Monday, March 31, 2008


Special Prosecutors should be "senior criminal lawyers ..."


But another cloud is hanging over the government, writes Paul Willcocks.

The original policy called for "senior criminal lawyers in private practice" to be appointed special prosecutors. But in the B.C. Rail case and now in this case with John Les, the ministry has picked lawyers who, while highly regarded, are not known for criminal work. Given the massive problems in the B.C. Rail case, this raises questions about why the changes were made.

Read more: Paul Willcocks writes Paying Attention at


Sunday, March 30, 2008


See "Voice of BC" on YouTube!

Good news!

I have found the complete "Voice of BC" broadcast on YouTube at:

A big thank-you to the person whose User Name is "
3lapdogs" and who created this 4-part video for the benefit of others. BIG thank-you!

It's great to see and hear an intelligent discussion of this important case. Bill Tieleman comes across with a ton of information, and is so well informed; but it's clear that the others have been doing their homework too.

Great stuff ... and maybe if people would like to see more TV programs on Basi-Virk, we should send thanks directly to "Voice of BC" and ask them for more of the same. Their e.mail address "Voice of BC" is

Thanks to Vaughn Palmer ... Neal Hall ... Keith Baldrey ... Bill Tieleman ... Sean Holman ... Opposition Justice critic Leonard Krog ... and the production staff at Shaw Channel 4. - BC Mary.

And in answer to our concerns when the re-broadcasts didn't happen in certain areas of BC, this message came from Vaughn Palmer:


don't know if you got the explanation for this from the producer...but there was a technical problem with the cable company in nanaimo, so they used the previous week's show.

ethe b.c. rail show was the rebroadcast elsewhere in the cable network.




Campbell unaware of [Solicitor-General] investigation

Vancouver Sun -- Saturday, March 29, 2008

VANCOUVER - Premier Gordon Campbell said he only found out about the criminal investigation involving solicitor-general John Les about 5:30 Friday evening.

In a scrum with reporters at the opening of the Auto Show in Vancouver on Saturday, Campbell made the following statements about Les and the investigation:

"We have to recognize what's taking place here. This is the criminal justice branch and our special prosecutors are specifically designed to keep any taint of political interference out of those investigations. This is something that I think shows once again the independence of the judiciary.

Campbell says he didn't know solicitor-general John Les was being investigated until last night.

{Snippetty-do-dah ... }

NDP public safety critic Mike Farnworth also released a statement to the media on March 29.

"The news that John Les has been forced to resign as British Columbia's Solicitor-General and Minister of Public Safety is shocking and very disturbing. John Les was handpicked by Premier Gordon Campbell to serve as the province's top law enforcer and his resignation due to a police investigation is a devastating blow to the Liberal Government," said Farnworth.

"At a time when the Liberal Government is under a cloud of investigation, this shocking development highlights the problem this government has with ethics and accountability. The Liberal Government can no longer maintain that Basi-Virk, BC Rail, Doug Walls and Ken Dobell are isolated events. It points to a culture of corruption," he said.

Read more at:

Weren't we told that Premier Campbell would be holding a press conference on this issue, at 10:00 AM Saturday morning? Or does "Catch-me-if-you-can" at the Auto Show count as a high-level press conference these days? - BC Mary.


Saturday, March 29, 2008


The NDP and BCRail Scandal


Robin Mathews

Delay has been described as the constant characteristic in the criminal charges arising from the contested (corrupt) sale of B.C. Rail by the Gordon Campbell government. Delay has also been a product of the tug-o-war between Defence counsel and B.C. government forces about the meaning of the case.

The tug-o-war is visible in the first exchange of letters between NDP Justice critic, Leonard Krog and Deputy Attorney General Allan Seckel.

In essence Krog learned (as, apparently, did Defence counsel) that the protocol used by government to prevent non-disclosure of documents deemed privileged, which ran from early 2004 until May 2007, was changed by Gordon Campbell without consultation or explanation.

Krog asks (Feb 25 08) Allan Seckel eleven reasonable questions. What protocols have existed? Are there written copies? Who was involved? How many documents were reviewed by the Cabinet Secretary, the Deputy Attorney General, the Executive Council - and so on? Simple questions.

Allan Seckel replies from a very great height, it appears (Feb 26 08), fearing that Krog's "letter and comments are politicizing my role" and - he suggests - may be even questioning his (Seckel's) integrity! Go read the affidavits, Seckel writes to Krog, in effect, if you want an answer. Seckel doesn't admit to a protocol change, though another was in effect before he "was given the power to decide cabinet privilege" by Gordon Campbell in May of 2007.

Krog's questions, then, are without taint. And, indeed, if Gordon Campbell changed the protocol in May 2007, could he have done it for any other than political reasons? And if he did it for political reasons, could the actions of the Deputy Attorney General in the matter, thereafter, be anything else than political actions? As late as Feb 27 2007 George Copley was writing to the Attorney General's office referring specifically to the steps of the first protocol (which apparently simply disappeared in May, 2007).

With the highest note of righteousness Seckel informs Krog that no document has been withheld under cabinet privilege. That cry of virtue is, however, slightly coloured by the materials somehow not released and by a transfer from cabinet to solicitor/client privilege.

Leonard Krog then found he needed to apply to the court to see the affidavits, since nothing in the matter may be released from Criminal Registry without the intervention of the court. (That is what is meant by the great, historic principle in Canada of "open courts".)

Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett declared that "anything released to Mr. Krog would be released to the public at large". And that was done.

A point must be made over and over about the treatment of the open court principle (a freedom of information matter, in essence). Before an actual trial begins "the innocent" must be protected from libel and slander and ill-placed speculation, of course. But many believe that principle is used, often, to protect the powerful, and that a lid is put tightly on information in order to protect "insiders", information which the public has a basic right to have. The truth of the matter is devilishly hard to determine (especially without benefit of the "withheld" information).

The documents in question amount to about 250 or 300 pages. Apparently to dissuade the Lower Classes and other Undesirables from acquiring copies, Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett released them at one dollar per page. Since all of the pages without exception already existed in print form, the cost of reproduction couldn't be more - stated extravagantly - then four cents per page. Previously released Defence Applications for Disclosure were provided freely to the public at large.

Suddenly, the affidavit documents would cost a serious, concerned Canadian between $250 and $300 to acquire. That is part, I suspect, of the tug-o-war to which I have already referred.

Moreover, I call them the "affidavit" documents, but many are not - as far as I can tell - parts of or all of affidavits. There are news stories in papers, letters to MLAs, applications (by Defence) for records, etc. Leonard Krog asked for specific things: affidavits, the original protocol agreement, and court records regarding the assertion of parliamentary privilege on behalf of the Speaker of the legislature. In fact, the protocol dating to the turn of the years 2003-2004 is there. But no explanation is there for the 2007 change. And not a lot more of consequence is revealed.

I believe, that without endangering his non-political sanctity, Allan Seckel could have produced what Leonard Krog asked for in one fifth the number of pages 'dumped' for this release of information. The question why the release has been made in the way it has been, at the cost levied, is an important question about the seriousness of the Gordon Campbell cabinet in its obligation to the B.C. public, to the Opposition in the legislature, and to the integrity of law and justice in British Columbia.

Very quickly, the nature of the tug-o-war becomes clear in the documents. How can it be explained?

The Crown wishes to try three men, former cabinet aides appointed by Orders in Council, charged with various acts of fraud and breach of trust in the conduct of their duties. Simple. So get on with it. The Crown, it says, has a case.

