Monday, December 31, 2007

Fearing The Loathsome




There are a million of them to end to 2007.

And we're even working, but only half-heartedly, on one of our own.

So, while we toil away in the bowels of the archives amongst the stench of the rotting remains of The Dobranos, we've got something to keep you busy.

It's the Buffalo Beast's "50 Most Loathsome People in America".



We're most partial to #36:

36. Master Chief

Charges: Unquestioning cybernetic super soldier of Halo 3's futuristic virtual dystopia; lacks free will and a face. Feature article treating him as a cultural phenomenon in Time magazine marked a low point for both franchises. Stupid name.

Exhibit A: Joint-marketed with Mountain Dew "Game Fuel" in a major coup for diabetes industry.

Sentence: Stop loss, a tour in Iraq.

But they're all hilarious, not to mention very, very, very scary.



Another fine list is one assembled by Jon Swift.

And it was done by way of a brilliant, yet simply better mousetrap.

Essentially, Mr. Swift asked members of the bloggodome to send in there single best post of the year.

It's a pretty exhaustive list, and some of it is no doubt dross and/or sturm and drano.

However, there is lots of great stuff, like this from 'The Dominionists for Tancredo":

"(Dr. Ron )Paul Campaign: 'We’ll buy Manitoba with all our money if we don’t win'"

I was a scared and imagined the real threat this fundraising and Dr. Rep. Ron Paul poses to Our Dominion in terms of Cultural Mongrelization of America by atheistic European special interest groups, the moving from the dollar to the euro currency standard, and the ultimate realization of Dr. Rep. Ron Paul’s proposals to rename the Dakota’s North Bavariastan and South Bavariastan if elected President as in kind payback to the Bavarians for their support of his campaign.

Heckfire, even if the copy were swill (which it isn't) the title alone is worth it's weight in Huckabees.


Unfortunately, however, none of these lists has any mention of Guy Lombardo and there are absolutely no descriptions of Debbie Reynolds in a fright wig.


Winning Isn't Everything......

.....It's The Only Thing




What is it good for?

Absolutely nothing!

Well, except, maybe the chance to 'win' Hannah Montana tickets:

An essay that won a 6-year-old Texas girl four tickets to a Hannah Montana concert began with the powerful line: "My daddy died this year in Iraq."

While gripping, it was not true, and now the girl may lose her tickets.

Her mom acknowledged to contest organizers the claim was made up specifically to win the contest.


"We did the essay and that's what we did to win," Priscilla Ceballos, the mother, said in an interview with Dallas TV station KDFW. "We did whatever we could do to win."

Coach Lombardi would be so proud (not).


Sunday, December 30, 2007

The King Is Gone.....

.......But He's Not Forgotten


The tributes for the late, great Steve Gilliard continue to pore in.

Ours, with links to others, is here.

There has been a lot of talk in the Bloggodome about the shortcomings of a certain piece on the life and times ofMr. Gilliard in this week's NY Times Magazine.

Thus, we thought we should point you towards a far superior MSM-associated piece.

And it comes from (not-so-Jersey)James Wolcott:

Of all the losses in 2007, Steve's death is the one that suspends lowest from the ceiling, pressing downward force. Other deaths were saddening--Norman Mailer's, Hilly Kristal's, Elizabeth Hardwick's--but they led full, productive lives and left complete inheritances of accomplishment. Steve was still a mind in motion, a power transmitter still extending his reach, and to be deprived of his voice is a neverending series of what ifs and what might have beens and what would Steve have said about this? A sense of incompletion will always nag, in part because no one has been able to fill the role he left behind and probably no one ever will--he left so much behind, but he took so much more with him."

All killer/No filler (or flimsy flackhackery)

Good stuff, no?


Are Secret Scrums Killing Democracy In B.C.?


Yesterday, we wrote a post about how the Republican Playbook has come to the Great White North in the form of Sandra (neeRove?) Buckler's devious efforts to deny select media outlets 'access' to 'exclusive' interviews with the horse she is currently riding, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, if they don't toe the party line.

All of which led to some very fine linkage from The Galloping Beaver and some even finer discussion in our very own comment threads, including the following post from the very appropriately monikered 'il postino':

The press manipulation tactics of all the righties are coming from the same songbook. Right here, in little ol' BC, Emperor Gordo is the single politician in the Legislature who will never stop for an old-fashioned hallway scrum. Instead, he holds "secret scrums" in his office in the West Annex and our muckraking friends in the fourth estate dutifully troop on over there on short notice whenever the King's minions let drop that he will be holding forth.

I used to think that this was just gutlessness on the part of our friends in the media. That's only part of the story. Another part is that too afraid of losing access to the Preem. But the biggest thing is that there's no great incentive to trying to embarrass this government. There are no decent editors telling their reporters to get out there and tell the story behind the story: what is the government trying to hide by being so controlling? Instead, those selfsame editors and their corporate bosses are telling these reporters that the context-free pieces that come out of these "secret scrums" are just fine, thank you very much.

Secret scrums?

To go along with super-secret deals protected by super-dooper-double-secret probation solictor-client privileges that are being used to hide the specifics of how they selling off all of our most valuable assets?

Hmmmmmmm..... Perhaps the time has come for some wayward loose-headed prop to drive the holder of such secret scrums right through the wall of the West Annex back out into the light of the public playing field for all to see.

I mean what the hell are these people afraid of?

Oh, ya.

Now I remember.

They have seen the enemy.

And the enemy is.....




Who Is The Best Blogger Ever?


In the spring of 1993 I was working at a not-so super-secret National Laboratory in, as my grandfather the Tugboat Captain always liked to say, "The Excited States of America"*.

The excited state of the People's Republic of Berkeley, California to be more precise.

Which, to say the least, was extremely interesting on a whole lot of levels.

One of which was the fact that I got to feel the excitement of hooking-up daily to the US Federal Government's burgeoning internet backbone just as Mosaic came on-line.

What was Mosaic?

Well, it wasn't the very first graphical interface web browser.

But it was the one that changed everything.

Hard to believe that it wasn't even 15 years ago.

Which is nothing, especially in dog's years.

But it is plenty long enough for literally millions of commentators to stuff a gazillion googolplexes worth digitized data high up in the toobz.

Which begs the question.

Who's the best there ever was?

The best blogger I mean.


There is a scene in the faux astronaut hagiography 'The Right Stuff' when Dennis Quaid's character, Gordon 'Hot Dog' Cooper, is asked, "Who's the best you ever saw?"

The interviewer is asking Cooper about real flying - which is most definitely not the same thing as being the aeronautical equivalent of 'spam-in-can' while you flick switches under Mission Control's ever watchful eye.

Cooper/Quaid goes pensive for a moment, as he thinks of Chuck Yeager.

Then an 'I-Ain't-Spam-In-A-Can', shite-eating grin appears on his face and he answers, "Me".

Now, I'm pretty sure that if you asked the hot shots of Left Blogistan the same question you'd likely get the same answer from quite a few of them.

Even the really good ones like, say, I dunno, Bitch PhD.

But in that moment when they were thinking about who really was really a 5 tool-keybanger (ie. wordsmithing, style, elan, guts and a nose for dealing a deathblow to any and all demonstrable falsehoods) with all the right stuff, a lot of them would be probably find themselves thinking about a guy named Steven Gilliard.


I slid sideways into the work of Mr. Gilliard while chasing down Billmon's back stories at Daily Kos.

