Friday, May 14, 2010

 

Basi-Virk: "These things need to be said."

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To: nhall@vancouversun.com, kfraser@png.canwest.com, ssmart@ctv.ca, jseyd@nsnews.com

Cc: lchodan@tc.canwest.com, pgraham@vancouversun.com, editorial@publiceyeonline.com, willcocks@ultranet.ca, weststar@telus.net

Dear Neal Hall,

I am addressing this to you since you appear to be the spokesperson for the "Vancouver Supreme Court Accreditation Committee".  In fairness, it should be said that the singular can be taken as plural with respect to your colleagues on the 'committee'. 

Copies are also going to your colleagues on the committee and to certain other interested individuals in the B.C. media.

It has come to my attention that you and/or your committee have denied the application for accreditation of Robin Mathews. I have read with interest and an increasing sense of alarm the correspondence between you and Mr. Mathews as posted on a web site known as 'The Legislature Raids'.

If this material is an accurate representation of your actions and, frankly, your attitude toward the public's right to be informed about matters concerning the upcoming and long delayed trial of Dave Basi, Bobby Virk and Aneal Basi, then every B.C.citizen with a sense of fairness and a desire to be well informed ought to be concerned.

Robin Mathews has spent more time 'reporting' on, analyzing and attempting to understand the impact of the events which form the matrix of this case than any working journalist in this country - let alone this province. This is, simply, undeniable. You may not agree with his conclusions - but the suggestion that he does not have a fundamental right to see and hear clearly every syllable that is uttered in the concluding days of this case and to report on what he hears - is risible.

If anyone has a 'right' to continue to report accurately from the Law Courts during the final stages of this trial it is Professor Mathews. That this individual, who has dedicated himself (for no monetary reward) to reporting and discussing the events and implications of this case should be treated in this disrespectful way is a blot on your own reputation as a reporter and a black eye for the companies you and your colleagues work for.

The  cavalier and dismissive tone you have taken in your discussions with Professor Mathews - whose commitment to Canada and Canadian Studies - not to mention his dedication to get to the bottom of this case - is (or should be) well known. Furthermore, your suggestion that he has a remedy for the situation your denial of accreditation has created is both (given the clear and unambiguous Supreme Court Rule on the subject - which as a reporter you should have known) false and insulting.

I know the working media in this province and this country are going through a difficult transition - a situation which is not unfamiliar to many members of the general public in these difficult times. Many British Columbians are also concerned about their jobs, their debts, their mortgages and their childrens' futures. This, however, is no excuse for your behavior in this case.

In fact, without the hard work of a few independent and many unpaid 'working journalists' I dare say this important case would already have faded into oblivion.

When the working press stops doing its job and thinks it has a role in restricting access to legitimate voices of public concern and communication in courtrooms - especially as they impinge upon the decisions and the actions of government - our democracy is on very shaky ground. 

When one journalist decides that his view of what another journalist has to say (or what he thinks of the way he says it) shoulders out that journalist's commitment to openness, accountability and the public's right to know ALL the facts, we are a long way down the road to having no free press at all.

I hope you, your colleagues and your superiors, will reconsider this decision and provide accreditation for Professor Mathews at once.

Regards,

James King,
Victoria.

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Comment from Skookum1:


Can't there be a legal challenge not just to the composition of this committee, but also to its very existence? That 3 of 4 members work for one notoriously-biased news conglomerate - which contributes to the governing party as also does the chief justice this twit of an editor has recommended Professor Mathews appeal to - is noxious in the extreme. Someone else has pointed out that CBC is unrepresented, which is curious (though the CBC has shown no more interest in this case, nor honesty, than CanWest has).

The Supreme Court should not be in the business of issuing accreditation for the press, or for anyone; it's not in its mandate. A Supreme Court of Canada ruling on this seems to be in order, such that the Supreme Court of British Columbia is out of order in tolerating, or creating, such a committee and its attendant "process".

