Saturday, May 30, 2009


Lover's loose tongue could land premier in inquiry

The Canadian Press
Chronicle-Herald - May 29 2009

YELLOWKNIFE — The premier of the Northwest Territories could lose his job if an inquiry determines a secret lover briefed him on the confidential discussions of opposition MLAs.

The territory’s conflict-of-interest commissioner has called for a formal hearing into a scandal that has been common knowledge around Yellowknife since last fall.

"It was a betrayal," said Dave Ramsay, one of six MLAs who asked Gerald Gerrand to examine the affair between Premier Floyd Roland and legislature clerk Patricia Russell.

{Snip} ...

At the time, Russell was clerk to several committees composed of MLAs not serving in cabinet. Under the territory’s consensus-style government, there are no political parties and MLAs who aren’t in cabinet function as a kind of opposition.

"We strategize like an opposition party," said Ramsay. "Having one of our staff members intimately linked to the premier should never have happened."

Fellow MLA Jane Groenewegen said committee meetings are used to talk about cabinet ministers and how well they’re performing.

"People want to feel like they can come in there and vent and lay all their cards on the table," she said. "There was a lot of frustration expressed in that room."

Both Russell and Roland have denied any information was shared, nor did Gerrand find any evidence to suggest that.

{Snip} ...

Ramsay said the issue is not Roland’s behaviour, but his judgment.

"I think the premier showed poor judgment in not getting her out of that situation," he said.

Gerrand seemed to agree.

"There clearly existed an unsatisfactory situation in late November 2008, respecting Ms. Russell’s role. Committees and their members are entitled to be served by a principal clerk . . . who has no emotional ties through a secret liaison with a member of executive council."

Russell declined to comment on the commissioner’s findings. Roland also declined a request from The Canadian Press for an interview.

The inquiry is to be led by a single investigator, who has the power to call witnesses, receive sworn testimony and allow cross-examination. It may be held in public.

If Roland is found to have breached conflict guidelines, penalties range from a rebuke in the legislature to a fine to loss of his office and/or seat.

Russell still works for the territory, but is no longer based at the legislature.

Full story HERE.

As with Gordo & Lara, having a ladyfriend embedded in the functions of a premier's office raises serious questions of judgment. The in-house ladyfriend "never far from his side" almost certainly could be expected to create an unhealthy need for official secrecy, which in turn could give rise to the possibility for blackmail. So i
t's about ethics in governance. Therefore, anyone elected to high office avoids having a wife, sister, son, or any relative with emotional ties working for them, realizing that it fosters an atmosphere of favouritism, unfairly placing regular government employees at a disadvantage. It seems pretty obvious that this form of oligarchy puts a premier's integrity at risk. Nobody suggests that a premier isn't free to have ladyfriends, if that's his bent. The serious public questions arise only when a premier decides to embed a ladyfriend right into the functions of a premier's office. It should raise questions in Victoria even more than in Yellowknife, because Lara is on the public payroll, at a very high salary, but she is neither elected by the people nor accountable to anybody but Gordo. Apparently, nobody is even allowed to photograph her. Isn't it time for a public inquiry in B.C., too? - BC Mary


Friday, May 29, 2009


BC Rail: this botched, pathetic trial

Basketball is a game I never enjoyed, either as a player or spectator. It's a frustrating, stupid game about thwarting and being thwarted. No grand whacks, as in tennis or golf or baseball. No crossing the line to the roar of the crowd, like a runner or soccer player. Not even a ka-sloonk for a hockey puck slapped into the net. No, basketball is all about preventing the other team from functioning to the best of their ability ... about thwarting every attempt to score a point. About thwarting or being thwarted. And it's the same with HMTQ vs Basi, Virk, Basi.

This trial was supposed to begin on June 6, 2006 ... and that's why The Legislature Raids was launched ... because we could already see that the CanWest media had decided to shield their premier by not providing adequate news coverage. We could see the thwarting even then. Thing is, we really couldn't quite believe it because doesn't that kind of shielding mean an implied guilt?

Now ... in the hours following the latest CanWest election ... we're only beginning to understand. Madam Justice Bennett may be removed from the Basi Virk trial. True, she applied to become a judge in the B.C. Appeal Courts but that doesn't mean she must automatically abandon the 3+ years of pre-trial hearings she's already considered. In fact, Justice Bennett says she's OK with staying on the case. But guess who's thwarting that? Our very own Crown Prosecutor, Bill Berardino! Ol' Bill, showing signs of life at last, says he wants the presiding judge to just move along, like now, like pronto! like yesterday! He wants a new judge to start all over from the beginning!

It's the Defence team that's beginning to feel like the Home Team at this point. The Basi Virk defence team wants Judge Bennett to stay on the job. I imagine the public wants Judge Bennett to stay on the job. We're beginning to get the picture.

In recent days, at long last, CanWest's own personal premier is being called upon to testify. There's nobody left, apparently, who still believes that Gordo didn't decide to get rid of BC Rail, didn't agree the terms, didn't meet with the CEOs of major railroads, and isn't famous for micro-managing every detail of every decision made by his government from June 2001 onward. Gordo is King of Thwarts.

Now Gordo's 2001-2004 Minister of Transportation, has disappeared. She knows pretty much all about the BC Rail deal. Judith Reid is wanted by the Defence as witness but, says our Crown Prosecutor, she's nowhere to be found. Nope, not even a skip-tracer can find her, reports The Globe and Mail on May 28, 2009. Sure. Try another one. We aren't the dumb kids we were 5 years ago. Look and see if she voted on May 12, 2009; and where she voted.

July 14, 2009, is the 5-year anniversary of signing the deal between BCRail and CN. At least, we think it is. The deal is still secret. No Minutes exist which would seal the BC Rail deal. Nothing. [Hansard for March 3, 2004] Another miracle by the King of Thwart. It means that British Columbians don't really know what's been signed away or what BC's rights are. One rumour says we lose control of priceless BC Rail waterfront lands on the 5th anniversary ... lands which go to CN for $1.

I've never cared much whether Basi, Virk, or Basi are guilty or innocent of the charges made against them. But it did seem to me, right from the day the police raided the B.C. Legislature that the police investigation -- and then the charges -- were possibly reflective of Campbell's governing style. Seemed important for the public to understand how something so huge as Canada's 3rd largest railway could slip out of our hands, just like that. And that's the very thing we still don't know -- and the thing which neither the Crown Prosecutor nor the Campbell government seem willing to allow us find out. The very thing that a premier should want to find out. But no. Thwart, thwart, thwart.

If you ask me, the Crown Prosecutor -- who often didn't bother to show up in the early pre-trial hearings -- is quite satisfied with the delays. If you ask me, he could have found a way to resolve the secret witness issue without the expense and delay of going to BC Court of Appeal and then Supreme Court of Canada. If you ask me, Ol' Bill could have got this show on the road approx. 3 years ago. I bet the King of Thwarts doesn't mind these delays.

And what that lousy performance means is that this has become the Basi Virk ball game. There's enough truth they could tell before July 14 to not only set themselves free but make themselves B.C. heroes. Will that day come soon enough? Or will the Home Team find yet another way to thwart the whole process?

In the long run, HMTQ v. Basi Virk Basi will more appropriately be named the BC Rail Case. And BC Rail used to mean the people of British Columbia ... our railway ... hauling our forest, mine, and farm products. So where does this botched, pathetic trial leave the public? We're the ones being thwarted everywhichway in this ballgame ... and the next election, by some miracle of micro-management, is now 4 years away. Thwart, thwart, thwart. - BC Mary.


Thursday, May 28, 2009


CN cost-cutting blamed for Lillooet derailment June 29, 2006 when two BCRail trainmen died

The Globe and Mail - May 28, 2009

Transportation Safety Board says formal risk assessment was missed.


With dynamic brakes, the risk of a loss of control would have been reduced.

When the system was operated by BC Rail, locomotives were equipped with dynamic braking systems, but CN removed such locomotives after they acquired the operation in 2004, replacing them with older locomotives.

Don Faulkner and Thomas Dodd died at the scene of the violent derailment. The engineer, Gordon Rhodes, suffered serious injuries.

See full story and Lillooet train derailment animation HERE.

Speaking of cost-cutting, Robin Mathews writes here about the economy, corporations, and banking systems.

Excerpt: the International Monetary Fund ... still demands that debtor countries impoverish themselves, raise interest rates, cut public expenditures, freeze wages, and place themselves in a weakened position ripe for the picking off of their public corporations and major wealth resources by foreign corporations.



RCMP observed digging up back yard of missing former Minister of Transportation!

Bobby Virk! It's time to reveal everything you know about where Judith Reid goes, at times like this. Hawaii? Haida Gwai?

Just kidding, of course. - BC Mary.