But once I found it, and the rock solid POV that infused it, the work of Mr. Gilliard changed the way I think about blogging.

Here's what I said about that way back in early 2005:

Is there anybody south of border right now that can really take it to the greedheads, unyieldingly, and win?....


....At first we thought that person was going to be Billmon before he self-destructed Nov. 3rd after he was struck dumb by the realization that American exceptionalism, at least for the time being, is dead.

But now we've stumbled across somebody else who seems to be up for the job.

His name is Steve Gilliard and this past weekend it became quite clear why.

You see, the Re-thug integrity-challenged screamers (ie. the National Review Online, Instapundit et al.) had a go at Mr. Gilliard after he suggested that Armstrong Williams, the black media shill who took money from the Rovians to boost the 'No White/All Black Children Left Behind' initiative on his talk show, was an Uncle Tom.

As a result, the screamers sent their swarms of locusts (aka 'trolls') over to Mr. Gilliard's place where they started shrieking that he was a spineless, bitter, liberal racist (and worse).

Gilliard and the regular posters on his site stood their ground and the resulting fireworks were most interesting.

Even better, today Steve had this to say:

"What stunned me with the trolls was the idea that they could call me a racist and I would care.... Conservatives make the assumption that liberals care what they think and will react to it.

There's a tendency for liberals to try and be fair, to consider other viewpoints, so we get baited by them in debates on terms that they set. I'm going to act on the following: I don't care what conservatives think. The NRO Corner thinks I'm a racist, I don't care, their opinions on race are meaningless.......

.....I'm not writing to make conservatives happy. I want them to hate my opinions. I'm not interested in debating them.

I want to stop them."

Isn't that something? And you don't have to just take our word for it. Folks with a much better nose for this sort of thing, people like James Wolcott, have this to say about Mr. Gilliard:

"Gilliard is a good guy who sometimes uses bad language, according to the girls in the bridge club. I haven't noticed this myself, but then again I was raised by Wallace Beery and Marie Dressler, two names lost on most of you."

Oh, and just in case you didn't know it, Mr. Gilliard himself is black.


Now, race is a huge part of American life, which is something I, a whiter-than-white-bread whiteboy from the leftcoast of Canuckistanian, learned very quickly when we lived in a patchwork quilt neighborhood in the West Berkeley flats.

And because he was so often writing about life in George Bush's America, sometimes Mr. Gilliard was forced to write about race with an honesty and forthrightness that was literlly breathtaking.

Despite this, Gilliard rarely raised the race issue when it was not warranted. Thus, it was understandable that even some of his more reasonably well-informed casual readers did not know that he was African American.

But that was, as the post referred to above made abundantly clear, was not the case for those bloggers that worked, and still work closely, with him and his memory.

I say 'memory' because, in case you didn't know, Steve Gilliard passed away earlier this year far, far too early at the age of 42.

And this weekend the apparently august New York Times has seen fit to memorialize this particular blogger's passing with a piece from Matt Bai.

Unfortunately, Mr. Bai decided to play up the 'hook' that Mr. Gilliard's true circumstances were essentially unknown, or worse, ignored, by all those limosine liberal bloggers who flocked to his funeral in upper Harlem:

The identities he (Gilliard) kept separate for most of his 42 years collided in the days after he died; the few dozen mostly white bloggers who came to Harlem for the funeral saw for the first time the stark urban setting of Gilliard’s childhood, while his parents and relatives groped to understand what kind of work he had been doing at that computer and why scores of people had come so far to see him off. They must have been confused when Gilly’s online pals, sickened by the way some right-wing bloggers were gloating over his death, advised them not to disclose where he was buried, out of fear that someone might deface the site. The grave, like Gilliard himself, is known only to a few.

Which, of course, is pure unadulterated codswallop, as a whole bunch of the folks that worked with Mr. Gilliard have already pointed out.

But, then again, when you work from a shite eating grin-assisted, spam-in-the-big-media-can recipe like Mr. Bai does, perhaps it is to be expected.

Still, it's too bad that Gilly is not around now to rip Mr. Bai's craptacular copy to shreds and expose it for what it really is - shameless shilling for a sinking 'news' organ that just hired lifelong silver spoon gobbler William 'The Bloody' Kristol to write regularly for its Op-Ed pages.

Luckily, one of the spawns of Steve's original Newsblog, Driftglass, is up to the task:

Gilly got a much-deserved write up in the NYT today.

The GNB has all the links and such here, as well as a lovely wreath of words from Jesse Wendel and some well-delivered corrections to the general tone of the piece (For example, somebody tell Matt Bai that he voided his poetic license when he decided to trowel on the "po' lonely guy" bathos when in real life those that knew him say Steve was not that way at all.)

Still, I can easily believe that someone like Gilly was a man alone in an entirely different sense: a man who could see things with a clarity that others did not see at all; who was every day terribly troubled by events (and their likely consequences) that others were not even aware existed.

And that particular Cassandric watch tower can be a very lonesome dwelling......


.....But then from somewhere I hear Steve admonishing me -- "Yeah, whatever. Now fuck your self-pitying bullshit and get back to work."


He was, without a doubt, the best I've ever seen.


*My Grandad also liked to say rude and crude, and sometimes even downright embarassing, things about folks in the San Francisco Bay Area, which is where I was plying my trade as an apprentice science geek at the time and playing with Mosaic as it morphed into Netscape before that damnable Explorer was stillborn. Still, I like to think he (my Grandad) was at least a little proud of what I was up to (and it had absolutely nothing to do with building stuff that could be used to, as they used to say on the old SCTV Farm Report, "blow things up real good"; instead, when I wasn't mucking about playing Wolfenstein with other members of the lab, I was using online databases to huntdown gene sequences). And my point is?.... That, as Jessie Wendel makes clear in his GroupNewsBlog post, the NY Times thing is sure to be a point of pride to Gilly's family. And, just like for science geeks, for bloggers too, regardless their 'circumstances', stuff like that matters in the end.
Having said all that, a real honest-to-goddess memorium from somebody in the MSM who really has the right stuff can can be found here.


Saturday, December 29, 2007

If A Cartoonist Falls In The CanWest Forest....

.....Does Anybody Hear?


Last week, after it had been 'rumoured' that CanWest was all set to fire Vancouver Province editorial cartoonists Bob Krieger and Dan Murphy, Rafe Mair went ballistic and called for a boycott.

We concurred - although for slightly broader reasons.

Since then Mr. Mair's opinion piece in The Tyee has been pulled because. apparently, the cartoonists were not actually fired.

Instead, it seems that they were told that their work, which could be scathing of those in positions of power and influence, would no longer be regularly printed on the paper's editorial pages.

Here's how David Beers states the current situation in a recent retraction/apology in 'The Tyee':

In fact, while Murphy and Krieger were told by Province management that their cartoons would no longer be regularly published on the editorial pages of The Province, they were offered other positions at the newspaper as well as the option of leaving the employ of The Province with buy-out payments.

Now, we understand Mr. Beers' need to correct the record, in a factual sense.

However, we also feel that this latest development, if factually true, is actually more damning because it clearly illustrates (in a non-cartoonish way, of course) the accelerating decline of editorial independence at CanWest's Lotusland media organs.


Because it means that Mr. Kreiger and Mr. Murphy are NOT being gagged for cost-cutting reasons.

