Thursday, February 25, 2010


Delving into the dirty details of BC Rail, "the optics could hardly be worse" - National Post

Adrian Macnair 
National Post - February 25, 2010

A political scandal that has been brewing for more than six years will finally land in a B.C. courtroom in May, the repercussions of which could be very damaging to the government.

Although Premier Gordon Campbell is currently basking in the glow of the Olympic flame, the Basi-Virk trial will put his government under intense examination, at a time the struggling B.C. Liberals hardly need more problems. The latest opinion poll by Angus Reid Strategies puts the Premier in a category all his own in Canada -- owner of the worst approval rating among provincial leaders with a dismal 21%.  {Snip} ...

The RCMP uncovered the alleged involvement of B.C. Liberal insiders during an unrelated drug sting in 2003 involving another of Basi's cousins, Jasmohan Singh Bains. Their findings from phone taps led to an unprecedented police raid on Victoria Legislature records on Dec. 28, 2003. The resulting corruption charges have been winding their way slowly through the legal system, accompanied by defence demands for almost a million pages in documents and various claims of undue involvement by political figures.

The sale gave CN Rail a 990-year agreement, with a 60-year initial lease and then an option to renew every 30 years. BC Rail still owns the strategic port of Roberts Bank and the 40 km of track that connects to it. In November, B.C.'s provincial auditor confirmed that, despite having just 30 employees and no more trains to run, BC Rail's chief executive, Kevin Mahoney, earned $494,182 in 2009, which exceeded the government's self-imposed salary cap. Three other executives earned more than $700,000 between them.

Embarrassed by the revelations, the government ordered a "review" of the company, which culminated in an announcement on February 10 that the province would be moving the operations and management of BC Rail into the Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure.

The optics could hardly be worse. The very ministry implicated in the BC Rail-CN Rail deal will now absorb the remaining holdings while corruption allegations are still before the courts.

What surprises many people about the affair is the ability, so far, of Premier Gordon Campbell and the B.C. Liberal Party to survive the fallout of the charges against Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk, and the suggestions of government impropriety. The Liberals have been re-elected twice since the sale and the police raids.

Paul Nettleton, a former Liberal critic for BC Rail and an MLA who was ejected from the caucus for objecting to the privatization of B.C. Hydro in 2002, says the government benefited from timing. Voters were so relieved at getting rid of the former NDP government they were willing to overlook Campbell's broken promise.

The long, complex manoeuvring since 2004 has kept the case largely out of the public eye, and Mr. Campbell and other top officials have resolutely refused to talk about the charges on the basis that the case is before the courts.

That may change when British Columbians finally get to hear the details. For five weeks the government will be under the microscope, and this time there will be nowhere to hide. Mr. Campbell, who was re-elected to a third term last year, may wish the Olympics lasted just a little longer.

BC Mary says: I asked the author why there's no Comments section provided for his readers after his column. Adrian Macnair replied: There's no option for comment on the page you mentioned because it's a reproduction of the print edition, but it's been cross-posted to Full Comment if you like:

Thanks for promoting it.


I think the thing I like best about this is the title.

I don't see any place to comment.

Is that 'usual' at the National Post?

I spotted George Copley on his way in to work at the Sussex Building at 7:28 this morning....I think the man 'loves' it! Someone who should have retired about 4 years ago and undoubtedly drawing a pay package which could cover three start up lawyers who can't find a job.

All just to feather Campbell's nest for a few more weeks.
What surprises many people about the affair is the ability, so far, of Premier Gordon Campbell and the B.C. Liberal Party to survive the fallout of the charges against Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk, and the suggestions of government impropriety. The Liberals have been re-elected twice since the sale and the police raids.

Paul Nettleton, a former Liberal critic for BC Rail and an MLA who was ejected from the caucus for objecting to the privatization of B.C. Hydro in 2002, says the government benefited from timing. Voters were so relieved at getting rid of the former NDP government they were willing to overlook Campbell's broken promise.

What Unambig doesn't say is that it was the national and provincial mainstream media, including the Post, which allowed the Premier and his lapdog party to survive the fallout by making sure the public was constantly looking the other way. And while it's very nice that Unambig brought in Paul Nettleton, that's the most trivial of all the things Nettleton has had to say - which include contentions of fraud and collusion and more.

Nowhere in this article does it say, either, that Campbell promised NOT to sell BC Rail.....but this is a paper which also endorsed David Emerson's switching sides when the ink wasn't even dry on the ballots....

Still, not bad for a neo-con paper on its last legs.....I'd be curious to see the full copy before the Chief Editor got his hands on it....
Wow, he's not drinking from the same cup as Baldrey, Palmer and Smyth...
Thanks Mary for your ongoing work on behalf of all British Columbians!! You are appreciated!!