But since the actions with which the three men are charged almost all relate and/or are connected to distinct political operations of the Gordon Campbell government, the Defence asks how it can proceed with the trial until it sees all documents which may reveal that the men were ordered, directed, or otherwise instructed by their cabinet superiors to do one, some, or all of their alleged dirty deeds? Repeatedly, the Crown questions the relevance of applications for disclosure. Repeatedly, Defence makes the argument just described. To a reasonable and balanced observer, Gordon Campbell's circle seems, constantly, to fear exposure. Otherwise wouldn't it say: "Take anything you want. Look at it privately. You'll see you're wasting your time. But look at everything you want. If it helps you, take it for use at the trial. We have nothing to hide."

And so on April 24, 2007, for instance, Michael Bolton, Defence counsel, writes to George Copley, counsel for the Gordon Campbell cabinet, telling him Defence wants "all materials in possession of the Provincial Government, including but not limited to materials from the Executive Council, Cabinet committees, caucus meetings, and all MLAs' offices, relating in any way to the divestiture of the B.C. Rail Freight Division and the Roberts Bank Port Subdivision." (The request was narrowed by agreement on August 24, 2007.)

Mr. Bolton, I suggest, is not "politicizing", nor is he on a huge "fishing expedition". For Gordon Campbell politicized the whole matter, flagrantly, by breaking his election promise not to sell and then selling BC Rail in a way that one contender, CPR, declared publicly, was tainted - as CPR withdrew from bidding. Then the Gordon Campbell cabinet, many believe, deliberately tried to mislead the public about the terms of the sale, parts of which (incredibly) are still secret. Evidence is extant that a part of the criminal matter alleged against one of the accused is connected to an allegation cabinet wanted a dummy bidder to remain in the competition. If those allegations have merit, then cabinet gets dangerously close to the charges against the accused.

The Gordon Campbell cabinet has given the impression to many that it has - one way or another - blocked movement of the court process. The unexplained shift in "privilege" protocol only heightens that impression. For that reason the request by NDP Justice critic Leonard Krog to have assurance that the protocols have always assured independence of decision is most timely. That he has not, to my mind, received a satisfactory reply is another matter, probably of at least equal importance.


Disclosure: I didn't know. It's entirely by co-incidence that I had written (Comment No. 22 on "CanWest explains ...") about a "tug o'war" at least 16 hours before Robin's editorial came in. Maybe others had similar thoughts after seeing our Anonymous commentor describe the documents as being of no great interest although $1 a page.

Many thanks, Robin, for your diligence, your analysis, and your generosity in sharing it all with us.

- BC Mary.


Friday, March 28, 2008


BC Solicitor General has resigned

Bill Tieleman has breaking news ...

Les is no more - Solicitor General John Les resigns - under investigation by Special Prosecutor in connection with land deal when Chilliwack Mayor

BC Liberal Solicitor General John Les has resigned this evening.

Les is under investigation by a Special Prosecutor in connections with allegations about land deals which took place in Chilliwack when Les was mayor there from 1987 to 1999, CBC News is reporting.

Special Prosecutor Robin McFee was apparently appointed last June but the appointment was only confirmed today after CBC News made inquiries.

{Snip} ...........

More at



Anybody catch "Voice of BC" ??

Did everyone miss it except DPL who says he enjoyed the program?

Send news! Let's hear about it ... OK?


Thursday, March 27, 2008


Pacific Spirit Park is calling ...

Hi Mary,

I've never done this before, but I feel so strongly about this that I'm asking fellow BC bloggers for help.

Due to the duplicitous action of Mr. Campbell's provincial government a chunk of Pacific Spirit Park, which is on the Western edge of Vancouver and is like Stanley Park, only wilder, will soon fall under the Developers' axes.

There is only one faint hope, which is that our civic pols show some gumption and say 'hell no!'

They're meeting to talk about it tomorrow.

Thus, I have a post up asking/pleading with anyone living in the greater Vancouver district (all of the lower mainland) to Email these civic pols asking them to take a stand.

Would you be so kind as to put up a teeny, tiny post directing folks to my post where they get all the instructions etc.


Thanks Mary,

RossK at Pacific Gazette.


Wednesday, March 26, 2008


CanWest explains why they haven't reported more about Basi-Virk. Oh, and ... uh, about Glen Clark ... and ...


Vancouver Sun - Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A free press can, of course, be good or bad, but, most certainly without freedom, the press will never be anything but bad.

-- Albert Camus

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees freedom of conscience and religion, of peaceful assembly and association, and of thought, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press.

Because the media are an important means of communicating thoughts and ideas, the federal department of Canadian Heritage explains on its website, their right to speak out is protected under the Charter. It goes on to explain that these freedoms ensure Canadians can express their ideas, gather to discuss them and communicate them widely to other people. They are important to the success of a democratic society like Canada, it adds, where people must be free to discuss matters of public policy, criticize governments and offer their own solutions to social problems.

These are lofty ideals the government has put on public display, and which it and its provincial counterparts, their agencies, bureaucrats, police, regulatory bodies and tribunals often fail to live up to.

That's why the media end up in court fighting for their constitutionally guaranteed right to gather and disseminate information.

Our affiliate, the National Post, announced on Tuesday that it intends to take its battle for press freedom to the highest court in the land. It seeks leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada a ruling by a lower court that would force it to surrender confidential source material related to a decade-old political scandal known as Shawinigate, which purported to link then prime minister Jean Chretien to a mortgage from the federal Business Development Bank of Canada for a hotel adjacent to a golf course he partly owned.

{Snippety-do-dah*} ...

Diligent reporters uncover things that governments may find uncomfortable. Sometimes the information comes from sources who could be at risk if their identities were revealed. Journalists would rather not operate this way; they'd prefer to source everything explicitly. They'd prefer full disclosure by public bodies so protecting sources wouldn't be necessary. But that's not the way it is.

Instead, our institutions are addicted to secrecy. The Vancouver Sun has spent thousands of dollars and endless hours in court fighting publication bans, filing freedom of information requests and fending off government intrusion in order to keep readers informed and to safeguard press freedom. Too many major stories -- from accusations of conflict of interest against former premier Glen Clark, to the Air India inquiry, to the Robert Pickton murders, to the investigations into actions by former government aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk -- have been subject to restrictions on journalists trying to do their jobs.

Until governments and courts recognize and uphold the fundamental freedom of the press enshrined in the Charter, the media must continue fighting to preserve it. And we will.

*See Pacific Gazette glossary.



Times Colonist -- Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The public has a right to know what governments are doing, the background to decisions and the reasons elected representatives do the things that they do. The open flow of information is crucial to our democracy.

At times, however, politicians or senior government officials choose to keep information from us, or believe in all sincerity that the public would not have an interest in, or is not entitled to, facts that could raise questions or fears about government operations.

That is where the media, which works on behalf of readers, listeners and viewers, comes in. We serve as a watchdog on institutions, including all levels of government, as well as the politicians who make the decisions. Most members of the public don't have the time or access to pay attention; the media attempts to do that for them, asking the questions they would ask and reporting what we learn.

We believe it is our duty to cover the news -- including news that the government would rather keep from the public. The media is providing, of behalf of the public, a valuable service whenever it opens a window that a government official would choose to keep locked.

The classic example of the media's role was the Watergate scandal, which eventually resulted in the resignation of U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1974.

Here in Victoria, the Times Colonist has sought to bring to light government action -- or inaction -- on many issues, including the treatment of children in care. That attention, along with the public response, helped lead to the Hughes inquiry, major shifts in government policy and, we hope, improvements for children and their families.

The Times Colonist, Vancouver Sun and the Province are continuing to fight for access to the search warrant documents relating to the 2003 raid on the provincial legislature.

[Huh?? They are?? Strange we haven't heard about that. - BC Mary]

Politicians and government officials do not always want to reveal what they know. Freedom of information legislation, though flawed, helps pry open some doors. Reporters also rely on people who provide, on a confidential basis, copies of documents or other information dealing with the workings of government.

