Sunday, March 11, 2012

 

My Friend Mary.

BC'sVeryBest
CitizenJournalistVille


I first first noticed this lady who called herself 'BC Mary' on the comment threads over at 'The Tyee'.

For all kinds of reasons.

And not just because we had similar world views.

Instead, what really interested me was the way she engaged the other commenters on those raucous threads in a meaningful way.

Just to be clear though, Mary never mollycoddled, backed-down, or suffered fools gladly. But she was always willing to listen if she decided that someone was speaking openly and honestly, regardless their point-of-view. Then she would ask them for evidence to support it.

And when she started her own blog she did the same thing with her own commenters.

And, as I was soon to learn, she did it with everyone.

And that included members of the media as well as members of the legislature.

And it included other bloggers.

Bloggers like me.

Because, as much as Mary did online at the 'The Legislature Raids', she did even more off-line.

****

I always loved hearing from Mary.

She was so darned collaborative that it was impossible not to be enthused by everything she suggested.

And she suggested a lot.

And she got folks together.

A lot more.

She also asked for help and advice early and often.

About all sorts of things.

One particular time she worked tirelessly with a gaggle of bloggers, commenters, and all manner of folks in the know that she had assembled, to vet a rumour.

It was a rumour that arrived on our doorsteps pretty late in the Basi/Virk saga, and it was a potential bombshell.

But it wasn't really all that plausible.

So Mary ran it down tirelessly over the course of a long weekend, and in the end we all decided not to bite.

And we were all the better for it.

Which is just my way of letting you know that Mary showed us that we could be self-correcting and we could try to get things right.

Right from the start.

****

Now.

I know that criticisms have been levelled in some quarters that what Mary did was 'just' cutting and pasting.

Which is ridiculous on a whole lot of levels, but I will just deal three of them here.

First, Mary wanted her site to be a living library were folks could go to get all sorts of information on Railgate that they could then sift through to find what they, themselves needed.

Second, and very importantly, in addition to the archiving Mary also broke stories of her own, sometimes thanks to her legion of Anon-O-Mice on the comment threads, sometimes thanks to her contributors, and sometimes thanks to her own off-line digging. Just ask Ian Mulgrew, Lucinda Chodan, or Gary Mason, to name a few.

Third, Mary also inspired others to go off and break their own stories. All kinds of those were from Robin Mathews, of course. But the one I remember most came from Laila and G.A.B., who beat the proMedia like a gong for about a week when they realized and published the true significance of something that popped-up in the pre-trial courtroom just before the gag order came down.

****

So, here's the real thing.

The really hard thing about losing my friend....

Which is that, unlike most of the folks that will greatly miss the online 'B.C. Mary', I actually got to meet the real Mary Mackie in person.

And it was one of the most fun, rewarding and, yes, inspiring things I have ever done.


****

It was late on a Friday afternoon.

And the work week was all done.

And I was 2,500 miles from home.

But I did not rush back to Pearson to climb back into the cigar tube as fast as I could, which is my usual way of doing things.

Instead, I strolled out of the downtown Toronto core with my bag slung over my shoulder and I went to visit Mary.

Her grandson was there at the house with her, and he was magnificent to put up with us for the next couple of hours as we talked, and talked, and talked some more about everything under the sun. Mostly we talked about Mary's cherished British Columbia - its people, its natural beauty, and its public institutions, all of which she held in the highest regard after a lifetime spent there doing all kinds of the most interesting things.

Then she asked me all about my family and, especially, what my kids were up to. After that it was her family. Then, and only then, did we talk a little about her illness.

Actually, I'd already given Mary as much advice as I could on that score given the business I'm. But on that particular day she didn't want advice. Instead, she just wanted to tell me about the great care she was getting at Princess Margaret Hospital, and how fantastic our Canadian medical system, that we all built and still own, still is.

After that we finally got down to brass-tacks and talked about the details of RailGate and all that needed to be done, and who had to be contacted, and what we thought really went down, and what we could still do to really and truly find out.

What, ultimately did go down, I mean.

Did I mention that this was a lady in her 80's who, on the afternoon that I stopped by for a quick visit, out of the blue, already knew she had terminal breast cancer?

Did I mention that this was one of the most inspiring things I have ever been a part of, ever?

****

Mary and I kept on corresponding until very recently.

Even though, over the last few months, I knew she really wasn't well.

I knew things had become really difficult for her when she told me last fall that she didn't like to talk on the phone anymore because her failing body just got in the way in a way you couldn't tell on-line or by Email.

And even after that he was still leaving me comments and sending me Emails through January and into February.

Which is fitting of course, because the comment threads, where the real action and discussion are, really were her favourite.

As were her commenters.

In fact, here is something she told one of her very best favourites, GWest, by Email, just before she died:


"...I'd love to think that one day, when my screen goes quiet completely, the commenters will come out and fill the space with what THEY know ..."


****

And here, finally, is the last thing I must to tell you about Mary, which is something very personal.

