Thursday, March 31, 2011
BC Rail "privatization not reversible"? How can you be so certain of that, Mr Palmer?
NDP trio sour on private sector, but say job creation top priority
By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - March 30, 2011
Horgan drew one of the more satisfied laughs of the evening when he quipped that under his leadership, [BC] Ferries’ boss David Hahn “is going to be cleaning washrooms real soon.”
Only on the subject of BC Rail, sold by the Liberals to CN Rail in defiance of one of their own election promises more than seven years ago, was there any acknowledgment — by the ideologically determined Dix, no less — that privatization was probably not reversible at this late date.
BC Mary comment: This statement in Vaughn Palmer's March 30, 2011 column needs challenging. Who's being kidded here? Seriously ... who's getting the wool pulled over their eyes again? And why?
Although the BCR-CN deal has never been fully opened to the public (complaint #1), we do know that there are RE-POSSESSION clauses in the contract AND we know that there have been breaches which could trigger re-possession, such as (a) CN's failure to maintain certain BCR lines - and - CN's failure to purchase 600 new centre-beam rail cars; (b) we also know that any contract which is entered into by illegal means is not a valid contract. Palmer, Dix, Horgan, and Farnworth must know this, too. Grown-up, responsible people know these things ... and they should be prepared to acknowledge these truths before shooting off their faces about how best (?) to handle this tragic situation!!
So is this statement in Palmer's report today simply the NDP turning belly-up again, like dead fish?
Or is this Mr Vaughn Palmer being unable to hold his own hopes in check? I hope others will send him a reminder that the BC Rail issue is still very much alive. His e.mail address is
email@example.com (Vaughn Palmer).
Maybe send copies to remind the other three, as well:
Oh yes: and let's remind them that what we absolutely do need right now is a full Public Inquiry into how we, the citizens of British Columbia, lost control of this vital link in the BC economy apparently by means of a rigged auction (CP said so, and objected, in writing).
Tuesday, March 29, 2011
BC lands: Is the Gateway Program the only vision for BC's lower mainland?
BC Mary comment: An outstanding article with map in The Straight will answer many questions ... and prepare us for the next train-wreck steaming toward us:
Anne Murray: Is the Gateway Program the only vision for BC's lower mainland?
The Gateway Program is a destabilizing influence on the ALR, already under siege from decades of development proposals. In 1968 and 1969, 4,000 acres of prime Delta farmland were expropriated for back-up lands for the Roberts Bank superport. Following the pro-ALR sentiments of the 1990s, these lands were offered for sale back to the original farming families. Now these same lands are being repurchased through a series of curious deals, particularly those along the B.C. Rail spur line to Deltaport, where rail yards and container storage are planned. Land speculators and agencies are driving up the price ahead of the bulldozers. For example, a 46-acre property beside the B.C. Rail line, sold by the Crown in 2002 for $575,000, was resold in 2008 for $3.5 million. Some of this property is now owned by B.C. Rail, purchased at a premium price. The assessed value of another piece of land, close to the route of the SFPR, jumped suddenly from $628,000 in 2002 to $4.3 million in 2004; by 2009, it was valued at $8.4 million. The Gateway plan calls for all “vacant” lands south of the Fraser to be made available for industrial use. Agriculture becomes even more challenging under these conditions, with the cost of land prohibitive for new farmers.
Please read the full story HERE.
Whoa Nelly! When CN bought the E.J. & Eastern railway in December 2008, U.S. regulators outlined a 5-year monitoring period ... then extended it a year to Jan. 2015. When will the B.C. government smarten up?
Citizen Journalist E.M. has some questions about this interesting CN issue taking place in the U.S. of A. She says: At least the Americans know how to monitor Mergers and Violations, with a 5 year oversight monitoring. The US Surface Transportation Board (STB) is comparable to Transport Canada.
Canadian National fined $250,000
Regulators say railway underreported Chicago-area crossing delays
December 21, 2010|By Duaa Eldeib, Tribune reporter
Federal regulators reached an unprecedented decision Tuesday to fine Canadian National Railway a quarter of a million dollars, just two years after they approved the railroad's plan to redirect freight traffic through dozens of Chicago suburbs.
The Surface Transportation Board levied the penalty against Canadian National for "knowingly violating" the board's orders to report delays at railroad crossings between Mundelein and northwest Indiana.
CN had initially stated there were only 14 instances in which trains blocked crossings for 10 minutes or longer last November and December. An independent audit revealed such delays occurred 1,457 times, more than 100 times greater than CN reported.
"We're disappointed with the fine," CN spokesman Patrick Waldron said. "In no time did CN mislead or attempt to mislead STB officials or local leaders or the general public through our reporting."
Despite an outcry from residents, CN purchased the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern line for $300 million in December 2008. After the acquisition, regulators outlined a five-year monitoring period. The decision Tuesday extended that period by a year — until January 2015.
Organizers with The Regional Answer to Canadian National, or TRAC — a band of suburbs that opposed the purchase of the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern line and complained about CN's reporting — saw the STB's judgment as an affirmation of their efforts.
"We're pleased that the STB has taken seriously the importance of monitoring this situation. … (CN) needs to be vigilant in not just preventing crossing blockage but reporting what's going on, which hopefully will result in better outcomes," said Karen Darch, Barrington's village president and TRAC co-chairwoman.
CN has reached voluntary mitigation agreements with 26 of the 33 communities along the railway.
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., asked the Illinois Commerce Commission for increased transparency by requesting copies of those agreements be made public in order to hold CN accountable.
(sorry no URL.)
STB has also extended its regulatory oversight of the CN-EJ&E merger for an additional year, to Jan. 23, 2015, and said it will conduct another audit in 2011. This decision can also be viewed on the STB’s website. An STB official stated that the extra year of review by regulators “will likely cost CN hundreds of thousands of dollars in additional staff, legal and consultant fees.”
Further, the STB has established a website for monitoring CN Rail’s acquisition of the EJ&E railway.
However, in all this, we feel that one thing is certain; that all the attention from the media, elected officials, and from the public that CN Rail has drawn to itself from its underreporting of blocked crossings in the Chicago area is just one more thing that we bet this railway just wasn’t counting on.
Click HERE for source.
Monday, March 28, 2011
Erik Bornman, figure in Basi-Virk case, applies for law licence
To obtain transcripts (at a cost), contact ASAP reporting at: 416-861-8720.
I had asked for a list of the witnesses expected to appear during the Bornman hearing. The procedure is to contact the Law Society's Tribunal Office at 416-947-5249 to view information that is in the public file.
While all of this is a bit difficult for British Columbians to do, it is certainly possible and I'm cheerfully impressed by the LCUC's performance in response to a citizen's enquiry.
Erik Bornman wants to practise in Ontario
By Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - March 27, 2011
A key figure in the Basi-Virk political corruption case has applied for his licence to practise law in Ontario.
Erik Bornman’s two-day licence hearing before the Law Society of Upper Canada starts today in Toronto.
Bornman, now in his early 30s, was a lobbyist in 2002 and 2003 when he made about $28,000 in regular payments to Dave Basi, then a senior ministerial aide to the finance minister.
In return, Basi leaked confidential information to Bornman about the bidding for BC Rail, the publicly owned railway that was privatized for $1 billion — CN Rail was announced as the winning bidder in 2003. At the time, Bornman was a lobbyist with Pilothouse Public Affairs, which represented a U.S. railway company, OmniTrax.
Bornman, who received his law degree from the University of B.C. years ago, first applied to become a lawyer in 2006 with the Law Society of Upper Canada. But his licence hearing was put off until the Basi-Virk trial ended.
Under the Law Society Act, a person who seeks a licence to practise law or provide legal services in Ontario must be of good character. A person who meets all of the other requirements for licensing but whose character is at issue will be the subject of a hearing to determine whether he or she is of good character.
Read Neal Hall's complete column HERE.