BC Rail Corruption Trial: Desperately seeking former Liberals

By Mark Hume
The Globe and Mail - May 28, 2009

Have four former Liberal MLAs really vanished off the face of the earth?

Probably not, but defence lawyers in a political corruption trial told the Supreme Court of British Columbia on Thursday that all efforts to locate the four ex-politicians – including a former cabinet minister – have so far failed ...

Jeez Louise ... what next? The dog ate the government's evidence? Read Mark Hume's full column HERE.



Another Basi Virk hearing today May 28, starting at 10:00 AM


Wednesday, May 27, 2009


Basi Virk defence wants Justice Bennett to stay on case - sparking battle in court yesterday

Bill Tieleman has the story HERE, including:

Special Prosecutor wants new judge appointed quickly, sparking battle in court

Justice Elizabeth Bennett also predicts no Supreme Court of Canada decision on secret witness appeal until end of October

Pre-trial hearings will resume on Thursday May 28 at 10 a.m.

And on June 1, 2009.


More about Justice Bennnett by Neal Hall, Vancouver Sun, HERE.


Tuesday, May 26, 2009


Basi Virk hearing again today, Vancouver Supreme Court, start-time 10:00 AM

Noted in passing ...

The Olympic Toke! Read about it HERE in the Williams Lake Tribune.


BC Attorney-General loses seat ... HERE.


Monday, May 25, 2009


CN to pay $1.8-million for derailments in BC & Alberta

By Scott Simpson
Vancouver Sun - May 25, 2009

CN Rail will pay $1.8 million in fines for environmental damage as a result of derailments in British Columbia and Alberta in 2005, the railway announced Monday.

CN pleaded guilty to charges under the Fisheries Act, and will pay $400,000 as a consequence of a derailment that wiped out fish populations in the Cheakamus River near Squamish when caustic soda spilled into the river from an overturned freight car.

Fisheries and Oceans Canada gets $350,000 of that fine, for programs promoting the conservation of fish and fish habitat in B.C.

Most of the money, $1.4 million, goes to similar programs in Alberta, reflecting the greater magnitude of a derailment and oil spill at Wabamun Lake ...

{Snip} ...

Read more HERE and HERE and HERE.



Basi-Virk to get new judge. 135 Organized Crime groups in B.C.

New Judge In Basi-Virk Corruption Case Following BC Liberal Election Win?

The Link - Indo-Canadian Newspaper
Read the full report HERE.

VANCOUVER—Is it a coincidence or just bureaucratic procedure that a new judge will most likely be appointed in the continuing legal saga surrounding the BC Rail corruption scandal involving former BC Liberal aides Dave Udhe Basi and Bobby Virk as well as other prominent BC Liberal party insiders, including Premier Gordon Campbell’s buddy Patrick Kinsella.

The current judge Elizabeth Bennett, who was overseeing the case in B.C. Supreme Court, has been appointed to the provincial Court of Appeal by federal Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson.

Bennett had made several rulings that favored the Basi-Virk defence team but more importantly created problems for Campbell by allowing the lawyers and the opposition NDP to delve deeper into the government’s role in the scandal.

Bennett’s departure means that a new judge must be chosen to take over a complex case that began with a police raid of the provincial legislature more than five years ago.


Biggest crime groups thrive, street gangs rage

While the number of identified B.C. crime groups has gone from 51 in 2003 to 135 this year, the greatest increase has been in independent crime groups, which jumped from 11 six years ago to 51 today. As well, the number of biker gangs or their associated groups climbed from 10 to 33 in the same period, while Asian crime groups tripled in number from eight to 24.

In the same period, there was an apparent decline in the number of Eastern European gangs and so-called traditional or Italian crime groups seen by police.

But that could in part be due to a lack of intelligence, the report says.

“Persistent intelligence gaps and diminishing infrastructure in any agency to develop and retain corporate knowledge in the Eastern European and Traditional Organized Crime portfolios have resulted in a substantial decline in the number of these groups reported over the same time period,” it says.

While organized crime in the province primarily profits from the drug trade, it has diversified to earn more.

“The most common examples of organized crime activity include drug trafficking, money-laundering, a variety of financial frauds, extortion, illegal gambling, trafficking in alcohol, tobacco and firearms, and people, as well as corruption of public officials to thwart apprehension and prosecution efforts,” the document says.

Some crime groups have developed innovative ways to work together and increase their profits.

“Increasing level of influence, interconnectivity and/or linkages between all organized crime groups identified in the province has provided new opportunities for some organized crime groups to expand.”

Read Kim Bolan's column HERE.



Basi Virk in Vancouver Supreme Court today, Monday May 25/09 starting 10:00 AM

Sunday, May 24, 2009


The "What, are you guys crazy?" letters

Hard to believe some of this stuff.
If you have a few minutes, have a look at these letters, for two things:

In particular: " The letter which was part of records obtained by legislative raid trial defense lawyers and released by the provincial New Democrats." - Sean Holman ...

* inside talk about how the Public Affairs Bureau works, which doesn't have one whole heckuva lot to do with democracy,

* the Big Railroading Boys trying to reason with Gordo's Gang ... and it wasn't working ! These letters all dating from the summer of 2003 left me wondering what on earth kind of deal B.C.'s brilliant business-managers hammered out with CN, that the details need to be kept secret to this day.

Also, don't miss how Captain Houston, President and C.E.O. of Port of Vancouver, in his letter of June 13, 2003, reminds the Minister of Transportation, Ms Reid, that he had "conveyed our $1-billion investment plan for Roberts Bank ... but recently we have heard that the sale process will consist of an auction to the highest bidder. The Vancouver Port Authority [VPA] is extremely concerned about the impacts this could have on our existing business as well as our growth objectives and investment plans ... the Port subdivision [being] critical not only to BC's economy but to Canada's as well."

Capt. Houston especially complained that Minister Reid had palmed him off ... "When I met you on May 12, you suggested that I should ask for a meeting with the "evaluation committee" through Bob Virk. Upon making that request, we were advised by Mr Virk that the evaluation committee will not meet with us and that we would have to await the appointment of the "investment banker" that would be handling the disposition process. We are very concerned that, without proper instructions, the disposition process may take a path that will not be in any of our best economic interests. Minister, this is a critical issue and I urgently ask for a meeting with the Government of British Columbia to discuss it." Copies went to Gordo, CN, BCR, CPR. Famous last words by Gordo and his Ministers should be studied in grad. school Economics.

And oh yes: the BC Federation of Labour requested a meeting to discuss BCRail too, as the Trainmen had put together a business plan of their own. I don't know if their plan got anywhere, as the Trades Union letter of March 2003 was ignored until May 2003 when somebody phoned them, left a message, and got no call-back, so that was that.

No wonder the BC Rail "privatization" investment plan thing is still secret. But the next giveaways are unraveling as we speak, and will take effect on July 14, 2009 when priceless BCR waterfront lands will go to CN for $1. if we don't pretty soon wake up. Brilliant. Just absolutely freakin' brilliant business managers. - BC Mary.



Abolish the Public Affairs Bureau ...

... and replace it with a system that is more open and non-partisan

Alberta’s Public Affairs Bureau is overly centralized, politicized, partisan and dominated by the Office of the Premier. It is essential to ensure that government communications are reformed by eliminating the PAB and instituting a more decentralized approach that is based in each government department, with an emphasis on more openness and communication to meet the public’s need for non-partisan information about the work of each department.

The Problems:

The role of the Public Affairs Bureau is a reflection of and a major contributor to the larger problem of too much secrecy and too little transparency and openness in the operations of Alberta’s government.

The problem of over-centralization of government information has become more acute over the past decade. This unhealthy situation is made worse by the control of the PAB by the Office of the Premier.

It is vital in a democracy to make a clear distinction between activities and information that are needed to fulfill government functions and those that are for party or partisan purposes.

In recent years in Alberta, that line has not only been blurred by the structure and actions of the PAB – it has been effectively erased. “Explanations of government policy” that read like election platforms, government advertising that could just as easily have been party advertisements, “fireside chats” that advance a partisan agenda – the list is long, the public pays, and the PAB and Premier’s office direct and coordinate the communication process, which ultimately advances party ends at public expense.

The Changes Needed:

The action needed is relatively straightforward. Efforts to merely reduce the centralization and politicization of the PAB are unlikely to be successful, because there would still be a large and powerful organization with control over information, subject to direction by the Office of the Premier.

Instead, it is necessary to eliminate the PAB in its current form, and to decentralize its operations and functions to each department, with each minister in charge of communications for the department – a model used in many other jurisdictions.

Giving control to the departments and ministers will reduce both the monolithic nature of the PAB and the ease of domination by the Premier’s Office. At the same time, it will still be necessary to act to ensure that department's communications serve non-partisan needs ...

From Public Interest Alberta. Read more HERE.