Therefore, now more than ever, we fully agree with Mr. Mair that anyone who reads a local newspaper because they want something more than pom-pom waving for Lotusland's Rich and Powerful, and/or the latest airbrushed pictures of Britney Spears, must boycott the Vancouver Province.


One of the original bits of wreckless rumour mongering on The (not-so)Magnificents' cartoon crushing was from Steve Burgess who also wrote more broadly about the gutting of local newsrooms....."There are still good people at both (of CanWest's Vancouver) papers (the Sun and the Province), and they’re still doing good work. It reminds me of what a preservationist once told me about Shanghai: There are still great old buildings in Shanghai, she said, because “they can’t tear everything down at once.”
It is important to realize that Mr. Burgess, like Mr. Mair, also writes for the independent 'Tyee'. However, the Burgess-penned piece referred to above was actually printed in a Lotusland regional called 'The Westender' which is owned NOT by The (not-so)Magnificents, but instead by a different media mogul named David Black (no relation to Conrad The Marauder). Moral of the story....competition counts and, perhaps more importantly, media diversication matters (not dot org).


Friday, December 28, 2007

The Access Of Evil


Well, whadd'ya know.

Stephen Harper's chief fixer, Sandra Buckler, has decided to let the lizard brain loose for a series of year end 'exclusive' interviews.

Why 'exclusive' you ask?

Because, in true Rovian fashion, some media outlets and/or reporters were shut out completely.

Case in point is Kathleen Petty, who hosts CBC Radio One's 'The House', which is a program that actually takes Canadian politics and Canadian politicians seriously.

Given that description it is clear that Ms. Petty has not been excluded because she is a tabloid sensationalist who might go off the rails at any moment.

Quite the contrary.

Instead, the real issue here is that Ms. Petty might actually listen to the lizard brain's utterances in full prior to using them as the raw material to construct real, honest-to-goddess questions about topics that truly matter to Canadians.

As such, it is very clear to all concerned that this Petty woman cannot be trusted to go along with the lizard party line, even when it is demonstrably false, just to get along.


Now a number of commentators, including even (gasp!) Mr. Don Martin, have made a wee bit of a fuss about all of this.

Which, unfortunately is just not good enough.

Not the 'fuss' part.

But rather the 'wee bit' part.

Because Ms Buckler's real evil in limiting access is not to cow Ms. Petty

Instead, Buckler is making damned sure that the entire National Press Corps knows and understands that any of them can and will be shut-out if they don't play ball.

Which is why they should ALL make a huge fuss about this right now.

Up to and including going so far as to refuse to grant any exclusive interviews to Mr. Harper.

After all, it's not like the lizard brain is pimping a Ron Popiel pocket fisherman or something.

Because, last time we checked at least, Canada is not yet a infomercial driven shill factory.

And besides, if journalists do not act to put a stop to this crap right now, who knows, even somebody like Mr. Martin may step too close to a real story that really affects Canadians and suddenly find himself standing on the wrong side of the velvet rope.



Monday, December 24, 2007

Did Rafe Mair Just Call For A Boycott?


The Tyee has pulled the story by Mr. Mair referred to below because it appears that the cartoonists have just been 'reassigned', or some such thing. If this is really the case, we actually think the situation is worse than Mr. Mair originally described as it would indicate that this was much, much more than just a cost cutting measure - our take on the situation is here.


We believe, in a piece about how the Vancouver Province has just fired local cartoonists Bob Krieger and Dan Murphy, the Rafeinator did just that:

What can we do?

Don't buy The Province.

If you have a subscription, cancel it. That's the only message the Aspers --- who reported $509 million in profit last year, much of it from B.C. pockets --- will understand.

And we couldn't agree more.

Except, of course, that we might also seriously consider extending the boycott to include all of CanWest's Lotuslandian fishwrap, with the possible exception of the Victoria Times-Colonist which still appears to have a rather bizarre (in the current monopolistic climate, at least) streak of editorial independence.

Mr. Mair's entire piece is worth reading, both for his examples of the evils that 'consolidation' has wrought and for his suggestion that the (notso)Magnificent AsperSons are soft on all things Liberal. One thing Mr. Mair does not mention, however, is the fact that CanWest, which is supposed to cover local governments, not shake pom-pom's for them, gave the B.C. Liberal Party of Gordon Campbell $50,000 in the last election cycle. Why might something like that matter? Well, here's one example that has absolutely nothing to do with cartooning....... a large donation like that just might make it difficult for a so-called unbiased 'news' organization to make a fuss about the fact that CN Rail actually made an even larger donation (ie. some $11,000 more) to the very same political party a year-and-a-half AFTER they won the big BC Rail prize from Mr. Gordon Campbell's B.C. Liberal government.


Educating Railgate - The Discovery Method


Way back in the days when C. and I worked at summer camp and we had to teach a bunch of kids something we knew absolutely nothing about we would use something we called the 'Discovery Method'.

Which essentially involved trying just about anything under the sun.

That is most definitely not what GWest did over at Mary's place when he dug through the details of the RailgateDefence Team's 'Motion for Discovery' and came up with nuggets like this:

"On December 28, 2003, the RCMP also exercised a search warrant on the residence and office of Mr. (Erik) Bornmann. At that time Mr. Bornmann made a statement to the RCMP that Aneal Basi (hereinafter "Mr. A. Basi") was a bona fide contractor working for him."

Now why, if real, is that shining like a hunk of gold?

Because Mr. Bornmann is the very fine fellow who was one of the principals of the well connected Lib-Leaning-Lobbyshop called 'Pilothouse' that allegedly did the bribing, but unlike the alleged bribees (ie. Messr's Basi, Virk and Basi), he (ie. Mr. Bornmann) has never been charged with anything.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

On The First Day Of Christmas My True Love Gave To Me....

......Caroling With The Two E.'s.

All the gang came by.

The F. family who always remind me, somehow, of the Swiss Family Robinson even though they only live about 10 blocks away from us......

Our daughter, littler e.'s best friend M. and her Mom who we know from the time when we lived together on the street of Kings....

Our favorite guitar man D, and his daughter M.....

Frequent family friend flyers/drivers, not to mention scheduling saviors, Mosey and Bindi-La.....

My wife C.'s comrade in song Mo, who keeps us in key.....

Our new friends M. & B. from Germany, who grew up on the Eastern side of Berlin and walked across town the day the Wall came down as teenagers, who brought their brand new baby Otto.......

And luckily, the current teenagers, our other daughter Bigger E. and her friend N., were there too......

Because they had the power.



We've been doing this caroling thing since back in the halcyon days when we lived in a place that was so communal that I kept a key to everyone's abode under my computer down in the original Subterranean Blues Room, just in case they needed something done, found, or fixed when they were away.

It was 42 units of wide open spaces and even wider open imaginations.

But it's all gone now.

Demolished by the Developer's axe.

We tried to buy the place up ourselves and save it from being turned into $700 a square foot postage stamps b/w marble counter-tops and 2 metre-high fences a whole bunch of times, but we were always a million or so short.

All of which taught me two things.....

First- a million dollars is still enough money that it's worth singing about.

Second - a million dollars ain't worth squat compared to a real community.



Now we live in a new place.

And we're still singing the carols from the same old songsheets, typos and all.

And almost every single one of the folks in our new neighborhood loves it when we come by.

So much so that they give us all kinds of stuff to eat and drink, and some of them try to get us to come in and join their parties.

