Wednesday, August 31, 2011
See Harper, exposed
but brace yourselves.
"The BC Rail story is a story of deceit and corruption and a colossal waste of government resources all around."
BC Rail execs paid $630,000 severance
Money paid to CEO, vice-president of real estate to leave company ‘a colossal waste,’ critic says
By Jonathan Fowlie,
Vancouver Sun - August 30, 2011
VICTORIA — British Columbia taxpayers paid BC Rail’s two top executives a total of more than $630,000 to leave the company when the organization was brought back under government control last year.
Figures released by the government Tuesday show the province paid former BC Rail president and CEO Kevin Mahoney $392,333 in severance when BC Rail was dissolved, along with an extra $11,899 to cover his unused vacation time.
Government also paid executive vice-president of real estate John Lusney $203,033 in severance, along with $23,355 in unused vacation.
The two have helped lead the organization since the publicly owned railway was sold for $1 billion to CN Rail in a deal completed in 2004.
Their main responsibilities have included managing a 40-kilometre long spur line to Roberts Bank, handling the company’s real estate portfolio and managing a long-term lease with CN Rail.
“Since the rail was transferred directly into the ministry there have been benefits of that transaction. Obviously, we have direct control now of the [British Columbia Railway Co.] business, which is vital to opening up the Asia Pacific region,” she said. “There’s a cost-saving as well of $5 million per year by 2014, and it gives us greater flexibility with respect to the use of the assets,” Bicknell added, noting the severance was paid according to contractual obligations.
New Democratic Party finance critic Bruce Ralston said: “The BC Rail story is a story of deceit and corruption and a colossal waste of government resources all around.
“This is the tag end of that story but there’s no doubt it reflects the view of the government that people at the top end should get big increases and people at the middle and the bottom end should take no increases,” he added. “That’s been their philosophy, that’s been their policy and this really reflects the results of that.”
Tuesday’s listing of public sector compensation, required under the Public Sector Employers Act, also confirmed severance payments to members of former premier Gordon Campbell’s senior staff who were let go when Campbell left office.
Government has already disclosed that $2.4 million in severance packages went to 13 bureaucrats at the time Premier Christy Clark took power in March.
Tuesday’s numbers show the one-time severance payouts to these senior employees shot two of Campbell’s closest advisers into an elite group of last year’s top public sector wage earners.
Allan Seckel, Campbell’s former deputy minister and former head of the public service, took home $923,907 in 2010-11, an amount that includes an almost $549,776 severance package.
This made Seckel the second-highest paid public servant for 2010-11, according to the list released Tuesday.
Immediately behind Seckel on that list was Martyn Brown, Campbell’s longtime chief of staff.
Brown was shuffled into another job before Campbell left, but was let go once Clark took office. Brown took home $653,175.92 last year, including $416,191 in severance.
On Tuesday, Ralston said the payouts support an argument for government to consider fixed-term contracts for executives.
“When you hire people on indefinite term contracts then whenever you let them go you have to pay severance,” he said, adding there are many situations where fixed-term contracts ranging from three to five years could be appropriate for public sector executives.
Others on the list of top paid public sector executives released Tuesday include: University of B.C. president Stephen Toope, who made $579,332; T.M. Bechard, managing director of Powerex, who made $1.01 million; and Insurance Corp. of B.C. CEO Jon Schubert, who took home $522,178.
Read more, click HERE:
Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Pigs at the trough? or rats deserting a sinking ship?
Gordon Campbell's former advisors among top paid public sector executives
By Jonathan Fowlie,
Vancouver Sun - August 30, 2011
Martyn Brown, who was Gordon Campbell's longtime chief of staff, took home $653,175.92 last year, including $416,191 in severance.
VICTORIA -- British Columbia's top paid public sector executive is T.M. Bechard, managing director of Powerex, the government said Tuesday.
In its annual disclosure, the government said Bechard made $1.01 million in 2010-11, which included a $540,000 annual bonus.
Rounding out the top three on the list are members from former premier Gordon Campbell's senior staff, both of whom were let go after Campbell stepped down.
British Columbia's second highest paid public sector executive last year was Allan Seckel, Campbell's former deputy minister and former head of the public service. Seckel took home $923,907, including an almost $550,000 severance package.
Third on the list was Martyn Brown, who until just before Campbell stepped down had been Campbell's longtime chief of staff.
Brown was shuffled into another job before Campbell left, but was let go once Premier Christy Clark took office. Brown took home $653,175.92 last year, including $416,191 in severance.
Another executive who took home a sizeable severance last year is Kevin Mahoney, who had been president of BC Rail. Mahoney collected a $392,000 severance, bringing his annual income last year to $523,456.
Others on the list of top paid public sector executives include: University of B.C. president Stephen Toope, who made $579,332; Pavco CEO Warren Buckley, who made $563,707; and Insurance Corp. of British Columbia CEA Jon Schubert, who took home $522,178.
Read more HERE:
.... Other big payouts went to Leslie du Toit, deputy minister of children and family development, who gets $337,000, and Ron Norman, who headed the Public Affiars Bureau, who receives $324,000.
Other severance recipients include:
Lara Dauphinee (Campbell's Deputy Chief of Staff) - $193,000.
Geoff Hanman - $118,000
Paul Taylor (Premier's Chief of Staff after Brown) - $114,000.
Dale Steeves (Premier's Communications Director) - $108,000.
Michael Harrison (ministerial assistant) - $76,000.
June Phillips - $73,000.
Christine Willows - $51,000.
Kathy Armstrong - $34,000.
Richard Davis - $33,000.
The total for the severance packages is $2,427,000.
The president of the B.C. Federation of Labour, Jim Sinclair, called the payouts "outrageous," and not in accordance with Clark's promises to B.C. families.
"I suppose when she said 'families first' she meant Allan Seckel's family and Martyn Brown's family," said Sinclair ...
Sunday, August 28, 2011
A week of tears, smiles, recognition
BC Mary comment: There's something I want to say before pushing on with life.
It has been quite a week, hasn't it?
Jack Layton died.
I've watched hours and hours of CBC Newsworld conversations. With family and friends, we gathered together to watch the funeral of Le bon Jack. I've puzzled and pondered, as to why his death (while a shocking sadness) has gradually and relentlessly made me feel BETTER about our country.
I have always known (or felt I knew) how Canadians feel ... despite the fact that only once have I ever seen it proven by an outburst of Canadian passion and that was at the end of the Quebec referendum (1995) when it looked as if Chretien had fumbled the ball and the separatists were going to win the day. I happened to be driving past the BC Legislature that critical day. A crowd had gathered. Nobody was in charge. Somebody had set up a microphone on the Legislature steps and people were lining up to have their say. What they said brought me to tears of recognition and understanding. Every statement was a message of love. "Don't, don't go ... we love you."
And yet, people have often told me I got it all wrong ... that I idealize the Canadian character, that we're all money-mad and blah, blah, blah. Phhttt, I say. I knew how I felt myself and saw no reason to suppose others didn't share that deep respect for our huge, awkward, gorgeous, neglected geographical location.
And so this week, August 22 to 27, 2011, Jack Layton gave us another precious opportunity to show how we feel about this country. They say he planned his funeral ... and if so, he well understood the passion in people's hearts which would need to find expression. Streets filled with people ... coast to coast to coast.
CBC was there to open up the network for all of Canada to have their say. And did you notice that nobody had to invoke a U.S. example of anything to "help us understand" anything! The stories, the speakers, people, the actions, the music, the musicians were all Canadian, all the way. Especially ... did you laugh and applaud (we did) when Stephen Lewis said the words "Social Democracy" in his eulogy? and innocently set off an explosion of passion? When the congregation (apparently, unexpectedly) took over with their applause and cheers ... in the middle of a funeral?? Le bon Jack would've loved that. Loved that.
I thought this caught some of that spirit ...
Agree with him ideologically or not, Jack Layton was clearly no ordinary politician, and the week following his passing has been no ordinary week. The widespread emotional outpouring in response to his death has been, dare I say it? Unprecedented? I certainly can’t recall anything quite like it.
