) that the two events coming together (in the Colonist and in the Sun) - coincidentally - both have the result of turning the attention of British Columbians from the involvement of the Gordon Campbell group in the corrupt "sale" of BC Rail.

Before going further - let us, too, look a little at the past. Some say in the famous lead-up to and trial of former NDP premier Glen Clark, the CanWest papers poured on lava and smoke in a way they haven't come anywhere near in the matters of the BC Rail Scandal. Indeed, remember as well, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, judge presiding at the 136 days of trial, slapped Glen Clark's wrist for choosing his friends imprudently (though he was cleared of all wrongdoing).

I have waited and waited and waited for her over the last nearly three years to slap Gordon Campbell's wrists for - to my mind - specializing in imprudent friendships and imprudently in other associations. No such luck!

And then there's Vaughn Palmer. At the time Glen Clark was cleared of all criminal liability in the little veranda case (a matter of ten to twelve thousand dollars) but was politically ruined - Palmer wrote a column in which he left the insinuation (as I read the column) that Clark may not, in fact, have been innocent.

There's no better time to kick someone, is there, than when he or she is down.

Strangely, the sums of money involved in the BC Rail Scandal - far in excess of a billion dollars - to which the Campbell group had to be closely connected - have, apparently, not the slightest interest for Palmer.

That stikes me as strange. Though it may just be coincidence. (And my referring to the very different responses of judge and journalist in another case ... I admit ... may be simply to be pointing at a coincidence.)

These coincidences pile up and pile up. For me, they take their place beside another coincidence. Last week, too, I wrote a letter to RCMP Deputy Commissioner Bass (with copies to many journalist and others) saying that I have reasonable and probable cause to believe that investigation might lead to allegations of serious, perhaps criminal wrongdoing in a circle up to and including Gordon Campbell in the matter of the transfer of BC Rail to CN Rail. I asked Deputy Commissioner Bass to have the RCMP undertake investigation either to clear those people of all suspicion of wrongdoing or to bring forward allegations of wrongdoing and to lay charges.

Not a single "accredited journalist", not a single "journal" covering the BC Rail Scandal case involving the accused - Basi, Virk, and Basi - has so much as mentioned the letter. Though - it seems to me - Vaughn Palmer and the Times Colonist are throwing dust into the air, and throwing dust into the air, and ....

But that's probably just coincidence.


It is The Leader who establishes ethics. Since he has none, so, given this example, many politicians have none either.
This younger generation of journalists missed a Journalism 101course about ethics, slander, conflict of interest and public relations emphasizing the truth. So, spin doctoring abounds. Journalists never question the spin. One-sided stories are everywhere. The PAB spies and the sheer number of them reflect a serious case of paranoia.

CanWest, with the support of Harper (why else is there a new museum going into Winnipeg?) publishes tripe, regularly fires journalists who try to write anything resembling the truth.

Palmer never attended the trial: he had reporters there who sent
perceptions to him.

When there were rumours about the
Top Dog throwing temper tantrums in the Ledge the first week it resumed, I sent him an e-mail, asking what was going on. His reply "When a control freak loses control, he gets angry." He knows he would lose his job if he put that in his column.

Other scandals being ignored: BC Ferries for complete ineptitude on the long weekend (and just what was the cause of the generator fire and the out-of-commission elevator in Tsa);
and Translink, up to their eyeballs in debt, today making announcements about the Evergreen Line going ahead, pushed by one Richard Stewart, now a Mayor, but once a member of the Canadian Home Builders Association Board when there was such a conflict of interest and the leaky-condo crisis.

Suggest Dr. Mathews send his letter to the Washington Post Opinion section: Title: Only in Canada, eh? Cheers.
Somewhat related but pertinent to the chill on journalism these days...Did anyone notice the apology/correction The Province published in regards to the Michael Smythe story on Jessica?

Those engaging in balanced journalism on radio and print need a reminder that families need to be fed clothed and housed I suppose?

Leave an unshackled press as a legacy to your children should be the credo, IMHO.
Another idea: Send Robin Mathews letter to Senator Kenney in Ottawa who monitors this stuff, to William Elliott himself, to Jack Layton. On Oct. 9 (page A-16) the Vancouver Sun actually published an editorial from the Montreal Gazette wherein this statement was
made. "Stephen Harper has a secret agenda bordering on fascism." So, perhaps Dr. Mathews should forward his letter to the Gazette. End of ideas. Cheers.
Anon 10:06,

I certainly didn't see a Jessica McDonald correction ... can you give us the URL for it, please?

Dang! Here I've been thinking that Michael Smyth is breaking free in his point of view ...
Province, Oct 13,page A4 NEWS


Smyth has to pay a mortgage, feed folks, etc. etc. He does a much better job on CKNW than that salvinating Bill Good or the MOMMY
SHOW of Christie Clark. Good has been nominated for the WEBSTER lifetime achivement award. Nominated by Neil Soper of..wait for it..CKNW.
The rain is Webster saying...piss on this.
"The rain is Webster saying...piss on this."

That sentence has to rank as one of the best I've read in weeks! Good on ya Anon 1:36.
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