Heckfire, even gruff ol' Gerry from across the street held out his (cameraless) cell phone so that his friend on the line could hear us too.

It was all very fun and, this being Lotusland, it wasn't too cold.

But it was sprinkling just enough that we decided to go back inside for the hot chocolate and the gossip.

Which was fun too.

And best of all, the teenagers weren't done.

So I got out the keyboard, the little Fender boogie-amp, and my stratoscaster copy so that Bigger E. could help us all skate away in a way that I'm pretty sure Ms. M. would be darned proud of for sure.

Then, we put on our Santa hats and went all Bruce on the assembled throng.

With littler e. playing the part of the Big Man.

Even Bindi-La, who I'm pretty sure is no fan of the Bossman, approved.


'Cause it ain't no sin to be glad your alive.


Image at the top of the post is of the two E's and me (or at least the business end of my Strat-O-Matic copy) belting out our version of 'Santa Claus Is Coming To Town'.
Links to E Street Shuffling are from a concert that took place in the Dutch city of Arnhem in early December. Whole lotta history in Arnhem, sure is, including, of course, a very important WWII Canadian connection.
Apologies for obsessing, but that last link, for those interested, has one king heckfire version of 'Badlands', not so much because of anything new musically, but rather because the people in the crowd refuse to let the song end when they keep humming the refrain over and over and over again as drummer Max Weinberg tries to kill it. Finally, the Mighty Max just gives in and starts the engines revving again. Anyway, littler e. helped me work it all out this morning on the Keyboard (a straight E-A-B progression with a few Susses thrown in just for good measure) while Bigger E. and C. went shopping - sure hope they got me that harmonica in the Key of E.


Friday, December 21, 2007

Is There A Plumber In The House?


Apparently, according to information obtained by RailGate Reporter extraordinare, Bill Tieleman, the answer is yes*:

A Public Affairs Bureau officer reported to the B.C. government about media questions and the attendance of NDP MLAs and a lawyer representing former B.C. Liberal Finance Minister Gary Collins at pre-trial hearings in the B.C. Legislature raid case, a 24 hours Freedom Of Information request shows.

24 hours first disclosed Stuart Chase's attendance in May 14 and it became the topic of an entire question period in the B.C. Legislature, with Attorney-General Wally Oppal wrongly insisting Chase's duties were to assist the media and public but refusing to release his reports.

In fact, the 100-page FOI of Chase's reports and notes shows that he told the government who attended court and what questions media asked prosecutors and defence, as well as extensively detailing the case, in which former provincial aides David Basi and Bob Virk face breach of trust charges related to the 2003 privatization of B.C. Rail.

Which may not seem so bad, on the surface of it, until you read stuff like this, apparently directly from the official House* plumberman's notes:

"The Canucks/GM Place ownership trial has started today, and it's creating a media frenzy that's dividing attentions away from the Basi trial. Bill Tielman, [sic] even, has barely been in the court room," reads Chase's April 30th report.

Don't know about you, but that's the kind of thing that gets our Tex Colson-assisted anti-hatchet/jujitsu defenses up PDQ.

All of which would be worthy of little more than a good laugh or two if this wasn't such a serious matter (ie. because it indicates that the government of Mr. Gordon Campbell feels that this IS important enough to send a minion to report on everything that everyone, including un-official media/opposition members/ citizen-spectators, is up to in the Railgate courtroom).

Oh, and there is one other thing that is not funny in the least that also has the whiff of the 'plumber' about it here.

And that would be this.

Not that we are suggesting that any actual bonafide, official 'House'* plumbermen and/or plumberwomen were involved in the latter action.

In any way whatsoever.


*On second thought, perhaps we should have asked if there is a plumber in the 'Ledge'.
Who plumbs the plumbers?......Mr. T. has a lot of interesting extra material up at his place about all the stuff that was 'whited out' of the Freedom Of Interest Information because it went 'beyond the scope' of his original request, which is bizarre enough all on it's own. But here are two other things that are also pretty darn weird. First, the official House/Ledge plumberman is actually a 'public affairs bureau' officer hired by 'order-in-council '(ie. by the Cabinet/Mr. Campbell). Second, apparently, according to Mr. T., it is that very same 'public affairs bureau' that decides what can and will be 'disappeared' from FOI's. How's that for circling them there wagons?


Monday, December 17, 2007

The Return Of RailGate - Hansard's Revenge

Boss: Sorry, Luke. I'm just doing my job. You gotta appreciate that.
Luke: Nah - calling it your job don't make it right, Boss.
Cool Hand Luke, 1967


Newsy Updates and Nouveau Banter Can Be Found In The Tidbits That Follow The Post



Now, by all accounts B.C. government lawyer Mr. George Copley is a fine and upstanding public servant.

However, it is not Mr. Copley's exemplary record of longterm service to the people of British Columbia that is at issue in so far as his role as the deliverer of the 'solicitor-client privilege' message to the Railgate Court is concerned.

Instead, what we really need to know is who Mr. Copley's boss is.

Reporter Keith Fraser raised this issue in his fine, yet succinct, piece in yesterday's Vancouver Province (stuff in brackets mine):

Kevin McCullough, a lawyer for (BC Railgate co-accused Robert) Virk, told B.C. Supreme Court Justice Elizabeth Bennett (on Friday Dec 14/07) that there is an issue as to who is giving instructions on whether to release the documents (under the claim of 'privilege').

Court heard from government lawyer George Copley that deputy attorney-general Allan Seckel is currently giving instructions to him. Prior to Seckel, it was former deputy cabinet secretary Joy Illington, who reports to the B.C. cabinet.

"The real issue is as to when that shift occurred," said McCullough. "When does the shift occur that puts Mr. Seckel in that position?"

So, having read this far, you just might be asking yourself - why?

Why does it matter who Mr. Copley's real boss is?

Well, because Mr. Copley himself made it an issue when he quoted from an exchange that took place between Opposition Leader Carole James and Premier Gordon Campbell in the Legislature last spring to justify the government's claim of 'solicitor-client privilege'.

However, Mr. Copley, apparently, did not quote from the following passage of the same exchange, which has been recorded for posterity in Hansard, the official legislative record (beginning at pg 8245):

C. James: I certainly would expect that the Premier's office will be involved in deciding documents to go forward and not go forward. We've heard discussion previously about cabinet confidentiality and other questions that sometimes come up.

My question would be to the Premier. Will he commit to releasing documents without invoking privilege?

Hon. G. Campbell: Again, I would go back and say that obviously there are issues with regard to cabinet confidentiality that must be and would be considered in these issues. Having said that, my goal and the objective of the government throughout has been to proceed with an unfettered and, frankly, independent process.

There's a special prosecutor in place, and I will not be involved in those discussions. That has been delegated to the Deputy Attorney General, and he will make those decisions as he sees fit.

It's all there in that last bolded sentence where Mr. Campbell told Ms. James that decisions about document release (ie. privilege), would be made by the Deputy Attorney General NOT him and/or his cabinet (and/or his cabinet secretaries - see reference above).

Now, one could argue about what kind of privilege Mr. Campbell was speaking of wayback in May of 2007.

Specifically, was Mr. Campbell talking about 'attorney-client' privilege (ie. that which was claimed by Mr. Copley last week in the Railgate Courtroom) or was he talking about 'cabinet' privilege?