Of all the memorials to Jack Layton, planned or improvised, to me the most touching is the now-famous chalk memorial in Nathan Phillips Square in Toronto:
Not just because it was such a spontaneously creative outpouring of grief, respect and even love for the guy. But because one night the sky cried it all away, and then within 24 hours:
[BC Mary says please, please go HERE to visit this web-site and see the photos.]
… tenacious Torontonians had stubbornly brought it back. It was an act in such synchronicity with Layton’s determinedly optimistic spirit, I found it really moving.
I wonder if what we saw this past week says something about what we really want.
Friday, August 26, 2011
BC Rail says Good-bye to Erik Bornmann
BC Mary comment: It would be easy enough to ascribe ulterior motives prompting so many news items in Big Media on Erik Bornmann and his amazing "second chance" ... such as, describing him as doubtfully-reformed and therefore unworthy to ply his trade within the [cough ...] sacred halls of BC politics ... whatever. Whatever, it means there's a Bornmann article/editorial today almost anywhere you look. I thought the old stick-in-the-mud Victoria Times Colonist had the best ... and especially, please note that readers may access the Law Society of Upper Canada's documents at the end of this Les Leyne article here, too.
[Update: Uh oh!! Both their links are broken.]
Les Leyne: B.C. Rail briber wins a second chance
That's how Law Society of Upper Canada panelist Thomas Conway framed his discussion of the fate of the notorious Erik Bornmann, who admitted bribery in the B.C. Rail scandal.
The panel delving into his character has decided there is hope for the 35-year-old, so it approved his application to practise law in Ontario.
But if Bornmann's contrition is genuine, and not just part of some carefully coached strategy to weasel his way back to the high-rolling life, he'll realize he still has a lengthy probation ahead of him.
Although he's moved thousands of kilometres away, British Columbians would probably like to see a lot more atonement. Disgraceful behaviour by him and a cocky, like-minded crew cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars to sort out over seven long years.
Bornmann's own testimony to the panel was striking. He said he'd become a power broker and fallen into a pattern of "exchanging favours" as a lobbyist. He told them he'd become arrogant and amoral and admitted to the full range of dishonesty portrayed in Pilothouse's dealings.
Bornmann's fast-paced, highoctane life left little or no time for reflection, Conway recounted. But after the raid, his life became a nightmare.
In Bornmann's words, "I get sick thinking about it. Things just kept exploding for six years, seven years ... leaving this gigantic mess. It has hurt a lot of people.
"There are so many layers of regret and shame to my conduct."
Conway said Bornmann was cast into the wilderness when he lost his law-firm job and had no choice but to face the consequences of what he'd done in his "headlong quest for fame and fortune."
The tribunal accepted that he'd rehabilitated himself.
Bornmann won the day by a narrow margin. One panel member wrote a harsh, 24-page dissent noting "there is no honour among thieves" and that he compounded his criminality by betraying the people he'd bribed.
But the panelist was outnumbered and the law society gave Bornmann another chance.
It's a compelling story of redemption.
But it will take some people a while longer to determine if it's for real.
Read the Law Society documents in the case at:
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Today private rail, tomorrow private water
By Elizabeth James
Special to North Shore News
August 24, 2011
An April, 1987 analysis by current BC Hydro director David Emerson opened with: "The purpose of this report is to review B.C. Hydro's structure and operation in order to identify in a preliminary way the scope and potential for privatization.
End of quote.
New-era Republicans in Wisconsin, Campbell-Clark Liberals in British Columbia: less than six degrees of separation.
While you and I are engrossed with the BC Hydro panel review, Smart Meters, corporate overload, bonuses and pink slips, Liberal-friendly "rent-seekers" are holding course to abscond with the entire public asset. Will they get away with it?
Absolutely, if we don't stop them -- just as they did with BC Rail and BC Ferries.
In their story about illegal voting in Wisconsin's state legislature, Guardian journalists Michael Hudson and Jeffrey Sommers were referring to economic rent, a term that has as many definitions as there are economists using it.
The Harper Collins dictionary explains it as "a payment to a factor of production (land, labour or capital) in excess of what is needed to keep the factor in its present use."
Closer to home, Gabriola Island economist Erik Andersen said: "In the critical way I use the term for B.C., economic rent is income collected by a contrived monopoly -- (through a) P3 contract -- over and above the income required to accumulate resources enough to provide a service."
In the context of BC Hydro, rent-seekers are those who cannot wait to generate private profit from what traditionally has been a not-for-profit public asset.
The only way that can be achieved is for private corporations to control the rate structure in the same way that BC Ferries controls fares, with or without the tacit permission of whatever governments and/or appointed boards are in power.
As described by Hudson and Sommers for Wisconsin, the sole objective of our own crop of rent-seekers is to privatize what remains of the public assets in British Columbia. Colloquially speaking, for those private corporations, the BC Liberal government has been to die for. Forestry tenures, wild salmon runs, highways, transportation lines, BC Rail -- all they needed to do was ask. Now it is BC Hydro nearing the auction block, assuming the bidders are not already chosen.
For some, this day has been a long time coming. In fact, it was an April, 1987 analysis by current BC Hydro director David Emerson that opened with: "The purpose of this report is to review B.C. Hydro's structure and operation in order to identify in a preliminary way the scope and potential for privatization."
Emerson's executive summary continues: "Two parts of BC Hydro stand out as candidates for an early privatization initiative -- the mainland gas division and the rail division."
In 2006, the Campbell government passed legislation that shielded board members from assertions of conflict. Now we have one board member connected to the company marketing Smart Meters and another with a quarter-century history of believing that some "business units within the operations of BC Hydro may be candidates for privatization."
The sole focus of rent-seekers is to control public assets that can return profits ranging from 10 to 20 per cent -- even if that means disintegration of that asset.
The recent panel review shows that, directly and indirectly, BC Hydro ratepayers underwrite the costs incurred by independent power producers to begin their provincially licensed operations in the waters of our public rivers.
How much more are you prepared to hand off to provide rent-seekers with their profits?
Would you go so far as to relinquish public control over still more of British Columbia's pristine water supply?
Because after noting that "the potential for sale/export of this natural resource is very real," page six of Emerson's report concludes by tolling this bell: "An examination of the privatization possibilities within BC Hydro should give consideration to future opportunities in the Province of British Columbia with regard to the sale/export of water and the role BC Hydro may play in that.
"The ownership of water and the rights or licences to export it are issues which are not that far on the horizon."
Read more HERE:
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
Jack Layton left a gift for Canadians
by Ish Theilheimer
Straight Goods News - August 23, 2011
Remarkable leader had a zeal for getting things done, not just winning: Ed Broadbent.
Re-printed here by kind permission of
Straight Goods News.
Jack Layton's death Monday morning (August 22) shocked all Canadians into an outpouring of commentary, various views on celebrating (or at least assessing) his life and accomplishments. The man's remarkable achievement in leading the NDP to Official Opposition status after years in the political wilderness — while fighting cancer — is the stuff of Canadian legends.
When most people die of cancer, they spend their final days managing pain, dealing with nurses, sleeping, and saying goodbye. Jack Layton used his dying days to craft words that will become the credo for his party and, potentially, some sort of new movement.
He emerged triumphant with a positive political agenda in the midst of the Liberal - Conservative negative ad battle.
"My friends, love is better than anger," he wrote. "Hope is better than fear. Optimism is better than despair. So let us be loving, hopeful and optimistic. And we'll change the world." Never have progressives — and all Canadians — had more stirring or resonant words by which to live.
Straight Goods News contacted former NDP leader Ed Broadbent, one of Layton's biggest and most influential boosters in the party's 2003 leadership race. Although they had barely known each other previously, Broadbent did considerable research on Layton and liked what he saw.
