Monday, September 20, 2010

 

BC Rail Political Corruption Trial: Blundering justice.

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Blundering Justice.  Christie Blatchford in Ontario. Welcome to B.C. The morning in Courtroom 54, 

By Robin Mathews
September 20, 2010


Christie Blatchford writes about the courts and the law for the Globe and Mail in Toronto.  On September 18 she wrote a little about … a little … that’s wrong with the Ontario higher courts.  BC Mary copied parts….

Today a juror in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case was indisposed, and with eight lawyers in court and ten people in the gallery, and Mr. Brian Kenning (witness for the prosecution) ready to continue his game of hide-and-seek with memory, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie did what she had to do: have the court stand down until two this afternoon….

Blatchford’s article blew through the ranks of court watchers and British Columbians deeply worried about the decay of justice in the province like a fresh, healing breeze.  As she listed off the incredible obstructiveness and plain stupidities of the Ontario court system, we nodded our heads.

Let’s just review a little, about B.C.

First, over-secretiveness threatens the “open court” system.  No transcript of court days (“open court”) is EVER available to the public –and should be available easily. Readily.

Second.  Transcripts, when available, or other materials, are obscenely expensive.  I believe that is because production has been “privatized” -  besides, the Court and its political masters don’t want British Columbians to know … anything.

Third.  Materials that are placed on public record are filed in Criminal Registry.  They are the products of “Open Court”, and they are placed on public record.  But they may not be examined by British Columbians! They may only be examined by someone granted “journalist accreditation” by the weird, in-group, unacceptable system set up to prevent materials on public record from being seen by any British Columbian not in the court inner circle.

Four.  Announcement and the fair information about court events and processes are, as BC Mary has said repeatedly, conducted badly…constantly.  When sessions are cancelled, the information is rarely posted so that the public may save time. The B.C. Supreme Court gives evidence, over and over, that it feels no responsibility whatever to the public in relation to court events and processes.

Five.  The judges of the Supreme Court of British Columbia blatantly deny British Columbians kinds of information the people have a right to have.  When Justice Anne MacKenzie (strangely) replaced Justice Elizabeth Bennett on the Basi, Virk, and Basi case, no one knew anything about MacKenzie.  I wrote to the court and asked for a resume of her professional activity.

That is a perfectly reasonable question to ask about a public servant taking on the most important public criminal trial in B.C. history.  The court wrote back and told me they did not have that information (which had to be a bald untruth), and so they would not send it to me. (I said I wanted to make it public so others would have the necessary information.)

Six.   Christic Blatchford reports that she had to stand up in court and ask that the judge speak loudly enough to be heard!!!  That problem plagues the BC Supreme Court processes.  ALL in court sit or stand before microphones.  Very, very often important information is lost because people in the court cannot be heard.  One case especially, is George Copley, lawyer for the cabinet of Gordon Campbell. Copley is usually inaudible.  I have written that he is so used to speaking in whispers about the shady dealings of Gordon Campbell that he forgets how to speak normally.

Joking aside, I wrote to Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett and told her that MANY in the gallery couldn’t hear a word Copley said.  Would she please have something done about his microphone and his audibility.  Madam Justice Bannett didn’t reply (of course) and did NOTHING about the problem. Even she, sitting steps away from him, had to ask him to repeat statements!! It is an on-going problem, and it is an insult to the people of British Columbia that it is not remedied.  The B.C. Supreme Court has been informed … and doesn’t give a damn.

Seven.  Christie Blatchford often has dealings with the Ontario Attorney General’s office.  In B.C. we don’t.  When I wrote to the Attorney General about the fact that William Berardino, Special Prosecutor on the Basi, Virk, and Basi case, was wrongfully appointed, in violation of the legislation governing the appointment process, and must be removed, I was answered by the assistant deputy Attorney General, Robert Gillen.  Mr. Gillen (as I have written before) wrote what I believe is a falsehood to me, saying he couldn’t comment.  When I wrote to the AG again, asking for HIS reply, the AG, Michael de Jong, refused even to acknowledge the letter.

