Thursday, May 13, 2010
BC Rail Case: Will Vancouver Sun, The Province, Victoria Times Colonist publish this information?
B.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Robt. Bauman,
Assoc. Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie,
Mr. Justice Joel Groves,
Jill Leacock, law officer.
May 12, 2010
Copies distributed widely.
My Lords, My Lady, and Ms. Leacock:
With the very deepest regret I am writing to you about what I have to believe is one more expression of administrative chaos at the Supreme Court of British Columbia (or, perhaps, far, far worse – what may be perceived as active prejudice and partisanship at the highest levels of the court).
I refer to what you name the “Accreditation Process For Journalists”, a process (June, 2002) by which “accredited journalists” may “take recording devices into B.C. Supreme Court trials in order to assist them to report accurately….”
I have been denied accreditation by a committee of four chosen by the Court (all four committee members are employees of one single, notoriously reactionary media conglomerate which I criticize publicly!), and I reject the decision out of hand.
I request, formally, that you overturn the decision of the committee without any delay and inform me of the overturning without any delay.
The rejection of my application raises questions very much larger than the particular case of my rejection.
Is the whole basis of the “accreditation” process in place created to prevent ordinary citizens from recording Open Court proceedings – for baldly commercial reasons and not to assure privacy, accused rights, or any other reasons? The monopoly operators of transcript production are (notoriously) reported to charge outrageous rates for transcripts. Is the Supreme Court of British Columbia constructing “processes” like the one named here in order to increase the profits of the private corporate monopoly (or monopolies)?
Many Canadians believe, with me, that private (for profit) corporations have no place whatever in the administration of justice in Canada!
In fact, any Canadian should be able to record all proceedings of B.C. Supreme Court trials (the great Open Court system to assure fairness, equity, justice, and responsibility in the conduct of the law in Canadian courts). Restrictions on broadcast of recorded materials and other reasonable restrictions could be placed on ordinary citizens, as they are placed on journalists. To forbid Canadians from recording trial procedures is to brand them as people so likely to act criminally in regard to court procedures that they must be restrained by those appointed to serve them. Canadians must be denied their fundamental rights because court officers (without the power to do so) decide Canadians will use those rights for criminal purposes.
Such a decision by court officers is an insult to all Canadians and a vile restriction of the freedoms of Canadians.
No other explanation can be made for the denial of recording rights to any Canadian attending a B.C. Supreme Court trial.
In my particular case, I have been attending the BC Rail Scandal court proceedings and reporting widely on them (specifically, but not only, for two Canadian websites) for a period of more than three years. I have been in the courtrooms involved more than any of the four members of the committee which has denied me accreditation.
The make-up of the committee is a scandal.
The four members of the committee are all employees of the notoriously reactionary CanWest* conglomerate (generally believed to be a solid supporter of the Gordon Campbell government). CanWest is presently in a state of fragmentation – but that fact has nothing whatever to do with this particular matter or the odious restriction of freedoms placed on ordinary Canadians attending B.C. Supreme Court trials.
I will not protract this letter. I will, however, report to you something you know very well already. In B.C. the Supreme Court has (I can say this at a glance and without the least research on the matter) many other places from which to select committee members to oversee the “Accreditation Process For Journalists”. Just for instance, there is the CBC, the Globe and Mail, The Georgia Strait, Tyee, Black Press papers, university and college journalism faculties, Communications Department faculties, Canadian historians, political scientists… and many, many others .
Without moving from their offices, committee members could act with full responsibility by using (as the “Accreditation” system already provides) the resources of the internet – which allows all “meetings” and deliberations to go on without actual physical meeting of the committee.
For the Supreme Court of British Columbia to constitute a committee for the “Accreditation Process For Journalists” from one only private media corporation is scandalous. For the choice to be the notoriously reactionary CanWest Corporation is almost unbelievable (and provides a perception of extraordinary bias on the part of the highest Court officers).
The trial of Dave Basi, Bobby Virk, and Aneal Basi begins on May 17. I ask you to act BEFORE THAT DATE to grant me accreditation for the trial, and to inform me that accreditation has been granted.
XXX Salsbury Drive,
*CORRECTION –“Accreditation Process For Journalists”
The letter to BC Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert Bauman, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, Mr. Justice Joel Groves, and Ms. Jill Leacock, law officer contains a single error that must be corrected. In my letter I said that CTV is a part of the CanWest conglomerate and it is not. I apologize for the error, especially to CTV.
Almost all of the letter, otherwise, can stand.
CanWest is thought by many to be a supporter of the Gordon Campbell government. And the committee – with three CanWesters and one CTV person would not be likely to make a different finding, or – perhaps – be able to do so, since a vote would go 75% to CanWesters in a test.