"He had lots of zip and incredible amounts of energy, and he was accomplished in doing things on Toronto council of a practical nature — solid progressive things, like low income housing, a dental plan he sponsored for municipal employees, social rights issues, gay rights. But what struck me was his zeal in getting things done, not just winning a debate but achieving things."
Broadbent wanted a party leader with that sort of winning approach. Layton's work with other municipal leaders through the Canadian Federation of Municipalities particularly impressed him. "He got major resolutions through working with mayors from across the country, Liberals and Tories," Broadbent recalled. "The NDP needed someone with the a capacity for concrete accomplishments."
Working with political opponents, Broadbent says, is more common in Europe. Here, "Compromise is seen as a pejorative term," — but it wasn't by Layton, who made deal-making a hallmark of his tenure as leader.
From the outset as leader, he showed he could get things done no matter who he had to work with. In 2005, he forced then-Prime Minister Paul Martin to accept a federal budget that increased social spending massively and cancelled proposed corporate tax cuts.
"The key point was that Jack wasn't content to vote non-confidence, and play obstructive politics," said Broadbent. Instead, "He got this major add-on, perhaps his best single illustration of his pragmatic approach to implementing social democracy one piece at a time."
Later in the year, however, Layton failed to get Martin to accept a ban on private health care in Canada in return for continued support. Martin's, refusal was costly, leading to the 2006 election where Stephen Harper became Prime Minister, with a minority government.
Broadbent, while appreciative of the media coverage of Layton's death, feels much of the English-language coverage of this year's political miracle misses a key point.
"Most of the media are leaving out the substance of what he was optimistic about, which was his social democratic vision," said Broadbent. "It's preposterous to think all those Quebeckers voted for Jack because he had a positive disposition. His personality did make a difference in terms of opening doors, but my own view is the door would have shut pretty quickly if all those people in Quebec hadn't liked what they saw."
Part of the media's oversight is a failure to understand Quebec, says Broadbent. It wasn't that "a heterogeneous group" of Quebec voters were attracted to Layton's personality, but rather, it was supporters of the Bloc Québécois who shared the values Layton laid out so eloquently.
Missing this point "does a great disservice to Jack," says Broadbent. He points to an allusion to this in Layton's open letter, in which he says the NDP's "...cause is much bigger than any one leader."
Broadbent greatly appreciated Layton's openness to ideas and debate and his lack of defensiveness. "He had a totally comfortable relationship between the leader and the former leader, which is not always the case." The two had regular get-togethers which were "always harmonious," and a standing rule not to get upset about disagreements.
Layton's remarkable campaign this year, Broadbent said, was the culmination of many years of work, rather than representing some sort of new approach.
"I don't think he changed in it — with one important qualifier, mentioned by many people. Early in the campaign his cane was seen by staff people and a number of journalists as indicating fragility and weakness, but he turned that around and it became a symbol of Jack's positive approach to life. He seemed to acquire more energy as time went on and, despite what those close to him knew was constant pain" The pain never showed.
"The cane itself, instead of representing a weakness that no leader likes, it was a symbol of hope and determination and ultimately success. He emerged triumphant with a positive political agenda at the very time when Liberals and Conservatives were running negative ads on each other."
"It was inspiring," said Broadbent. "The core values of Jack didn't change. Nor did his core approach. He became more relaxed. I went through that as a leader. Over time Jack improved, but by the time this campaign started, I think he was at the peak of his capacity." Even prior to the campaign, Layton, he says, had already demonstrated "a higher degree of civility" than the other leaders. "I don't think he changed, I think he peaked."
Over time the world will learn more about Jack Layton's last days and weeks and months. Already, we know that two days before he died, he held a four-hour meeting with his top advisors to plan next steps. His chief of staff Anne McGrath told The Toronto Star that he was sharp, focussed, and, at times "challenging" to his colleagues.
Broadbent spoke with him only by phone in the later weeks. Only in their last conversation did they talk "briefly" about his health. "He told me he was fighting it," and, even a week before he died, "He was trying to reassure me." But Broadbent could tell "He had ceased to really believe he was going to win this battle — not that he gave up but there was a weakness and a hesitation in his voice."
Now he is gone and Canadians are left to ask themselves, "What would Jack say? What would Jack do? What would he think of this situation?"
We will all be better off if we ask what love and courage and optimism require of us in order that we might change the world for the better. Thank you, Jack Layton.
Ish Theilheimer is founder and president of Straight Goods News and has been Publisher of the leading, and oldest, independent Canadian online newsmagazine, StraightGoods.ca, since September 1999. He is also Managing Editor of PublicValues.ca. He lives wth his wife Kathy in Golden Lake, ON, in the Ottawa Valley. email@example.com
Source is HERE.
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Why August 22, 2011 was an important day for Canada, despite the sorrow
Something important happened yesterday, beginning with Peter Mansbridge simply walking into the CBC studio to interrupt Heather Hiscox on CBC Newsworld ... he read the announcement of Jack Layton's death ... and then it was two Canadians talking, rather than News anchors announcing. It was real. And it stayed real all day … all day!
As Mansbridge and Hiscox talked ... they brought in others, each talking about what Jack Layton meant to them.
Gradually, panels of newsmen, groups of M.P.s, the NDP management team, faces from the past and others sat in and gave their views of Layton the politician, Layton the friend, Layton the force for progress. It included Stockwell Day and Stephen Harper, everyone (except Tom Flanagan) talking about the positive force for good, which was Jack Layton.
It was still going on 12 hours later. Next day, still going on!! Sad? Well, yes. But something else, something really important: I'm feeling joy ... yes, joy because of this reassurance that Canadians have got it right, after all. This is what I saw and felt, because of the CBC tribute to Jack Layton's work:
* Bravo CBC, to have summoned up the courage to do a flat-out, full-day tribute to someone from the NDP (unheard-of!), and I'm impressed!
* it's the first time in YEARS that I've seen CBC in its role of nation-builder, and I'm feeling better, stronger, more grounded in things I do believe in, that is: Canada; and yesterday that included the plane crash in Nunavut. It was pure CBC.
* So CBC is still strong, still attuned to this nation, and still able (as no private-for-profit broadcaster could be) to serve the country well.
* Nobody needed to say a word about U.S. "similarities" ... it was All Canada, All the way, All Day Long (and it's still going on).
* The massive public outpouring of sympathy and appreciation means that the usual hard-nose rulers won’t risk kicking CBC around on this point, and I hope that the public will remember to thank and support CBC forevermore ...
* The public has had their first chance to actually see the heart and soul of a party dedicated to making things better. And this is a good thing … a long overdue thing. It could make all the difference.
I love it that Jack Layton's funeral will be held in Roy Thomson Hall. Not "Lord" Thomson but Roy Thomson Hall. All Canadian, all the way, in the heart of Canada's biggest city.
One spot of nastiness (and only one occurrence) came from Tom Flanagan who simply couldn't find his humanity or any respect for what Canadians feel; Flanagan alone said snarkily "It isn't up to Harper to make the Opposition feel comfortable". I'd like to vote Flanagan off the continent immediately for that vulgar attempt to keep playing the politics of division (so beloved of the Manning/Harper gang).
Grateful thanks to everyone at CBC for remembering who you were always supposed to be: the heart and soul of an honourable nation. Blessings!
Monday, August 22, 2011
Erik Bornmann wins his Class L1 licence.
The Law Society of Upper Canada [LSUC] has sent me three fascinating files:
* Reasons for decision
* Dissenting reasons for decision
* Decision & Order on applicant's application for Class L1 licence is granted.
It seems to be "privileged" information ... so will follow up with more info. later, if possible.
BC Mary comment: On this day, August 22, 2011, the flag on the Peace Tower in Ottawa is flying at half-staff to mark the death of Jack Layton.