"What is a journalist?" is not a legally-definable issue, nor is it a viable question under the terms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; any more than it has anything to do with common sense. It has to do with clubbery, and back-patting, and insider butt-kissing and information control.

I should note that Wikipedia, which also mandates itself by creating stupid definitions for too many things, distinguishes between newspapers as verifiable/reliable sources vs. blogs as unverifiable/unreliable sources. Yet, as I've pointed out there time and again, British Columbia's mainstream news outlets are NOT reliable sources, and regularly feature op-ed and advertorial as if they were news copy; controversial news reported in blogs, including those of reputable reporters like Bill Tieleman and Rafe Mair, are rejected as being from blogs, while false or at best shoddy news circulated by CanWest is validated as "reliable" simply because they're corporate networks. I have no doubt that the "policies" on this have been defined by moles and propagandists from the major media, and are not innocent guidelines but meant to keep the truth out of Wikipedia, and the rest of the net pages that clone Wikipedia's articles, as much as possible.

But this, this is a travesty of the role of the courts in public life. I can't imagine that Amor de Cosmos or John Robson would have ever thought that Justices Begbie and Crease would have any power over their "accreditation". And I can't imagine Fleet Street putting up with any such nonsense from Britain's high courts, or from the Law Lords.

Speaking of the Law Lords, it seems to me that that's a missing part of our legal system that we should all rue, and is one of those "bad calls" that Trudeau made in "repatriating" the constitution. No higher recourse is available to review the conduct of the justices, or policies, of the Canadian court systems.

Neal Hall's newspaper is a contributor to the Liberal Party of British Columbia. Chief Justice Baumann is also a contributor to the Liberal Party of British Columbia. Suggesting that either one should have power over "accreditation" for critics of that party is wildly inappropriate.

Unfortunately the national media seem to want to dawdle over the Raitt and Guergis Affairs. Even though in both cases it's now said to be "only optics" that's the issue. Clearly, in BC, we have wrongdoing and "juridical insider trading" that's a lot more than just optics, but we have no national media worth spitting at.....

You'd think the CBC would protest not being on this "accreditation committee". But they probably won't even cover this story.....

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Comment by BC Mary, sent as e.mails to the Managing Editors of the 3 CanWest daily newspapers in B.C.

Kirk LaPointe
Vancouver Sun

Wayne Moriarty
Fabian Dawson
The Province in Vancouver

Lucinda Chodan
Victoria Times Colonist


May 15, 2010

It's being said, with concern, that the CanWest news media is avoiding the Basi Virk trial.

Yesterday (May 14) there was an important pre-trial hearing in BC Supreme Court, as the parties prepare for the historic trial expected to begin on Monday (May 17).  I can find nothing about that in [your newspaper] today.

Do you plan to cover the BC Rail Trial (a.k.a. Basi-Virk)? I ask this question on behalf of many people who are genuinely concerned that this significant event may not be reported adequately.

Mary Mackie.
The Legislature Raids
http://bctrialofbasi-virk.blogspot.com/

Kirk LaPointe promptly responded with a single word (Yes), 3 times. On the 4th try, I said his response looked like news, so "do I have your permission to publish this discussion?" No response yet. If he fails to answer before the trial begins, I'll take his lack of response to mean (as before) YES.

The Province says there's no interest in yesterday's pre-trial hearing, which was all about about access to exhibits by media. It had little public interest and dealt with protocol. Deputy Editor Fabian Dawson says they plan "full coverage" whatever that means. In fact, what does "access to exhibits by media" mean??

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Comments:
Just catching up as I have been very busy. Can this thing be anymore absurd? The committee is completely out to lunch or just pretending to be or I'm still asleep and dreaming all of this. No matter they look like fools and forget they are a concentrated media creeping closer to monopoly all the time and shedding credibility at a rapid rate. The public increasingly distrusts them as surveys show yet they persist like the lap dogs they are becoming. Attention committee of obfuscation you dammn well know that many bloggers have been accredited by high office. Welcome to the future you are not the elites anymore, suck it up your days are numbered as the official news, so get over yourselves, we are on to your crap. When the machine is done with you and no one cares what you think, I'll bet you start blogging and arguing that you are a real journalist.
 
