Thursday, July 15, 2010
Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie of the B.C. Supreme Court and the Insane Publication Ban on BC Rail Scandal Matters
Democracy in Canada Under Attack
By Robin Mathews
July 15, 2010
[6th anniversary of the signing of the semi-secret BCRail-CN Deal.]
The draconian publication ban imposed by Associate Chief Justice Anne Mackenzie (March 2010) on most B.C. Rail Scandal pre-trial processes and all present trial processes without the presence of the jury is, in my opinion, scandalous. It joins an increasing move, under the Stephen Harper government, to strip freedoms from Canadians and to teach them that a ‘police state’ is the best guardian of democracy.
Mainstream Press and Media people will doubtless say the ban is normal, ordinary, pro forma, nothing to be alarmed about. But the Mainstream Press and Media people are losing their credibility so fast we may almost assume that whatever they support has to be resisted by the general population. One member of the committee that denied me court accreditation as journalist was employed by CTV. A report, now, on the internet, alleges (with apparent visual proof) that CTV used Vancouver Olympic footage, offering it as part of the mayhem scenes at Toronto’s G20 demonstrations - to make the G20 mayhem look worse.
If that is true, it says everything about the present danger of our Mainstream Press and Media. The corporate press backs what is increasingly claimed to have been violent, planned disruption of peaceful G20 demonstrators by police engaging what appears to be the tacit approval of, if not pre-planning with, the Ontario and Ottawa governments. All that violence was undertaken, it seems (a) to mask the folly of the G20 meetings (b) to ‘practice’ violent suppression of the public voice, and (c) to indoctrinate the population with the idea that violent, destructive police action is “reasonable behaviour” in Canada.
Most information about police and government dirty tricks at the G20 came first and most determinedly from the alternate press and from reports on internet sites. The MSPM has – even so – continually repeated the propaganda that trouble was caused by wholly non-police-connected Anarchist groups.
The activity of the Mainstream Press and Media for several years has been, also, to downplay the significance of the BC Rail Scandal – the corrupt transfer of BC Rail from public hands to the massive private corporation now headquartered (in fact) in Texas – the CNR.
The Basi, Virk, and Basi criminal trial for breach of trust, fraud, and money laundering is not an ordinary criminal trial. One has to battle the Mainstream Press and Media to make that point – to climb over their calculated (?) culture of complacency (shared, I believe, by the top judges of the B.C. Supreme Court). The trial before Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie is one in which ALL British Columbians are directly concerned and affected. ALL British Columbians had their railway, their publicly-owned asset taken from them by – I allege – criminal activity engaged in at the highest levels of government. (I have formally asked RCMP Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass to conduct appropriate investigation. He refuses.) All the people of B.C. are losers financially. They are losers of one of the guarantees of fair, sober, responsible conduct of government in the province: a publicly-owned asset, fairly operated, whose accrued profit helped provide fair standards of health, education, and other public services in the province (including transportation). The people of British Columbia have a right to all information possible on the matter.
Information is denied them by the draconian publication ban imposed by Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie … with the unprotesting, docile support of the Mainstream Press and Media (representatives of which now “work for” the Court to screen undesirables from receiving accreditation as court journalists.)
One has to battle the MSPM [Mainstream Press and Media] to get almost any truth squarely before the public. As if writing a satire or a piece of straight-faced ridicule, Globe and Mail writer Bill Curry , (front page, July 12) , for instance, reported on the search made by Stephen Harper to find a highly-qualified, ‘non-partisan’ (?) Governor General to succeed Ms. M. Jean. Curry’s report argues that the search was scrupulous and non-political.
As Rick Salutin pointed out a few days earlier in his column, David Johnston, Governor-General-in-waiting, is a Stephen Harper hack. He cogently doctored the terms for the Inquiry into the Mulroney/Karl Heinz Schreiber relation for Stephen Harper so that nothing of significance could result. It was not an Inquiry, but a Harper specialty – an Unquiry.
Bill Curry parades a list of Governor General “search” committee members before our eyes, as a way of showing their scrupulous independence. Curry, however, fails to enter their political allegiances. That is a very slight oversight which would reveal they are all – or almost all – “conservatives” and/or Stephen Harper flacks. If that were not true, how did David Johnston get on the list? How did a scrupulously independent committee somehow put on the short list a man who acted to achieve Stephen Harper’s ends in the Mulroney/Karl Heinz Schreiber affair? And who was spotted at the time as doing so. The Curry article is brazen in its propaganda – to disguise a politically laden piece of sleight-of-hand.
But that is what we have come to expect from the large corporate news “producers” - brazen propaganda on behalf of anti-democratic corporations and governments in the country. Often the propaganda comes as close to the purveying of false information as it is possible to do. Bill Curry, I would say, reports as scrupulously non-partisan what most would see as a piece of carefully manipulated political chicanery. Wouldn’t Mr. Curry be said, by reasonable people, to be purveying false information?