How is it possible that the same day is marked by such a ludicrous event as the anointing of Erik Bornmann? The thought is sickening. So I borrow from Bill Tieleman who wrote an excellent column on the Bornmann victory:
Erik Bornmann granted right to become Ontario lawyer despite bribes to BC government officials Basi and Virk in BC Rail case
By BILL TIELEMAN,
QMI AGENCY - 24 HOURS
VANCOUVER - August 22, 2011
Despite admitting to bribing ex-B.C. government officials David Basi and Bob Virk in exchange for confidential information on the 2003 sale of B.C. Rail, Erik Bornmann can become an Ontario lawyer.
The controversial decision by the Law Society of Upper Canada grants Bornmann the “good character” needed to be licensed as a lawyer but one of three panel members disagreed, saying the former B.C. lobbyist should be disqualified because of his past “criminal” actions.
Panel member Andrew Oliver wrote in his dissenting opinion that: “Bornmann’s criminal misconduct was serious, and, apparently, long standing.”
“There was no honour among thieves: Bornmann compounded his criminal activity by betraying the very people he had bribed,” Oliver says, referring to Basi and Virk.
The majority decision written by Thomas Conway and Mary Louise Dickson agrees Bornmann’s “misconduct was serious” but that his “remorse was genuine and profound,” leading them to believe he has been rehabilitated and “is presently of good character”.
Sunday, August 21, 2011
First it was BC Rail. Next it's BC Hydro. Can't we stop the madness!
Rafe Mair (former Socred Cabinet Minister) continues to warn us:
Hydro Chief's Leaked Comments Trash IPPs - What Will Clark do Now?
You could have blown me over with a feather when I read in the Weekend Sun excerpts of an internal conference call in which Dave Cobb, president of Hydro, condemns the government's IPP policy. Cobb pulled no punches, detailing his concerns with the government's exaggerated "self-sufficiency" and "insurance" requirements: "If it doesn't change, it would be hundreds of millions of dollars per year that we would be spending of our ratepayers' money with no value in return...Government has to make a change."
Read the Rafe Mair article HERE:
See also David Cobb, president of BC Hydro, as reported by Chad Skelton in Vancouver Sun - August 20, 2011:
Trainmen at work
Saturday, August 20, 2011
RELIEF GRANTED: Oral reasons for judgment on Basi-Virk legal fees
Again, special thanks to "Secondlook" for searching out The Honourable Justice Greyell's order and Reasons for Judgment dated August 10, 2011 in favour of the BC Auditor General ...
RELIEF GRANTED - British Columbia (Auditor General) v. Butler, application by Auditor General for access to and production of documents and records in the possession of Richard Butler and the Province concerning Basi and Virk pertaining to legal fees.
65] As noted, Messrs. Virk and Basi are now unrepresented.
 The privilege and arising confidentiality belongs to the client: that is, the privilege belongs to Messrs. Basi and Virk. It is only [the] client who can choose to waive such privilege. Such waiver must be clear and unequivocal.
 I am satisfied on a review of the background of this matter, and after reviewing the communications passing between Messrs. Virk and Basi and counsel for the Auditor General as set out above, that in this case both Messrs. Virk and Basi have chosen, with full knowledge of their rights, to waive such rights to any existing privilege and confidentiality they may have to documents in the possession of the Province as requested by the Auditor General for the expressed purpose of, and for no other purpose, than enabling the Auditor General to conduct his inquiry and examination pursuant to this Act ...
It's all HERE ...and Google has had it listed as such for 41 minutes last time I looked ... but when I try to get into this site I get the "Error" message. Best thing is to wait a while and try again ... or ... cut and paste the URL into your browser.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
News of the World is us
BC Mary comment: This isn't precisely about BC Rail ... it is about the all-important news media: how it works, how it fails, and especially what happens when it fails. That, to my mind, makes it relevant to what happened to us in the BC Rail affair.
Rarely do we see this kind of media investigation ... and there are things to be learned: startling similarities as well as surprising differences ... for one example, the Brits are going after "persons of interest" while the police in BC at the time of the Legislature raids assured us that no elected official was under investigation (we now know that 2 weeks earlier, the BC Minister of Finance was under police surveillance, as he dined in a public restaurant with two executives from one of the bidding railroads). And so on ... for 6 years ... and then a trial abruptly high-jacked before it could have provided some credible facts.
I couldn't help but smile, this week, when the British police scolded the British prime minister for hiring the so-called "American super-cop" to parachute into London and explain how to manage criminal gangs. Like, wasn't that a desperate ploy on the part of Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron to change the subject?
The British cops did right thing. Their honest outrage was immediately understood (remember RCMP Staff Sgt John Ward telling us some inconvenient truths, the day after police raided the BC Legislature? Ward suffered for that, wrongfully I believe).
The forthright statement from British police seemed to snatch the fig-leaf away from a major figure in the whole News of the World meltdown. After all, the British prime minister had given Rupert Murdoch back-door access to his home!
If only somebody in B. C. with gonads had invited Gordon Campbell to appear before a parliamentary committee and explain a few things about BC Rail under oath. But no, for BC and for BC Rail the news media put on a relentless look-away ... and now, there are so many parallels with Stephen Harper sending Gordon Campbell to London ...
Former News of the World journalist arrested
The Independent (U.K.)
Thursday, 18 August 2011
Another former News of the World journalist was being questioned today by detectives investigating phone hacking.
The 38-year-old - reported to be ex-US editor James Desborough - was arrested on suspicion of conspiring to intercept communications after arriving by appointment at a south London police station, Scotland Yard said.
Related articles in The Independent:
Leslie Ash and Lee Chapman settle hack claim
Chancellor was targeted by News of the World's hacker, says dominatrix
Fresh links between murdered investigator and NOTW
Chris Bryant: There must be no impunity
Brooks holds on to her NI chauffeur-driven limousine
Search the news archive for more stories
He becomes the 13th arrest of the fresh investigations into criminal activities at the Sunday tabloid.
Desborough, who joined the News of the World in 2005, moved to America in 2009 having won a British Press Award for a series of showbiz scoops.
A Scotland Yard spokesman said the suspect remains in custody over allegations of intercepting voicemails.
The arrest comes a day after allegations of misconduct against former Metropolitan Police commissioner Sir Paul Stephenson were dismissed by the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC).
Scotland Yard's fresh investigation into phone hacking was launched in January.
A series of high-profile figures have been arrested, including former News International chief executive Rebekah Brooks and ex-Downing Street communications chief Andy Coulson.
The scandal has already caused the closure of the News of the World after 168 years and the resignation of Sir Paul and assistant commissioner John Yates.
Desborough, whose exclusives include TV host Fern Britton getting a gastric band fitted, was named as a suspect in a leak to the Guardian newspaper.
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
How high is this High Commissioner?
Huffington Post's caption of so called High Commissioner Campbell.
Hmmmmm - a picture speaks a thousand words and it would appear that the man's lack of respect is far and wide:
[Maybe Nancy planted that kick?]
BCRail? BCFerries? BC Hydro? By golly, they're beginning to notice these things ...
BC Mary says: By golly, they're beginning to notice things at the Williams Lake Tribune ...
Hydro’s future at stake
By Diana French - Williams Lake Tribune
Published: August 16, 2011
A government-appointed panel did a quickie review of BC Hydro’s operations and found them wanting in the finance department.
What was our pride and joy is not only over-staffed, staff members are grossly over-paid.
The Fraser Institute says that’s to be expected because government agencies always have more staff, and better paid staff, than the private sector. Columnist Paul Willcocks wondered how the Hydro board and successive energy ministers let this happen.
Good question. How can things go so wrong when the government, (in this case the Campbell government) appointed both the Hydro board members and the responsible ministers. Did Mr. C appoint the wrong people? Or do ordinarily astute business people lose it when they get managing a Crown corporation? Simon Fraser University professor Marjorie Griffen Cohen, a former Hydro board member, says the Crown corporation is paying too much money for the power it buys from private companies.
Activists Rafe Mair and Damien Gillis, who have been sounding the alarm for some years, believe the B.C. government is moving to privatize BC Hydro (like BC Ferries and BC Rail). They see run-of-the-river projects in our rivers along with the end of public power.