BC Mary footnote: While appreciating most of what Neal Hall has written today (March 28), I have to wonder why "Accredited" journalists can't get it straight, that police raided the BC Legislature while investigating Organized Crime ... not tracking BC Rail concerns. Police did find their O.C. evidence in wire-tap conversations which became, in the real world, a specacular success in contributing to the arrest and conviction of the man thought to be Mr Big on the West Coast drug trafficking -- Jasmohan Singh Bains, cousin to Dave Basi -- and to a sentence of 9 years plus a large fine. Police deserve major credit for this. But this news was entirely suppressed by Big Media (I broke the story 6 months after the trial which was held in Victoria!); The public -- if they knew anything about it at all -- is left to wonder how much news of such high importance is being withheld or tailored to suit a particular political agenda. It was, after all, the National Post which first dubbed the Basi-Virk trial "The BC Rail Political Corruption Trial".
But to return to the point: it was only during those wire-tap conversations, that police began to hear certain details of the BC Rail issues, too. Again: Police deserve full credit for seizing this important evidence and undertaking what they must have known would be a long and difficult investigation.
The public is left to ponder why the facts of Organized Crime (including the subsequent arrest and imprisonment of Mr Big) aren't addressed at all, why the secondary facts (overhearing dubious BC Rail activities) are given prominence, and just in passing, may I add my personal concern: why an exemplary police chief was hounded out of victoria. My view? I think Chief Constable Paul Battershill, who had led a good part of that Organized Crime investigation, was too good at his job.
The BC Rail Political Corruption Trial isn't over yet. It can't be "over" until we know how such an enormous public asset could slide -- in ways which worried even the police -- into private pockets in a deal which has never been fully revealed to the public. Because ... isn't it true ... that BC may end up owing CN for a tax deferral if Revenue Canada doesn't approve of the transfer?
Something for the Law Society of Upper Canada to consider, is an earlier column by Neal Hall with more details:
Dave Basi took cash as early as 2001, search warrants say
By Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - December 15, 2010
Search warrants from the BC Rail corruption case released this week say disgraced former government aide Dave Basi was paid cash for referring clients to a lobbying firm as early as 2001, two years before a police raid on the legislature.
Bornman, who was never charged, referred to his regular payments to Dave Basi as "bribes."
Bornman went on to tell police he gave Basi "a small number of smaller cash payments" but he was uncertain of the amounts.
At the time, Bornman told police, he was busy working on the "Paul Martin [federal] leadership campaign, which took up a lot of my time."
After making the first cash payments, Bornman said he began making regular payments by cheque to Basi through his cousin, Aneal Basi.
"I was paying him a set amount," Bornman told police. "I'm ashamed to say in return for his assistance in referring clients and his assistance on matters of government and ... for his continued loyalty to my political endeavours ...."
He said the first payment to Aneal Basi, who worked in government communications at the time, was $1,000 and after that $1,500 each.
Bornman recalled Aneal Basi was worried about losing his job, so Bornman provided him with a CD of files to make it look like he was doing work for Pilothouse.
He added the CD "was merely, you know, I'm ashamed to say that it was ... a front that would've been used to substantiate the payments."
"I was not believing, didn't want to believe in my own mind that these were, these were bribes," Bornman nervously told police. "In politics, people often get paid to do political work. Consultant companies often hire people, pay them and send them off to do political work and, you know, in moments of self-induced wilful blindness, [I] wanted to believe that Aneal was just providing some kind of political service to the greater organization but there was ... no denying the fact that they were payments to David, not to Aneal."
Another search warrant stated that Dave Basi had "unexplained income" totalling $870,000 between 2000 and 2004, but the defence maintained that figure was inaccurate and should have been $112,000.
Dave Basi's and Virk's guilty pleas last October came as a surprise after the case had dragged through the courts for years. They pleaded guilty to two counts each of breach of trust and accepting benefits in exchange for leaking confidential information about the BC Rail bidding process in 2003. Pilothouse represented one of the BC Rail bidders, OmniTrax of Denver, Colo.
Read Neal Hall's December 2010 column HERE.
By Neal Hall
Vancouver Sun - March 29, 2011
Read the story HERE.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
PART TWO. Who is B.C. Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie?
A Reading of ACJ MacKenzie's “Reasons for Judgement”
(March 15 2011).
By Robin Mathews
March 27, 2011
The wrongfully appointed Special (Crown) Prosecutor in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case applied [Feb. 16 2011] to have all materials that were disclosed to the accused and their lawyers delivered to the Office of the Special Prosecutor, to the RCMP, or destroyed.
The judge to whom the application was made – Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie - was fully informed of the wrongful appointment of William Berardino as Special Prosecutor. He was appointed in violation of the legislation covering such appointments. She refused to act in any way to remedy the wrongful appointment. She was willing to hear application and argument from someone she knew was wrongfully present in her court.
[Whether those matters bear, in any way, upon her decision about the application in question must be left up to the reader to decide.]
Her sixteen page “Reasons for Judgement” landed on a growing culture of corruption in the Province of British Columbia, in Canada, and in the world. Serious observers of all those levels are pointing to increased lawlessness on the part of governments, police forces, and the courts.
Indeed, the Canadian Parliament has just been prorogued to make way for an election brought about for the first time in Canadian history by a declaration that the government in office is acting in “contempt of Parliament”.
In a book entitled “Public Service, Private Profits” by John Loxley (2010), the author, reveals that the huge and powerful Public Private Partnerships lobby has had members deeply at work in British Columbia. And … its present honorary Chair (in 2010) was Gordon Campbell, premier of British Columbia (at the time). Breach of Trust among governing politicians is so rampant that the fact about Campbell was hardly noticed (but pointed to recently by Erik Andersen).
Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie reports upon the application concerning the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter in her “Reasons for Judgement”. She records her judgement, and itemizes her reasons for making it.
A few general comments about the “Reasons for Judgement” document and its surround are in order.
One. The BC Rail Scandal does not involve only the three men charged. A complex pattern of corruption is involved. The three accused men – as far as we know – had nothing to do with the withdrawal of CPR. It alleged publicly that the bidding process for BC Rail was soiled, and it withdrew. Burlington Northern and Santa Fe also made strong protestations about the bidding process.
The three accused did not, either – as far as evidence revealed over the four years of pre-trial and trial showed – have anything to do with creating the alleged favouritism extended to the CNR whose top officer was, earlier, actively engaged in the political organization and political success of Gordon Campbell. The accused had nothing to do with an allegation that Patrick Kinsella was “advising” the B.C. government (for lavish pay) at the same time as he was serving CNR (an allegation unproved before the trial was abruptly aborted).
In fact, reasonable people might come to the belief that at least four circles of corruption existed. One involved the three accused and their actions, which were trumpetted as central. The second – never addressed in accusations before the court – involved the soiled bidding process and all the people and actions related to it. The third – also completely ignored in the accusations before the court – involved matters in which the actions of the three accused intersected with or bore upon or were related to the weightier “corruption” of the transfer of BC Rail to the CNR, and to manipulations allegedly undertaken to keep all bidders quiet during an allegedly “fixed” and predetermined “transfer” of assets to the CNR.
The fourth – touchier because, in a way, extra to the three circles named – involves the role of the police, especially the RCMP in the “investigation” of all aspects of “the BC Rail Scandal”. From almost the start Defence counsel used words like “targetting” and “tailoring” to describe investigation. But the role of the RCMP may be summed up more simply. In every case in which the RCMP top officer for British Columbia, Deputy Commissioner Gary Bass, was formally requested to undertake investigation of matters relating to the actions of the Gordon Campbell group, he refused to do so.
That is the real world into which the case of the three accused was fitted. It is a Scandal-filled world in which every British Columbian is a party because every British Columbian owned BC. Rail.
Two. Although British Columbians were - each and all – principals in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR, my belief is that Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie did almost nothing to facilitate their knowledge and understanding of the matters involved in the trial.
It is my belief that the principle of the ‘protection of the innocent’ was pushed to extreme limits in such ways as – by accident or intention - to keep information from the British Columbia public.
It is my belief that the hallowed principle of an “open court” - a trial conducted openly and before public observers – was scanted almost, it seemed, by intent. I refer in Part One (as an extreme example) to Associate Chief Justice MacKenzie holding what I believe was a wholly unnecessary in camera (private) hearing.