Well said, James King!
SIG
 
Can't there be a legal challenge not just to the composition of this committee, but also to its very existence? That 3 of 4 members work for one notoriously-biased news conglomerate - which contributes to the governing party as also does the chief justice this twit of an editor has recommended Professor Mathews appeal to - is noxious in the extreme. Someone else has pointed out that CBC is unrepresented, which is curious (though the CBC has shown no more interest in this case, nor honesty, than CanWest has).

The Supreme Court should not be in the business of issuing accreditation for the press, or for anyone; it's not in its mandate. A Supreme Court of Canada ruling on this seems to be in order, such that the Supreme Court of British Columbia is out of order in tolerating, or creating, such a committee and its attendant "process".

"What is a journalist?" is not a legally-definable issue, nor is it a viable question under the terms of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms; any more than it has anything to do with common sense. It has to do with clubbery, and back-patting, and insider butt-kissing and information control.

I should note that Wikipedia, which also mandates itself by creating stupid definitions for too many things, distinguishes between newspapers as verifiable/reliable sources vs. blogs as unverifiable/unreliable sources. Yet, as I've pointed out there time and again, British Columbia's mainstream news outlets are NOT reliable sources, and regularly feature op-ed and advertorial as if they were news copy; controversial news reported in blogs, including those of reputable reporters like Bill Tieleman and Rafe Mair, are rejected as being from blogs, while false or at best shoddy news circulated by CanWest is validated as "reliable" simply because they're corporate networks. I have no doubt that the "policies" on this have been defined by moles and propagandists from the major media, and are not innocent guidelines but meant to keep the truth out of Wikipedia, and the rest of the net pages that clone Wikipedia's articles, as much as possible.

But this, this is a travesty of the role of the courts in public life. I can't imagine that Amor de Cosmos or John Robson would have ever thought that Justices Begbie and Crease would have any power over their "accreditation". And I can't imagine Fleet Street putting up with any such nonsense from Britain's high courts, or from the Law Lords.

Speaking of the Law Lords, it seems to me that that's a missing part of our legal system that we should all rue, and is one of those "bad calls" that Trudeau made in "repatriating" the constitution. No higher recourse is available to review the conduct of the justices, or policies, of the Canadian court systems.

Neal Hall's newspaper is a contributor to the Liberal Party of British Columbia. Chief Justice Baumann is also a contributor to the Liberal Party of British Columbia. Suggesting that either one should have power over "accreditation" for critics of that party is wildly inappropriate.

Unfortunately the national media seem to want to dawdle over the Raitt and Guergis Affairs. Even though in both cases it's now said to be "only optics" that's the issue. Clearly, in BC, we have wrongdoing and "juridicial insider trading" that's a lot more than just optics, but we have no national media worth spitting at.....

You'd think the CBC would protest not being on this "accreditation committee". But they probably won't even cover this story.....
 
Excellent letter Mr. King

Down in the Empire of Amerika under the rule of tinpot tyrant and village idjit George Bush the Lesser and his Nanny Uncle Dick Cheney there was more respect shown to the public in terms of access to informtion and access to the federal court in cases with heavy political implications.

During the trial of Scooter Libby in Washington D.C. Federal Court, resulting from the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame, in which Libby was convicted of some charges, sentenced to jail time and then had his sentence commuted, but with no pardon, by Bush - the (non) working journalists of the bloggosphere were accredited and allowed into the courtroom or/and even better really) an overflow room with closed circuit television of the proceedings.

These (non) journalists and real journalists (i.e. drones of the NYTimes, whose own reporter was implicated in the case, and the once respectable Washington Post et. al.) were allowed all the tools of their trade, at least in the overflowed closed circuit room.

From there the marvelous women (Jane Hamsher, Marcy Wheeler and Christy Hardin Smith) of Firedoglake not only took notes and recorded the proceedings but live-blogged to the outside world day after riveting day - and carried on rapidly moving comment/chat lines with their readers simultaneously.