Government officials should recognize that everything they do might end up in a news story. But politicians and bureaucrats can still get upset when yesterday's bad decision becomes today's front-page news. Sometimes, they strike back and a fight ensues. {Snip} ...

A free press is a vital part of our democracy, and any attempt to restrict that freedom must be challenged. As a result, the National Post's lawyers are seeking leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

That appeal is essential. If the Ontario court's ruling is allowed to stand, every media outlet in the country will face more trouble getting to the truth about what the government is doing. It would become more difficult to convince potential whistleblowers to tell us what they know.

As a result, the public will know less about what is really going on in government offices.

We believe the public has a right to know. It is essential the Supreme Court of Canada review this decision.


Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Voice of BC special show on BC Rail Case 8:00 PM Thursday March 27, Channel 4

Bill Tieleman says ...

I want to strongly encourage you to tune in this Thursday March 27 at 8 p.m. to Voice Of BC on Shaw Cable's community channel [Channel 4 in most of the Lower Mainland] for a special show on the BC Legislature Raid case or the Basi-Virk case as it's often called. I have contributed a number of taped comments and the show will have host Vaughn Palmer of the Vancouver Sun, Global TV's Keith Baldrey and the Vancouver Sun's court reporter Neal Hall as live guests.

It should be a fascinating show - four years in the making, one might say given the lengthy delays in the case! VOBC is also rebroadcast on Saturdays at 10 a.m. and Sundays at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Anybody know the Shaw Cable co-ordinates for the rest of B.C.?? This is a good example of how the farflung corners of this great province -- for whom BCRail was invented -- don't always get a fair chance to keep up with the BCRail Case as it develops. We really ought to be working now on a request for TV cameras in the courtroom so that everyone can follow the story as it unfolds under oath. I have written to the defense lawyers asking their opinion. One month later, it is disappointing that they have made no response. The request must go to the presiding judge who makes the ruling for or against TV cameras. Courtroom filming in BC has been done before, in cases much less important to the public interest. Why not for BC Rail?

- BC Mary.



Lawsuit alleges CN deprived 1,000 of overtime pay



CBC News - March 25, 2008

Lawyers have launched a class action lawsuit against Canadian National, alleging the railway misclassified more than 1,000 supervisors as managers to avoid having to pay them overtime.

The lawsuit alleges that more than 1,000 present and former first-line supervisors at CN have been deprived of overtime pay because of the railway's actions. The supervisors are routinely required to put in hundreds of unpaid overtime hours a year, the lawsuit claims.

"The Canada Labour Code requires federally regulated corporations, including CN, to pay overtime to their non-management employees", said Louis Sokolov, a partner at Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP in a statement.
"Employers are not permitted to simply call someone a manager to avoid their obligations under the Code."

CN has not filed a statement of defence and the allegations have not been proven.
This is the third class action lawsuit relating to unpaid overtime brought by the two law firms of Sack Goldblatt Mitchell LLP and Roy Elliot O'Connor LLP. The two firms are co-counsel in lawsuits filed against CIBC and Scotiabank that allege the two banks routinely make staff work unpaid overtime.

Another CN story today ...

CBC News - March 25, 2008


Sunday, March 23, 2008


"There's something big in this Railgate thing," says author of ASPER NATION

He told us (see comments) where to find the information connecting pollster Angus Reid to CanWest: on page 11 of his previous book, Pacific Press: The Unauthorized Story of Vancouver's Newspaper Monopoly. BC Mary said thanks ... thanks for this info., thanks for his newest book ASPER NATION. And then a second comment came in ...

Marc Edge has left a new comment ...

I'm happy to help. And keep up the good work! My nose for news tells me there's something big in this Railgate thing.

Posted by Marc Edge to The Legislature Raids at March 23, 2008

I wanted to share that significant validation of our efforts to find the answers to what happened to BCRail and why CanWest doesn't seem willing to tell us. Another big thank-you to Marc Edge. - BC Mary.


Thursday, March 20, 2008


Canada: a deepening police state?

Powell River is a peaceful seaside town way up the B.C. coast. But the other day, the City Administration hired outside lawyers to threaten three of its citizens with lawsuits for civil comments made to The Peak, the local newspaper. That story lends an unexpected urgency to what Robin Mathews has written in the following essay. - BC Mary.

Lawyer demands retractions and apologies for written comments

Laura Walz, editor
The Peak - 03/20/08

At least three residents, including a newly elected councillor, are facing legal action if they don't apologize and retract statements about the City of Powell River.

Councillor Patricia Aldworth, Noel Hopkins and Win Brown have received letters from the city's lawyer, Michael C. Woodward, of Woodward Walker in White Rock. While the wording in each letter varies slightly, the last paragraph states, "A timely and unequivocal retraction of these statements, and publication of an apology for this wrongful allegation can be expected to mitigate the damages you have caused, and to reduce the damages to which your defamatory publication has exposed you."

The letter to Aldworth, who is the president of the Townsite Ratepayers' Association, came as a result of a sentence in an email she circulated to Townsite residents. {Snip} ...

Woodward's letter to Hopkins refers to a letter to the editor he wrote which was published in the February 13 issue of the Peak, titled System Has Flaws. Woodward wrote to him that the letter "conveys the false and defamatory imputation that the City (a) is involved in a corrupt election preceding[sic]; (b) is unethical."

Hopkins, who is 86 years old and has been a member of the city's liquid waste management advisory committee for eight years, said he is not going to back down. "I wrote a letter expressing my view to the Peak ," he said. "I'm not withdrawing it."

Brown wrote a one sentence comment on the Peak's website about Hopkins' letter. "After reading the letter from Noel Hopkins I think that the RCMP should be involved and a fornsic [sic] accounting should be conducted to seen [sic] where our tax dollars have gone."

Woodward wrote to Brown that "your publication conveys the false and defamatory imputation that the City has utilized funds in an improper way, which requires a comprehensive criminal investigation. That imputation is false and injudicious. More fundamentally, it is actionable against you."

After The Peak declined to publish a retraction, Brown read a statement at the March 11 council meeting, saying he "would like to retract" his statement after receiving a letter from Woodward Walker. "The letter stated these comments are actionable against me ... {Snip} ... I would like the taxpayers of the City of Powell River to accept my apology for my comments which resulted in your hard-earned tax dollars to pay Woodward Walker local government counsel to send this letter to me. I had no idea how far the city was prepared to go. I'm a pensioner on a fixed income. I could never afford to fight this lawsuit in court. If I tried, it would financially destroy me, lose my home and family."

... Brown declined to comment further on his statement. "I have no comment for fear of retaliation from the municipality," he said.

During media inquiries, the Peak read Brown's one sentence comment and asked if this is the kind of opinion the city believes to be actionable.

Alsgard referred the question to Stan Westby, chief administrative officer. "I just wanted to advise that this particular matter is under litigation and I refer your inquiry to our solicitor, Mr. Michael Woodward, and I can arrange that if you wish," Westby said.

Woodward has not returned the Peak 's phone call.

Read the full story at:

To contact the Editor, Laura Walz, her e.mail address is:
And while you're on their web-site, why not vote in their online poll, which asks: "Do you think the City of Powell River should threaten people with defamation lawsuits?" Yes? or No?

Special thanks to Lynx for sending us this story. We should speak up in support of the three Powell River citizens who were voicing civil opinions about their own home town! And a large bouquet to the Powell River Peak for a principled stand on behalf of free speech. - BC Mary.



Robin Mathews

We begin, of course, with the police. At the same time, as hopeful Canadians, we want to deny there is any reason for concern. Naturally. But whether sparked by a random murder by police, the violation of innocent demonstrators (UBC), a pension scandal at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, the huge RCMP "stumbling" in the BC Rail Scandal, the almost certain RCMP cover-up in the Alberta Kelly Marie Richard dental malpractice case, the disaster of the Vancouver International Airport Taser death and apparent attempted cover-up by RCMP, or the Maher Arar fiasco - and much more - real questions arise.