Three. At no time in her period as judge in pre-trial and trial do I remember hearing Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie ever take serious time to read into the record her concern that the public should be well informed, or that the it was a principal in the action before her, or that the allegations of much larger corruption that surrounded the accused called upon the court, the press, the electronic media and all others involved to extend themselves to guarantee the interests of the B.C. public would be well and honourably served.
Indeed, I believe Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie worked to contain the trial within the narrow limits of the highly questionable limitation of accusations in the matter.
The nub of the application by the wrongfully appointed Special Prosecutor turns, I believe, on his assertion that the materials [in layman’s language] received by the accused were only provided to them for the use in their defence; and that use being ended by the suddenly aborted trial, all the materials must be returned.
The wrongfully appointed Special Prosecutor was backed in this assertion by the so-called “Executive Council”, in fact the cabinet of Gordon Campbell, allegedly the chief author of the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR. The Special Prosecutor was backed as well by the BC Railway Company (which many believe facilitated the corrupt transfer of the BC Rail to the CNR).
In its argument the Crown dwelled a good deal on the “implied undertaking in civil proceedings” to return documents and not to use them for collateral purposes. And it argued there is an “implied undertaking rule in British Columbia”. Statements quoted appear to suggest Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett also supported the “implied undertaking of disclosure”.
Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, then, ordered the delivery of all materials to the office of the wrongfully appointed Special Prosecutor, to the RCMP (under deep suspicion of conducting an inadequate investigation of BC Rail Scandal matters), or she ordered the certified destruction of all those materials.
Everything about the actions leading to the document in question and the document itself gives the appearance of being “cut and dried”, of being lodged securely in tested precedent and easily administered law until a statement in the document leaps out of it and underscores what might be considered by some to be the continued “targetting and tailoring” of fact.
Leading in to that statement Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie refers (among other things) to the “high profile nature of the case” and “the number of third party interests implicated”. And then she informs the reader that a reason for demanding the materials be returned (by order of the court) is, in fact, the guilt of two of the accused: “committing breach of trust, contrary to sections 121 and 122 of the Criminal Code, and the breaches of trust in question involved the disclosure of confidential information”. Unstated: they cannot be trusted with confidential material.
Comment. At this point the huge imbalance of focus must be addressed, and larger jurisprudence must be consulted … specifically the matter of ‘equity’. The word has many, many uses in law. We need only be concerned with its very ordinary (but judicially explosive) use as set out by Lord Denning, perhaps the most influential English judge of the 20th century (1899-1999).
Denning was granted honorary degrees from the University of Ottawa and McGill University and was named a life member of the Canadian Bar Association.
Put simply, Lord Denning saw “equity” as fairness – a matter often completely ignored by judges. Fairness in the minds of ordinary people. Fairness in relation to the real world outside the courtroom. Fairness in any particular case. ‘Equity’ is – in his context – the forcing upon precedent what reasonable and prudent men and women would consider is naturally just. In short, Denning would say, I believe, “yes we have a body of law and of precedent, but in this case only by departing from precedent can justice be done and be seen to be done”.
In the Basi, Virk, and Basi case Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie – eyes glued to a list of (what I believe are) inadequate precedents – ordered all disclosure materials delivered to the office of a Special (Crown) Prosecutor who was appointed in violation of legislation governing the appointment process. (And, incidentally, a Special Prosecutor she, in fact, protected in her court.)
Failing delivery there, she ordered all disclosure materials delivered to the RCMP – a force simply not trusted by a large number of British Columbians AND a force especially suspected of inadequate investigation in the BC Rail Scandal.
Failing delivery there, she ordered all disclosure materials in the hands of the accused and their counsel … destroyed. Thousands and thousands of (expensive) pages of sensitive evidence, tapes, and other things, for a case brutally terminated, wrongfully (in the eyes of many serious observers) aborted, cut off by a deal that stank to high heaven. And, in the minds of many, many serious people it was a deal which perverted the administration of justice out of recognition. For them, justice was neither done nor was seen to be done.
All of that happened with the easy and full approval of the judge presiding, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie.
Not only was the case not one between two parties – say a bank and a mortgagee who can’t pay. It was, in fact, a criminal case, one between the Queen (regina) representing all the people of Canada and a set of wrong doers.
In this case principals in the case were all the people of British Columbia. It was not an action, I believe, that could be tucked away by a set of secretly arranged deals between a Special Prosecutor (and the Gordon Campbell government) and the accused. And it was the role of the judge to make sure the trial proceeded until justice was done and was seen to be done.
She failed monumentally, I believe, to fill that role.
“Equity” would have demanded that she prevent the trial from ending as it did. She writes in her “Reasons for Judgement” of “the inherent jurisdiction of the court to regulate its process”. Why didn’t she use that power in the trial?
If she felt that she could not (for whatever reasons) insist the trial continue, then, in the name of equity, she could have disposed of the disclosure material very differently. She could have said that “the high profile nature of the case”, “the number of third party interests” and the deep involvement of every British Columbian as principal in the case (to say nothing of the enormous expenditure undertaken to assemble the materials) demanded that the materials be kept, guarded, and maintained for possible future reference – and that they be placed in the care of the court for an unlimited time – not into the hands of dubious entities, and not destroyed.
She could have referred to the disgraceful end of the trial. She could have referred to the visible decay of the higher courts in Canada. She could have referred to uninvestigated wrong doing, and to the present, sad reputation of the RCMP. She could have referred to the wrongful appointment of the Special (Crown) Prosecutor. She could have referred to the call for a Public Inquiry into the BC Rail Scandal.
She could have shown the people of British Columbia that she is deeply aware of their well-being, their concerns, and their democracy. Equity.
Instead, she zipped up the trial with her final “Reasons for Judgement” as if the whole affair was inconsequential. And by doing so, she wrote down the reputation that will be hers forever.
And … I believe, deeply, that she gave a final stamp of approval by the Supreme Court of British Columbia to wrong doing by high placed officers holding Public Trust … wrong doing on a scale perhaps never before seen in Canada.
Coal. What the neighbours are saying about shipping dirty fuel overseas. Ever heard of Westshore Terminal?
From Seattle Times - March 22, 2011:
Coal quandary as state considers shipping dirty fuel overseas
Just as Washington is weaning itself off coal, two companies are pushing to make the state a leading exporter of the fossil fuel. That possibility has sparked a fierce debate: If coal is so dirty that Washington won't use it, should the state really serve as a conduit for shipping it overseas?
By Craig Welch
Visit the source for embedded photo.
A bulldozer moves coal at the Westshore Terminal near Vancouver, B.C. Two companies are pushing to build similar coal-shipping ports in Washington, one near the mouth of the Columbia River and another near Bellingham.
The sandy black gold arrives by rail every day, and piles up in giant mounds on a spit just off shore. From there, it's loaded onto ships bound for Asia. Last year, this seaport just across the United States border in Delta, B.C., shipped 27 million tons of North American coal abroad. It's the busiest coal-export operation on the continent, the only one along the West Coast outside Alaska. [BC Mary comment: I think they are talking about our Roberts Bank "Consolation Prize" which almost got tossed to OmniTRAX in the BC Rail fiasco]
Perhaps not for long.
But just as Washington weans itself off coal, it could be positioned as the nation's leading exporter of the fossil fuel. The possibility has sparked a fierce debate: If coal is so dirty that Washington shouldn't use it, should the state serve as a conduit for shipping it overseas? At a time of economic turmoil for the state and nation — when the U.S. trade deficit with China tops a quarter-trillion dollars a year — can Washington afford not to?
Passions are inflamed. Environmentalists fear that hooking China and India on a diet of cheap, dirty American energy could spell disaster for efforts to rein in global carbon-dioxide emissions.
"It's a terrible, unprecedented idea," said Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of the nonprofit Columbia Riverkeeper. "If we supply China with a large and inexpensive source of coal, then they're more likely to just keep burning it."
More coal inevitable?
When Cowlitz County late last year granted a shoreline permit for Millennium Bulk Logistics, a subsidiary of Australia's Ambre Energy, to build a coal-shipping terminal in Longview, VandenHeuvel and others appealed.