This is vitally important because they are two very different considerations, and one could easily, and not necessarily incorrectly, assume that Mr. Campbell was actually ceding 'attorney-client' privilege oversight to the deputy Attorney General while retaining the right to oversee 'cabinet' privilege for himself and/or his colleagues (and/or his cabinet secretaries).

Luckily for all of us (including the Railgate Court?), however, Mr. Campbell himself told Ms. James precisely type of 'privilege' he was ceding to the Deputy AG:

Hon. G. Campbell: I do want the Leader of the Opposition to understand what I've done here. In terms of the screening of cabinet documents, all those documents will be available to the Deputy Attorney General. He will make the decision vis-à-vis CABINET confidentiality or any of those issues in consultation with the special prosecutor. He will make the decision without any further consultation with me or anyone in the Premier's office.

So, now do you see why it is so important to find out who Mr. Copley's real boss is?

Because, if it is not the Deputy Attorney General, well......

Wouldn't that mean that some other Boss is really calling the shots and making the decisions here?


Those of you who are card-carrying members of the RailGate Obsessives Club may well be wondering why Mr. Campbell would do such a thing - why would he be willing to part with 'cabinet' privilege/confidentiality? Well, we're not yet entirely sure, but we think that the answer, at least in part, may be buried in the pages of the 'Fairness Advisor's' report that so many of his Ministers made a fuss about at the time that the Railgate deal went down. We've already found some interesting stuff in the interim report and we're currently wading through the final report right now - more on that soon.
Update: Today, Dec 17th @ 1:00pm..... It appears to be a bit of a slow day in Railgate's Studio (ie. Courtroom )54, but we are all waiting to hear if 'Da Boss issues can be cleared up tomorrow when, according to Mistah T (Bill Tieleman), Justice Bennett is going to allow the defence to cross-examine one of Mr. Copley's assistants, Ms. Nancy Reimer, who, apparently, was involved in generating an affadavit that outlined the privilege 'issues' for the court.
Double-Secret Probation Update: As an F-troop-listed blog that knows it's place, we are humbled by all the hits we are getting today, which are most likely due to the most appreciated and prominent linkage from both Paul Willcocks and Ms. Mary. Most interesting, perhaps, is not the sheer numbers but rather the numbers that are coming from both and domains (and very, very, very interesting subdomains).
Crazy-Trained, Pro-Wrestling and/or Mud Wrestling Mania Update: Ever-ready-with-a-quip reader Big Audible Dyne-O-Mite is wondering (off-line, of course - B.A.D. wears their cone of silence proudly and continuously) if the real Boss is not Tony Danza/Banta might it actually be Andy 'Latka' Kaufman?


Sunday, December 16, 2007

RailGate Resurrected - Hansard Strikes Back!


Late last week British Columbia government lawyer Mr. George Copley selectively cited from a May 2007 legislative exchange between his boss, Premier Gordon Campbell, and Opposition Leader Carole James which he then used as a prelude to making the following bizarro-world statement of non-cooperative cooperation:

"You can fully co-operate and still take a principled stand and we are taking a principled stand on solicitor-client privilege."


Given that Mr. Copley and, presumably, his boss* have decided to use Hansard to justify actions that, on the face of them, make little logical (and perhaps legal?) sense at all, we thought we would do the same.

We begin with a passage dug up by frequent Railgate citizen commentator 'Lynx' that we have cited before and which Mary has posted up this morning.

It is an exchange between then Opposition Leader Joy McPhail and then Transportation Minister Judith Reid from Nov 19, 2003. It took place just after CP Rail had pulled out of the BC Rail bidding process kicking and screaming about information leaks and improprieties (ie. CP was essentially saying that the 'fix was in'):

You can read the entire exchange between Ms. McPhail and Ms. Reid from the official Hansard legislative transcript here but, like Mr. Copley, we have decided to be selective to make a point that we hope is somewhat less bizarro-world than his was:

J. MacPhail: Today we learn that the Canadian Pacific Railway has pulled its bid for B.C. Rail, casting a cloud over the whole process. We've also learned that the only other non–CN bidder, Omnitrax, has expressed concerns about the fairness of the process to the Premier. A report into that process released earlier this week identifies two leaks from B.C. Rail. In one case, data were sent to a party that should not have had access to it. Can the Premier tell this House what was leaked and to whom?

Hon. J. Reid
: Indeed, we've worked very hard on a process that is fair and equitable and have worked very diligently with the proponents. The fairness adviser's report…. The fairness adviser is Charles Rivers Associates, which is a very reputable firm, and that firm has stated that the process established and implemented by the province, the evaluation committee and its advisers was fair and impartial.

Please note Ms. Reid's linkage of 'process' and 'proponents' - the latter being the firms involved in the bidding process cited by Ms. McPhail in her original question (ie. CP Rail, OmniTrax and CN Rail).


Because in making such a linkage Minister Reid was telling Ms. McPhail, the legislature, and the current owners of BC Rail (ie. the people of British Columbia) that a 'Fairness Advisor's Report' from an outside firm from Toronto said that everything was on the up and up with the sale of our (ie. not Ms. Reid's) Railway.

It is also important to realize that Minister Reid did NOT say that, at least at that time, that the so-called 'Fairness Advisor' had only released an 'interim' report.

Additionally, Ms. Reid did NOT tell Ms. McPhail, the following - which is a statement that is bolded and outlined right up front at the beginning of the interim report (warning - pdf):

Note: At the time at which this report was submitted, the transaction process was not yet complete. Thus, our observations and findings are based only on the steps that have occurred to date. Also, we have not interviewed the three finalist proponents so their comments and views are not represented in this document.

All of which strongly suggests that this was, at least in its interim form, little more than an 'ostrich' report.

And ostriches, with heads buried in sand, have no idea what really happened.

Especially when they (and/or their paymasters) don't want them to.

But we digress.

Regardless the prior intent, the important (and unarguable) point is the following: Regardless the 'process' that had been put in place, Ms. Reid and the government she worked for really had no idea if the 'proponents' had been dealt with fairly or not because their 'Fairness Advisor' did not even talk to them (ie. the bidders involved).

Finally, it is important to once again note the exact date that of that ancient history exchange between Ms. McPhail and Ms. Reid.

It occurred on Nov 19, 2003.....

Which was six days BEFORE the big winner in the BC Rail deal was announced.

And it was also one month BEFORE the Raid on the British Columbia Legislature occurred.

Thus, if a reasonable person were so inclined, it would not be unreasonable for that person to conclude, perhaps, that the government of Mr. Gordon Campbell has been trying to pull the wool over the eyes of everyone concerned from the very beginning.

Which has us wondering if the time has come for us** to invoke our own 'solicitor-client privilege'.

Is Perry Mason still available?

*More on our musings about who Mr. Copley is working for and what Hansard has to say about that coming soon.
** Why? Because it was us (ie. we, the people of British Columbia) who actually owned the Railway when this deal was going down.
One last thing: Thanks to the superior searching skills of citizen commentator GWest and an anonymous commentor over at Paul Willcock's place, a copy of the 'final' Fairness Advisor's report has finally been found (details over at Mary's place also - what a resource her site is becoming!). Given that the final report is 139 pages long it will take us a bit of time to wade through it before we can comment in full......


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Ten Minutes You'll Never Want Back


Well, at least I won't.

(now, if I could only get this spine thing to stop tingling........)

Amazing thing about this YouTubian business - the best amateur stuff surpassess anything done by pros everytime.