They keep arising. They become insistent. We do right to think unexamined (really unexamined) police actions, the seemingly obvious protection and cover-up of police wrong-doing, and the failure to review police behaviour in depth and to institute serious reforms point to a malaise, to something that looks like a dangerous increase in police power.

Those things make up the tip of an iceberg. They are not by any means the whole story. Because the police in Canada have distinct, real authorities to whom they must answer. Attorneys General, Solicitors General, the federal cabinet, provincial cabinets, and, finally, provincial legislatures and the House of Commons. All of those authorities may act to oversee police activity.

The inaction of responsible authorities points to the real meaning of the phrase "police state". In a police state the police are merely the public face of a corporate tyranny, one which, almost by definition, is supported by the major press and media. In addition, is has to be supported - however opaquely - by the so-called "independent judiciary". And, finally, it has to be operated and controlled by a combination of cabinet power and corporate wealth. The purpose of a police state is to turn the wealth of the country (and its power) away from the people of the country and to funnel it to a small, influential class inside and outside the borders.

Go under the surface, below the tip of the iceberg. Two things are evident. Cabinets are closing doors on the people they are elected to represent, moving into greater and greater secrecy across the country. The Stephen Harper government, for instance, passes limp "accountability" legislation while gagging elected MPs and cabinet ministers, refusing to face the press, and making access to information increasingly difficult - and expensive - to obtain.

That government even goes farther. The Kelly Marie Richard dental malpractice case - just for instance - has given rise to allegations of RCMP misconduct, serious malfunctioning of the Court of Queen's Bench in Calgary, violations of professional conduct among dental and legal organizations, and the suspect involvement of some Alberta government officers and the government contracted corporation CGI. Repeated solicitations have been made to Rob Nicholson, minister of justice, and to Stockwell Day, minister of public safety - over some months (from a number of people). Neither man will do as much as acknowledge receiving correspondence. The press and media are completely mute.

Asked, as well, for a public inquiry into the bizarre circumstances of the case, Alberta's Attorney General, Ron Stevens (falsely) wrote that he does not have jurisdiction. Alberta's Solicitor General, Fred Lindsay, refused to discuss allegations of RCMP wrong-doing, reporting (falsely) that he has no authority over the RCMP in Alberta.

In British Columbia the Gordon Campbell cabinet gives every indication of attempting to thwart the pursuit of justice in the B.C. Supreme Court case arising out of the corrupt sale of B.C. Rail.
Allowed clear sailing, that case might well point fingers at guilty cabinet ministers and the premier.

The RCMP gives many signs - to quite innocent, ordinary Canadians - that it is using every impediment it can dream up to obstruct disclosure of accumulated evidence in the case. Be assured, the so-called RCMP "cop-on-the-beat" is not deciding to frustrate the work of the court. If the foot-dragging, the apparent obstruction, the incompetence perceived are really there - are not a figment of the imagination - the reason for them has to be at the highest levels of RCMP decision making. And that suggests the highest levels of RCMP decision making may be shaking a devious hand with members of the Gordon Campbell cabinet. The major press and media ask no questions. They report, a little. Because they have to.

In the Alberta case, the RCMP looks as if it broke confidentiality, assisted a huge corporation in wrong-doing, and provided information to harass and to practice barretry* against an innocent single mother (Kelly Marie Richard) with a real grievance to make a claim upon.

By persisting I was able to have R.R. Knecht, RCMP Deputy Commissioner of the North West Region and Commanding Officer of Division K, undertake an investigation of RCMP behaviour in the matter. The resulting Report was so lame, so lamentable, such a transparently perverse charade that most Canadians wouldn't believe it was possible. In fact, the "investigation" was such a piece of trumpery, in my judgement, it could not have happened in the way it did by accident.

Is it possible to say in the Kelly Marie Richard case that the RCMP deviously cooperated with a huge multi-national corporation, hand in hand with professional organizations, the Alberta cabinet, and judges of the Court of Queen's Bench in Alberta to destroy the integrity of justice in that Province? While the major press and media looked and look the other way? If that scenario is real, if it really happened (and is happening) we may say it offers us a picture of a police state in action.

In British Columbia, concerning the BC Rail Scandal, the same kind of numbers seem to be adding up. The Gordon Campbell cabinet and the RCMP appear to be pursuing the same goals instead of radically different, independent goals. The court seems helpless to stop them - or distinctly unwilling to do so. The Crown, prosecuting the criminal case, appears to be almost ineffective on matters of disclosure of evidence when it is not giving the appearance of active procedural delay. Since, unlike the Alberta case, the RCMP is not (yet) itself in direct question in the B.C. case, its apparent connection to other "police state" forces is not as clear.

All of this is not a matter of undertow gossip, back-room rumour, or vapourous allegation. It has been thrown into searching light by the Report of the Task Force on Governance and Culture Change in the RCMP, submitted to the federal cabinet on December 14, 2007 - a scant three months ago.

The Task Force was created by Stephen Harper in order to prevent a more wide-ranging investigation of the RCMP. By-passing a Public Inquiry with a Task Force, Harper effectively prevented any of the apparent violations mentioned above from being investigated. He asked the Task Force for a prompt reporting. Among the five Conservatives appointed all were not Stephen Harper Republicans. Some were Canadian Conservatives of integrity who respect the rule of law and believe in a democratic framework for Canadian society.

The result was a clear Report within the boundaries drawn for the Task Force. It records that "trust in the management of the RCMP has been shaken. This has had a stunning impact on the members and employees of the RCMP and on the Canadians they serve." The Task Force heard "with remarkable consistency about major problems with the discipline system, recruitment, performance evaluations, promotion and personal development." It goes on that all "of this led us to conclude that there is a need to radically overhaul the way the RCMP is governed." (p.vii)

In Chapter 5 of the Report, the Task Force members recommend the immediate appointment of an "Implementation Council" with a purpose: "to make fundamental changes in the governance, culture and accountability of the RCMP". (p. 47) They recommend that the Council establish "a timetable for reform" and be responsible for "development and execution of an implementation plan". The Task Force recommends the first "progress report" of the Implementation Council be no later than June 30, 2008, and that subsequent reports follow no less frequently than every six months". (p. 48)

We are now approaching the end of March 2008, three months from the first deadline the Task Force has set. Only today Stockwell Day, Minister of Public Safety, announced there would [be] movement on the Report's recommendations. Almost unquestionably, an "Implementation Council" will not be able to make its first Report by deadline date. In fact, no one yet knows how far the Stephen Harper government is willing to go to make the Task Force recommendations meaningful.

The members chosen for an implementation body are of key importance. The list provided is not promising. Suspicions widely held in Canada of a deepening police state will either be confirmed or gently put away with the Stephen Harper action on the Task Force on Governance and Cultural Change in the RCMP. If the Harper cabinet does a botch-up of the RCMP overhaul similar to the one it perpetrated in its move to ensure government accountability, we will know the Harper Republican Party is the willing architect of a police state in Canada.

* BARRETRY. The practice of exciting and encouraging lawsuits and quarrels.


Monday, March 17, 2008


Pressing Rock Bottom. Media Sleaze and CanWest Global Communication. ASPER NATION reviewed by Robin Mathews

Maclean's Magazine prints other things than advertising and propaganda for the Right. We're told. But when it isn't being paid to advertise, it seems to do so for free, stretching truth sometimes until it snaps. And almost always on behalf of the Big Leader - the George Bush view of "Liberty" administered by For-Profit Anybody.