Almost immediately, Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer, showed up in Washington and professed frustration over the controversy. His state helped supply TransAlta's coal for years, and several other Washington utilities have owned a piece of a coal-fired power plant in tiny Colstrip, Mont.
"It's difficult for me to understand, since Washington state and your utilities invested in coal-fired plants in south-central Montana for three decades," Schweitzer said in an interview. "You've been digging our coal, burning our coal, and building your economy on our coal for years."
The debate is complicated by what's happening across the Pacific. China has committed to cleaning up its energy. It is developing wind, solar and geothermal technology and is mandating strict pollution controls on power plants.
But nearly 70 percent of its power comes from coal, and that won't change soon. Between 2000 and 2016, China has built or has plans to develop more new coal-burning capacity than exists in the entire U.S. now. That's in addition to plans for dozens of nuclear-power plants, development of which were put on hold after the Japanese nuclear disaster.
Some experts suggest that instead of fighting, the U.S. should accept coal's growth as unavoidable — and focus more resources and research on cleaning its emissions.
"It's a paradox," said Charles Ebinger, director of the Brookings Institution's energy policy initiative. "The Chinese are really moving vigorously on green technology, but Asia is growing so fast that demand for energy of all forms is going through the roof."
The proposed export terminals are so big they would be controversial even without coal.
In Bellingham, SSA Marine would erect a large terminal near Cherry Point to ferry bulk goods such as grain and potash abroad. Because water there is deep and the destination is Asia, the dock could accommodate the world's largest ships — those too big for the Panama Canal.
China's energy future
The heart of this fight is the future of coal and who'll supply it — and at what cost.
"I think the whole theme of 'are we just shifting problems elsewhere' is a growing political concern," said Joel Darmstadter, an energy and climate analyst with Resources for the Future, a Washington, D.C., think tank.
"That theme has even surfaced on the part of the Chinese themselves, who say we're being sanctimonious about our concern with the environment, given that a third of our energy still comes from coal and we consume the products China makes with its cheap energy," he said.
In fact, coal use in the U.S. is not really growing — but coal mining is. Just last week, the federal government agreed to lease access in the Powder River Basin to an additional 750 million tons of coal.
In Montana, Gov. Schweitzer said it's unfair that his state has little say about where it can go just because Montana doesn't have a seaport.
"What's next? Montana is known for producing some of the finest malting barley that's exported off the West Coast," he said. "Will somebody show up next month and say alcohol is a contributor to poor health and we don't support alcohol so you can't ship it from here?"
But Thomas Powers, an economist retired from the University of Montana who helped environmentalists with their legal challenge, said Wyoming and Montana coal is plentiful, cheap and easy to mine, which could stimulate international consumption. Making it easy for China to get U.S. coal may lead to more coal-fired power plants.
Powder River coal "is a major new source in that market, and is going to put downward pressure on coal prices," Powers said.
And KC Golden, with the environmental group Climate Solutions, said new coal plants are expensive. Once built they run for decades. And if such proposals in the eco-conscious Northwest sail through, that would send the world a signal.
"You don't make 50-year capital decisions (such as building new plants) unless you think you have the supply," Golden said. "Opening up a mainline from us to them is like sending a big bright thumbs up that it's OK. Once they make those decisions, we're toast."
Not everyone agrees.
China, too, is blessed with coal. But its mines are dirty and dangerous and its rail infrastructure is so bogged down it's easier for coastal cities to import coal from overseas. If the fuel doesn't come from the U.S., it will come from South Africa or Australia or somewhere else, said Ebinger, at Brookings. The current best hope for cleaner Asian emissions is to effectively capture and store that carbon forever underground.
David Pumphrey, an energy expert with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said that is still a pipe dream. The process remains prohibitively expensive. But he agreed our decision on coal exports "will make no difference in the amount of coal China burns."
And Mike Davis, an energy expert at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland, said arguing over which fuel is dirtiest isn't helpful.
Instead, governments should set hard clean-energy standards and let businesses figure out how to meet them. That's the way to draw research money and drive innovation to make things like coal cleaner.
"You can do renewables until the cows come home, but on a global scale, if we don't change emissions from hydrocarbons, you don't make a dent in the problem," Davis said.
Regardless, Washington is now a central front in the global energy debate.
If the two companies get permission to ship as much coal is they say they'd like, that would more than double American coal exports.
Environmentalists say Washington state law requires all ecological harm from a building project — not just from the physical structure, and not limited to inside state boundaries — be evaluated before permits are granted.
They say that means state and county regulators will have to consider carbon dioxide and other air-pollution issues in China before granting permits for any coal-export terminal.
The argument makes regulators uneasy.
"I don't know that that's the appropriate role for a government agency when you're talking about a commodity that's legal and something that people are allowed to trade in," said Janice Adair, with the Department of Ecology, who leads a state initiative to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
But on one thing all parties seem to agree.
"We know that it's a big decision and it's in our midst," Golden said. "And we know the likely consequences of getting it wrong.
BC Mary comment: This is a compilation of facts which are well worth studying ... I hope many readers will find time to go to the source HERE and think upon the points raised. It's the kind of information we don't see in our own media. A tip o'the tuque to Craig Welch and Seattle Times.
Friday, March 25, 2011
About that news media on the West Coast of Canada ...
SPECTR1 says: Accused by an informed few of completely ignoring the NDP and gifting Christy with day after day of good news "advertising", BC's Beautiful Media have come up with a solution.
Our "free" press crowd would love [to] cover the NDP (with nasty news) but over the last few months the NDP have avoided such sins as flushing the toilet twice or running the dishwasher only half-full.
So what is Vaughn, Keith & Co. to do?
Well lets dig up the past, old news long expired, and report on it as sudden breaking news.
This story from 2008 is somehow back on the web and I understand more is coming.
Expect such 1990s favourites as Glen Clark and the Fastcats, Glenn and his deck, Uncle Mike and Bingogate and my favourite from over seventy years ago . . . that some CCF/NDP MPs voted against going to war in September of 1939.
"We Only Cheat When We Can't Win"
Today SPECTRE1 is on the trail of Michael Ignatieff, Leader of the Liberal Party of Canada. He (Spec1) says ...
On Tuesday/29/March at 6:30pm Ignatieff [edited for personal insult] and the national Liberal campaign will have an event at the Delta Vancouver Airport Hotel located at 3500 Cessna Drive (on YVR Island [?] near Russ Baker Way and Miller Road).
I think I am going to go so I can evaluate the numbers and demographics of the event to see what's left of the Liberal Party of Canada in BC.
And please report back, for posting here on The Legislature Raids.
BC Hydro (perhaps even B.C. itself) is being prepared for its own doom. Isn't this blatant contempt of BC citizens, and the BC Legislature? Just like BC Rail? So YES, we do need a provincial as well as a federal election. Citizens, we have work to do!
BC Mary comment: Thanks to Laila Yuile for publishing this remarkable video interview with retired BC Economist, Erik Andersen on the "legitimized" crippling of BC Hydro. Warning: don't skip the video (I almost skipped it because I was in a hurry) ... then my conscience began to hurt so I clicked onto it ... and by the end, I was very, very thankful that Canada is plunging into a federal election where things like this have been condoned, or even encouraged. What else could we call it but "contempt of Parliament", that is, contempt of the people - in B.C. - and federally?
... let Erik Anderson explain very clearly why we can't turn away from these issues. People say they have a right to know these things. Well, yes we do. But sometimes it's even more important to stand up because citizens have a duty to know these things and to act in ways which will protect the province of British Columbia. Andersen talks about that, too. Highly recommended.
However ... there' been a technical problem! So please go to Laila's blog for the Erik Andersen interview. OK?
and scroll down for "Face to Face with Erik Andersen".
Laila says Eric Anderson has been an important resource for her in researching P3′s in the province, she says he "is bang on in this regard. I would also like to point you to a video Erik taped last year in which he discusses how he personally looked into and researched BC Hydro’s financials to come to this disturbing questions: IS BC Hydro being deliberately put into financial jeopardy to privatize it? Considering the press release from COPE last week, this video is more relevant than ever."