Friday, December 14, 2007

Release The Railgate Tapes!


"When I am attacked," Richard Nixon once remarked to this writer, "it is my instinct to strike back." The president is in a mood to obey his instinct.......So on Wednesday, July 18th, at a White House meeting, it was agreed unanimously that the (Watergate) tapes should not be released.
Stewart Alsop, Newsweek, Aug 8, 1973

Now, unless he really and truly is a Machiavellian Superstar the likes of which this Province has never seen, it would appear that British Columbia Premier Gordon Campbell never expected it would ever come to this.

Being forced to release a bunch of 'conflicty' RailGate documents, that is.

Otherwise, as BC Mary pointed out earlier this week, why would Mr. Campbell have engaged in the following exchange with Opposition Leader Carole James in the Legislature way back in the Spring of 2007:

C. James: I appreciate that clarification, but just a question again around the privilege or, as you said, determining whether there's cabinet confidentiality or otherwise. Does the Premier agree that preventing document release through privilege is interference?

Hon. G. Campbell: This is an important issue; there is no question about that. I think it's important for the Leader of the Opposition to understand that the government's only real direction with regard to this was, from the outset, that it should be unfettered and independent — that we would remain away from both the decisions with regard to whether or not a case should proceed. Certainly, we don't intend to comment on what's taking place within the court.

Now, we would agree with Mr. Campbell that this is an 'important issue', especially now that one of the defendents, Robert Virk is seeking '17 documents' that he was involved in generating and/or apparently saw while he was still working with Mr. Campbell's government on the BC Rail deal.

Interestingly, Mr. Virk's lawyer has already told us about alleged details in two of those documents that were apparently acquired through a Freedom of Information request.

Why might these documents be vitally important to Virk's defense?

Because, if his lawyer is correct, the discussions/correspondence between Mr. Virk and Mr. Chris Trumpy, then a deputy minister and member of the BC Rail Restructuring 'Evaluation Committee' (see flowchart at the top of the post which is from the 'Interim Fairness Advisor's Report -pdf') appeared to be centered around OmniTrax' bid for the Roberts Bank Spur Line.

Now, don't forget that OmniTrax was the company whose lobbyists, Pilothouse and principals, allegedly paid bribes to Mr. Virk and co-accused David Basi.

And don't forget that there have also been accusations that OmniTrax may have been receiving special consideration in a quid pro quo/smoking gun deal for the Spur Line in return for its having previously provided 'competitive' cover for the mainline deal that was won by CN.

Thus, if any measure of this were supported by the documents requested by the defence it would very strongly suggest that Mess'rs Virk and Basi were not acting alone but rather, at least in part, under the direction of the government.

Which was then, and still is now, despite the defection of many of the Ministers involved at the time, the government of Mr. Gordon Campbell.

So, what has that government now decided with respect to, as Mr. Campbell called it last May, the unfettered and independent treatment, of the documents?

Why, of course, just like Mr. Nixon's government from long ago, Mr. Campbell's government has decided to stonewall:

Government lawyer George Copley has said the documents can't be released because they involve legal and financial advice on B.C. Rail and are therefore protected by solicitor-client privilege.

In other words, like Mr. Nixon's before it, Mr. Campbell's government appears to have decided that the Railgate Tapes/Documents will not be released.

All of which has us wondering if any of Lotusland's proJourno Pundits will soon be asking which is worse..........

.......The Crime or the Cover-Up?

Of course, those, like Bill Tieleman, who have been following things closely have noted that Campbell government lawyer Mr. Copley also invoked the exchange between the Premier and Ms. James in the Ledge as a 'justification' for the government's present stonewalling action. This is nothing sort of bizarre, and Mary (see bottom of post) has exposed it for what it is - a ridiculous circular argument (which is the polite, non-Doctor 'J', way of putting it).
Some (OK, maybe one or two) readers may be wondering why we resorted to taking the flowchart from the 'interim' fairness advisor's report that was commissioned by the government after issues of leaks arose way, way, way back in mid-Nov 2003 (ie. after CP Rail pulled out of the bidding screaming that the fix was in which occurred before the Ledge Raids that led to the Basi/Virk/Basi charges). Well, it appears that the link to the final report (which includes the tag 'prem' within it) is dead. Coincidence?
Oh, and one last, pseudoFeltian point - someone who goes by the moniker 'deep throat' first posted up the Campbell/ James exchange quoted by Mr. Copley today over at Mr. T's place last Monday. A second coincidence?
Interesting Trivia Update: As our good friend Big Audible Dyn-O-Mite told us off-line ......Alexander Butterfield correctly guessed that Mark Felt was Woodstein's real life 'Deep Throat'. Who was Mr. Butterfield? Well, he was the Nixonian deputy assistant who originally told the world that the Watergate tapes actually existed.


Another Mill Bites The Dust


As we mentioned last week, Canadian lumber mills are being shut down all over the place.

Here's the latest one:

VANCOUVER - International Forest Products has announced the indefinite closure of its Queensboro sawmill in New Westminster, offering voluntary severance to the mill's 110 staff and workers.

This one is particularly scary, because it is:

(O)ne of only two modern sawmills on the B.C. Coast designed to manufacture lumber from the coast's growing supply of second-growth timber.

And while some might want to make a case that there could be a bit of anti-union retribution in the mix here, the business 'analysts' are apparently playing this in the usual straight-up fashion, re: the reasons for the shutdown:

(T)he mill has never performed to expectations, said Kevin Mason, forest products analyst for Equity Research Associates.

Mason said the prolonged downturn in demand for construction lumber in the U.S., coupled with the rise of the Canadian dollar proved to be obstacles too great to overcome.

Now, one thing Mr. Mason apparently did not mention (or if he did, it was not reported upon by Gordon Hamilton who wrote the piece for the V.Sun) is the fact that that:

"(I)n a down market like right now (also) sees you paying a 15 per cent export tax."


Why do Canadian lumber producers have to pay an EXTRA 15% on top of everything else that is stacked against them when the dollar is high and prices are bad?

Because that is precisely what Mr. David Emerson's Softwood Lumber Anschluss says they have to do.

Nice deal that, eh?

For the Americans we mean.

All of which has us wondering if Mr. Emerson also crossed the border when he crossed the floor so that he could keep on 'getting things done' while working for the HarperCons.



Thursday, December 13, 2007

How Many Polls Can One Government Run?


Apparently, if you are the government of Stephen Harper it's lots:

Daniel Paille notes that the Conservative government commissioned more than two polls per business day in the past year, a figure he calls "quite astounding.''

His report shows that the government spent $31.2 million on opinion research in the last year -- more than any previous year and almost twice the $18 million spent on average during the Liberal years.

All of which is bizarre, in the extreme.

But here's something even crazier.......Mr. Paille was actually commissioned by the HarperCons to 'investigate' the excessive polling of previous Liberal governments:

An independent investigator hired by the Harper government to look into past Liberal polling practices has wound up shining an unfavourable light on the Tories' penchant for polling.

Sheesh, no wonder Mr. Baird is currently Canada's (anti)Environment Minister.

Original Link Source: Dana over at The Galloping Beaver.