Fidel Castro, for instance, turned Cuba from being an illiterate, oppressed whorehouse and gambling den for the rich of the U.S. into a country with one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world and almost full literacy. He did it while holding off hundreds of assassination attempts by the U.S. and an ugly, inhumane, on-going trade-and-other embargo.

Maclean's gives the story to you straight. "The long life and brutal times of the world's last true Communist dictator" (March 3 08).

Maclean's doesn't say the U.S. is almost the whole reason there's a Fidel Castro story to tell. The magazine doesn't say Castro rose out of the U.S. dominated sewer called Cuba to give it some life and hope. The U.S., then as now, was psychotically determined to destroy that Nobody on an island of six million people with few natural resources. Castro dared to champion a non-capitalist, co-operative society. And so the U.S. raised him to the level of a major world figure as the demon of the century.

The idiot policies of the U.S. guaranteed Castro's heroism, his survival, and his centrality to twentieth century and, so far, twenty-first century politics. (If you're reporting facts and history, Maclean's seems to say, and it hurts our propaganda, don't report.)

Then there's the Maclean's love affair with the convicted felon who founded The National Post. If Jesus Christ had been discovered alive and at work in Canada over the last two years, Maclean's would have given more column inches to Conrad Black. Why? Read on.

Consider Black's most deliriously fawning disciple at Maclean's. As a friend of mine remarked: "whatever Mark touches, he leaves a steyn". In a brief respite from working on the apotheosis of Conrad Black, Steyn "gives himself" to a review of a book by Robert Harris, a former close ally of ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Harris has written a novel with some barely disguised actual people to show who Tony Blair really is, as Harris sees him.

Steyn writes a totally cock-eyed, reactionary take on the Harris novel. Is that what's bad? Or is it that Steyn is farther Right (as they say) than Attila the Hun?


What matters is Steyn's (to put it gently) looseness with truth and the facts. None - except major columnists for The National Post perhaps - will accept Steyn's outright fantasy offered as simple truth - that Tony Blair forced the Bush Bunch through six months of negotiations at the UN in 2002-03 while "Saddam snuck all his WMD off to Syria or wherever." (March 17 08 p. 63) What's more, Steyn treats the pre-war Iraq peace movement as a cancer, for it "metastasized" into a "seething mass of global discontent". The fact that the U.S. was seen more and more to be faking a reason to attack Iraq doesn't cross Steyn's mind - though it obviously crossed the minds of those who made up that "mestastisized" peace movement. To Steyn, Tony Blair did it all. Please.

The sane world now knows - despite all attempts to fake - that Saddam Hussein did not have Weapons of Mass Destruction. So Mark Steyn simply fabricates, creates a Saddam Hussein who did have them. By damn! Of course! Not exactly fronting for Rogue State lunatics, Tony Blair gave Saddam Hussein (that man of magical cunning) time to sneak out (under the noses of total U.S. surveillance) his arsenal of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and deliver them -- "to Syria" -- "or wherever".

An editor - in this case Mark Stevenson of Maclean's - who allows such crappola to pass as fact can't pretend to be running a serious magazine. Call it Macphantasy's. Call it Maclie's. Don't call it Maclean's.

Two points: first, if it's history and fact, and it hurts our propaganda, don't tell it. Secondly, fabricate anything you need to support the contemporary Attila the Hun world view. Don't consider the truth secondary. Don't consider it at all.

Maclean's is a bellwether, a canary in the Canadian coal mine. From a great Canadian national magazine it's become an intellectual serial rapist of many of the issues important to Canadians. And - as bellwether - it's only one among the major "journalistic" pack.

Just look at the book by Marc Edge about the founding and growth of one of the sleaziest media concentration monsters in Canadian history: CanWest Global Communications. The book by Marc Edge is called ASPER NATION, Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company (New Star Books, 2007).

The evidences of CanWest's scandalous near-monopoly position are visible across Canada. But they are most dreadful in B.C. where B.C.'s three major dailies, the dominant TV station, and a heavy list of community papers are Asper-owned. That might not matter if policy were something else than a rigid Attila the Hun'ism apparently enforced by tacit policy, self-censorship, and fear.

Only a few weeks ago CanWest fired the decades-long publisher of the Vancouver Courier, Peter Ballard, for, it is said, not being "corporate" enough, meaning, I take it, not sacrificing truth enough to CanWest policy. Never mind that several people told me they couldn't see any difference between the Courier and anything else CanWest. Its tiny shade of difference was considered so important that tiny protests were made in remaining tiny independent publications.

Nevertheless, I still remember a year or so ago one of the Courier's bold columnists writing about a major group wanting to save B.C. Hydro and B.C. ownership of B.C. rivers - that are being sold out secretly at breakneck speed by the Gordon Campbell Attilas. The columnist reported that no invited government person would attend the group's meeting - empty chairs kept visible to make the point.

Wait till next week, the columnist wrote. I've more to tell about the occasion and the issue. And so I waited. I looked. I hunted. No second column on the subject appeared that I could find. Why? Need you ask? That's the "good" CanWest paper, said to be worth protecting.

It gets worse.

BC Mary is the person who has kept the on-going internet site to cover everything about the corrupt sale of BC Rail by the Gordon Campbell government, the scandal involved, and the court action arising out of it - for years now. She was (commendably) worried about CanWest's apparent complicity with forces trying to kill the story - especially B.C.'s major CanWest paper, the Vancouver Sun.

So in August she wrote to ask why the Sun hadn't covered a court event in what is perhaps the most important court case in B.C. history - one that could well show the Gordon Campbell government is illegitimate and bring it crashing down.

Showing her innocence, BC Mary asked for "an intelligent summary of what's happening".

Managing editor of the Sun, Kirk LaPointe responded with a casual note: "Hi Mary. The truth is, nothing much has happened in the process, so we haven't been consuming resources during this heavy holiday season on non-news.

But we are at work on a piece that will move in the next two or three days, so bear with us."

Mary waited 12 days for the new piece and then wrote back. Out of his cage sprang Kirk LaPointe, furious that BC Mary had published his casual note, fuming about confidentiality, discourtesy, and on and on. "There is nothing further to discuss", he wrote. But not before he told her he would never help BC Mary again in the future. Help? Again? A joke?

Why the sudden anger? Because, I suspect, that deeply sunk in CanWest, Attila the Hun culture, Kirk LaPointe casually wrote - as I read his note - that a move in the most important trial in B.C. history is "non news". (How did he know, anyway, if his paper didn't cover the event?)

His note also confirms, it seems, the personnel slashing policies of CanWest. It's summer, and so B.C.'s largest newspaper has no one to cover the on-going BC Rail Scandal. And then -- and then -- LaPointe gently seems to mislead BC Mary, saying the Sun would have news in two or three days. To shut her up?

Anyhow, she didn't "shut". And so LaPointe - it would seem - used to CanWest methods, went ape, spilling ego and little else in all directions.

That would be funny, except as Marc Edge shows in ASPER NATION, the destruction of journalistic integrity in Canada has been a mission of Canada's "Attila the Hun Club" for some years.

Conrad Black - as what used to be called a Social Darwinist, meaning, in brief, someone who believes in the survival of the fittest - was early into the mission. Showing nature to be, one might say, Black in tooth and claw, he set about major media concentration, personnel slashing, and intense profit-seeking - and he frankly admitted his intention to serve the Right. All the while he crowed about improving Canada's journalistic standards. Some have actually been taken in by Black's persistent self-promotion.

But wait. Hasn't The National Post under Conrad Black, and then as a part of the Asper Corporation, had propaganda and service to The Attila the Hun Club as its primary roles? At the sacrifice of everything else, like even profit? In the ten years of its life the National Post has lost millions of dollars every year. Why keep it going then?