The panel recommendations may be useful for an election-hungry Premier Christy Clark, but columnist Vaughn Palmer sees them as short-term gain for long-term pain.
For more than five decades, BC Hydro has provided low-cost power to residents, businesses and industry, making this province an attractive place to live and do business. Will that end?
The future of BC Hydro is at stake here. Let’s hope energy minister Rich Coleman and Premier Clark see the future more clearly than their predecessors did.
Parting thought. The panel recommends eliminating 1,000 jobs from the 6,000 BC Hydro work force. Will those eliminated jobs come from the top or the bottom of the pay scale?
Diana French is a freelance columnist for the Tribune. She is a former Tribune editor, retired teacher, historian, and book author.
Monday, August 15, 2011
Gordon Campbell named high commissioner to the United Kingdom
By Peter O'Neil
Postmedia News - Aug 15, 2011
OTTAWA - Former B.C. premier Gordon Campbell, who left office earlier this year, was confirmed Monday for one of the most prestigious posts in the Canadian diplomatic corps.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper named the ex-Liberal leader as high commissioner to the United Kingdom, making him one of the key Canadian players engaged in a vigourous defence of the Canadian oil sands industry in Europe.
"Gordon Campbell has contributed much to public life in British Columbia, serving as mayor of Vancouver and premier of British Columbia with distinction,” his successor, Premier Christy Clark, said in a statement.
One of Campbell’s assignments will be to convince Britain and the European Union to back off plans to issue the so-called fuel quality directive that, according to Canada, would unfairly discriminate against the oil sands sector.
While Canada’s oil sands exports to Europe are currently negligible, both the federal and Alberta governments fear the “dirty oil” label could trigger similar action in the U.S.
Read more HERE:
Yaffe report is HERE:
Clearly, Campbell's posture made life politically easier for Harper in a province where he and his Conservatives rely on winning a lot of seats.
In May, the Conservatives won 21 of B.C.'s 36 seats, without which Harper would not have achieved his majority government.
The Campbell appointment is not entirely out of left field. Unlike traditional Grits, the Campbell Liberals were largely of the same political persuasion as the Harper Conservatives.
End of quote.
Introduction to CANADA HOUSE, where our High Commissioner lives and works, click HERE:
It's our media too: and we should be aware that the corruption exposed at the News of the World is not the work of a "rogue" element within News Corp. — it's a reflection of the lawless culture that defines the company.
BC Mary comment: So it's "Throw 'em all in jail" time in Canada, is it? Check out the list of crooks, eh?
Rupert Murdoch's American Scandals
All the corruption exposed in England – hacking, political payoffs, dirty cops, hush-money settlements – is also happening here [in North America].
by: Tim Dickinson
The Rolling Stone - August 18, 2011
As CEO, Murdoch not only tolerates employees and executives who push the boundaries of legality and good taste, he celebrates them — at least until the cops show up.
Rupert Murdoch would like you to believe that the voicemail-hacking scandal at the News of the World "went against everything that I stand for." In his recent testimony before Parliament, the 80-year-old billionaire insisted that the criminal wrongdoing at the London tabloid betrayed the 53,000 "ethical and distinguished professionals" he commands from the pinnacle of News Corp. — the world's second-largest media empire. Besides, he claimed, the scandal at the News of the World involved "a tiny part of our business," which he helpfully quantified as "less than one percent of our company."
At first glance, the systemic campaign of bribery and wiretapping at the News of the World certainly does seem extraordinary. Reporters and editors at what was the largest-circulation Sunday paper in the English-speaking world stand accused of bribing police, hacking the private voicemails of everyone from the royal family to the parents of soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and paying more than $2 million in gag settlements to victims — allegedly with the full knowledge of Murdoch's son and heir apparent, James.
But the corruption exposed at the News of the World is not the work of a "rogue" element within News Corp. — it's a reflection of the lawless culture that defines the company. As CEO, Murdoch not only tolerates employees and executives who push the boundaries of legality and good taste, he celebrates them — at least until the cops show up. "There's a broader culture within the company," Col Allan, editor of Murdoch's New York Post, crowed in 2007. "We like being pirates." Whatever veneer of integrity News Corp. may have accrued after its purchase of The Wall Street Journal the very same year masks an ingrained corporate ethos that believes integrity is for suckers. The attitude passed down from the top, says one veteran of Murdoch's tabloids, is aggressive and straightforward: "Anything we do is OK. We're News Corp. — so fuck you and fuck your mother."
Indeed, an examination of Murdoch's corporate history reveals that each of the elements of the scandal in London – hacking, thuggish reporting tactics, unethical entanglements with police, hush-money settlements and efforts to corrupt officials at the highest levels of government – extend far beyond Fleet Street. Over the past decade, News Corp. has systematically employed such tactics in its U.S. operations, exhibiting what a recent lawsuit filed against the firm calls a "culture run amok." As a former high-ranking News Corp. executive tells Rolling Stone: "It's the same shit, different day."
HACKING AND HUSH MONEY
News America Marketing, a News Corp. subsidiary based in Connecticut, has been accused of engaging in "illegal computer espionage," repeatedly hacking a rival firm's computer system between 2003 and 2004 — a period that happens to coincide with NOTW's voicemail hacking in London. According to a lawsuit against News America, which dominates the lucrative market for ads on supermarket shelves and shopping carts, the Murdoch subsidiary grew alarmed when a competitor called Floorgraphics Inc. entered the market in the late 1990s with a novel concept — ad decals pasted on supermarket aisles. Paul Carlucci, the CEO of News America, responded by convening a meeting with FGI executives and allegedly delivering a Mafia like ultimatum: Sell to Murdoch or be destroyed. "I work for a man who wants it all," Carlucci warned, "and doesn't understand anyone telling him he can't have it all."
When FGI rebuffed the takeover bid, according to a lawsuit the company filed in 2004, News America embarked on a campaign of "illegal, anti-competitive and unfair business practices." After hacking into FGI's database, the suit alleged, News America used the information to steal away top clients like Safeway, effectively destroying its rival's business. FGI petitioned Chris Christie, then a U.S. attorney, to launch a criminal investigation into the alleged hacking, but the future governor of New Jersey refused to file charges. By then, the damage was done. News America was able to snap up FGI for $30 million — not only achieving Murdoch's original goal of market domination but also quashing FGI's lawsuit in the process.
News Corp. shareholders have paid far more to hush up other complaints about News America's monopolistic abuses. To box out two more rival firms, Valassis Communications and Insignia, News America used its market position to hike ad rates for supermarket clients who refused to also advertise in Murdoch newspaper circulars. "It feels like they are raping us and they enjoy it," an executive at Sara Lee complained. In 2009, a Michigan court awarded Valassis $300 million for News America's illegal attempt to corner the market. News Corp. eventually silenced the affair with a $500 million payment to Valassis that blocked the threat of further litigation. It also reached a $125 million settlement with Insignia. The combined settlements of $655 million more than wiped out the profits News Corp. reaped from its record box-office smash Avatar.
THUGGISH REPORTING Instead of firing the man responsible for the legal and financial fiasco at News America, Murdoch promoted him. In addition to serving as CEO of News America, Carlucci was tapped in 2005 to become publisher of Murdoch's flagship American tabloid, the New York Post. Under Carlucci's leadership, the two businesses appear to have drawn inspiration from a similar source: organized crime. Carlucci reportedly encouraged teamwork at News America by showing his salesmen a clip from The Untouchables in which Al Capone brains a disloyal deputy with a baseball bat. And shortly after Carlucci arrived at the Post, the newspaper was rocked by a scandal in which a star Page Six reporter allegedly attempted to shake down billionaire Ron Burkle for "protection" from the gossip sheet, telling him, "It's a little like the Mafia."
Burkle secretly recorded Page Six reporter Jared Stern offering to go easy on him in the gossip sheet in exchange for a hefty payoff. "We know how to destroy people," Stern reportedly threatened. "It's what we do." To shield himself from character assassination, Stern allegedly suggested, Burkle could make a one-time payment of $100,000, followed by monthly installments of $10,000.