For more on the women see American Heroines at Rag's Mag for Feburary 22, 2007 - scroll down to the date if you go to the page!

It's too bad we are just a colony of the multi-national corporate robber barons and not at least making a pretense of being a democracy. Unless people wake up the only thing that will change is we'll get a new colonial governor/overlord to replace Gordon Campbell once his and his descendents future is lined with ill-gotten gold and he has managed to outrage even his "friends" (sic) while we endure the "golden shower" of trickle down flim-flam!
 
Skookum1 you are incorrect in one small, but very important part of your May 14, 2010 posting of 8:29 PM. You wrote:

"No higher recourse is available to review the conduct of the justices, or policies, of the Canadian court systems."

This is inaccurate. Any citizen can complain about the conduct of any federally-appointed judge – and all BC Supreme Court Judges are federally appointed. And make no mistake, the CJC will be reluctant to simply sit back and let the public reputation of the Canadian judicial system be damaged.

Yes, the CJC is made up of judges, BUT a complaint to the CJC is a very serious matter and treated as such by this body (in my experience). In addition, the courts in BC are more corrupt than any other court system in Canada, and you can be sure there are members of the judiciary (even some here in BC) who would like to see the rotten apples in the judicial barrel be tossed out. A complaint to the Canadian Judicial Council (or better, complaints from multiple parties) will be treated seriously.

Make your complaints to THE CANADIAN JUDICIAL COUNCIL at:

http://www.cjc-ccm.gc.ca/english/conduct_en.asp?selMenu=conduct_complaint_en.asp

The complaint process is explained at the above link, and is simple and straight-forward. The complaints can be about any conduct by a judge in or out of the court room – but please note, the CJC will not accept complaints about any final judicial decision. This does not refer to decisions made by a judge within a case, simply that the CJC will not review the actual final decision of a court case. That's the responsibility of courts of appeal.

So, it seems to me that anything to do with the conduct of judges in and out of the courtroom in the BC Rail Corruption Scandal is ripe for a complaint or multiple complaints. That includes everything from the baffling bans, to ... well, others are better able to articulate the multitude of offenses swirling around the BC Rail Corruption Scandal as well as many other cases in BC.

By the way, it costs nothing to make a complaint, and any citizen can do it themselves. All you have to do is articulate the matter that you are concerned about. It would seem to me that someone like Robin Mathews would be well-versed to make one or more complaints, about one or more judges. As might others.

CC
 
BCMary, I couldn't give donkey piss if the Managing Editors of the 3 CanWest daily newspapers in B.C. plan to attend or cover the BC Rail Trial (a.k.a. Basi-Virk)? When did their views become credible?
The only point that concerns most of us here is, Mr. Mathews and his court reporting
accreditation being allowed.
 
I'm curious, you sent a note to the managing editors of the 3 CanWest newspapers in the West. You reported the replies from the V. Sun and the Province.

Did you get ANY reply at all from the Times-Colonist?

While I take Henri Paul's point that he doesn't care about these MSM outlets, we should. That's the only way we're going to educate the masses who are ignorant of what is happening (I mean that factually, not as a disparaging remark).

In fact it's 'Alice-in-Wonderland silly' for The Province to say the public isn't interested – the public isn't interested because they don't know what's going on, and how it has affected, and will affect them. Why is that? Because these newspapers and other media outlets aren't publishing any information!!!

What a ridiculous comment from The Province.

CC
 
I dare the MSM to tell the truth. Those three people are hiding the truth from the great unwashed. IT IS THEIR DUTY to tell the masses about the trial. It is a dereliction of their duties! They are cowards, liars. as well as small minded souls. When they are out of work, whining because of that fast, they must remember these times, and what they should have done. I have had dealings with the province paper, and that creepy fellow named Wayne Moriarty. He couldn't tell the truth if it was written down for him.
They are a waste of skin.
 