Click HERE to go to Laila's posting on Erik Andersen:
G West has left a new comment on your post "Beware: This isn't a Public Inquiry into the sale ..." G West writes:
We also know that Basi &/or his wife own other properties AND that, in February of 2011 that he/she/they completed the purchase of another property adjacent to a house the family already owned on Balfour Street in Victoria.
The suggestion that Mr Basi was indigent or near indigent is absurd...but, that's still NOT the real question the media should be asking.
The real question, once again, is how was the policy reversed: How was the debt (duly recorded and at least partly covered by a mortgage) which the crown was meant to recover from the defendants - as per the policy in force and effect - forgiven?
That money, or that 'financial' transaction had to be effected in some way and a record of that transaction (and any facilitating Order in Council signed by a member of the Executive Council) must exist.
People were involved and, for accounts of that size it cannot simply be a process of a couple of bureaucrats 'signing off' on $6 million; elected people were involved - people who owe a duty of due diligence to both the Legislature and the people of B.C.
Nobody in the press seems at all concerned about finding the paper trail and Ms Christine Clark seems only concerned about the policy and how it might be changed.
The policy is NOT the problem.
The problem is the lack of character displayed by the people charged with enforcing and following through on the policy.
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Beware: This isn't a Public Inquiry into the sale of BC Rail. This isn't even BC Rail policy
From Vancouver Sun ...
Liberals to have an outside expert review controversial BC Rail policy
Expect someone with an impeccable reputation to lead the investigation
By Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun -- March 18, 2011
BC Mary comment: Do these liars never quit? This is a red herring. Don't be fooled. This may be an exercise in good housekeeping. It needs doing, but it's no big deal. It's most definitely not a "controversial BC Rail policy!"
Beware: this bit of legislative tidying up will be passed off as the Public Inquiry we want into the sale of BC Rail ... and it isn't.
It absolutely isn't.
We can't let Ms Clark get away with this.
British Columbians still need a Public Inquiry into all aspects of the sale of BC Rail.
Read Vaughn Palmer's column HERE:
Toward a BC Rail Inquiry
... Why did B.C. taxpayers get burned to a crisp to halt a criminal trial that threatened to embarrass so many powerful people?
All crucial questions. But de Jong threw cold water on Abbott's idea of an independent outside review of the settlement when he said he had already ordered an internal review of the matter. "I'm surprised George didn't know that," de Jong told me.
Really, Mike? Maybe Abbott didn't know about your internal review because you didn't tell him. In fact, if de Jong ever announced this internal review of the Basi-Virk plea bargain, he sure did it in a low-key way, because I don't remember it, either.
De Jong now goes to great pains to say he wasn't involved in the plea bargain, saying he didn't want to interfere in a politically charged case that was overseen by an independent special prosecutor.
But make no mistake: The decision to pay Basi's and Virk's $6-million legal tab was not a decision of the special prosecutor, it was a decision of the government. And Mike de Jong was the minister responsible.
Meanwhile, I still no reason why an independent review of the B.C. Rail file could not be done in a cost-effective manner. Here's an idea: get Thomas Braidwood to do a tightly-focused independent review of the case, including the plea bargain. He is respected. He did a great job on the Robert Dziekanski case. And he did it without running up a Basi-sized bill for his services. Sign him up. And let's get some answers.
Read more HERE.
The problem is not with the policy of course. The problem is the way that policy has been bent and perverted to suit the ends of the guilty parties.
By guilty parties I refer collectively to Messrs Basi and Virk (who have certainly benefited) AND to the person or persons unknown who, purposely and with forethought, have 'bent' the rules with respect to how government funds are meant to be spent and accounted for.
Am I incorrect Mary, in my recollection that, some time ago, there was an article the media (G&M perhaps) which showed that the crown had registered an 'interest' or a mortgage against properties owned by Mr Basi (and perhaps by Mr Virk)?
If that is the case, the suggestion that the crown had no prospect of recovering any of the funds advanced for the guilty parties' defence is absurd.
When that charge was registered, the policy was being followed: The subsequent decision to stop applying the policy (and the details of how this was accomplished) are facts which can and should be determined by a conscious and responsible press.
That kind of indemnification could not have been accomplished without assessing the funds against a particular vote in the financial records and/or by means of an order in council.
That nobody in the paid press has done this kind of investigation is very telling.
B.C. holds five-year-old mortgage on Basi’s home
The Globe and Mail - Oct. 21, 2010
The B.C. government struck a deal with former political aide Dave Basi five years ago to advance him funds for legal fees, and if necessary recoup that money by forcing the sale of his $857,000 family home.
That deal, undisclosed until now, contradicts claims by B.C. Attorney-General Mike de Jong that the government – as part of a settlement in the long-running political corruption case – agreed to pay $6-million in legal fees because Mr. Basi and his fellow defendant, Bobby Virk, had no ability to pay. “The government won’t pursue what isn’t there,” Mr. de Jong said at the time of the settlement on Monday ,,,
Read the details HERE.
Calls for a Public Inquiry into the sale of BC Rail
From Comox Valley Record - March 23, 2011
... [Mike Farnworth]'s platform also includes plans to launch a provincial commission on education, and to hold a public inquiry into the sale of BC Rail.
Farnworth is the opposition house leader and NDP public safety critic. He has previously served as minister of health, and of social development and economic security, among other cabinet positions. From 2001 to 2004, he worked in Bulgaria, the Balkans and most recently Iraq, where he helped develop democratic governance programs in former one-party states.
[John] Horgan set out three fundamental changes he says [Christy] Clark must make to begin to restore the public’s trust in government:
• Appoint a judicial inquiry into the BC Liberal government’s decision to pay $6 million to cover the legal fees of government insiders David Basi and Bob Virk and to answer the open questions related to the role of BC Liberal politicians and friends in the sale of BC Rail,
NDP Leadership Candidate John Horgan Calls for a Public Judicial Inquiry On BC Rail Corruption Scandal
NDP leadership candidate John Horgan wants new Premier to appoint a judicial inquiry into the BC Liberal government’s decision to pay $6 million to cover the legal fees of government insiders David Basi and Bob Virk and to answer the open questions related to the role of BC Liberal politicians and friends in the sale of BC Rail.
Read more at THE LINK,
MLA Report by Columbia River – Revelstoke MLA Norm Macdonald
Revelstoke Times Review - March 16, 2011
The guilty plea from two top BC Liberal insiders, which cost taxpayers $6 million, was intended by the BC Liberals to be the end of the BC Rail scandal. But for most British Columbians, the $6 million payout just added one more question as to who benefited most from the giveaway of BC Rail.
When we witnessed the police raid on the Legislature in 2003, we began seven years of investigation and court proceedings. Over the years, many disturbing allegations have been brought to the public’s attention.
BC Rail was a public asset, owned by the people of British C ... read more HERE:
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Paul Nettleton: "I am very concerned, as every British Columbian should be, who care about clean, affordable public power!"
BC Mary comment: I'm 99% certain that it's OK for me to share Paul's comments with you. But I have removed the law office from his return address, so that if you wish to send him a message, it will go directly to Paul personally. Remember: Paul, as the BC Liberal M.L.A. for Prince George-Omineca during the early Campbell regime, was the leading spokesperson warning of future dangers to BC Hydro (as well as BCRail). Paul didn't give up. Later, the full power of the Campbell Gang was turned against him ...
so what he says today, means that his worst fears are coming into focus. We dare not overlook his meaning -- or allow ourselves to be bamboozled into misreading what he says.
----- Original Message -----
From: Mary Mackie
To: Paul Nettleton
Sent: Saturday, March 19, 2011
Subject: BC Hydro
I'm sure you've seen this ... if not, I'm truly sorry to be bringing you bad news.
My first thoughts went to you, after reading it. Clearly, people (myself included) don't know what to do ...
or how to lodge our protests fast enough to slow down the proceedings so that our fears can be expressed.
If you have suggestions, I'd be grateful ... and I'll gladly pass them along.
Very best wishes,
Paul Nettleton replies:
I very much appreciate your sending this link. I am very concerned, as every British Columbian should be, who care about clean, affordable public power!