Paul Nettleton
political exile in maui.?
In any proper organization a person who was arrested for impaired driving (such as the Liberal MLA leaving the Olympic party) would be referred to personnel to see if they needed help for alcohol addiction. As well the circumstances would be investigated to see why and how they were overdrinking in the work environment. Wanna bet none of this will happen ?
Paul Nettleton, a former Liberal critic for BC Rail and an MLA who was ejected from the caucus for objecting to the privatization of B.C. Hydro in 2002, says the government benefited from timing. Voters were so relieved at getting rid of the former NDP government they were willing to overlook Campbell's broken promise.

About that passage again, on the one hand it repeats the nostrum that the BC public were "so relieved at getting rid of the NDP etc" without mentioning that the public had been systematically misled and deceived by the Liberal Party-friendly CanWest-owned papers and associated punditry that they didn't notice when the Liberals did everything they promised not to do, and much worse than anything the NDP were alleged to have done, and cost overruns that would make the still-harped-on Fast Ferries look like an accounting slip. This is old news, the repetition of a media lie for the tenth time over. The public were indeed panicked and gave a mob response - more proof of the efficacy of communications and journalism degrees when applied to political engineering....

But what the passage distorts entirely is that the 2001 election had anything to do with "Campbell's broken promise" - a promise which was not known (or admitted) to have been broken until 2005 or so. The public in 2001, in no uncertain terms, was promised by crocodile-tears Gordo that BC Rail would be sacrosanct, that selling it was the last thing on his mind.

It's thanks to Paul Nettleton that we know that's not true, that it was front-and-centre in Campbell's mind during the campaign, despite his open lying, and that he began to move the plan into effect immediately upon entering office, and issuing orders to the MLAs to keep that yaps zapped. Nettleton, and a few brave others, took issue with this, and either left or were driven from the government as the result.

It's sufficient enough of an error that the Post reporter should really publish a retraction; the public didn't overlook Campbell's lies in 2001; what really happened is that they didn't know that Campbell was wilfully lying when he said the railway wasn't for sale.

Well, perhaps he wasn't lying - in his mind, it had already been sold, all that was needed was the rigged bidding process and some paperwork to shuffle it out of existence.

I think some of us must remember that there was some claim in the '90s, after he came to the party leadership, that he had changed his ways since serving as a bum-boy for developers while at City Hall, and that the double-dealing that is known to have gone on there wouldn't continue once he became Premier. I think some of us also remember that similar claptrap was sold to the public when Vander Zalm was dusted off and re-sold as Socred leader in '86, that Willy was a good boy now and wouldn't do anything outrageous.

It's a bit shameful that British Columbians provide such easy corroboration to P.T. Barnum's "there's a sucker born every minute". But what do you do when the allegedly independent first estate are just as much part of the con and swindle as are the politicians and the corporations? The phrase "you get what you pay for" also has a certain trenchant ring in relation to Liberal Party corporate donations....

What do you do when you see a major national newspaper distort the historical record, so as to soft-soap the facts? Or did they just not understand? The central fact that's wrong in the above-quoted material is that while Campbell was indeed lying, the public didn't know that when they handled him near-dictatorial power in the 2001 election.....
"first estate" - I mean the fourth estate, of course.

Who we would define as the first estate in Canada is an interesting side question.....that some of them own the fourth estate complicates the definition....
That's a wonderful and, I think, arguably fair commentary.

I think the comment facility at the Post is still open - I'd be encouraged if you'd post the whole thing there...and I think we'd all be interested to find out if the paper had them courage to let the comment stand....

It's something that needs to be said - and said often.
Cheers my friend!
Skookum and GWest--

You've gotta understand....'Nostrums' such as these are, essentially, Raphael Alexander's (yes, that is who the author of the piece is, see Email handle at the bottom of this) stock and trade.

Skookum, that isnt the way I remember it. I remember Campbell sending out a quesionairre about how to deal with Indian Land Claims. I answered, like many, YES YES YES to all the questions, yet the Liberals proceeding against ALL of our wishes
The Liberals came to power and did exactly the opposite as to what the electorate wanted. And still got in, election after election.


Its not that the Liberals are so good; its that the NDP are, in the hearts and minds of BCers at least, that much worse.

DOnt blame Campbell. He is only doing what a fox does. Blame NDP for running such a lame slate of eco-equality nit-wits.

Look what happened when Obama ran a woman just becuase she was a woman. THEY LOST. Now health care reform is in jeopardy. Instead of working about optics, the NDP, like OBAMA, should be more concerned about running the best candidate.

Live an learn I guess.
As GWest said, excellent post Skookem1. The Gordon Campbell BC Liberal government's BC Rail sale is so fraught with deception, obfuscation and StoneWallying, that it is often important to be reminded of the original bald-faced lie.
I've been trying to post it, and this is the first time (shudder) I'm signed up for . . . . but when I click on "click here for comments" it just goes to the first comment, there's no window to enter any text in. It doesn't say anything about comments being closed....I tried two different browsers, but same non-result.

