Wednesday, June 17, 2009


BC Rail blog will convince any skeptic of the value of 'citizen journalism' says Island Tides review; but Morley Safer says we are worthless

Tyee Wins Top Canadian Prize - an excerpt
The Tyee - June 10, 2009


... Morley Safer returned to his home town of Toronto to be feted for his six decades of work as a broadcast journalist, having started out as a foreign correspondent for the CBC before being picked up by CBS to cover Vietnam and then help launch 60 Minutes.

In a warm and funny speech, Safer made a plea for preserving the newspaper tradition, and declared "I would trust citizen journalists as much as I would a citizen surgeon."

BC Mary: yeah, right, Morley. Ha ha. Thanks, Morley. But I much prefer what I read today in Island Tides:

A Mystery, A Plot—Hopefully An Ending
Island Tides - June 18, 2009
Review by Patrick Brown & Christa Grace-Warrick

The Legislature Raids blog will convince any skeptic of
the value of ‘citizen journalism'—the great new shot in
the arm to news media. It is unusual to review a blog but
this one is outstanding—it tells a great story, and a great BC

Presided over by a wise woman who goes under the nom de
plume of BC Mary, ‘The Legislature Raids’ records all that has
been written about the last three-and-a-half years of courtroom
activities stemming from RCMP raids on the BC Legislative
Buildings on December 28, 2003, including subsequent charges
laid against Dave Basi, Bob Virk, and Aneal Basi.

The case was originally scheduled to go to trial on June 5,
2006. The pre-trial maneuvers that have delayed the case tell a
tale of political and judicial perversion and obfuscation probably
unmatched in the province’s history. So far, the trial has been
delayed through two complete provincial elections. And this is
significant given the nature of the case.

A trial date still has not been set, although current scuttlebutt
around the BC Supreme Court is that the lawyers involved are
clearing their schedules for September of this year through
January 2010.

Unless you have been reading BC Mary’s blog regularly, you
will be excused for knowing very little about what has been going
on. That’s because the daily newspapers have reported on the
case rather sporadically, either because they didn’t think it was
very important any more, or because they figured that after all
this time, you (dear reader) would have got tired of it; or maybe
because you couldn’t understand. Anyway, most of the time, they
haven’t sent anyone to cover the court proceedings.

‘The Legislature Raids’, on the other hand, documents more
than a hundred pre-trial days of Court time spent wrangling over
what the trial should be like—who’s in, who’s out, and what
anyone can or cannot say. (That rumbling noise you hear is Perry
Mason revolving in his grave, wheelchair and all.)

So What’s the Plot?

So what could possibly be so convoluted and need so much court
rigamarole? That, it is hoped, is what the long-delayed trial will
reveal—should it ever get past the tireless activities of the
government-appointed Special Prosecutor.

For the last several months, the prosecution, now under
pressure, has been trying to get permission from the court to
introduce a secret witness in the trial, while withholding his
identity. So far, the Courts have not given their permission, but
the Special Prosecutor has appealed this procedural matter to
the Supreme Court of Canada, which is not at this point expected
to rule on this until October. More delay.

Back to that plot; it all seems to have something to do with the
sale of BC Rail to CN Rail, very early in the Gordon Campbell era.
And it seems that Basi, Virk, and Basi have been charged with
some sort of corruption in connection with the bidding process
for BC Rail; some of the other bidders claimed that the bidding
process unfairly favoured CN.

Basi, Virk, and Basi’s defense seems to be that they were only
doing the bidding of their political masters: Judith Reid, who
was Minister of Transportation at the time, and who has since
retired from politics; Gary Collins, who was Minister of Finance
at the time, and who has since retired from politics; and Gordon
Campbell, who was Premier at the time, and still is.

However, at the time of the RCMP raid, the RCMP were quick
to assure the public that there would be no charges against any
elected officials.

Curiouser and Curiouser
The case becomes curiouser and curiouser. A Pandora’s box of
paperwork, touching on many topics of our times, not surprising,
since the raid took place in the Legislature.