[Allegation: when his daughter was employed by the federal Department of Justice and David Johnston was a Board member of CGI corporation, CGI received huge Department of Justice contract work, and David Johnston has received rich compensation from CGI.] Those wanting to know more about David Johnston’s unsuitability as Governor General should ask for information from
On the matter of the publication ban imposed by Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, the blockage could be easily rectified. When I sought to abide by the publication ban AND to give the public some information about the cause of interminable delays in the trial, I was threatened by Ms. Jill Leacock who [obviously on behalf of Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie] assured me I would be ”in contempt of court”, and I would “leave [myself] open to prosecution” if I continued to write as I did in that column. [E-mail, June 30, 2010]
Readers may remember that Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie first imposed a ban that forbade any publication whatever on pre-trial or trial matters. Since criminal trials in our system are claimed to be conducted in “open court” that imposition would have been challenged even, probably, by the MSPM. Justice MacKenzie altered the ban a few days later – signifying the four levels upon which the ban would apply. When I worked with the four levels and found I could provide some information to Canadians not in the courtroom, I received the threatening e-mail from Ms. Leacock (quoted above).
I insist that Canadians have a right to a good deal more information than Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie is making available to them. She could very easily set out the basis of the delays and wrangles (without jury) in the courtroom. She could call in the jury, read the explanation to them, explain what causes delay, instruct them not to see those matters in terms of bias or prejudice on anyone’s part – and to weigh the evidence that is placed before them.
To tell the jury the bases of delay would be to tell the public. And, I insist, the public has a right to know the bases. A judge is not without freedom to move on such matters. And since the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial is of profound interest to all British Columbians, I insist that Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie has an obligation to provide more information to the public than she is doing. She places herself in an unnecessarily ambiguous position when she blocks information.
She does so because, overall, almost all information that is denied the public may be said to shield Gordon Campbell and his associates from exposure in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to CNR. The jury, I believe, would not have its integrity imperilled in any way by a full and fair presentation of the cause of delay by the presiding judge.
The insistence of Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie that the publication ban be rigidly observed seems, also, to be highly inconsistent. In her message to me Ms. Leacock is firm that “the integrity of the jury and trial process” must be in no way imperilled. With deepest respect, any British Columbian could ask Justice MacKenzie if her refusal to tell the jury that the Special (Crown) Prosecutor was appointed in violation of the legislation covering such appointments imperils “the integrity of the jury and trial process”? Doesn’t his presence in the courtroom – when the jury doesn’t know he was wrongfully appointed – ‘imperil’ the trial process? I cannot but think that it does.
Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie has all the information on the wrongful appointment. She refuses to discuss it publicly or to act upon the information. But it is not something that is covered by the publication ban, and so it cannot be hidden from the public’s view. And it sits at the centre of the trial, calling into question all actions of the Special (Crown) Prosecution team.
If you wish to be counted on this matter you may write a letter to Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, The Law Courts, 800 Smithe Street, Vancouver, B.C., V6Z 2E1. Or you may e-mail: “Attention Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie” at firstname.lastname@example.org
To remind you: All prosecution legislation in B.C. is primarily concerned with objectivity and independence from bias, prejudice, and unnecessary influence – especially the legislation concerning the appointment of Special Prosecutors. They are usually appointed when regular prosecutors may have the potential to be perceived as biased in relation to elected politicians especially cabinet ministers, to high civil servants, to police officers or to others of similar stature. Special Prosecutors are supposed to be free of all (possibly prejudicing) connections.
William Berardino was appointed Special Prosecutor in December, 2003. He had been seven years a partner and colleague of Geoff Plant, the Attorney General, in the Ministry that appointed him. He had been eleven years a partner and colleague of Allan Seckel, the Deputy Minister, in the Ministry that appointed him. In 2005, (when Special Prosecutor) he gave a donation to the election campaign of Wally Oppal who replaced Geoff Plant as Attorney General, Plant (strangely) withdrawing from politics. In the Spring of 2007, during the pre-trial stages of the Basi, Virk, and Basi case, Gordon Campbell entered the legal process, terminated unilaterally the effective protocol for vetting documents the Defence requested from the cabinet, and Campbell unilaterally named Allan Seckel, Deputy Attorney General, as the sole person responsible for the process. And Campbell said that Seckel would consult with the Special Prosecutor (with whom Seckel had been for eleven years a partner and colleague in private practice).
The brave members of the Mainstream Press and Media have exposed the fact that Mr. Beradino gave a donation to the election campaign of Wally Oppal. But they (like Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie) have remained mute on William Berardino’s other apparent, very serous contacts suggesting conflict of interest, his associations which provide (at the very least) “the potential for perception of conflict of interest”. Such is sufficient (without any other implications) to make him invalid as Special Prosecutor. I have fully informed Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie of the improper appointment of William Berardino, formally, twice. She refuses to act to remedy what fair and reasonable Canadians would surely call an unacceptable appointment.
Write – if you feel drawn to do so – to the Associate Chief Justice. Any Canadian may write to a Supreme Court judge. And if you wish to do so, send a copy to