News Corp. axed Stern, dismissing him as a rogue reporter and calling his behavior "highly aberrational." But according to a 2007 affidavit by a fellow Post veteran, the alleged shakedown was an integral part of the company's culture. "The spineless hypocrites in senior management at the New York Post and News Corp. have always used 'expendable' employees as scapegoats for the misdeeds of its senior executives," Post reporter Ian Spiegelman testified. Spiegelman revealed that Page Six's top editor Richard Johnson and two others had accepted cash from a restaurateur whose business had received a positive mention the day before. Johnson also allegedly accepted a $50,000 all-expenses-paid bachelor party to Mexico from Joe Francis, the founder of Girls Gone Wild, whom the Post subsequently hyped as "the next Hugh Hefner." Spiegelman further charged that Col Allan, the Post's top editor, received free lap dances at the strip club Scores in return for favorable coverage by the paper.
News Corp. conceded that Johnson had accepted a $1,000 "gift," but Murdoch let the editor off with a reprimand. Indeed, as Murdoch biographer Michael Wolff later observed, the incident only served to enhance Johnson's reputation. "The bribery business actually seemed to confirm Johnson's status for Murdoch as an old-time, walk-on-the-wild-side, dangerous, rule-bucking, proudly cynical newsman," Wolff concluded. Insiders make clear that the worst impulses exhibited by the Post and other News Corp. publications come directly from the top. "Murdoch tries to wash his hands of everything when it's convenient and pretend he has no involvement in the day-to-day running of the paper — which is just nonsense," says a former Post reporter. "He's always been very hands-on. There were no major decisions taken, even at Page Six, where Murdoch's interests would not be considered."
POLITICAL CORRUPTION Murdoch has built News Corp. into a media empire second only to Disney by horse-trading editorial support for political favors, repeatedly persuading officials at the highest levels of government to bend, break or rewrite rules meant to safeguard the public interest. "Murdoch has made himself almost a partner of certain political movements," says Reed Hundt, who tried to rein in monopolistic practices by media giants like News Corp. as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. "Politicians believe he's going to win in the end, so why tangle with him?"
Long before the rise of Fox News, Murdoch used News Corp. to influence friends in high places. Shortly after purchasing the Post in 1977, he plucked Ed Koch out of obscurity and used the tabloid to propel him into Gracie Mansion. "I couldn't have been elected without Rupert Murdoch's support," Koch said later. "Suddenly I was mayor of New York." In 1980, when Jimmy Carter was battling Ted Kennedy for the Democratic nomination and badly needed a primary win in New York, the Post endorsed the president. Six days later, Murdoch received a $290 million loan from the federal government to bail out one of his Australian companies. News Corp. received an even bigger payoff after it gave House Speaker Newt Gingrich a $4.5 million book deal in 1994 — just as Congress began debating a new law that removed federal restrictions on Murdoch's media holdings. Under George W. Bush, who owed his election in large part to the inaccurate and biased reporting of Fox News, the FCC blocked the sale of DirecTV to a News Corp. rival, then rubber-stamped its acquisition by Murdoch.
But Murdoch's coziest political bond has been with Rudy Giuliani. In 1994, Giuliani was elected mayor of New York by a narrow margin, thanks largely to the full-bore support of the Post. With Giuliani in office, the Post continued to back the mayor so slavishly that Rep. Charlie Rangel took to calling it the City Hall Post. News Corp. even hired Giuliani's wife, Donna Hanover, as a Fox television reporter, quickly quadrupling her salary to $123,000.
Giuliani was not shy about rewarding his media patron. When Murdoch moved News Corp. into its current Midtown headquarters, the mayor secured the company a tax break worth more than $20 million. Then, when Time Warner tried to keep Murdoch out of the New York market in 1996 by refusing to give Fox News a spot in its cable lineups, Giuliani threatened to revoke Time Warner's cable franchise and offered to air Fox News on one of the city's public-access channels. A federal judge blocked the move, upbraiding the mayor for acting "to reward a friend and to further a particular viewpoint." But the rank political favoritism paid off: During Giuliani's first term, according to a study by researchers at the University of Southern California, not a single negative editorial about him appeared in the Post.
POLITCAL ENTANGLEMENTS Just as the News of the World scandal toppled the head of Scotland Yard, News Corp. also brought down one of America's top cops. In 2001, one of Murdoch's publishing chiefs, Judith Regan, signed New York Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik to a book advance worth six figures. In an affair worthy of Page Six, the News Corp. executive was soon literally in bed with the police czar, meeting for sex in an apartment overlooking Ground Zero that was intended to house exhausted recovery workers. Before long, Kerik was tasking NYPD officers as if they were Regan's personal bodyguards, at one point reportedly dispatching them to track down the publisher's lost cellphone.
According to a source familiar with details of the affair, the relationship soured when Regan tried to break it off. Unable to call the cops, she confided in fellow News Corp. executive Roger Ailes, the head of Fox News, hoping he could get Giuliani to rein in Kerik. But Ailes was more concerned about the political fallout. According to legal filings by Regan, Ailes anticipated the damage the scandal could cause the mayor and personally confronted Murdoch, telling him that Regan was "out of control." Ailes grew even more concerned in 2004, when President Bush nominated Kerik — by then a senior vice president in Giuliani's national security firm — to head the Department of Homeland Security. If Regan disclosed her tawdry ties to the former commissioner, Ailes feared, it might harm Kerik's nomination and "more importantly, Giuliani's planned presidential campaign."
To keep the affair hush-hush, Ailes "advised Regan to lie to and withhold information from investigators," and even coached her on limiting her disclosures "as is typically done when Fox News on-air talent receive their 'talking points.'" The alleged obstruction of justice by Ailes has since made headlines, but Regan also fingered "another News Corp. executive," whom she claimed advised her "not to produce clearly relevant documents in connection with a governmental investigation of Kerik."
Regan laid these allegations bare in a wrongful-termination lawsuit she filed in 2007. As it did with its accusers in London, News Corp. moved to paper over the matter by reaching a settlement with Regan worth more than $10 million. The only one punished in the Kerik affair was Kerik himself, who was sentenced to four years in prison for lying to federal investigators and failing to report income from a News Corp. book advance to the IRS.
Murdoch may soon find himself in even deeper trouble for his dealings with New York police. The Justice Department is currently investigating allegations that News Corp. reporters tried to bribe a New York cop, seeking to hack the phones of 9/11 victims — a charge that has outraged even the staunchest Fox News Republicans. "It is revolting to imagine that members of the media would seek to compromise the integrity of a public official for financial gain in the pursuit of yellow journalism," Rep. Peter King of New York wrote in a letter to FBI director Robert Mueller, demanding that any wrongdoing be met with the "harshest sanctions available under law."
But the "revolting" practice that King describes is actually at the core of Murdoch's business model. Until the News of the World scandal became public, deplorable judgment and even outright criminal behavior have not been firing offenses for Murdoch's top deputies, either in London or New York. A willingness to push the boundaries of the law and common decency, in fact, is what has made Murdoch a billionaire nearly eight times over. Murdoch himself has bragged of possessing files, replete with photographs detailing the sexual escapades of prominent liberals. You know, for leverage. All of which makes laughable Murdoch's claim before Parliament that "I'm the best person to clean this up."
The phone-hacking scandal engulfing News Corp. has led members of the extended Bancroft clan that sold The Wall Street Journal to Murdoch to repent of their decision — even though they received what amounted to a $3 billion overpayment from News Corp. for the paper. "Murdoch thinks he is completely above the law, as he always has," former top shareholder Bill Cox III recently told ProPublica. "We made a deal with the devil."