See "Specific Accountabilities" under which B.C. Public Affairs Bureau employment opportunities are described HERE.

Note the emphasis on Public Relations and journalism expertise in the job requirements for Director and all others. Prominent directors like Andy Orr and Eli Sopow have come directly from a media background.

The corporate-aligned Public Affairs Association of Canada notes that officials of this "industry" may also specialize in "China Wall" or "Cone of Silence" techniques to "protect" one client from another. No kidding.

Back to the simple BC foot-soldiers marching with the Campbell regime's P.A.B. officers. Their work is amply described here (don't miss P.2) and it may be remembered that Aneal Basi, when working for the Campbell Government, was a junior Public Affairs Bureau officer, about whom very little has been said since his arrest on charges of money-laundering in the Basi-Virk, BC Rail Case.

Power-figures are always interested in good press or, failing that, in the Cone of Silence.

The B.C. Public Affairs Bureau reports to someone in the B.C. premier's office who allegedly may also be interested in that Cone of Silence -- the Deputy Chief of Staff, Lara Dauphinee -- as well as the premier himself.

I am convinced that this is why next-to-nothing is available to the public in the media about Ms Dauphinee who in my view ought to be accountable to somebody even if she is not an elected representative. Her phony come-on photo in Facebook -- replaced during the BC election campaign with a "Vote Liberal" sign -- sent a clear message: "Game on!"

Some game, some attitude, when it's the public trust that's at issue. Somebody should tell these folks that the public trust isn't just any old political football and this isn't a game we enjoy playing, either. - BC Mary.


Saturday, May 23, 2009


Basi Virk: RCMP wanted to tackle Gary Collins. “I am politically astute enough to know that this is a really, really, really bad thing,” said Collins

Solicitor-general ‘intervened’ with RCMP, court told

Mark Hume
Globe and Mail - May 4, 2007

The solicitor-general of British Columbia “intervened” in a politically explosive RCMP investigation by heading off police before they could interview one of the most powerful members of cabinet, the Supreme Court of British Columbia was told yesterday.

Defence lawyer Michael Bolton said an RCMP investigative team was set to fly to Hawaii to track down Gary Collins, then finance minister, the day after police raided the B.C. Legislature on Dec. 28, 2003.

The police wanted to tackle Mr. Collins with questions about his trusted ministerial aide, Dave Basi, as soon as possible after the raid, which generated massive news coverage in B.C.

Police, who at the time were investigating alleged breaches of trust by Mr. Basi and two other civil servants in the privatization of BC Rail, also intended to interview transportation minister Judith Reid, who was holidaying on the islands.

But Mr. Bolton said police decided not to go, even though they had cleared their Hawaii visit with the FBI attaché in Vancouver, after solicitor-general Rich Coleman’s office contacted senior officers.

“The government is concerned that Collins and Reid could inadvertently expose cabinet confidences,” said an RCMP briefing note on the solicitor- general’s concerns, which Mr. Bolton read in court.

“The solicitor-general intervened,” Mr. Bolton said. “The solicitor-general has become very involved in the investigation. … [He's] making investigative decisions such as when to interview Mr. Collins.”

Mr. Bolton said police didn’t take a statement from Mr. Collins until some two months later.

Mr. Coleman, who is now forests minister, rejected the allegation. “I’m not going to comment on what’s before the courts, but I can tell you at no time during my time as the solicitor-general of this province did I influence any police investigation,” Mr. Coleman told CTV in Victoria.

But in court, Mr. Bolton read parts of a statement Mr. Collins gave police in which he said one of the first people he called when he heard about the legislature search was Mr. Coleman.

“I am politically astute enough to know that this is a really, really, really bad thing,” Mr. Collins said of the search. “So I managed to track down the solicitor-general … [who said] it had something to do with organized crime.”

{Snip} ...

The trial, which is giving glimpses into the backroom operations of the Liberals in B.C., has produced numerous allegations of political dirty tricks being directed by Dave Basi with the approval of Mr. Collins and top officials in Premier Gordon Campbell’s office.

Yesterday, a new assertion was made, that Pilothouse paid the mayor of Quesnel to attack CN in the local media. Mr. Bolton said Pilothouse, on behalf of OmniTRAX, paid Stephen Wallace $1,000, by writing a cheque to Wallace Driving School.

Court heard that Mr. Wallace, who is no longer mayor, said in a statement to police that he was paid $500 a day “to sample public opinion.”

Mr. Bolton said a Pilothouse note to OmniTRAX states: “Our friend understands where this originates from and is grateful. He went to the local media … and said CN will close the [BC Rail] line.”


Thursday, May 21, 2009


New Ideas for BC Government

For many still bruised and bleeding from losing British Columbia to the pirates on May 12, 2009, the current edition of Island Tides newspaper has a double-barreled reminder of things as they should be. I recommend The road ahead - New Ideas for BC Government
by Patrick Brown, which includes:

* First Principles of Government. I especially like Principle #3: The Premier is not the Chief Executive Officer of the Province, nor is he the decisionmaker. Rather, he carries the responsibility of managing the process of governance. The process is one which having taken all factors and all interests into account, arrives at decisions by consensus and reconcilliation. There are 16 principles in all.

* Issues That Must Be Addressed. Patrick Brown identifies 31 issues, one of them being to halt the transfer of railway lands to CN from BCRail.

Read the current edition of Island Tides HERE. Patrick Brown's column begins on Page 3, but there's also "STV referendum defeated - why?" and lots more. - BC Mary.


Wednesday, May 20, 2009


BC Rail: Krog questions how fair was the Fairness Report



BC Rail selloff report riles NDP

Georgia Straight - May 12, 2009
By Carlito Pablo

{Snip} ...

The Opposition critic for the attorney general is raising questions about the impartiality of an independent report that attested to the fairness of the privatization process for B.C. Rail in 2003.

NDP Nanaimo MLA Leonard Krog has even suggested that the report rendered by the Boston-based Charles River Associates may have been modified by the government.

“You’re doing a report to tell the world that the government is fair, and then you give it to them to look at, to potentially change it,” Krog told the Georgia Straight, referring to two e-mails between CRA and government staff prior to the release of the fairness report.

The e-mails are among the thousands of pages of recently disclosed documents related to the corruption case filed against two former ministerial aides in connection with the $1 billion sale of B.C. Rail.

In one e-mail dated December 2, 2003, a CRA staffer, Ammon Matsuda, provided government staffer Yvette Wells the “latest draft of the final report, along with two confidential appendices for the Province’s eyes only”.

“We will continue to revise and edit the report as appropriate, and we appreciate any feedback from you and other involved individuals,” Matsuda told Wells, then one of the advisers to a committee evaluating the restructuring of B.C. Rail.

Wells responded on December 5, 2003, telling Matsuda that she would call the next Monday, noting that it was “much too late in your day to deal with comments now”.

“I realize you are missing two key components of info to finish anyway (transaction documents and the chronology of events),” she also wrote. “These should be to you Monday also.”

{Snip} ...

In a phone interview, Krog noted that neither the draft report nor the confidential appendices mentioned in the CRA staffer’s e-mail were among the documents that were ordered released by the B.C. Supreme Court.

“We can’t say for sure,” Krog said when asked what could have been in these papers. “Our belief is…that the report was a whitewash, that the report was designed to say the government had conducted a fair process when the majority of participants said quite bluntly that it wasn’t a fair process.”

CRA spokesperson Andrea Goodman told the Straight that the company does not have a comment, noting that staff who authored the report are no longer working for the firm.

CRA had put out an interim report dated November 14, 2003, concluding that “the Province and its advisors designed and managed the B.C. Rail restructuring process in a manner consistent in all material respects with current best practices usually followed in similar transactions”.

This view wasn’t shared by bidders. After reviewing the CRA interim report, the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company, which supported the bid of OmniTRAX, withdrew from the process, as indicated in a BNSF letter dated November 19, 2003.

In a November 17, 2003, letter to Ken Dobell, then deputy minister to Premier Gordon Campbell, Canadian Pacific Railway expressed strong concerns over the “lack of fairness” in the bid process.

On November 25, 2003, the provincial government announced that Canadian National Railway Co. had been chosen as the successful bidder.

Krog took up the matter of the CRA fairness report during question period at the legislature on March 3 this year.

“How can British Columbians have any trust in this government when the so-called independent fairness adviser was taking orders from the minister’s office and the very committee responsible for the unfair process?” Krog asked.

{Snip} ...

Read the full column from Georgia Straight HERE.


Different laws for different flaws

CN Police

Read more: Canadian National Police Service

Formed 1923
Preceding agencies
Canadian National Railway Police
BC Rail Police
Illinois Central Railroad Police
Grand Trunk Railway Police
Bessemer and Lake Erie Railroad Police

The Canadian National Railway Police Service is a private police service enforcing all criminal and provincial laws on properties owned, operated and administered by Canadian National (CN). CN has rail lines in Canada and the United States including some of the lines used by the Government of Ontario Transit (GO Transit) throughout the Greater Toronto Area (GTA.)