Paul Nettleton - Lawyer
Here it is again ... the source:
Saturday, March 19, 2011
Who is Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie of the British Columbia Supreme Court? PART ONE.
By Robin Mathews
March 19, 2011
Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie of the Supreme Court of British Columbia has ordered [March 15, 2011] that all materials of every kind disclosed to the Defence in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter [the BC Rail Scandal] be delivered “forthwith to the Office of the Special [Crown] Prosecutor or the RCMP”, or that they be certifiably destroyed.
Who is Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie?
Nine years of BC Rail Scandal concern have passed – four years of which involved pre-trial and trial concerning some of the matters (not all, by any means) in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR. The trial ended in what many believe was as violent a wrenching of justice as can be imagined. The government of Gordon Campbell (which effected the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR) agreed to pay all the costs of the accused – though the accused admitted guilt and were sentenced. The “deal” protected high ranking politicians and corporate actors from cross-examination before a witnessing public.
Fact, analysis, and commentary have become, during that long time, inescapably entangled. For that reason, in this treatment – of the role especially of Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie – I will separate fact from analysis and commentary.
Readers, as a result, will have facts before them, independent of analysis and commentary, upon which to form independent judgement.
Fact: Defence lawyers were satisfied with the work of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett, ‘seized with’ the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter. Prosecution – “the Crown” was dissatisfied with her work.
Analysis: [To be “seized with”, I take it, is an ancient term with the meaning ‘to be established in a position’ or ‘to have legal possession of’. In court activity, it is apparently intended to secure a judge ‘in possession’ of a case, and, therefore, not easily able to be removed scurrilously or out of prejudice.]
Fact: On two occasions, Defence lawyer Michael Bolton answered my question about who could remove Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett with the answer that she alone could make the decision.
Fact: A few months before the ‘replacement’ of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett by Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie a session of the Basi, Virk, and Basi pre-trial matter was held with (then) Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm presiding. At that session Special Prosecutor William Berardino presented a motion asking for replacement of Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. He argued (a) that she couldn’t be in two places at once; and (b) – as I remember the event, that she had not fully satisfied procedures in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter.
Fact: When Defence counsel Kevin McCullough rose – apparently to object to Mr. Berardino’s statements – he was ordered brusquely by Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm to sit down. No objection was permitted. The Associate Chief Justice declared he had Madam Justice Bennett’s replacement chosen but would not name the replacement judge at that time.
Fact: Shortly before the end of the pre-trial matters, Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie replaced Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett. That transition moved the accused and their counsel to undertake a request to reelect from trial by judge alone to trial by judge and jury.
Fact: When Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie was appointed, questions were asked, generally, about her history. And so I wrote to the Court and asked to have – to provide to the public – a ‘professional resume’ for Justice Anne MacKenzie.
Commentary: Since the Basi, Virk, and Basi part of the BC Rail Scandal was believed by many to be the most important criminal trial of public officers in British Columbia history, the professional biography of the new judge on the case was something all British Columbians had a right to have.
Fact: The Court replied to me that they did not have such information and would send me nothing. They sent me nothing, and the report I wrote on Justice Anne MacKenzie was the result of private research on my part.
Fact: Not long after Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie took over the Basi, Virk, and Basi case, she was elevated to the position of Associate Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of British Columbia. Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm was reported to have retired.
Fact: The Court still did not publish a full professional biography of Anne MacKenzie.
Fact: The Mainstream Press and Media reported the retirement of Patrick Dohm without comment.
Analysis and Commentary: Patrick Dohm was connected to what I call “the fraudulent investigation and trial of Glen Clark” former NDP premier whose political career was ruined (between 1999 and 2002) in the process. Patrick Dohm signed search warrants in the matter from a holiday spa in a foreign country.
Mr. Dohm was also connected to the extraordinary Doug Walls incidents. Walls was involved in a cheque kiting activity causing losses to CIBC in 1998 in Prince George. Nonetheless, he made connections with the ministry of Children and Families after, probably because of his relation by marriage to Gordon Campbell, premier. He began connections, it is alleged, as early as 1999 through a professional connection with the deputy minister Chris Haynes. Some estimates of the losses to the Children and Families ministry reach well over a million dollars. Chris Haynes was fired [with a fat separation payment], and Gordon Hogg, minister, resigned.
No action of any kind was taken against Doug Walls. Gordon Campbell, it is reported, had stayed at his home in Prince George and rented a car from the Walls business.
If the British Columbia taxpayer could go unsatisfied in the matter, CIBC – it seems – was not so malleable. A criminal case was conducted against Doug Walls in Prince George where he had had his business and been a Liberal Party officer. In 2007 he was convicted, with another, and received a conditional sentence of two years less a day. CIBC is alleged to have lost around a million dollars in the matter, none of it recovered.
One interesting thing about the Prince George trial was that Josiah Wood was sent to Prince George as Special Prosecutor – Wood being a very experienced hand and called upon sometimes by the B.C. government. Why a case against Walls for alleged cheque kiting in Prince George involving CIBC would require a Special Prosecutor is not at all clear.
The judge on the trial in Prince George was … Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm.
Associate Chief Justice Patrick Dohm was also connected to the BC Rail Scandal, signing the many (about 20) search warrants that eventuated a few days later in the famous “legislature raids” (December 28, 2003) on the offices of Dave Basi and Bob Virk and searches of many other locations in Vancouver and Victoria. Mr. Dohm sealed the search warrants totally, then “released” them months later with about 80% of significant material still blacked out. They have never been released, uncensored, to the larger British Columbia population.
When he retired, the Mainstream Press and Media conducted no review of Patrick Dohm’s illustrious career as a judicial figure in the province.
Fact: As a result of the troubles named above in the ministry of Children and Families - as well as other troubles there – Ted Hughes (a former judge, etc.) was invited to conduct an Inquiry into the ministry. He terminated his inquiry early, recommended that no further investigation be conducted (?), and presented recommendations to be acted upon. One of them was for the appointment of something like a children’s ombudsperson.
The government agreed to act on all the recommendations, and it appointed, for a five year term, Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond (in November of 2006) as B.C. Representative for Children and Youth.
Analysis and Commentary: Five years later the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark government has not fulfilled its promise. Many of the recommendations are still ignored. And Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond spends a stormy and publicly visible time battling the Gordon Campbell/Christy Clark government in attempts to protect – often mistreated – children and youth in British Columbia.
Fact: [to return]. “Shortly before the end of the pre-trial matters, Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie replaced Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett.” Not a single explanation was given to the British Columbia public.
Analysis and Commentary: In what has been called “an advanced parliamentary democracy” – British Columbia in Canada – a key judge was removed, replaced by another on a major criminal trial with huge implications for the life and health of the province. Since BC Rail was owned by the province, every British Columbian was a principal, intimately concerned with the corrupt transfer of the railway to the CNR. Those British Columbians are treated by the Court as if they hardly exist.
Since higher court judicial appointments are within federal jurisdiction, Stephen Harper had to have a hand in the appointment of Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie to the position of Associate Chief Justice. Who recommended her to federal officials – and to which federal officials? What were the positive attributes she possessed put forward to place her in position for that appointment?
Not a word of explanation was given to the public.
Fact: On February 16, 2011, the Crown – the Special [Crown] Prosecutor, William Berardino made application to have all disclosure materials [described above] returned to the Office of the Special Prosecutor or RCMP.
Explanation: Strangely Mr. Berardino is not listed on the face of the application, because he did not show up at court. Assistants to him over the four years – Janet Winteringham and M. Sobkin are listed as “Counsel for the Applicant”. In fact, Ms. Winteringham, as I have said elsewhere, simply mouthed the words of William Berardino. He is Special Prosecutor, and he alone. That being the case, she could not say anything in her own person that would in any way contradict the intentions of William Berardino, and so it is fair to say she mouthed the words of William Berardino.
Fact: William Berardino QC was illegitimately appointed Special Prosecutor in December of 2003. His appointment was made in violation of the legislation governing the appointment of Special Prosecutors. The legislation insists upon the complete objectivity of appointees. It insists that they have no meaningful connections to elected officials, civil servants, police or like kinds of persons. It states that they may not have connections such that would give even the potential for the perception of bias.