Why, to elect Stephen Harper. And aren't these its other goals? - to destroy Canadian Social Insurance. To destroy Medicare. To make Private Corporations Canada's government. To join the U.S. and fight its wars. To keep people like the people of B.C. in the dark about the BC Rail Scandal. In short, to keep in power people like Gordon Campbell of The Attila the Hun Club.

Marc Edge's book should be required reading by every grade ten class in Canada so that every literate Canadian learns how journalism in Canada has been dragged toward the sewer by Conrad Black and the Asper family's CanWest Global Communications.

If I were to begin quoting from Marc Edge's book, I might not be able to stop. But to shorten the matter, Izzy Asper's statement: "Let commerce rule -- not the law" about sums it up (p. 60). (And perhaps Conrad Black followed the idea a little too closely.)

As Sociologist Larry Patriquin wrote after studying The National Post (2004), in its coverage of taxation issues, the Post's material fits "the classic definition of propaganda". It was, he said, "a discourse in which incomplete information is presented to people with the purpose of distorting their view." (Edge, p. 97)

As if to show how bad it can get, a Seattle Post-Intelligencer reporter - from the Land of the Bland where killing and slanting news is a Major National Pastime - commented in 2005 about CanWest's B.C.: "News coverage has been so slanted that Vancouver's daily papers should be read at a 45-degree angle. With its blatant biases and recent cuts in staffing, CanWest demonstrates the perils of having a daily paper monopoly". (p. 222)

Perhaps the ugliest story in Edge's book is the one about Izzy Asper with the staff of a New Zealand newspaper just purchased. Asper asked one staff member and then another and then another what they did, and each, apparently, was happy to say things like they were pleased that their task was "to make sure our audience gets the most carefully researched news and information possible."

That wasn't what they were supposed to say according to Asper. "Wrong," said Izzy, "You're all wrong and that's why you're bankrupt. You're in the business of selling soap." (p. 52) If Asper had added they were now also in the business of selling Right wing propaganda for The Attila the Hun Club, his statement would have been "all in".

Something else Marc Edge conveys to this reader is perhaps more troubling than all noted so far. Black and CanWest have harassed, fired, and fought with so many good Canadian journalists that a real question is left about the ones who remain. Even if they have talent and lots of integrity, they might as well not have. That seems to be the message of ASPER NATION, Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company.

Sleaze is the name of the game in present journalism in Canada. It would be wonderful if one could say, "except of course for the newspaper or news chain X". But one can't. Even the review of Edge's book in the Globe and Mail (Feb 9 08 D11) calls it "partisan if comprehensive", and "unabashed polemic".

The book, ASPER NATION, gave the Globe and Mail room to do a major piece, to editorialize, and to say loudly and clearly how it rejects the Black/CanWest mode of operation and how it wants a full scale rebuilding of media ownership in Canada to return responsibility to the Fourth Estate and what we call 'the electronic media'.

The Globe and Mail chose not to do that. And we know why.

Some readers have asked about Robin's career. Here's a little bit about his contributions to the Canadian scene, which comes from The Literary Encyclopedia:

Although a poet, playwright and academic, Robin Daniel Middleton Mathews is best known as a militant advocate of Canadian nationalism and resistance to American imperialism. Mathews was born in Smithers, British Columbia. He completed an Honours BA in English at the University of British Columbia with an undergraduate thesis on Matthew Arnold and an MA at Ohio State with a thesis on Henry James. After working for a year as a radio producer for the CBC, Mathews began a PhD at the University of Toronto where he was an unconvinced student of the mythopoeic theorist and critic Northrop Frye.

Mathews abandoned his doctoral studies after taking up a teaching position in the English Department of the University of Alberta in 1961. He published his first collection of poems, The Plink Savoir, in 1962 and his second, Plus Ça Change, in 1964. In 1963 Mathews and three of his colleagues attended the inaugural Council Meeting of the newly-elected mayor of Edmonton, who had been unseated five years earlier over a breach-of-trust indictment. When he confronted the Mayor, Mathews and his colleagues were arrested and jailed, then later tried and acquitted. Mathews and his colleagues subsequently pursued a protracted, unsuccessful civil suit against the Mayor, the City and the Chief of Police. This series of events proved a defining moment in Mathews' life and career.

In 1965 Mathews published his first collection of 'political' poems, This Time, This Place. When two philosophy professors, whom Mathews had championed, were denied tenure, Mathews resigned his position at the University of Alberta and took his family (his wife Esther and their three children) to England. He taught at the University of Leeds before moving to Paris where he lectured at the Institut Britannique. Mathews's first play, a comedy entitled A Breakfast of Diamonds, was mounted by the Kitchener-Waterloo Little Theatre for the all-Canadian Dominion Drama Festival in 1967. Mathews and his family returned to Canada, carrying a collection of posters from the May 1968 General Strike (the collection is now housed at Simon Fraser University). Mathews joined the English Department of Carleton University in Ottawa in 1968 and one year later, with James A. Steele, published The Struggle for Canadian Universities which presented the compelling and provocative argument that Canadian universities discriminated against hiring Canadian professors.


Sunday, March 16, 2008


"Tell us the truth ..."

Have you seen a comment like this (bolded, in colour, below) before? It is copied here, as a sign that the public is becoming decidedly restless: - BC Mary.


Letter To the Editor
The Province: Sunday, March 16, 2008

Following the release of the Transportation Safety Board report on the sinking of the Queen of the North, B.C. Transport Minister Kevin Falcon called upon the ship's bridge officers, Karl Lilgert and Karen Bricker, to come clean and tell the public what happened in those 14 minutes when the ship went off course.

I would extend the same challenge to Falcon's government to come clean with the public on the sale of B.C. Rail and the raid on the legislature.

But, of course, he would say the matter is before the courts and therefore the government can't comment.

Meanwhile, we should thank the TSB for its findings and recommendations. This report may be a springboard to real improvements in maritime safety. {Snip} ...

I look forward to additional facts from the further investigations and trials. Perhaps the government will open a judicial inquiry, but I doubt it.

Peter Lahay


Saturday, March 15, 2008


ASPER NATION book review by Robin Mathews, coming soon

Meantime, here are two quotes from the book:

" ... The ongoing crisis in Canadian journalism reached its zenith in 2002 during the Asper Disaster, which quickly replaced the 1980 "Black Wednesday" newspaper closures as the darkest chapter in Canadian journalism history. It will stand as such until the next crisis of concentrated news media control inevitably arrives.

"A bigger problem is that such a crisis might not even come to public attention if vigilance is not exercised in monitoring media influence. For that, media scholars and media critics play a vital role in the public interest, but they seem to be an endangered species.

"Apart from the occasional column by Antonia Zerbisias in The Toronto Star and the contributions of a small group of academics, largely working in obscurity," noted Globe and Mail television critic John Doyle in late 2006, "major Canadian media organizations, including newspapers, rarely face criticism or analysis."

" ... and when Antonia bowed out of media criticism in mid-2007 ... The departure of Canada's last remaining media critic in the mainstream press went unreported in the Star or any other major daily, but it did not go unnoticed online ..." [pp.262-263]


"The suspicion that [Premier Gordon] Campbell was getting a free pass from the Vancouver Sun grew when the newspaper downplayed news of the premier's 2003 drunk-driving arrest in Maui.

"Here we are a paper that runs massive headshots, we get the headshot of all headshots, the Premier with the [police] slate around his neck, and we run a little thumbnail," an un-named Sun reporter told BC Business. "We essentially tried to bury a front-page story on our front page. No one is going to convince me that that wasn't political."

If there were any doubts, the reporter says they were erased three days later when The Sun spiked a story reporter Peg Fong filed from Hawaii in which she interviewed the inmate who shared Campbell's Maui jail cell. Fong says she can't comment on the issue, saying only that she was told from the outset to direct all questions relating to the story to the senior editorial team. [p. 181]

ASPER NATION, Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company, by Marc Edge. Vancouver, New Star Books, 2007.