I re-assert that I believe the make-up of the committee to vet accreditation for journalists at Supreme Court trials is a scandal – especially when the very wide range of sources available to provide committee members is considered. Even as the committee stands – with one member from CTV – I do not believe British Columbians would consider it acceptable in its make-up.
I continue to request accreditation for the trial, and request Supreme Court officers make a decision before Monday, May 17 and convey the decision to me.
From: Robin Mathews
Date: May 13, 2010
Subject: Accreditation process for journalists
Dear Neal, and the others on the Accreditation Committee.
I have just visited bc mary's site and read the flurry of material on the Accreditation process there. Your acid responses, Neal, redound to your credit as a person loyal to an Accreditation committee that is simply not acceptable.
As I say in my CORRECTION, with 75% of the committee employees from CanWest, there is not much chance of anything but CanWest judgement being shown. The mistake I made should not have been made in my text. But agreeing to that, I still say the body of the letter I wrote is substantial, and cannot be brushed aside.
As to the twaddle you speak about ... when you say if I was a professional journalist I wouldn't make a mistake, I can only say that one of my amusements in the whole Basi, Virk, and Basi pre-trial period was to note errors of fact in "professional" reporting - especially from CanWest journalists. We are all human. We all err.
In addition, you acidly accuse me (I forget the exact wording) of flying off into what I suppose might be called unfounded speculation and analysis. You said it less courteously than that.
I accuse you - and all CanWest journalists of failing to report MAJOR facts placed before them when the facts might cause discomfort to the Gordon Campbell group. Just for instance, the revelation that the Special Crown Prosecutor was appointed to the BC Rail Scandal case concerning Basi, Virk, and Basi by an Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General who were partners and colleagues of the appointed Special Prosecutor for many, many years - and HAD to be "interested" parties in the accusations involved has been ignored by all "professional" journalists on the case. The revelation is a revelation of fact, as are the accumulated revelations of Berardino connection to high Liberals. The revelations are not speculation. And they point to a real violation of the prosecutorial legislation ... I would say a prima facie violation.
The dictionary says that prima facie evidence is "evidence sufficient to establish a fact, or raise a presumption of fact, unless rebutted". Neither the ministry of the Attorney General nor the judges of the B.C. Supreme Court to whom I have presented the evidence will rebutt it. They refuse, rather, to discuss it.
All CanWest "professional" journalists - and editors - refuse to report that major revelation.
I think there is nothing more to say.
I have written to the Surpreme Court officers to ask for Accreditation. I think you should never have denied it in the first place.
with every good wish for your good health and success, Robin
BC Mary writes to Neal Hall ...
To: Hall, Neal (Vancouver Sun)
Sent: Thu May 13, 2010
Robin Mathews needs media accreditation for BC Supreme Court, so that he could properly hear and observe the proceedings.
As you may know, his regular column on the BC Rail Case is published far and wide.
I believe that he has done an exemplary job of attending, observing, analysing, and reporting on the events arising from the Basi, Virk, Basi charges.
His faithful readers would appreciate your assistance in providing him with proper accreditation so that he may record some of the spoken evidence for his reports, which will be to our benefit.
The Legislature Raids
As I told Robin Mathews last week, he can apply to the court for permission to use a recording device.
He should direct his attention to this matter before the trial starts Monday instead of spending his time accusing the media accreditation committee of all being members of Canwest, which is wrong.
If Mr. Mathews were a journalist, he would have checked the facts before making this inaccurate claim.
One committee member, Stephen Smart, works for CTV, which has no connection to Canwest (but has a corporate connection to the Globe and Mail).
This demonstrates why we rejected his application - he makes inflamatory accusations based on opinions, not facts.
The Vancouver Sun
I apologize for the CTV error, which was my error that got caught up in the rush of trying to do something constructive about Robin's situation. But the fact is: 3 out of the 4 members of The Committee, are CanWest.
And your Committee rejected Prof. Mathews' application before I made that CTV/CanWest error. You have placed undue emphasis on that error.
At issue, is a friend of the court asking for a place to sit, and permission to record, to make best use of the proceedings in Open Court, in order to report to the public. At issue is information which the public needs to know.
If you and/or your committee can facilitate Robin's simple request, I'd appreciate it very much. As would many others.
As for using a recording device, he can ask the court for permission, as can any citizen.
The way the committee was struck, we chose to have one TV person, two daily print reporters who spend most of their days in court and a weekly newspaper person.
It was strictly volunteers to screen applicants.
The parametres of accreditation were defined after a meeting in 2002 of representatives of all media and the B.C. Supreme Court puic [sic] affairs committee.
There is another meeting in early June, when I can raise the matter.
The Vancouver Sun
For the quislings of the Assperson Empire and CTV, whose anchor is Gordon Campbell's personal ottoman (footstool), is completely UNACCEPTABLE!