The sharks are already circling in England, where politicians long cowed by Murdoch's bullying now appear determined to curb News Corp.'s influence. Labor Party leader Ed Miliband, decrying Murdoch for having "too much power over British public life," has called for a breakup of his U.K. holdings. Here in the United States, institutional shareholders filed suit in July, seeking to change News Corp. from the inside by reforming its board of hand-appointed cronies. The board, the suit claims, has "abdicated its fiduciary duties" by enabling Murdoch to run the publicly-traded News Corp. "without any restraints on his pursuit of his political and personal agendas, which has led the company to engage in improper and illegal conduct."
The lawsuit highlights Murdoch's outrageous pay: He's pocketed $75 million in compensation over the past three years, even as News Corp.'s stock has yielded a negative return. It also blasts his "rampant nepotism," noting the extravagant overpayment he made to acquire his daughter Elizabeth's production company, Shine — a deal that made her $250 million richer at the expense of the company. But even as Murdoch's children have come back into the News Corp. fold, his dreams of creating a media dynasty have never been more troubled. As the fallout from the hacking scandal continues in London, the News of the World's former editor is accusing heir apparent James Murdoch of lying to Parliament about his knowledge of the hush money paid to hacking victims.
As each News of the World revelation exposes the root and branch of corruption at News Corp., the increasingly desperate Murdoch has responded by hacking off branches. In removing Les Hinton, the publisher of The Wall Street Journal, he cut off an executive he once said he would trust his life to. In getting rid of Rebekah Brooks at News of the World, he abandoned a deputy he favored like a daughter. Son James now looks like the next branch to go. But until Rupert Murdoch sees fit to remove himself, the root of all that's vile at News Corp. will remain the same.
Source is HERE.
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Lawyers' Group balks at Harper's get-tough-on-crime agenda
By Kirk Makin - Justice Reporter
The Globe and Mail - August 14, 2011.
HALIFAX - The country’s foremost legal organization has delivered a grim assessment of the Harper government’s get-tough-on-crime agenda, attacking mandatory minimum sentences and questioning Ottawa’s eagerness to put offenders behind bars.
With a series of blunt statements and policy resolutions, the Canadian Bar Association’s annual conference bristled at inaccessible courts, inappropriate jailing of mentally ill offenders and costly measures that threaten to pack prisons.
Resolutions passed by the CBA governing council meeting Sunday urged accurate costing of government measures and the creation of a “safety valve” that would permit judges to shuck off the straitjacket of mandatory minimum sentences in cases where it would cause an injustice.
Conservative Justice Minister Rob Nicholson arrives Monday to face questioning at the hands of his legal confreres, whose skepticism promises sparks.
Mr. Nicholson will almost certainly be called upon to address prison overcrowding, a proliferation of mandatory minimums, a lack of community resources to handle mentally ill offenders who languish in jails and the cost of the Tories’ tough-on-crime policies.
After several years of highlighting its crime agenda only to have opposition parties thwart the passage of its bills, Mr. Nicholson has pledged to bundle all of the unpassed laws into an omnibus bill that would become law within 100 sitting days of the new Parliament.
It includes eliminating pardons for serious crimes, adding maximum minimum penalties for certain drug offenders and sexual predators, and cracking down on bail for violent, young offenders.
The government has previously succeeded in passing laws creating new mandatory minimum offences, preventing offenders from being granted extra consideration for time spent in pretrial custody and eliminating early parole for first-degree murderers.
The CBA resolutions were passed unanimously after speeches that denounced the federal government for ignoring a host of data showing that Conservative crime measures run counter to expert opinion and falling crime rates.
The resolutions came on the heels of a Saturday speech in which Chief Justice Beverley McLachlin revealed that an international survey ranked Canada ninth out of 12 European and North American countries when it comes to access to the court system.
The finding – by the World Justice Institute – underlines the fact that justice is increasingly available only to the wealthy or a small minority who are so poor that they qualify for legal-aid programs, she said.
“This is not terrible, but it shows that we are not doing as well as we should,” Chief Justice McLachlin said. “I think the Canadian Bar Association and other groups concerned about justice have to recognize that this is an area in our justice system that needs attention.”
Chief Justice McLachlin urged lawyers to move forward swiftly with programs aimed at promoting access to the courts, including free “diagnosis” of legal problems, expanding legal-insurance plans and subdividing complex cases to make them more affordable, and providing services pro bono.
She also decried the number of mentally ill offenders who end up behind bars or in a “revolving door” where they spend time in police custody or jail and are released after a few days.
The issue is a top priority for police, prosecutors and judges she has spoken to, Chief Justice McLachlin said.
Among the problems, she said, is the lack of beds for mentally ill offenders requiring psychological assessments, particularly young people.
“We still have work to do,” the Chief Justice said. “But the good news is … there’s much more public awareness of mental illness and its interplay and how it affects the justice system ...”
The full story is HERE.
Footnotes: Big Media itself will be making more "insider" news this week, as FBI widens its U.S. inquiry into Rupert Murdoch's news empire (News Corporation) beyond its 9/11 hacking.
That story is HERE.
And in Norway, police have taken Anders Breivik back to the scene of his heinous crime to provide further information.
Click HERE for that story.
Another massive loss. First it was BC Rail. Now BC Hydro ...
Hydro Panel Report: Death Knell for BC's Public Power?
By Rafe Mair
Commonsense Canadian - August 14, 2011
Mark down August 12, 2011 as the day BC Hydro all but concluded its suicide mission, with the Campbell/Clark government and its Review Panel playing the role of Dr Jack Kervorkian.
When you sort through the announcement by Rich Coleman and the verbose report itself, you learn that BC Hydro will cut its future costs by 50%, which in practical terms means this: Hydro will be unable to upgrade its facilities, which means they will buy more and more power from private power producers, thus fulfilling the Campbell/Clark government’s ambition to privatize power in BC ...
Read Rafe Mair's complete article:
Saturday, August 13, 2011
Books open on BC Rail trial legal fees ... what's missing from this news?
Books open on BC Rail trial legal fees
By TAMSYN BURGMAN
The Canadian Press
The Globe and Mail - August 10, 2011
For the source, click HERE:
VANCOUVER -- British Columbia's auditor general is reviewing the controversial $6-million payout for two former government employees who [after YEARS in BC Supreme Court and outside, saying they were NOT guilty - BC Mary] pleaded guilty in the BC Rail scandal,
but it's not clear if the public will get its own glimpse. [And this is the outrageous omission. It's time for the BC Opposition's justice critic to get up off his skinny ass, demand and insist upon a Full Public Inquiry into the still-hidden parts of the tainted deal which cost BC its railway, and begin to earn his fat paycheques. If John Doyle can do it, Leonard Krog can do it. - BCM.]
Confidential documents laying out the plea agreement that ended the trial last fall have been released to the auditor general after a B.C. Supreme Court ruling, posted online this week.
John Doyle can now sift through the records giving an accounting of the province's decision to foot the costs for former ministerial aides Dave Basi and Bobby Virk, a deal that drew criticism from the Opposition NDP not only for its size but surrounding secrecy.
The pair sat through a halting six-month trial last year that abruptly concluded in October with surprise guilty pleas to charges of breach of trust and accepting bribes. They were sentenced to two years house arrest.
Mr. Doyle asked the courts in mid-June to compel the government to open the books, stating the information was necessary to fulfilling his duties examining its finances ...
Requests in November and February were denied because Mr. Basi and Mr. Virk were accused of leaking information related to the 2002 privatization sale of Crown-owned BC Rail.
BC Mary comment: Now would be a good time to press ahead for a full public inquiry into the worrying details of how Canada's 3rd largest railway could slip from public ownership into private pockets without British Columbians ever being consulted or even allowed to see all the terms of that BCR-CN deal.
It's possible that criminal charges should be laid. That is ... if we keep asking the right questions, soon enough. Is there a Statute of Limitations at work here?
John Doyle is setting a fine example ... he asked, he asked, he kept asking, he went to BC Supreme Court ... and he got the answer he needed ... Bravo, John Doyle!
but if we, the public, are not "allowed" to see even this limited bit of information, it means we don't get anything from this except the bill for $6million.