Established in 1923, sworn officers operate across Canada and the United States. In Canada the Headquarters is located in Montreal, Quebec. Regional offices in Montreal, Quebec; Toronto, Ontario; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Edmonton, Alberta and Vancouver, British Columbia.

In Canada, the BC Rail Police amalgamated into the CN Police Service in 2005. In the US three railway police services, Illinois Central Railroad Police, Grand Trunk Railway Police and Wisconsin Central Transportation Police also amalgamated into the CN Police Service.

In Canada officers are federally sworn under section 44.1 - Railway Safety Act granting powers as Police Constables and have the same powers of arrest as any police officer in Canada as 'Peace Officers' under Section 2 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Their federal oath of office primarily directs their duties 'on and along' the lines of the CN. Officers also have special provincial appointments which allow for them to extend provincial enforcement outside the boundaries set under the Railway Safety Act of Canada, except in Quebec.

The primary goal of CN Police officers is protect rail commerce and rail infrastructure.

The three main focused mandates of the CN Police Service are:

1) Traffic enforcement and collision investigations, to reduce deaths and injuries along rail lines and properties.
2) Criminal and provincial investigation including Crime Prevention (CPTED.)
3) Public Safety and Awareness Education.

In 1995 CN Police officers were greatly reduced during the privatization of the CN from the federal government. This transitioned CN from a Crown Corporation to private industry, becoming a tax paying corporation thereby entitling CN to the municipal and provincial policing efforts already established across the nation. Thus allowing for the reduction of this federal police service.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Tuesday, May 19, 2009


"Railroad" is a verb meaning to rush or push legislation so that there isn't time for objections to be considered

Railroading has a long tradition in Canada, especially in British Columbia. - BC Mary.

The Pacific Scandal

In April 1873, the government of Sir John A. Macdonald was charged with accepting illicit funds from Sir Hugh Allan. In return for these payments, Allan was assured that he would be awarded the lucrative contract to construct the transcontinental Canadian Pacific Railway. When evidence of the agreement was made public by Opposition members of Parliament and published in newspapers across Canada, the episode became known as the "Pacific Scandal."

Allan's correspondence revealed that he and his American partners had attempted to influence a range of public figures, including journalists and politicians. During the election campaign of 1872, large sums were contributed to individuals such as George-Étienne Cartier and Hector-Louis Langevin. A telegram from Macdonald to Allan's legal adviser, John J.C. Abbott, provided the scandal's most sensational evidence, as it read: "I must have another ten thousand; will be the last time of calling; do not fail me; answer today."

Macdonald employed a number of delay tactics in an attempt to avoid the political consequences of the scandal. However, there was no avoiding the public backlash and unrelenting attacks of the Opposition. The political cartoonist J.W. Bengough became popular for his illustrated commentaries on the Pacific Scandal.

A Royal Commission was appointed in August 1873 to examine the matter, and in November Macdonald's government finally resigned. A general election followed, and Macdonald managed to keep his seat in Parliament. For many individuals involved in the scandal, the long-term consequences were negligible. Macdonald's party returned to power in 1878 and Macdonald served as prime minister until his death in 1891, when he was succeeded by none other than ... [Allan's legal advisor] John Abbott.

Read more here, here, and - for the sequence of developments - here.


Saturday, May 16, 2009


More about that Ontario case with its Vancouver Special Prosecutor


Christie Blatchford reports again on a trial involving public officials charged with obstruction of justice, breach of trust, fraud, and money-laundering. Mainly, says Blatchford, "offences against the public trust."

Once upon a time, there was a certain logic to publication bans.


The first five allegations all deal one way or another with offences against the public trust, because citizens place their faith in public officials - police, prosecutors, judges, clerks - and trust that they will play fair and square, at the least adhere to the rules that bind the rest of us and that in the justice system, everyone is if not on an exactly level playing field (money does get you good lawyering) on a reasonably even one.

Sgt. Rutigliano is a veteran police officer who managed all OPP court cases being heard in Toronto. His unindicted co-conspirator (meaning he isn't charged but is alleged to have been involved somehow in the conspiracy) is a Toronto prosecutor named Domenic Basile ...

These allegations are a sufficiently big deal that the Ontario Attorney-General has appointed an out-of-province defence lawyer, Richard Peck of Vancouver, to act as a special prosecutor, and a retired judge to monitor the case.

This is explosive stuff and potentially shattering to public confidence in the administration of justice. The questions merely raised by the charges are unsettling: Are cases being fixed? Are prosecutors and cops playing footsie with criminals? What's going on here? ...

Find out more, from The Globe and Mail for May 16, 2009.

After you read Blatchford's special style of explaining the law, the history of law, and the human impact of the law ... I'd like to know how you feel about this: do the Blatchford reports help us evaluate BC Supreme Court's management of the similar (but much more significant) Basi-Virk case? I think yes. The way Blatchford gets right into a trial, assumes that a citizen must understand a trial, and virtually makes that understanding possible, well ... it gets our feet back on solid ground again, in my estimation. But how about you? Would you like to follow this case with Blatchford? - BC Mary


Notes of Alexis de Tocqueville in Lower Canada (Quebec) 1831. Noted in passing: the social historian toured North America for 9 months, observing and reporting to the government of France on prisons, the press, trials, and people. Here in translation are his comments on a civil trial in progress 178 years ago:

Visit of a civil court in Quebec

We came into a large hall divided into tiers crowded with people who seemed altogether French. The British arms were painted in full size on the end of the hall. Beneath them was the judge in robes and bands. The lawyers were ranked in front of him.

When we came into the hall a slander action was in progress. It was a question of fining a man who had called another pendard (gallows-bird) and crasseux (stinker). The lawyer argued in English. Pendard, he said, pronouncing the word with a thoroughly English accent, "meant a man who had been hanged."

"No", the judge solemnly intervened, "but who ought to be".

At that, counsel for the defense got up indignantly and argued his case in French: his adversary answered in English.

The argument waxed hot on both sides in English, no doubt without their understanding each other perfectly. From time to time the Englishman forced himself to put his argument in French so as to follow his adversary more closely; the other did the same sometimes. The judge, sometimes speaking French, sometimes English, endeavored to keep order. The crier of the court called for "silence" giving the word alternatively its English and its French pronunciation.

Calm re-established, witnesses were heard. Some kissed the silver Christ on the Bible and swore in French to tell the truth, the others swore the same oath in English and, as Protestants, kissed the other side of the Bible which was undecorated. The customs of Normandy were cited, reliance placed on Denisart, and mention was made of the decrees of the Parliament of Paris and statutes of the reign of George III.

After that the judge: "Granted that the word crasseux implies that a man is without morality, ill-behaved and dishonorable, I order the defendant to pay a fine of ten louis or ten pounds sterling."

The lawyers I saw there, who are said to be the best in Quebec, gave no proof of talent either in the substance or in the manner of what they said. They were conspicuously lacking in distinction, speaking French with a middle class Norman accent. Their style is vulgar and mixed with odd idioms and English phrases. They say that a man is "charge" of ten louis meaning that he is asked to pay ten louis. "Entrez dan la boite", they shout to a witness, meaning that he should take his place in the witness-box.

There is something odd, incoherent, even burlesque in the whole picture. But at the bottom the impression made was one of sadness. Never have I felt more convinced than when coming out from there, that the greatest and most irremediable ill for a people is to be conquered.


I wonder if my readers will understand why I wanted to share this. What does it have to do with BC Rail, they may well ask. Well, in the present mood, it does connect. It has something to do with May 12, 2009 when we on the West Coast had finished shouting
pendard and crasseux (translated) at one another, explained our hopes and fears, then accepted the verdict by the voters, ending up with a deep sense of sadness for a province conquered. Yes, conquered ... we couldn't save the land we love. That's what "conquered" means, isn't it?

My own daughter is named for a B.C. river ... the Nadina River. She has only one name because we thought nothing else could equal it. It's personal, the way people connect to the landscape. By the way, her husband's name is Fraser. To us, that has a world of meaning ... and we grieve.

I wonder how many other British Columbians are passing through this grieving phase, mourning the loss not of an election but the loss of Beautiful British Columbia itself: its rivers, lakes, the ocean, the wild salmon, its forests, the blue-chip public assets ... lost the whole damn shootin' match. As we work out what we do next, we should begin to talk about that. We have every right to mourn. But, let's never forget ... we did well. We did fabulously well, when all things are considered.

The more I think about it, the more impressed I am by the results won by the Progressives on
May 12, 2009. When we've rested and recovered, let's talk. We absolutely cannot give up now.

- BC Mary.