Friday, March 14, 2008


Transcripts may be available next week

It has been 3 or 4 days since Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett "released" the Basi-Virk Affidavits regarding the requests for disclosure from the government. But those who are awaiting copies of court transcripts may have another week's wait.

The helpful and courteous lady at Criminal Registry explained to Robin that Crown counsel has to come down and go through it all to decide what is meant and what can be released.

She says it's a good idea to telephone ahead, before visiting Criminal Registry, to make sure the documents have been readied.

She said "Call in the middle of next week ..." that is, March 19 or later.

- BC Mary.



B.C. Liberals get caught with their pants down, says Vaughn Palmer

Included here, as an indication that CanWest news may be re-aligning slightly to look more closely at the unfolding scene in B.C. political and perhaps legal circles. Watch for a Robin Mathews book review of ASPER NATION - Canada's Most Dangerous Media Company, coming soon. - BC Mary.


Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - Friday, March 14, 2008

VICTORIA - The B.C. Liberals had an embarrassing moment in the legislature Monday {Snip} ... Government house leader Mike de Jong shamelessly put out the call to Transportation Minister Kevin Falcon, one of the scrappiest Liberals and rarely at a loss for words.

So it was that late Monday afternoon, Falcon came flying into the house and proceeded to do what the Liberals had insisted they had no time to do, namely debate spending estimates in the main chamber.

The backdown provided New Democrats with a moment of quiet satisfaction.

With a government as arrogant as this one, all the Opposition can do is note the occasions when it has been too clever by half.

Monday's stop-gap exercise also set off a scramble behind the scenes as the Liberals tried to clear the apparent jam-up in the legislative pipeline.

Before the house adjourned Thursday for a scheduled two-week break, the government side had managed to rustle up a half-dozen or so of the promised legislative measures.

The most debatable was probably the bill to establish a Crown corporation to oversee the twinning of the Port Mann Bridge.

Yes, a full-blown Crown corporation, with a board of directors, a chief executive officer, and such "officers and staff" as the CEO deems "necessary to carry on the business and operations of the corporation." {Snip} ... omg ...

Which sounded like a lot of public apparatus to manage a single (albeit very large) private partnership. {Snip} ...

Once the house resumes, there are only seven weeks and 28 sitting days left on the schedule.

Not much time for lengthy debate on health care reform, carbon taxes, or anything else. But you'd be right in thinking the Liberals prefer it that way

BC Mary's book review of ASPER NATION will not be happening -- not after I realized that Robin was already working on it. But also, it's a tough assignment. I kept wanting to say "Read this book!" -- or to quote whole pages -- because Marc Edge's writing makes everything relevant. E.g., you'll be fascinated by the back-shop plan to shield a certain premier arrested for drunk driving. But in the end, my book review went something like this:

If you really don't want to read this book, just take this one line from ASPER NATION and keep it in your pocket with the loonies for buying CanWest newspapers:

The National Post -- launched in 1998 -- "changed journalism in Canada forever. Reporting from a decidedly partisan perspective, it eschewed traditional journalistic notions of neutrality for thinly-veiled advocacy of conservative causes." [p.3]

How hard would it be, to propagandize an entire democratic nation, if one man (first, Conrad Black, then Izzy Asper) holds 105 daily newspapers, including 14 of the 16 published in British Columbia. Not hard at all, apparently. Irresistible, apparently.

- BC Mary


Thursday, March 13, 2008


Campbell & Co. pay a political price in two court cases, says Vancouver Sun

Shachi Kurl
Special to the Sun - Thursday, March 13, 2008

[Following a bare-knuckles review of the Ken Dobell case, Vancouver Sun's editorial continued with the Basi-Virk/BCRail Case, as follows - BC Mary] ... The second blow came Tuesday, with more explosive allegations out of the court hearing from the continuing legal drama that is the BC Rail case.

After ripping apart the RCMP's conduct in the investigation into whether a couple of ministerial aides profited from the government's sale of the then-publicly owned company, the defence team's legal bulldogs are closing out a year (a year!) of pre-trial motions by sharpening their claws on the government.

And they're going straight to the top, alleging the premier personally interfered with the process of disclosing key evidence that defence lawyers say puts their clients innocence at stake, and could serve to acquit them.

To that end, they are asking the judge to make an order to compel Campbell to testify during pre-trial motions about what he may or may not have done, a request government lawyers will move vigorously to block.

Now, admittedly, there is a certain fatigue factor here, a saturation point at which the eyes of all but the most diehard political and legal junkies are certain to glaze over. Process is not usually known for its sexiness.

But, this government has reason to be worried about the machinations playing out in Courtroom 54 of B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. {Snip} ...

Every time you think this case has fragmented into oblivion with a tangle of applications and challenges, it reforms long enough to shed some unflattering light on the political and administrative inner workings of government.

Today, the Campbell government finds itself just over a year from election, muted by its own standard line, that "the case is before the courts," unable and unwilling to respond to growing pile of allegations at its feet.

Grumbling in some corners suggest the defence is on a revenge mission, throwing up frivolous legal red herrings out of political spite.

This would have some traction save for the fact that the judge in this case, Justice Elizabeth Bennett, has backed the defence lawyers in their disclosure applications, allowing them to step a little farther down the path they seek to go.

And the defence team knows it has to skate carefully or risk being called offside at any moment. It's one of the reasons defence lawyer Kevin McCullough avoids talking to reporters outside court as he chomps cigars and guzzles Coke during court breaks.

If this government won't respond explicitly and publicly in word to accusations of a lack of transparency and accountability, perhaps it will respond in deed by offering no further delay in providing whatever relevant evidence the defence is seeking.

After all, B.C. taxpayers may recover nearly $7,000 from Dobell, fees he collected while illegally lobbying, fees he's promised to repay.

But they will never see a penny of the millions already spent on the BC Rail case, more than four years after the raid on the legislature, and months before a single word of testimony is to be uttered at trial.

Is Premier Campbell worried? From Times Colonist March 13, 2008:


Canwest News Services - March 13, 2008

VANCOUVER - Ken Dobell, a former deputy minister and senior adviser to Premier Gordon Campbell, has received an absolute discharge for what the judge termed a trivial breach of a regulation.

The 39-year public servant pleaded guilty to violating the Lobbyists Registration Act for failing to register for work he did representing the City of Vancouver. Fines under the act can range up to $25,000.

Defence lawyer George Macintosh asked the judge Wednesday to give Dobell an absolute discharge because what occurred was "an honest but mistaken belief" that he didn't need to be registered. {Snip} ...

The special prosecutor in the case previously said there was sufficient evidence to charge Dobell with influence-peddling as a result of his work for Vancouver lobbying the province on social housing. However, he said laying such a criminal charge was not in the public interest.

Prosecutor Terrence Robertson said Dobell's relationship with the premier helped him land a contract with the City of Vancouver, which expected him to use his influence with the province to secure "government contributions" for social housing.

Dobell served as deputy minister to Campbell from 2001 until he retired in 2005. He returned after retirement as a special adviser to the premier and subsequently took on lobbying work.

His successor as deputy minister to the premier, Jessica McDonald, cleared him of conflicts, most recently in an April 27, 2007, letter to Campbell.

"I remain satisfied that Mr. Dobell fulfilled his obligations with respect to managing potential conflict of interest, and that the discussion he and I had and the procedure we agree to effectively safeguarded the province's interest," McDonald wrote.

The NDP has called for the dismissal of McDonald, whom they said failed to protect the public interest.