Most of the endless days in court that are recorded on the blog
have been about disclosure: the defense lawyers seek documents
that would reveal what exactly went on, and the prosecution’s
attempts to block their access to any such documentation, using
excuses such as solicitor-client privilege, legislative privilege, and
cabinet confidential. In the Legislative Assembly, the
government has refused to answer any questions with the excuse
that the case is ‘before the courts’.

More and more evidence is appearing on the record—some
300,000 pages in total so far. Including 8,000 pages retrieved by
the Nanaimo NDP-MLA Leonard Krog through an application to
the Supreme Court. (These documents are now available to the
public in the file registry of the Vancouver Law Courts.)
However ‘The Legislature Raids’ is definitely easier reading
than this blizzard of documents.

The New Media
Given corporate conglomerate ownership, its need to cut corners
to maximize return to executives and shareholders, and because
the easy-pickings days of newspaper revenues are over, the
mainstream media is out of its depth in covering a topic of such
magnitude, not to say massive bulk.

Only skilled and dedicated citizens, journalist and layperson,
like those who feature on ‘The Legislature Raids’ are the ones
with the fortitude to carry out the task. The blog has
contributions by people who are not only unpaid, but who have
given their time to attend the court sessions, write them up, and
to use their expertise to interpret what is going on (in particular,
Robin Mathews). You will find reports and columns by
professional journalists (particularly Bill Tieleman), a number of
useful links, and copies of the occasional newspaper items from
The Vancouver Sun,The Province, The Globe & Mail, Victoria’s
Times-Colonist and links to Island Tides articles (scroll through
‘BC Politics’ in our online subject archive to view them).

No Ending In Sight
‘The Legislature Raids’ is a story without an ending, yet. The final
page is a secret kept even from the blog’s author. However
reading the blog regularly is a great way to keep up with the next
episode. You will be appalled—and delighted and thankful that,
in the cause of justice, such blogs exist.


Congratulations Mary.

First to give you deserved recognition for your hard work, and that of your supporting cast, was Ian Mulgrew of the Vancouver sun in his column, and now, the Island Tides.

Best Wishes
Much deserved Mary!

Maybe someone should send Morley Safer a link to TLR...he might learn something.

Keep up the good, essential, work.

Jim King,
Thanks very much, NVG. And you're a big part of what makes this blog a good one.

Here's a surprise: it was Vaughn Palmer who -- long, long ago -- gave the first public tip o'the tuque to The Legislature Raids.

No kidding.


Many thanks indeed ... wow, it's such a tonic to hear words like "good" and "essential" ...

it's also good to have that mental imagine of Morley Safer reading that posting ... somehow there came an image of his laundry bill starting to inflate ...

Anybody know Morley Safer's e.mail address??

"citizen journalist,we are unworthy"...

Funny, that's how Harper feels towards single women.
'No end in sight,
thankfully this blog exist'...

So the truth gets told, when the truth finally, gets revealed!
Dear Mr. Safer:
IF there were such a thing in BC as an investigative journalist willing to go to the mat for his beliefs and the facts that lay right beneath his nose - most of us would still be subscribing to the newspaper that had the balls it would take to print said facts! At this moment in time the biggest governmental corruption case in the history of Canada is in the courts (where it has been for over 3 years!)...are there ANY journalists willing to dig as deep and as hard as the "citizen journalists" have? NO. NONE. Perhaps IF said journalists were more interested in serving the public they're supposedly supposed to serve (rather than their corporate masters)...this thing might be over and done already. IF they were willing to sit in the courts day in and day out (as the citizen journalists have) they might be so angered that they'd print the truth anyway. IF! IF! IF!
There's no one in this province, or this country that I consider worthy of the title "Journalist" when linked with mainstream news media. There are however; MANY "citizen journalists" worthy of being read, because they actually get OFF their asses and dig, sift, and sue for the TRUTH.
You used to be one of them......

(I'm sorry...I couldn't let him get away with it.)

This blog is essential to learning the truth, keeping it front and center and in the face of British Columbians. Otherwise I fear this court case will simply "disappear"...and GC will get away with the crime of BC's century.

Thank you Mary!
Wasn't the raid on the leg. Dec. 28, 2003, not 2005?
I"m sorry, I missed the bit where Safer said something about the case, or your blog...where/what was it exactly?