Friday, May 15, 2009


The Friday afternoon shocker: Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett is promoted ... out of the Basi-Virk Case and into BC Court of Appeal

CKNW reports:

New Judge at the Legislature Raid Trial


A new judge will be appointed in the ongoing legal saga surrounding the BC Rail corruption scandal.

Elizabeth Bennett was overseeing the case in B.C. Supreme Court, but she has been appointed to the provincial Court of Appeal.

A spokesman for the Crown says that means a new judge must be chosen to take over a complex case that began with a police raid of the provincial legislature more than five years ago.

The raid targeted the offices of two ministerial aides - Dave Basi and Bobby Virk - who were charged with accepting a benefit, fraud and breach of trust in relation to the sale of BC Rail.

It's alleged they took money from lobbyists {Snip} ...

(The Canadian Press)


Basi-Virk trial judge to be replaced
Justice Elizabeth Bennett appointed to B.C. Court of Appeal


Read more HERE.

The trial judge in the long-running Basi-Virk trial has been appointed to the B.C. Court of Appeal.

A new judge will eventually have to be assigned to take over the trial, which has been delayed by disclosure problems for years.

But Justice Elizabeth Bennett is expected to continue hearing pre-trial disclosure motions on the complex case at least until mid-July, a lawyer involved in the case said Friday.

{Snip} ...

- Terence A. Schultes, who was Vancouver's regional Crown counsel for the last six years, is appointed a judge of the B.C. Supreme Court and will replace Justice Bennett in Vancouver. He received his BA from UBC in 1983 and his law degree from the University of Victoria in 1986.



Letter to Paul



Like a ray of sunshine breaking through dark clouds, your message took away some of the post-election gloom.

This was no ordinary election, and losing it was like knowing we have lost British Columbia. It's like waking up 64 years later, finding that Hitler was victorious in WWII. His devoted Joseph Goebbels would certainly be envious of British Columbia's Public Affairs Bureau.

I've been trying to tell the despondent 48% that we fought the good fight, we did stand up for B.C., we made an honest assault upon Campbell corruption. We should feel proud, just as you should forever feel proud of your stand. But the trauma is there. And since Tuesday, newsrooms across the country, picking up from CanWest, are celebrating Campbell as having saved the environment!! As he PAVES the way into the glorious future. I'm sure you know the feeling.

We had an invisible enemy. First and foremost, the 24/7, multi-million$$ Public Affairs Bureau. 2) the so-called Green Party which did for the BC Liberals what Ralph Nader did for George W Bush, 3) Bill 42 which put onerous new restrictions on voters, disqualifying many (5% of the electorate or 170,000 voters, says Pacific Gazette), and 4) CanWest media bias.

All this, we had to fight ... before we fought Gordo's Gang.

So I'm absolutely delighted to hear that Basi ... Basi, of all people! ... will be reaching back in time and revealing the whole continuum. I sincerely hope you'll be called upon to testify ... at length. I'll be there -- I promise you that -- as will many of your other supporters.

For the moment, I can't think how best to use this information from Bolton's office (except to enjoy its significance). There was another Basi-Virk pre-trial hearing on Tuesday(!) but of course, everybody was fixated on the election ... and I still haven't found out what happened in Supreme Court that day.

Thank you, thank you for this. It will help us soldier on. I'll let you know, before I publish the letter or anything about the letter. I suppose it could conflict with solicitor-client privilege?? Best wishes ... are you at home for the Victoria Day Weekend?


BC Rail accused seek premier's e-mails


Lawyers for three former government aides accused of corruption related to the $1-billion sale of BC Rail in 2003 applied Thursday for the e-mails of Premier Gordon Campbell and other Liberal cabinet ministers. [See story here.]

Lawyer Michael Bolton told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett that the defence filed the application earlier that morning for disclosure of the e-mails related to BC Rail from the premier and 16 MLAs, including cabinet ministers.

{Snip} ...



CN promises Alberta heavy oil producers BILLIONS in savings

Hard to believe the stuff the old BC Rail is expected to do for CN. Read about how coal will be hauled ... bitumen could be hauled ... greenhouse gases will be piped ... and "
Aside from bitumen, CN could move carbon dioxide and negate the need for expensive carbon dioxide pipelines to carry the greenhouse gas to deep disposal sites in central Alberta, said Meyer. It already moves 220,000 tonnes of sulphur each year from oilsands giant Suncor to buyers in Florida, for example ... "


Thursday, May 14, 2009


Ontario requests out-of-province B.C. Special Prosecutor for alleged Police, Crown fraud case

OPP officer, Crown accused of fixing charges, court filings show Investigation into alleged fraud scheme at Bombardier widens into sweeping probe.

By Christie Blatchford
The Globe and Mail
Toronto - May 14, 2009

What appears to have started out as a simple investigation of a fraud at Bombardier Inc. has broadened to become a sweeping probe with allegations that a senior Ontario Provincial Police officer, a Toronto Crown attorney and accused criminals were in cahoots to fix charges.

The allegations are contained in a public document called an information filed by OPP in Brampton court.

Earlier this week, The Globe and Mail has learned, OPP officers executed a search warrant upon Crown offices at the College Park courts, and Brendan Crawley, a spokesman for the Ontario Attorney-General, confirmed last night that the province has brought in an out-of-province special prosecutor to handle the case.

He is the well-known and well-regarded criminal defence lawyer Richard Peck, of Vancouver, who successfully defended Ajaib Singh Bagri in the Air India bombing trial.

Charged with nine counts ranging from fraud to obstructing justice to breach of trust is veteran OPP Sergeant Michael Rutigliano, 49, who served as manager of the force's "court case management" for the Toronto area. Sgt. Rutigliano has an office at the Old City Hall courts downtown.

The breach of trust charge relates to "his duties as an OPP officer" and alleges that he was "dishonestly abusing his position to gain corrupt advantage for his associates charged with offences."

Named in one count as an "unindicted co-conspirator," which means he is isn't charged but is alleged to have had some involvement, is Toronto prosecutor Domenic Basile.

Mr. Basile rotates through several Toronto courthouses, including College Park.

In what it seems was the original investigation, Sgt. Rutigliano, a business associate and two former employees of Bombardier are alleged to have conspired to defraud the aircraft maker in a multimillion dollar fraud.

But The Globe has learned that during this probe, police came upon what is the more stunning series of alleged offences - that Sgt. Rutigliano allegedly helped one man, Peter Mavroudis, "avoid prosecution in Ontario" and that he "conspired and agreed with Frank D'Angelo," the former beer magnate, and Mr. Basile to obstruct or defeat "the course of justice in the sexual assault prosecution" against Mr. D'Angelo.

That latter allegation is curious, because Mr. D'Angelo, who was acquitted just last month of sexually assaulting a friend's daughter, had a trial by judge alone, and was prosecuted by Crowns from the North York office.

Though Ontario Superior Court Judge John Hamilton found him not guilty, he said that he found the evidence of both Mr. D'Angelo and his accuser credible.

Mr. Mavroudis is a 50-year-old former resident of Georgetown, Ont., who just last January pleaded guilty to three counts of fraud over $5,000 and was sentenced to four years in jail.

According to newspaper reports at the time, he admitted taking $370,000 from ticket buyers who thought they were buying premium seats for Toronto Maple Leafs games.

Arrested on May 3, 2007, he was released on bail and scheduled for a court appearance last November, but never showed up. A Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was eventually tracked down in Vancouver on December 7.

Sgt. Rutigliano is accused of helping him avoid prosecution in Ontario during that very same period: between Sept. 1 of 2007 and Dec. 8 of last year.

Named in a so-called "no-contact" order are Sgt. Rutigliano's co-accused and a handful of other prosecutors and defence lawyers.

Dan Kirby, who is representing Sgt. Rutigliano - in custody pending his bail hearing tomorrow - and the two former Bombardier employees who were released on bail yesterday, said Sgt. Rutigliano intends to "plead not guilty" to all charges. He expressed concern that names "are being bandied about in relation" to some of the charges, and added, "We believe there's no merit to that."


Gordo faces new challenges

... LINGERING SCANDALS: Former solicitor-general John Les may be under police investigation for possible dodgy land deals, but he was still easily re-elected in Chilliwack.

No surprise there. Campbell could run a shaved ape in the Liberal-loving Fraser Valley and it would win in a landslide. Unfortunately for Les and Campbell, that doesn't make the police probe go away. If charges are laid, it would be a major blow to the Liberals.

The B.C. Rail scandal, meanwhile, may finally go to court. When that stinking hamper is finally tipped over, who knows how much dirty laundry will be strung on the line? ...

Read Michael Smyth's column HERE.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009


About that election yesterday ...

This significant fragment of conversation took place two hours into the election results last evening while Live-Blogging at Pacific Gazette. I'm on the committee to elect Laila Yuile in 2013. - BC Mary.