Wednesday, December 12, 2007




Please Note: Updates and additional tidbits at bottom of post


....It Was A Nice Place. They Were Principled People, Generally*

"(T)here are a hundred or more people wandering around Washington today who have heard 'the real stuff', as they put it - and despite their professional caution when the obvious question arises, there is one reaction they all feel free to agree on: that nobody who felt shocked, depressed or angry after reading the edited (Nixon) White House Transcripts should ever be allowed to hear the actual (Watergate) tapes, except under heavy sedation or locked in the trunk of a car. Only a terminal cynic, they say, can listen for any length of time to the real stuff without feeling a compulsion to do something like drive down to the White House and throw a bag of live rats over the fence."
Fear and Loathing In Washington: The Boys In The Bag
Hunter S. Thompson, RS #164, July 4, 1974

So, in the case of British Columbia's Rail Gate, what might the 'real stuff' be?

Well, it looks like maybe, just maybe, we got a brief peek at it yesterday.

First, from Bill Tieleman's eyewitness, almost real time, report:

The defence also alleged that Chris Trumpy, then Deputy Minister of Revenue to then-Finance Minister Gary Collins, was in a conflict of interest situation because of his multiple roles in both the sale of BC Rail and as Chair of the BC Investment Management Corporation, which held over $360 million in CN Rail shares at the time.

And defence counsel criticized BC government attempts to block disclosure of 17 documents to the accused based on solicitor-client privilege by revealing they had previously received two of the documents through a Freedom Of Information request filed separately two years ago.

So from that, we take it that the defence is alleging that a then deputy minister named Chris Trumpy, who worked for now long-gone Finance Minister Gary Collins, was in conflict of interest during the negotiation of the BC Rail sale to the CN. Additionally, the defense is alleging that the government is actually trying to block the disclosure of documents for no good reason at all given that they continue to try and block the disclosure of stuff that has already been released under an FOI request.

So, what might those two released documents have been about (ie. are they part of the the real stuff)?

Well, for that we go to yesterdays' more cryptic, but still valuable, report from the Canadian Press:

"The Freedom-of-Information documents McCullough obtained include a Dec. 18, 2003, e-mail from Trumpy to Virk and others on the B.C. Rail evaluation team and a Dec. 19, 2003, e-mail to Trumpy from a lawyer titled "Advice to Trumpy re conflict."

So, two interesting things there.....

First, Mr. Trumpy appears to have been in contact with co-accused Mr. Robert Virk (who at the time worked for then Transportation Minister Judith Reid).

Second, the government and/or Mr. Trumpy may have been concerned about a conflict issue just nine days BEFORE the raid on the Legislature occurred.

So, knowing all that, what did then Finance Minister Collins have to say about Mr. Trumpy AFTER the raid?

For that we take you back to a media scrum with Mr. Collins in Sept 2004 that took place just after the RailGate search warrants were unsealed. We have this invaluable public record/transcript due to the yeoman's work of Sean Holman the proprietor of Public Eye:

Media Don't you think government has (a) responsibility to take a look into these things to make sure processes that are currently in place...?

Minister Collins But we did many things. The B.C. Rail file - we assigned one of our most senior and respected civil servants to lead that: Chris Trumpy. You all know who he is and his reputation is held in the highest regard by everyone. He was the one working on that.

Oh, and just so you know, Mr. Collins also reportedly said this during that infamous scrum:

Minister Collins Government is not doing an investigation. That's not our role. The investigators are doing their investigation. So we're not out there looking into any allegations that might be contained in there. There are people who do that. That's their job. They're doing that now. And when they're finished doing their job we'll all now about it.

Which is strange, to put it mildly, given how hard the government is now working to make sure we know nothing about anything.

Anyway, getting back to Mr. Trumpy......What might have been in that alleged Email that he sent to the co-accused, Mr. Virk, just BEFORE the Ledge Raids (ie. on Dec 18th, 2003) but AFTER the main-line deal with CN had already gone down (ie. on November 25th, 2003)?

Well, for that we return to Bill Tieleman's updated eywitness, almost real time, report:

(Robert Virk's defense counsel Kevin) McCullough later quoted from a December (18th) 2003 email from Chris Trumpy regarding the BC Rail Roberts Bank Sub Port privatization - a bid that was later cancelled after the RCMP advised the government it had learned the process had been compromised.

"I am stepping out of the evaluation process for the Sub Port until such time as I have received advice on a real or perceived conflict," McCullough said Trumpy wrote.

Now, this is important because the Roberts Bank privatization was, allegedly, a critical part of a purported 'quid pro quo' deal** that may have been the back-end plan for OmniTRAX, the railway company that lost the main-line deal to CN but stayed in all the way to provide competitive bid cover.

In other words OmniTRAX, presumably with Mr. Virk's and/or Mr. Basi's 'help', may have been angling for and/or perhaps may even have been 'promised' the Roberts Bank Sub Port deal in return.

Now, if Mess'rs Virk and Basi really and truly were just acting as off-the-rail, lonesome cowboys in their dealings with OmniTRAX, why was Mr. Trumpy, who was, according to then Minister Collins, the government's most trusted 'lead' man on the B.C. Rail file, communicating with Mr. Virk about this matter and suddenly getting all conflicty on a deal that apparently heavily involved OmniTRAX (ie. not CN, which is where there may have been a legitimate EARLIER conflict) just days before the Ledge Raid?

Then again, perhaps we shouldn't worry our silly heads about any of this.

After all, they all really do seem like such principled people, generally.

And if the British Columbia government that used to employ Mr. Collins would just let us see the rest of the 'real stuff' maybe we could make up our minds for sure.


*A quote from Robert C. Odle, office administrator for the Committee to Re-elect the President (a.k.a. 'CREEP') in the age of Nixon.
**The so-called 'Consolation Prize' that the Basi/Virk defenses have been fussing about recently.
Re: HST Fridays: This is an old bit we used to do 'round here in an effort to resurrect some of the long gone (ie. non-Vegas) writings of the guy who we consider to be the first real blogger (on an IBM Selectric, of course). Most of the posts are archived on the sidebar on the left, at the bottom, under the heading 'Res Ipsa.....No More' which is an old Thompson joke (sort of).
g west, in the comments, brings up an important point - it is entirely possible that Mr. Trumpy saw there was, indeed a conflict, and really was trying to do the right thing. I do not disagree that this is a distinct possibility and by framing all of this in the form of questions I hope that folks can see that I am not attempting to rule that possiblity out here. The point is - in the absence of the evidence that Mr. Collins alluded to, there is no way we can know, one way or the other.
For the record - this post has also been taken over to Mary's place so that the Anon-O-Mice can chew on it a little.
The 'real stuff' has been re-named the 'smoking gun' by the defense has gone post-VSun NaPo. Looks like, perhaps, the media times they just might-be-a-changin'.
Here's an interesting tidbit found while sniffing around the edge of the Google-cache: Just before the search warrants were unsealed, in the summer of 2004, Sean Michael Holman reported there were rumours that Mr. Trumpy might replace Mr. Kenneth Dobell, who would move on to become a content consultant extraordinare, as Premier Gordon Campbell's personal deputy minister. Obviously, in the end that did not happen, and instead the job went to Ms. Jessica McDonald late in the spring of 2005.


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Was Mr. Mulroney A Made Man......


.....Right From The Get-Go?

KarlHeinz says yes.

And not only that, if the man who appears capable of generating at least 57 varieties on the truth is even half right this time, Mr. Mulroney's Irish eyes may have come pretty darned cheap:

Karlheinz Schreiber said Tuesday for the first time that foreign interests and money were involved in the campaign to unseat Tory leader Joe Clark at the 1983 Progressive Conservative convention.