Eight.  That’s what happened, too, when I wrote rejecting the top judges of the court saying they – in effect – would have nothing to do with the problem.  I am still waiting for a reply to my letter from Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, the judge seized with the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter.

Nine.  As painful as it is to do so, I have to refer to the members of the corporate press who fail daily and have failed consistently on all the matters mentioned here.  Early (years ago!) in the pre-trial hearings in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter I was trying to pry some materials out of the court’s hands.  A lawyer approached a few of us outside the courtroom and asked if I was the only one trying to get information.  The reporters there said Yes.  The lawyer shook his head in unbelief.

More and more and more it can be said that the mainstream journalists in the courtrooms of British Columbia are lap dogs and sycophants.  I say that with the greatest regret.  I believe if the court decided all reporters had to appear in leopard skin leotards, the mainstream press and media reporters in the B.C. Supreme court would do it without a murmur, to a man (and a woman).

Ten.  Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie enters court nine out of ten time – LATE.  Ten minutes late.  Fifteen minutes late.  A half hour late.  In the court sit nine highly paid lawyers…waiting.  In the gallery sit many British Columbians … waiting.  Her lateness has become such a habit that other principals now dribble in late.

The people of British Columbia are paying the lawyers, the judge, the judge’s assistants, the sheriffs, the jury, and the invisible costs of the court.  Think about Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie’s habitual tardiness.  Think about it.

The problem of the ladies and gentlemen of the Mainstream Press and Media shines a light on the whole unacceptable pattern of B.C. Supreme Court operation.  Perhaps, one thinks, the court and its officers are just stupid, incompetent, unreliable, careless ….  Then one looks to the Guardians of the People, the Protectors of the Public Will, the Fourth Estate – the Mainstream Press and Media.  And one finds an emptiness, a non-presence, a total failure to demand of the B.C. Supreme Court system that it serve the people of British Columbia with probity, prudence, respect for the law, and care for the public.

If there were a tug-o-war going on between the Mainstream Press/Media and the court, one could say things are in flux.  But there is no tug-o-war, which – I suggest – means the Mainstream Press and Media are a part of the intention to make the court system fail, to make it an instrument of corrupt government, a plaything of the big corporations (which, don’t forget, is what the Mainstream Press and Media now are – big corporations chasing big profits).  Think about that, too ….


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National Public Relations ... or National Labrador ... or National? 
Here's a puzzle.  Here's where it begins to get sticky. Start here, circa 2003 and 2004:

* the Campbell Government already had the powerful Public Affairs Bureau, larger than any news media in Canada,

* BC Rail had its own public relations office

* and still the Campbell government still felt a need to hire a National Public Affairs team.  Why? Well, Ian Reid said at The Real Story, "


".... National [Ian explains] is National Public Relations, the spin crafters hired by BC Rail to come up with a rationale and plan for marketing the privatization of BC Rail...."


Oh. Well, then ... it's a bunch of strangers who were paid to justify and develop a plan for dumping British Columbia's crown jewel: the money-making, industrial lifeline of our province: BC Rail.

I didn't know that. Did you? You wouldn't think a former Director of BC Rail and head of the Audit Committee would forget a group like that. National Labrador, eh?


Next, have a look at Neal Hall's report for today (Sept. 20, 2010), HERE http://www.vancouversun.com/news/Corruption+trial+delayed+after+juror+falls+breaks+hand/3551050/story.html

where it refers to the aforementioned national P.R. firm only as "National".

I asked Neal to explain.

So here's BC Mary e.mailing to Neal Hall ...

Neal,

There's a bit of confusion about the public relations firm identified in your report today as "National".

This must mean "National Public Relations".  Is that correct?

I'd welcome your verification, as that line as it stands in your report appears to be almost evasive.

Mary Mackie.

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

and Neal Hall very helpfully replied to BC Mary:

It was refered to in court as National Labrador, but it seems to be National Public Relations now.
I just referred to it as National.