I checked out the link to "Crooked in Canada" and though I loved the headline of the Anne Mackenzie post re: the Biker judgement, the proprietor of the site is a complete yahoo and even his rationale for criticizing J-Mac is riddled with inanity. It is likely he is a full patch member of the Campbell, Harper and Heed fan-clubs. He strikes me as someone who still doesn't realize that Archie Bunker was parody/satire and considers Archie the paragon of reason.
As one who didn't have a TeeVee in those days in my home, when I first saw an episode of "All in the Family" I naturally thought they were being serious and promoting Archie's character's world view. But really, you have to be brain dead to not realize what was going on pretty quickly.
I did like the image (clouds) used as the title banner though!
I've written to all 4 of the committee members, simply pointing out that Robin's reports are read by many people far and wide, and that we want him to have whatever tools are available to make his work go better.
Of course, I wrote to Neal Hall yesterday, too, asking for the names of the other members of The Committee (is that sound like George Orwell, or Franz Kafka?).
No response from Neal ... I guess that's because there are no other members of The Committee.
I fear they have their heads in the same place as our provincial (and federal) government. Out of touch with the people.
CTV may as well be Canned Waste, by the way, considering the fact that Bill "not so" Good, Gordo's personal flack is their "anchor."
We ARE NOT going to let this go!
I do appreciate your clear thought process.
Digression: people often ask me how I am. Well, the fact is, I get tired very quickly. And when so tired, it's hard to think straight. So this might explain why I appreciate the good, clear thoughts coming in from everyone.
I think Neal Hall has got off on the wrong foot. I believe that he alone rejected Robin's application and that he did so because there's a conflict of interest at play. I believe Neal seized upon my error (I was thinking CTV was also CanWest) to explain why he alone denied accreditation for Robin because it would sound better than admitting to professional jealousy. Taken together, this does not reflect well on Neal Hall.
2) He did, in fact, urge Robin to apply to the court. Knowing, I allege, that it was like tossing a letter into a deep, dark hole never to be seen again.
And so I thank you all very much for your honourable concern for the profession of true journalism. And Koot, thank you especially for saying "We ARE NOT going to let this go!"
Because I simply don't see how the BC Supreme Court (of all places!!!) could allow a transfer of responsibility for media access to members of the media ... with (as we have seen) no recourse!!
Like ... Closed shop. Secret handshakes. What next?
I would like to hear from Mr. Hall as to just what "inflamatory accusations based on opinions" he is speaking.
Is it that Robins opinions go against the opinion and grain of the local media? If that is true Mr. Hall then all you have here is a contrary opinion. And that, I ALLEGE, is not grounds for refusal. All it is is a attempt to muzzle and that is not acceptable.
Isn't that the Canned West specialty? Casinogate is the most obvious example, but not alone in any sense of CanWest's systematic twisting or reality.....
I've read your exchange of letters with Robin Mathews and BC Mary.
Your conclusions are simply unbelievable:
First of all, you claim that Mr Mathews can apply to the court to bring a recording device into the courtroom in order to assist his accurate understanding of what goes on in the court.
This is not just disingenuous, it is plainly WRONG.
I'll copy the Court's policy on such recording devices - something YOU, as a working journalist, ought to know.
Here's the Supreme Court Policy: (copied from their site)
That the Supreme Court’s policy excluding recording devices remains in place, except that accredited journalists may be permitted to bring recording devices into Supreme Court courtrooms to record the proceedings, so long as:
a) the use of recording devices is not disruptive to the proceedings;
b) does not impose additional expense upon the court; and
c) such recordings will be used for the verification of journalists' notes only and not be copied or used in any other way - in particular that they not be broadcast.
2. That it remain within the discretion of the trial judge to exclude recording devices in a particular case, or for a particular portion of a trial.
3. That this policy permits the use of recording devices by accredited journalists in courtrooms only, and not in other areas of the courthouse.
It's absolutely clear to me - and to anyone who understands the English language - that Robin won't get to record proceedings UNLESS he's an accredited journalist - and that that accreditation is determined by a team of voluntary 'journalists' operating according to their own personal opinions and views and NOT THE COURT.
Mr Hall's statements are not only demonstrably untrue - they are offensive.
An annoyed observer.
"No one is preventing Mr. Mathews from attending or for applying to the judge for permission to use a recording device."
Why thank you Mr. Hall! But might I ask why he needs to apply to the judge, when all he had to have from you and your committee members is accreditation, which in turn allows him to use a recording device?
Note to Neal Hall,
Perhaps we want Robin is because you, and your kind, have a way with, shall I say, reporting facts, but just not all of them.
Very good question!
I've been wondering why Neal Hall keeps suggesting that Robin contact the judge who never responds.
Btw, there's a wonderful tribute to Robin Mathews' work on the BC Rail Case, and a seasoned newsman's comment on the refusal to grant Robin media accreditation.