The article also skips over why the Roberts Bank line was kept and who was supposed to get it instead, and why that transaction was cancelled. You'd think they'd have mentioned it in the article, since it's directly a result of BVB's and Bornmann/Kieran's footsie-playing with Omni/TRAX......
Anonymous 3:52 - you're clearly some kind of hybrid of a troll and a red herring. If you don't remember Campbell promising to not ("never") sell BC Rail, you've got a very bad memory, or are just plain stupid, or are being paid to change the subject.
cheeta. I agree. I would never ever vote NDP so long as they have such bias towards doing things so against nature.

what the heck are you talking about?
I am talking about making sure X number of women run for office, even if they are not the stongest candidates.

I am talking aboutweell meaning but misguidedness runing policy.

I am talking about trying to get anything done through concensus through endless committees

I am talking about a party that has been gifted all the missteps made by Campbell, yet all they can do com election time is present raising minimum wage.

That is just not good enough. Not even close. It shows that the NDP do not have the pulse of BCers, either due to ignorance, or incompetance, or because they just dont get it. Either way, THEY caused this. THEY let the fox in the hen pen. THEY. THE NDP.

YOu asked, and THATS what I am talking about.
I've had some thoughts about the very evident grammatical and spelling problems of the horde of PABites who are now trying to sow nonsense into these blogs.

On the one hand, perhaps it's related to government incentives for companies and government to hire the "intellectually challenged" - who work hard, don't ask questions, do as they're told, and smile a lot. That the PAB might hire subsidized workers doesn't come as any surprise, if that's the case.

On the other, it could just be that the PAB is hiring communications, journalism and political science graduates who got through university without ever learning how to spell right. Either because of enslavement to spellcheck programs throughout their education or because they're English as a second-language folks. Might explain why they sound so much like trolls on craigslist and UseNet, who often diss popular opinion couched in terms of "you so stupid, we so smart", and also who clearly have no command of BC's history or realities outside the playbook provided to them by the PAB's boss lady....

Or it's just deliberately spelling things wrong so as to seem unprofessional.

Or they're just plain dumb stupid hicks.
CDKA is clearly nuts and/or a BC Liberal Party apologist - blaming the NDP for the corrupt behaviour of Gordon Campbell et al.? Gordon Campbell being a liar, cheat and swindler is the NDP's fault??

Is this an old and tiresome refrain or what?
Skookum it may well be tired, but so is the NDP trying to win an election with CArol James tired, a game stopper, and utterly stupid thing to do, not once but twice. If and when James is dusted, ie replaced wiht Moe Sihota, the NDP will get in and it will be a landslide.

jmo of course.

Try signing up here:

It eventually worked for me.
The NDP are not the problem; the resistance of the Liberals to constitutional normalcy - that elected officials should resign when their matters "are before the courts" - is meant to be how our parliamentary system works. The NDP have nothing to do at all with Campbell refusing to conduct himself legally, or ethically.

It's pretty bloody pathetic when we see the governors of New York State more easily resign for much more trivial matters than anything the Liberals have done. It's pretty bloody pathetic when it's easier to remove a corrupt governor of Illinois than it is for a Canadian first minister to resign when faced with clear evidence that he lied, that he organized a fake bidding process, that he gave political gifts to political friends etc etc etc.....

The NDP are not the problem - Campbell is, as are his cronies and parliamentary lapdogs.

Unfortunately the parliamentary system, as it is supposed to operate, requires a sense of honour among the politicians. It also requires the dedicated neutrality and objectivity of the police, courts and civil service.

We have none of those. And THAT is not the NDP's fault....
It's also worth noting that Scotland Yard has shown no hesitation at all in laying charges against British MPs because of the expenses scandal. And also worth noting that the Speaker and others duly resigned their seats, rather than drag Parliament into the courts. Unlike the BC Liberals they are not hiding behind privilege, nor are they hiding behind the excuse "the matter is before the courts".

In Britain, when any matter relating to your office is before the courts, YOU RESIGN. This is one part of the British parliamentary system that wasn't transmitted to this god-forsaken colony - yet it, really, is the most important one. Without out, the trust placed by the Crown in parliament is meaningless; what it relied on was "gentlemanly behaviour". But there are no gentlemen of the old sort in Canadian politics; there are only those raised in the culture of political expediency and nepotism. The only thing that distinguishes British Columbia from other failed British colonies is the colour of its ruling class and the fact that its misdeeds are hidden at the provincial level and not exposed to the international community as they would be if we were a sovereign state. Iceland, at less the population than Greater Victoria, gets more press coverage than we do. Canadian media are all too willing to shove BC's culture of criminal politics beneath the rug; it doesn't fit with the national myth of niceness and moderation and conciliation....not even a little tiny bit. We all know that is a sham too, of course......