His email is probably superconfidential ,but or something like that might do the trick for him; that's just a guess, I haven't looked at the CBS site....I'd guess is probably the show's page and there should be a link there.

Why not write Michael Moore and knock him off the lollipop-stand stool he views Canada from? Time for him to smarten up about the not-so-nice-North....
60 Minutes
524 West 57th St.
New York, NY 10019


PHONE: (212) 975-3247
Very exciting, BCMary!!

Fight on, Warrior Princess!

From a Devoted Admirer.
Cripes, 11:36, I never noticed that ...

I'll sneak in through the back shop and change that 2005 to 2003.

Thanks for noticing.
Your blog is citizen journalism at its best.

I visit this place very often because I care that our government is not getting the scrutiny in needs from the 'working' media.

But please, don't jump all over old man Morley just because he paints the world with a too-thick brush.

Many, many blogs are crap. And citizen bloggers does not necessarily translate into citizen journalist.

You are an exception to the rule.
Hi, Blaffergassted,

welcome to this blog and thanks for your wonderful compliments. Now ...

About old man Safer.

Make no mistake, he made a blanket statement. And I felt a need to defend those among us -- like the man who overheard a snippet of courtroom conversation, passed it to me, I did the hard-checking and then broke the story -- from being branded as total incompetents (as in "citizen surgeons").

It's no excuse that there are many poor quality blogs. Fact is, there's an astonishing variety of wonderful blogs. Another fact: most of us do have some background in journalism. And even the doggone newspapers are running the URLs for their journalists' blogs.

If anything, old man Safer is out of touch. Over the hill. Kaputski.

So maybe I'll just turn your suggestion back on you. Don't jump all over BC Mary because I defend myself as one of today's citizen journalist ...we should never, never have been referred to in that way,

especially at an award ceremony for journalism,

especially in Canada,

and especially as it was written up in The Tyee.

High fives, Mary!

You are an exceptionally gifted journalist with ethics and truth setting the tone and being your guiding light.

Ian Mulgrew is also a gifted journalist. It takes one to know one!

Carry on my friend. . .

Many thanks indeed. Yes, we'll keep going ... we can't slack off now, just when it begins to look as if the BC Rail trial is in sight.

I do believe that Gordo would be dancing barefoot in the moonlight at the thought of the trial being forgotten ...

but no way. Thanks to all who keep the faith.

There's no law which says we cannot dream and my dream is to see that train again carrying the BC Rail logo the length and breadth (almost) of the province ...

and I'm pretty sure that kind of dream begins with the secret deal being opened for public inspection and approval ... or not.

is that a difficult concept? I don't think so.


"I do believe that Gordo would be dancing barefoot in the moonlight "

Thanks a lot (with sarcasm dripping) for this image, which means I won't be able to eat my breakfast and hopefully will be able to regain my appetite by lunchtime.

I've been busy and haven't kept up, but it seems like you deserve some congrats, I'm just not sure exactly for what (other than the usual).

That July 14 date certainly seems to be a matter of serious concern - what can be done about it? It should obviously be ILLEGAL, but then if breaking the law mattered for these guys (the BC liaRs) they wouldn't be in government, they would be in gaol.

About Morley Safer

Mr. Safer, big-success (Canadian) journalist working for U.S. media, speaking in Toronto recently, said: "I would trust citizen journalists as much as I would trust a citizen surgeon."

In response: I would trust a Canadian who goes into big U.S. private corporate media (centres for the 'manipulation' of news on behalf of their wealthy U.S. owners) as much as I would trust Conrad Black or Bernie Madoff to look after my investments.

In fact, those last two might be, Morley, safer.

About Morley Safer

Mr. Safer, big-success (Canadian) journalist working for U.S. media, speaking in Toronto recently, said: "I would trust citizen journalists as much as I would trust a citizen surgeon."

In response: I would trust a Canadian who goes into big U.S. private corporate media (centres for the 'manipulation' of news on behalf of their wealthy U.S. owners) as much as I would trust Conrad Black or Bernie Madoff to look after my investments.

In fact, those last two might be, Morley, safer.

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