"As for using a recording device, he can ask the court for permission, as can any citizen."
Listen folks, this is a crock.
I was in the BC Supreme Court two weeks ago, and, as a self-represented litigant I respectfully asked the judge for permission to record the proceedings, citing the legislation which permits this.
I was flatly and emphatically refused by the judge.
So, we can ask. But then we can ask for the moon too, and have about as much a chance of having our request met.
Mary, perhaps you may wish to ask Mr. Hall for his response to my experience in the BC Supreme Court.
By the way, I have the transcript which contains this request and the judge's refusal, should anyone want proof.
Bet the Vancouver Sun isn't interested though.
Sent: May-12-10 9:43 PM
To: 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Cc: 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'firstname.lastname@example.org'; 'email@example.com'; 'Schreck@strategicthoughts.com'
Subject: BC Supreme Court Media Accreditation Committee and the BC Rail Trial
I won’t pretend to know all the ins and outs of being a journalist – I’m just an average guy with a family to support - but I am an avid consumer of what journalist’s write and what they choose to write (or not write) about, especially when it comes to politics in BC.
I used to be an avid consumer of our local papers, until I was introduced to the blogosphere and realized there were people out there who were actually writing stuff that mattered and addressed issues that hit home with me, and others like me. These folks are the real journalists – free from outside influences, they are writing pieces that reflect the real issues of the day, from many different perspectives. I don’t always agree with all of what they write, but they are not afraid to ask some tough questions and search for the story behind the story, the truth.
Recently, I’ve seen flashes of real journalism in pieces in the Sun and Times-Colonist – real questions being asked and real digging for facts being done. Sadly, this is the exception nowadays, but it doesn’t have to be. What it will take, though, is a willingness to do things differently, to admit that others have been doing a better job in reflecting what is really going on in our community and to embrace them, even co-operate with them.
In this light, I would hope that you on this committee would welcome into the courtroom as accredited journalists those in the ‘non-mainstream’ media who have been covering this BC Rail trial for many years, such as Robin Mathews. You might just learn something , and, who knows, you might even regain some of that shrinking audience for your local papers.
No history of colleges, no experience, upgrades
no accreditation.... like the Supreme court of Canada noted.
"Before you get to ..." Don't you mean "too"?
Pls show me where I am "promoting" Robin Mathews.
Show me where I am getting too "carried away in promoting Robin". Wtf does that mean?
I "might want to do a search" ... ? Here's where you really earned your User Name.
Searches were done. Nothing significant found. Not interested in putting them down ... I simply want fairness in the Accreditation process.
Now ... YOU might want to do a search on the internet for Robin Mathews (at risk of getting too carried away, of course).
What I wrote was in regards to those who are on the Accreditation Committee.
"Before you get to carried way in promoting Robin, you might want to do a search on the internet like I did and there aren't any bio for the esteemed colleagues on the Accreditation board."
I never said that you were promoting Robin Matthews, if anything I was asking for bio of those who sit upon the accreditation board. What makes them so high and mighty to deny Robin Mathews his right to report to the public on what happens on the basi virk bask trial.
BC Mary if anyone should be using the name SNARK, it should be you: The irony mark or irony point (؟) (point d’ironie; also called a snark or zing) is a proposed punctuation mark that was suggested to be used to indicate that a sentence should be understood at a second level
You did mean "too" ... or else the sentence doesn't make sense.
And the sentence includes "promoting Robin Mathews [not Matthews]" so you did indeed say that.
You were asking for the bio of those ... ? After telling us you found nothing??
"Vaughn Palmer has been the Vancouver Sun's provincial affairs political columnist, based in Victoria since 1984. His column appears on the Sun's page three five days a week. He has covered eight B.C. premiers -- and counting.
Palmer was born in Gaspe, P.Q., in 1952. He moved to B.C. in 1967 and finished high school in Nanaimo, where he never once played bingo. He attended the University of B.C. and worked on the student newspaper, the Ubyssey.
Palmer has worked for The Vancouver Sun since 1973. He started as a reporter and has also worked as an editorial writer and rock critic, an experience he describes as "only slightly more crazy than covering the B.C. legislature."
From 1980-82, he was city editor for The Sun. In 1982-83 Palmer attended Stanford University on a journalism fellowship. In 1988 he shared the Jack Webster Award for reporting with The Sun's Gary Mason.
In 1998, he was the winner of the Hyman Solomon Award for excellence in public policy journalism."
However there is no "Source" for Neal Hall, Kieth Fraser or the other two reporters who sit upon the Accreditation Committee of other worthwhile individuals who, should be, recognized.
So, to compare the above reporters to Vaughn Palmer, they have JUST STARTED OUT. Who are they to judge who should be accredited or not.
Give Robin a seat.
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