Laila: I am going to run next time folks. I am going to do this.

Alison: Go, Laila!

GAB: I would work on your campaign, Laila

G West: Absolutely! GO Laila

Laila: I'm telling you. I have to do something! This is not right.

Laila: Really? Would you all ? Really?

GAB: absofreakinglutely!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009





LiveBlogging with RossK at Pacific Gazette
Date: Tuesday May 12, 2009
Start Time: 7:30PM PDT

When you are ready to watch the event you can click here.
Alternatively, you can copy and paste the following link into your browser:

One riding to watch: Vancouver-Point Grey where many hopes and prayers are with MEL LEHAN who, on behalf of the entire province of British Columbia, just might kick the bum out.

Omg, the sky is falling! Look! From a CanWest newspaper:

Gordon Campbell's Liberals privatize, capitalize, destroy
Geoff Olson
Vancouver Courier

... For years, the delinquents of high finance were allowed to play their shell games without any adult supervision, resulting in the Wall Street implosion and the resulting global recession. So why shouldn't the upcoming provincial election be a referendum on unrestrained corporate capitalism, and its most visible exponent in western Canada, Premier Gordon Campbell?

Although Canadians didn't witness "ninja loans," "zombie banks," or any of the other scary conjugates connected to Wall Street Ponzi schemes, we've certainly been exposed to the toxic effects of U.S.-style social engineering. The B.C. Liberals' ongoing enthusiasm for privatization, gutted social programs and mobile capital has been straight out of the Wall Street/Washington Consensus handbook.

It's hard to feel much enthusiasm for flip-flopping Carole James and the NDP. Jane Sterk and the provincial Greens are an untested unknown. But given the damage done by the Liberals' celebratory bash at the public sector, with a U.S.-style wrecking ball, isn't it time to rethink our electoral options?

Who is it that advocated or practised ripping up legally binding, negotiated contracts? Who closed courthouses, rolled back employment standards legislation, expanded provincial gambling, proposed workfare to replace welfare and then withdrew after the public outcry? Who introduced a new $6 "training wage" at two dollars an hour lower than minimum wage, and introduced a bill for reducing the minimum work age to 12 years? Who closed hospitals, cut beds and shut long-term care facilities, laid off health care workers and privatized services? Who handed Pharmacare and MSP operations over to a U.S. firm, Maximus, which has been fined twice for failing to reach contractual targets, and whose country of origin makes private medical records subject to disclosure under the U.S. Patriot Act?

Gord and his merry band of privateers, that's who. Hang on, there's more.

Who shut down or reduced funding for independent offices like the provincial Ombudsman, the Information and Privacy Commissioner, and Elections B.C.? Who cut air and water quality protection, gutted the Forest Practices Code, lowered standards for wildlife protection, presided over the expansion of industrial fish farms resulting in the decline and possible extinction of wild west coast salmon, and plans to reduce B.C. park rangers to a skeleton crew? Who downloaded costs onto municipalities, eliminated the Independent Office of the Child, Youth and Family Advocate, and did a 23-page review of all persons receiving disability benefits? Who attempted a 60-day, pre-election gag law? Who continues to champion the small business community, but has turned a deaf ear to merchants destroyed by the Canada Line? Who hiked his own salary by 54 per cent?

And then there is the question of the Liberals' dodgy megaprojects, from Gateway to the proposed $40-million clamshell over Robson Square. As for the new, $900-million convention centre, that leaky boondoggle alone is twice the price of the former NDP government's three fast ferries, a nautical scandal from the reign of Glen Clark. Remember that one? It wasn't the fast ferry scandal that forced Clark out of office, however. What did the trick was a media-led witch-hunt over Clark's deck, and a conspiracy theory involving his neighbour who built it.

Yep, a damned deck.

All I'm asking for is a little proportion when it comes to assessing the moral crimes and misdemeanors of all provincial parties, before we hit the ballot boxes.

A few more rhetorical questions, and I'm done. Who is it that engaged in the secretive privatization of public assets? Who restructured B.C. Ferries and brought in U.S. CEO to head the company? Who presided over the dismantling of B.C. Rail? Who has given up our greatest crown jewel of all, B.C. Hydro, allowing private operators to take a crack at power generation? Who gave over the administration of our public electric utility to Accenture, a U.S.-branded company located in an offshore tax haven in the Bahamas?

In other words, what British Columbian politician and party have been driving under the influence of Washington and Wall Street?



A very important day in B.C.

Today May 12 is B.C. ELECTION 2009 DAY at a polling booth near you.

But it is also a BASI, VIRK, BASI pre-hearing day in B.C. Supreme Court, 800 Smythe Street, Vancouver. Performance starts at 10:00 AM. and it, too, is open to the public.

Good luck on both, British Columbia!


Noted in passing, a remarkable insight by Kevin Logan:

" ... we have not once heard that Carole is a Metis Woman ... this coming on the heels of listening to our counterparts in the south choose a president where the debate amongst the Democrats literally revolved around gender and race.

"I would like to think that here in Canada we have evolved past prejudiscism of this nature, however it is obvious we have not and I am not suggesting the debate should have focused more on racism of sexism, I am saying I am surprised at the silence on this front.

"Not a word here in BC about the progressive nature a candidate like Carole presents. Very odd indeed. I remember when Ujjal took the leadership of the party and both his leadership bid within the party and his run for premier focused quite a bit of energy on the race issues his candidacy presented.

"In fact the NDP often works very hard to shine the light on the progressive nature of the candidate it forwards, you need only look at the policy designed to get women and visible minorities in the legislature to see what lengths they go to on this front.

"So I am just saying that I find it odd we did not hear more about gender and race in this election for a number of reasons one of which is the obvious and distinct difference her candidacy offers voters over the incumbent.

"Finally when Carole knocked out Campbell live and in the flesh in the television debate there was no David Goliath type framing where gender could have entered the fray.

"It was no small feat for Carole to not only withstand the patronizing glib of the Premier but to push back and actually defeat him. This was downplayed by the media but when I think of all the debates I have witnessed and I can barely think of another time where one participant so clearly won.

"It was not that she stood out on policy or capitalized on a wedge issue, it was more a result of the incompetence of the others combined with her confidence and ability, but in the end this was one huge victory for Carole, the NDP and women in general. Yet very little about this in the media except to kindly acknowledge that Carole won.

"It made me proud to be an NDP. And that doesn't happen very often."


Monday, May 11, 2009


W.A.C. Bennett & Dave Barrett are the political giants of B.C. history. I think Bennett would be voting NDP tomorrow.


Can anyone imagine either Bennett or Barrett selling off BC Rail? Or pushing through sneak legislation for the crippling of BC Hydro? Then giving away our rivers? Or giving away those Tree Farm Licences to real estate developers? Dave Barrett was B.C.'s NDP premier 1972-1975, Opposition Leader 1975-1984. I wish we could've heard what he said about current B.C. affairs in his speech on April 22, 2009 ...


Not quite as planned

Globe and Mail Update
May 11, 2009

The campaign trail toward British Columbia's provincial election on May 10 is turning out to be surprisingly muddy going, not at all the high road to a newer, shinier mandate that B.C. Premier William Bennett expected or hoped it would be when he called the election early in April.

As the campaign enters its final week, most observers seem agreed that the Social Credit Party under Mr. Bennett has only a narrow lead, if any, over the New Democratic Party led by a refurbished, softer-spoken and even contrite David Barrett.

Very little about the campaign has gone as Mr. Bennett appeared to expect it would. No major issues have hardened, and the issues on which Mr. Bennett seemed determined to do battle have grown progressively softer, if they haven't evaporated entirely.…

In part, the election was to have been an endorsement of Mr. Bennett's pre-election budget. But the apparent consensus now is that the budget is just plain dull. Its major feature (a package of tax cuts worth $400-million) is viewed as a simple case of Mr. Bennett restoring to their previous level taxes that he himself had raised.…

Meanwhile, Mr. Barrett has been roaming the province, trying to smooth feathers still ruffled by the NDP government he led until 1975. He admits that his administration tried to accomplish too much too quickly, and he proffers his apologies. He maintains that his party's policies are misunderstood, and he pleads for a second chance.…. Instead of the brisk campaign fought along clear-cut lines that Mr. Bennett envisioned, the B.C. election has developed into a rather amorphous contest between big government and private enterprise.

If indeed the race is as close as many observers believe, the result may hang almost as much on the fate of the lesser combatants as on the performances of Messrs. Bennett and Barrett. The provincial Liberal Party, which won just one seat in the last election, is fielding only five candidates this time.…. At dissolution, the Conservatives held only one seat and in 1975 won less than 4 per cent of the popular vote. ….