Canadian Canary,

No response from Times Colonist yet. And the final word from Kirk LaPointe -- you know who I mean, the guy who shows up on a YouTube each morning to personally inform us that he, handsome he, "is Kirk LaPointe, Managing Editor of Vancouver Sun", who goes on to list all the good stuff he's allowing into print for that day --

yeah ... that Kirk has refused me permission to publish our ... um, er ... discussion. Ha.

But I believe I can safely assure you that his side of the [ ... cough! ...] discussion consisted of 1 word repeated 3 times, and a "No", using a mere 5 letters in the English alphabet in total.

So smile, the next time Pointy comes on YouTube to tell you about the wonders he's about to display on BC's flagship newspaper. BC's newspaper "of record" (especially pig farm records).

Wayne Moriarty, Managing Editor of The Province, on the other hand, managed to say pretty much the same thing but he did it with some style ... cordially ... and, like, with more actual words. ['ow you spell h'editor in h'english, HP?] It was the Deputy Editor, Fabian Dawson, who told me that other stuff. Whatever ...

Are you laughing? I hope so. It's loony tunes, I tell ya. But I'm not really kidding about this whole issue of a decent, reputable press informing good citizens about the place and events where they live.

Them's what we call "First Principles" ...
.
 
Thanks Mary, for the info about the Times-Colonist. I buy a subscription -- just to see what they DON'T print. Time to quit that.

And let me make a comment about the Globe and Mail. I challenge everyone to find the story they printed in this weekend's edition (May 15th) regarding the BC Children's Advocate's compelling and important victory in court on Friday.

The Globe and Mail's headline for that teensy-weensy story:
BC WOMAN WINS ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS

I am not kidding. BC woman!?!

Why not say: BC INDIAN WOMAN WINS ACCESS???
Or, BC MOTHER OF FIVE WINS ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS???

What the hell is going on with the Globe? How disrespectful to an officer of the government, not to refer to her title.

They could have said BC CHILDREN'S ADVOCATE WINS ACCESS TO DOCUMENTS or FORMER JUDGE AND BC CHILDREN'S ADVOCATE, or... any number of more respectful things.

Oh, by the way Mary, it's a story filed by, yup, The Canadian Press. (You know – Wendy Cox and buddies, or hubbies with ties to Campbell...)

CC

ps I'll save everyone time. The "story" is on A7 of the Globe and Mail's weekend edition.

It's worth checking out just to see how little they can make of an important story, and how many "errors" they can make too, For example, Wendy Cox (or whomever she is hiding behind), states in this "story" that "Ms. Turpel-Lafond refused to sign a protocol document that would have allowed her to view the documents, but gave the government control over their use." THAT'S JUST PLAIN FALSE.

Canadian Press confuses the documents that Ms. Turpel-Lafond sued the government to get (ordinary government files) with the documents that she and other government watchdogs write, which are the subject of this "Protocol".

This "Protocol" does not give government control over government's own documents, you fool! (I'm referring to the brain-dead CP reporter.) They already have control over their own documents. Jeez.

THIS "PROTOCOL" ALLOWS THE GOVERNMENT TO SUPPRESS OR DELAY THE REPORTS OF THE VARIOUS GOVERNMENT WATCHDOGS, e.g. Auditor General, Privacy & Information Commissioner, Police Complaint Commissioner, etc.

The "Protocol" is just a fancy word used for a bit of sleight-of-hand by the government to control and suppress the government watchdogs because they really don't want them to do their jobs.

A few have signed it, such as the Ombudsperson, Kim Carter. So, you can see why we're not getting any report from her about the horrific situation many, many seniors "in care" are suffering. She's caved.

I'd love to see Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond as Premier.
 
Canadian Canary:

YES ... Ms Turpel-Lafond as BC Premier ... my very thoughts exactly!!

And Vicki Huntingdon should be there too.


And I couldn't agree more, with your comments about the Globe and Mail's handling of Ms Turpel-Lafond's story. I hope you sent these remarks to The Globe ... I still believe that SOMEBODY reads what we say, even if they don't reply.

Many thanks for bringing all this to our attention.
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