In the Attorney General’s ministry that appointed him, Mr. Berardino had been for seven years the partner and colleague of Attorney General Geoff Plant. Mr. Berardino had been for eleven years the partner and colleague of the Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel [now raised to the position of the highest civil servant in British Columbia serving the Gordon Campbell/Christie Clark government].
Fact: Mr. Berardino has never been a legitimate Special Prosecutor in the BC Rail Scandal and the Basi, Virk, and Basi matters.
Fact: I reported the clear information about Mr. Berardino’s wrongful appointment to the Chief Justice, the Associate Chief Justice (then Patrick Dohm), and the presiding judge (then Madam Justice Anne MacKenzie). The reply I received from the Court informed me that none of the three had been involved in the appointment, and so they would do nothing.
Fact: I, again, informed the Chief Justice and (now) Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie (also the presiding judge on the Basi, Virk, and Basi case) of Mr. Berardino’s wrongful appointment. The answer from the Court to that formal letter was an acknowledgement of the letter and a refusal to say anything at all.
Fact: I informed the Attorney General, the top judges of the B.C. Supreme Court, the Canadian Judicial Council, and the “Reviewer” of the process of Special Prosecutor appointment in B.C. – Stephen Owen a UBC vice-president… asking in each case for action to remedy the wrongful appointment.
Analysis and Commentary: All – as I read the situation - did what they could to avoid the information, to ignore it, or to dissemble about it. All – unintentionally – gave ample evidence that they knew the validity of the information … which they refused to act upon.
Fact: The matter was presented to the Canadian Judicial Council as a complaint that the presiding judge, knowing of the illegitimacy of Mr. William Berardino, had an irrevocable obligation to act to remedy the matter. It stated that by not doing so, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie was conducting herself improperly as judge.
The reviewer of the complaint turned out to be someone who sits with Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie on the Canadian Judicial Council. The reply on behalf of Neil Wittmann, Chief Justice of the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench, made two points. One was that he did not judge that the complaint covered conduct of the judge in question, and so he could say nothing. Secondly, the replier stated that Chief Justice Wittmann had no opinion about the major fact of the complaint – that Mr. Berardino was wrongly appointed.
Analysis and Commentary: Chief Justice Wittmann, I believe, had that last statement put into the letter so that he could never be confronted with the fact that he had defended a lawyer who was improperly appointed. He had, the letter reported, not formed an opinion on that question.
In addition, the solid wall put up against any examination of the legitimacy of William Berardino in the role of Special Prosecutor, may, I believe, lead any British Columbian to believe the pre-trial and the trial of the three accused in the Basi, Virk, and Basi case WERE WHOLLY ILLEGITIMATE and that the illegitimacy has been, throughout, supported by Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie.
We may conclude that the applicant, the Special Prosecutor, had no legitimacy to ask that all materials disclosed to the accused and to their counsel be delivered to the Office of the Special Prosecutor or the RCMP. And we may also conclude that the presiding judge, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, had no legitimacy to make an order of any kind in the matter.
Fact: A “voluntary” committee of journalists from the Mainstream Press and Media, employed (in fact) by the Supreme Court of British Columbia, denied my application to be granted accredited journalist status in the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial. I had been reporting regularly on the pre-trial and related matters for three years.
Fact: The Committee whose spokesperson is Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun was made up of three paid employees from CanWest and one from CTV. The denial of status prevents the person in question from using a recording device in the courtroom and from examining any materials from the trial placed upon “public record”.
Analysis and Commentary: It was my opinion that the Mainstream Press and Media were failing to report fairly the BC Rail Scandal and its Basi, Virk, and Basi part. I made that opinion clear to readers. Indeed, the creation of the site devoted to those matters run by “BC Mary” occurred largely because she was so frustrated at the failure of the Mainstream Press and Media to report on BC Rail Scandal matters.
I criticized the judicial management of the Basi, Virk, and Basi case when I believed that to do so was appropriate. I do not remember, over four years, a single critical comment about judges involved with the case from the Mainstream Press and Media.
I criticized Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, and I criticized (even before learning of his wrongful appointment) some of the actions of the Special Prosecutor.
I observed over many, many months that the Special Prosecutor seemed to favour Neal Hall of the Vancouver Sun, simply by going to him to chat when he wished to say something about the pre-trial in process. I would not call them ‘confidants’, but they had a visibly friendly relation.
When I applied for accredited journalist status (having written many scholarly articles over years, a textbook on Canadian culture and institutions for university use, many, many journalistic articles published across the country, and other books on Canadian matters, and having been one of the most faithful attenders and reporters of the three years of pre-trial Basi, Virk, and Basi matters) I was refused by the committee for which Neal Hall is spokesperson.
Fact: The grounds upon which I was refused, he told me, were – in sum – that I am not a “working journalist”. To him and his committee, a working journalist is one who makes his or her living from journalism.
Fact: I wrote to Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie and protested, asking her to change the decision. She did not bother to have my request answered on her behalf.
Fact: I was sent forms by a Court Officer to fill in and begin the process of what would be an Appeal from the ruling of the Neal Hall committee. That would have involved a great deal of time, money, etc. and no assurance whatever that I would then be granted accreditation. I refused to have anything to do with an “Appeal” of the kind. Granting me status needed no complicated procedure, and I refused to enter one.
Fact: When on February 16 the application to “make public” the RCMP investigation materials - “the “everywhichway” materials - Janet Winteringham took special pains to ask that they only be released to “accredited journalists”. Defence counsel disagreed and said making the materials public meant to all of the public.
Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie supported the Winteringham request, confining the release of materials to a very small group.
Analysis and Commentary: Sitting in the courtroom, I couldn’t help thinking the argument was over whether I would be allowed to see the RCMP materials.
If I had been permitted to do so, I have no doubt whatever that the “whitewash” engaged in by the Mainstream Press and Media would have been challenged … with hard facts from the materials. The RCMP materials were not made public. To say they were is simply a falsehood. The materials were released only to journalists “accredited” for the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial. Those journalists were – without exception – journalists, just for instance, who refused to report the wrongful appointment of William Berardino as Special Prosecutor.
They were what might be called “the housepets of the British Columbia Supreme Court and the Gordon Campbell government”.
Fact: At the time of the trial of Basi, Virk, and Basi, what I believe was the last report of lawyer Lou Webster to the court took place. Mr. Webster was a person accepted by all parties to weigh materials sought as relevant to the defence of the accused. When material sought was argued over, Mr. Webster would assess it and report to the judge whether, in his judgement, material was relevant. He would mark materials for the judge to make a final decision. Quite often, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett found materials to be of relevance to the Defence in its work for the accused. And she ordered their disclosure to the Defence.
The last appearance of Mr. Webster was before Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, now presiding judge. His appearance was noted on the court’s schedule. Since the jury would not be in attendance the draconian publication ban exerted by Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie would be in effect. The public would be able to occupy the gallery and witness the proceedings. But it would be banned from reporting anything that occurred.
I arrived at the courthouse a little early and went to the courtroom in question. The doors were open and I could see Mr. Webster waiting for the ten o-clock beginning. Since there were some minutes before the hearing would begin, I wandered away. I came back shortly before ten a.m. Also appearing to witness the appearance of Mr. Webster before Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie was Keith Fraser, reporter for the Vancouver Province.
To our surprise, the doors of the courtroom were closed and locked. There was no notice of any kind affixed to the doors. No explanation. What was to be a process under strict publication ban became, we had to conclude, a secret, private, in camera meeting.
Analysis and Commentary: Members of the public may think there is not much difference between a hearing with a strict publication ban in effect and a hearing held in secret, in private, in camera. If members of the public think that, they are wrong. For the wisdom of years has taught the best theorists and commentators about law and the courts that even with a publication ban, it is vitally important that members of the public witness the court in action.
In extreme cases, those people could give testimony to Public Inquiries or other fact finding agencies. Their mere presence in the courtroom, moreover, serves to prevent the actors in court from violating the democratic and legal rights of others. The people in the gallery are a part of the hallowed Canadian “open court” tradition, a primary protector of human rights and democratic freedoms. The pursuit of justice must be a publicly examinable pursuit.