BTW I hope everyone here was suitably disgusted seeing Harper posing for the television cameras at the curling and speed skating finals....."our athletes won gold, is that not reason enough to not talk about torture in Afghanistan", is the subtext....
The NDP are to blame because they are hopelessly inept.

Not knowing what to do in respect of the 6 yr long Rail BC probe, didnt know what to do, so James announced that they would call for a public inquiry, and posted thousands of documents on their website, hoping someone would tell them what it all meant, what to do with the information. So come election time, they took down the documents, and instead argued for a higher minimum wage.

How daft is that?
If you want to be taken seriously Anon 7:53...give thyself a name.
"daft" anonymous poster

Let's deal with the BC Liberals: they are the party that has been selling off the assets of this province to help the rich while also putting us into deeper and deeper debt for the last 10 years.
SIG...Anon made me laugh with that one. The "logic" behind their statement makes me think of a man beating the crap out of his wife, while the neighbour watches. And does nothing. So the police pay a visit, grab the neighbour and charge him with the offence...leaving the wife-beater free to do it all over again.

Yes, the NDP are totally inept with James as their leader. Yes, the liars will likely win again unless someone in the NDP party digs their brain outta their butt and forces change. But to blame the ills we are in now on the NDP, setting the liberals free from responsibility for their crime spree, is patently ridiculous. Or very liberal party minded. Take your pick.
"daft" anonymous poster:

Blaming any party but the BC Liberals for the actions of the BC Liberals is a total failure in logic.
Leah, the NDP will never win an election (I hope) so long as they continue to wish for every tree to never be felled, and cow tow to the tree huggers and Indians.
Anon 9:28...take your racism elsewhere. While you're elsewhere, try thinking for yourself while reading REALITY..not the crap you've been fed. Might wanna try reading some history too.
No need to worry about hugging trees: at the rate Campbell and the BC Liberals have sold off our forests (often with with no value added) we will have no trees left.

It is a falicy that the NDP cowtow to the tree huggers. The last I looked, loggers and mill workers are losing their jobs and thieir logging equipment faster than ever - even with the low-stumpage salvage rates offered for beetlewood in The Interior.

Your comment about First Nations people is just plain degrading. It shows that you have been unwilling to treat them as an equal.

You seem to like Campbell's idea of cow towing to the world's wealthy much better than having a premier who looks after his own people. You are probably glad he sold our money-making railway to CN. They were were able to lay off a good number of tax-paying BC employees so CN could return a higher profit to its stockholders - the #1 stockholder being, of course, Bill Gates. And, everyone knows Bill Gates needs more money.
The lack of logic among those like the anon above (9:28PM) is amazing. Considering that no one has patronized Indians more than Gordo it is laughable to accuse the NDP of "cow towing." Of course Gordo actually just buys off the Indians that have control of parcels needed by the Crime Family.

Much was made of the inclusion of First Nations in the OweLimpics, but in reality, FOUR bands were basically co-opted and got a bit of jive - meanwhile 80 or 90 percent of the natives in the province were ignored as usual, just like the non-indian population who doesn't live down in the Lower Vainland - the black hole where all the money goes.

As far as trees go, that is a little more complex, the only trees currently in danger are the ones desirable on the raw log market and, oh yeah, those scheduled for this summer's pine beetle picnic - and considering the fact that it has been spring where I am since sometime in January, it could be a hot summer full of hungry beetles, until they get burned up in what could make last year and the year Kelowna almost burned to the ground seem like mellow wildfire years.
"cow towing."

Hmmm....for a brief and ugly few weeks in 1976 I worked as an irrigation hand on the Parke Ranch at of my daily jobs was taking a few cattle to be fed; they had to be towed, pulled, even prodded to go to the feed trough.....that would seem to be a fitting metaphor for the unwillingness of certain trollers to come to the nourishment of the truth, and instead dig their hooves and ruminant stomachs on the undigestible grass being fed them as slop by the BC Liberals et al. No wonder they have so much gas....and I submit that troll farts probably smell a LOT worse than cow farts...

"kowtow" is a Chinese word meaning "knock with reverence":

I kept looking at that "cow tow" thing, thinking it didn't look right,

then you provide the double-barreled images to settle the matter!

Thanks for the hearty laugh. I feel much better now.

But now "wiki kowtow" sounds like a dance-step for circling the campfires of a starry night ... .
I thought all along that the official spelling of the phrase was kowtow, as Skook points out at the end - but I was quoting the troll and wanted to capture the essence of blind stupidity (or nefarious motivation) he/she/it exemplifies.

I was once a cowboy too, but really we never towed cows, though they would try to "cow" you if you let 'em! In modern Englishlike Speak what's a "ph" or an "f" in the Kosmic Karnival of Life.
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