Neal Hall
The Vancouver Sun
(604) 605-2067
Email: nhall@vancouversun.com

_____________________

BC Mary comment:  yes, Robin Mathews in the first draft of his column that day, referred to it as "National Labrador", after having it verified in court that "National Labrador is what actually was said in testimony. But it just didn't look right to me. So I looked back in the records (feeling sure it was an error) and (with Robin's approval) changed it to National Public Relations which, after all, is a well-known, national p.r. agency beloved of politicians.

Was I wrong? I don't think so.  "National Labrador" is searchable, all right, but it seems to be all about dogs!  I simply can't imagine how the name got turned around like that.

____________________________________________


Stop the press (or some such thing!) ... lynx has left a new comment on the  post "BC Rail Political Corruption Trial: Blundering justice...":

BC Mary,

In regard to your query about "National" - I've been researching the same thing....and when I googled "National Labrador" the only links that came up were the dog links as well. Then in a lucky stroke I found this one link - it is the BC Rail Financial Statement for 2001. First they list the Board of Directors, a number of familiar names there - like Kenning and McLernon. Next you will find a list of employee wages (over $50,000) and then after that a list of payments to corporations etc. for services and supplies rendered. In that list you will find "National Labrador Communications", payment of $38,846.01 and also "National Public Relations", payment of $100, 289.60. Odd, as you say,as it is hard to find any other reference to National Labrador anywhere else.

They also have listed payments made to the Prov. of BC, for a number of ministries, also quite interesting...

Here is the link:

http://www.llbc.leg.bc.ca/public/pubdocs/bcdocs/146855/bc_rail_fin_2001.pdf
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Finally,  here's a bit from Hansard dated Oct. 6, 2003 -- and published in The Legislature Raids on April 18, 2009 -- telling us what we should know about National Public Relations.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

SPENDING ON GOVERNMENT COMMUNICATIONS

From Hansard
October 6, 2003

J. Kwan: The Premier knows well the good people at National Public Relations. Perhaps he even recalls Randy Wood's kind words in his defence last January — speaking as a crisis management expert, of course.

The Premier's office paid National Public Relations a total of $37,000 in taxpayers' money last year alone. Given that this Premier has the largest political communications staff in B.C. history working for him already, what possible extra value could National Public Relations provide that was worth $37,000?

Hon. G. Campbell: I'd have to get the information on the specific contractual arrangements for the member, but let me just remind the member that, in fact, this government is spending substantially less than the government that she was part of spent on communications. It is important, unquestionably, that we do communicate with the people of British Columbia, and we are doing that. But today, Mr. Speaker, as you will know from the budget documents — and the member opposite should as well — we're effectively paying $6 million less than the previous government was in 1992.


Mr. Speaker: The member for Vancouver–Mount Pleasant has a supplementary question.


WORK OF LOBBYIST ON GOVERNMENT ENERGY PLAN


J. Kwan
: The boss at National Public Relations, B.C. office, is Marcia Smith. On September 4, 2002, Marcia Smith registered as a lobbyist for an oil and mining industry association, the Canadian Coalition for Responsible Environmental Solutions. These guys don't like Kyoto, but they sure like oil and coal. It was Marcia Smith's job to lobby government on their behalf as the government was putting its energy plan together. She really must be convincing — good enough that only five days later, the Minister of Energy and Mines hired her to work on this government's energy plan.

Can the Minister of Energy tell us why he was paying Marcia Smith to help develop his energy plan when she was also being paid by big oil to lobby on the very same energy plan?


Hon. J. Neufelt
: The member over there is picking at straws, trying to find anything wrong that she can. Unfortunately, they have not been able to, other than trying to mislead people in some instances. We have a very good energy plan in the province, one that's designed to take British Columbia well into the future, and we are looking forward to actually going along with that energy plan well into the future.