Mr. Schreiber told the House of Commons ethics committee that the money he used to help arrange and pay for jets that transported anti-Clark delegates from Quebec to the convention in Winnipeg came from himself; the late Franz Josef Strauss, the chairman of Airbus Industrie; and probably from Mr. Strauss's political party, the Christian Social Union.

At that historic convention, Mr. Clark did not receive the support he was looking for in a leadership review. He then called a leadership race, which was won by Brian Mulroney.

“The money came from myself, and from the Strauss family, and probably from the [Christian] Social Union,” said Mr. Schreiber, adding the amount he contributed was about $25,000.

Imagine that.

For the record, the not-so-Heinz 57-varietied, Mr. Jeffrey Simpson, was making a bit of a fuss about this in his Op-Ed page column a couple of weeks ago which is, unfortunately, behind that gosh-darned subscription wailing wall.


Mr. Black Goes To Jail


For six-and-a-half years.

So, what do the nattering neighbobs of negativism, otherwise known as the NaPo, have to say?

Why, what else would you expect them to say, other than 'It could have been worse'......

To which we can only respond - sure thing.

After all, just imagine if, say, all those retirees that had their pension monies scooped after they spent their entire lives working for Dominion Stores, had been given their day in court too?

Or, put another way, 'Justice, sometimes it really is not just for the monied, the privileged and the powerful*.


*Just don't say that to Hattie Carroll.
Oh ya, and while they may have little or no legal recourse, folks like this, also have interesting things to say.



You've Already Heard.....


Well, well, well, whaddy'a know.

A RailGate piece in the, wait for it......

Vancouver Province!

And the reporter, Keith Fraser gets right to the crux of the matter:

Former finance minister Gary Collins approved a "consolation" prize to be offered to the Denver-based railway company linked to the bribery case against three government aides, their trial heard yesterday.

Michael Bolton, who represents accused David Basi, told the court that it's a "big issue" as to whether OmniTRAX was induced to stay in the bidding process for the sale of B.C. Rail by a consolation that further business with the B.C. government was in the offing.

"You've already heard there are numerous telephone calls on Nov. 17, 2003, in which Mr. Basi conferred with Mr. [Bobby] Virk and others that minister Collins has approved the notion that there will be some form of a consolation in the way of future business with B.C. for OmniTRAX," Bolton told B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Elizabeth Bennett.

"That, of course, is a very critical part of Mr. Basi's defence. Those calls were critical. But it will be even more critical to the defence to be able to demonstrate with reference to some of these documents, that it's not just Mr. Basi talking, that there was some awareness at a high level of some acknowledgement of this consolation."

Imagine that.

For a more detailed discussion of the alleged 'consolation' prize, which we have dubbed the 'quid pro quo', please see here and here.
Tip of the golden railspike, once again, to Mary for posting up Mr. Fraser's story.
Now, here's hopin' we see something in the 'lectronic media sometime soon.


Monday, December 10, 2007

RailGate Revisited - The Crux Of The Matter


No byline on this CP story, but we would be willing to take very short odds that it is from our old favorite, Camille Bains.

Regardless, the piece gets right to the crux of the matter.

First, the defense has come out swinging by naming the name of the former long-gone British Columbia cabinet minister who, after the Ledge Raids, bailed-out faster than DB Cooper jumped out the belly of that 727 back in 1971:

VANCOUVER - Lawyers for two former government aides want access to documents police seized from their clients' legislature offices, saying important information involving former finance minister Gary Collins's involvement in the sale of B.C. Rail is needed to mount a defence.

Michael Bolton, who represents Dave Basi, told B.C. Supreme Court on Monday that crucial information about Collins approving a consolation prize for American company OmniTRAX to stay in the bidding process is relevant to the case.

Police raided Basi's and Virk's offices on Dec. 28, 2003, about a month after the provincial government completed the $1-billion privatization sale of Crown-owned B.C. Rail, which was bought by CN Rail.

Basi was then an aide to Collins and his co-accused, Bobby Virk, worked for then-transportation minister Judith Reid.

Bolton said the boxes of documents police carted away contain information pertaining to numerous phone calls on Nov. 17, 2003, in which Basi confirmed to Virk that Collins had dangled future opportunities for OmniTRAX to do business with the B.C. government if the company stayed in the bidding process.

"It's not just Mr. Basi talking but there was a high level of awareness and acknowledgment of this consolation prize issue," Bolton said.

Now, why is this 'consolation prize' business so important?

Because that would be the potential 'quid pro quo' in which Omni Trax may have been offered the spoils (ie. the Roberts Bank Spur Line ) in return for giving faux-competitive cover to the main line deal involving CN after CP dropped out screaming (that the fix was in).

This 'quid pro quo' business is something that we RailGate obsessives, and even Vaughn Palmer, have fussed about before.

And if it's for real it demonstrates the true rot of the situation and it would strongly suggest that at least two of the accused, Mr. David Basi and Mr. Robert Virk, may not have been acting alone and in fact may have, as Mr. Palmer has suggested, been acting to protect (B.C.) Liberal interests.

And what does the government (ie. the B.C. Liberals) for whom the long-gone Minister once worked have to say about all of this?

Well, of course, they say that all of this stuff must be kept under wraps, well, just because:

George Copley, a lawyer for the executive branch of the government, said the documents seized by police are protected by solicitor-client privilege and can't be released to defence lawyers.

He said they include advice from lawyers and bankers on the sale of B.C. Rail and are therefore confidential.

And as for the long-gone Minister himself?

Well, he's sticking with his Pavel Bure defense:

(former Minister Gary) Collins has denied any wrongdoing in the railway deal.

To which we can only answer that it will be we, the people of British Columbia, who will be the judge of that AFTER we see all the evidence, evidence that we believe belongs to us, not Mr. George Copley and/or his paymasters.

And why do we believe that the evidence belongs to us?

Because they were our, and not Mr. George Copleys' and/or his paymasters', assets that were sold to CN in the first place.

In other words, so-called confidential 'advice from lawyers and bankers' means nothing to us, because we never, ever gave the B.C. Liberal government our consent to conduct business such as this, business that is vital to the public's interest, under a cloak of double-secret-probation, cone-of-silence, super-dooper-ultra secrecy.


Oh, and by the way, how the heckfire does advice from 'bankers' fit under the umbrella of 'solicitor-client privilege' anyway?
All in all,
it's an excellent piece from the CP. It has all the important stuff in it that was missing from the piece we fussed about last Friday.

Oh, and just a reminder for those of you who are still wondering why there has been so little local coverage of this story recently, apparently, if you were to believe very fine media folk like Mr. Keith Baldrey, it is all because the long-goners are so long-gone that nobody cares. Sheesh.
And once again, our thanks goes out to B.C. Mary for all the work she's done keeping this thing alive and archiving the stories like Mr. Palmer's cited above so that we, the people (and, yes, the obsessives), can bring them back into the light of day once more.
Bill Tieleman, who for the first time in a long time as not in court today following RailGate, weighs in and points ount the following: "
Collins denies any wrongdoing in the BC Rail deal but court has heard he was the subject of police surveillance when he met with officials from U.S. bidder OmniTRAX at Villa del Lupo restaurant in Vancouver in November 2003." Kinda/sorta pokes, at the very least, teeny, tiny hole in the P. Bure "I didn't do anything wrong" defense don't you think?