You see, she would never call me by real name, years after she knew it.

Instead, she always called me by my screen name, RossK, because, as she told me once, that is how she thought of me, with a descriptive term of endearment in front of it (which I won't bother to tell you about because hurts far too much to type, much less say).

And with that I must close.

Because, while I will always miss and love you B.C. Mary, I will never say good-bye.

OK?

CalR.

.


Comments:
Ross, thanks for posting this very personal tribute to Mary.

Reading your heartfelt words here, I am not ashamed to admit that after the goose bumps - I was teary eyed. Respect, family and love are great gifts to treasure, to receive and share. I think it was more than just luck that you were able to personally meet Mary.

I always read Mary as a very straightforward wonderfully simple person that saw a wrong and went about addressing that wrong, incite fully, respectfully, collaboratively, tirelessly and selflessly.

She was simply wonderful. She will not be forgotten and have aplace in my heart.
 
Ross, thanks for posting this very personal tribute to Mary.

Reading your heartfelt words here, I am not ashamed to admit that after the goose bumps - I was teary eyed. Respect, family and love are great gifts to treasure, to receive and share. I think it was more than just luck that you were able to personally meet Mary.

I always read Mary as a very straightforward wonderfully simple person that saw a wrong and went about addressing that wrong, incite fully, respectfully, collaboratively, tirelessly and selflessly.

She was simply wonderful. She will not be forgotten and have aplace in my heart.
 
Adiós and happy trails 1 Your courageous stand on BC Rail was an inspiration to all. The citizen bloggist ha become the real news of the province and country with the mainstream media being just cheap window dressing.

You should win the Order of BC for your work and until the government recognizes your work, it will always be the "Odor" of BC, a trinket medal given to lick-spittles and flunkies.

You have shed light in the darkest corners of this province and sent fear into those who have most to fear.

Your courage was only matched by your journalistic integrity and the candle of truth will always shine on your great works.

The clock is still ticking on BC Rail and your blog has kept the fuse of scandal still alight.

Truth will soon reveal the greatness of your tireless investigations.

Rock on................
 
BC Mary was such a gem. How blessed you,RossK, to have known her. Thank You, or whom ever it was that posted her picture, I saved it. Even though I didn't know Mary Mackie I loved her wisedom and her spirit. I pray that the angel in her keeps me strong and wise until the day we meet.
You made a big impression on me,
BC Mary :)
RIP
 
In my opinion it should be really interesting to know more details about it!
book report projects
 
Rest content Mary, you meant a lot to me, more than you could ever imagine..

It`s not much, but here is my tribute to you Mary..


http://powellriverpersuader.blogspot.ca/2011/11/cedar-trees-and-earl-grey.html
 
Thank You so much RossK, You were very lucky to meet Mary. I never did but felt such attachemnet to her, no matter what or how I submitted information here, always excited and grateful. I knew inside that Mary would hope that her site will continue and be a reference for us until after the truth and charges are laid against those that gave away BC Rail. I was so happy to see you write ""...I'd love to think that one day, when my screen goes quiet completely, the commenters will come out and fill the space with what THEY know ..."
I have been watching and not seeing any comments and I feared that we would not be able to post, Thanks so much for keeping this blog going. I was reading Alex T site and was furious at what he was saying about US over here, then I smiled and thought of all the good work Mary did for years, and I honestly feel that it would not still be a story if this blog wasnt keeping it alive. I cant bring myself yet to say goodbye and share yet, but I think of Mary everyday as I continue to follow the rail. EM (Hansard of last couple days will be posted soon, apparently Auditor general has requested more info)
 
Great post. I knew she was a very special lady the first time I arrived on her blog well before the Rail trial took place.
I hope this sad episode in BCs history will be flushed out for all to see. Mary would like that.

CGHZD
 
I was glad to read and I hope this goes front page GLOBE AND MAIL Auditor-General takes government to court over BC Rail case
mark hume AND justine hunter
VANCOUVER AND VICTORIA— From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published Thursday, Mar. 29, 2012 9:41PM EDT

.More related to this story
•Auditor-General battles B.C. for access to documents in corruption case
•Auditor-General seeks records on Basi-Virk corruption trial and defence
•Van Dongen hires lawyer prominent in BC Rail case to probe further
VANCOUVER— Globe and Mail Update
Published Wednesday, Mar. 28, 2012 8:13PM EDT
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/british-columbia/auditor-general-takes-government-to-court-over-bc-rail-case/article2386599/?utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=Referrer%3A+Social+Network+%2F+Media&utm_content=2386599&utm_campaign=Shared+Web+Article+Links------------------

one of the comments following that story warmed my heart. " For a real eye-opener into the BC Rail scandal, including a history of van Dongen and the BC Liberals, the lawyer, Roger McConchie, and much more interesting info, Google 'the Legislature Raids'.

BC Mary is no longer with us, but her legacy continues. I hope she realized how important her blog was (and is) to us.
------------Bless You
 
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