With less than a week to go, there are more than enough variables left to occupy both Mr. Bennett and Mr. Barrett. But the outcome will largely depend on which of two versions of truth the electorate finds more convincing: Mr. Barrett's presentation of a new, moderate image, or Mr. Bennett's stern reminders of the David Barrett B.C. voters used to know.


Thirty years later on April 22, 2009, former BC Premier Dave Barrett's people had to find a larger hall for him when he wanted to give a speech in Gordo's Vancouver-Point Grey riding. He came out of retirement at almost 80 years of age to speak in support of Mel Lehan, the NDP candidate opposing Campbell. It was one famous old premier quietly explaining matters to an infamous recent premier. Not "news", I guess.

But the fact is: B.C. media is adversarial. Why does the modern, uber-corporate, going-bankrupt CanWest media do its best to promote cruel squabbling instead of informed debate. Is that all their chosen premier has to offer?

Why, for example, did CanWest choose to publish not a word about the gentler giant still among us, still participating constructively in a provincial election? It seems like a remarkable event to "forget".

Thanks to The Globe and Mail (published in Toronto) for this reminder today of good times past in British Columbia when two giants stood toe to toe, debating the issues.

- BC Mary.

See also the Cummins Conservative choice HERE.


Sunday, May 10, 2009


CanWest bravely continues publishing ... until after they re-elect Gordo

That's the story. CanWest will struggle onward, carrying an impossible debt-load, telling us that trimming Mondays from its weakened newspaper will carry them through.

It won't, of course. But that's the excuse. Because they're needed as Gordo's #1 advertising arm.

And then there's the other CanWest newspaper, National Post. NatPo has been the perennial money-loser ever since Conrad Black established it 10 years ago as a national newspaper purpose-built for turning Canada into a rightwing nation ... a tradition readily understood and eagerly "bought" by CanWest. Neither Black nor Izzy Asper made any secret of that fact.

The demise of NatPo has been anticipated almost from its first years. But they too have announced a similar, ludicrous economy measure.

They're not doing it for us. No way.

In my opinion, Times Colonist is hanging in there until they re-elect their premier, Gordon Campbell.

The National Post is hanging in there hoping to re-elect their prime minster -- that old double-crossing Reform guy -- Stephen Harper. And there's no way CanWest could do this without Big Money in Big Banks agreeing that it's worth their while to throw in just a few more millions to see Conrad's dreams come true.

So National Post tells us that they will eliminate the Monday edition for 9 weeks next summer (July and August). Haha, and they're doing this bravely, for us. Yeah, right.

Disillusioned citizens may safely speculate that this is code; it confirms that NatPo -- part of the indispensible advertising campaign which never gets tallied because it's part of their function as a "free press" -- will also hang on by the skin of their teeth, with the help of Big Banks, to keep publishing for the purpose of re-electing Stephen Harper.

Don't talk to me about a free press being the basis of a democratic society. This kind of press is free for anybody who can afford to buy the factory.

Pssst. Noted in passing. The Globe and Mail on Thursday had a fawning editorial written, I swear, by Gordo's Public Affairs Bureau. Next day, The Globe allowed 3 Letters to the Editor in response to that editorial.

All three feisty letters came from British Columbia.
All 3 of them lit into The Globe for being jackasses on the subject of Gordon Campbell's 8 years spent causing B.C.'s ruination.

So, does that make everything OK?
Is it OK to publish a horrendous splashy lying destructive editorial, then next day run 3 small objections as letters-to-editor? Does that fulfill the meaning of being a "free press without bias"? I think not.

I think the damage is done in The Globe's initial fawning editorial on the eve of the B.C. election. I think they know that perfectly well.

Old, old political dirty tricks ... only dirtier than ever. Who, in the past, had 223 people running a propaganda machine 24/7 in the basement of the Victoria Legislature?

Don't they teach anything in Poli-Sci these days? Oh, right. I forgot. SFU has just dropped its Canadian Studies program. Sheeesh. - BC Mary

PS. I know I promised to be non-partisan. Please note that I have never gone "Me-good, You-bad" because adversarial politics is my idea of a cruel joke. And I know how bad I sound, right now, on the topic of Gordon Campbell. But I've always been straight with everyone on that point: I do hold Gordon Campbell personally and entirely responsible for the loss of BC Rail, the screw-ups to BC Hydro and all that other terrible stuff. So, my prayer for British Columbia on Tuesday, May 12, is simply this: will the voters of Vancouver-Pt Grey please throw the bum out? It may not be the entire cure, but I am pretty sure that it would be a good beginning toward the recovery of British Columbia.

- BC Mary.


See the latest details on this link:


Friday, May 08, 2009


It can't be easy for Lara Dauphinee. But what about the rest of B.C.?

Lara Dauphinee has two cranky bosses. She has two offices: Victoria, Vancouver. She has two homes - a penthouse condo in Vancouver, the other in Victoria. When she's not traveling, that is. And then there's all that other stuff.

from: B.C. Government Directory

just the official positions

Martyn Brown, the Chief of Staff, cannot be easy for Lara as a Deputy Chief. Rumour has it that the two have had serious disagreements.

Martyn was one of the diehards of the defunct Social Credit party. Then he tried to make the BC Reform party work. Next he naturally took up with Gordo's LINO team (Liberal In Name Only) after it was whupped in 1996. The following 4-year period 1996-2001 steamed with Gordo leading the BC Opposition into a super-aggressive mode until, with a few dirty tricks, the LINO party achieved a massive victory in 2001.

And so Gordo's first term as premier with 77 seats to 2, burst upon the province like the Wild West revisited. Ambitions were running wild. Stealth legislation was enacted. Tainted deals were signed. Christmas 2002 was marred by a BC premier lying drunk in a Hawaiian jail. Christmas 2003 was marred by the only police raid on a provincial Legislature in Canadian history.

As Gordo's Chief of Staff, Martyn Brown had got off to a roaring start. Charlie Smith worded it like this in a Straight article ( January 1, 2004):

Premier Gordon Campbell's chief of staff, Martyn Brown, was responsible for hiring two political assistants, David Basi and Robert Virk, whose legislature offices were raided by the RCMP on December 28. On June 25, 2001, Campbell wrote a letter to all cabinet ministers telling them that Brown would arrange the "structuring and staffing" of their offices. Campbell also instructed ministers not to act like the chief executive officer of their ministries, adding that this role should be performed by their deputies, who would also be selected by the premier's office.'

Veteran political journalist Jim Hume wrote a column for the Canoe News Web site on July 7, 2001, saying veteran cabinet ministers from previous B.C. administrations "expressed indignation" over the language in Campbell's letter. Hume added that cabinet ministers traditionally recommended deputy ministers to the premier, usually resulting in a simple endorsement from the premier. "Only on extremely rare occasions, however, has the premier of the day interfered with decisions on a minister's personal office staff, let alone granting the authority to one of his own appointees, a non-elected staffer, to dictate to a minister of the crown," Hume wrote.

He seemed to enjoy cracking the whip over dozens of caucus staff and quarterbacking a lot of policy development. His intense outlook contributed to the Liberals' relish for sticking it to what was left of the New Democrats whenever the chance arises. He's involved in just about everything else on the Liberal agenda. He was informed of the pending police raid on the legislature, and was the person who fired Dave Basi so promptly after the raid. Martyn Brown is one prickly pear.

Gordo, we know a bit about. But more later.

About Lara, there is very little.

Lara is Lady with Big White Bag
Gordo in blue satin, Lara with white purse over her shoulder, speaking to him. We purchased this photo, plus 1 other, with thanks, from Patrick Tam/Flunging Pictures. The crowd scene shown above may seem like a poor choice until it's known that it is one of only 5 photos I and my sleuths were able to find of Gordo and Lara together. I have published the only allowable three photos with this series. Two other photos were found on Fred Lee's Chinese celebration of SUCCESS for Chinese New Year. The 2nd from top is Lara, 3rd from top is Gordo & Mrs Nancy Campbell posing with Stonewally Oppal. Gordo is in Satin again (brown, this time), Mrs Campbell is in purple, Lara is in black. Or am I reading too much into their colour choices? I requested permission to reprint; but permission was refused by Vancouver Courier (a CanWest paper). On the topic of available photos, however, there are uncounted bazillions of Flickr photos of Gordo. But I repeat, only 5 where his "assistant" or "his counterpart" is shown, although she is said to be "never far from his side". Only once is she named. I had to ask former associates to make the positive identifications.

And as one of my informants tells me, "All the resources of government are employed to keep it that way." She came from Ontario to join Gordo's constituency office in 1996 and has been at his side ever since. She's a graduate of the University of Western Ontario in International Politics. She belonged to a sorority: Kappa Alpha Theta and was active on the Student Council.

In the B.C. government, she's more important than even her two titles imply, as she is the main gatekeeper in charge of access to Campbell. A fierce defender of the premier's time, Dauphinee deflects many requests on to appropriate ministers, or just refuses them outright. A decider.