"When you take a look at the facts: Twice she cleared Ken Dobell," said NDP leader Carole James. "She signed off on contracts that the special prosecutor says are enough evidence for influence-peddling. ... It shows a lack of due diligence and she's not doing her job."

Campbell also said he agreed with the way McDonald handled the Dobell affair.

"I am satisfied with not only the way she's handled that, but the way she's handled other issues in government,'' he said. "She's a woman who's acted with nothing but integrity and the highest ethical standards."

Dobell remains a registered lobbyist to the B.C. government on housing for Vancouver and transportation for Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., which deals in transit gates and fast passes.

He remains a provincial appointee to the board of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Organizing Committee, but that position is voluntary with only reasonable expenses and travel paid.

Dobell also chairs the Vanoc finance committee and is a member of the strategic communications committee.

He is also a volunteer board member for Legacies Now, a non-profit society that is partially funded by provincial tax dollars.

James said Dobell should be dropped from the Vancouver 2010 and Legacies Now boards and removed as a lobbyist to government in the meantime.

"There's no question in my mind that the government needs to stop dealing with him,'' James said.


Wednesday, March 12, 2008


As the Tide Turns?

My computer has gone nuts and this may be why:
Did you ever imagine a story like this in The Vancouver Sun?
Woo hoo, Mulgrew!

No effective checks and balances on government insiders

Ian Mulgrew, Vancouver Sun
Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Once the second-most powerful man in B.C., Ken Dobell today will ignominiously plead guilty to violating the provincial lobbyist law.

The Bluto-like former Vancouver city manager smugly pooh-poohed the whole affair Tuesday as having little more than "nuisance value."

I think he's wrong.

Dobell's misconduct is an example of the same problem unearthed by the investigation that led to the December 2003 raid on the legislature.

B.C. laws and current political ethos do not appear to offer effective or meaningful checks on government insiders seeking to profit from their connections and privileged knowledge.


In Dobell's case, the prosecutors didn't think it worth pursuing influence-peddling charges given that he has agreed to plead guilty to violating the Lobbyist Registration Act and to repay some $7,000 he received from the City of Vancouver.

It would have been a bad rap.

Dobell wasn't doing anything nefarious.

He didn't think he was doing anything wrong.

He was simply ignoring the rules we lesser mortals live by because he didn't think they applied to him.

Other people "lobbied;" Dobell did something special.


The problem, however, is that Dobell began working privately for the City of Vancouver in April 2006 but didn't register as a Victoria lobbyist until October. He should have registered 10 days after accepting the city contract.

When confronted with his error, Dobell brazenly told his detractors to essentially take a hike.

That's why we need to do something more to address what has happened.

Powerful people such as this obviously need to be reminded they are not above the law.

It's important to remember Basi and Virk remain innocent until proven guilty. And, though Dobell faces a shameful experience, his error was a mistake of ego rather than venality.

Still, I think we need a public inquiry to set the bar and make everyone aware of the standards demanded of public servants and politicians in terms of the knowledge they glean in government.

This should not be a partisan issue.

Lobbyist laws are supposed to ensure transparency, accountability and equal access to government.

They don't work if no one pays attention to them and they are not enforced with vigour.

Dobell did not pay enough deference to those values and his remarks indicate he remains unimpressed by them.

His flippant comments in the wake of Monday's announcement by the special prosecutor show he still doesn't understand the reason for the controversy.

(It's the optics, Ken, the optics!)

That the premier's office cleared Dobell and the government continues to defend him means they don't get it, either.

If the Liberals really cared, they would call an inquiry into the disquieting relationship that seems to have developed in Victoria between lobbyists and senior civil servants.

If nothing else, it would establish that the rules matter and ethical behaviour is mandated. Then smart guys like Dobell will know the law applies to them as well.

The current situation is a bad way to run a railroad.


Believe it or not ... Vaughn Palmer is on the same wave length as Ian Mulgrew! What's going on, at The Vancouver Sun? Is this Kirk LaPointe's promise coming true??

Liberals shift ground (and personnel)
......several times over Dobell affair

Vaughn Palmer, Vancouver Sun
Published: Wednesday, March 12, 2008

VICTORIA - Opposition leader Carole James led off question period Tuesday by listing the controversies arising from the Ken Dobell scandal.

The premier's long-time adviser pleading guilty to violating the Lobbyist Registration Act.

A special prosecutor saying Dobell could likely have been convicted of influence peddling as well.

The premier's office not willing to explain why it approved the contracts that embroiled Dobell.

No one in government willing to even discuss the possibility of severing all ties with him.

"If that's not a cloud, what is?" cracked James, riffing on Attorney-General Wally Oppal's initial comment on the Dobell affair: "Who said he's under a cloud?"

James's accusation-disguised-as-a-question brought Oppal to his feet in the legislature. The Liberals have decided he should field all questions with a boilerplate refusal to answer.

"Mr. Dobell is scheduled to appear in the court tomorrow. I assume he'll either enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. So why don't we wait to see what happens?"

Nothing to say about Dobell? Very well then, James would take aim at his successor as deputy minister to the premier, Jessica McDonald.

For hadn't McDonald personally approved the contracts that were the focus of the scandal?

Hadn't McDonald herself asked the question "Does this matter bring the B.C. public service in to disrepute?" and cleared Dobell with a resounding "No"?

James: "Will the government do the right thing and remove Jessica McDonald from her position?"

Direct attacks on a senior public servant -- as opposed to politicians and political staffers -- are relatively rare in the legislature.

But no Liberal stepped forward to defend McDonald. The premier was absent and the script called for Oppal to answer everything by saying the matter was before the courts.

Mind, that was a bit of a stretch, when the questions involved McDonald.

Oppal: "I find it unfortunate that . . . she makes statements concerning other people who are not involved in the issue that will be before the court."

First James couldn't ask questions about the person who is before the courts. Now she isn't supposed to ask about a person who isn't before the court. Make up your mind, Wally.


Finally the New Democrats fired back with a reference to another matter that is before the courts -- the proceedings arising out of the raid on the legislature.

But when police raided the buildings in 2003, the Liberals lost no time cutting ties with the two aides who were implicated.

New Democrat Diane Thorne: "The judge hasn't rendered any decision in [their case] either. We're talking about the same thing here and getting different answers . . . . Maybe the only reason is because Mr. Dobell is such a close friend of the premier and [the two aides] are not."

Suddenly the Liberals weren't so sure about letting the A-G handle it. The affable Oppal prefers not to be drawn too deeply into partisan scraps, so the government sent in someone who has no hesitation about mixing it up, house leader Mike de Jong.

"I have never seen such a despicable attack as what I see from this Opposition today," he began.

Well, not since his time on the Opposition benches, anyway. In one of his first appearances back in 1994, de Jong called the attorney-general of the day a "liar," then tried to excuse the comment on the grounds that somebody else had said it, then refused to withdraw, and was ejected for the day.

Warming to the role of minister of defence Tuesday, De Jong threw out a challenge to the New Democrats:

If they wanted to accuse the premier's deputy, they should do so outside the chamber, "free from the kind of immunity that exists in here."

James promptly did so.

"I think Jessica McDonald should be fired," the Opposition leader told reporters in a scrum just after question period ended. "She signed off on contracts that the special prosecutor says are enough evidence for influence peddling. That seems to be a real problem, it shows a lack of due diligence, and she's not doing her job."

The Liberals didn't respond for several hours. Then, in late afternoon, the premier called the press gallery to defend his beleaguered deputy.

McDonald has "my complete confidence" he told reporters. She is filled with "integrity." And he professed outrage ("reprehensible") that the Opposition would attack a public servant who was only doing her job.

Heck, he might say the same thing about Ken Dobell. But, of course, right now, that matter is before the courts.

The tides can wash up amazing things,
.........even on the beaches of Victoria these days!