J. MacPhail: Well, the minister is playing dumb. That's what my notes here say, but I actually don't think he's playing. I actually think he may be dumb on this one. It's an outright conflict — it's an outright conflict — for the minister to pay Marcia Smith to help him with his energy plan when she's already on the payroll of big oil and mining companies to lobby him on the same plan.But there's more, Mr. Speaker — new information. Two of National Public Relations top lobbyists, Michael Goehring and Randy Wood, are also registered lobbyist[s] for Accenture — National Public Relations employees lobbying for Accenture, the same folks who benefited from this government's privatization of B.C. Hydro. These two gentlemen report to Marcia Smith. So while the government is busy negotiating a deal with Accenture and drafting the final energy policy, which included the Accenture deal, Marcia Smith is also lobbying for Accenture. She's also lobbying for big oil, and at the same time she's being paid by this minister to advise him about the Liberal energy plan. Can the minister stand up now and tell us how this is not a conflict?
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BC Mary comment: I can't believe that astute businessmen and politicians would, for a split second, forget who National Public Relations is, or the central role it plays in the careers of politicians.  I don't know what it's called, when facts are misspoken on the witness stand. But this small detail has made me very uneasy. What do others think?

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Comments:
Might i suggest that we're looking at some provincialized monopoly Kapitalism in play.

But don't worry--you've been discovered.
 
This is not acceptable courtroom display. Is there not a law society or some such agency that can force the court to behave in a proper and reasonable manner?
The antics of this court have become a story in itself. Is there no accountability?
 
A damning indictment of a shameful situation!
 
BC Mary,

In regard to your query about "National" - I've been researching the same thing....and when I googled "National Labrador" the only links that came up were the dog links as well. Then in a lucky stroke I found this one link - it is the BC Rail Financial Statement for 2001. First they list the Board of Directors, a number of familiar names there - like Kenning and McLernon. Next you will find a list of employee wages (over $50,000) and then after that a list of payments to corporations etc. for services and supplies rendered. In that list you will find "National Labrador Communications", payment of $38,846.01 and also "National Public Relations", payment of $100, 289.60. Odd, as you say,as it is hard to find any other reference to National Labrador anywhere else.

They also have listed payments made to the Prov. of BC, for a number of ministries, also quite interesting...

Here is the link:

http://www.llbc.leg.bc.ca/public/pubdocs/bcdocs/146855/bc_rail_fin_2001.pdf
 
This whole sham illustrates just how shameful the BC Liberal government has behaved. If this is the accepted standard that they operate on and by, it is no small wonder that BC is in a very precarious situation. It will probably be decades before the full extent of the damge caused by Campbell, will be known. And, when it is, it will most likely be unbelieveable in both depth and scope.

BC will forever rue the day they voted Gordon "the liar" Campbell into power in 2001.

Thanks.

JW
 
Here's a list of "National Public Relations" clients:

http://www.odwyerpr.com/pr_firms_database/prfirm_detail.htm?prid={91A0CCFD-A7D4-4469-BF62-2CD8F66183D5}

"NATIONAL is a subsidiary of RES PUBLICA Consulting Group which also owns Cohn & Wolfe | Canada."


Top of list of clients is "Accenture" could be BC Hydro; BC Lottery Corp. (BCLC) is sixth on the list; TimberWest Forest Corp. is sixth from the bottom.

In the middle of the pack is "National Bank Financial Group". The only reason this one caught my attention was because one of the Directors of the "Canada Line" is from the National Bank Financial Group.

And seeing as how we are on the topic of the Canada Line, they've set the benchmark on how a job should be documented:

http://www.ravprapidtransit.com/pubLibDocs.asp?ID=4#19

Whereas with the sale of BC Rail we have had testimony from two witnesses who don't recall, don't remember, and we keep hearing that seven years is a long time to remember.

Oh well, we do have YW notebook http://www.bcndpcaucus.ca/en/node/2512 scribbles to squint at, no typed Minutes though, they've all been gathered up by the police, or were they?