She served with distinction as tour director during the Liberals' smooth-as-silk election campaign in 2001. She was appointed by Order in Council #560 on June 5, 2001 to the public service of B.C. She had her pick of jobs after the election victory, and opted to basically stay where she was, at the premier's side. Make of it what you will. The rumours have been abundant and non-stop. I have found that there are people who will tell you what they know, what they have seen, but almost all of them fear the consequences of clear statements of fact.

It was while researching the BC Rail tragedy that my path crossed with Paul Nettleton's, former BC Liberal MLA for Prince George-Omineca who had battled hard to save BC Rail. With tact and sensitivity, he told me of his longstanding concerns about Gordo and Lara Dauphinee. I have permission to quote from our correspondence as follows:

For BC Mary's Blog. From Len Olsen [Research Assistant] on behalf of Paul Nettleton (April 2009)

While Paul Nettleton ... was on the government side of the House (prior to becoming an Independent), many in caucus, especially those in the Cabinet, were aware of a moral issue with the Premier, one that was causing considerable consternation and creating a possible conflict of interest.

As early as 1997, Rich Coleman ... began raising questions with various members regarding Mr Campbell's relationship to his assistant, Lara Dauphanee[sic]. The premier himself then added fuel to the fire by gathering the whole caucus together, Paul included, and telling them in no uncertain terms that his private life was his business, and essentially, for those who were raising the issue to butt out. Paul noted that Mr Campbell became very emotional, even tearing up during his defense of Ms Dauphanee, saying that he wanted her to be left alone.

From early on, Paul had developed something of a relationship with Gordon Campbell, the then leader of the opposition, on spiritual matters. One of his earliest encounters was when they shared a room at a Manning Park Retreat ... after the 1996 election. As Paul lay on his bed reading his Bible, as is his daily custom, he asked [Campbell] if he could read a chapter on King David from the Old Testament. Gordon said yes. After reading, Paul shared with him the challenges that David faced as a man, as a King, and some of his moral failings. It was reported back to Paul the next day that as the caucus relaxed over beers that evening, Campbell remarked openly to them about enjoying his exchange with Paul on the subject. This was to be only the first of several exchanges of this nature between Paul Nettleton and Gordon Campbell.

In spring of 2002 Paul and I felt it was time to confront Premier Campbell directly with this 'relationship issue'. We composed a letter, of an allegorical nature, comparing him to the king in the book of Daniel who saw 'the handwriting on the wall' but did nothing to correct the situation. The letter was dated April 11, 2002, to be delivered by Paul just before the Easter Break. However, on the 10th, at 5:00 PM, an opportunity came up for him to deliver it during an informal moment during session on the House floor. Paul walked over and handed the letter to the Premier ... I witnessed this transaction from the gallery ...

Back up in our office, in the Liberal caucus, it was as though a bomb had gone off, there was such a flurry of activity. The staff around us were whisked away to be interrogated, to determine whether they had any knowledge of what Paul had done or had written. Of course, they did not. The Premier was still in panic mode when he phoned Paul ... the premier said he wanted to talk it over, face to face ... in his Victoria Legislative Office. Staff were asked to leave the room and Campbell, looking rather ashen and shaken, asked Paul to elaborate on his letter. Paul talked briefly about Daniel and the wicked King and indicated to Campbell that the letter "spoke for itself" in terms of the implications for the premier. Campbell ended the meeting by pointing to one section of the letter in which Daniel had spoken to an earlier King, in which that King was encouraged to turn from his ill treatment of his impoverished subjects in order to continue reigning in prosperity. He suggested there was hope for he and Paul to continue working together.

After the Easter break, the Premier involved Cabinet members, who had been protecting him from the rumours before the media and others, to engage in dialogue with Paul, appearing friendly, but with the not so subtle intent of preventing him from taking the matter further.

[I withold one paragraph as names are named for their "roles within the Campbell administration with their propensity for character assassination and dirty tricks" - BC Mary]

When the one-year anniversary of the 'letter to the Premier' came around, on Easter 2003, realizing that the media were gun shy of the Campbell/Dauphanee issue, I asked Paul if I could try to hook any of the legislative press gallery to run an open letter to the Premier, dealing with the 'relationship' in a way that only insiders, the Premier and Lara would understand.

Paul agreed, and what we came up with was another Easter letter to the Premier, delivered to his office, with copies sent to the members of the press gallery. Here is the short letter in its entirety. Note the reference to "loved one" ... April 7, 2003

Premier Gordon Campbell
Room 156
Parliament Buildings
Victoria, Bc V8V 1X4

A Letter to Premier Gordon Campbell

Premier Campbell:

Easter is a time for reflection, restoration and renewal, Mr Premier.

For some Christians, such as myself, Easter is more important than is Christmas, or even the start of a new year.

When you leave here on April 11th, at Easter Break, to go with your loved one, I hope you reflect on your legacy of the past year, or even the two years since taking office in this position of sacred trust, an honour afforded you by the people of this province.

So far, you have certainly done it your way, Mr Premier. Would you want the epitaph of your endeavours as Premier to read: "I did it my way" or "I did it the right way"?

Perhaps you really do believe that you[r] way is the only and right way!

If that is the case, I can only say let history be the judge, and at the end of the day, in reflection, you can ask of yourself: "has it been worth it, and has it been good for the people of British Columbia".


Paul Nettleton, MLA
Prince George - Omineca


I will copy Vaughn Palmer's column next, as it shows the CanWest media at work. Vaughn busies himself demeaning Nettleton, casting aspersions, and then ... praise be! ... gets hung by his own petard. Palmer's column has disappeared from the archives but Paul's Research Assistant provided this copy:

In Victoria, some letters stranger than others
Vaughn Palmer
Vancouver Sun - Friday, April 11, 2003

VICTORIA - Gordon Campbell may have received stranger letters this week than the one I am about to quote. But not many, I'm thinking.

"Easter is a time for reflection, restoration and renewal, Mr Premier," it began. "For some Christians, such as myself, Easter is more important than is Christmas or even the start of a new year."

And with legislators preparing to depart the capital for a two-week recess, the letter had some seasonal advice for the premier.

"When you leave at Easter Break to go with your loved ones [sic], I hope you reflect on your legacy since taking office in this position of sacred trust ...

"You have certainly done it your way ..." The letter continues, as shown above. But Palmer isn't done yet. Palmer now puts the obligatory, semi-official Stamp of Disapproval on the letter:

The self-declared Christian and author of this preachy missive -- all that was missing was an "amen" as the exit line --was Paul Nettleton, member of the legislature for Prince George - Omineca.

He was ousted from the B.C Liberal caucus last fall after accusing his colleagues of hiding their plans to privatize B.C. Hydro. He arrived in Victoria this year vowing "the government-issued duct tape has been peeled from my mouth."

The Easter letter, which circulated this week, tended to confirm the Opposition's worst fears, that their putative ally in holding the government to account has turned out to be a flake.


OK. Palmer is done now. But note that Palmer admits to actually knowing the truth of the Lara situation in the reported conversations, as follows. This is Len's report continuing:

Paul and I discussed the column in his legislative office on the morning of the 11th, and he decided to phone Vaughn and let him know what we had just got past his and his editors' scrutiny and into publication.

[Palmer] was shocked, because he had convinced his editors that the "loved one" had to be a typo, and was not about the long-rumoured relationship between the Premier and Lara because, he said, there was another typo below it ... so the editors allowed him to change it to 'your loved ones'. We had to phone him twice to clarify it, and assert it was meant to read 'loved one'.

Poor Vaughn had egg on his face, as he couldn't resist going for it, while all the rest of the press gallery chose to avoid it like the plague.

And the Premier never said boo.

Following the phone calls, we left the legislature for the Easter break, taking the back way out, past the coffee and snack stand to the parking lot, where we crossed paths with Vaughn Palmer, looking somewhat subdued, proceeding thoughtfully to his car. We said hi, exchanged some pleasantries, and continued on.


And so should we. Because part of this "affair" is both private and personal. But the facts are undeniable that this is a public issue of governance. Lara is a government employee. Her activities are not trivial. The risks are serious.
Anyone in public office should realize that there are aspects of government business involved every step of the way; and the risk is multiplied in having a government employee sharing so much, so close to you.

We'd like to forget it, and carry on, except for nagging questions like this:

Gordo, do you often explain Lara's presence at your side in foreign lands by introducing her as your "Chief of Staff", a falsification here (and here) such as appeared in the newspapers of India?

Gordo, what do you do when Mr Big
in Organized Crime takes you aside and says, "I want all these [fill in the blank] in Metro Vancouver and I want 'em fast ... or (nudge nudge, wink wink) I can make life very uncomfortable for you, if you get my drift ... "

- BC Mary