Did Mr. Webster have nothing of significance to report? Did he wish to inform the court he had discovered highly relevant material that might well implicate the superiors of the accused? We shall never know.
But what we do know is that the doors of the courtroom were closed as in a Police State, without any explanation.
That was, for me, an exclamation point at the end of a very long sentence. It is my opinion that the public interest was ill-served by the judiciary in all matters of the BC Rail Scandal. It is my opinion, moreover, that the Mainstream Press and Media was a slavish servant of the judiciary (and the Gordon Campbell government) in those matters. It is my opinion, in addition, that Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie was grossly insensitive to public interests in the Basi, Virk, and Basi matter. And I believe that she failed in her obligation to provide information to the public.
The British Columbia public was hugely cheated, I believe, in the Basi, Virk, and Basi part of the BC Rail Scandal matters.
Recently, in an appearance at a conference at the University of Toronto, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada Beverley McLachlin stated that – because of exorbitant costs – a very large part of the Canadian population cannot use the courts of Canada in order to seek justice.
She might well have said that some higher courts in Canada appear to be so loaded with bias, favouritism, political loyalty, disregard for procedure, and contempt for the public at large that NO ONE can use them effectively (however much money they have) to seek justice.
[In PART TWO I will examine Associate Justice Anne MacKenzie’s document: “Reasons for Judgment” in her decision to order all disclosure materials held by the accused and their counsel to be delivered to the Office of the Special Prosecutor or the RCMP, or to show certifiably, that it has been destroyed.]
March 20, 2011 update: ron wilton contributes the following notes ...
With reference to Walls vs CIBC in 2007. The indication is that CIBC 'lost' $1 million in the dealings involving the BC Liberal Walls.
This apparently did not deter CIBC from continuing to be the bank of choice of the present government.
From 2005-2010, CIBC has donated in excess of $144,000.00 to the BC Liberal party.
Perhaps there is more to the story where CIBC is involved.
[ron, please supply source? thanks. - BC Mary.]
Another web of potential political intrigue around Wilson's political downfall in 2007
Political names surface in [Blair] Wilson court case: Lawyers point to potential web of intrigue around MP's downfall
By Jane Seyd
North Shore News - March 18, 2011
LAWYERS for both the Province newspaper and former West Vancouver Liberal MP Blair Wilson have pointed to a web of potential political intrigue around Wilson's political downfall in 2007. Both sides were in the Court of Appeal this week, arguing over whether Province reporter Elaine O'Connor should be forced to reveal the secret source who gave her an anonymous report in the fall of 2007 alleging Wilson breached Elections Act rules.
The Province is appealing a Dec. 31 ruling by Supreme Court Justice Paul Williamson, who ordered O'Connor to give up the name of the source, known only as "a citizen in the riding," prior to the start of defamation trial set for the fall.
The allegations contained in the report -- which was also sent anonymously to the Elections Act Commissioner, a political blogger and a Canadian Press journalist -- became part of a story published by the Province in October 2007.
The allegations in the front-page Province article essentially spelled the end of Wilson's political career. After the story was published, Wilson was forced to resign from the Liberal caucus. Wilson was not charged following the Elections Act audit, but did enter into a "compliance agreement" after it was revealed he had made some minor errors in expense reporting.
Wilson later sued O'Connor and the corporate owner of the Province newspaper -- the company that also owns the North Shore News -- for defamation. Wilson also named ex-Liberal MLA Judy Tyabji Wilson (no relation), her company Tugboat Enterprises, blogger Steve Janke and prominent federal Liberal Mark Marissen in the defamation suit, alleging they also played a role in either distributing or publishing the allegations that smeared his reputation.
Those names -- and those of other prominent political players -- were repeated in court Wednesday as Burnett argued there were several people besides O'Connor whom Wilson could have pursued to find out who wrote the report, without demanding that a journalist turn over her source.
Among them were several people referred to by Tyabji in pre-trial statements as knowing about the allegations against Wilson before O'Connor's article was published, according to Burnett. These included former Conservative MP John Reynolds, who Tyabji said told her husband -- former politician Gordon Wilson -- that the allegations were about to be made public.
Other people mentioned by Tyabji as being possibly connected to the report were Neil McIver -- election campaign manager for current West Vancouver Conservative MP John Weston, former police officer and blogger Leo Knight and several Liberal riding organizers who worked on Wilson's campaign.
Burnett told the three appeal court justices the anonymous report made up just a small part of the total article on Wilson. He said it's also important to consider how O'Connor treated the information handed over by the source -- including practicing due diligence by seeking out others to back up the allegations.
But Jay Straith, Wilson's lawyer, said Wednesday it's unlikely the report's author will be revealed by anyone other than O'Connor, as several people -- including Tyabji, McIver and Knight -- have already denied writing it. Straith added the allegations in the report handed over by the source weren't just a small part of the story about Wilson. "This is the heart of the article," he said.
In his earlier ruling, Williamson said the source is crucial to the defamation case because it would address the question of whether the person who provided the report did so because it was in the public interest or whether they were motivated by personal or political "malice" towards Wilson.
But Burnett argued Wednesday there's no reason a source not motivated by "noble" purposes should get less protection under the law. He added if confidential sources aren't protected, other people with information vital to the public interest won't be willing to talk to journalists.
Read more HERE:
Secrecy is a useful tool if the perpetrators are trying to hide something shameful ...
A contract between Vancouver Olympic Committee and City of Vancouver will remain sealed and secret until the year 2025 ...
(if you ask me)
unless we elect a new and different kind of government for British Columbia.
Read more HERE.
Thursday, March 17, 2011
Well, I'll be doggoned: Lara Dauphinee no longer works in the premier's office! But ... did she ever?
Gordon Campbell’s assistant Lara Dauphinee exits the premier’s office
By Matthew Burrows,
The Straight - March 17, 2011
Former premier Gordon Campbell’s longtime executive assistant and deputy chief of staff Lara Dauphinee pulled down $131,916 in the 2009-2010 fiscal year, according to the provincial public accounts.
With Premier Christy Clark now at the helm, Dauphinee is gone entirely. And Clark’s new communications director, Shane Mills, would not give the reason for Dauphinee’s termination.
“The [staff] list is there,” Mills told the Straight by phone, before later adding: “Well, you might not have noticed, there has been a new premier. Premiers pick their staff.”
Mills also noted, “The people on that list that you have are the people who are in the office of the premier.”
According to 2009-2010’s public-accounts records from the Finance Ministry, Campbell’s former chief of staff, Martyn Brown, hauled in $170,544. He was made a deputy minister by Campbell shortly before he announced his resignation.
Meanwhile, former press secretary Bridgitte Anderson earned $114,511. Among the Victoria staff, former communications director Dale Steeves was paid $85,418, and Doug Brown collected $78,185. Brown is now listed as manager of communications and issues management.
Given Dauphinee’s higher salary, the Straight asked Mills if a restructuring of the pay grades was in the offing.
“That’s personnel stuff so…to be honest, I don’t know the answer either,” he said.
Read more HERE. And what is Lara wearing as a necklace?
E.M has left a new comment [THE OLD FRIDAY AFTERNOON NEWS DUMP]:
Listening now, simi sarah, leonard Krog about BC rail enquiry [into] 6 million fees(sorta)
Research dept can't find another case when Gov has paid for convicted Criminals. Krog says it is a one-off, and stinks to high heaven.
Loosy goose policy, Barry Penner is looking outside Gov for someone to review the policy of paying the Legal fees.
more later Listening NOW
E.M. adds this:
Bad Faith and Criminal negligence Krog says.
Liberals are throwing out a tiny bone, so [they hope we will forget] will forget the fiasco about the real deal of BC Rail, Krog says.
Krog said he hoped that she would follow George Abbott's call for enquiry for payment let alone the whole BC Rail affair.
I hope someone can write out this between Krog and Sarah, it's worth reading/hearing the whole interview. If I typed faster I would attempt it.
Very very narrow review She says, on CKN*