The interesting thing here is the timelines ... the Canada Line "Competitive Selection Process and Agreements" started off on November 1, 2002 with an REI, which was amended on January 1, 2003 and the sale of BC Rail started off in March of 2003. Its unbelievable the degree to which these two projects differ in respect of record keeping capabilities.

BC rail documents are almost non-existent!

As to National Labrador or National or National Public Relations, Bill Tieleman on June 8, 2009 did a post called:

"BC Rail FOI requests turn up National Public Relations as advising BC Rail during privatization"

http://billtieleman.blogspot.com/2009/06/bc-rail-foi-requests-turn-up-national.html

If you want to "refresh" your little grey cells on National, Mr. T is a great place to start.

BC Mary asks: "Here's a puzzle. Here's where it begins to get sticky. Start here, circa 2003 and 2004"

Mr. T replies with: "Wood was a lobbyist for Accenture during the 2002-03 privatization of part of BC Hydro but is not registered as a lobbyist for any other clients."

I guess that answers my own question as to whether the Accenture I see at the top of list is BC Hydro, eh!
 
Still amazes Me the work Kwan and Mcphail did back in the Day.

In 2005 National and Global Canada joined together.

National's webpage says it all.

Cris Communications when You need it.
"With experience of frontline of major Corporate crises and Canada's top issues and crisis managers. NATIONAL will help you to guard your reputation. Sustain customer and public trust. And restore "buisiness as usual" as quickly as possible.

and this
"Official investigations by the RCMP and other police forces, the Competition Bureau, provincial Securities Commissions and Health Canada"

Principles

"NATIONAL's Crisis Principles


When a crisis hits, it is imperative that you immediately adopt the following operating principles:
•Gather all available information.
•Monitor mainstream media and online conversations to understand emerging perceptions.
•Respond quickly and professionally to all inquiries from reporters, even if you have nothing to say.
•Advise employees, in writing, that all media inquiries should be directed to the designated spokesperson to ensure reporters receive accurate and up to date information."
more to come
 
March 14, 2007
New name for parent company of NATIONAL Public Relations and Cohn & Wolfe | Canada

As of January 1, 2007, our parent company changed its name to RES PUBLICA Consulting Group Inc. In French the name is Groupe conseil RES PUBLICA inc. We use RES PUBLICA for short.
This is only a name change. There are no other changes at the parent company level. The reason for the change is to differentiate the parent company from its two networks, NATIONAL Public Relations and Cohn & Wolfe | Canada, which continue to operate under their existing names.

June 11, 2003
ETC Communications Joins Cohn & Wolfe
 
Courtesy of SourceWatch: http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Burson-Marsteller

"National Public Relations, Canada's largest PR agency is an affiliate of Burson-Marsteller.

Burson-Marsteller is the world's fifth largest PR company (Source: Council of PR Firms, 2002) and part of the WPP Group. According to a 2004 profile in The Hill, a Washington, DC newspaper, "This multinational PR behemoth has an active public-affairs practice led by Richard Mintz."

Out of curiousity, is Richard Mintz related to Jack Mintz...of HST fame? I say fame because he wrote two different reports regarding the effects of the HST...not a good thing for Ontario, but an real good thing for BC. I'm curious because Mintz is not a common name - and the hack job Jack did in favor of BC's HST has the earmarks of a government desperate to have their own way, and someone willing to help their cause, so it seems.

I'd say we're at the point with this liberal government that this should apply:

"Believe NONE of what you hear, and only half of what you see...you'll be alright."
 
Holy smoke, Leah,

that's a big can o'worms you just opened!

I'll spend part of my weekend digging into that.

ugh.

That old phrase keeps coming back to me ... remember when we used to say "For evil to triumph, it means that good people did nothing." or some such thing.

That's the BC Opposition under Carole James. Good people (I think) who do nothing ... allowing evil to triumph.

http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Burson-Marsteller
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LOL! Sorry Mary, it was bugging me...so I had to share it...with someone who knows how to dig, and what to look for. That's you!
 
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