Battle-weary British Columbians know that the big questions remain unanswered: How did we lose control of a priceless public asset like BC Rail? Who is responsible for that? And if the BCR-CN was so badly tainted that it scuttled the pending sell-off of the Roberts Bank assets, doesn't that strongly suggest ... ahem ... that the damn BCR-CN deal was knowingly visibly tainted right from before the deal was signed?
Seriously: are there never any consequences to making a solemn election promise ("I will not sell BC Rail") and then selling BC Rail ... and "selling" it for chump change at that. Sorta like giving BCRail away.
Why? Why? Why?
Thursday, August 11, 2011
Sympathetic picket line at the railway station, eh?
BC Mary comment: This isn't BC Rail ... but it should be, and in a kinder, gentler world, it would be. Rocky Mountain arose out of the same circumstances as undid BC Rail. My view.
In that light, the following report is very informative ...
Sympathetic picket line greets Rocky Mountaineer Railtour tourists
Locked out Rocky Mountaineer workers rallied with supporters as the train rolled into Kamloops Wednesday night.
By Mike Youds
Daily News Staff Reporter - August 10, 2011
Rocky Mountaineer Railtour passengers took in a sight Wednesday night that wasn't on the Kamloops itinerary — a clutch of demonstrators, some with children in arms, holding placards high to protest a two-month lockout.
Despite a looming thunderstorm, about 30 people joined a half dozen workers at the Lorne Street train station to form a sympathetic picket line as the train arrived an hour behind schedule.
More than 100 onboard attendants have been off the job since July 23, when the company served lockout notice and brought in replacement workers. That pre-empted an earlier strike notice from Teamsters Local 31.
While hiring replacement workers is illegal in B.C., the railway is federally regulated, amounting to a loophole.
"It's offensive to us all in a sense, right under the noses of workers who invested a great deal in the rail service," said Don Wilson, one of several public-school teachers who turned out.
Jackie Hannington, a tourist from England, said she cancelled her plans to take the scenic rail tour when she learned of the company's action. She wore a placard declaring, "I won't be served by scab labour."
Passengers gazed out their windows at the picket line as they prepared to disembark onto waiting coaches. It wasn't the first picket line in Kamloops and they have been steady in Vancouver.
"The right to strike and the right of the employer to lock out are part of the collective bargaining system, but certainly it's better to negotiate an agreement," said Garry Worth, a retired union member. "I hope they're not trying to bust the union. And I think Kamloops workers should stand up and be counted."
Five of the locked out attendants drove from Vancouver to join the picket but none of them would agree to be interviewed. They were being videotaped by hired security staff, who monitored every move the protesters made, even when they sought shelter from the rain under the Red Bridge.
One of the workers said they have already been subject to letters of discipline for speaking out and taking part in peaceful pickets.
The attendants are former Canadian Auto Workers members who joined the Teamsters Union earlier this year and were without a collective agreement after their previous contract expired in February.
Rod Blackburn, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 31, said from Vancouver that the company has not returned to bargaining.
"They keep saying they're trying to negotiate but they have talked to us for a month," Blackburn said. Meanwhile the union has been served with a series of injunctions, one of which goes before the Supreme Court of British Columbia Thursday.
Vancouver City Council and B.C. Federation of Labour have asked the company to bargain in good faith. MLA Shane Simpson sent a letter to Premier Christy Clark urging her to raise the dispute with company management.
Tom Friedman, New Democrat nominee in Kamloops-South Kamloops, said it appears only a decline in quality of service and turnover among replacement workers might bring the company back to the table.
"We think it's a shame because Kamloops relies on the tourism industry. Will the tourists return when they have experienced this?"
The provincial government has a role to play in bringing the two sides together, he added.
"Just because you can do something doesn't mean you should do something," said Kathy Kendall, Friedman's counterpart in Kamloops-North Thompson. "And in the long term, it could hurt tourism. It's a hard time for unions right now and I think we should stand up and support them."
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
BC Rail "Detectives" alert!
BC Mary note: E.M. has provided valuable information for public access to court records of BC Supreme Court. I urge readers who have time and expertise to follow up these leads ... especially since there seems to be more information coming out elsewhere this week ... and I cannot always do sufficient "due diligence" on all that.
I am grateful to E.M., and all who continue this honourable search for justice.
E.M has left a new comment on your post "Basi Virk Basi $6million details expected Thursday...":
B I N G O CSO(Court Services Online) online June 30th 2011
VIRK, Bobby Singh
AUDITOR GENERAL OF BRITISH COLUMBIA v BUTLER, Richard
There is a 6.00 fee (I thought They stopped charging) This is under civil, the date file opended June 21/11-date last updated June 20/11. FILE # 114223 Supreme.Civil, Vancouver Law Courts.
note 4 other Files related to Bob Virk since 2007 which are small claims court. Civil, Vancouver Law Courts.
Will check again, but did not find anything under Basi.
For the 6$ fee-File number
Type of file
Date the file was opened
Style of cause
Names of parties and counsel
List of filed documents
Terms of order
Also I used to be able to search (which I did for Bains for free, I could see all court appearance dates (for Basi and Virk, but now it says "NOTE: There is no ability to view court documents within the traffic/criminal e-Search service.
Please note that e-Search does not provide access to any of the following:
Criminal matters (Supreme)
Posted by E.M to The Legislature Raids at 10 August, 2011
Tuesday, August 09, 2011
Basi Virk Basi $6million details expected Thursday in BC Supreme Court?
all (and undoubtedly more) running the same Vancouver-based story from long, long ago ... but datelined August 8, 2011. See for yourself:
Basi, Virk got $50,000 from BC Rail bidder: Crown
Ministers’ aides given NFL tickets, trips and meals, prosecutor says
By Neal Hall and Lori Culbert,
Vancouver Sun - August 8, 2011
Read more HERE:
Then, also, there's this, sorta like tucked away as an afterthought:
Basi-Virk Trial: Auditor wants tale behind $6m payout
Court expected to decide Thursday whether to submit data for audit
Vancouver Sun: August 8, 2011
British Columbia Auditor General John Doyle
Photo Credit: BRUCE STOTESBURY, Canwest News Service
Auditor-general uses courts to get details in corruption case
On Tuesday [would that be August 9, 2011??], B.C. Supreme Court Justice Bruce Greyell reserved his decision in the case, which is a petition by Auditor-General John Doyle, who was represented in court by Vancouver lawyer Louis Zivot.
Doyle is seeking the information as part of his audit of the provincial government’s financial statements, which usually include an opinion on the statements, and which are normally released June 30. The case before the courts says that he cannot properly assess this year’s statements without the details of the $6-million settlement for former government aides Dave Basi and Bob Virk.
The auditor-general has formally requested the documents and has been trying to access the information for a long period of time, Zivot said.
The case initially included orders to obtain records held by government lawyer Richard Butler as well as documents held by Basi and Virk. However, Zivot said in court that the request for the documents held by the guilty pair would be adjourned, possibly until a later date.
The petition says Butler could not provide the information.
“Butler advised the office of the auditor-general that he could not comply with the request as the records and information sought were the subject of an agreement with the legal counsel for the respondents Basi and Virk that the entirety of their transactions and dealings was confidential,” read the petition.
The plea bargain came after government officials agreed to forgive $6 million in legal fees owed by the two men.
BC Mary says: But just a goldarn minute. "Tuesday August 9, 2011" hasn't happened yet.
This "Food for thought" comment by Chinese Sneakers is cross-posted to stimulate discussion:
This story about the judge and his ruling likely originated with the pab-lum boys, who coordinated with the other concerned parties, and then passed it through the imperceptible pipeline, to the post-media manipulators, who proceeded to run the propaganda piece TOO EARLY.
What pains me most is how this glitch shows how reliant we are for our news and information on the corrupted media whose hidden purpose is to provide cover for high-end robbery and to profit from our confusion and ignorance.
No reasonable mind should countenance such a thing taking place in a state that depends on the informed consent of its citizens; but, then again, we are obviously quite short on reasonable minds in this twilight for democracy.